Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mysteries of selflessness

There are three kinds of egos (selves or souls) according to Iqbal:
  1. Ultimate
  2. collective
  3. individual
Ultimate ego is God. Collective ego is a mystery which reveals itself as destiny. Rumi has explained it at length in the opening passages of Volume 2 of Masnavi: “only animals have separate souls, the soul of all human beings is just one.” Saadi later stated it more bluntly as “children of Adam are limbs to one another.”

According to Iqbal, this collective ego of humanity is real. Individual ego is virtual. Hence individuals need to extinguish their egos, or selves, in the collective ego in order to become real.
A nation which adopts the Unity of God as its basic principle becomes the collective ego on earth.

Islam is one such nation, and hence for a Muslim the way to realize his or her self is by extinguishing their individual self in the collective ego of the nation. This has been explained in ‘Asrar-i-Khudi’ (1915) also but in more detail in ‘Rumooz-i-Bekhudi’ (1918) (both parts together form Asrar-o-Rumooz, the first published book of Iqbal’s poetry).


  1. Just a brief THANX for this explanation along with the VIVID, evocative image! Believe me I will use this piece as a major REFERENCE often because I've been steeped in the St. Francis sort of Christian mysticism and have added the last couple of years to Buddhist practices of Echert Tolle and Thich Nhat Hahn. Therefore, I am very wary of any egoism at all - per BLACKWATER as a collective extension of US individual ego and as the arms of the COLLECTIVE ego, THE neocon elites beyond the US of many forms. Therefore even collective use of EGO is really still troublesome to me. Also since Bush was a UNITARY KING GEORGE of a kind of pseudo-Christian variety - he was/is considered an amnerican parallel to other dictators and non-secular states...

    So, I really want to "dig into" this interesting piece because this may be one major way to work toward a common spiritual/psychological/literary language between East/West (metaphorically at least)

    I can FEEL now after enough reading in depth of Iqbal and your interpretations/notes that Iqbal was speaking of an entirely different kind of Collective Ego...STILL I don't know how to speak this language in order to be coherent to others steeped as I have been in Selflessness, egolessness of BOTH individual and Collective varieties Christian and perhaps Tao and some kinds of spiritual socialism as well.


    Spiritual, but not religious (ONENESS, SELFLESSNESS) with Contemplative Thomas Keating

    An offering perhaps out of the better Western Christian contemplatives

  3. Connie, thanks. Ego is a concept which we need to reclaim from godless psychology. If ego simply means the centre of existence, the "I am", then God is the Ultimate "I AM" (you know how those words translate into Hebrew :)).

  4. Several quotes from a book I'm reading on Sufism: "To paraphrase Meister Eckhart, man's predicament is that he wishes to perceive God in the same way he perceives a cow." YES, I know what you are saying, Khurram Sahib and I know this "I AM" from my own biblical history. I do agree with you that "Ego is a concept which we need to reclaim from godless psychology" - so well put...

    Just a few more quotes from this Sufi book:

    "...there is an I inside me, inner than myself."

    the I Am says: "I am closer to you than you."

    OK, I'm quite sure the true mystics all agree with poet Francis Thompson:

    All things, by immortal power,
    Near and far,
    To each other linked are,
    That you cannot stir a flower
    Without troubling a star.

  5. Although often well-meaning people have done so...perhaps one consideration might have been and still could be how even with use of Western languages as "tools" for common communication - too often there is arrogance by Western writers and specialists in assuming all will be on the "same page" or agree with such use when often this is not at all the case. Whereas today more than ever we need to pull these profound terms out of their dust, decay, baggage and revive them with fuller, better and more accurate meanings.

    Another consideration which IF added to democracy and to personal transformation could make all the difference in cooperative peace is this beautiful value and goal of CONSENSUS!

  6. i believe in harmonizing individual ego with collective ego instead of 'extinguishing' it. my individual ego has also been created by God, why should i deny my SELF. denying my Self doesn't work, atleat for me becuase I TOO AM a reality that exists.....a reality not bigger than the collective ego of human beings, nontheless a reality!