The fourth element in the psychological apparatus of Man is the Ahankara or the I-maker or the ego-idea. We have already discussed this principle in brief elsewhere. From a cosmic or metaphysical point of view, Ego is the principle by which the Purusha puts behind the consciousness of his infinite being, limits his consciousness to the status of a separative individuality and identifies himself with all that passes or happens within this limited field of vision.
The Ego and Egoism
Here we have to distinguish between Ego and Egoism. Ego is the essential and primal status of separative individuality created by the loss of consciousness of unity. Ego is the principle by which the great Maya makes us forget our infinite and universal self and makes us feel that we are distinct and separate beings confined within a limited individuality. On the other hand egoism is the effect of ego or loss of unity in our psychological being which begins with a sense “I and Mine” and multiplies in many forms.
In popular usage the word egoism is normally associated with sense of superiority, pride, vanity and arrogance. But in the deeper perspective of Yogic psychology this is only one form of egoism. The egoism is there not only in self-adulation, self-flattering and “superiority complex” but also in self-pity, self-depreciation and “inferiority complex”. Egoism is the result of identification, with an excessive attachment, and concentration on the small and limited personality. This identification may be with the capacities and achievements of the ego or with its disabilities or failures. But in either case it is nothing but egoism.