Ego and Soul: Opponents or Partners?

I love to read for so many reasons: for inspiration, for education, and just for the fun of it! I read because it expands my world and introduces me to new people and new perspectives. I read, as C. S. Lewis said, “to know we are not alone.” And I read because, every now and then, an author takes a thought that I’d had, but hadn’t been able to put into words, and articulates it far more eloquently than I could’ve done. I recently had this experience (again and again and again) while reading Jodi Chapman’s new book, Soul Bursts.

I love so many things about this book (and not just because Jodi is my amazing wife!).  I love that it’s authentic, vulnerable, and uplifting. I love that it’s simple yet profound, personal yet universal. And I love that, as I read it, I found myself saying, Yes! THANK you! — not just once or twice, but on almost every single page — as she gave voice to so many important truths. Although I could choose from hundreds of examples, for this post, I’ll focus on just one sentence (from the chapter “What Do You Believe?”):

“I believe that the soul and the ego are in partnership rather than opposition.”

Thank you!

So often, I’ve read books that rail against the ego as if it were some demonic force sent to ruin all that’s good in the world — or a parasite living within you that must be contained (or, better yet, destroyed). Although I’m sure all those authors meant well and have some valid points, something about this underlying premise never quite sat right with me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it…until Jodi did!

Once I started thinking of the soul and ego as partners, rather than opponents, it made perfect sense. Now, in fact, to see them any other way seems almost absurd. And once I started to see the soul and the ego as partners, I started thinking about almost everything this way! And why not? Think about it:

  • Are your eyes in opposition to your ears?
  • Are your hands in opposition to your feet?
  • Is what you eat in opposition to what you drink?
  • Is your car in opposition to your bicycle?

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point: the different parts of our lives — and ourselves — can work together as a team rather than working against each other.  In different situations, one part might take the lead or be more appropriate (such as using a car for traveling long distances and a bike for short distances, using your hands to type and your feet to walk, etc.). And sometimes they work in tandem as partners (such as enjoying a movie with your eyes and ears, or loving someone with your head and your heart).

The same goes for your body and spirit, your ego and your soul — they can be on the same team! They don’t have to be opponents, fighting each other to the death. You don’t have to choose one and reject the other. It’s not either/or. (At least, it doesn’t have to be!)

You can embrace your human side — including your physicality, your mind, and even your ego — while still living a deeply spiritual life guided by your soul. You can use the so-called “lower” parts of you — such as drive, ambition, and a sense of your individuality — in the service of (so-called) higher goals (such as uplifting others through art, charity, and compassionate service).

Think about it: Why would God/Nature create a part of you whose sole function was to thwart another part of you? I simply don’t believe it. To me, this would be as absurd as your body having lungs (for breathing) and “anti-lungs” (which made it harder to breathe…unless you renounced them). Of course, this is ludicrous. But I don’t believe it’s any more ludicrous than thinking that inherent parts of who we are — our thoughts and emotions, our hands and feet, or our ego and soul — are somehow designed to be pitted in eternal opposition.

Yes, if you believe that one part of you works against another, I’m sure you can turn this belief into a self-fulfilling prophecy — and experience this as your truth. But it’s not necessary! The different parts of you can fight against each other, but they can also complement one another in beautiful ways — working in alignment for your highest good.

And the implications can extend far beyond individuals — the same concept applies to possibilities for harmonious cooperation between people with different interests, professions, backgrounds, religions, or even nations. This shift in perspective can literally change your entire worldview…and the world!

So, within your own life, which way would you rather see it and experience it — fighting yourself every step of the way…or working as a harmonious team? It’s your choice.

Of course, everything I’ve written here is just a roundabout way of saying what Jodi put into a single short sentence: “I believe that the soul and the ego are in partnership rather than opposition.”

P.S. To learn all about Soul Bursts (and to see a preview of it), please visit www.jodichapman.com/soulbursts/.

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