by Lachlan BrownNovember 14, 2018, 7:12 am
There are some of us who live free—they see life as it is, and move through it and react to it in the way that is best for them.
But for many of us, we are controlled by our ego, or our sense of self and identity.
The ego holds us back because it puts a lens of duality over the real world.
Instead of seeing life as it is, the ego tends to divide concepts into two opposite sides: left and right, right and wrong, love and hate, peace and war.
These divisions bring suffering to our lives. Instead of seeing everyone as equals, the ego forces us to categorize others, making greater and lesser people, experiences, thoughts, places, and emotions.
The ego forces us to think that some things are wrong and some are right, thus breeding hatred and resentment amongst humanity.
But there are some of us who live without these artificial borders, and these are those who have experienced what is known as the ego death.
Before we talk about what an ego death is, we need to understand the ego first.
What is the ego?
The ego is an identity of our own construction.
It’s our beliefs we have about our personality, talents, abilities, life experience, relationships etc.
It’s the mental construct of our “self”.
While it can appear that the ego is static, it isn’t. Rather, it is active, dynamic and changing.
After all, we’re changing as we learn about ourselves and have more life experiences.
The kinds of thoughts that contribute to the ego are:
“I’m bad at math”.
“I’m emotionally mature”.
“I am better than most people at writing”.
The ego hides behind “I” and “me” in those thoughts and statements about our identity.
The ego is difficult to see. It appears as real because it’s our attachment to descriptions of our identity – and we use our ego to understand the world.
In fact, it’s quite difficult for the unaware person to discern the difference between what is ego and what is really them.
The Ego Death
The death of the ego isn’t truly a death, as the ego will always be a part of us.
Instead, it’s more like a transcendence; we evolve beyond the shackles of our ego and leave it behind, learning to control our lives without its influence.
When we leave behind the ego in ego death, we return to our True Nature and learn to live beyond the confines of the ego’s dualistic reality.
But this experience can be both beautiful and terrifying, depending on how ready the individual is to let go of their ego.
For some, this complete loss of identity can be the most petrifying experience ever, because the ego’s defense mechanism kicks in to keep itself attached to its person.
But for others, the death of the ego is just another step on a lifelong path of spirituality.
Here are the 7 steps of the ego death:
1) The Spiritual Awakening
The first step is when we wake up. We leave behind our daily routines and our everyday desires and ask ourselves:
What am I here? What is my purpose? What am I supposed to do?
This awakening occurs when we begin to feel that we have a void in our life that we cannot fill. In many cases, this awakening comes with depression, feelings of being lost, and the ending of relationships.
2) The Dark Night
This is the deepest part of our depression during the Spiritual Awakening, our lowest point.
We are in complete despair, and we know that something has to happen in our life, something drastic and meaningful, but we don’t understand what that something has to be.
We become isolated from others and even ourselves.
We start to try filling that void with things we might have one found silly or ludicrous. We experiment with the mystic arts, astrology, energy healing, and practices that focus on connecting the mind, body, and soul.
We branch out with our spirituality beyond the normal mainstream religions to try to understand what we are feeling.
4) Glimpse of Enlightenment
And finally, we experience our first, small glimpse of enlightenment, also known as “satori”. We take a look into our True Nature during our exploration and become terrified of this experience.
This terror can push us away from further exploration or make us want to find out more.
5) Soul Growth
This step can take months if not years, and this is when our soul begins to mature. We develop the ability to understand what spiritual practices work for us and which have no effect on us.
This depends on the individual; some beliefs might resonate with you, while others won’t touch your soul at all.
As our soul begins to mature, we focus on the practices that hone our patience, discipline, and focus most successfully.
I’ve experienced soul growth myself in recent years.
Did you know that 6 years ago I was anxious, miserable and working every day in a warehouse? For years I struggled to find the peace I really wanted.
The turning point for me was when I dived into Buddhism and eastern philosophy.
What I learned changed my life forever. I started to let go of the things that were weighing me down and live more fully in the moment.
Just to be clear: I’m not a Buddhist. I have no spiritual inclinations at all. I’m just a regular guy who turned to eastern philosophy because I was at rock bottom.
If what I’m saying in this article resonates with you, check out my story here.
6) The Surrendering
Now we let go. We have become intimately familiar with our soul and our ego, and we surrender everything that is not part of our True Nature, but things created by our ego.
We let go of the patterns that limit us, hold us back, and let our souls grow by bypassing our ego.
For this step to be most effective, we must trust what we do not know and let go of the fears brought to us by our ego.
7) Awareness and End
The last step is the end of the line. We have explored, grown, and surrendered, and thus evolved beyond our ego.
We understand what we were searching for in the beginning, and we see the illusions for what they are: illusions.
The Truth is in us now, and we know that the ego should not define who we are; the ego should exist simply as a tool to be used whenever needed. Who We Are is something so much greater.
afghanistan anger anxiety awareness belonging break down burn out combat stress coping with ptsd dark night of the soul depression emotional empath empathy fear highly sensitive person homecoming hsp meditation mental health mental illness mindfulness paris attacks post traumatic stress disorders psychological ptsd PTSD AWARENESS ptsd recovery PTSD STORYTELLING resilience sebastian junger self care self discovery self love self worth shell shock social anxiety spiritual awakening stress disorders trauma tribe veterans vets war vets yoga