The question of the source and nature of the human ego(s), for Douglas, is one that plagued his years as a Waldorf teacher trainer. Explaining where the ego arises and how it develops requires a cosmology to ground the seemingly timeless and divine nature of the human ego and its future. After teaching Theosophy to first and second year Waldorf teacher-students for years, he explained the cosmic question of “What are the three egos?’ in the summary that follows. We hope that it will guide you in understanding the nature of the egos.
Steiner’s basic book of definitions, Theosophy, is often overlooked as one of the greatest books in his teachings. It is difficult to understand because translations mix old theosophical terms with Steiner’s new terms. It takes a theosophical background to fully appreciate the profound insight Steiner gives us in this book. It is a marvelous platform for us to shed some light on the question of the human ego.
First, we should define what is meant by an ego as it seems somewhat undefinable, but is the source and goal of all spiritual evolution. According to Steiner, “The ego is a name for the mysterious force of consciousness that finds itself everywhere that consciousness goes, but finds no one place to rest. The ego (I am) is always developing after the example of the Cosmic Ego, Christ.”
Some other definitions are helpful in this discussion so that we share terminology and meaning. In this summary, the “I” is the “I am” awareness of the wakeful self-consciousness of the human being. We can be awake, dreaming, or in a dreamless sleep condition of consciousness. In this discussion, we focus on the awake person’s experience of their “I am.” In short, we will use the terms “I”, “I consciousness”, “ego”, and “ego awareness” as synonymous terms.
If we paraphrase some of the salient points of Theosophy that address the nature of the ego, we will be on firm ground to begin to build the temple in which the ego resides. Normally, what we experience of our I, or ego, is the total experience of body and soul wherein awakened ego consciousness has its source in the soul. This ego remains invisible and we perceive it as our true being while our body and soul seem to be garments. The ego is difficult to find or define and is held in the deepest part of the individual. Sense perception reveals one world to us, while the ego can also perceive another world of spirit. The body and soul give themselves over to the ego to serve its needs on one hand, while the ego gives itself over to the spirit to serve its needs.
The ego lives within the body and soul, but the spirit lives within the ego. hat there is of spirit in the ego is eternal, for the ego receives its nature and significance from that which it is united.
The ego dwells in the Consciousness Soul and radiates outward from there, filling the entire soul and exerting its influence on the body through the soul. Within the ego, the spirit is alive and actively streaming into the ego, taking it as its ‘garment.’ The spirit shapes the ego from the inside out and the mineral world shapes it from the outside in. We call that part of our spirit, the Spirit Self that shapes the ego.
The Consciousness Soul touches the autonomous truth that is independent of all sympathy and antipathy, but the Spirit Self carries this truth inside itself by taking it up, enclosing it and individualizing it by means of the ego, thereby incorporating itself into the individual’s independent being. Through becoming independent and uniting with the truth, the ego itself achieves immortality.
The Spirit Self is a revelation of the spiritual world within the ego, just as a sense perception, coming from the other side, is a revelation of the physical world within the ego.
We call the revelation of physical things “sensation”, and we call the revelation of spiritual things “intuition.”
Even a very simple thought already contains intuition because we cannot touch it with our hands or see it with our eyes; we must receive its revelation from the spirit by means of the ego.
As we grow on the path of spiritual self-development we learn to create “intuition-filled thinking.” This Intuition announces itself in its lowest manifestation to the Spirit Self, what can be called Manas, or manasic thinking. This is sense-free thinking or supersensible thinking.
Through intuitions, the ego awakening in our soul receives messages from the spiritual world, just as it receives messages from the physical world through sensations. We take in spiritual substance from our spiritual surroundings and make it our own. This spiritual substance is eternal nourishment for human beings.
The spiritual world has built the organ of intuition into the Consciousness Soul. The spiritual body is capable of unlimited expansion. Through the spirit body wings are grown that give the “I” mobility in the spiritual world.
