Every child is born essentially pure, magnificent, yet fragile and unformed. But instead of nurturing this essence, society shrouds it with their prejudices, opinions and biases in a bid to shape the child in their own image.
Gradually these conditionings force us to borrow or construct a false self as a defensive reaction. This false self is our negative ego. Many people spend a lifetime living this false image and trying to fulfill expectations of who they are supposed to be, instead of discovering who they are.
People often confuse this false idea of the self (negative ego) with honor or respect.
But this true self can only be repressed – not obliterated. Hence, sooner or later, this repression becomes the root cause for conflict at work, in relationships, and between countries.
The difference between ego and positive pride is well explained in this Serbian proverb: “Be humble, for you are made of earth; be noble, for you are made of stars.”
So while we have the capacity to rise to the stars, we also have to return back to the Earth.
To conclude, when we talk about “I” and “You” we are looking at ourselves as separate from each other, with individual egos. But when we give up our egos “You” and “I” become one. We are transformed. This is the final stage that spirituality aims to bring about in our lives, a goal a Sufi aspires to reach.