Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Ego

"Embarrassment out of place has its source in ego [haughtiness]." - Sholom B. Dubov

"Confronted by outstanding merit in another, there is no way of saving one's ego except by love." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Rites and vain repetitions have a legitimate place in religion as aids to recollectedness, reminders of truth momentarily forgotten in the turmoil of worldly distractions. When spoken or performed as a kind of magic, their use is either completely useless or else (and this is worse) it may have ego-enhancing results, which do not in any way contribute to the attainment of man’s final end." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"He who attempts to act and do things for others and for the world without deepening his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give to others. He will communicate to them only the contagion of his own obsessions, his aggressiveness, his ego-centered ambitions, his delusions about ends and means, and his doctrinaire prejudices and ideas." - Thomas Merton

"The idea of soul, as a pure ego or mental substance, persists tenaciously in philosophy. I have argued that it cannot satisfactorily discharge the various tasks for which it has been recruited. The body, with marginal, speculative and dependent exceptions, is all that is required to individuate experiences and to supply then with an owner. An unobservable mental substance cannot individuate and provides a merely formal, because wholly inscrutable, solution to the problem of ownership. It is equally, and even more obviously, inept as an explanation of the identity of a person through time, which rests, not on the body, but on the complex of a person’s character and memories, related by continuity." - Anthony Meredith Quinton, Baron Quinton

"To start from self does not mean to be selfish. It means to start from premises based on human life and the rest of nature, rather than premises that are the artificial products of the Corporate State, such as power or status. It is not an ‘ego trip’ but a radical subjectivity designed to find genuine values in a world whose official values are false and distorted. It is not egocentricity, but honesty, wholeness, genuineness in all things. It starts from self because human life is found as individual units, not as corporations and institutions; its intent is to start from life." - Charles A. Reich

"I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive... But I should scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation. Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting." -

"Jung said the truth of the matter is that the shadow is ninety percent gold. Whatever has been repressed holds a tremendous amount of energy, with a great positive potential. So the shadow, no matter how troublesome it may be, is not intrinsically evil. The ego, in its refusal of insight and its refusal to accept the entire personality, contributes much more to evil than the shadow." - John A. Sanford, aka Jack

"Reading and what it can contribute to one's life is not something that pertains only to the ego and its conscious mind; it is also deeply rooted in the unconsciousness. Those who retain all through life a deep commitment to the literary harbor in their consciousness some residue of their earlier conviction that reading is an art permitting access to magic worlds, although very few of them are aware that they subconsciously believe this to be so." - Bruno Bettelheim

"What is Zen in the art of helping? It is easier to say what it is not than more positively to describe the essence. It is to avoid the boosting of the ego through ‘good works’. It is to aid oneself and others in the pursuit of the good life; to discover and uncover new vigour and freshness in the art of living; to uncover the primal ability of love. Living in the here and now is a major ingredient." - David A. Brandon

"All consciousness separates; but in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of primordial night. There he is still the whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all ego-hood. Out of these all-uniting depths arises the dream, be it never so childish, grotesque, and immoral... Death is psychologically as important as birth... Shrinking away from it is something unhealthy and abnormal which robs the second half of life of its purpose." - Carl Jung, fully Carl Gustav Jung

"Healing comes only from that which leads the patient beyond himself and beyond his entanglements with ego." - Carl Jung, fully Carl Gustav Jung

"The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the psyche, opening into the cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego-consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness may extend." - Carl Jung, fully Carl Gustav Jung

"The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens into the primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was a conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach." - Carl Jung, fully Carl Gustav Jung

