A lot of spiritual and self-help books you’ll find on the shelf in bookstores these days talk about transcending the ego. Ceasing to identify with a limited self.
What exactly is the ego? The ego is our feeling of “me” or “self.” It’s your basic identity as an individual that gives you a feeling of separateness with everything and everyone else. It’s the basic feeling of “I am.”
Your ego is what gives you the feeling of an individual identity, separate from everything else.
What does it mean to transcend the ego?
When we transcend the ego, we realize that we have a higher self beyond our limited view of our individual identity. It means that we no longer see our identity as simply an individual consciousness, but rather that we are the consciousness that moves through all things.
When we transcend the ego, it doesn’t mean we kill the ego. Transcending the ego does not mean waging a war against the ego. It means that we move to a higher context of self and include our individual self as well. Egolessness does not mean the absence of a functional self, it means one is no longer exclusively identified with that self.
Moving beyond a limited self
Realizing our true nature, that we are not just our egos, enables us to engage the world more fully. It doesn’t mean we become some ultimate being free from all our humanly desires, pains, pleasures and basic instincts. If that’s what you’re expecting, you’re looking for an escape. Rather transcending and including the ego allows us to engage life more fully, with a deeper context of spirit, using the vehicle of the self to accomplish our goals.
Transcending the ego means does not mean killing the ego, it means plugging into something bigger. To lose the ego, is to become a psychotic, not a sage. Liberation is found by complete immersion, not by escape.
The point of life is to be fully at home in the body, in the ego, with all its humanly characteristics. To be truly immersed in all the body’s desires and needs, the minds ideas and thoughts, our spirit and the light that shines through it. To embrace them fully, with verve and exuberance.
“In the stillness of the night, the Goddess whispers. In the brightness of the day, dear God roars. Life pulses, mind imagines, emotions wave, thoughts wander. What are all these but the endless movements of One Taste, forever at play with its own gestures, whispering quietly to all who would listen: is this not you yourself? When the thunder roars, do you not hear your Self? When the lightning cracks, do you not see your Self? When clouds float quietly across the sky, is this not your very own limitless Being, waving back at you?” – Ken Wilber