There is a belief for many who see themselves on a spiritual path that the ego has to be overcome, but this is an incomplete understanding.
Let’s first clarify the words “spiritual path” as this can lead us into a greater perspective of our relationship with the ego. The spiritual path is a type of misnomer in that it implies it is possible not to be on a spiritual path. Certainly, it can feel that way, but feeling and reality are not the same.
We Share a Universal Consciousness
Science has proven that only one unified field of energy exists and there is no separation, regardless of what our eyes “see.” We see appearances, not the underlying reality. This unified field has an incredibly rich and alive consciousness and intelligence, and we are each a part of this field. Some might call this field God or Spirit or Universal Consciousness.
This consciousness or Spirit flows through each of us and that is the closest definition of spiritual we can come to if we have to use a label, although words can mislead us. Friedrich Nietzsche captured this when he said, “Words are but symbols for the relations of things to one another and to us; nowhere do they touch upon absolute truth.” So words like spiritual and ego have completely different meanings to each of us, but the point is that even when we are not centered and can’t feel joy and peace, we are not separate from Spirit. We are still on the spiritual “path.”
Duality and the Lens of the Ego
Our belief that we can be on and off a path reflects our more central and underlying belief in duality. And certainly, this world reflects the appearance of duality, but it is set up this way so that there is contrast for us to learn and remember our divinity. We learn who we are by seeing who we are not. We learn what we want by experiencing what we don’t want. We learn that we are love and compassion by seeing hate and judgment and choosing not to be those.
The belief in duality is the foundation behind the belief that we should overcome the ego, for we see the ego as separate from us. We see it as a hindrance on the spiritual path, and we believe that if we can get rid of it, then we will be some type of “enlightened” being. I have put enlightened in quotation marks, because this is another label where there is a large divergence in what people really mean when they use that term.
And striving for enlightenment is another leg on the stool supporting our belief in separation. We think that becoming enlightened will somehow get rid of all of our issues. But it doesn’t work that way. We can’t skip over the healing of our emotional baggage and false beliefs. When we try this, we are just fooling ourselves. Then we operate in some type of false enlightenment where the ego is still very much in control.
This Earth experience is unique in the Universe as we operate through a physical body and senses. We need the ego to help us do that as it is the personality or framework through which we experience the world. But the ego is only a small part of us, as we are multidimensional beings.
The vast majority of us experience reality only through the lens of the ego. Most people believe their identity is the roles they play within their families and careers, and they don’t rise to a treetop perspective to see the whole forest — the recognition that we are divine, and that all things are interconnected parts of the same whole. So few experience the joy, peace, and love that comes from “being in the world but not of it.” This is the true meaning of “enlightenment” — operating in the world as divine beings, and seeing others as ourselves, having love and compassion on those who don’t yet see this, and joyfully using our gifts in service to the world.
Acceptance and Love
Our task is to accept the ego as a part of us. We can be grateful for its gifts but not let it drive the boat. It should be like a hammer we pick up and put down, and we do this by recognizing the ego’s tactics. It likes to judge. It really likes to get offended and have righteous indignation. It wants to be right and it wants to win. The ego is naturally fearful when it has been put in charge, but it is only meant to be a helper and facilitator for Spirit.
We have to desire that the ego not be in charge. This is not going to happen magically, as we have given it a lot of influence, often sole control. It is a process we have to keep working at, just like we regularly exercise our bodies. When we have regularly exercised for a period of time, we see the benefits, and the same holds true with the influence of the ego. We will be less judgmental, more at peace, and as mentioned, we will experience times of great joy.
Everything in the Universe is connected as part of the One and desires wholeness with the rest of the “parts” of the One. The ego is no different. It is a part of us, and as long as we see it as separate and judge it, we reinforce the illusion of duality and won’t end up where we want to be. But if we accept the ego as just part of our whole, we can be a balanced and authentic spiritual being, and enjoy an incredible 3D-based human experience.