Morality vs. Goodness

It may seem confusing at first to distinguish between morality and goodness; ethics vs truth.

We may think that behaving as we are supposed to, must be the right way, to good way and the correct way to behave. We may find we are utterly wrong.

Id, Ego, Super ego

According to the famous theory of Fraud, each one of us had three inner aspects that work within and endlessly trying to reach balance and harmony. These are known as– Id, Ego and Super ego. These can be more clearly understood if we call them as – the Child (Id), the Adult (Ego), and the Authority or parent (Super ego). The Ego or the adult (the word Ego in geek simply means “I”), is the one intermediating and trying to negotiate between the impulses and desires of the child, and the moral authority of the parent.

External authority becoming Super ego

Our parents or the people that raised us from childhood are the first “authority” we meet in life.

As they watch over us, we feel protected; no matter how good or bad they are to us, we long for their love and attention, their approval and praise. We need their care and protection.

We also know, very early on, they have the control, be it over the chocolate cake, over our birthday present and over more basic things like the freedom to go out and play, or not.

Soon after, school teachers, elder family members, policemen, religious leaders of our community and basically any adult out there, begin to be some kind of an authority over us, trying to educated us or guide us, looking at us in a disapproving manner or praising us for our achievements.

Almost all of us have been taught by reward / punishment. We know we did good or bad because others tell us that. We learn how we are expected to behave, to talk, and even to think. We learn how to talk to ourselves, imitating that. We live longing to be approved, to be seen as successful, to be respected and admired.

Never are we really taught how to be happy, peaceful, and content. We are not even encouraged to think about it. We are taught that it is better to put our thought into being ambitious, our time into hard work and our effort into gaining – respect, money, power.  

Living with the Super ego

The real beauty in the role of authority is that, we once we get so used to it, we no longer need an external factor. Once we are trained to please “them”, to be watched, wishing for approved, being graded, receiving permission or praises, reward or punishment, we no longer need any authority outside of us, for we have embodied that very role within.

We learn to praise ourselves if we act in a way we think is welcomed and positive, we learn to reward ourselves when we thing we are good – this can be with anything from compliment, food, love, time for rest or simply a feeling of being satisfied for being as accepted from us. Alternatively if we think we have been bad or done something that is unwanted, we punish ourselves in the same exact manner.

Once we have fully accepted the role of authority, we no longer need someone to grade us, for we are perfectly able to do that on our own, to give ourselves or deny ourselves permission, approval, loving encouragement or basic care.

While we may refuse to take responsibility for our inner authority – our super ego, blaming some external factor that did this or that to us, educated us etc., it is we who agree to let that authority dwell inside and let it affect us.

Once we are so used to such way of living it is no wonder that even once we start walking the spiritual path we apply the same disrespectful and unloving way of learning through reward / punishment.

For instance, we may feel the need to give ourselves permission to take time to meditate or we feel ashamed if we didn’t. We can feel guilty for taking care of ourselves or not committing to any commitment we have made.

If the spiritual path is the road to real happiness then certainly making ourselves feel miserable for reaching our goal, is not going to helping us grow in any way.

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