"The only way to judge an event in life is to look at it from high enough, to see it in the order and dimension of the timeless. When we see pain, suffering and inequalities, we don’t understand or we jump to false conclusions. We see only the broken arc of a complete circle. Instead, life is a field for progress and progressive harmony. Each one of us has a part to play which he alone can execute. This role, based on our real nature - what Hindu scriptures call svabhava - can be discovered. An individual’s aim in life must be to find out the “law of his being” and act according to his svadharma. This discovery is no easy task. Normally, we are aware of our ego, the surface self that is a bundle of contradictory impulses. But we can find the true self, our best self, by a process of standing back and surveying our needs. Abandoning desire and self-assertion, accepting the challenges of life in a state of stable, unwavering peace will result in this supreme revelation. When life’s shocks turn our eyes inward, we rise above contingencies of time and place. Our perspective changes. The greatest sorrows is transformed into a luminous vibration. We see into the life of things. Life itself, a single, immense organism, moves toward a greater and higher harmony as more and more cells become conscious of their uniqueness. Life, then, is not Macbeths’s “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” It is a grand orchestra in which discordant notes contribute to the total harmony." - V. S. Seturaman

"People who lead fulfilling lives generally have found a sense of “home” in what they do. They have a philosophy of life that connects them to a larger vision. They accept that life is a continuing challenge. More often than not, they are able to live according to their own schedules, choosing work that is interesting and complex enough to keep them engaged. They get excited about being effective and about being stretched to learn new things. They have a few good friends who understand their vision and perhaps even share common aspirations. They are not driven by urgency, competition, or the demands of the ego." - Carol Adrienne

"The Buddhist point of view takes the function of work to at least three-fold: to give a man a chance to utilize and develop his faculties; to enable him to overcome his ego-centredness by joining with other people in a common task; and to bring forth the goods and services needed for becoming existence." -

"A human being is part of the whole called by us 'universe', a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self [ego]. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive." - Albert Einstein

"Basic axiomatic positionalities of the ego: (1) Phenomena are either good or bad, right or wrong, just or unjust, fair or unfair. (2) The `bad’ deserve to be punished and the `good’ rewarded. (3) Things happen by accident or else they are the fault of somebody else. (4) the mind is capable of comprehending and recognizing truth from falsehood. (5) The word causes and determines one’s experiences. (6) Life is unfair because the innocent suffer while the wicked go unpunished. (7) People can be different than they are. (8) It is critical and necessary to be right. (9) It is critical and necessary to win. (10) Wrongs must be righted. (11) Righteousness must prevail. (12) Perceptions represent reality." - David R. Hawkins, fully David Ramon Hawkins

"The evolution of consciousness requires a wide range of opportunities and a playing field that affords almost unlimited options for development. If human life represents a learning process, then society is the ideal school that affords an extremely wide range of options for numerous levels of consciousness to develop, progress, define, identify, and grasp endless subtleties as well as learn more gross lessons. The ego is extremely tenacious and therefore often seems to require extreme conditions before it lets go of a positionality. It often takes the collective experience of millions of people over many centuries to learn even what appears upon examination to be a simple and obvious truth, namely, that peace is better than war or love is better than hate." - David R. Hawkins, fully David Ramon Hawkins

"Prayer is an expression of man’s inner yearning for a response in the awful silence of the universe. It is a unique process of discovery whereby the searching ego affirms itself in the very moment of self-negation, and thus discovers its own worth and justification as a dynamic factor in the life of the universe." - Mohamed Iqbal or Sir Muhammad Iqbal, aka Allama Iqbal

"Whenever the world throws rose petals at you, which thrill and seduce the ego, beware." - Anne Lamott

"The joy and meaning of life is enhanced through increased self-realization, through the fulfillment of each being’s potential. Whatever the differences between beings, increased self-realization implies broadening and deepening of the self… Part of the joy stems from the consciousness of our intimate relation to something bigger than our own ego, something which has endured for millions of years and is worth continued life for millions of years." - Arne Dekke Eide Naess

"Man’s life is subject to afflictions from ignorance, desire, aversion, ego, and attachment – ignorance being the root cause of all afflictions." - Patañjali NULL

"Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it." -

"Hell is the ego, sated with its own satisfied wishes, having to consume itself forever with no hope of release." - Fulton Sheen, fully Archbishop Fulton John Sheen

"Above the senses is the mind. Above the mind is the intellect. Above the intellect is the ego. Above the ego is the unmanifested seed, the Primal Cause. And verily beyond the unmanifested seed is the self, the unconditioned Knowing whom one attains to freedom and achieves immortality." - Katha Upanishad

