Behavioral Science

Ego and the Freemason

I have to say, I love my Lodge’s Study Groups. They bring up all kinds of interesting subjects in relation to all aspects of life, and more particularly, life as a Freemason. We recently discussed how Ego affects our lives, and what our particular work is as Freemasons in regards to the Ego. These study sessions give me an opportunity to explore not only my own experiences with the topic but also what I think about it objectively – form an opinion, as well as be able to articulate that opinion. Since we all have an Ego, it’s easy to have experiences with it. It’s harder to form objective opinions. After all, isn’t the Ego involved in forming those opinions?

One of my first college classes, as a fresh-faced 18 year old, was Psychology 101. This was predated by Western Philosophy, both having an extremely big pull for me. These were classes that my high school did not offer: a whole new world of living that was and still is exciting. We learned all about Freud and Jung’s theories of the Ego, amongst other things, but nothing really “stuck” with me after that class. I never really went back and explored Ego until it came up so often in religious and metaphysical studies years later. I identified most closely with Jung’s writings, and I often go back to read up on him when questions of Psyche were, and are, involved.

In his writing about Ego, “One of Jung’s central concepts is individuation, his term for a process of personal development that involves establishing a connection between the ego and the self. The ego is the center of consciousness; the self is the center of the total psyche, including both the conscious and the unconscious.” The reference goes on to say, “For Jung, there is constant interplay between the two. They are not separate but are two aspects of a single system. Individuation is the process of developing wholeness by integrating all the various parts of the psyche.”F1B445C0-81D7-4ACC-B8DE-2F5F9B0DA2B5

The most interesting part of that statement is the fact that the Ego and the Self are different entities that must be integrated. How did they get dis-integrated in the first place? How did something that was whole become separate, linked, and our goal is to try to integrate the two? Is it birth that separated them? If so, what are we before? And is that the state we are trying to achieve? It makes my head spin to think that we might have been integrated in the womb (or before?) and dis-integrated at birth, and we spend our whole lives working toward integration. What happens, then, if you integrate earlier than dying? Is that perhaps our goal? Do we evolve as a species if that happens?

Hurts your head, right? Well, it does mine.

I imagine a binary star system, two bright points of light circling each other, embracing each other as only two fiery systems of gas and elementals can – never touching and continually burning each other. Love that consumes and renews itself. Yes, that must be the Ego and the Self, in Jung’s world.

If the Ego and the Self are inseparable, then it seems to me we have to learn to live with both, separate and equal parts, calling and screaming at one another all the time. How do we reconcile? Do we even try? Since we cannot unequivocally say where the mind resides, perhaps these two things are part of the overarching mind that controls us. And, logic gives us, that if as above, so below is representative, does that Divine mind have a Self and Ego, too? Does the Divine even have a mind? Maybe that’s a weird question, but maybe not.

5889823E-3C83-44D7-B9F5-6BA633A5FAD1I do know that Freemasonry simultaneously chooses to subdue our Egos and find our “Self.” Perhaps one of the binary stars must be dominant, and in that dominance is where we find the traits of a person – arrogance or humility, graciousness or rudeness. In the balance between the stars, we find the nature of the gasses they put off. It is difficult to be of service to your fellow Masons and at the same time be immodest and arrogant. There’s little room for others when you fill the room with your Ego. Perhaps that is also why we learn to subdue passions – the passions of the Ego – and develop the passions of the Self – the connection to the divine. One star must dim to have the other shine. The Roche Lobe of Personality. I kinda like it.

In the past, I wondered why we, as Freemasons, pin medals on our chests and put numbers at the end of our names, or added titles when we attain certain Masonic degrees. I think this is another of those tests – do we do it for prestige? Do we wear our outward jewels as a “brag rag,” as I heard one brother call it long ago? Or do we wear them to honor the Work we’ve completed and bring to the gathering? Do we shine our Ego brightly to make our “Self” fade? Intent is everything and nothing; we must be clear about what the outward trappings mean in order to not fall into the trap itself, yes?  Is one degree better than another? What have we really attained? I think about these things often. I do my best to remember the duty and cautiously regard the glitter. It seems to stick to everything. Does Masonry feed the Ego? Or help one subdue it? Maybe it’s an ongoing dialogue rather than a simple, solitary question.

