What is The Ego?
Ego (Lat.). “ Self” ; the consciousness in man “I am I”—or the feeling of “I-am-ship”. Esoteric philosophy teaches the existence of two Egos in man, the mortal or personal, and the Higher, the Divine and the Impersonal, calling the former “personality” and the latter “Individuality Egoity. From the word “Ego”. Egoity means “individuality”, never “personality”, and is the opposite of egoism or “selfishness”, the characteristic par excellence of the latter.
The word “ego” literally means “I”. It is not possible to live a conscious and intelligent life on Earth without any inner sense or feeling of “I”, regardless of whether or not one claims to have “abandoned” his ego. Each one of us is an “I” and there is no escaping this fact. We do not have an ego; we are an ego.
The soul – the reincarnating part of our being – is very often spoken of as our Ego, usually with a capital E. It is called our “permanent individuality,” the true “I” of our being, and is that individual Mind-Entity or unseen Thinker which passes from life to life. It is the real thinker, doer, actor, and experiencer. It is the one which creates and experiences Karma.
It does this via its “present personality,” which consists of the personal mind (or everyday brain-consciousness) and the lower vehicles, instruments, or aspects with which this personal self has to work, i.e. the desire/passional nature, the life energy, the subtle astral body, and the outer shell of the physical body, with which we are all so familiar, perhaps even too familiar.
The permanent individuality, the Reincarnating Ego, is called the Higher Manas and the present personality – which is new and different in each successive incarnation and which is our own Karmic progeny, the product of our former thoughts, words, and deeds – is known as the Lower Manas. “Manas” is the Sanskrit word for “mind.” According to Theosophy, the mind is one Principle but it takes on a dual nature when incarnated.
These are the Higher Ego and the lower ego. In ancient Greek philosophy, these were called the Nous and the Psyche, the noetic and psychic elements of our being.