Added 19 March 2019:
I came across a couple of articles online this morning while contemplating not much while overlooking the farm pond at my family’s place in Thailand. These writings basically say the same things I have already covered in this book, but in a different way, so I thought I would share it with you. I always find it a slight comfort to read other people’s take on the reality I experience as it makes it all seem more mainstream.
The first extract is from Wikipedia, which gives a broad overview of this concept of ego death, or loss of self as I have described it in this book.
Ego death and the related term “ego loss” have been defined in the context of mysticism by the religious studies scholar Daniel Mekur as “an imageless experience in which there is no sense of personal identity. It is the experience that remains possible in a state of extremely deep trance when the ego-functions of reality-testing, sense-perception, memory, reason, fantasy and self-representation are repressed […] Muslim Sufis call it fana (‘annihilation’), and medieval Jewish kabbalists termed it “the kiss of death”.
Carter Phipps equates enlightenment and ego death, which he defines as “the renunciation, rejection and, ultimately, the death of the need to hold on to a separate, self-centered existence.
In Jungian psychology, Ventegodt and Merrick define ego death as “a fundamental transformation of the psyche. Such a shift in personality has been labelled an “ego death” in Buddhism or a psychic death by Jung.
In comparative mythology, ego death is the second phase of Joseph Campbell’s description of The Hero’s Journey, which includes a phase of separation, transition, and incorporation. The second phase is a phase of self-surrender and ego-death, where-after the hero returns to enrich the world with his discoveries.
In psychedelic culture, Leary, Metzer & Alpert (1964) define ego death or ego loss as they call it, as part of the (symbolic) experience of death in which the old ego must die before one can be spiritually reborn. They define Ego loss as “… complete transcendence − beyond words, beyond space-time, beyond self. There are no visions, no sense of self, no thoughts. There are only pure awareness and ecstatic freedom”.
Several psychologists working on psychedelics have defined ego-death. Alnaes (1964) defines ego-death as “[L]oss of ego-feeling.”. Stanislav Grof (1988) defines it as “a sense of total annihilation […] This experience of “ego death” seems to entail an instant merciless destruction of all previous reference points in the life of the individual […] [E]go death means an irreversible end to one’s philosophical identification with what Alan Watts called “skin-encapsulated ego”. The psychologist John Harrison (2010) defines “[T]emporary ego death [as the] loss of the separate self[,] or, in the affirmative, […] a deep and profound merging with the transcendent other. Johnson, Richards & Griffiths (2008), paraphrasing Leary et al. and Grof define ego death as “temporarily experienc[ing] a complete loss of subjective self-identity.
I have edited this entry to remove various reference links so if you want to see the entire article then this is the link HERE.
Although the various references in this entry basically relate to the same outcome that I have described in this book, the methods for achieving them are varied. I have heard of the use of psychedelics to achieve altered states with a spiritual targeted goal but I didn’t know that this was an academically studied as an option to altered ego states. The obvious problem with taking drugs to achieve a quick ego death (loss of self) is that:
(a) the shock of suddenly experiencing reality without the ego is not a state I would want to dive into without extensive preparation. I wrote about the fear I went through over an extended period in the chapter The Transition and slow and steady is my recommendation for ego loss.
This experience of ego death seems to entail an instant merciless destruction of all previous reference points in the life of the individual.
This quote is from Stanislav Grof and he is referring to situations when using psychedelics or various powerful non-pharmacological experiential techniques. It is his instant reference that is the aspect of this that might be so dangerous. An instant destruction of all previous reference points is one scary trip closer to madness for the unprepared rather than some blissful spiritual outcome. I wrote about exactly this misconception previously in the book saying
‘………without memories, the emotions attached to them, separate body consciousness and no relationship with the person attached to your name or in the mirror? ‘ Try that one at midnight and you might get a feeling for how frightening these events were.
