Recently I experienced what many would refer to as an ‘ego death’- and this strange but meaningful phenemonon has since cemented my desire to continue on a path of spiritual awakening. This exploration of spirituality is something not everyone will understand at this point in their lives – some people will never go on such a journey; they may not understand what I’m talking about nor care. Others will have experienced the same feelings as I but not expanded past them – or maybe they too have began to awaken and will find comfort in my words of reciprocation. Either way, the transformation of reality as I know it and the exploration of higher consciousness is something I want to share with you. If you have an open mind and are ready to join me on this journey, I hope the articles I write along the way are of assistance to you as you discover your higher self.
“Awakening is not changing who you are but discarding who you are not” – Deepak Chopra
What is ego & ego death?
When someone uses the term ‘ego’, the mind usually conjures up an image of someone who is arrogant, entitled and has a grandiose sense of self. We often judge people for having a huge ‘ego’ when their self obsession is so apparent that it overshadows all other semblances of their personality.
What’s not apparent then, is that the only difference between the person whom we are judging and ourselves is that our own ego is not as brashly pronounced – but it’s still there. The truth is that everyone has an ego – not just those arrogant people – and the more that we feed our own ego and cling onto our need to live a self-centred subjective life, the more miserable it makes us.
I believe in the concept that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, rather than human beings having a spiritual experience. You have a body, a mind and a soul. Think of your brain as a laptop, which helps you to process thought. Your ego is like a CD which contains all of the information that makes up your self-constucted identity, and has been whirring around in that laptop disk drive since you began constructing your sense of ‘self’ as a child. You are the creator of the music on this CD and you add more and more tracks to it as times goes on. Every track on this CD is a different belief about who you are, and these beliefs make up the structure of your ego. The kind of beliefs that contribute to our ego are things like:
“I’m great at singing”
“I have a good sense of humour”
“I am only attractive with makeup on”
“I’m bad at maths”
“I’m more intelligent than a lot of people”
“I’m not the brightest”
“I make stupid mistakes”
“My nose is so unattractive”
“I’m much better than those people”
The ego is hiding in the shadows of the “I, Me and My” that fuel those beliefs. Our ego gives us our sense of identity, and our sense of identity is composed from these beliefs we have about ourselves, and also the ones other people have said about us that we have chosen to accept. Agreeing with these thoughts about ourselves, good or bad, is reinforcing our ego. This ego CD has been playing in our mind as long as we can remember, and we think of it as our ‘self’ – who we really are. ‘I am these thoughts, I am these beliefs, I am the voice in my head.’ The truth is that these thoughts and beliefs that make up our ego, our sense of self – these are not who we are. We are the soul listening to these thoughts, we are not the thoughts themselves. That breakthrough realisation was made popular by Eckhart Tolle, who also says:
“What a liberation to realise that the voice in my head is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.”
“Be the silent watcher of your thoughts and behaviour. You are the stillness beneath the mental noise. You are the love and joy beneath the pain.”
Because the thoughts and beliefs that make up our ego construct are who we think we are, we then fall victim to the emotions our ego causes us to feel. The thoughts control us, instead of the other way around. When your ego tells you you are ugly, you feel worthless. When your ego tells you aren’t funny, you feel embarrassed. When your ego tells you you are better than everyone else, you feel entitled. When your ego judges someone else, you feel superior. When your ego tells you that that person is driving too slow in front of you, you feel irritated. When your ego tells you there is not enough time, your feel stressed. On and on it goes, and we tolerate it because we have forgotten who we are underneath this voice. Your ego is what seperates you from everyone else, and causes you to think in “I” and “them” terms, rather than seeing how everything and everyone is connected.
“The Ego is not who you really are. The ego is your self-image; it is your social mask; it is the role you are playing. Your social mask thrives on approval. it wants control, and it is sustained by power, because it lives in fear.” – Deepak Chopra.