2 replies »

  1. Salutem.
    First of all, I want to thank you for this post, and add that it warms up my heart to know that we are a lot to turn our focus on The essential, profound meaning of Existance, and take the time to share our understanding and our questions to the public. To introduce myself, I am not a freemason, but as a Rosicrucian, i consider myself a seeker of light, looking forward to “die as the old man” and awaken the Real Self under the pile of misconceptions we’ve been hidden under.
    Those misconceptions as i said, constitute for me what we call the Ego.
    Looking for constant domination over the real Lighted Self which is the most profound base of out being, Ego hides the light.
    Now some might ask as they read those lines, “yes but what makes you think that its not the opposite? that Ego might be as real as the “lighted or divine self” and this second the one we try to choke our ego with?”
    Well, for those asking themself this question here is my humble answer:
    To really focus on our Most Profound self, or Truth, we must first take off all the clothes made of what we have been taught until this question arose.
    In other words, let’s try to look at the Human and Nature as The Great Architect made them before Human Intellect began imposing a chosen meaning of existance, before human intellect ( and Ego..) began arrogantly wanting the meaning of existance to be similar to their low aspirations, low pleasures, and before the human intellect and ego Decided of such meaning, placing themselves above the Greater Intelligence behind their Own Existance. As Solomon said, “there is nothing new under the sun”. It means that the human being is a reproducer of what the Universal Intelligence Created. We use what have been created, itself a manifestation of a Greater Force. So is it for our own Mind, our our whole Self, since we haven’t created it.
    One important thing is to remember that we (Human Beings)are Not our own Creators, that behind all the great Spirits and at the base of every major discovery in human history, we find the Universal Intelligence, the Great Architect that created Human Intelligence itself.
    Well, through observation and analysis of the functioning of the Great Nature (micro and macrocosm) or the Cosmic, we unevitably find Harmony, Order and Rythm, wether this real meaning of those principles go along with out misconceptions of them or not. Once again, refusing what they mean and what they teach us through our observation is Ignorance, or “Obscurantism”.
    Even in the human body, what the human will does not control , the vegetative nerveous system, or unvolontary nerveous system works on its own, under the direction of the Greater Intelligence that infuses us through unconscious or more accurately, Subconscious Mind, with a pre-established Order, Harmony and Rythm.
    Our stomach, our Lungs, our Heart,..all work together in rythm and harmony so that Life can be perpetuated. This Uncontrolled nerveous system is even the one that keeps Cells at the base of organs reproducing, interacting Harmoniously.
    Now to keep this “internal universe” from failure, to keep it functioning and even Improve it’s functions, consciously and willingly, one must have, with no doubt, a pure, virtuous and healthy way of life.
    what is a healthy, pure and virtuous way of life? it’s one that Respect the Rules of Nature itself.
    it’s first one that Know the rules, then Respect them.
    One of the greater Rule of Nature being Harmony, let’s remember the old adage: As above so Below.
    In fact, Planets work together, the sun provides us with Vital Force and Heat, the moon directs the waters and their flow for instance, and they both work together. the harmonious work of the galaxy makes our seasons so that Life can be kept within a ordered rythm of birth, growth and death, then rebirth and so on, as the mecanisms of Cells in our own body.
    This harmony being maintained, life flows and grow, and our Real Self which has been created with similar functions tends to come out. It’s like Echoing the Inner Self by taking care of what Nature gave us. That’s what Rituals do: they Echo our Highest Archetypes, the one of our Inner Self.
    As we build a resistance to this Natural flow, we build and opacity in ourselves that keeps the Light of the Real Self from flowing in and flowing out.
    This Ignorance of the Laws of Nature and the building of rules against them is what creates the Ego.
    Virtues, for instance, are many different ways, daughters of the Love of Creation, that gathered, lead to a Reconsciliation with the Source.
    They bring Peace Profound, they bring out the Real Self, the Inner Master as said in the Rosucrucian terminology, because those virtues are working Along with the Natural flow of Harmony.
    It’s quite simple to understand by experience and analysis, that breaking the Natural Laws (that we come to know throughout the experiences) brings sorrow and desolation (thus push us far from the source) and respect and application of them awakens Joy, Peace and a feeling of achievement (thus closer to the Source).
    Harmony should be kept in the Thoughts, as well as in the wordd and in the actions, in order to bring a global harmony in our whole Being, and around us.
    Let’s picture Life as a circle constantly in movement. this circle has a center, and this center is the Source. The more you get close to it, the easier it is to stand on the circle and have a stability.
    if you go too far from the Source there is less and less stability, and this is where the Ego, finite and everchanging is.
    The stillness and peace at the center are in Harmony with the Source, and thr more you break this stableness and harmony with anger and jealousy and greed etc…contrary to the Divine Virtues, the more thepile of Ego thickens and keeps you from seeing and reaching the Light at the Center.
    Thank you for the time taken to read this answer, it has been a pleasure writing it and knowing that Caring People will read it.
    With you brothers Peace Profound


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