(b) of course, once the drug effects wear off you are back in everyday reality. The aim is to achieve a permanent natural state of ego-less life and you can’t spend a lifetime in a drug induced fantasyland.
The final ego-death state based on the psychedelic culture, is described above as … complete transcendence − beyond words, beyond space-time, beyond self. There are no visions, no sense of self, no thoughts. There are only pure awareness and ecstatic freedom. Having read my words to this point you will relate to all of these aspects as I have written about them extensively particularly in what I call Stage Three. The one outcome I can’t relate to is the ecstatic freedom, as I have no experience of the ecstatic. Freedom in a way yes, because the ego doesn’t drive my actions but no emotional high as a result.
Daniel Mekur describes ego death/loss as the experience that remains possible in a state of extremely deep trance, which in my interpretation could be in deep meditation. The extraordinary outcome I live is that what Mekur writes as an outcome of this trance state, being ego-functions of reality-testing, sense-perception, memory, reason, fantasy and self-representation are repressed. I can list those functions as being absent but not as a repressed but just totally absent. Repression is an over layering of some discipline such as meditation or mindfulness to act as a more powerful influence to suppress ego tendencies. I find that once you settle into a self-less existence the removal of the ego is at such a fundamental level that there is no over layering because there is nothing left to repress. The destruction of the strongest aspects of the self/ego is complete and there is no ability to re-energise it even if one wanted to.
The second article I have taken is from a website called hackspirit.com If you want to read the original you can find it HERE. I have added many comments, not to attack the words of this author but because I have a different view on some things he writes about based on my actual experience and so I include them for you to make your own judgement:
Ego Death: 7 stages to the obliteration of the self.
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.
Tony: No, I don’t believe that the ego will always be a part of us. In Stage Three, most of the ego/self has been dissolved to the extent that there is no longer a recognisable individual person, what Alan Watts calls ‘skin-encapsulated ego’. I believe that the final becoming of Truth requires the complete removal of the ego/self, which is a concept I discuss with Bernadette’s help in my chapter Where to Next?
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 defence mechanism kicks in to keep itself attached to its person.
Tony: See The Transition
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?
Tony: Maybe this is a red pill moment
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 and feelings of being lost.
2) The Dark Night
This is the deepest part of our depression during the Spiritual Awakening, our lowest point.
Tony: Stage Two
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.
Tony: Or endless garden or house projects – anything to keep engaged.
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.
Tony: The Transition
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.
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.
Tony: This sounds like a planned decision doesn’t it. ‘Today and from now on I am going to let go’. I never found it like this. Everything let go of me and it was that unexpected and unplanned nature of the transformation that caused me so many problems. I had no desire to let go. I was expecting to get ‘more’ of things not less!
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.
Tony: The ego will be lost forever in the process as I experience it and can not be recreated on an as needed basis. Life is lived totally effectively completely outside the requirement to base anything on an ‘I’ or ‘me.
Who We Are is something so much greater.
The Positives and Negatives of Ego Death
Ego death can be one of the most beautiful experiences in your life. It can bring you new understanding and new approaches to life.
However, with the ego death, you’ll lose the security of who you truly are, which can be frightening for some. You’ll be intimately in touch with your intuitive self.
So, let’s be clear, there are positives and negative effects to losing your ego. Here are some of them:
1) You’ll see yourself for who you are and you won’t be protected by your ego. This can be frightening and uncomfortable.
2) You might experience feelings and emotions that you’ve been hiding from for years.
3) You’ll find yourself as a different person, with no insecurities (and securities) of your ego. If you’ve been using your ego for protection, this can be shattering.
4) It can make you feel disappointed in who you’ve been.
5) It can change you psychologically, and change your thought patterns.
Tony: I don’t agree with many of these negatives as they are written, not the outcomes themselves but the reference to feelings associated with a loss of ego/self. My comments are in response to the numbered negatives shown above:
- The loss of ego can certainly be ‘frightening and uncomfortable’ but the cause is not because ‘you see yourself for who you are’, it’s because nothing steps up to fill the space where your identity once was. You can’t see yourself for who you are because the ‘you’ has faded and nothing remains.