A common term for realising this distinction exists between soul and ego is ‘Ego Death’ – but you cannot kill your ego completely. Although it has negative implications when it remains unchecked, your ego is a necessary construct that has been created by your soul so that you experience life individually and have a unique experience – through your preferences, personality traits, interests etc. The issue here is that people become stuck living in their ego point of view and they think that is all of them that exists. They are unaware of their higher self, the soul that lies beneath everything. The ego has been controlling them for too long and when you live a life led by ego you suffer. The realisation that your ego is not all that is – and that you are a part of something far bigger – is what most people experience during a spiritual awakening. You begin to awaken to life; you realise how you have been asleep for a very long time once the illusion of ego has been revealed to you. The ego operates in an unconscious state, and when you realise you are the one who is observing the ego – when you can watch those thoughts instead of living by them and reacting to them as long the ego has led you – you have activated a higher level of consciousness.
The ego death is not the death of the ego, rather the end of the ego’s control over your being. It is the death of your old way of living. Some people will have an epiphany moment, while others will come to a gradual realisation that their ego is not all that is. For some an ego death is a euphoric, happy experience, while for others it can be terrifying and scary. For the latter, these fears are only temporary and a common occurrence when awakening. The peace that comes afterward from living in alignment with your true self has far greater value than any emotion your ego has ever provided.
For me personally, my ego death was a gradual experience. I am a very deep thinker and had been observing the zeitgeist of our current world situation as being a disturbing and alienating kind of accepted insanity; now I recognise this as the fact the ego mind has taken over and brought out the worst in our society as a whole. The ego thrives on materialism, conflict, seeing other humans as either inferior or superior to them, fear, hatred, aggression, insecurity, victimising, judgement and every other negative trait you’ve observed in the recent history of our lives and thought “Hmm, this doesn’t seem right.”
I was beginning to feel very detached from the things I once held an interest in. I started to delete all of my personal social media accounts as I didn’t get any value from having them; they made me feel miserable and now it’s easy to recognise them as the breeding ground for so many of these prevalent negative ego-led emotions. I had been off Facebook for two years and a year without Instagram when I decided to finally delete my Twitter account too. That was hard for me to do because I had built up so many organic followers from my writing; but I was clinging on to that like it was my worth. If you’ve ever gone to delete your social media accounts but stopped to ask yourself ‘what am I without my social media followers?‘ – then that is when you know your ego is holding onto too much. People spend so much time curating themselves online and buying into the illusion of self that they think to let all of that go would be to cease existing. We as a race are spending so much time looking into a screen, living life through an app; thinking this is all there is, this is all that matters.
I’d walk around clothes shops and feel dejected; all I could think of all was the sheer volume of fast fashion – the waste it creates and how it’s killing our planet. I saw through how people were buying throwaway clothes just for validation on an instagram photo, or for a fleeting moment of happiness to try to fill the void they feel. They do not realise that everything they need, they already have – and it exists inside themselves. The destruction of our planet is a clear symptom of the deep unrest we feel inside; “As within; so without”.
All of these feelings -all of this subjective observation of people wandering around like zombies, attention firmly in the grasp of their social media networks, always comparing, despairing, reacting. Consuming material things, consuming negative news, fingers of blame and fingers of endless scrolling down on a newsfeed; the scrolling is bottomless – and if you allow it – so too is your capacity for distraction. Then we are roused from the zombie state from a terroist attack and people begin to remember how connected we all are; for a short while there is a glimpse of how beautiful humanity really is. People recognise the soul in themselves as mirrored in another. We help each other out; we show compassion and love and all of the other emotions that come not from our ego – but from our soul. You read these stories of unity and they make you cry tears of happiness, because they have truly touched your soul and appealed to that being of pure love that resides inside you and everyone else.
And then a week or two later everyone forgets that we acted like this and we all go back to our unconscious, distracted, ego-led lives.
This separation I felt from others and hyper awareness of society’s ills is what’s commonly referred to as ‘the dark night of the soul’. You feel spiritually desolate and disconnected from what you once accepted as reality. You feel as if you cannot accept things as how they are, but also do not know where to go from here. I was fortunate during this period that my boyfriend was sharing the same values as I. I have no doubt I would have felt far more alienated If I didn’t have someone to talk to about this strange shift I was feeling.
