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“He must increase, I must decrease.”

The ego is the shadow of a great light.  In a world where egoism reigns supreme we often imagine: the ego, that am I.

But if that is the only reality, what is then left of us at the end of our life?  When someone becomes old and decrepit, gradually all the capacities disappear on which our ego is based.  Nothing happens of itself anymore, until we eventually become dependent on the help of other people.  The light of self-consciousness weakens, flickers, and goes out.  What is then left of us?

What is left on earth is what we call the mortal remains, an empty husk that soon falls apart.  Earth to earth; ash to ash.

But death is much more than the inglorious end of life on earth.  It is the time when the wheat is separated from the chaff.  As the shadow of the ego fades, the light of the Spirit grows.  Christ stands at every deathbed and receives the harvest of every human life.  Only then does the dying person recognize: Christ is the light of my shadow.

Countless people live as if there will never be an end to their ego, until the irrevocability of the end of life cannot be ignored anymore and there is no longer a way back—only forward, through the eye of the needle.

We don’t need to wait for that moment.  We can also try, in the midst of life while we are fully engaged in our everyday existence, to begin to walk this way forward.  Then we begin to realize: I am very small, and the world that stands behind me is very large.  The greatest of all people on earth, who became the smallest of all, let the light of his shadow manifest with the words: “He must increase, I must decrease.”

Then only, if these words are fulfilled in life and death, is the promise fulfilled: “Christ in me.”


Rev. Bastiaan Baan, July 3, 2023.

1 reply
  1. andy
    andy says:

    This is a profound and inspiring reflection on the meaning of life and death, and the role of ego and spirit in our journey. I appreciate the author’s use of imagery and contrast to illustrate the difference between the shadow of the ego and the light of Christ. I also like how the author invites us to practice humility and surrender in our daily lives, following the example of Christ who said: “He must increase, I must decrease.” This is a challenging but rewarding path that leads to true joy and peace. Thank you for sharing this beautiful text.🙏 GOD is GOOD


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