"Human reason exhausts itself ceaselessly to explain the inexplicable. Explanation itself is high comedy, as preposterous as trying to see the back of one's own head, but the vanity of the ego is boundless, and it becomes even more overblown by this very attempt to make sense of nonsense. The mind, in its identity with the ego, cannot by definition, comprehend reality; if it could, it would instantly dissolve itself upon recognizing its own illusory nature. It's only beyond the paradox of mind transcending ego that what Is stands forth, self-evident and dazzling in its infinite Absoluteness. And then all of these words are useless." -

"Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it." - Colin Powell, fully Colin Luther Powell

"All acts of charity or giving are valuable only inasmuch as they recognize the true dignity of those toward whom the contribution is directed. Any money or time given to another without recognizing their full equality, is as chaff in the wind, and serves only the mockery of the ego. Pity or sorrow is never a worthy reason for charity, for it only reinforces the bondage of the giver and the recipient. Real charity is never a giving, but always a sharing. He who gives as a giver remains half; he who shares, knows wholeness." - Alan Cohen

"All acts of charity or giving are valuable only inasmuch as they recognize the true dignity of those toward whom the contribution is directed. Any money or time given to another without recognizing their full equality, is as chaff in the wind, and serves only the mockery of the ego. Pity or sorrow is never a worthy reason for charity, for it only reinforces the bondage of the giver and the recipient. Real charity is never a giving, but always a sharing. He who gives as a giver remains half; he who shares, knows wholeness." -

"All acts of charity or giving are valuable only inasmuch as they recognize the true dignity of those toward whom the contribution is directed. Any money or time given to another without recognizing their full equality, is as chaff in the wind, and serves only the mockery of the ego. Pity or sorrow is never a worthy reason for charity, for it only reinforces the bondage of the giver and the recipient. Real charity is never a giving, but always a sharing. He who gives as a giver remains half; he who shares, knows wholeness." -

"To be a member of a crowd is an experience closely akin to alcoholic intoxication. Most human beings feel a craving to escape from the cramping limitations of their ego, to take periodical holidays from their all too familiar, all to squalid little selves. As they do not know how to travel upwards from personality into a region of super-personality and as they are unwilling, even if they do know, to fulfill the ethical, psychological and physiological conditions of self-transcendence, they turn naturally to the descending road, the road that leads down from personality to the darkness of subhuman emotionalism and panic animality." -

"To be a member of a crowd is an experience closely akin to alcoholic intoxication. Most human beings feel a craving to escape from the cramping limitations of their ego, to take periodical holidays from their all too familiar, all to squalid little selves. As they do not know how to travel upwards from personality into a region of super-personality and as they are unwilling, even if they do know, to fulfill the ethical, psychological and physiological conditions of self-transcendence, they turn naturally to the descending road, the road that leads down from personality to the darkness of subhuman emotionalism and panic animality." -

"To be a member of a crowd is an experience closely akin to alcoholic intoxication. Most human beings feel a craving to escape from the cramping limitations of their ego, to take periodical holidays from their all too familiar, all to squalid little selves. As they do not know how to travel upwards from personality into a region of super-personality and as they are unwilling, even if they do know, to fulfill the ethical, psychological and physiological conditions of self-transcendence, they turn naturally to the descending road, the road that leads down from personality to the darkness of subhuman emotionalism and panic animality." -

"Constant alertness is needed. “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom” - freedom from the ego-mind: wordlings have made a catch-phrase out of what is a truth." - Arthur W Osborn

"If there is no ego who can feel anger or desire, resentment or frustration? This means that enquiry is not merely a cold investigation but a battle; every path is, in every religion." - Arthur W Osborn

"The alternative to the illusion of an ego is the Reality of inexhaustible, radiant Being. So long as the appearance of an ego remains, so long does the appearance of free will; in fact they are mutually dependent." - Arthur W Osborn

"The purpose of all spiritual teaching is to guide and encourage us to seek liberation from the ego and realization of the Self. The two are the same." - Arthur W Osborn

