While the experience of ego death can be indescribably beautiful, it can also be indescribably horrific for those who are not aware of the spiritual path, and/or for those who resist the actual experience. Those who have shared their experiences of ego death with me generally fall into two groups: those who found the experience illuminating, and those who found the experience tormenting.
Psychedelic explorers Timothy Leary and Terence McKenna, who referred to themselves as the “Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss” often spoke and wrote about the state of pure awe and abject terror experienced in the face of ego death. Their radical experimentation with plant medicines such as ayahuasca, DMT, and psilocybin mushrooms as well as other synthetic substances like MDMA and LSD guided generations of spiritual seekers to powerfullyl transformative experiences of ego death, of the Self beyond the self-identified ego. As Terence McKenna has said, the abyss must be approached with courage and willingness as it is in a state of true surrender one discovers that fear itself is an illusion:
"Nature loves courage.
You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up.
This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood.
This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall.
This is how magic is done.
By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering its a feather bed."
Ego death is generally terrifying because it is, perhaps obviously (but often unexpectedly), the end of control; the end of thinking we know; the end of our stories; the end of beliefs, reasons and rationales. It is death of the the mind while the body lives. To cease to exist, even for just a minute without physically dying . . . Ego death is death before dying.
The ego creates intense fear as a defense mechanism to try and hold onto a sense of control and power.
However, to progress spiritually, we eventually come to understand the role of ego-fear, to be mindful of it, understand its role in our lives without giving our lives up to it.
Plant medicines as well as substances like MDMA and LSD are more integrated into mainstream conventional therapies than ever before. There is a general trend in the collective consciousness toward surrender and release of our shared and deeply entrenched ego structures . . . YAY for the dissolution of ego and the fear that drives duality and a perpetual sense of disconnection, otherness, hatred and separation. Go forth and courageously hurl yourself into your day!