Waking up is an endless process of losing what you think you know, like a wave of destruction that leaves nothing but what is true.
Death is a word that we humans usually associate with darkness, mourning, decay, and general creepiness. We spend our entire lives running away from, avoiding, and denying the fact that we will someday physically die. However, the death that I’m referring to here, Ego Death, isn’t the typical kind of death we fear.
In order to understand ego death, let's first define "ego". To state it in overly simplistic terms, ego is basically our sense of self, or our sense of identity. The ego is both a biological and spiritually-based tool that maintains and defends the belief that we are all separate “individual” entities. As a result of organizing our perceptions in this way and defining ourselves as individual and separate, we live isolated lives. One consequence of the perception of separateness, or duality, is that we suffer immensely.
Duality is the opposite of reality (reality being the fact that we are all interconnected and exist in a unified and unifying field) – it is the division of life into opposing forces such as love/hate, good/bad, right/wrong, and holy/sinful. When we divide life into things wanted or unwanted, we suffer. The result of this dualistic orientation of the ego is judgment, hatred, condemnation, and alienation. While we accept some things, we reject other things. While we love some people, we hate other people. Instead of accepting the conditions of life as wholeness or oneness, we slice it into “acceptable” and “unacceptable” experiences, people, beliefs, thoughts, and emotions.
When the ego identifies a preference for one thing over another, and we don't have it or can't keep it, we suffer . . . and we also begin to slice into ourselves; finding some aspects of our bodies, behavior or our very existence acceptable, while rejecting other characteristics, traits or aspects of ourselves or our lives. Any thought, feeling, sensation, experience, or belief we have about ourselves that is judged to be “bad,” “unacceptable” or “wrong” we suppress, avoid, or deny. As a result of this repression, we fuel a Shadow Self, which becomes more twisted and monstrous the longer we keep it buried under denial and shame.
Living through the ego can be observed in our world very clearly. The depression, addiction, anxiety, mental illness, mass murders, hatred, greed, poverty, war, and environmental destruction we experience is all a reflection of our ego orientation to separateness and duality. Our internal suffering reflects our perceived loss of Soul. We suffer because the ego believes it’s a little isolated speck cut off from existence, isolated from Nature, from Source, from Mother, from God.
I’m using the term “ego death” here because it's a popular phrase used to describe the experience of awakening from the illusion of separation . . . awakening to oneness . . . seeing beyond the limitations of duality and feeling the connected or unified sense of universal belonging. The truth is that the ego can never really “die”; rather, it can be made conscious so that it’s no longer exclusively identified with the dualistic perception that is generally running our lives.
Ego death is the experience of temporarily transcending the ego, self, or personal identity. This means transcending the ego's insistence on the good self versus the bad or unacceptble self. The experience of ego death is mind-bending, awe-inspiring, peaceful, soothing, comforting and unconditionally loving. Ego death is essentially an experience of knowing the true nature of your existence in relationship to all that exists. It is the body-based knowing that you belong in the infinite fabric of existence, that your place here is secure, you matter, you are enough. What you really are, beyond duality, is at least temporarily clear.
In the next few blog posts, I will write more about what is entailed in an ego death, the stages, and the various ways to find your way to such an experience.