Why You Cannot Get Rid of Your Ego

I’d like to clarify the idea of “losing one’s ego”, a concept I mentioned in my last entry, Thoughts on Spirituality[1].

First I need to define the word “ego” because it’s used in many different ways. When I say “ego”, I don’t mean “egotistical” or “egomaniac”. I’m talking about the “I”, the supposed unchanging center to experience. It’s the thing that feels emotions, has moods and thoughts, senses the senses, and possesses a body.

There is no Ego to Lose

Now “losing one’s ego” or “ego death” doesn’t literally happen. It would be like digging yourself out of a hole you were never in. There is no ego to lose. So why do these terms exist? What’s all the fuss about?

Awareness Level 1

There are different levels at which I can address that question. The first is the feeling of being a subject. You feel that you have a body, thoughts, moods, emotions, senses, and all the rest. You’re the experiencer, in addition to the experience. It’s possible to lose this sense of being a subject. In other words, to recognize that there is no feeler of emotions, haver of moods and thoughts, senser of senses, or resident of the body. The objects of consciousness normally associated with the subject are perceived “on equal footing” as those associated with the other.

Awareness Level 2

The second level of awareness comes after you lose the feeling of being a subject. When that falls away, there is this sense of “well, I’m the one experiencing the lack of a subject”. The feeling of ego can’t be associated with the subject any more, so it takes up refuge as the perceiver of the lack of subject. But there is no one who experiences the lack of subject. The feeling of there being an experiencer is simply part of the experience.

Death of The Ego Illusion

You are just as free of ego when you’re completely lost in thought as you are at this second level of awareness. The illusion of being an ego can come and go, but you’re always egoless. You just don’t recognize it all the time. So if you want to be pedantic, you shouldn’t say “ego death”, but instead “death of the ego illusion”.

I hope that clarifies things.

1: Thoughts on Spirituality