Over the course of spiritual self-development the Spirit Self (Manas) transforms the astral body, the life spirit (Buddhi) transforms the etheric body, and the Spirit Human (Atman) transforms the physical body. The ego can then begin to recognize that its own ego arises out of what happens to the individual through its biography, what comes from the outside. The body is subject to the laws of heredity; the soul is subject to self-created destiny or karma; and the spirit is subject to the laws of reincarnation or repeated earthly lives.
It must be emphasized above all that this spiritual world is woven out of the substance that constitutes human thought. When our spiritual senses are awakened, we actually perceive the thought being itself, just as our physical eyes perceive a table or chair. We are surrounded and accompanied by thought beings. Those who have learned to use their spiritual eyes perceive their surroundings as filled with a whole new world of living thoughts or spirit beings.
Sense-perceptible things are nothing other than condensed spirit beings. Those who can lift their thoughts to the level of these spirit beings may understand them. Sense-perceptible things originate in the spirit world and are another manifestation of spirit beings. When we formulate thought about things, we are inwardly directed away from their sense-perceptible forms and toward their spiritual archetypes. We must imagine this sense-perceptible thing as a condensed thought being.
If we want to set out on the path to higher knowledge, we must practice until we are able to obliterate ourselves and all our prejudices at any moment so that something else can flow into us. Only high levels of selfless devotion enable us to perceive the higher spiritual phenomena all around us.
Truth itself must become sovereign in us, filling our whole being and transforming us into a replica of spirit country’s eternal laws. We must imbue ourselves with these eternal laws in order to let them flow out into life. We cannot achieve living in the spirit merely by being beholders of it – It has to be experienced.
Initiation is bestowed upon aspirants, who become disciples of wisdom, through the great spiritual powers guiding the human race. The less we see this initiation as consisting of any outward human relationship, the more accurate the idea we have of it. The disciples of wisdom are able to converse with the spirit itself.
Through these sweeping images of the nature of the threefold ego we can see outlined a dynamic where the “earthly ego” comes to birth in the soul realm and merges with the Spirit Self, creating the reincarnating soul/spirit of the individual. On the other hand, the higher ego that is a replica of Christ and is intimately connected to the Life Spirit part of the threefold spiritual constitution of the human being (Spirit Self – Life Spirit – Spirit Human) may be found in the realm of the Life Spirit that is the home of the higher ego or Christened self. This realm is also called Buddhi in theosophical terms. It is out of this realm that Christ pours forth the waters of life to renew the etheric realms of the Earth and the human etheric body. When the soul is purified and the astral body is tamed, the eternal thoughts gleaned from life by the Consciousness Soul are offered as the “Virgin Sophia” to the Spirit Self as a sister of wisdom, ready for the spiritual wedding of the earthly ego to the higher ego, or Spirit Self to Life Spirit.
This merging, or wedding of earthly ego to higher ego is depicted in many spiritual traditions with images of weddings, alchemical marriages, sacred joining, and such. The wedding at Cana also had to “transform” water into wine, an alchemical transubstantiation of earthly substance into spiritual nourishment. The Virgin Soul (Sophia) weds the Spirit Self which then can unite with the Life Spirit of Christ, the higher ego. This stage is described clearly in the images from Theosophy above.
Most traditions are clear about this aspect of the lower ego (self) and higher ego (self). But what isn’t clear from these remarks is where the third ego, the Cosmic Ego of Christ, the substance of the Spirit Human (Atman) can be found or what the process is that brings this about.
Rudolf Steiner indicates in The Foundations of Anthroposophical Methodology, Bologna, April, 1911, that: “The epitome of supersensible observation consists of the fact that in the spiritual world Christ is recognized as the guiding force. The more the soul develops supersensible cognitive powers, the nearer it comes to the Christ Being.”
