Ask: Exactly what is the ego and exactly how is it vicious?

Exactly WHAT is the ego and what exactly does the Course mean by the ego turning “Vicious”? (Examples, please?) – DC

The word “ego” means different things in different contexts. In psychology the ego is just one aspect of the human psyche (the other two being the id and the superego). Some use the term “ego” to simply mean “pride”. A Course in Miracles, however, uses that word to refer to the thought system in your mind that opposes your Reality or True Being, Which it calls “God”. The ego thought system focuses your mind on the self/body as your reality.
The ego does not really exist. It only seems to exist to you when you believe in it. So it is inherently defensive, always feeling it needs to prove its existence to you. This is why the Course says “The ego is therefore capable of suspiciousness at best and viciousness at worst.” (T-9.VII.3)
            The ego cannot harm you. It can only seem to harm you when you identify with it. In other words, it can only seem to harm what it makes of you when you agree with it. It has no power but it seems to have power when you believe in it.
            Examples of the ego’s viciousness are legion! It has both positive and negative thoughts, all of which are attacks because they are not true. But its negative thoughts are obvious examples of its viciousness. Every thought that you have of guilt, anxiety, fear of punishment, meaninglessness, unworthiness, and inadequacy is a vicious attack from the ego. Certainly it is at its most vicious if it tells you to kill the self. And its telling you that you are killing yourself by growing your awareness of God is a vicious attack.
            Any time that you are not at peace you can be sure that you are listening to the ego. It does not matter if the thoughts are about you or about others. Often, the ego’s attacks on you are subtle. They may even seem benign, but any thought that focuses you on the self and its body as your reality is an attack on you.
But the ego becomes overtly vicious when it is threatened. The threat can seem to come from another and seem to offend the ego. For example, when someone says something that “hurts” you in your identification with a self the ego viciously attacks them back.

Or the ego can be threatened when you disregard it. It is particularly threatened, and therefore most vicious, when your attention has gone to God instead of to it. It cannot understand God or join you There. It only knows that your attention has gone to Something Else and this is the ultimate threat to it. This is why you will find that an episode of peace or insight is often followed by dark, negative attack thoughts on you and/or others, often for weeks after you have experienced God in some form. Once you turn your attention back to the ego even a little it will do what it feels is necessary to hold your attention. And a vicious attack works as long as you believe in the ego.

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