Ego vs Altruism

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” -Galatians 5:14

In Mormon Kabbalah there is a theme of change. We grow in Grace, and as we do we grow from Egoism to becoming Godlike – altruistic. This is because as we grow to love God more, we learn to love our neighbors as ourselves to greater degrees. What is this Egoism we’re trying to shake off? 

When we first meet God, we generally are not ready. God asks us to give, but we’ve been trained to take. As babies we cry and someone, normally a parent, gives us what we need. We see God as a parent, and we cry to him expecting him to do the same.

Yet God isn’t a genie that grants our every wish. His desire is to make us like him. He gives us everything we need. But, our Egos tell us his gifts are not enough. He should do better for us. How can an all knowing God not see our wants as needs?

Our klin (vessels) are dirty, and we cannot see that what God has for us is, in reality, our greatest desire. When we clean our klin we drink living water from a clean cup and the taste is amazing beyond description! We must learn, one by one, to clean the kli (vessel). By doing so we change our perspective and see the world as it truly is.

The Twin Deceivers

There are two forms of Egoism we must battle. They are both base, and undesirable. They warp our perspective, tricking us into seeing the world through tainted eyes. These are Ego and Blind Altruism. Keep in mind; ego is a good thing, or it can be if kept in check. The same is true for altruism. With the proper ego we see ourselves as God does and wish to please him, which pleases the righteous ego and makes us happy. And, altruism allows us to give as God does, on our own level. At this point we know what we should be working towards; now let’s look at what we’re leaving behind.

Lilith: Blind Altruism

Lilith, illustration by Carl Poellath from 1886 or earlierIn the Garden of Eden, Adam lived happily with his two wives, Lilith and Eve. When Satan came into the Garden tempting Lilith, she ate of the Tree of Good and Evil. We know the sin here was simply eating from the tree without God’s permission. Had she waited she could have partaken at the proper time. Instead she took for herself.

After eating from the tree, she understood the need for the fruit. But, unlike Eve, she gave to Adam to hide her own sin, and in attempt to subjugate him. Lilith was the first “serpent” that tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden. Her temptation was ignored due to the righteousness of Adam and Eve. It would take a far more slippery serpent to deceive them.

Lilith represents the Blind Altruism of the world. Rather than giving to others to please God, and thus fulfilling the desires of a pierced heart (righteous ego), she worked for herself. Blind Altruism has us give to receive from our own efforts. It is altruism blinded by selfishness and greed. It is not good to give simply to gain or to seek pleasure from the service, puffing ourselves up with pride. As Christians, we give of ourselves to please God.

Cain: Ego

After leaving the Garden, Adam and Eve had two sons; Cain and Able. Cain was a farmer, Able a shepherd. Both offered sacrifices to God, but Cain’s was rejected. Why? Because of his intent. He followed Lilith and Satan. He desired Able’s wife. He murdered his brother thinking this would grant him worldly possessions. He took what he wanted.

Because Cain rejected God for Egoism, knowing God personally, he became perdition. He is the Master Mahan, self-proclaimed keeper of the “great secret” and glorifies in his wickedness. How many people of the world fall into this trap? They are easy to spot, they claim to be “self-made” men and women. Blinded by Ego they do not see the other people that helped them get where they are. They fail to see God’s hand in everything good that has come to them.

Cain is an extreme example of Ego. People don’t just go about murdering and plundering, though this does still exist in the world. Cain represents our Ego just taking what we want, no thought to God, our neighbors, or the consequences. This is a child grabbing another child’s toy. It is also a wealthy person paying someone too little that they may keep back more for themselves.

How to Overcome

How do we move past Lilith and Cain? By cleaning the kli inside us. The world is merely a reflection of ourselves. When we are full of Grace, the world is good. We know this because God created our world, and he has said that it is good. When our kli is dirty the world is dirty. We can only see what we can take for ourselves, and it is never enough. By journeying on the paths of teshuvah Christ’s Grace strips away Ego and replaces it with God’s love. While all can be good people, only through Christ can we truly grab hold of the iron rod and reach the tree who’s fruit is desirable above all else (1 Nephi 2:48-53 RAV, 8:9-12 OPV).

Main image: “A depiction of the vision in the Hill Cumorah Pageant” by Eustress CC BY-SA 3.0

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scott Stover
Scott Stover
4 years ago

If ye will strip yourselves of jealousies and fears, ye shall see my face and know that I am