The Bhagavad Gita Quotes
Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda
The Soul and the Ego
Let man uplift the self (ego) by the self; let the self not be self-degraded (cast down). Indeed, the self is its own friend; and the self is its own enemy.
For him whose self (ego) has been conquered by the Self (soul), the Self is the friend of the self; but verily, the Self behaves inimically, as an enemy, toward the self that is not subdued.
— The Bhagavad Gita VI:6
The physical ego, the active consciousness in man, should uplift its body-identified self into unity with the soul, its true nature; it should not allow itself to remain mired in the lowly delusive strata of the senses and material entanglement. The ego acts as its own best friend when by meditation and the exercise of its innate soul qualities it spiritualizes itself and ultimately restores its own true soul nature. Conversely, the physical ego serves as its own worst enemy when by delusive material behavior it eclipses its true nature as the ever blessed soul. ...
The soul, "inimical" to the ego, withholds its blessings of peace and lasting happiness while the ego, behaving ignorantly as its own enemy, sets in motion the misery-making karmic forces of Nature. Without the beneficence of the soul's protection in the world of may a, the ego finds to its regret that its own actions against its true soul nature turn back on itself, like boomerangs, destroying each new illusion of happiness and attainment.
In the composition of these two concise verses, the word atman ("self") appears twelve times in an ambiguous construction allowing for the interchange of meaning either as "the soul" or "the ego" (the pseudosoul)—a classical example of the dichotomy so characteristic in Indian scripture. As shown in the above commentary, the clever inter-weavings of the words soul and ego in this instance consist of a singular thread of truth that runs through the whole fabric of the Gita:
Let man be uplifted, not degraded;
let him transform his self (ego) into the Self (soul).
The Self is the friend of the transformed self,
but the enemy of the unregenerate self.
(God Talks with Arjun p.598)