The Myth of Ego Death
This is not a knock on new age teachings or eastern philosophy, as I have gained some wonderful insights from these particular systems of thought. And I also feel that the original ideas about the ego in eastern philosophy were pretty decent notions, their concept of the ego was a more sensible one. The ego death concept did not stem from New thought teachings either. It was certainly not something Neville Goddard, William Walker Atkinson or Joseph Murphy taught. Their idea was that we had created an illusionary false image of ourselves and we must destroy it to find ourselves. They firmly believed that we must learn to bring the conscious and subconscious into cohesion, not try to destroy the conscious (the ego) and only keep the subconscious. They also taught that to become less selfish, we must begin by finding ourselves as a starting point.
Without an Ego you would simply be a Robot
The main issue lies in the modern day spirituality movements. They have taken this idea of the ego to extremes that are completely unhealthy and have no sense to them. You will often hear statements nowadays that outline that we must kill off all sense of our individuality, kill off all of our conscious thoughts, kill of all sense of separateness and just merge into the oneness. Then after putting forward these extreme ideas. The same people will then proceed to say that religions have enslaved humanity for many years and teach one dimensional thinking.
Their one sided view of the ego is as dogmatic and one dimensional as you can possibly make it. They fail to mention that without an ego, you would have no ability to make choices or assert any form of Will over your life. If you truly destroyed your ego, you would simply become a robot with no free will to even speak of. To spend your daily hours trying to destroy something you were born with is as futile, as following some of the extreme codes of conduct put forward by many religious institutions.
Enough of the Shaming of the Ego
By telling people to destroy the ego, you are further strengthening the notion in people that they are terrible selfish people and should feel deeply ashamed of themselves. You are furthering the notion that the personality of the person is a terrible thing and that the person should wish to kill off their own sense of self. You are telling people the best way to deal with this terrible selfish personality of theirs, is to kill it off and just become part of the collective whilst remembering that if you have any opinion of your own, you are deeply selfish still and that you are yet to kill off the ego.
It seems to be very common nowadays to hate the ego and to say we need to destroy it. This never felt right to me or even sounded right to me. I have come to the conclusion that killing off the ego is just a more hip way of telling us we should feel ashamed of ourselves and have no self worth. Which is very similar to idea that we are born and will die as sinners.
Nature did not get it wrong when it gave us an Ego
The whole premise of ego death starts from a broken premise. It leads us to believe that Nature or God got things badly wrong and made huge mistakes when creating humanity. We are born with an ego, the ego is our conscious mind, it is our conscious experience of daily living. It is the part of our brain that makes us know we are an individual and are experiencing reality. It is part of us that knows we are an ‘I’. The ego also constitutes our personality, how we see ourselves and how we present ourselves to the world.
Take a look at the world and highlight to me areas where Nature got things badly wrong, they are difficult to find. If this argument is accepted, why we would we then accept that our conscious mind/ego is something that must be destroyed and weakened? Surely by claiming the conscious mind and any sense of self should be killed off. We are also claiming that nature got things badly wrong and made a deeply flawed planet.
Proof of this Deception
From experience I have often found that people with a strong sense of confidence in themselves are generally kinder and more selfless people. To be more selfless, we should develop our sense of self worth and cultivate it. The most selfish people I have met over the years are generally the people with a complete lack of ego. They feel inadequate and have no genuine confidence in themselves. So therefore, they become extremely selfish and wish to take away from others and give nothing in return. To summarise, the most selfish people are usually the ones lacking any sense of self, not the other way around. It could even be stated, that if you have a strong ego and a strong sense of self, you become a kinder and more decent person not a more selfish person as some might have you believe.
Also, if you didn’t have an ego you wouldn’t have any tools to make life changes in the first place. The ego is our way of making choices, if we have no ego we would be unable to make choices. Surely from this alone you can see how fundamental our ego is?? If we didn’t have any ego, we would have absolutely no free will over our own mind or decisions. The ego is our ability to discern even the information you are reading right this second. If we had no ego, we would have no ability to acquire new information.
As Within, So Without. As Above, So Below
I’ve stated previously, everything in your life is a reflection of your inner state. Everything we feel about ourselves inwardly is reflected outwardly. If you value yourself and trust in yourself, you naturally begin to place more value and trust in other people. If you have confidence in your Self, you have more confidence in other people and feel more inclined to be generous to other people. Self confidence leads you to becoming more selfless and less selfish.
If you feel a great sense of lack and don’t value yourself. You are much more inclined to take away or steal from other people. i.e. if you have no sense of self and don’t value yourself, you are much more likely to become highly selfish. With this in mind, surely it is better for us to cultivate a strong sense of self as our starting point. Not try to destroy all sense of self and individuality as some modern teachers would have us believe. We must look to build up our ego and not destroy it.
The Solution to our Ego Problem
Now, many may make the mistake of reading this and assume I am encouraging people to become ego driven narcissists, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the real key is bringing our egos into alignment with our inner selves. An ego that is cut off from the inner self, is our major enemy. The ego does indeed become a complete tyrant when it is disconnected from its roots. The roots being our subconscious mind, the ego just plays out the thoughts and feelings we hold deep inside of ourselves. The ego is wrongly accused of being the issue though. When it’s the unconscious contents of our subconscious mind that are the real cause of all of our problems. If we change the inner contents, we suddenly notice the outer contents change accordingly.