Part of the problem with describing the third ego is the confusion between the higher ego, the second ego, and the third ego, the ego of the world (cosmos), the group soul of Christ. This realm of the Spirit Human, or Atman, is little understood because the conditions of consciousness to perceive this realm lies in the future supersensible organs the initiate must develop. To live in this realm, the initiate would know Sophia as an ever present companion on the spiritual path that leads to direct union with Christ, our higher ego. Each individual takes on a part of the etheric Christ to exist in this realm that will only come to full fruition in the far future. Initiates may use all three egos at this time if they are in constant resonance with the Life Spirit and Spirit Human realms of future spiritual development. Intuitions pour out of this realm and divine mercy and grace is bestowed on the initiate who can visit those realms of consciousness.
We will describe the stage of entering the realm of the third ego as we describe the three stages of initiation that bring us into the realms of the Spirit Self, Life Spirit, and Spirit Human. These stages of Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition are transformed from the thinking, feeling, and willing of the initiate. Each realm transforms and redeems a complementary realm of the astral, etheric, and physical, respectively. The human body is the temple wherein the spiritual nature of the ego comes to birth. Using these bodies as tools of initiation unlocks and releases the spiritual beings frozen in sense perception. Even our bodies are used in this process of transubstantiate – turning matter into sprit.
To develop the stages of initiation the aspirant must first understand that intellectual thinking is limited to the physical body and cannot produce the living thoughts necessary to reach the etheric realm. This type of thinking can lead to “thinking about thinking” wherein the very process of thinking itself becomes the focus of perception. This can lead to morphological thinking that examines the processes of growth and decay in the outside world’s stream of time. Seeing how one form leads to another and then to the hidden seed inside the blossom, leads to a thinking that is mobile and not subject to decay. Morphological thinking sees the levity and life that causes form to metamorphose into the next stage of life as a conscious process raying into matter from the spiritual world. Image becomes sound as we grow from Imagination to Inspiration, from “thinking about thinking” to feeling and knowing the cyclic processes of life.
Beyond both of these processes of thinking is an exceptional state of thinking, a spiritual thinking that is an experiential contemplation of thinking. When this is achieved, thinking births an inner life that is real and connected to the spiritual world. Once a regulated and harmonious thought organism is developed in the soul, the deeper powers of thinking can be consciously directed, observed, and understood. Sense perception and true thinking become one as the subject and object coincide in the experience of perception. Deep powers of thinking arise that must be examined and studied. Finally, the ability arises that the initiate can control thinking and perception to the point that it can go outside of the human body in full consciousness and grasp the “real ego” that lives and weaves outside of the human body. It is this independent thinking that can then go into the spiritual world and use supersensible organs to commune with the divine.
Let’s take a look at what these three realms of the spiritual world, or the three steps of initiation, might look like to the developing aspirant.
Stage One: Imagination
This stage of initiation is called Imagination and it involves the Consciousness Soul merging with the Spirit Self to embody the reincarnating human being. During this stage we feel our ego outside of our physical body in the world, as if it is coming at us. The ego that we generally experience we will call the everyday ego, or earthly ego, in contradistinction to the higher ego or the world (true) ego. The earthly ego is a mirror image of the higher ego. This higher ego was donated to us before “creation” began. The creation of new egos throughout the evolution of a solar system is the original intent of creation, a certain type of “creation out of nothingness.” Christ has donated all three egos and is intimately connected to the progress and evolution of them.
During the Ancient Moon incarnation of the Earth, objective perception of thought as a living being appeared in the astral body through pictures, signs, and symbols. Human beings were not confused into believing that their thoughts were their own property or that they had created the thoughts out of their own capacities of thinking. Only in our times, by necessity, are our thoughts considered to “belong” to the thinker. This illusion of thinking as “personal” and the “product of human effort” has led to the development of false egohood, pride, and evil in the realm of thinking.
Sense perception is observation of things that are essentially made from thoughts. Things are thoughts slowed down as the illusion of solid so that humans could have a realm of isolation in which to be born as “new thinkers.” Transforming sense perception into foods for the gods is the intent of the spiritual world acted out through human evolution. Through enlivened thinking called “Imagination”, higher thinking can be borne by finding eternal truths that are objective, even in the outside world of seeming illusion. These thoughts can arise into the realm of Imagination, called the Manasic realm or the realm of Spirit Self. These eternal truths are objective and have a basis of reality in both the physical and spiritual worlds.
