Brief as it is, this is such an intriguing quote—that can be interpreted from several perspectives and on different levels. The one that speaks to me at this time is that to recognize yourself in another is also to recognize the underlying connection between humans.
The ego tends to protect its identity, sometimes quite vehemently, because in absence of identity the ego ceases to exist. (Another Eckhart Tolle quote: “Defensiveness is the ego in action; it is trying to survive.”) The best way to defend… think of medieval battles… is by building solid fortifications. And once fortifications are in place the next line of defence is launching strong offence, trying to avoid those fortifications being challenged and put to the test in the first place.
The ego sees any potential challenge as a threat because, not dissimilar from various iterations of if you’re not with us you’re against us boldly stated by some political leaders, it operates on the premise of “you” being a separate entity from “me”. A robust ego needs to be right, and that is accomplished by ensuring others are wrong. (Yet another Tolle quote: “Power over others is weakness disguised as strength.”)
An unavoidably obvious example has been seen the past 4 years in the U.S. presidency. But look around you, pay attention to how people interact with you (and you with them!), and when you notice people (or yourself!) with strong fortifications and a tendency to fend off challenges with strong offence, you may be watching the ego in action.
To love is to recognize yourself in another accepts that we share more than we differ. And it can be extended to the notion that we can only truly love another if we truly love ourself.
Those are just my thoughts of the moment on this month’s quote. Give some thought to how you might interpret it, and what nuances speak to you. If you’re inclined, share them using the comment form.