Get rid of your ego, drop the ego, detach from the ego, you seem to hear these words repeatedly, by many spiritual masters.
But what is it? How can you get rid of it? They also tell you that you can’t get rid of it, because the act of wanting to get rid of it is the act of the ego itself.
Hmmm? What can you do?
What is the ego?
The ego is a collection of definitions and concepts that have been created through one’s life experience. You have experienced the life that led you to form these definitions and concepts and therefore you identify yourself to be the collection of these concepts and definitions. An example would be: Kindness is good. This concept has been formed because you have either experienced a form of kindness that gave you pleasure, or saw the sparkle in someone’s eyes when you acted out of kindness. Now, you like to experience more of it and act kindly and call yourself a kind person…
The ego is the sum of all your beliefs: I am kind, selfish, violent, addicted, fat, pretty, ugly….Life is cruel, kind, beautiful, unbearable….People are loving, pretentious, jealous, beautiful….I should be kind and loving….I should be tough and strong…I should show my emotions…I should hide my sadness and anger…
The collection of these beliefs is what makes the ego, what makes up “me” and differentiate “me” from others.
We tend to treat these beliefs like Gods, we protect them, we defend them and we fight for them. Why? This is because we identify with them. Because we believe they are what make us who we are and anyone that threatens them in any way either, by challenging them or judging them, becomes our enemy.
What does dropping the ego mean? It means dropping these beliefs that seem to bind you in your habits and patterns and obstruct your vision to unlimited possibilities. You ego, is small, it is limited, it is a box that has only access to limited resources. Dropping it means opening yourself to life completely, without restricting yourself to your personal experiences. In that you have access to infinite and limitless resources. It means opening yourself, your mind to the point that you can see that you and I are one, despite our differences. It means embracing these differences, and seeing that what you think is different in fact isn’t. What you think the ‘other’ is, is who you are. (It means seeing that in reality there is no duality, because what is, contains what is not.)
Dropping the ego doesn’t mean condemning it. Getting rid of it doesn’t mean literally do without it. It means allowing it to dissolve in the oneness of all. By keeping the ego, and protecting all our beliefs and concepts, we are like a drop of water in the ocean that insists on being a drop and resists seeing that it is the ocean. It is scared to let go of its identity, because it believes without it, it won’t function. You will function and you will function in harmony with everything else and not against it.
Everyone around you plays a role in helping you dissolve the ego in the oneness of all there is. Have you noticed how frustrated or angry you become when somebody tells you what they think of you and it is in total opposition to what you believed yourself to be. It is as though they have threatened your survival. In fact they have! They have threatened the survival of who you think you are. Let’s ask ourselves instead of attacking the other mentally, whether what they’re saying is true, it may or it may not. But by opening yourself to the possibility that they may be right you’re showing yourself the willingness to transcend concepts and ideas that bind you to the small identity you give yourself. You are much bigger than you can imagine. You do contain all that there is! There is nothing, absolutely nothing outside of you, that isn’t inside. Scary as this might be, our spiritual freedom from the ego and its hold on us lies in this truth.
As Marianne Williamson puts it so beautifully:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.