- You won’t be accessing hidden feelings and emotions because these are attributes attached to the ego or self. Take that away and all of those triggered responses disappear. Without historical memory and metadata to light the fuse of feelings and emotions nothing explodes in the now moment.
- You will certainly find yourself a different person although I find there are still aspects of personality related influences such as insecurities that are still around, although much reduced in their power to influence. I suspect these will continue to fade over time as the self-less state expands – see the chapter Where to Next.
- No, you won’t feel disappointed with who you’ve been. Disappointment and who you’ve been are both ego centric illusions.
- You will certainly be physiologically altered, that’s the point of the whole exercise like it or not. Nothing in your life will change you in the way this voyage of discovery will. The change in your thought patterns will be that they stop becoming patterns. Thoughts are no longer the driving force they once were but lifeless imaginings that can be picked up, looked at more closely and played with or ignored.
1) You can experience positive feelings in an extreme volume.
Tony: This whole positive/negative category is a distraction from the actual outcome. So much is written about the whole supposed blissful, positive results of this process. Unfortunately, the ego itself is required to be active to enjoy all these positive feelings, which as this has now been removed results in a balancing of swings between all the emotional responses to input. Responses are what they are to best deal with the situation in the now. Feelings don’t seem to be part of the requirement in an ego-death environment.
2) You will see yourself for who you really are. It will help you see what you don’t like about yourself and what you can change to make yourself a better person.
Tony: No. You won’t see anything at all about yourself. That is an ego driven thinking concept – you aren’t seen at all so how can you evaluate the likes and dislikes to make changes. It doesn’t mean that you become totally passive, as I have discussed – no zombies, but the determination of action in most things seems to come as a result of a natural flow of outcomes rather than a formal self-examination.
3) You’ll experience emotions that you are not able to feel normally because of the ego. You’ll be able to get in touch with your whole being.
Tony: Emotions relate entirely to the moment and have very limited power to affect what you do in order to generate them. They are an outcome of natural action, not necessarily the initiator of that action. You might find, as I have, that specific emotions are very insignificant compared to an ego existence.
4) You’ll change the way you view the world. You won’t be clouded by your ego’s insecurities and desires.
Tony: Yes. Totally true and one of the most significant changes to my outlook on life.
5) You’ll experience feelings that you haven’t felt since you were a child. It will allow you to experience a pure mind.
Tony: What does that mean? Does a child experience a range of feelings different from an adult? A pure mind – thought winds down and eventually the mind as we would normally categorise it will no longer exist. Anyway enough from me.
How to experience ego death
According to yoga, there are 4 ways to experience ego death:
1) The path of action.
Karma Yoga believes that by doing the right action that’s aligned with your values can result in the dissolution of the ego. It’s all about making your actions aligned with your spiritual self. This could be living a life of service for others.
2) Bhakti Yoga.
This is apparently difficult to grasp for westerners. It’s about cultivating the highest love for God. This is usually achieved through meditation, prayer or chanting.
3) Jnana Yoga.
This is also termed The Path of Knowledge. This is usually focused on exploring questions such as “Who am I” and “What are these thoughts?”
4) Raja Yoga.
This is the path of meditation. This is all about concentration practice, such as on your breath, body parts and objects. It’s about gaining control over mind and emotions.
According to many people, psychedelics are the fastest and most consistent way to have an ego-death experience. However, this comes with dangers as well.
In a lecture in 1976, Ram Dass said that “psychedelic chemicals have a capacity to cut through places where you are attached and clinging, to set them aside and show you a possibility. The problem is that they don’t allow you to become the possibility, they only show you the possibility.
According to scientific findings, taking LSD may result in brain regions becoming heavily interconnected, which could explain increased feelings of ego dissolution.