The personal, everyday ego can be found in the interaction between the seeming center of consciousness inside the human being and the picture of that human being coming to him from the outside world. For example, it takes another to reflect to us who we are. Our actions in the world and the response of the world to those actions tell us much about our ego. We see ourselves through others and find our ego coming to us as our destiny and karma. This “self knowing” is the first step in knowing the higher ego, the “Christ in us.”
Imagination is the first step of initiation that begins with transforming “thinking about thinking” into a force of self knowing. Studying the same processes of thinking that have produced the outer world’s laws of nature tunes us into the true nature of the ego inside of us and outside of us.
For readers who require a foundation of these concepts from Rudolf Steiner, please review the sections below, all of which come are from Steiner from books and lectures as indicated.
From: Ascension and Pentecost
But now, besides the etheric body and the astral body, we bear within us as that which is supremely spiritual, our ego. We know something of the complex nature of the ego. We know especially that it is the ego which passes from incarnation to incarnation, that the inner forces of the ego build themselves up and shape themselves to that form which we carry forward into our being in each new incarnation. In the ego we rise again from death to prepare for a new incarnation. It is by virtue of the ego that we are individuals. If we can say that the etheric body represents in a certain sense that which is akin to birth and is connected with the elemental forces of nature, that the astral body symbolizes the death-bringing principle that is connected with the higher spirituality, so we can say that the ego represents our continual rising again in the spirit, our resurrection into the spiritual realm which is neither nature nor the world of stars, but pervades them all. And just as the Christmas festival can be connected with the etheric body and the Easter festival with the astral body, so the Whitsun festival can be connected with the ego. This is the festival which, representing the immortality of the ego, is a token of the fact that we, as men, do not share only in the universal life of nature, do not merely undergo death, but that we are individual immortal beings, rising ever and again from death.
From: The Festivals of the Seasons, Lecture XVI
If the Mystery of Golgotha continues to live on in the human soul through earthly existence – amid what is connected with this Mystery of Golgotha in the Christmas mystery – it can serve as an impulse resounding in the soul. Fichte is a perfect example of how, when this is the case, a path is opened on which we can find the consciousness in which our own “I” flows together with the earth “I” – for this earth “I” is the Christ. Through this, we develop something in the human being that must become greater and greater if the earth is to move toward the development for which it was destined from the beginning.
From: The Being of Man and His Future Evolution, May 3, 1909
What we need is an ego that keeps itself mobile, neither losing itself in external physical observation or in external physical experience, nor remaining stationary at one point, but really advancing in spiritual development. That is why the great masters of wisdom and of harmony of the perceptions have not been telling us all the time in the theosophical movement that we should let the divine man within us speak; on the contrary they have given us quite specific impulses for finding the wisdom of the world in all its different aspects. And we are not pupils of the great masters by only wanting to let the God within us speak, or by imagining that each individual carries his own master within himself, but by wanting to get to know the structure of the world in all its aspects. Anthroposophical development is a striving to know all the subtle aspects of cosmic happenings. We attain our higher ego by evolving upwards from stage to stage. Our ego is there outside, manifest in the wonders of the world. For we are born out of the world and want to live our way back into it.
From: The Contents of Esoteric Classes Esoteric Lessons Part III: Stuttgart, 5-18-1913
The forces streaming from the Sun enable the human being to become the bearer of an ego. We owe to the rays of the Sun the power which molds the human form into an image of the ego. The forces which determine the human form from outside, even during the period of embryonic life, are the active forces of the Sun.
From: The Threshold of the Spiritual World Threshold/Spiritual World: XV
So the ego grasps itself in memory, and high beings gave us the ego and memory. The ego that grasps itself in memory is like a letter that an esoteric must learn and that the Gods have written into world space. The high beings who gave the ego have their seat on the sun; they give us what goes from incarnation to incarnation.
