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Desire in itself is not un-spiritual. Desire is, simply, our wanting to achieve something, and it is our motivating energy for working towards achieving something. Therefore, desire can be quite positive, when the desire is for positive goals or when it is motivating us towards positive goals. For example, desiring good for the world is the beginning of real prayer, and desire is the motivating emotional energy for manifesting positive goals.
But for many people, desires are self-centered and selfish desires, and not valuing and considering others enough, and not considering the overall consequences. The spiritual problem with desires is when they are self-centered and selfish, and when there are dysfunctional self-attachments involved with these desires. Another problem with desire is when we want life to happen just the way we want it. Life cannot always manifest in just the way we desire it to, and we cannot really expect others to serve us every desire we wish for.
So our spiritual inner work is to flush away our purely selfish desires, and to gradually transform all our desires into spiritual and world service desires. The greatest desire is to be in perfect union with the Beloved and to be a pure servant of the Divine Work.
The ego and the will are both correlated to desires, or at least some kind of desire, yet desires are distinguishable from ego and will. An ego has a desire or even many desires, or is involved in a desire, but the ego is not simply desire. Also what distinguishes an ego from simple desire is its use of thinking and strategy, along with intentional will, in order to fulfill whatever desire is thought to be most important. An ego, thus, has a power above desire, a power of its combined will and intelligent thinking (for evaluating and for strategizing). However, it is nonetheless possible for the sheer force of a desire to overpower the ego, the will and reasoning. Generally, an ego will hold certain accepted desires in its self-image and self-identification; while suppressing or restraining other desires. This is part of the ego's general no-nonsense business-like approach to life, working to eliminate the non-essentials and the potential side-tracks to its accepted goal at hand.
So as can be understood from the above descriptions, the ego-will (speaking of them as one) is involved with both the emotional (desire) and mental (thinking) aspects, so in a sense being the mediator or synthesizer of the emotional and mental aspects; yet having some degree of freedom from each.
Also make note that the conscious I, of any moment, has (in its raw essence) ego power in it, or is itself an ego (the conscious presencing of an ego). This gives us the impression that all egos are necessarily conscious - since the ego of this moment is conscious. But there are a lot more ego patterns at play within us subconsciously (or we could say unconsciously), or if not actually at play then at least sitting in wait (waiting on the sidelines or on the bench of one's subconscious). Therefore, these could be labeled as our unconscious egos. Or alternatively, these non-present or subconscious egos could simply be classified generally as ego-patterns.
Ego is related to desire, but ego itself is not the same as desire. Desire is a basic kind of energy in all living things. It is the motivation and the want. But ego is the knowing self that wants or that desires. Ego has desires. Ego is motivated by desires. Ego is often attached to desires, or even sometimes the servant of desires. But desires are different from ego, in that desires are never self-reflective or self-critical. Desires are energies with a certain objective. They're like a boat headed in a certain direction, towards a certain goal. Desires don't, by themselves, change their direction.
Ego is conscious. But desires are not conscious. They are just energies in us, or motivations in us. Most often, desires are simply automatic patterns or habits. They just appear and have an energy. Ego is different. Yet very often, ego and desire seem quite the same, because ego is engrossed in the desires. We can notice very young children being so engrossed in their desires, that there is really no difference between their self-knowing and their desires. In other words, their desire is all that is consciously being experienced as their self reality. But later, the ego can realize itself as distinct from the self-desires. The ego realizes it can be an independent self from the automatic desires and has the possible capacity to manage those desires.
In order to change direction, or to change desire, there needs to be an ego, who is the manager and the one who can steer towards another direction. The ego can be self-reflective, objectively observing oneself and one's desires; then also self-critical in evaluating the purposes and usefulness of such desires. The ego can stand above the desires, to see a larger picture of what is truly important. Such is the conscious rational mind, which is the ego.
Ego is not the same as desire, for there is more to ego than just desires; yet they are related. Desires can exist in us without any ego involved; yet all instances of ego have some sort of desire or desires within it and propelling it. These desires could be quite base and self-serving, or they could be more spiritual and other-serving. They could focused on a hoped for bodily pleasure, or they could be focused on an aesthetic enjoyment, or perhaps focused on some kind of achievement. So desires can be of all sorts, and we can even have spiritual desires. So an ego will include the element of desire, meaning that at least some desire is always at work or in the process of intended fulfillment –by the ego-will. Yet not all desires are parts of ego; some just exist on their own, apart from the conscious intentional minded ego.
