Primal Madness of the Ego

Creator of the Creator by Luis Ricardo- 2008 creative commons
Creator of the Creator by Luis Ricardo- 2008, Mexico, gifted to the creative commons.

Last night I dreamed of a primal madness in humanity.

When I awoke, I understood that this primal madness is caused by a fundamental split within the human psyche. We are split; we are broken in two. It is a deep chasm within, a fallen state.

Human psychic life is shaped by splitting, and hence, a longing for integration drives us. We are driven toward union, and the vicissitudes of this drive can drive us mad.

It is a madness because, from the standpoint of the ego, it is a desire that can never be fulfilled. For as long as the ego experiences itself as a particular individual it will never find the ultimate union it seeks.

The ego knows the world through differentiation.  “I” know myself by defining what is “not I”. The ego exists in a world of division between “I” and “not I”. This state of division is dialectically opposed to a deeper impulse which seeks union.

This is the madness in us all: we have two contradictory desires, one for independence and one for union. The ego desires independence: to define itself as “I” by differentiating from that which is “not I”.  The souls desires union.

Paradoxically, this madness is only madness when viewed from the perspective of the ego– with all of its “I” vs. “not I” divisions. When viewed from the Self, it is simply the primal pulsation of differentiation and realization.

The desire for union is a drive that moves in a circular fashion, like the Uroboros, the serpent biting its own tail. The drive urges us upward, onward, outward to individuation and transcendence, until we become capable of true union through self-realization and immanence. It is only then that we may come to know the eternal truth of the Self.



3 thoughts on “Primal Madness of the Ego

  1. I keep posting to your blog not because I think I have it all worked out (I don’t), but because these topics you are limning on are very exciting and topical for me. I’ve spent most of my journey conversing with dead authors and writers, and am now very appreciative of having an opportunity of speaking with a living person as aware as you are. When I was a kid, like many little boys, I wanted to have the powers of Superman, be Superman. And for many years as an adult I longed to wake up one day and discover that I was the second coming of Jesus or the Buddha, or some such great person to compensate for who I thought I really was. It has taken a long time to get to this time now when I can accept that just being David is good enough. Others too, but Carl Jung has helped me get to this place.

    A great many of us if not most of us grow into adulthood thinking we are no more than our shadow-egos, and run away from ourselves because we don’t like who we perceive ourselves to be. Getting away from ourselves or getting away from the lack we perceive ourselves to be is to me our “primal madness” until we come in contact with some teaching, community, or individual who (along with our inner selves) can help us to start peeling away those erroneous identities to see ourselves for who we truely are do we begin to accept and embrace ourselves as individuated issues of the one divine being.

    May the spirit of the divine being continue to be with you and be with us all.

    1. David,

      What a joy it is to be in that space where you can accept that just being David is good enough. I would venture to say that it is not just good enough but quite profound to be ‘just you’— to be a human being. One of the more subtle ideas I try to impart on this blog is the profound nature of being human. Here we are, in the vastness of space and time, with this very personal and profound experience of human awareness. That is, each of us hold the potential to be aware, to self-reflect. As the Buddhists say we can turn the mind toward the mind. And when we do, we hold the potential to discover the unfathomable depths of being, which Jung called the Self. When speaking of the Self Jung said:

      “It is a figure comparable to Hiranyagarbha, Purusha, Atman, and the mystic Buddha. For this reason I have elected to call it the “self,” by which I understand a psychic totality and at the same time a centre, neither of which coincides with the ego but includes it, just as a larger circle encloses a smaller one.” (CW 91)

      We can see from this quote that sometimes the ‘figures of the self’ correspond to divine images. One of the key components of Jung’s work is that we are not to identify with these divine figures. I might further add that the beauty and even grandeur of these images of self is not to be taken literally or to be used as a compensation for our own sense of fragility. In fact, to perceive the reality or the truth of the Self directly can be quite humbling as that truth always exists in and encompasses a dialectical tension between the glory of being and the fragility and finitude of our lives. We can become more and more sensitive to both the eternal and the fleeting and very mortal aspects of our selves. And, as you commented, we can become more at-one with ourselves just as we are without needing to identify with being either grand or completely finite. Can we hold the paradox of being ordinary mortals and the Self in all its grandeur both? I see this as the soul’s path and the heart of what I am now calling “archetypal dialectics.”

      1. Thank you, Jenna. As I’ve said before and will probably say many more times: I am very fortunate to have discovered your blog. And more importantly and significantly: your light. 🙂


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