The beginning of the ending of suffering.
Perhaps the trickiest and most challenging part of our spiritual journey is experiencing the stress of what we commonly refer to as our "Ego." This is part 1, and there’s no telling how many additional parts we might add as we go.
From an intellectual perspective, the topic is complicated. From a spiritual one, it is not. These posts are offered to demystify and dismantle the complexity of our relationship with this aspect of ourselves. There is a lot of ground to cover based on questions and comments people have shared, and I welcome your questions following each post. Here are a few...
“How do I tame this thing? Or better, get rid of it?”
“My ego feels so vulnerable, how can we fix that?”
“I’ve tried to tell it to calm down, but it just didn’t work.”
“OMG, there wasn’t enough space in the room for us and his ego.”
“She painted herself as highly evolved, and it was hard to hear her through the density of her spiritual ego.”
“How do I find my True Self through the muck of my ego?”
“We need the ego, right, just to function in this world?”
“I’ve been told you can’t get rid of it, it’s innately part of us.”
A client recently mentioned the phrase “Death of the ego,” which is at the heart of this series When Ego Falls Away. Same thing, different words. I’ve chosen the latter because it feels more natural and aligned with my experience as a gentle process. The death description feels more like a bullet followed by an immediate face-plant.
For most of us, it’s gradual. The gradual falling away comes from reflecting on specific threads of the ego tapestry. Today’s thread is investigating Truth from fiction. Fear loves fiction. More accurately, fear is fiction most of the time. When we dive into fear and feel it in our bones as a false perception, it breaks apart. This comes from shifting perspectives. Here’s an example based on my experience.
Every time I hear, "My ego..." it translates in my head to "My pet..." due to an experience I had with my self-talk. I think it was in Fall 2014, there was a moment where my perspective shifted in a big way, seeing my inner complaints as a voice that wasn't my own. In fact, the communication seemed more like an unhappy pet voicing its disatisfaction. However strange that may sound, there was benefit in feeling distance between my True Self and the whine.
So with a statement like this, "My ego was triggered, and I started yelling." I hear, "My dog got scared and started barking." No judgement. The pet metaphor was (and is still) a gift. It made me laugh, which kind of cured the moment. Not taking ourselves so seriously is huge step in the ending of suffering and the ego falling away.
If we get right to the rub of spiritual seeking, ending suffering is at the heart of it. We want to be free of pain emotionally, physically, and mentally so that we can live authentically, joyfully, and abundantly. With a close look, nearly every meditation, prayer, and spiritual practice has this "goal" baked in... to be free of suffering.
I remember being in the spin of inner disharmony and being so angry at this damn ego, as if it were an actual thing (like an ill-behaved pet.) I tried getting rid of the distress, like following directions for changing a tire. So, such practices didn't work... why? Because they were mental concepts. You can't resolve something with the same tool that creates them. A mind that is fearful does not successfully convince itself it shouldn't be. It tries though, often times by shaming, blaming or guilting. "You shouldn't feel that way!" It says to whom? Itself. This makes zero sense.
The only time I have felt significant and lasting change has been through a full-on experience... body, mind and spirit. This can be difficult to articulate, so bare with me. Authentic upgrades have happened when I experienced a complete dismantling of things I once believed were true. And fortunately, such limiting perspectives were revealed as false, which freed me from limiting my relationship with life.
A significant deconstruction was how I looked at this thing we call ego. The new revelation followed a self-reflective question, "What the hell is this ego-thing really?" On some level, it never made sense to me even though "ego" has been the accepted term for the part of us we mostly find painful and annoying. I'm sharing what was revealed to me as an experiential knowing, not another belief to replace the former.
Experience what is Absolutely True. What is Absolutely True, never changes. For instance, Divinity is never malevolent in any context. Absolute Love is incorruptible, light, and harmonious always. On the other hand, the majority of our daily fears end up not being true. Of course, tragedies do occur; however, when looking at the ratio of fear thoughts to actual tragedies, it's relatively small. Many clients have shared how they, literally, have made themselves sick with worry for things that never came true. In various degrees, I'm sure we've all done this. Ending self-generated suffering begins by noticing that what we're worrying about is likely not based in truth and/or not likely to happen.
A side note: As one who helps clients heal from unspeakable grief as a result of tragedy, this conversation is likely to feel superficial and maddening. In a traumatized state, everything can seem superficial and aggravating. Healing grief is another conversation near and dear to my heart. Today's post is geared for everyday life where the majority of our stress does not come from tragedy; rather, arises from the fear of it.
Deeper insight on what the ego is from a consciousness perspective. Our existence includes both an infinite aspect of consciousness (Soul) and a finite one (ego). The aspect operating the meat suit is the local, finite aspect of our consciousness. It’s the "general manager" of the physical vessel, if you will. Metaphorically speaking, a GM's responsibiity is to keep the individual enterprise running well. This role is not to function as the CEO who is operating from a more global perspective. This is why an ego-centric, non-conscious individual focuses on me, me, me and rarely thinks broadly about the ramifications for WE. When the ego falls away, there is a blending of both levels of consciousness--awareness regarding the individual well-being as well as the whole.
When we say, “My ego is out of control or going crazy,” what is that really? It’s what we say when we have internal suffering. With suffering comes painful thoughts (beliefs) and feelings. Examples: “You’re going to fail. They’re going to reject you. You don’t deserve that.” Considering a majority of our fears end up being untrue, this means we are suffering over illusions, not over what is Absolutely True. Seeing what is actually True dissolves fear almost instantly.
In a nutshell, we don't have a pet in our head, and we don't have an ego-thing. What we have is an experience of suffering based on stressful thoughts we believe are true. Some big ones... "I'm not enough, not smart enough, not credentialed enough, not likeable, not loveable." And others, "I'm not safe. People don't accept me. All men (or all women) are ____ (fill in the blanket statement)." The ability to see more truthful perspective frees us from suffering. Judgements imprison us. Courage and Truth frees us.
The ego begins to fall away when we dare to see things differently, be fervently committed to investigating self-talk, and be fearless to heal wounds that create frightful beliefs. It falls further when we deeply and authentically Love who and what we are, imperfections and all.
Volumes more could be said about this ego non-thing, so I welcome your questions and will write another post based on them. Until next time, Much Love ~Korrine