"The human mind turned downwards takes cognizance of the world reported to it by the senses; turned upwards it receives intuitional knowledge and directions from pure intelligence, which is its source and essence... The mind finds itself not merely cognizing and arranging the world reported by the senses but striving to rule it and in fact ruled by it. This is a cruel paradox, for by desiring one thing and fearing another the pseudo-self or ego subordinates itself to the senses and the world they report. Thus it comes to be torn between conflicting passions and subject to the tyranny of events." - Arthur W Osborn

"The way of exoteric religion is to progressively replace egoism by submission to the will of God. Its four cardinal demands are faith, love, humility, and good deeds. In so far as they are complied with, they effectively bring a man towards Self-realization, even though he does not consciously envisage this. True, the Goal is not likely to be attained in this lifetime, but in God’s patience a lifetime is very little. Faith strengthens the intuitional conviction of the reality of God or the Self. Humility, its counterpart, weakens the belief in the ego and lessens the importance attached to it. Love strives to surrender the ego to God and its welfare to others. Good deeds deny egoism in practice and are alike the fruit and proof of love and humility." - Arthur W Osborn

"To realize self as universal is the equivalent of immortality - a timeless state. The empirical ego then ceases like a ripple on the ocean." - Arthur W Osborn

"Water flows continually in the ocean but the ocean is never disturbed: desire flows into the mind of the seer but he is never disturbed. The seer knows peace: the man who stirs up his own lusts can never know peace. He knows peace who has forgotten desire. He lives without craving: free from ego, free from pride." - Bhagavad Gītā, simply known as Gita NULL

"The first and last lesson of Yoga is the attitude of mind and heart. The aim of Yoga is to unite mind, body, spirit. The reward of yoga practice is the conversion of physical energy into mind power. The practices give a definite sense of control and raise the levels of consciousness awareness. These practices are not to be done competitively, to exhibit to one's friends, to expand the ego. While each of us, according to our temperament, must find the best mental approach, it should be one of self-surrender. Quiet, but joyful. Concentrated. Never strained. Outer control of the body is a means of regulating the inner functioning." - Blanche DeVries Bernard

"When we go beyond the ego and experience the sudden revelation that absolutely nothing is lacking, then immediately the faith is there to jump. The leap itself is the revelation, the revelation is the leap." - Dennis Genpo Merzel, aka Genpo Merzel Roshi

"The whole world is created from Mind. How we perceive it is the whole story. If we see everything from our ego-centered view, everything is too much to handle. Always we feel limited, unable to cope with situations. We feel small, helpless, and out of control. If we go beyond the egoistic view of the self as separate, then we can enjoy a more magnanimous, panoramic perspective that we call Limitless Mind (dai shin), infinite capacity and complete faith in things just the way they are. It all depends on how we choose to view life. Dropping the ego-centered self we discover the real self, which is none other than no fixed self, completely open to each moment of life." - Dennis Genpo Merzel, aka Genpo Merzel Roshi

"[Zen] is not a kind of “self-actualization,” an expansion of the limited, isolated Me, of the empirical ego. Neither is it a regression, a return into that vegetative ooze of Oneness, before we became aware of our differentiation as separate egos. On the contrary, the Zen experience is the overcoming of the hallucination that the Me is the valid center of observation of the universe. It is a momentary, radical turnabout, a direct perception of and insight into the presence, into the transiency, the finitude that I share with all beings." - Frederick Franck

"Wisdom is the intuitive knowledge of the mind of love and clarity that lies beneath one's ego-driven anxieties and aggressions. Meditation is going into the mind to see this for yourself - over and over again, until it becomes the mind you live in." - Gary Snyder

"Perception is a mirror, not a fact... The ego does everything it can to prevent us from understanding that our thoughts, not the outside world, cause what we see and experience, and that the world we experience is the effect of our own thoughts." - Gerald G. Jampolsky

"Hell is the place of people who could not yield their ego system to allow the grace of a transpersonal power to move them." - Joseph Campbell