What's the Difference Between the Voices of Ego and Soul?


egoorsoulThe search for self-knowledge requires us to discriminate between helpful and non-helpful thoughts, attitudes, feelings and emotions.  Until now,  I’ve never found simple guidelines for this practice.  Then I came across an article in the online journal, Waking Times. Rhiame’s post, “How Do I Know if it’s My Ego or Soul Talking?” is helpful to me, and I’d like to share a portion of it.
“Here are the three main characteristics that undoubtedly define ego.
Ego Speaks
“The expression ‘listen to your soul’ is often misleading. Indeed, the soul does not speak; it’s ego that speaks, and as a matter of fact, very loudly. In my search to follow my soul’s will, I often call on her for guidance, and usually, obviously, I expect an answer from her. “Unfortunately, most of the time — if not all the time — the first answer that comes is not from my soul, but from my ego. I’ll use a little story to illustrate what happens in the background of our consciousness.
“Let’s imagine that Mr. Ego and Ms. Soul live under the same roof (body), and there’s only one phone line in the house to contact either of the two. So, every time I call to reach Ms. Soul, it’s Mr. Ego who picks up the phone. He’s a control freak, a self-absorbed, noisy character that wants to be in charge of everything. He makes sure that Ms. Soul never answers the phone, and plays tricks so I won’t recognize him. He even changes his voice and his attitude to make me believe it is my soul talking. But when I learn the right tools to recognize him, I get taken in by his tricks less and less.
“The Soul does not speak. She is a voiceless character that imposes her will smoothly by setting up life situations. She is more of a doer than a talker. When she manifests her will, she usually makes me do things that may not make any sense at first glance — from an egotistic standpoint. Often it sounds illogical and scary, but it is so strong that I feel compelled to do it. An inner state of ‘knowing’ or ‘feeling right’ is created. I’d like to quote Mother who said, ‘If you ask yourself whether it’s the soul talking, then you know it’s not.’ This may clarify, if in doubt!
“Ego Wants
“Ego always wants something or doesn’t want something. He is the one who makes me say: “I want more money“, “I don’t want to be sick“, “I don’t want to live alone, I want to find a companion“, “I need to be recognized”, and on and on. By wanting or needing things, the ego is always attached to a result that is tangible.
“On the other hand, the soul does not want anything. She has no expectations and she is not attached to any outcome. The soul is only interested in the experience, the process…the emancipation of my being, and in the evolution of my consciousness towards who I really am. Any life situation I may encounter is regarded as beneficial for that purpose; indeed, for the soul, there are no positive or negative life experiences — they are all working for…realization.
… And Fast
“Ego wants fast. So each time I feel rushed to do something or to make a decision, I know it’s my ego’s impulse. Indeed, ego lives in a mortal reality where he believes that his time is limited. He is the one who wants me to do as many things as possible in a short period of time. He is the one who is afraid of missing an opportunity, and who does not want to waste time in things that do not fulfill his immediate needs.
“Whereas the soul lives in the infinite present moment and is immortal. So each time I feel rushed to do or decide something, I must stop right away and give myself time to think it over. Concretely, I must shut down my ego’s big mouth which obstructs my clarity and prevents me from perceiving my soul’s inclination. Only when my ego is silenced and put on the back seat of the car can my soul take the wheel, in other words, take the governance of my life, and lead me in the direction that will further her fusion with my body.”
As with every facet of inner growth, wanting discrimination is not enough. It takes practice; however, the results are worth it.  As Rhiame says, “…the more we practice, the faster we’ll get out of this appalling fear-based animal humanity that creates hell on earth!”
Photo Credit: dreamstime
Rhiame has been walking the personocratic path for the last 6 years. She shares her experience and integration with the world through her blog Personocratic Seeds, and e-workshops.
My books can be found at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Diesel Ebooks and Larson Publications, Inc.

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14 Responses

  1. I really enjoyed this post. It is so lovely to find your blog reappearing in my email inbox! I definitely feel a contradiction between the soul and ego. ‘Speaking, wanting and at speed’ really helps to identify the tricky ego.

  2. Jeanie, My FEELINGS tell me who’s in charge. I truly appreciate your generosity in lighting the pathway for me. Xxoo Cindy
    Sent from my cell phone

    1. Yes, feelings can be the ideal guide if one knows how to interpret them. For example, feeling afraid, selfish, ashamed, defensive or vulnerable usually suggest ego; whereas feeling worthy, loved, grateful, generous and safe suggest soul! Thanks for adding this component to the mix!

  3. This is a very important issue to confront. I wrestle with it all the time. Rhiame’s guidelines seem very good. I only take issue with one and that is her statement that the soul does not speak or have a voice. In my experience, by very carefully using the imagination as the functional medium of contact, the soul can draw from the reservoir of the ego’s knowledge and experience and provide useful, personalized communication to the ego. The characteristics of the author’s list of the quality and framework of the soul’s communications are particularly crucial when this type of interactive dialogue is used. Thanks for posting this very useful article.

    1. I’m glad you found this article useful. Thanks for your helpful observations about the soul. I agree that the imagination is an extremely effective point of contact between ego and soul. As you know, Jung’s recorded active imaginations in the Red Book are filled with worded messages to his ego from his soul. What he learned from her cannot be emphasized enough, as these dialogues are the source of many of his brilliant insights and innovations!

      1. Yes, it was my understanding that his personal experiences in which he discovered and began to use active imagination were very influential in his understanding of the Self. I envy you for having read the Red Book. I can’t afford to get it for myself, and I can’t seem to ever break away and go find it in a library reference section so I can sit down with it. Maybe one of these days…

        1. There’s a smaller Reader’s Edition that’s easier to handle and costs $49.95 U.S. It doesn’t have the illustrations, but it’s very convenient to carry around! We use the Reader’s Edition in my Jungian study group and the big one on the table for when we want to see the illustrations. We haven’t finished it yet, but I intend to!

      2. Thanks Jean, I did not know about the Reader’s Edition of the Red Book. I will have to see about getting it.

  4. So helpful, Jeanie. Oh, that ego is a trickster with many disguises. Great definition of ego: it wants something, fast, and isn’t subtle in its demands. As a young student of Jung, meditation, and spiritual philosophy, Trungpa’s book ‘Cutting through Spiritual Materialism’ showed me how the ego moves in on everything, including the spiritual quest. That “My guru is the best so I’m on the one true path” voice of self-aggrandizement.. I’ve always been thankful for that lesson–and now I’m grateful for Jungian dream work to help me listen for the deeper voices. A friend complained to the spiritual teacher Paul Brunton that her ego was always sad or craving something or making trouble or having opinions. Paul Brunton said with a quiet smile, “That’s the ego’s job.” I won’t forget that lesson either. Thank you for your wisdom.

    1. Thank you for your wisdom too, Elaine. Dream work has also been a major help to me in this endeavor, not just because the ego is easy to spot in dreams, but because the regular practice of remembering and reflecting on nightly dreams has trained me to be more aware of my inner contents in waking life as well. I’m not familiar with Trungpa’s book, but it sounds like something I’d enjoy. I appreciate your helpful observations about this issue.

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