Excerpt from an interview with Faisal Muqaddam by Bo Heimann
Bo In your teachings you talk about the need to differentiate between the false personality (or the ego identity) and what you call the essential nature. Could you please explain what the essential nature is?
Faisal The essential nature is a real personality. It is made of many beautiful qualities, such as love, joy, clarity, strength, warmth, excitement, freedom. It is a being. And this being is made of very precious elements. Those elements we call ‘Essence’. Those qualities have texture, have colour, they are not energy, they are the source of energy. They are real substances that you can feel, which has more texture to it, more substance to it.
Bo And essence is something we are born with?
Faisal Essence is something we are born with; essence is our true nature. When people talk about true nature, they talk most of the time about the basic nature that is so simple and that is not differentiated and is just simplicity it self, a bit like the enlightened nature, which is very simple.
For me the essential nature has the potential to be differentiated in so many qualities, but most of the time in spirituality people talk about this Buddha-nature, the true nature, and talk very little about how it differentiates itself.
You see, the basic nature is just like the ocean from which the fish come, and the coral come from this basic nature. This basic nature differentiates itself in many qualities and those qualities, as we say, they are substances. Some of them are very delicate, some of them are very dense, some of them are very hard, like rocks. And for the seer it is even possible see their colours. You can see they have different colours. Some shine like silver, some shine like white gold, some like gold, some like amber, some like water, some like diamonds, some like pearls. These are qualities of pure nature that are not 100 percent Absolute, but is differentiated from the Absolute nature.
Each one provides something for us. That is very important. One quality gives you the capacity of feeling grounded, feeling solid, feeling confident, another quality gives you the energy of vitality, strength, playfulness, another quality of the tenderness, there a many qualities.
Bo Does every single individual have the same qualities?
Faisal Potentially we have all of them.
Bo What determines then the differences?
Faisal I don’t believe that we are a drop of water that is separated from the ocean and goes back in the ocean and melts back in the ocean. I used to believe that. I used to believe that a part of us would melt back in to the ocean – but another part really remains forever. We do not loose this part. This part is your unique soul, your unique identity, your unique self. This unique being that is you is different from me. Each one of us is a very unique being. Even though we are all made of the ocean, we remain unique. A different coloured fish in the ocean. And most of the spiritual paths, they overlook the fish. And they try to go over to the ocean.
Bo From the world to the absolute?
Faisal From the world to the absolute, yes, and they leave in between the essential domain and the essential self. In the room of essence where all these qualities exist there is also a self, an identity. Some people call it the soul, some people call it the higher self, some people call it the spirit – many, names for it.
There is a being, an individual being, that is uniquely you, that is not going to be repeated and is not going to be lost. When you get enlightened, this being does not dissolve. What dissolves is your limitation of the mind, the limitation of the false personality. But the essential personality remains and shines and gets more and more enlightened and more and more mature and you become really human adults. It remains forever and ever. None of us die, we only change robes.
Most spirituality has been sceptical about the ego and people have been looking at the ego, whatever form they identify, the devil or an angel, this or that, real or unreal, so many definitions of what the ego is. It is all really viewed mostly in the spirituality as something to get rid of, as something bad. Nobody says “where does the ego come from? Why is the ego here? What is it about?”
Bo Please explain that!
Faisal Yes! To me, the ego contains in it the essential self. Everybody, when they talk, they talk from this part that we call the ego. And this ego has in it a sense of identity. You hear people all the time say “I say, I look, I want, I, I, I, I…” where does this come from, this sense of “I”?
If we are the ocean, there is no identity of the ocean – the ocean is the ocean. The absolute is the absolute. The absolute never say, “I”, there is no “I-ness” in the absolute. There is a individual being, but no identity. No individuality. The sense of identity comes because we have a unique self; we have a unique soul.
The child is this individual soul when it is born. It is not an ego. It is a being that from day one. When you look at a child, you can tell this child is a little bit different from that child. Even though they look all pure essence, you feel that there’s so much substance, but this one has a different vibration, this one has a different presence. Because inside them there is a unique being, an individual being, an individual soul that travels through time and space and reincarnates – goes on forever and ever. This unique being is the one that asks for advice, is the one that tries to communicate, is the one that is growing up.
And then through our ignorance, little by little we force the child to separate from this being, from this higher self that exists in the dimension of light and exists in the absolute being. We hide them so much that they struggle through the years to maintain one quality after another. We fight their love, we fight their clarity, we fight their joy, you know how much happens to children, how much…everybody controls them, everybody stops them from living their potential. Through that struggle they loose one quality after another of their essence. At one time they separate, split off from the soul itself, from their identity.
When they separate, their consciousness tries to remember the self and the sense of an identity. If you cannot have real identity, you try to hold on to a feeling of what this identity is or to an image of what this identity is. So the ego is a reminder, like a picture of the essence.
So the ego is a very precise part of psyche, part of our soul that is trying to keep the image of that higher self and the feeling of that higher self and is trying to find the way back to that higher self. It is so involved about this higher self. It is not involved about the absolute. The absolute does not answer the quest because the ego is not looking for the absolute.
You can think of the absolute as God, and everybody wants to go to God. But why really? Because they hope God will make them feel good again! Will make them say “ooh, you are my begotten son, you are begotten daughter, you can be a shining star again”. Nobody wants God for Gods sake! If God does not give them the self they will find the devil! Everybody is really looking for the self. Sometimes we joke, some try to find it in the Himalayas and if they do not find it they go to Las Vegas!
What are they looking for? They are longing to find themselves again. The absolute is our nature, is our home, but it is not the unique self that we are. And the ego is trying to attain to this unique self. It has a memory of it. It has a sense of something unique, as we are all narcissistic, there is nobody on this earth that is not narcissistic, either hidden or not, and this rival of self in the ego is not being understood by many spiritual traditions. They only want to kill it and go to the enlightened state.
The book in which the interview with Faisal appears, “Hvad er ego?” (“What is Ego?”) by Bo Heinmann, was published in 2013. It is an anthology featuring teachers like Richard Moss, Ekchart Tolle, Shakti Gawain, Chris Griscom and Dan Millman. They will all talk about their understanding of what the ego is.