In fact, Timothy Leary, who was an American psychologist well known for advocating the exploration of the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs under controlled conditions, described the death of the ego as the first phase of a psychedelic trip, in which there is a “complete transcendence” of the self.
He defined ego death as “complete transcendence—beyond words, beyond space-time, beyond self. There are no visions, no sense of self, no thoughts. There is only pure awareness and ecstatic freedom.”
In Vice, they have an article on interviews with various people trying to experience ego death using psychedelics. Most people describe it as frightening, but liberating at the same time.
Researchers say that psychedelic drugs quieten the “default mode network” of the brain. The default mode network is known to be involved in many different functions in the brain – and is crucial for the neurological basis of the self.
Timothy Leary says that there are 5 stages to the psychedelic experience and different dosages of psychedelics will help you get there.
The first two stages are mild and require lower doses of psychedelics.
Level 4 or 5 are apparently associated with an ego death and requires insane doses to pull it off.
What isn’t usually talked about is the negative experiences people have from these high doses. Heightened anxiety, paranoia, and induced PTSD are common side effects. What’s even more frightening is that these side effects can stay with you after the experience is over.
According to Vice, “depersonalization can set in, and never leave, after ego death.”
Vice also mentions a story of a 22-year-old American who, after experiencing an ego death, started to believe that he was developing psychosis because nothing in the world made sense and nothing had a point.
TONY: I have included the words of the guy mentioned above because it describes a loss of self, I also describe in detail in the chapter Metadata and the Mind. The difference is that I achieved a gradual acceptance of this state while for someone who falls into it quickly it can be destructive:
‘I had to look at myself in the mirror for a long time so I’d know what my face looks like,” he explains. “I had to tell myself my name over and over again until I started to develop a sense of identity. I saw how temporary this world is and I struggled to find a reason to live.’
In other words, don’t believe the hype. Spiritual awakenings, especially those induced from psychedelics, can be very ugly.
So, while people claim that “ego death” offers solutions to life problem’s, you might want to be careful with how you approach it if you choose to use psychedelics.
Tony: I certainly don’t recommend this as a way to experience ego-death. The process is totally uncontrolled, the results are unknown and the effects can ripple out into your life in ways you hadn’t intended. I prefer to rely on the ‘divine grace’ or whatever you want to call that inner guidance to set a timescale, which might take you to the edge sometimes, but never over it.
As we mentioned above, our egos can’t literally be destroyed. Instead, it’s more fruitful to learn how to control our ego and make friends with it.
Below we go over a different strategy promoted by the likes of Eckhart Tolle and Osho on how to help yourself let go of the ego.
How to let go of the grip of the ego: Eckhart Tolle describes the natural way
According to Eckhart Tolle, ego is anything that gives you a sense of identity – and this comes from what you think about yourself and what other people say about you.
One way to think about ego is as a protective heavy shell, such as the kind some animals have, like a big beetle. This protective shell works like armour to cut you off from other people and the outside world. What I mean by shell is a sense of separation: Here’s me and there’s the rest of the universe and other people. The ego likes to emphasize the ‘otherness’ of others.
The big problem with the ego is that the ego loves to strengthen itself through negativity and complaining. When you listen to the ego and its negativity, it starts to control you and how you behave. According to Eckhart Tolle, when this happens, you don’t have thoughts; the thoughts have you.
So, what’s the key to not letting the ego controlling you? Eckhart Tolle says it’s all about observing the mind and becoming aware of what kind of thoughts you habitually think, especially negative ones.
When you do this, you might suddenly realize that you have been thinking the same thoughts over and over without really knowing it.
Eckhart Tolle says that awareness is the first step to becoming free of the ego:
Awareness is the beginning of becoming free of the ego because then you realize that your thoughts—and the negative emotions they produce—are dysfunctional and unnecessary.
