Much has been said about human nature. Some believe that human nature is inherently good and others believe that human nature is inherently evil and self-centered. There is some truth to both of these views. The reality is that our human nature is inherently "multi-natured". We all know this through our own direct experience.

There are times you feel magnanimous, loving, kind and incapable of being offended.
There are other times when you feel depressed, angry, self-indulgent, petty or easily offended.

This internal conflict between multiple natures is so basic to human nature- it is what makes me just like you and you just like anyone else. And not just anyone else alive today- but anyone else that ever lived or ever will live. We are all equal in the sense that we have this common human nature that we experience as internal struggle. If we're fortunate- we can learn to integrate and unify our multiple natured human nature into a complete whole.

Learning to experience, and integrate our multiple natures is the very essence of the "human experience". And experience is a great way to describe it- because it can only be understood through experience- or I prefer to use another form of the word- experiment.

There are a multitude of names and descriptions for this "multi-natured" phenomenon:

- The cartoon version of the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other

- Freud's Super Ego, Id and the Ego.

- "High self" and a "low self"

- Spirit and Shadow

- Yin and Yang

- Spiritual Man and Natural Man

- The native American "Two Hungry Wolves"

I have no doubt that every culture that ever existed has some analogy to attempt to describe this basic fact of life because, as already stated, it is truly universal to the human experience.

So we know we have dual or multiple natures. Now what? Are we supposed to go to battle inside and eliminate one, or just reach a truce. Is it a sort of "cold war" inside us that we have to battle our whole lives?

These "war within" mindsets stem from the belief that our "lower" nature, our ego, or choose whatever analogy you want, is something that needs to be hated, feared, battled, subdued and extinguished if we are to live a happy or "saintly" life. But is it really true that our so called "lower" nature should be eliminated? Could it be that we shouldn't try to eliminate our lower nature, that it actually serves a useful purpose?

As I've studied this in my own mind and through reading the writings of many other philosophers and prophets throughout time, I've come to the conclusion that our so called "ego" is there for a reason- a very good reason. What reason is that? To preserve and extend physical life. I don't believe God makes mistakes. Our "ego" is very misunderstood by our rational mind. I imagine the ego just chuckles at our demonizing it- knowing all along that without it, our physical body would immediately die. To me the "ego" is much more than just our sense of identity or our pride. It is that part of us that is responsible for maintaining, preserving and extending life. It does this at a "subconscious" level over which we have little to no control (thank goodness). It regulates our heart beat, digests our food, breathes in and out, maintains chemical, energetic and thermal equilibrium, heals our wounds, mends our broken bones, and divides our cells, all without requiring any conscious input from our rational minds. What an amazing program we come already coded with! All our rational scientific discoveries pale in comparison to the sheer power and perfection of our built-in "super bio computer" we sometimes call our "ego". The ego's programming is simple: protect, preserve and extend physical life. How it accomplishes this is anything but simple.

Now, it is also true that if left without leadership, the ego's directive can cause all sorts of non-resourceful outcomes- jealousy, greed, violence, infidelity, crime, war- you name the vice or sin- it's underlying source is the un-managed ego trying to "protect, preserve and extend" that physical life over which it is programmed to serve- typically at the expense or at odds with other egos trying to do the same thing.

I believe that instead of battling our ego or seeing it as "sinful", it is more resourceful to meet it with understanding and even gratitude for the important and irreplaceable role it plays in our very physical survival. Then it can become a friend and ally in our journey of life instead of an inner enemy that cannot really be defeated.

The ego- as powerful as it is, in many ways is like a child. It just wants to be appreciated and it also craves leadership in the form of boundaries. That leadership and those boundaries can temporarily come from outside sources like laws, cultural norms, parental expectations, rules, commandments, etc. But all of those sources are ultimately hollow and the ego knows it. The real leadership and boundaries that the ego will ultimately respect and obey can only come from within- from our Spirit- from the true captain of our physical ships we call our body.

So when you feel your ego getting the best of you by retreating from Unity and Connectedness to Self and Separateness, instead of battling it try telling your ego something like this:

"Ego, thank you so much for all you do to protect and maintain this amazing body. You're doing an amazing job and I don't thank you nearly enough. Without you, this body would be dead and I know it. So thank you and keep up the great work. Now, here's where the boundaries are in this case. I've been around a lot longer than this body has, and it's my job to be the boss of this life. Just trust me on this one- you'll be able to carry out your vital role more effectively if you follow my direction in this case. As the boss, I love that I can delegate so completely and effortlessly such complex things to you. I also love how you can be humble and obedient and see the big picture here."

Use your own words- the point is to appreciate the ego for the important role it plays, but also provide the direction and leadership that, like the relative child that it is (compared to your Spirit), it actually craves.

So while it may seem like we have dual or multiple natures, in reality there is only one- there is only unity. Left and right brain are really just brain. Natural and Spiritual Man are really just Man. Light and Dark are really just one revolution of the planet. They are two sides of the same coin. The one without the other is not only meaningless, it's not even possible.

As we learn to "include and transcend" our multiple natures into a unified whole human nature of body, mind and spirit we begin to discover what has been there all along- before our beliefs of separation came along. We discover our True Self.

Author's Bio: 

John Groberg writes on a wide variety of topics related to personal and spiritual growth. His slogan is Grow. By Choice™. His articles draw out principles of personal and spiritual growth common to the world’s ancient wisdom and spiritual texts as well as many of the great philosophers, poets, and writers of ancient and modern times. These principles are then put to the test in his own life with an emphasis on simple, sustainable practices we can apply in our daily lives to more effectively deal with the stresses and struggles of modern life and to more fully realize the benefits of deliberate growth. John developed a model called the Divine-Align-Shine model as a way of visually organizing the principles, practices and the overall process of personal and spiritual growth. His writings are cataloged and organized on his website, where contact information is available.