Understanding “Ego” in Today’s Spiritual Times

Bodies and minds will always be subject to the sway of nature, which makes possible the diversities of life and was never meant to be destroyed or got rid of. The word “ego” traditionally represents awareness completely identified with mind and body, therefore the emphasis is placed on the preservation of complex ideologies and the perpetuation of pleasurable sensations. It can go to great lengths to carry out this mission, while justifying subtle or gross acts of violence; either internally against oneself or externally against the “other.” We are all familiar with this definition of ego; and this particular entity does need to go and the idea of destroying it is correct.

What happens after this destruction? I can tell you from experience that there is a personality that remains with seemingly similar attributes of the former ego. Many in the spiritual community still call this ego and therefore say “do not destroy the ego” etc. Right. We do not want to destroy this particular ego that is healthy and functional, as it must be present for practical affairs; but it is important to make a distinction if we are going to use the same word for two very different entities.

The truth is the latter is an evolved version of the former, so they are both “ego” but have two very different effects within the scheme of things. The evolved version is not compelled by self–preservation alone but is under the sovereignty of a balancing principle which can’t but act in the direction of bringing homeostasis to all minds and bodies under all situations without acceptation. This balancing principle is sought by the dysfunctional ego which acts as a catalyst for its own evolution after it catches small glimpses coupled with the realization that it is “me” who stands in the way of experiential grace flowing through my life. Here ego offers itself to the living fire of evolution which turns out to be Love itself and evolves this ego into a servant; where it forever stays prostrated at the foot of its maker.

-Atreya Thomas

Refining the Ego in the Fire of Grace

 

The ego does die, but it is not what many think. The caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, dies to his old form and can never go back to being a caterpillar. Yet, if you look closely, the main body of it still retains its caterpillar form. Recognize that you are an ego and do not pretend to have wings by using non-duality jargon. You intuit the source within; now offer yourself in deep surrender as ego incarnate to the fire of grace. It is this fire which burns away all that is exclusive and leaves in its place a refined personality under the sole sovereignty of God, which makes the will of the individual the will of the One. Hence, it stands that there is still a “me” and a “father” that are one.

-Atreya Thomas

How do I know if I am being earnest, or if it is just spiritual ego?

It is all ego when there is still an “I” that wants to know and feels separate. Nevertheless, this is a natural part of the path easily verified in all children. So it is a question of what position is the ego taking? Does it seek to add to itself in the name of spirituality and enhance a character as this or that, a sense of exclusiveness, more spiritual, a teacher; and secretly wishes for the recognition and accolades that come with it? Or is it positioning itself in earnest reverence to mature at the foot of its maker so that it is made fit for service? Therefore it is not about getting rid of ego but rather discovering its holy purpose: to offer itself in profound surrender and devotion so that it may undergo a metamorphosis, be emptied and resurrected as divinity in human form.

-Atreya Thomas

QUESTION: “THERE IS ONLY ONENESS. WHAT IS THE POINT OF ALL THIS EGO TALK FROM TEACHERS? THERE IS NO EGO OR FALSE SELF, ONLY THE TRUE SELF!”

The word “ego” symbolizes eternal unchanging awareness mistakenly identifying with ever changing form (mainly body and mind), which creates an exclusive “me” whose reality is based in separation. In turn, preservation of “mine,” my demands, my ideology, expectations, happiness etc.; becomes the primary focus.

Everything that challenges these positions becomes “them,” and suffering ensues. One need not look very long at their own life to see the extraordinary damage this thing does to human relationships; and to deny that is a grave mistake.

The whole point of discerning the ego from the true self is so a seeker can rediscover their eternal nature, and come back to the front of their body and fearlessly embody the ego. Then one is not afraid anymore to fully embrace and meet the dark side of humanity knowing that ultimately they are not humanity, but rather love itself.

As this Love, fully embody the false self. Wear it completely! Then offer it as a living sacrifice to truth. Then you will discover the true meaning of Oneness

Question: What is the relationship between the True Self and the ego? How can you relate this to Jesus’s teachings?

The True Self is the source of all things including ego and the body. Therefore, the True Self sees itself in all things, hence has love for all things including ego and the body. Not because it loves these specific transient objects exclusively, but because it has Supreme Love for itself and recognizes itself in all things! This is why Jesus said “whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Therefore, we can conclude that all relationship between all things is actually God interacting with God.

Why do some say separate the ego out, while others talk about oneness? What happens to the ego after spiritual awakening? Don’t I need it to function?

You are referring to different parts of the spiritual path. In the beginning it is vital to be able to discern the transient from the eternal. Most if not all are born identified with form and that seems natural for children. Form by nature is fleeting; so if we believe we are nothing but form (mainly body and mind), then we suffer because we are constantly under the notion that we are decaying and that which we are attached to is always trying to slip away. So devotion will be geared and directed towards self- preservation.

Therefore, it is important to ask a question that points to the awareness in spite of mind and body; in spite of form. If one devotes themselves to the inquiry relentlessly they will discover that they are the observer of phenomenon. And suffering starts to ease up; there are some good days and some bad days as the seeker is still living in duality and has not transcended the opposites. Nevertheless, there is some space now between the awareness and the transient thoughts and body sensations. A monumental feat in and of itself. This is the practice of mindfulness. There is an awareness that must be mindful of ego and its tomfoolery. What happens to the ego here is that it is exposed, examined, and its mechanics understood and put in its proper place.
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