top of page
Superego

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other”
doesn’t make any sense.

~ Rumi


Rumi, the great 13th-century Persian poet, invites us to join him in the experience of a state of pure being that transcends the limitations of human language and concepts. He speaks of a field that exists beyond the dualistic ideas of right and wrong, good and bad. It is a place of pure consciousness, where the soul can relax and experience the fullness of being. In this state of non-conceptual awareness words and ideas lose their meaning, and the sense of separation between self and others dissolves.

This field, as Rumi called it, already exists as our true nature beyond the limited self-concept created by our minds. However, achieving this state is not easy, as we are constantly pulled back into our familiar sense of self by our inner critic or inner judge. This part of our psyche, known in psychology as the superego, is a set of deep-seated beliefs that developed in response to threats to our early childhood survival, and that continue to mislead our adult lives.

Our survival was entirely dependent on the love and support of our caregivers, primarily our mother. To receive that support, we quickly learned to adapt our behavior and beliefs to encourage continued care and comfort. This process of modification created the superego, which became our internal regulator of what was safe or unsafe, good or bad, right or wrong. It operates through fear and serves to control and constrain our natural impulses. It uses judgments, admonitions, punishments, rewards, evaluations, behavioral and moral standards to create and sustain our self-image.

The task of the inner judge becomes one of setting limits and maintaining the status quo. To accomplish this it must keep us unconscious of itself. The superego often censors our free expression of life energies, limiting our awareness of our true nature. It can make us feel guilty, ashamed, angry, or inadequate. Overcoming the superego requires a deep commitment to the truth of our situation and a willingness to challenge deeply held beliefs, and to let go of our loyalty to our parents. It requires a direct approach that goes beyond intellectual understanding to address the superego's deeply entrenched beliefs and their impact on our lives. We may fear challenging this judge because opposing it feels like a threat to our very survival.  It’s not unusual to avoid dealing with those hidden parts of oneself that might seem painful to expose.

One approach to neutralizing the superego's power is to practice noticing our judgments and body feelings associated with our ideas about right and wrong. We can learn to recognize the voice of the inner judge and tell it to shut-up when it becomes too intrusive. We can become aware of our essential conscience, which is intuitive, and practice self-forgiveness and self-compassion. By thanking our inner critic for trying to protect us all these years, we can gradually diminish its power and bring our attention back to our true nature. The process of liberation from the superego is not easy, but it’s a necessary step to liberate us from the constant chatter of mind.

 

Quotes


The judge learned standards of right and wrong from parents and society. Then, by using guilt and shame, it helped you as a child to behave and act appropriately according to that moral code. Unfortunately, this process suppressed your spontaneity, aliveness, and instinctual power in order to make you socialized and acceptable.
~ Byron Brown

It’s important to clearly state the positive side of having a well-structured superego. This part of the psyche does, in fact, allow us to navigate through daily life with relative ease, providing rules of social behavior that, while obliging us to conform and to distance ourselves from our true nature, all us to survive.
~ Avikal Costantino

Defending yourself is to defend against the superego, whether it is external or internal. The purpose of the superego is to preserve the ego’s point of view. The superego ultimately stops you from seeing reality. Defending yourself is one method you use to help you look at things objectively and without fear. When you start learning how to defend yourself against the superego you can’t help but think in terms of having a self to defend. Ultimately, what is actually defended is the openness, the understanding and the awareness. In time, we learn that understanding and awareness are the best defenses. When the awareness is complete, there is nothing to defend. Defending yourself is a kind of detour: you have to have a self before you can see you haven’t got a self. You have to have a self before you can let go of it. When you have a scattered self, it’s hard to let go of it. When you have a self that is depressed, scared, or fragmented in some way so that it can’t handle reality, you’re going to be very busy trying to protect it. You can’t possibly allow the openness which would mean a loss of boundaries; it would be too scary. When you learn to defend yourself against attacks, you become stronger and you can allow the openness. When you give or love selflessly, it means you are no longer bounded by a rigid point of view. It doesn’t mean you stop existing as a person. Instead, you exist as an openness to experience, rather than as boundaries constructed by your mind. This is a very radical perspective compared to the ego’s point of view.
~ A.H. Almaas

Matt.7. [1] Judge not, that ye be not judged. [2] For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
~ Bible - Matthew 7 (King James version)

The false messages we were told when we were young are distorted, untrue, and don’t serve our peace and well being. It’s like we’re hypnotized, living under their spell. And when we believe these messages, we project them onto the world.
We become magnets for rejection, judgment, and unkindness, which only confirms that the messages are true. Our whole lives feel off because everything stems from these false beliefs.
~ Gail Brenner

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
~ Shakespeare in Hamlet

Buddha says that unless you kill your parents you will never become free. Killing your parents means killing the voice of the parent inside you, killing the conscience inside you, dropping these nonsense ideas and starting to live your own life according to your own consciousness. Remember, consciousness has to be more and conscience has to be less. By and by conscience has to disappear completely and pure consciousness has to be lived.
~ Osho

When the judge is silent for the first time, it’s such a wonder!
You are alone at last, without your father or your mother, without keepers, without chattering voices, advising and reproaching, without prejudices to uphold and defend, without opinions to fight for, without ideals to die for.
You are alone, and the absence of voices and judgments allows you - for the first time - to be yourself, home at last! Into the space, freed of the judge, emerges an incredible creativity, a continuous explosion of possibilities and an astonishing mystery.
You are not alone; you simply are.
~ Avikal Costantino

BACK

bottom of page