Now this whole article was inspired by the following passage of text I read regarding Hermetic teachings on the matter. It is a very enlightening passage of information about the need for balancing the mind in perfect harmony. The passage says nothing about killing off the ego! it states that we need to build a harmonious relationship between the conscious and unconscious self.
‘The hint is in the Royal Secret, it is there that you may find that light. Yes, brothers, the hint is in the royal secret. The True Word. Man, born of a double nature (of what we call Good and what we call evil, spiritual and earthly, immortal and mortal) finds the purpose of his being ONLY WHEN THESE TWO NATURES ARE IN PERFECT HARMONY’
To state this even more clearly, we must create unity and harmony between the two states of mind. The Conscious mind/Ego /Outer Self and the Unconscious/it Subconscious Mind/Inner Self must be encouraged to work together harmoniously once again. If we just think we are the ego/the conscious mind, then disaster awaits us. We leave ourselves in no mans lands and cut ourselves off from our inner power which is our subconscious mind. This is true cause of the ego problem often spoken of by new age gurus, but very inadequately explained.
The true cause of ego issues, is the fact our subconscious mind has become filled to brim with negative impressions. The ego is merely a reflection of this deadly inner content and baggage we carry around with us on a daily basis. Most of this negative baggage is not even our own baggage. Most of our beliefs are merely lies that have been fed to us by other people and society. They are not even our own thoughts or feelings!
To rectify this situation, we need to find the harmony between the double nature of ourselves. The double nature must not remain separate but must merge together again to make us whole once again.
Understanding ‘Polarity’ and ‘Ying and Yang’
The Egyptian Hermeticists often spoke of a thing called ‘Polarity’ which is covered extensively in ‘The Kybalion’. As humans we are built upon Polarity. We are made up of polar opposites. Good and bad, selfish and selfless, conscious and unconscious, masculine and feminine are all examples of the polarities that exist within all of us. This is the deeper understanding that we are the perfect embodiement of what the Taoists called ‘ying and yang’.
You can’t kill off portions of the mind or body and keep only the parts you want! As the ego will continue to exist despite you falsely believing that you may of killed it off. It is much wiser to embrace the notion that we are built upon polarity as the universe itself is. Instead of wishing to kill our polarity off, we instead learn to embrace our polarity and harmonise our differing natures into greater alignment. We do this by understanding a healthy ego can be created. Once our unconscious baggage has been confronted and faced directly.
Back to the Difficult Inner work
This brings us back to the great need we have to change ourselves from within, if we wish to develop a healthy ego. We must connect with our inner selves and look to work from this as our starting point. We merge the outer self which is the conscious mind back with the inner self which is the subconscious mind. Once this harmonious relationship/marriage is reignited. We suddenly find the ego becomes our greatest ally and no longer our greatest enemy. Any need to go through complicated processes to kill off our egos, suddenly become null and void. The weakness of the ego we experience is caused by the fact the conscious mind is divorced from our subconscious mind. We only have one mind and it must be working in harmony.
An Enlightening Message from the Ancients
I have mentioned Hermetic and Taiost notions in this article, both ideologies embraced the notion that everything was a form of opposites. In Hermetics, it was called ‘Polarity’ and in Taoism it was called ‘Ying and Yang’. Both schools of thought taught that once we understand that all opposites were merely part of the bigger picture. Then we are set free from all indoctrination pushing us to find reasons for every event in our lives. Neither school of thought focussed on the destruction of the ego, they simply embraced the idea that everything was simply one big ecosystem and the good and bad were equally necessary for its healthy functioning.
They both taught that we must step away from the notions of good/bad, strength/weakness and merely learn that everything in our lives has it’s part to play in the whole ecosystem that we call life. Once we understand that we will always have positive and negative traits, as this is a natural part of being a human being. We are set free from bondage. In the same way as stated many times in the article, our sense of ego, selfishness and individuality is as crucial to our functioning as is our sense of being part of the collective, generous and selfless. We need to find the balance between both natures though and only then we do we become harmonious.
Harmony is always the KEY in conclusion..
If we become overly selfish, we become mean and miserly. If we become overly selfless, we are without boundaries and get taken advantage of. Selfishness and selflessness both have benefits as you can see, from this basic example. And yes I did really just say we need to be selfish at times too. If you have no selfish tendencies, you just become a doormat for the world to take advantage of. We must value our own selves in the same way that we value other people. This is not a case of valuing yourself above other people or valuing other people above your self, it is a case of valuing yourself and others equally. By following this code, you are not selfish or selfless, merely a harmonious and well functioning human being.
I can not put this point any clearer than by stating, if we did not have selfish tendancies then we would not understand the need to be selfless. If we didn’t have bad traits, then we would not appreciate our good traits. Neither is more important than the other. Both are needed to make us the wonderful and also highly flawed human being we truly are. The ego is crucial for our survival and existence. Once we embrace this idea fully we put ourselves ahead of any of the false teachers telling us to kill off our ego. Understanding the need for cohesion and harmony is our first step to creating a strong and healthy ego.