Of course, the question is: How do we become an observer of the mind to achieve this?
Becoming the observer simply means taking a step back from your mind and becoming aware of your thinking patterns and how you’re responding to things.
Tony: The simply reference must relate only to the concept of taking a step back from your mind, because the reality is that this is anything but a simple exercise as anyone who has tried to quieten the mind will attest to.
Below we’ve found a passage from Osho that explains exactly how to go about it.
Tony: Osho was also known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh who was a controversial Indian spiritual teacher born 1931 and dying 1990. This quote works in the context of this topic so I have left it as part of the article.
How to become an observer of your mind and liberate yourself from your ego
Become an observer of the currents of thought that flow through your consciousness. Just like someone sitting by the side of a river watching the river flow by, sit by the side of your mind and watch. Or just as someone sits in the forest and watches a line of birds flying by, just sit and watch. Or the way someone watches the rainy sky and the moving clouds, you just watch the clouds of thoughts moving in the sky of your mind. The flying birds of thoughts, the flowing river of thoughts in the same way, silently standing on the bank, you simply sit and watch. It is the same as if you are sitting on the bank, watching the thoughts flowing by. Don’t do anything, don’t interfere, don’t stop them in any way. Don’t repress in any way. If there is a thought coming don’t stop it, if it is not coming don’t try to force it to come. You are simply to be an observer….
In that simple observation you will see and experience that your thoughts and you are separate – because you can see that the one who is watching the thoughts is separate from the thoughts, different from them. And you become aware of this, a strange peace will envelop you because you will not have any more worries. You can be in the midst of all kinds of worries but the worries will not be yours. You can in the midst of many problems but the problems will not be yours. You can be surrounded by thoughts but you will not be the thoughts…
And if you become aware that you are not your thoughts, the life of these thoughts will begin to grow weaker, they will begin to become more and more lifeless. The power of your thoughts lies in the fact that you think they are yours. When you are arguing with someone you say, “My thought is”. No thought is yours. All thoughts are different from you, separate from you. You just be a witness to them.
Once again, words that I have written in this book before reading quotes like this are totally supported by other people’s observations. The process is as it is no matter what the context of the understanding.
My final contribution of someone else’s work (ha ha) to this ego-death topic is this extract from an interview given by Eckhart Tolle:
Free Yourself from Your Ego Armor
Eckhart Tolle, author of A New Earth, explains how to break through the shell that separates you from your true self.
Vanity and pride are what most of us tend to think of when we think of ego, but ego is much more than an overinflated sense of self. It can also turn up in feelings of inferiority or self-hatred because ego is any image you have of yourself that gives you a sense of identity—and that identity derives from the things you tell yourself and the things other people have been saying about you that you’ve decided to accept as truth.
One way to think about ego is as a protective heavy shell, such as the kind some animals have, like a big beetle. This protective shell works like armour to cut you off from other people and the outside world. What I mean by shell is a sense of separation: Here’s me and there’s the rest of the universe and other people. The ego likes to emphasize the “otherness” of others.
This sense of separation is an intrinsic part of the ego. The ego loves to strengthen itself by complaining—either in thoughts or words—about other people, the situation you find yourself in, something that is happening right now but “shouldn’t be,” and even about yourself. For example, when you’re in a long line at the supermarket, your mind might start complaining how slow the checkout person is, how he should be doing this or doing that, or he failed to do anything at all—including packing the bag of the person ahead of you correctly.
When this happens, the ego has you in its grip. You don’t have thoughts; the thoughts have you—and if you want to be free, you have to understand that the voice in your head has created them and irritation and upset you feel is the emotional response to that voice Only in this way can you be present to the truer world around you and see the golden shade in a pound of pears on the scanner, or the delight of a child in line who begs to eat them. The trick, of course, is to work to free ourselves from this armour and from this voice that is dictating reality.
Tony: Repeating an example of this I wrote about in Now Mindfulness.
Let me give you another very simple example to illustrate how reactions to life situations have changed for me. We recently drove to Udon Thani, a city one hour from our home in rural Thailand. It is a busy traffic-clogged place, as many Thai urban areas are and we hit several red traffic lights on the way to our destination. My before the reaction to so many red traffic lights might have been frustration, anger, rants against the government for not coordinating them and who knows what else! The alternative is what I now naturally experience, which is no reaction at all. Internally I feel no different if the lights are red or green. I observe and……. nothing.
The big change between this and my meditation period is that at that time I could engage the stillness of meditation and end up with much the same non-response. However, that required a ‘manual‘ engagement – the acknowledgement of a situation and the application of a trained response – quieting the mind and blanking out the negative thought processes that might arise. That conscious process doesn’t happen now. The appropriate response is an automatic one and I just watch it unfold. A red traffic light needs no reaction – nothing changes if I get angry or not. The light will do what it is going to do in complete isolation to my response to the situation. Which scenario do you think works better and is healthier for my overall state of being?
Observe Your Mind
The first foundational step is to become aware of what kind of thoughts you habitually think, especially negative thoughts: irritation, anger, impatience and perhaps even some kind of sadness. You might, for example, complain about yourself, how useless you are. If you start to hear these repetitive thoughts, then you will suddenly realize, “I’ve been thinking these same thoughts again and again almost every day without really knowing it.”
Distinguish Between the Voice of Ego and the Actual Situation
Awareness is the beginning of becoming free of the ego because then you realize that your thoughts—and the negative emotions they produce—are dysfunctional and unnecessary. For example, let’s go back to the supermarket line. As you stand waiting, you aren’t actually irritated because it’s taking a long time to get through to the checkout, which is the situation. You are irritated by what your mind is telling you about the situation—which is that all this waiting is bad and a waste of your time. But you could actually be enjoying that moment if you say, “This is simply what is. There’s nothing I can do about it, so why not breathe in deeply and look around and enjoy the world around me?”
Let Go of Limiting Stories
Sometimes the danger is not even pessimistic thought. If, for instance, you have been let go from your job, you might so resist being negative that you say, “It’s a great thing that I lost my job!” That kind of wilful optimism is not necessary. We hold on to the fairy tale of supposed happiness—that we should be happy. But this keeps you stuck where you are. Instead, try to describe only what is happening, without judgment: I do not have a job. I must look for one.
Bring In Your Awareness
When you see the difference between your voice and the reality of the situation, that’s the beginning of awakening. This is often a moment—a flash that sizzles and disappears. Initially you still lose yourself again, and the old thoughts arise, but gradually, you gain awareness, and the dysfunctional thoughts subside. It’s a gradual transition, this bringing in of your awareness, because the ego doesn’t want to change. It doesn’t want to disappear, so it will give you plenty of reasons why you cannot be present.
Lay Down Your Weapons
Your challenge will be to become more aligned internally with the present moment. Fighting with your ego by will just makes it stronger. By declaring war on it, you make an enemy. A simple example: You wake up in the morning, and it’s raining and grey, and the mind says, “What a miserable day,” and this is not a pleasant thought. You likely feel some emotion: dread, disappointment, unhappiness. You suddenly realize that your judgment of what kind of day it will be is based on a mental habit, an unconscious default. That simple awareness creates space for a new thought to emerge. You can look again out the window without that preconception and just see the sky. It’s grey. There’s some sunlight filtering through the sky. There are, perhaps, raindrops falling. It’s not actually miserable at all. It has a certain beauty. Then suddenly, you’re free. You’re no longer imposing something on reality, and you’re free to enjoy what, previously, you had rejected.
To learn more about the ego, overcoming adversity and creating inner peace and meaning in your life visit EckhartTolleTV.com.
I hope this new chapter has added some interesting possibilities to your research about this topic. I get bursts of interest to add to the book so we will see what happens next.
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