The origin of the word ego is from Latin, meaning ‘I’.

Over the years the meaning has evolved to, our 'sense of self'.

Our 'sense of self' - our ego - is what we refer to when we say I.

So the ego is our 'sense of self' - what we are consciously aware of in our thoughts, images in our mind, feelings and sensations.

But there's far more...

We are never consciously aware of the content and functioning of our unconscious - and this is where the foundations of self exist.

It is these foundations on which the ego is built.

The unconscious aspects of self include impressions of past experiences, all that we've learned, our inherited characteristics, and our primordial instincts.

These all contribute to the totality of the individual self.

And they also create our individual and unique inner reality.

The most powerful aspect of the totality of self is the survival instinct.

From birth, our survival instinct causes us to attach to whoever provides for our basic needs, but soon, we start to attach to behaviours that seem to contribute to our security of survival.

We then begin to attach more widely, to physical objects, other people, knowledge and beliefs.

This process of attaching to, and then protecting, is driven by our survival instinct - and its purpose is the survival of the self.

This is why we rise to defend our self - our physical self and all we have attached to - whenever they are threatened.

The self never feels secure enough, or satisfied for long, simply due to the ever-changing and uncertain nature of life.

We are ever-conscious of this feeling of insecurity, and therefore there is in us an almost constant need for more, not just to satisfy physical wants and needs, but also in an attempt to protect our self against a threatening world, and the passing of time.

These basic realities of life cause a natural self-focus - and from this comes self-interested thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

Further along the scale this creates a sense of discontent, anger at how life is unfair, greed for whatever temporarily fills this void, and a lack of real interest in anything that does not serve the interests of self. 

At its worst, this results in unbridled self-gratification and evil.

Moral intuition  

In addition to our survival instinct, humans have moral intuition.

Its source is also beyond awareness in the unconscious. 

It is an intuitive knowing of right from wrong, good from bad, kind from unkind, unselfish from selfish.

And it is this that eventually causes Awakening to begin.

Inner Journey 

The more we come to recognise our egoic self interest, the wrongness of it and the suffering it causes, the more motivated we become to rid ourselves of it.

The problem is, we cannot consciously access the unconscious. 

But we can recognise self-interested impulses arising into our conscious awareness.

We can sense selfishness in our thoughts and feelings.

To diminish these egocentric tendencies we must become ever-more vigilant of our inner experience - and ever-more determined not to allow them to overrule our moral intuition.  


The ego - which is our 'sense of self' - combined with our natural survival instinct - are the cause of all egoic thinking, feeling and behaviour.

It is this that is at the root of all suffering, both in our self and in the world.

For us to head in the right direction on our Inner Journey we must turn away from egoic self-interest and onto the path towards selflessness.