In this article we will discuss the various types of ego.
Broadly, there are two types of ego; God’s ego and human ego.
1. God’s ego
This is a state of no ego, i.e. the ego of the person is literally 0. This state is found in Saints of 100% spiritual level when they are in a completely thoughtless state, merged with God. The ‘i’ness of such a person in this state of complete communion with God, is totally merged with the God-principle, i.e. there is no ‘i’ness. Hence all tasks that happen through such a person are mere acts (kriyā) not actions (karma) as they happen totally as per God’s wish. The hallmark of the mental state of such Saints is that they are in a perpetual state of Bliss (Ānand) even in the face of extreme adversity in their worldly lives.
2. Human ego
Human ego is again broadly divided into 2 subtypes:
2.1 Pure ego
This is a state where traces of ego are seen in Saints of the highest order when they are not in complete communion with God. These Saints have just a mere awareness of one’s existence. This trace ego is required for the sustenance of body functions.
- Pure ego can be understood as having the following attitudes :
- Considering oneself to be distinct or separate from Brahman (God principle), that is harbouring awareness of the self through duality.
- Having awareness of one’s existence.
- Harbouring the spiritual emotion (bhāv) that ‘I belong to others and all are mine’.
Even this ego persists only as long as there is existence of the physical body. It ceases to exist when the Saint gives up His body (passes away).
2.2 Impure ego
This type of ego is what most of us experience. Almost all of us identify with our physical body, or feelings and emotions and feel pride in our intellect. This is due to various impressions in the centres of the subtle-body like temperamental characteristics, desires, likes and dislikes, etc.
Refer to the presentation on the functional structure of the mind.
Depending on thoughts and emotions, this ego can be either sāttvik (Sattva predominant), rājasik (Raja predominant) or tāmasik (Tama predominant).
- Tamasik ego: The ego which is subtle basic Tama component predominant is called tamasik ego, e.g. believing only in one’s own capability.
- Rajasik ego: Subtle basic Raja component predominant ego is called rajasik ego, e.g. constantly striving for happiness.
- Sattvik ego: Ego which is predominant in the subtle basic Sattva component is called sattvik ego, e.g. ego about sacrifice is sattvik in nature.
3. Types according to the proportion of ego
On a scale of 0-100%, the ego of God or Saints at 100% spiritual level, when in a state of complete communion with God, is 0%. The ego of the subtle-sorcerer (māntrik) of the highest strength from the 7th region of Hell (Pātāl) is 100%. On this scale, the ego of an average individual is 30%. Adolf Hitler’s ego was 60%.
(Please note that by ‘average individual’ we mean a person who is average spiritually. In his worldly life this individual could be a rich or poor person, a head of state or a common working class individual.)
Depending on the proportion, ego can be classified as follows: