Soon a man of dubious character whose primary mission in life seems to be self-promotion is about t o take power in the US. Now is an appropriate time to consider why egoism is self-defeating and will eventually lead to one’s downfall.
Ego is an indispensable component of a healthy mind. It is the “I do” engine of mind without which we would be like vegetables, unable to make any movements or decisions. Its function is to create separation between self and non-self, providing the willfulness that exists behind all that a person does, says, thinks, and understands. In addition, ego is at the root of selfishness, judgment, rejection, and separateness. Because it wants to control, it also wants to dominate everything non-self, which includes other humans, animals, and nature (matter and energy). The ego is afraid of losing control. Hence, death is the greatest fear of the ego since death brings loss of control and presumably a loss of consciousness. Ego is the greatest enemy for progress on the spiritual path, which requires self-sacrifice and surrender to a higher being. Sages have compared ego to an umbrella, blocking Spirit and preventing the mind from experiencing God’s grace—which is continually raining down on us. For a spiritual aspirant the goal is not to simply destroy ego by acts of self-flagellation, self-denial, or self-denigration, but to replace personal ego with cosmic ego by performing actions with the idea that God is performing the actions. That is, surrendering all actions to God in the performance of selfless service and sadhana (meditation).
Ego is boosted by achievements and the accumulation of wealth, fame, and power. However, the more achievements attached to the ego the further one is led from spiritual experience and the bliss of simply “being“ instead of doing. Hence, ego is the source of people’s separation from God, the source of their torments, pain, desires, anxiety, frustration, numbness, attachments, and isolation.
Unfortunately, it is a commonly held belief today that happiness is a result of one’s accomplishments. One needs a meaningful and well-paying job, a spouse, children, a nice home, and personal conquests. There are no limits to the wealth, fame, and power that the ego wishes to obtain because underneath the mundane level of life ruled by ego lays that of spirit, and the desire for limitlessness permeates into the surface level of being. The problem is that nothing in the mundane world is limitless and as the ego amasses more and more possessions, wealth, status, and power in its quest for happiness, one’s material burden grows. Possessions are lost or lose their attractiveness over time, and a lack of fulfillment and sense of dissatisfaction with life inevitably develop. Thus, people dominated by ego cannot experience the true happiness that can result by entering the spiritual path and seeking union with God. However even in spiritual life as in worldly life whenever a person becomes overly egoistic, it becomes the cause of their downfall.
For a politician an inflated sense of self-importance can be especially harmful since the inevitable downfall that the egoist experiences can also result in damage to the country and to society. A politician with an inflated sense of self-worth may consider everybody else a fool and himself a king. As a result, he may ignore good consul from his cabinet members, other associates, and experts; and proceed with policies and actions he believes are in his own self-interest but which are detrimental to the society.
Instead of developing spiritually through sadhana and selfless service, such politicians want to accomplish everything through their lofty rhetoric. Under the hypnotic spell of power, politicians may resort to demagoguery with its appeal that plays on people’s emotions and prejudices rather than on their rational side. This manipulative approach appeals to the worst nature of people. It is often used by dictators and sleazy politicians. They identify the weaknesses in others, and by resorting to divisive language, they attempt to incite one group of people against another so that they can better obtain and ultimately increase their power.
In order for a democracy to succeed the people must be moral, well-educated and aware of social, economic, and political issues; and the leaders must be people of high moral character, whose primary objective in life is bettering their country—not their own self-interest. If these things are lacking then the welfare of society may be jeopardized.
Today in the US, a person of dubious character and vested self-interest has been elected to power. President-elect Trump is poised to become one of the most powerful men in the world and he appears to have all the essential qualities of a demagogue. After amassing great wealth and fame, he has turned his attention to gaining great power. He has a history of self-promotion and taking advantage of others in order to expand his “empire.” One can only hope that the inevitable downfall of such a person does not also produce lasting damage to this country and to all humanity.
Note: Steven L Richheimer, PhD is author of The Nonlocal Universe, Why Science Validates the Spiritual Worldview, available at Amazon.com.