Hubert Benoit
Zen and the Psychology of Transformation
The Supreme Doctrine

Chapter 8

THE EGOTISTICAL STATES

At the center of myself, in this center which is still unconscious today, resides the primordial man, united with the Principle of the Universe and through it with the whole of the Universe, totally self-suffieient unto himself, One from the beginning, neither alone nor not-alone, neither affirmed nor denied, up-stream of all duality. It is the primordial Being, underlying all the egotistical 'states' which cover it in my actual consciousness.

Because I am ignorant today concerning what are in reality my egotistical states, these states constitute a sort of screen which separates me from my centre, from my real Self. I am unconscious of my essential identity with the All and I only consider myself as distinct from the rest of the Universe. The Ego is myself in so far as I consider myself as distinct. The Ego is illusory, since I am not in reality distinct; and all the egotistical states are equally illusory.

In the fundamental egotistical state I feel myself as Self opposed to the Not-Self, an organism in which the 'being' is opposed to the 'being' of other organisms. In this fundamental state everything that is not my organism is Not-Self. I love my Self, that is to say that I desire my existence, and I hate the Not-Self, which means that I desire the disappearance of its existence. I am greedy for the affirmation of my Self, as distinct, and for the negation of the Not-Self, in so far as it pretends to exist beside my distinct Self. In this fundamental egotist state 'to live' is to affirm my Self by defeating the Not-Self. It is material victory by the acquisition of material goods, subtle victory by the acquisition of renown—recognition by the Not-Self of the existence of the Self; the acquisition of glory which 'immortalises' the Self that is distinct.

The fundamental affective state of the natural man is therefore simple; this man loves his Self in opposition to the Not-Self, and he hates the Not-Self in opposition to his Self.

On this fundamental state there can be built five altruist states comporting the appearance of the love of others.

1. APPARENT LOVE OF OTHERS BY
PROJECTION OF THE EGO 1

This is idolatrous love, in which the ego is projected onto another being. The pretention to divinity as 'distinct' has left my organism and is now fixed onto the organism of the other. The affective situation resembles that above, with the difference that the other has taken my place in my scale of values. I desire the existence of the other-idol, and am against everything that is opposed to them. I no longer love my own organism except in so far as it is the faithful servant of the idol; apart from that I have no further sentiments towards my organism, I am indifferent to it, and, if necessary, I can give my life for the safety of my idol (I can sacrifice my organism to my Ego fixed on the idol; like Empedocles throwing himself down the crater of Etna in order to immortalise his Ego). As for the rest of the world, I hate it if it is hostile to my idol; if it is not hostile and if my contemplation of the idol fills me with joy (that is to say, with egotistical affirmation), I love indiscriminately all the rest of the world (we will see further the reason, in the fifth variety of apparent love). If the idolised being rejects me to the point of forbidding me all possession of my Ego in them, the apparent love can be turned to hate.

[1. This simplified exposition of the doctrine of projection, known to all classical psychologists, may appear to ignore the detailed analysis of this process expounded by some. Terms such as 'Ego' have not, however, a standardised meaning, and the reader may be well-advised to understand the word here as including any aspect of the psyche whose image might be projected. -Translator's note.]

2. APPARENT LOVE OF OTHERS BY LOCALISED
EXTENSION OF THE EGO

For example: the binding love of a mother for her child, the binding love of a man for his country, etc. This is possessive love. In idolatrous love there was first of all projection of the Ego, and afterwards need of possession of the projected Ego in a material or subtle possession of the idol. Here there is first of all possession of the other (it happens by chance that this child is my child, this country is my country). The affective situation which results much resembles that of idolatrous love; however the joys are less conscious, and one often sees the fear of losing the loved object predominate. Idolatrous love gives what man calls a meaning to his life; possessive love also does this, but it is often a meaning that is less positive, less satiating.

3. APPARENT LOVE OF ANOTHER BECAUSE THIS OTHER LOVES
US WITH ONE OF THE TWO PRECEDING KINDS OF LOVE

The other loves their Ego in me, but gives me the impression that they love my Ego. And so I desire their existence as I desire the existence of everyone who desires my existence.

4. APPARENT LOVE OF OTHERS BECAUSE MY IDEAL IMAGE
OF MYSELF REQUIRES IT OR BECAUSE MY IDOLATROUS
LOVE COMPORTS IT

I love others because I need to see myself as aesthetic in order to love myself and because to love others is aesthetic. Or again I love others because I love mystically a divine image onto which my Ego is projected, because I consider that this divine image wishes that I may love others, and because I desire that which is desired by this divine image (identified with my Ego).

5. APPARENT LOVE OF THE NOT-ME BECAUSE MY
EGO IS MOMENTARILY SATIATED

The man who is momentarily filled with an intense egotistical affirmation loves the whole universe. This love without particularity does not correspond with a momentary apparition of primordial universal love, but with a momentary inversion of the fundamental egotistical hatred of the Not-Self coinciding with a relaxation of egotistical revendication. Besides, this state only lasts a little time. It is comparable with the voluptuous sensation of ceasing to suffer; this voluptuousness is only comparative, however, and it ceases as soon as the period of comparison comes to an end.

These five kinds of apparent love-of-others represent so many indulgences of my Ego experienced in situations which affirm me as distinct. With every diminution of one of these situations corresponds the appearance of distress and of aggressiveness.

The more a given man is called upon to attain intemporal realisation the greater his need to experience these kinds of love; these states resemble indeed, more or less, the affective state of the man who has attained realisation (who loves everything) by seeming to join him to something other than himself.

Nevertheless the more this man advances in the knowledge of himself, the more these kinds of love lose value in his eyes and lose their compensatory effectiveness. This man loses little by little his 'positive', 'altruistic' sentiments. His understanding sees through these clever counterfeits and leads him back willy-nilly towards the fundamental egotistical state in which he has always hated that which is not his Self; the state of 'night' and of solitude. He suffers distress on account of his refusal to combat the Not-Self (cf. Notes on the Mechanism of Anxiety). [Chapter 5]

This man, robbed little by little of all possibility of cheating inwardly, sees himself hounded towards the task of realisation. He will address himself more and more often to his impartial thought in order to query the legitimacy of his egotistical claim, of that pretention to be distinct which engenders solitude and fear. The Ego becomes ever more contracted, more and more hemmed-in in its last stronghold. There is a limit to this compression, a limit beyond which the Ego explodes in satori. Then the Ego is diffused throughout, accomplishing itself and annihilating itself at one and the same time.

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