The Individual Self and the Ego: Discussion

There are some interesting phenomena of life and beings on the planet which shed light on this discussion of the ultimate truth and reality of the ego versus some kind of individual Self which is different and other than the separated and fragmented ego-self with which most of us are fully identified. Sri Aurobindo spends some considerable time reviewing these questions and we shall be taking them up here for the next few days while we try to sort out some conclusions at the end.

Scientists researching a grove of aspen trees were astonished to find out that they were all actually one being, connected in the root system, while throwing up individual forms of trees above the surface. What affected one tree, affected them all, since they were in fact “one” life form.

Similarly other researchers found a fungus (mushroom) colony that turned out to be all one gigantic mushroom being, of which the individual mushrooms were a part, and while we could identify individual mushrooms and would attribute individuality to them, they were in fact nevertheless still one being. What happened to one, happened to all.

Further research on coral reefs are revealing the intimate and integral unity of the entire reef as one entity as well.

Each of these examples lead us eventually to the consideration that potentially all the individual manifestations we call individual human beings, the ego-selves of humanity if you will, are all actually part of one much larger “being” of humanity that all are affected by whatever happens to any one. While our normal habit of thought will make it difficult to conceive of our existence in this sense, we certainly must all acknowledge that mankind could not continue as a viable species without a community of humans, and that we rely on each other in order to even exist or have any persistence through time; and further it can be seen that humans together in groups tend to respond as a group with waves of emotions overwhelming the awareness of the individuals making up the group, which explains things like mob reaction, or even the similar response and atmosphere created in a concert or theatre performance.

There is obviously much to consider in terms of determining the correct ultimate viewpoint as to the role of the individual and the reality or non-reality of the ego-sense. This discussion will continue.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 3, The Eternal and the Individual, pp. 368-370

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