Excerpt About Hell

Seeing that the Ego Ideal Doesn't Work

When someone achieves the ego ideal and sees that it doesn’t work, the attempts to fill the hole from then on are generally not effective. The person either tries to find another, similar ideal, or he simply modifies it. The ego ideal is always based on some kind of positivity—its aim is to give you a positive experience. It is a defense against a negative identity, a negative sense of self. There was a state of harmony that was lost, and the ego ideal is an attempt to regain that harmony. However, the loss of the state of harmony means the presence of negativity. The ego ideal is, in a sense, a way to deal with that negativity by retaining the hope for regaining a positive experience. If a person sees through the ego ideal, he will begin to experience a negative state, which is the absence of the original harmony. He will have to deal with the negative part of the self that is angry and hateful, and will have to see his self-hatred and self-rejection. In other words, you were in paradise and you were then thrown out of it into hell. You then try to build a certain ideal based on a hope of getting back to paradise, so you won’t be suffering in hell. You have this fantasy in your mind while you’re in hell, believing that if you work hard enough at being a certain way, you’ll get back into paradise. The moment you give up that hope, you find out you really are in hell, and you experience the depth of the negativity of self-hatred and self-rejection. When you recognize the ego ideal, there will be all kinds of defenses against it. I’m not trying, by the way, to tell you what will happen in your process; we’re just trying to understand the process. If you’re trying to anticipate what will happen, you are already motivated by the ego ideal. You want a result; the result you have in mind can only be a product of your ego ideal. You’re still caught in it, ensnared by it. The best approach is simply to understand it. Then you’ll see what will happen. It will not happen exactly the same way for everyone.

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