Skip to main content

Are You an Ego Maniac?

In just one week most Christian churches will be moving into a penitential church season called Lent.  It is a six-week time of reflection on our spiritual life.  This is a time to take a spiritual inventory of our lives. This time of reflection would be beneficial for any faith. 
There seems to be an internal battle going on in many of us that is similar to some earthly skirmish.  We are not immune to conflicts and disputes, whether internal or external.  The conflict between people is often preceded and caused by some kind of internal conflict within.  This is certainly the case with such phenomena as “road rage” and “murder in the workplace” perpetrated by former employees with various grievances. 
I believe it is fair to say the chief interior desire “fighting inside” each of us is the desire of the ego to take control of the soul, or true self.  The ego is our conscious identity, everything we mean when we say “I” as we so frequently do. Instead of the ego serving the soul, as Christians understand Christ serving the Father, there seems to be a deeply ingrained inclination of the ego to make the soul serve it.  The ego wants always to be great, powerful, perfect, immortal, in control.  In short, the ego would like to be god in place of God which was the original sin behind the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden as recorded in the Pentateuch.
We are called to bring the ego into a right and subservient relationship to the soul/true self.  For the ego, badly inflated with false pride, to suffer such a deflation is as difficult and painful a choice as the prospect of laying down one’s life.  Recovering narcissists know that such ego therapy and salvation really does feel like dying.  The deflation of a pathologically bloated ego, in fact, feels like death to any person going through this experience.  Many such chronically egocentric individuals indeed choose physical death over denying themselves, usually by one form of taking one’s life or another. 
Pride and power struggles are not limited to politics or religion.  What can we do?  Well, here are four strategies gleaned from Hebrew and Christian Holy Scriptures sprinkled with a dose of my experience which may help any of us to keep our ego in a proper and healthy relationship to our soul.
1.      Regarding mistakes: admit them, don’t hide them.
2.      Regarding sin: confess, don’t deny.  Repentance is a primary antidote to ego inflation.
3.      Regarding gratitude: maintain at all times, remembering that without all that others have done for us, not least God, most of us would not have amounted to half as much.
4.      Regarding humor: never take ourselves so seriously that we lose the ability to laugh at ourselves.
I do believe that abundant new life is possible if we allow the true reality of the soul to burst forth.

Fr. Richard Visconti
Rector, Caroline Church


Popular posts from this blog

It is common practice for Unitarian Universalist ministers and their congregations to include in our Letter of Agreement (contract) provision for a sabbatical every five to seven years, accrued at a rate of one month per year, for up to six months. I’m in my ninth year of service with the UU Fellowship at Stony Brook and last year, finally, I felt the time was right to take a sabbatical. So last winter, January through March, I left my congregation to it’s own good governance, with guest coverage for every service I would have led, and emergency pastoral care coverage by various other UU ministers on our island through an exchange program we formed just for that purpose. I had two aims for the use of my time: a combo solo (with spouse) and group-tour trek down the National and State(s) Civil Rights Trail in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, and a deep immersion into Jewish studies. 
In my pursuit of the dive into Judaism, I joined North Shore Jewish Center’s (NSJC) sixteen week Juda…

Thin Places

Iona, Scotland, 2013
On All Saints Day in my tradition, and many Christian traditions, we remember those people who have passed from this world. We pause to recall the ways people who have died have touched our lives and who, even in their death, continue to touch our lives. We tell stories, light candles, and remember that we are connected with all who have gone before. On Sunday evening at Setauket Presbyterian we will gather to remember members of our community who have passed. Last Sunday our children decorated cards for the families who are grieving. These cards are colorful, bright, and a reminder that love is not ended by death. My grandmother used to tell me that this time of year is when the veil between heaven and earth is at its thinnest. She is someone who, even though she died in 2000, continues to impact my life - I like to think that veil is always somewhat thin. 
In 2013 I spend a few months living on the small Scottish island of Iona. The founder of the Iona Community