Desire is one of the basic elements of the psyche, or we can understand desires as elementary forces in the psyche. Many desires exist in us prior to ego development; these are our primal desires, which begin in the psyche as instinctual forces. New desires may appear in the psyche after general ego development. Some of these new desires may be progeny of the ego, being newly developed from the ego life itself, and thus they are part of the ego from their beginning. However, some of our new desires (new – meaning that they are not instinctual and thus not primary) could be progeny of our primal desires, and thus they would be a prior and independent to the ego. Therefore, when they emerge into consciousness the ego is surprised by them - since something brand new has now emerged from the unconscious part of oneself – a new desire that was newly created out-of the primal desires already there within the subconscious .
At this point, this new desire (and its energy) can either be embraced with acceptance by the dominant ego or else rejected then also suppressed. If embraced, then the ego fits this newly discovered desire into its self-identity and also into its assortment of other embraced desires – to be hopefully fulfilled occasionally.
Therefore, some of our desires are incorporated into our dominant ego structure, while other desires are unincorporated and independent from the dominant ego. The desires which are embraced and incorporated by the ego are, of course, more efficiently expressed and fulfilled; while the unincorporated desires have to emerge rebelliously or at times covertly and sneakily, especially possible if the dominate ego is weak or tired at the moment. There is also a possibility that a new desire (or group of related desires), which are still independent and unincorporated by the ego, can themselves make a formidable challenge to the presently dominant ego by way of forcibly propelling into expressive power – and holding dominance in the psyche for a good period of time. And in this time of the 'rebel forces' holding dominance in one's behavior and expression, this new desire(s) can even build up a correlative rationalization in the thinking mind and also even gain intelligent strategy for its next bid for power later on. So what can happen is that this rebel force, taking the helm of dominance from the established ego, can eventually, over repetition, transform into its very own ego-structure – including its own accepted self-image, its own set of rational justifications, its own set of strategies for fulfillment, and finally its own intentional will-power.
Now at this point, or maybe even before it gets to this point, the previous all dominating ego can succumb to accepting and embracing all of this, and thus synthesize a new integral unity in self -- in other words, a united ego that has embraced and integrated into itself this 'rebel force' (in which case, it is no longer viewed as a rebel force). But if the usual, more established dominant ego does not make this reconciling and unifying move, then it will have to keep fighting back that rebel force of unincorporated desires. Or alternatively, the rebel forces themselves can collectively gather enough force to occasionally take over the personal expression, which can then eventually lead to its own ego-structure development. Then, there would be two egos in struggle; and there might even be more of these ego-structures developed than just two. It is for this reason that there is some coherent meaning to the concept of many egos in one psyche, with one having a present dominance, while the others lie in wait for their own opportunity to grab dominance at some time.
Another look at the relation between ego and desire is this. First, each ego has its particular desires – the ones it has embraced and incorporated into its intentional-will plans. And remember that these embraced desires are usually now called 'goals' by the intentional and strategy minded ego. Second, an ego-power can stand above its desires, thus managing them rather than they managing the ego. This would be the right functioning of the self-managing ego. Similarly, our will (our ego-will) is meant to direct our self-energies into achieving one particular kind of fulfillment, at a time. This could be called a fulfillment of a goal, but it could just as well be called a fulfillment of a desire. But the will is not meant to be merely bounced around by any kind of desire that happens to pop into mind or into emotion. The will is meant to have some control over the energies of one's psyche and behavior.
Yet, it is is possible for an ego-power to get so obsessed with a particular desire, or goal, that it becomes actually self-identified with it. For example, a particular thought and desire are so interwovenly dominant in consciousness that one 's self-identification can be summed up in, 'I want!' 'I want this,' or 'I want that.' 'I need this,' or I need to fulfill this.' This is really the same as, 'I desire this.' And if we remove the specific object of that desire from the thought, then this simplifies to I desire. This then is who I am at this moment – I am this desire. I am this want.
Ego corresponds to desire. In fact, each ego could be described as an I-desire (or I-want), or, in terms of a goal, it would be I-intend-to-achieve. It only seems that all these different desires have the same I-self, but this is just because they all share the common experience of being I-desires.
