A Phil-for-an-ill Blog

September 29, 2008

The Concept of Ego-sphere and the Tragedy of Being Wealthy

The Concept of Ego-sphere and the Tragedy of Being Wealthy[1][2][3]

I embrace the Gnostic interpretation that the human ego corresponds with the animal mind, which may be regarded as an evolutionary carry-over from an animalistic past.[4] Hence by virtue of its naturality, it is then justifiable to infer that the ego’s functions lie in the sustenance (nurture and protection) of the animalistic (materialistic) requirements and habits of its host.

The difference between the animal mind (ego) and the human mind is that in the former case it is presumed that we are all separate or disconnected beings. With respect to the safety and wellbeing of one’s own being, other beings tend to either be considered potential threats or potential preys. As such, this is why the animal mind acts out selfish behavior aimed at serving the interests of one’s own being above the interests of all other beings.

On the other hand, in case of the human mind, Gnosticism teaches that we are all divinely connected and in essence all emanations of one and the same being. The Gnostics consider the human family to all be interconnected, on a spiritual level, and we are but different aspects of the same God. Since Gnosticism teaches that our ultimate destiny is re-absorption with God [5] we are working against the flow if we prefer to obey the more natural and materialistically instituted ego over our inherently divine human mind. BTW The word human derives from “hum” which means “spirit” and “man”, meaning “manas” or “mind” (Sanskrit). Therefore, “human” means “spirit mind”. [6]

Unfortunately, the ego is more revered than the genuine human mind in the materialistic, selfish and cruel world we live in unfortunately. An extreme and pathological manifestation of the animalistic mind is known in psychiatric circles as Narcissism. [7] In the classic Greek tale of Narcissus we read a young man becoming obsessed with his own beauty to the point of becoming totally dismissive of all needs and drives in life that would have mattered to any healthy human being. The tale concludes with Narcissus becoming mesmerized by his very own mirror-image to such extreme extent that it ultimately leads to his own demise. The Ego of Narcissus sadly perverts to become a pompous and heartless archetypal guardian of vanity and, as such, inescapably spells doom to its keeper.

This is a rather accurate metaphorical rendition of the perennial tragedy brought on by the human ego. We too often are too much engaged with sustaining mere images (or perhaps better called: mirages) of one’s being while neglecting to foster the genuine spririt self. As such, we categorically fail in becoming truly human and get stuck in living out a painful animalistic life instead.

Another but related tragic application of the ego lies in our tendency to procure and hoard material riches, an inclination that, of and by itself, is not necessarily a completely wrongful habit since a minimum of material possessions is necessary for self-sustenance. However, the obsessive habit of seeking to acquire an overabundance of matter (i.e. greed, money hoarding) is likely to have a detrimental outcome to the wellbeing of its keeper, not to mention the negative effects it will have on the surrounding social habitat. Perhaps there is an underlying minority complex at the heart of this kind of problem? After all, unless you feel comfortable with what you already have, then why would you invest your own precious resources in trying to have more than your neighbour does?

Regarding the impact matter acquisition has on the ego, I propose the following mechanism to hold sway. With every newly acquired material object the ego, out of necessity, must expand its domain of protection, if control over the object is to be maintained. Thus the domain of the ego, or ego-sphere if you will, is an increasing function of the extension, or quantity, of gained material wealth. Stated succinctly, progressive material richness requires a progressively inflating ego in order to sustain ownership over it. The drive to defend one’s material riches can easily become pathological if it seeks to disregard conflicts with other people’s drives to one’s own advantage rather than seeking mutual beneficial or tolerable compromises. For example, the psychopath in general, totally disregards the needs and interests of others while it totally services his or her own.

As it did with Narcissus, the preoccupation of the ego with nurturing surrogate images of the self may ultimately wreak itself in the development of conditions that are paradoxically detrimental to the self. For instance, workaholic businessmen, while becoming extremely successful and rich as Rothschilds, may also become so narcissistic that it causes them to neglect their physical health and become viable to contract lethal diseases or afflictions (e.g. “prosperity diseases” such as cancer and heart-attacks), or the level of stress incurred may cost them their marriage, or cause them to lose precious relationships (friends, next of kin etc.). For many people life is but a prolonged and wasteful rat-race where, by default, good health is all too eagerly sacrificed to Mammon, Tinseltown icons and other essentially irrelevant animalistic pursuits.

Besides Narcissism, another consequential tragedy of a dominant ego lies in its implications for the enjoyment of freedom. Let us first settle on a workable and practical definition of freedom. A free person is someone who is able to maximize his or hers degree of manoeuvrability, chiefly by maximizing detachment from agents that serve to undercut this manoeuvrability. A free person, for all practical purposes, is unrestrained to go, be and do whatever he or she sees fit as long as it does not conflict with other people’s manifestations of freedom. When there is such a conflict, any possible resolution that is applied, by necessity, implies a reduction of the freedom in at least one of the involved parties since conflicts generally have to be resolved as soon as possible. It is an elementary given that if a person has a large protective ego-sphere, exercising freedom becomes increasingly cumbersome while trying to steer clear from conflicts with concurrent egos.

To graphically elucidate the concept of ego-spheres we turn to elementary particle physics in which particles are represented as small material spheres. Let’s now substitute material spheres by ego-spheres. As such, ego-spheres “in action” can be rendered as follows:

This picture illustrates that people with inflated egos (or ego-spheres) unfortunately experience progressively less enjoyment of freedom as they, on average, are more and more involved in conflict resolution than people who have smaller ego-spheres. This is quite a strong argument in favor of the age-old saying that money does not bring happiness. Indeed, if freedom is a measure of happiness it seems that happiness as a function of material wealth features an optimum rather than happiness being an ever increasing function of matter. If one has too little of it, one will be engaged in procuring matter in order to warrant survival. If one has too much of it, one will be engaged in defending one’s matter at the expense of enjoying freedom.

Hence we have identified the inherent tragic risk associated to being wealthy. The sketch of the situation is as follows:






5.The Secret Book of John – The Gnostic Gospel

6.http://www.gnosticteachings.org/the-teachin…rs/the-tower-of-babel-1 ; http://www.yogi.com/Glossary/glossary_of_yogi_sanskrit_and_in.html

Mania: Self-aware Narcissism

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