Defining the Ego – Part 2
Chariot analogies have gone on and on throughout philosophy to describe the control we have over our senses and our will. I love that in the Tarot, we see that exact imagery being displayed through The Chariot Card – number 7 in the Major Arcana.
"First the charioteer of the human soul drives a pair, and secondly one of the horses is noble and of noble breed, but the other quite the opposite in breed and character. Therefore, in our case the driving is necessarily difficult and troublesome."
___Plato, (1509-1511 The School of Athens)
The charioteer holding the power of intellect and reason while holding the reins of passionate animals responding to impulse. One of these entities will win – either the horses or the Charioteer.
The following scripture is from the Katha Upanishad and gives continuation of the idea:
The third Valli of Katha Upanishad presents the parable of the chariot, to highlight how Atman, body, mind, sense-s and empirical reality relate to a human being.
Know that the Atman is the rider in the chariot, and the body is the chariot, Know that the Buddhi (intelligence, ability to reason) is the charioteer, and Manas (mind) is the reins. The senses are called the horses, the objects of the senses are their paths, Formed out of the union of the Atman, the senses and the mind, him they call the "enjoyer".
— Katha Upanishad, 1.3.3-1.3.4
Here is a good example of the cultivation of an ego and its creation on the world. As you all know, I have a military background, which is the first image below. The creation and building of a Pilot’s ego and why it necessary. The Pilot must first be selected and chosen for their ability to learn and be groomed into what the military is needing. Without the submission of becoming a student, the pursuant cannot go much further.
First, we send the person to school – to learn how to become a Pilot:
Pilots hit the ground running by learning the mathematics needed to understand flight and flight controls, flight plans and documentation, emergency procedures and the aircraft we are flying – it takes a lot of discipline, a lot of memory and a lot of comprehension. It can take a year or more of hard study to accomplish. This determination to succeed and the agreement to the terms of the commitment are incredible.
Pilots then fly hundreds of hours. At the end of these logged hours of flight, the student is tested, which takes courage to overcome fear, confidence in their application and patience to complete the test regardless of how many times they fail:
At the completion of their study, the student has earned the trust of others greater than him/her and find themselves in positions of new leadership and responsibility holding decisions of life or death in their hands. They can take directions, follow orders and complete missions. It takes certain types of spiritual characteristics have the self-control to apply knowledge in this methodical way.
I can appreciate the development of a Pilot’s ego. I honor their commitment, and it makes perfect sense to me that a Pilot would take calculated risks based off of their training to accomplish their work. This is a special type of ego development and one that takes much time to groom and build.
Let’s use another example of a Charioteer who is not in control of their ego development.
High School graduation and for 4 years or more parents and teachers have been peppering this youngster with questions on where they are going to set their goals and aspirations for a proper career. Except, we’ve all known those people who reach this pinnacle of life and still don’t know what they’re going to do with their creation.
Recently, I sat with a girl, 24 years old, in my kitchen. She was unemployed and having difficulties trying to find something to do that she loved. She was homeless. She sold car parts from her vehicles to get by. She was living halfway with her parents and halfway with her boyfriend. When I sat with her, she was so confused. Her pursuit had to do with finding love.
Love plus a career, and in the meantime, she was riding the backs of at least three to four people to help her survive.
I looked at her chart and began the long 3-hour road to helping her decide what to do with her life. After 3 hours, though, she still had no clue. There were so many options for her happiness, too many options.
At 24 years old, this girl is still wandering by her whims, allowing her impulses to drive her chariot. She has no clue where she’s going, and it’s all because she can’t select an option. She cannot begin creating until she’s chosen something, and the world has so much to offer.
In this case, you can see how her life will probably go on and on without any solid result to anything. She will take advantage of the kindnesses of others and the resources of others until the day people stop aiding her. At that point, her necessities will take over, and hopefully she will choose something.
Both examples give weight to the idea of the Charioteer either in control of his horses or not. The beginning of any journey begins with a goal, a vision, a choice, a decision and one that we can change as we move down the road of life. Thus, the next step in the development of the ego – what will we choose to become?