From: The Festivals and Their Meaning, Lecture III
Through the work of the ego upon the astral body the latter is transformed into Spirit Self. But this takes place step by step, through the sentient soul being developed first, then the intellectual soul, and finally the spiritual soul; then the Spirit Self pours into the purified and mature spiritual (consciousness) soul. In the same way the ego works upon the etheric body, and the impulses which are most effective in this case are the influences of art, religion and occult training.
Stage Two: Inspiration
The second stage of initiation is called Inspiration. This stage happens when the Spirit Self (Manas) merges with the Life Spirit (Buddhi). The realm of Life Spirit is where Christ reigns through creating an atmosphere of redeemed etheric life force that nourishes the Spirit Self through providing the archetypal higher ego for the Spirit Self to wed. This is often depicted as the Virgin Sophia being a bride who is wedding the Lamb of God, Christ the bridegroom. This heavenly marriage is found in many religions and spiritual practices. It is accomplished by emptying our being so that spirit can flow into the prepared sacred space made for the “Christ in me.”
On the path to the second, transcendental ego, we again find the higher ego outside of the physical body which brings the experience of Inspiration, which is like hearing the Music of the Spheres in perfect harmony. To reach this level of initiation, the initiate must extinguish the pictures that were so abundant in the first stage of Imagination. One must push past the images to the experience of the inner activity behind thought processes, the beings who create thought to begin with. No sense perception is allowed into this realm, only sense-free thinking or spiritual sound. New supersensible organs of perception must be developed to perceive and communicate in these realms. It is there that the earthly ego living in the Spirit Self can unite with the higher ego of the initiate living in the Life Spirit. This creates the spiritual anointing of the earthly ego that unites with the higher ego that was donated by Christ. The initial etheric drops of blood donated by Christ to create the earthly ego now send energy to the head which enters New Jerusalem or the Temple of Wisdom, the Grail Castle.
In the second stage of initiation, Inspiration, the initiate’s earthly ego becomes the “Christ in me” and takes on the Life Spirit as the human etheric body is spiritualized. This is called the etherization of the blood and is a type of spiritual communion which nourishes the spiritual world and the initiate. This is contact with the higher ego, or higher self, as it is commonly referred. The experience of the higher ego comes from the outside world and is experienced in the outside world, in a sense looking from the outside toward the inside. Your higher ego is developed by your spiritual practice but the substance of the higher ego is taken from the common substance provided by Christ to all higher egos ready to put on the resurrection body of Christ. Your earthly ego is realized through the outside world coming at you, whereas your higher ego is witnessed from the outside world looking towards you. The perspective changes from a dynamic of outward raying in, to one of outward witnessing. One is a type of “being beheld” whereas the other is one of “beholding.” There is a distinct sense of “selflessness” that comes with the higher ego that is quite different from the earthly ego.
From: The Threshold of the Spiritual World Threshold/Spiritual World: IX
Man bears within him a real ego, which belongs to a super-spiritual world. In the physical world this real ego is, as it were, concealed by the experiences of thinking, feeling, and willing. Even in the spiritual world man only becomes aware of his real ego when he effaces in himself the memories of everything which he is able to experience through his thinking, feeling, and willing. The knowledge of the real ego emerges out of forgetfulness of what is experienced in the physical world, the elemental world, and the spiritual world.
From: Cosmic Ego and Human Ego, (GA 130)
For this Christ evolution it was normal to bring to ego-perfection, outside the earth, an ego of a macrocosmic sort, and then to descend to earth. And so for the evolution of the Christ Being it was normal, when He descended from the macrocosm to our earth, to bring into it the great impulse of the macrocosmic ego, in order that the microcosmic ego, the human ego, might take up this impulse, and be able to go forward in its evolution. It was normal for the Christ to have the macrocosmic ego-impulse – not the microcosmic ego-impulse — just as much evolved as man upon the earth had developed the microcosmic. Thus the Christ Being is a Being Who in a certain sense is like the human being, only that man is microcosmic and has brought his four principles to expression microcosmically, and hence has his ego also microcosmically as earth-ego — but the Christ as Cosmic Ego. His evolution was such that He was great and significant because of the perfect development of this ego, which He brought down to earth. And He had not the fifth macrocosmic principle, and not the sixth, for He will evolve these on Jupiter and on Venus, in order that He may give them to man.