Every little ego has an I-desire with some kind of intelligent strategy for achieving success. Yet there may be success or not. If there is no success, then this ego will either struggle more to achieve, or it will acquire a 'give up' feeling of despondency.
Most people do not actually have a completely cooperative psyche world, but rather their psyche is a complexity of many desires, some cooperating and some in opposition. Only by personal psychological work can we work through these oppositions and battles within the psyche, to hopefully and eventually produce a harmonious psyche world. Usually though, several larger desires become dominant in the personal world, to lead. What can finally unify all these desires is a higher purpose, acknowledged as a common goal (purpose or need).
Desires relate to pleasures and enjoyments. Desire is the emotional energy (or driving force) seeking to fulfill a pleasure or an enjoyment. Pleasures and enjoyments are merely different words referring to the kind of fulfillment. When the desire is more basic and physical, then we say that pleasure is its object, or its fulfillment. Yet when the desire is more mental, aesthetic or spiritual, then we say that enjoyment is its object, or its fulfillment. Yet really, every pleasure could just as well be called an enjoyment, and every enjoyment could just as well be called a pleasure. So the difference is just to do with emphasis and preference of the world. To be more thorough, the object of a desire could also be self-esteem, praise, achievement, money, or maybe anything; but these could all be understood as various forms or mediums of pleasure and enjoyment.
So the object of any desire is its projected enjoyment, which could also be understood as the 'thought' of the desire. But with basic elementary desires, this is all usually under the consciousness, or sub-conscious. Yet, if this desire is embraced by ego and intentionally worked towards with will and with strategy, then it has become a goal of the ego. A raw basic desire will have some degree of strategy-for-fulfillment in it, but this will be given by instinct, such as the baby screaming for milk; whereas goals can have quite intricate strategies with intelligence and intentionality.
So if embraced by ego or part of an ego-pattern, the desire will have more intentionality and intelligent strategy involved. Also there will be more sense of control and more rationalizing or justifying it with reasons. If not part of an ego-pattern, the desire is more impulsive, more reactive, and without much thought. It also has less strategy and less self-consciousness (I-ness); that is, consciousness energy is low and self I-ness gets lost in the impulsiveness of the desire. So to summarize, desires range from having more or less intentionality, thoughtfulness, intelligence, strategy, rationalization, consciousness and I-ness, which are the traits of the 'ego'. With less of these ego traits, a desire will be more impulsive, thoughtless, irrational, and more spontaneously emerging from our subconscious.
There are two parts to the ego intelligence. One is practical, which develops strategies for achieving the desire/goal. The other is a rationalizing intelligence, which rationalizes and justifies itself and defends itself against opposing arguments.
Our personal 'will' is distinguishable from simple desires. Personal will is a conscious power that can direct our other energies, whereas desires emerge from our subconscious with an already established force (or impulse). The will of ego is trying to direct and focus one's energies towards an aim – towards what it wants to accomplish at this present time – and so it has to deal with the forces of one's many desires.
Yet each instance of ego usually has some kind of desire involved. This involvement of desire with ego can range between two possible extremes: the desire could be leading the ego (or in other words, ego serving the desire), or the ego could be in complete control of the desire and managing its stages towards fulfillment.
Each instance of will has a desire energy in it. When thinking about the energy of our will, there are two aspects to it. One is the motivating energy behind it, while the other aspect is the goal, aim, or 'object' of the will. The object is the objective reason that the ego-will has in mind – which is the aim or goal. But will also has a subjective aspect which is the energy-force motivating it – which is the desire energy of that will. So desire is still within the structure of will (and thus also in any ego), but it mostly remains subconscious as a motivating energy while our thinking focuses on the goal. So each instance of will feels that it is intentionally running towards a goal, rather than being pushed by a desire. Yet both are really happening.
Desires and goals are very similar concepts, even almost the same, but we use the term desires in reference to emotionally based motivators and that which seems to derive more from our physiological base, while the term goals (and also values) are in reference to rationally based motivators or that which is derived from reasoning and intelligent thought.
Nonetheless, both desires and goals have a motivating component and an object component. That is, they both motivate actions (as well as re-actions), and they both have a general object in mind, a hoped for outcome or something to achieve. Note also that the motivating component of both desires and goals is emotional, while the object component is mental. Thus, desires tend to be more motivating oriented, while goals tend to be more object-in-mind oriented, though both components are essential.
