Can't come to visit you unless you aren't there.
--Angelus Silesius (1624-1677)
i have described this couplet as "koan-like" but this koan has a solution, The "you" who gets "visited" is not the same "you" as the "you" who must be absent. Perhaps rhe first "You" should be capitalized to show that it is an aspect of the divine while the second "you" is left lower case to show that it is a thing. According to the mystics of all traditions i know anything about, this lower case you is artificial, a small self, a false self, a fabrication that stands between the real you and the divine essence. Modern mystics sometimes call it ego. and recommend its dimunition or abolition.
Most people who are not mystics mean something else by ego. If human consciousness is "partial," if it consists conflicting pieces, some executive function is required to make consciousness integrated. Eric Berne's simple but not quite accurate reconstruction of this idea is that i am part child, either free or adapted (id); part parent, either nurturing or restrictive (superego); and part "adult" who keeps peace between between parent and child and, ideally, keeps the child (within limits) free and the parent (within limits) nurturing. A strong ego is a good thing to have.
My question for today is: "what is the overlap, if any, between the mystic's ego (the small self) and the Freudian ego (the executive, the "adult"). Perhaps they are totally unrelated and deserve different names. Certainly they are not identical or one could not be so welcomed and the other so shunned by intelligent people,
Both egos try to take charge of the whole person. The executive ego manages the id and the superego in the interests of the whole person and it can make of that person a saint or a sinner or anything in between or to the left or right. The "small self" ego knows nothing of the higher Self. It cares only for its own survival thinking (erroneosly) that it is me. (Is it obvious that i have been reading Eckhart Tolle?)
"I am the captain of my sour," says the small self, thinking itself large. "My soul belongs to God" says the religious person, thinking itself small. It occurs to me that the captain of a ship is frequently not its owner, nor the owner a captain. And it occurs to me that humility might be a good quality for either owner or captain.
I somehow need to keep a strong executive ego while getting rid of my small self.