Stage Three: Intuition
The third stage of initiation is called Intuition wherein the higher ego from the realm of Life Spirit becomes one with all other Christened beings in the world ego of Christ which manifests in the realm of Spirit Human (Atman). This world ego of Christ is the third, the true ego. Again, this true ego is found outside of the human body and is found only when, through personal effort, the earthly ego and the higher ego are extinguished. All of the effort to develop the ego and become selfless and Christ-like must then be voluntarily surrendered and annihilated until nothing of the self remains. This embodiment of the true ego (world ego of Christ) fills the hollow sacred space surrendered for the reception of this being. The awareness of this “presence” fills the prepared space, a spherical temple called a “zodiac.”
When we can empty ourselves and go beyond sense perception, beyond perception of thoughts as beings, beyond the extinguishing of our earthly ego and our higher ego, we are then ready to be filled by the world ego of Christ and become a sphere of stars (zodiac) that can become co-creative with the Trinity (through Christ) to give birth to a new zodiac of ego beings who will, in time, come to their birth and development as Christened beings.
This stage of Intuition is one wherein the will of the initiate becomes one with the will of the world ego of Christ. There is nothing of the physical world in this realm. It was from this realm of Spirit Human (Atman) that the earthly ego was born and thus returns, but now as a creator equal to his own creator over the course of evolution. This mirroring of the true ego (world ego of Christ) in the earthly ego is the basis of consciousness in the physical realm becoming self-consciousness, higher consciousness, and consciousness aligned with the cosmic Christ Ego.
There is no time or space as we know it in the spiritual world; so therefore, the earthly ego and the true ego are one and the same, simply divided by time and space.
This type of hyper-connectivity through time and space constitutes the path of human self-development from birth through ascension back into heaven. Christ is the perfect example, model, and archetype of what the ego must go through in its entire evolution from the descent from heaven to Earth, and then, the ascent from Earth to heaven – the story of the prodigal son.
There is much confusion in spiritual circles about the higher ego and the true ego, the comprehensive divine ego. The true ego is the cosmic ego which we are all on a path to gain or recover through grace and mercy. The path to supersensible knowledge proceeds from earthly ego to higher ego to true ego. Christ is the living, eternal archetype of the human ego whose only “true” name is “I am.” The human being is developing upward from below while Christ is inclining from above offering the true “I am.” Christ is the model and the goal as we make the journey to our own ego which is fraught with challenges. We need unlimited trust in Christ and the spiritual world to bridge the chasms between these worlds. We need the loving arms of Christ to catch us when we fall into the abyss. Only certain trust in Christ can see us beyond the abyss. Or, as Steiner says in Theosophy, “In order to approach the abyss as nothing, it is necessary that one trusts that the true ego will be brought to one out of the spiritual world.”
To know that the true ego will be brought to us from beyond the abyss is the greatest of comforts and only arises through the grace and mercy of the spiritual world. Then, once one meets Christ, the world ego, man ascends to his true ego and no longer experiences Christ outside of oneself but within. This is the culmination of the stage of Intuition. “Not I, but the Christ in me.”
The true ego remains in the spiritual world and can only be found there and cannot fully come into the physical world except through spiritual Intuitions. The earthly ego works through sense perception to find itself in the outer world. The higher ego is the gift of Christ from the outer world alighting in us. The true ego is a gift of Christ from heaven at the edge of the abyss. The true ego can have perception of the supersensible worlds through Intuition and the sense of moral technique that joins with the efforts of Christ, the Lord of Karma.
It is often the case that Western esotericists tend towards a greater focus on the development of the earthly ego, whereas Eastern esotericists often focus on the true ego, the heavenly ego that is not tied in any way to material things. A balanced path would use a synthesis of both the sensible and supersensible to develop all three egos.
