The thing about all religions regarding the self is that they want you to surrender to them. They don’t want you to be yourself. They want you to either bow down to their deity and make your self subject to it, or to surrender yourself entirely. In the latter case it is either in pursuit of being one and indistinct with everything thinking that the self and the cosmos are the same, or in pursuit of the idea that there is no self. Even in contemporary or new age form, mainstream religion and spirituality divides the self into an “inner voice” and an “ego”. They speak of being yourself, but that’s not what they want you to be. When they speak of the “true self”, they speak of a consciousness that supposedly pervades the universe but is not your own, so you are not being yourself, you are just exchanging your self for something else, rendering your will as that of the universe. Even in Thelema, you give your self to be a conduit for someone else’s will (in this case Babalon).
If there is God, and God is involved in the formation of the self, the will, and our desires, then it makes no sense that God would allow us to have selfhood, individuality, and our own desires simply so we could give it up in God’s name, rather God would want us to express ourselves as wholesomely and truthfully as we were meant to as human beings. But sadly, this concept of God is not found in any kind of religious thought, and so we have either a tyrant in heaven or a consciousness that wants others to fuse with it.
No religion gives a damn about the concept of the I. It doesn’t give a damn about individuality and individual thought or will unless it can be made to serve their idea of God or some higher consciousness. No religion wants you to have your own self, not even the Asian faiths. It’s foolish to think they will free you, when they in fact want to alter your state of being outside of your own. You can only do this outside of religion, or in attachment to certain philosophical frameworks (like Satanism, or possibly Luciferianism), though it is often best to go your own way even if that means going without them. And as for this idea of ego versus the inner voice, isn’t ego the Latin pronoun for self? When did it become a byword for an invalid, false, or immoral state of being? (To be honest though, I might like a better word for what people refer to as “ego”, in case ego as a word becomes inconvenient)
I believe in the I, the self, and its spiritual merit. If anything, the true falsehood is the confusion of self and body (which I have to admit, some of the belief systems I’ve criticized at least addressed) and the true foolishness is people going with the flow of society and religion instead of following themselves, their own path, their own self. Not just carnal desires either. That is only one part of our self. Follow the spirit in ourselves, our reason, our ethics, our morals and ideals which we will decide upon ourselves instead of blindly obeying anyone else’s. Be true to yourself, be who are you are and not what religions and herds want you to be, and be truthful, strong, and brave in your path. Do this, and your life, your will, your creation, you yourself will be your own, and heaven will be all yours, your heaven and your creation.