(14th century) 

left QuoteIn most cases, when you say “I”, it is the ego speaking, not you.... It consists of thought and emotion, of a bundle of memories you identify with as “me and my story,” of habitual roles you play without knowing it, of collective identifications such as nationality, religion, race, social class, or political allegiance. It also contains personal identifications, not only with possessions, but also with opinions, external appearance, long-standing resentments, or concepts of yourself as better than or not as good as others, as a success or failure. 

The content of the ego varies from person to person, but in every ego the same structure operates.  In other words: Egos only differ on the surface.  Deep down they are all the same.  In what way are they the same?  They live on identification and separation.  When you live through the mind-made self comprised of thought and emotion that is the ego, the basis for your identity is precarious because thought and emotion are by their very nature ephemeral, fleeting.  So every ego is continuously struggling for survival, trying to protect and enlarge itself.  To uphold the I-thought, it needs the opposite thought of “the other.”  The conceptual “I” cannot survive without the conceptual “other.”  The others are most other when I see them as my enemies.  At one end of the scale of this unconscious egoic pattern lies the egoic compulsive habit of faultfinding complaining about others. Jesus referred to it when he said, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”  At the other end of the scale, there is physical violence between individuals and warfare between nations.  In the Bible, Jesus’ question remains unanswered, but the answer is, of course: Because when I criticise or condemn another, it makes me feel bigger, superior.

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In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.