Distinguishing desires from goals is usefully pragmatic; although, we can interchange the terms without any large confusion. For example, a desire for gourmet food can also be described as being one of our goals in life – to have gourmet food. One term emphasizes more of the emotional or physical based motivation, while the other term emphasizes some degree of rational thinking and decision involving these as desired objects. Going the other way, for example, a rational goal for being successful in one's vocation can also be described as a desire for vocational success. Thus, the term 'goal' tends to emphasize the object-in-mind, while the term 'desire' tends to emphasize the motivational drive.
Depending on the degree of impulsiveness of a desire, vs. the ego intentionally working towards fulfilling it (using will), is a criteria for distinguishing desires from goals. A goal will still have desire in it, but this desire can be referred to as a goal if there is rationality, intention, and will involved, – or more simply, if ego has embraced it and works towards its fulfillment with intention and will.
Thus, goals and desires can be distinguished. When conscious intention and thoughtful planning come into play, then a desire becomes a goal. As for example, when the thinking ego makes rational plans and strategies for achieving a desire (deemed worthy enough), then this desire is now a goal. Therefore, when the ego consciously decides to make effort towards a certain desire, then that desire becomes a goal. Thus, goals are consciously decided and one thinks about how to achieve the goal, making an intelligent strategy.
So goals are desires that are thought out and become part of our plans; whereas a desire by-itself just emerges from our subconscious and has an energy-force from the subconscious. Thus, a desire has its own energy-force already which can move us at times, without needing any thought, planning, intention or will.
Every desire has some amount of energy, force or power in it; yet often we have many desires with little energy and power. These might then be called wishes; like how we sometimes wish for this or that, but never get these things because we don't really work hard enough to get them.
Will is consciously and intentionally directed energy towards a desired goal. Yet a desire for something can 'turn into' a will for something, if the desire has enough intensity and if the desire becomes a conscious goal. A desire becomes a conscious goal when it is accepted and given agreement by our intellect and ego-will, as being a worthy-valuable desire – worthy enough to put intentional energy (will) into it. So, some of our desires become actual goals with intentional will involved in fulfilling them. This then is the distinction between desires, goals and will. Desires are primal forces within us, while goals are consciously made with intelligence and reasoning, though these are made of desires; and while will directs energies for fulfilling a desire-turned-to-goal.
So in order for there to be a will-towards something and our energies consciously directed in that way, our intellect has to also be involved and has to agree to its worthiness or importance. We do not have a will-towards something unless it seems important and worthy of our energy. This intellectual agreement involves decision. So as well, will always involves a conscious decision. This decision might be apparent every single instance of will, but in every directed energy of will there was, at one point, a conscious decision about it and an agreement to its value, which involved the intellect and often some practical reason why the goal is worthy. It was in this moment of decision and agreement about 'going-for-it' which then gave it the power of will. Then later, this decision might be forgotten and is no longer necessary because the will-towards this particular goal has become a pattern, a habit, a mechanical repetition.
Notice also that desire does not involve conscious decision; it merely erupts spontaneously into our consciousness, with whatever amount of energy it has. And if a particular desire has a great amount of energy to begin with, as coming up from the subconscious, then this desire is likely to find some agreement with the intellect to become a decided goal, and so then turn into a 'will' – a conscious intentional will towards this desired goal – and we start to give more and more agreement and intentional-will energy into it.
But, each will can go under consciousness when/if it becomes routine. So then, we have wills under conscious. Even though these live in the subconscious, when they do emerge in consciousness they are intentional (or else the intellect re-evaluates them and perhaps rejects them). So what we have now are many wills (each a power unto itself), and many of these are in conflict, or perhaps confused about what best to do. For this reason we need to develop a unifying will.
The secret to personal power and manifestation is to be conscious in this moment of one's Power of will and decision – and to sustain the concentration of intention and will through the intended action. In other words, there is a sort of mantra that can be going on - which is 'I will, I will.' Or this could be thought of as, 'I unify my will towards this aim.'
Our will is often changing, just as our momentary desires and goals are often changing, and this is quite noticeable – at one moment being a will-towards-this, then later being a will-towards-that. Now one could argue that our will is the same, the same essence or the same power, through all of these changes of goal-direction. This could be one way of describing the will.