From: The Gospel of St. John: Lecture V, Basle
An over-developed ego-feeling in the physical world works against morality. An ego-feeling too feebly developed causes the soul, around which the storms of elemental sympathies and antipathies are actually playing, to be lacking in inner firmness and stability. These qualities can only exist when a sufficiently strong ego-feeling is working out of the experiences of the physical world upon the etheric body, which of course remains unknown in ordinary life. But in order to develop a really moral temper of mind it is necessary that the ego-feeling, though it must exist, should be moderated by feelings of good-fellowship, sympathy, and love.
The following considerations will help towards the understanding of the inner process of initiation. The individual “I”-consciousness of man is in the physical world; men walk the Earth with their Ego. But the egos of the animals are on the astral plane; each group of animals there possesses an ego-consciousness in common. There is, however, in the astral world, not only the ego of the animal, but also the ego of the body which man has in common with the animals, the ego of the human astral body. In the Lower Spirit World we find the ego of the plants and also the ego of the body man possesses in common with the plants, the ego of the etheric body. If we rise still higher, into the Higher Spirit World, we there find the ego of the minerals and the ego of that part which man has in common with the minerals – the ego of the physical body. Thus through our physical body we are connected with the Higher Spiritual World. We are here in the physical world with our individual Ego only. When, in the case of an initiate, the ego of the astral body is permeated by his Individual ego, the consequence is that he becomes conscious in the astral world; he can then perceive the beings around him there and become active in that-world. He then meets Beings who are incarnated in astral bodies; he also meets the group-souls of the animals, and the higher Beings who in Christianity are called angels. On being initiated still more deeply, the ego of the etheric body is also permeated by the individual ego. The consciousness of the human being then extends into the Lower Spiritual World. There he encounters the egos of the plants and the Spirit of the Planet. A still deeper initiation takes place when the individual ego permeates the ego of the physical body, man then rises to personal consciousness in the higher Spiritual world. There he meets the egos of the minerals and still higher Spirits. Thus continued initiation raises a man to higher and higher worlds, in which he meets with higher and higher Beings.
When the individual Ego has gained full control over the three bodies, it has brought about inner harmony. Christ possessed this harmony to the fullest extent; he appeared on the Earth in order that men might develop this power of inner harmony. In this Son of Man we see represented the full development of humanity, up to the highest spiritual stage. Formerly this inner harmony did not exist, outer laws worked in its place; this inner harmony is the new impulse which humanity received through Christ. Man is to acquire the “Christ capacity,” that is to say, he is to develop the inner Christ. Goethe said: “The eye is built by light for light;” in the same way this inner harmony, this inner Christ is only kindled through the presence of the outer, historical Christ; before His appearance it was not possible for man to reach this stage of spiritual development. Those human beings who lived before the appearance of Christ on Earth are not excluded from the blessings He brought to humanity; for it should not be forgotten that, according to the law of reincarnation, they will come again to the earth and will therefore have the opportunity to develop the inner Christ. It is only when people forget the law of reincarnation that they can speak of injustice. St. John’s Gospel shows the way to the historical Christ, to that Sun which enkindles the inner light in man, just as the physical Sun has enkindled the light of the eyes. The ego of the etheric body may be compared to the engineer who builds a motor-car; the ego of the astral body may be compared to the one who drives it; and the ego of the individual to the one who owns it.
As the Spiritual (Consciousness) Soul is the principle in which the Spirit Self develops, this principle is called the “mother of Christ,” or, in the occult schools, the “Virgin Sophia.” Through the fertilization of the Virgin Sophia, the Christ could be born in Jesus of Nazareth. In the occult school of Dionysius, the Intellectual Soul was called “Mary,” and the Sentient Soul “Mary Magdalene.”
Hopefully this explanation of the three egos will help us picture our awakening consciousness as it moves through the three stages of initiation. The confusion concerning the egos is quite common and the subtle distinction between the higher ego and the true ego is most important to reach the stage of Intuition. Having searched for decades to find the sources and goal of the human ego, Douglas is happy to add this contribution to the discussion of the three egos.