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Issue 17 Cover
Issue 17  /  Spring–Summer 2000
What Is Ego?
Friend Or Foe...
Is the ego our fiercest enemy on the spiritual path or our greatest ally in negotiating the vicissitudes of life? What Is Enlightenment? magazine presents a provocative look at the true nature of this elusive phantom that lies at the core of the human psyche.

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table of contents


From the Editors

Introduction to this issue
What Is Ego?
A Report from the Trenches...
by Andrew Cohen

Mata Amritanandamayi (Ammachi)
When You Go beyond the Ego, You Become an Offering to the World

Known around the world as a radiant embodiment of unconditional love, Ammachi literally hugs everyone who comes to see her. But her disciples also know her to be a fierce and demanding guru. This captivating interview with one of India's greatest contemporary saints asks: What is compassion in the face of the ego?

Interview by Amy Edelstein

Archimandrite Dionysios
The Enemy Within

What would Christianity's Desert Fathers have had to say about the ego in spiritual life? WIE travels to a remote Greek Orthodox hermitage to speak with an inspired modern-day renunciate about the passion for purification that burns at the heart of this ancient tradition.

Interview by Craig Hamilton

No Escape for the Ego
Venerable Master Sheng-yen

"When the ego is cornered and has nowhere to go, the only thing one can do is to put it down. And when one puts down the ego, then that is enlightenment." One of the world's most respected Buddhist masters—a lineage holder in both existing schools of Ch'an Buddhism—speaks about the joy of liberation, the pitfalls of the path and the one-pointed desire required to see through our attachment to a false sense of self.

Interview by Carter Phipps

Yoga, Ego and Purification
Yogi Amrit Desai

In this groundbreaking interview—his first since being asked to step down as the director and spiritual teacher of the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health five years ago—a world-renowned yogi speaks candidly with Andrew Cohen about yoga, purification and the dynamics of trust in the student/teacher relationship.

Interview by Andrew Cohen

Is the Ego an Illusion?
Bannanje Govindacharya

From the jungle abode of South Indian sage Ajja to an interview with one of Hinduism's most respected scholars, WIE goes in search of the answer to the question: Is the ego only an illusion?

Interview by Andrew Cohen


The Man with Two Heads
Sheikh Ragip/Robert Frager

What happens when you combine a leading transpersonal psychologist and an ordained Sufi sheikh . . . in the same person? WIE interviews the alter egos of Dr. Robert Frager, founding president of the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology and Sheikh Ragip of the Halveti-Jerrahi order of Sufis to find out how one man walks the line between psychology's endeavor to heal the ego and Sufism's call to destroy it?

Interview by Craig Hamilton

The 1001 Forms of Self-Grasping
Jack Engler

Do we need to strengthen the ego before we let go of it? Is psychotherapy necessary on the spiritual path? A provocative dialogue with the psychiatrist and Buddhist meditation teacher who coined the phrase, "You have to be somebody before you can be nobody."

Interview by Andrew Cohen

The Transpersonal Ego: Is There a New Formation?
Kaisa Puhakka

What would the Buddha, Ramana Maharshi, Sasaki Roshi and H.H. the Dalai Lama have to say about transpersonal psychology's perplexing predicament? We asked one adventurous transpersonal psychologist to channel the masters and find out.

Interview by Andrew Cohen



Self-Acceptance or Ego Death?

Has the traditional goal of ego death been replaced by the need to "accept ourselves as we are"? Four spiritual teachers comment on the popular new paradigm of self-acceptance on the path to liberation.

Featuring Deepak Chopra, Cheri Huber, Paul Lowe and Saniel Bonder


Was Ist "Das Ich"?

The fathers of modern psychology—Freud, Adler and Jung—debated their theories of the self in early 1900s Vienna and Zurich, launching a revolution in Western consciousness and culture. But these pioneers eventually came to radically divergent conclusions about the nature, structure and purpose of the ego. Three leading torchbearers of their legacies speak about the elusive "I" and the key role it plays in our psychological, and spiritual, evolution.

Featuring Leon Hoffman, James Hollis and Henry Stein

By Susan Bridle and Amy Edelstein

The Seeds of the Self

Otto Kernberg

A pioneering psychologist whose theory of "object relations" has revolutionized our modern conception of the self shares his encyclopedic understanding of the forces that shape the human ego, and explains why distinguishing between "healthy" and "pathological" narcissism is essential on the spiritual path.

Interview by Susan Bridle



Who Is Satan?

Taylor Hackford

The acclaimed director of The Devil's Advocate discusses his film's powerful portrayal of the precarious balance between good and evil, the ever-present temptations of ego and why selling our soul to the devil is always just one choice away.

Interview by Carter Phipps