Understanding Ego in Spirituality | Do we need Ego Death?

In the long run this conversation is the one that I see popping in the Spiritual Community pretty much all the time. People talk about how everything is about battling the Ego, it’s about letting go of the Ego and human side of our existence, debating about what is what and how it all works. I personally rarely get into those debates, because it’s only relevant to perception. We can’t have set rules for understanding the line between Ego and Spirit, because it will never be the same for everyone. Which is okay. However, there are certain things in the community that worry me a little and I want to share my perspective. In case if this helps anyone. Because when I came to this conclusion, it helped me a lot. It helped to stop worrying about the differences, about Ego Death and other concepts that a lot of us are looking into during the Awakening process.

So here is the thing. I am sharing my perspective, but it’s not the ultimate truth. Take what resonates, leave what doesn’t. It might not apply to your perception at all. And we can leave it like that.

It's worth starting from the fact that the concept of Ego directly comes from psychology, even psychoanalysis to be exact. Yes, it’s a Freudian concept. A lot of people in the spiritual community don’t talk about that enough. Just like the term shadow work, the word Ego became very massively used by spiritualists and not enough people come back to the root and look at the concepts of Id-Ego-Superego.

Let’s define Ego

Ego, in psychoanalytic theory, that portion of the human personality which is experienced as the “self” or “I” and is in contact with the external world through perception. It is said to be the part that remembers, evaluates, plans, and in other ways is responsive to and acts in the surrounding physical and social world.” (Britannica, 2021).

It’s the perception that we have on the world and everything else, it’s shaped by experiences, by biases and many other things. It’s the biggest and important part of our personality and life. Ego consists of Id-Ego-Superego, where Id is the primitive instincts and Superego is the ethical and moral side of the human mind. That's Freud's idea of Ego. Does that accurately represent what the Self is? In modern psychology Freud’s theory isn’t used and it has never had any scientific demonstration or proof. Therefore, this might not be the answer. However, understanding the integration of development of a human personality is important, because any usage of the word Ego in current psychology and pop-psychology is still rooted in Freud’s work.

Freud’s protégé - Carl Jung (who I will mention later this month, when I talk about Shadow work), connected the idea of Ego with a subconscious mind and expanded the perception by diving a little bit into mysteries of the human psyche.

By now, even with these very brief and very surface based definitions and ideas about Ego, you can understand how extremely complicated this topic is and how important it is to see the difference between Ego and “being selfish” - which right now is what a lot of people online mistake for Ego. Egoism or “being selfish and self centred” doesn’t equate Ego. And while we should work on selfishness, recognise the patterns of being self-centred and narcissistic, we can’t do anything about Ego itself.

Ego Death

Let’s understand the fact that spirituality blew up as a trend in the last several years and especially in 2020. The idea of Ego Death was picked up like a wave, talked about, transformed to serve each individual and in the end the idea became a broken telephone.

Ego Death was supposed to be a stage in the awakening process and the process of Spiritual growth, that could help to understand how vast the universe is. To be able to break the labelled identity that we create over time according to the external and internal environment and feel the unity with the world and others. Temporarily.

With time this became a chase and obsession, because people started assuming that without this experience they can’t be spiritual or reach any sort of enlightenment. However even when we temporarily reach that state of consciousness, we still are humans with our human Id part of Ego, that plays a major role in our day-to-day lives. And we can exist while understanding that labels don’t define who are and leaving this identity and persona behind; and being our human selves with the identity and functioning Ego.

What we actually need to work on and be aware of is the inflated Ego. When with time and experience we forget the rest of the world and only do/feel/see what our Ego shows us. We can always switch our perception from Ego point of view - to any other point of view. Which is what, in my understanding, is way more important than the Ego Death itself. Changing perspectives and understanding that everything is relevant to true depending on a perception - is what helps us to work on Ego and Egoism.

Perception of the Spirit

We have talked about Ego and Self so far, understanding what it means and whether Ego Death is a good idea/concept. But Ego is not the only part of a human that we need to work with and understand.

Spirit, Soul, Divine. The struggle of Ego vs Spirit had been in history forever. Even the idea of God vs. Satan is based on this idea, where God is pure and selfless, while Satan tempts us to our deepest darkest desires. That’s a similar correlation. Ego is always associated with instincts and desires that we need to battle to stay moral and pure.

The question is, when we do energy work or spirit work - how do we differentiate what’s coming from the Spirit and what’s being told to us by our Ego. This is what might not apply to you either but there are a few tricks that I use to see the difference between Self and Spirit.

1. Mind or Heart?

When we talk about Spirit - the energy and the information usually comes with Love, therefore the Heart energy centre works and is activated when we get the information, or downloads, as people call the process. Ego works with concepts and ideas that people get through life experience, it will mostly be in our mind and it will also come mostly from a position of Fear. Fear of different kinds, especially fear of the unknown.

2. Confirmation.

When we aren’t sure about where the information is coming from we have an ability to ask for a confirmation. Ask for a specific sign, that will for sure be out of the ordinary life. For example, ask to send you a butterfly during winter, when they aren’t around. And by seeing the butterfly, you will be able to understand where the thoughts are coming from - your Ego or that’s the Spirit giving you guidance.

3. Boundaries.

You can set boundaries with Spirit, so that you see a definite difference between the two. When I was only opening up to channelling beings and Source, I asked the Spirit to not allow beings to come through until there is a sign, i.e. I will feel a pull in my left shoulder. (In my case I made a mistake and started getting dizzy but that’s a different story). To be able to get whether this idea comes from your Ego or Spirit world - get the password set up. So that you could know what’s going on at any time.

4. Divination.

Especially at the beginner stage, you can always use any divination methods to see what the resource of the incoming energy or information is. Start from oracle cards or pendulums, before using something more complicated. But don’t shy away from divination tools, they can be practical and they can help a lot, before you get used to understanding the difference between Ego and Spirit.

Eventually, you won’t need tricks anymore. You will start noticing the tone, the attitude, the source of energy and thoughts and the places it gets from. You will see synchronicities and signs around you that will make the process easier. For example, in my experience, Spirit world has an interesting sense of humour, it also has a different tonality to my own thoughts and I barely need any side confirmation. (I still do use it sometimes though, so don’t be afraid that you are doing something wrong if you still need this help, we all do sometimes).

Overall, you don’t need Ego Death to be able to expand your connection with the Spirit World. You can manage to use both sides of your consciousness to continue to grow spiritually and moreover - your Ego will guide you towards the healing that you need to do. It can bring a lot of answers to the surface and connect you to your Shadow.

Learn how to make them co-exist instead of denying one part of yourself for the sake of the other. Integration and balancing the Ego with the Spirit is what I have learnt to do so far.

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© 2020 by Mary Grace Fellowes.