Expansion of egotism as a necessary adaptation in life

The question now is: How, then, is it possible to see this in a right light, this quality — let us calmly use the expression — of the astral body which seems so horrible to us, viz., that it wishes to be an absolute egotist? Let us set to work, beginning from the simple facts of life. 

There are cases even in ordinary life in which egotism expands, and where we must, to a certain degree, look upon this expansion of egotism as a necessary adaptation in life. For example, consider the characteristic of much mother-love, and try to understand how in this case egotism extends from the mother to the child. We may say that the further we penetrate among less developed peoples, and observe what we might call the lion-like way in which the mothers stand up for their children, the more we notice that the mother considers any attack upon her child as an attack upon herself. Her self is extended to the child; and it is a fact that the mother would not feel an attack upon a part of herself more than upon her child. 

For what she feels in herself she carries over to her child and we cannot find anything better for the regulation of the world than that egotism should be extended in this way from one being to others, and that one being should reckon itself as forming part of another, as it were, and on this account should extend its egotism over this other. 

Thus we see that egotism ceases to have a dark side when a being expands itself, when the being transfers its feeling and thinking into another, and considers it as belonging to itself. Through extending her egotism to her child, a mother also claims it as her possession: she counts it as part of herself; she does just as the astral body does, saying: All that is connected with me lives through me, to me, with me, etc.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 145 – The Effect of Occult Development Upon the Self and the Sheaths of Man: Lecture VII – The Hague, March 26, 1913

Translated by Harry Collison