This inner conflict had led me to seek answers; to explore my spirituality and to expand on that niggling feeling I had that there had to be more to life than the hamster wheel reality so many of us lead. I had been regularly meditating for a few months, but now I felt like it was something as necessary to practise as breathing – my mind literally craved that time. I’d spend hours looking up articles on spiritual awakening and found solace in the discovery that I was not alone in how I was feeling. It was when Steve and I were watching a video on sacred geometry (that is,‘The discovery of sacred universal patterns that are used in the design of everything in our reality. Geometry and mathematical ratios, harmonics and proportion that can also found in music, light and cosmology and seen in sacred art and architechtire’ – but I’ll talk about that in a different article) that I experienced my ego death. Everything in the video made so much sense; the connection between the creation of our Universe, these patterns and everything we experience to be as ‘reality’ was undeniable. It was all connected. These revelations were Earth shattering, and as my mind struggled to fathom the weight of such information I began to feel anxious. My brain was overloaded. Everything I thought I knew about reality, I didn’t.
“Is this making you anxious?” I asked Steve, “I feel weird.”
“Don’t worry”, he said, “It’s just a huge amount of information for your brain to process, it’s going to feel strange.”
“Yeah but.. I feel like I’m going to die.” I said.
I did feel like was going to die. I was conscious in a way I had never felt before. Energy was swirling around my body and my heart was pounding. My mind was reaching a place beyond thought, a place I knew deep down had always existed. This new information was speaking directly to that place beyond my thought, but my brain was freaking out – DOES NOT COMPUTE. My body activated my flight or fight as it perceived me to be in danger; but really I was waking up to what I had been disconnected to for so long. Zen Buddists call this moment ‘Satori’; which means “momentary enlightenment” or a “glimpse of truth.” It is the illusion of your ego shattering and the experience of true consciousness or true being – the soul beneath the thoughts, the true ‘you’- coming to light. For me this moment was scary but life-changing; a huge revelation on my path of spiritual awakening and the beginning of reconnecting to my higher self.
Connecting to your higher self need not be something only accessible to a certain few; it is something any human being can do – including you. I think people hear the term ‘spiritual awakening’ and freak out a little, or see it as a way to put themselves on a pedestal over others. In fact, one of the main benefits of reconnecting with your true self is the realisation of how interconnected everything and everyone is. There is no “I’m better than you” because you understand that everything and everyone is ONE. You can be sure that the person who uses their spiritual knowledge to elevate themselves to a position of superiority is not aligned with their higher selves – only their ego. To be connected to your higher self is to also recognise that higher self in another; always striving to connect from that place of love and light – not from a place of pretentiousness and supercilious ego.
It is my wish for you to see through the illusion of your own ego and wake up to your higher self, as I know how much of the world suffers from this disconnect. Depression is now the leading cause of disability worldwide; and I have to wonder if the disconnect we feel from our true selves – the hamster wheel of the ego mind and all it craves to satiate it’s ills – has contributed hugely to that statistic. I think if people knew all they ever needed already resides within them; that it is possible to live a life of peace, contentment and love – they would stop consuming and focusing their attention on the wrong things and killing people and harming the planet. With all of the unrest we see unfolding around us daily we know the way we are living our lives now is clearly not working; yet we brush off solutions of looking inside ourselves as pseudo bullshit. I think people are scared by the realisation that the material possessions they own, their social media followers – everything external that they’ve clung onto and defined themselves by – is all superficial and transient and ultimately meaningless. The true power is waking up to what is inside of you and realising that you are a part of something much, much bigger. Your natural state is pure love, and you can access and reconnect with this state any time you decide to.
The desire to know your own soul will end all other desires – Rumi
– Aisling Abbey
If you enjoyed reading this article and wish to find out more about spiritual awakening, connecting to your higher consciousness and raising your vibration – make sure to check back as I’ll now be regularly updating the site with this kind of content (….along with the same ol’ weird, funny stuff I write about too, don’t worry. There’s plenty of cereal mascots to psychoanalyse yet.)