The ego is what we feel when self-will is crossed, blocked or otherwise thwarted. It is the psychological pain that underlies all tantrum behaviors — anger, hitting back, revenge, anxiety and much more. It is the cause of true psychological and spiritual suffering and always symptomatic of an imbalanced, immature psyche. The ego is the interior movement we experience when we do not get what we want; it is also the experience of near uncontainable highs when we do get what we want. Obviously the ego is the experience of extremes — extreme feelings, that is — and for this reason, it easily imbalances the whole psyche or consciousness. The ego is first and foremost the feeling-self — it is not, primarily at least, the knowing-self. Merely to know something exists — an object, a virtue, something good or bad — does not mean that we want it for ourselves. The ego springs alive only when we want something for ourselves and are determined to get it, possess it. This affirms that the ego is the experience of self-will, a will turned solely on itself that seeks its own fulfillment and benefit. When frustrated this egoic power or energy has given rise to all the evils in the world, yet the same ego in pursuit of goodness can give rise to great good in the world. Thus the ego is a particular self-energy or power that can go either way — negatively toward what is not good for self, positively toward what is good for self. If we believe that the divine is our highest good, then the ego (self-energy or self-will) goes in pursuit of the divine, and this pursuit is the ego’s true, proper, developmental direction. The ego is, therefore, basically good; it is only bad when it goes against its own highest good.
…There can be no underestimating the power and determination of the ego; it is no illusion or mistake. In fact, it is the most verifiable human experience that we know.
Krishan Bihari Noor
We are lived by powers we pretend to understand.
W. H. Auden