Yet is the will actually separate from the kind of aim that it is working towards? To understand the will as being separate and neutral from our goals (and desires) is certainly questionable. It seems more evident that each instance of our will-at-work is intra-relatedly tied together with its particular aim, goal, or desire. But this is not just a reductionism of will to simply mean the same thing as desire.
Desires are an energy in our psyche, and they have a vital life force of their own. They do not require any rational reason for their force; that is, a desire is independent of reason and rationality. But the power of a desire can be enhanced when it becomes part of an integrated 'complex' involving rationalization, reasoning and intelligent strategy, in which case the desire then becomes a 'goal' (which does have rationality or reason in it). All goals begin from elementary desires, but the desire becomes a goal when rationality and intentional strategy integrate with the desire – so that it then becomes a goal.
Our motivations mobilize our actions. Motivations can also color our thinking and feelings. There is always some kind of motivation(s) behind what we do and even sometimes behind what we believe in. Motivation can come from two basic sources. One is from our soul, and the other is from social influences and conditioning. The latter source is not necessarily negative, but it could be negative and limiting; whereas our soul motivations are always true and good.
Before making any important decision it is good to consider our motive behind it. There is always some greater motive behind any decision or intention, which could be material gain, sex, attention, self-esteem, power, friendship, love, knowledge, beauty, service, or whatever. The motive is an underlying force behind a decision or an action, which is usually not at the surface of our consciousness, though it can be consciously recognized if we can introspectively see the though-desire-goal that is driving us from within. There are all sorts of possible motives; but generally, motives could be classified as either self-gratifying (self-centered) aims or love-serving (love centered) aims, though these could also be combined and reconciled.
It is very good to look honestly at what is motivating our decisions and actions, because it could be an old conditioning or extremely self-centered, which then could be leading us down similar paths as before, in a pattern of repetition, even if the decision seems like a new one.
Once a hidden motive or motivator is made conscious, we can then re-decide the actual value of it in our lives and how much agreement we want to give to it. As we contemplate the value our motives, intentions and commitments, with deeper and deeper honesty, we will come to know more of our true inner values and may also see a path towards love. As we discover our deepest motives, values, and intentions of the heart, we realize more about our life purpose and we then make decisions from this new realization of deeper motivations.
Very often our motivations are subconscious; meaning that we are not consciously aware of our motivations or what is motivating us. It is always useful to be more conscious of our motivations; in order to know our self better, but also in order to make some self-adjustments if we find an un-useful or disingenuous motivation. In addition, we can be evermore conscious of the motivations coming from our soul.
By looking into our self and also feeling who we are, which is the meaning of introspection, we can discover motivations that were previously sub-conscious to us. It is always good to be more conscious of what is motivating us, rather than let this remain simply subconscious. It is only by our consciousness, or self uncovered, that we can make self-adjustments and dissolve outworn ego desires and motivations.
But also by looking deeper into our heart, we can discover our deeper motivations coming from our inner soul, with which we can then consciously align the rest of our personal self. This then becomes a great goal – to be motivated by our inner spiritual soul. This becomes our goal, rather than being a product of the various ego-centered motivations which developed in us from early growing up.
Motivations are similar to desires. In fact, any desire can turn into a 'motivation', a self-mobilizing force within us. We might have many desires; (like I want this or that). But a real self-motivation is an active force in us – which has actual power and effectively mobilizes our energies and will. So a motivation could be understood as a desire, but it is desire that is actively at work and one that has become a foundation of who we are. Motivation is the force behind will; as every instance of will has its own particular motivation – which is related to a Goal that is felt to have primary importance and value.
'Goal' and 'motivation' are significantly related concepts, along with 'will'. A Goal is the perceived target or thing to be achieved. Our 'will' consciously organizes and directs the energy we need to reach that Goal. Motivation is the inner fire or force that energizes our will and other aspects of self to “go-for” that Goal. Every motivation will have its particular goal (though this could be fairly vague or non-specific).
As already mentioned, many motivations are developed and conditioned by social and self-ego factors. But instead, we can discover our true soul-motivations, and then give our agreement to these, rather than simply being moved by the motivations subconscious in our personality mind.
Transforming our motivations, or moving on from outworn motivations into more soul-profound motivations, is accomplished foremost by an increase of self-consciousness yet also by a needed Vision of a Goal with greater Value. Seeing and realizing a Goal with greater Value and importance is the needed Key.
