Putting the “I” Back In “We”

Just speaking personally…

The sages in many cultures say “ego death” because it sounds dramatic and cool, but I think it is counterproductive, and it actually misleads, confuses, and hurts a lot of people. The process is really, quite simply, about “ego-integration,” which involves the ego being brought back into its proper place of perspective and harmony within the larger cosmos. This brings a lot of calm and relief to things like anxiety and depression, but it also helps make us be less of an asshole in general. It is also strong medicine for arrogance, cruelty, and all sorts of excesses we humans thrive at.

Now, there is absolutely nothing bad or dirty about me being “me” or you being “you,” because we are facets of a beautiful evolving cosmos and of the Divine. However, life becomes unhappy, difficult, and unhealthy when we become so childishly obsessed with ME that we can no longer ALSO see and be US.

(There is nothing evil or bad about your current incarnation in a ludicrously poor design of a carbon-based biological body, though you are definitely allowed to kvetch about the lazy workmanship from time to time. There is nothing wrong or “unspiritual” about enjoying the good experiences and pleasures of that body, either!)

WE ARE SIMPLY EXPANDING THE DEFINITION OF “ME,” which in a proper cosmological, neuropsychological, sociocultural, genetic, and spiritual sense contains multitudes.

This includes but is not limited to human community, collective consciousness, connection to the nonhuman living Earth (as in Gaia theory), connection to the evolving Universe, awareness that “we are the Universe become self aware,” and in a nutshell, I AND THOU.

We came here to be human, to experience consciousness from the pseudoillusive perspective of individual consciousnesses (though neuroscience, spirituality, and philosophy aptly show the limits of the Cartesian Theater).

It is right and good that I am Me and You are You (for a little while). We just need to remember that the goal is to also get to WE.


*Note: As a young person, I had it pounded into me (often literally) that I was evil and worthless and that God hated me. And so, for a very long time, I hated myself too. In the years since I finally left fundamentalism, I kept meeting people from various religious or philosophical systems (including scientism but especially Eastern thought and New Age derivatives) who, strangely, taught forms of self-loathing and tried to make me feel that “it is dirty and bad to be me, and this life is an unwelcome chore instead of a glorious adventure.”

So I want to share my own perspective on the far-overused term “ego death,” and I hope it helps anyone struggling with some of these issues. I think most of this applies even to very secular worldviews (I did my time in college as a sort of Weinsteinian nihilist, after all).

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