A possible Goal (or a vision) realized as having true Value, due to how it resonates in one's heart with our soul interest, creates new motivation in us, new mobilizing energies to reach that Goal. The Goal has to first be seen and then realized as having true value, or being truly worthy to reach (and work towards). For then, our motivation to reach this will be increased; and thus, our energies of will and intention will be increased.
Desires are real forces within us. Many of our desires remain mostly subconscious, meaning that they are real forces within us at work to be fulfilled, yet our conscious intelligence doesn't usually notice them. Being sub-conscious just means that they're hidden from view, but their activity in life can be nonetheless quite powerful. Our conscious intelligence only notices and understands some but not all of the many forces at play in our personality life, yet with self-study or 'self-observation' we can keep increasing our intelligent self-understanding. Also, with more self-study and consciousness of oneself, these sub-conscious desires will gradually become more conscious, thus making it possible to intelligently work with the forces.
Additionally, each person generally has many desires, and many of these are contradicting or at odds. Some of our desires are counter to other desires, meaning that one desire might counteract and defeat another. Also, each desire is maneuvering for dominance, or being at the steering wheel. This is known as the self-conflict of desires. Unless our many desires become cooperative and harmonious, there will continue to be subconscious conflicts in us, including sabotage of some desires by others. We will feel this self-conflict, and we will not feel the potential peace that 'could be' if all of our desires were working cooperatively and in harmony.
Ego related desires are not always out front in the conscious mind. Rather, most of these rest in the subconscious. They rest, or hide away as it were, and then emerge into our waking consciousness in order to get satisfaction or at least some recognition in future plans. So even though a stronger ego-desire has more intentionality and I-ness, it often settles underneath waking consciousness, and thus it can then be called a subconscious ego-desire.
The impulsive-intentionality distinction (or range) still holds true, but we are adding another dimension to the model, as it were, which is a designation about where a desire presently is, either resting in the subconscious or active in the waking consciousness. Some of the resting desires still have more ego, that is, more intentionality and strategy and capacity for I-ness; while some other desires will have less ego, less capacity for I-ness, and emerge more impulsively from the subconscious.
We can see this model at work in human development. Beginning childhood stages show less ego developed desires, that is, desires with less of the ego traits. These early childhood desires manifest impulsively, without much thought or strategy, without much conscious control, and without much I-ness. As the child develops there is gradually more I-ness in these desires, more self-control, intention and strategy, and in later stages there is more rationalization and justification for these desires.
As well, in this gradual development of the overall ego-self, the many separate desires become more integrated in what we might call an ego-system, as the psyche develops from fragmentation to integration. However, psychology must admit that, even in normal functioning adults, there is usually still a lot of fragmentation and competition of desires within the overall psyche. So even through later adulthood, the development of self-integration, especially in higher and more complex ways, is still needed.
Desires and reactions become automatic habits when they become subconscious. They are difficult to change, because —
a) they have power in themselves,b) they do not wish to be changed, and soc) they resist change.d) Higher intentions do not have ultimate power over all these personality habits and desires.
a) thinks about its desires,
b) rationalizes their importance,
c) and makes strategies for fulfilling them.
The ego is also the conscious thinker.
It is not the thought, nor the thinking.
It is the thinker, or that which is thinking.
One might think, who is thinking?
The answer is 'I'. This I is the ego.
The ego is a rational thinker, a plan-maker, a strategist, even sometimes a schemer. The ego is rationally considering the best way, the most practical way, or perhaps the easiest way. And the thinking ego can make comparisons of what is better - thinking and judging what might be better, or a better way.
Imagine a child. Early on, the child acts out one desire after another; whatever desire is dominate, this is the path of behavior. But later on, the child thinks about some possible choices, some possible desires to fulfill, then chooses one of these to act towards, to put energy towards, and to get engrossed in; such that the ego uses some degree of thinking and evaluation, and then chooses the better one - based on some kind of juggling of the value or pleasure of the various possible enjoyments at hand. A more developed intelligence will assess the value of each desire, then place one desire above another in value, or one below another in value.
So, ego is more of a conscious thinker than an impulsive desire. And a more intelligent ego will think through the ramifications of its various self desires, then determine the value of each desire, relative to the others.
However, even though this is possible for ego, it is not what usually happens. Instead, an ego very often cannot get free enough from the desires, in order to objectively evaluate them. To some extent it might be able to do this, (and this is part of its right function), but in very many instances the ego is just a dupe for the desires; or in other words, in many instances the desires are leading the ego, rather than the reverse.
And when this happens, the ego tends to be an excuse-maker for the self's desires. It uses its intelligence to invent crafty rationalizations for certain desires and for their fulfillment. It will do this also with reactions - making intelligent excuses and justifications for their expression, and defending the importance of them. In a sense, the ego is trying to rationally persuade itself and others of the necessity and value of certain desires or reactions.
The ego can use its intelligence to honestly review and weigh the value of certain desires and reactions, or else it can disingenuously make 'reasonable' excuses for everything or have a ready-made automatic excuse/reason for any desire or reaction. Most people develop an ability to rationalize or justify their choices and their behavior. Just notice how in oneself and in others, there is always a "good reason" for whatever choice is made or for whatever is done. Thus, many of our desires will have their own scripted automatic reasons, rationalizations or rational defenses.
So instead of using its intelligence to objectively evaluate various desires and reactions, and then manage or dismiss them, the ego might use its intelligence for making crafty rational excuses and justifications. In other words, this excuse making ego is intent on maintaining its status quo, rather than contemplate the possibility of transforming this desire, this reaction, this pattern.
Now let us understand that there are many possible desires in our self that are very definitely spiritual desires. Normally in spiritual teachings these are not called desires but, in a general sense, these are desires, albeit spiritual desires. It even makes sense to speak about desires of the soul. So within us are many possible desires. Some will be quite base, maybe some might even be vulgar, and some might be harmful to ourself or to others.
So we really need to look at these desires and make some critical decisions about them. Some desires will be realized as more important than others. Some desires might not have as much physical or sexual pleasure as some others, but they might be enjoyable in other ways. So there is a lot to consider about desires. Sometimes we will need to sacrifice certain desires for better desires (or desires with more spiritual importance).
The basic tone of the ego is 'I want', 'it's mine', or 'do it my way,' or more maturely the ego will be 'I'll do this', or 'I'm going to..' Notice how desire can later evolve into will; this is because ego begins as desire, accumulates intelligence, then becomes an intentional and strategic will. Thus, it all begins with desire; but as intelligence, reasoning, and strategy are added in, this then is ego. Desire is therefore still in the foundation of ego, but with ego there is thinking and strategy added in. The desire force of ego will be forgotten in the background of the subconscious, while the thinking part will more forefront in consciousness.
Yet, the ego does not necessarily have to be intentionally minded, for it could function in the world more subconsciously than consciously. This might seem confusing, because our ego is our conscious self-knowing identity at this moment. But the functioning of our ego, the mechanics and motivating forces of it, can be subconscious. Most of the ego workings are, in fact, subconscious, even the ego strategies and reasonings.
So how is it that ego is essentially a conscious thinker and manager, but its workings are so often subconscious? Think of a business, by analogy. The ego is the startup owner and manager. At first he does everything and has to learn how to do everything. But the whole business grows, and so now the owner is delegating jobs to his many kinds of workers. He might tell them how to accomplish their jobs, but gradually he lets them do their work without his conscious supervision. And so, much of his business and the work done is sub-conscious to him and it works automatically.
Ego is most described as being the conscious part of ourself, the conscious I or conscious director; unlike desires which don't seem to be conscious in themselves. Desires just seem to emerge from our un-conscious body or from our sub-conscious psyche; while ego seems to be our real conscious self. However, the dynamic workings of the ego, with its multiple motivations and strategies, are most often subconsciously hidden. It is difficult for even the ego to introspect upon its own hidden dynamics. So the conscious ego has to deal with its own sub-conscious dynamics, then learn how to manage these or perhaps transform some of them. Thus, much of the workings of ego are subconscious.
We can self-observe/study our ego, which takes special observational effort and also detachment, and we can see the ego's outer behavior and habits, but it is much more difficult to observe its hidden mechanics and forces. An ego is usually running the show, but not usually with conscious transparency since most of the levers are being pulled in the sub-conscious. So it is difficult to gain observing-awareness of the ego's undercover plans, strategies, and intentions.
What we can more easily notice are the ego outward reactions to undesirable circumstances. The ego reacts negatively when it does not get what it wants, or when there is threat of a possession loss, or when others do not do things the way that ego-I wants it done. Ego reacts when the actions of others do not fit in with one's own ego plans or wishes.