Monday, April 14, 2008

Death to the Ego? Not.

Monday, April 14 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

"Despise Fvorag and you despise a part of yourself. For we are all One in Prithi."
The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy


"Death to the Ego!" I've heard that war cry, so common in personal-growth circles, several times in recent days. And each time, it left me profoundly saddened.

You see, the oft-demonized ego doesn't deserve to die. No part of us deserves to die.

No part of us deserves to be dismissed...or dissed. All parts of us have value. All parts of us have worth. All parts of us are capable of growth and transformation. Of redemption.

Many writers and therapists would have you believe that the ego is some inner evil that must be cut off, stamped out and killed before we can move forward.

"Ego," I read the other day, "is the biggest — and perhaps the only — obstacle to true enlightenment. If we want to be free, if we want to be enlightened, we have to pay the price: death of the ego."

Not only is that view wrong-headed, it is damaging.

Certainly, the ego or "small self" can stand in the way of our evolution. Yet whatever else it is or does, it is still a part of our greater self, of our oneness. Of God.

God, however you define it, is made up of all the pieces of us — dark and light, evolved and not. God is not just the pieces we like or would prefer.

When we use phrases like "death of the ego," we're advocating an act of self-hatred and self-destruction that is not at all godlike.

How can we call for oneness in one breath and the destruction of a part of ourselves in the next? How can we preach love as the energy that creates and heals all when, in the same sentence, we preach hatred toward parts of ourselves?

If your arm is broken, do you cut it off because it's now a useless appendage? Or do you allow it to heal, lavishing extra love and energy upon it because of its weakened condition?

The ego is no less deserving of care and no less capable of healing and transformation.

I passionately believe that we are called to love, honor and respect all aspects of our beingness, not just the ones that behave in right/light ways.

We live in a throwaway culture, tossing out anything that's broken, a culture where imperfection is punished and misbehavior condemned. What have we become we that we're now throwing away bits of ourselves?

The ego is nothing more than a terrified, lesser-developed aspect of ourselves, a child-aspect that feels threatened by change it does not understand and so resists, often disruptively.

In many ways, it's like a fearful child. We don't kill our children when they don't act in a divine manner, when they're frightened and act out. We reassure them, we hold them, we love them. We make sure they know that they're safe.

Through these compassionate, godlike acts, we gently correct their failings and contribute to their growth and evolution, and to our own.

Our call is to do the same with the ego. Speaking of killing, expelling, conquering or controlling it is the antithesis of the Christed energy we claim we are seeking to embody.

Some might respond by saying that these are only words, that nothing is really being killed.

Perhaps. But language is not random. We choose our words, and these words reveal more about what we think and feel than we often realize. If we use words like "death" and "killing," than that truly is the consciousness we are projecting.

Oneness, too, is a consciousness, one that cannot thrive outside of us if it doesn't first thrive within. And it cannot thrive within if we reject even a single part of ourselves.

Oneness is an act of integration. Preaching death to the ego is the opposite: dis-integration.

The only path to enlightenment is the path of love. And the only path of love that has any value is the path that begins with self-love, with the love of our entire self — the wounded as well as the healed, the frightened as well as the fearless, the dark as well as the light.

Loving it doesn't free it to be in charge or hold us back. It does free it to have a voice, to express its fears, to cry for help in the only ways it knows how.

That same love frees you to embrace every part of you, to welcome home the ugly, wounded, frightened prodigal-child/ego and to live the fullness of a divinity and godliness that includes all aspects of your beingness.

I believe in you, in every part of you, and I love your darkness as well as your light. Won't you do the same for yourself?

This piece originally appeared in Mark David's newsletter. Read the full newsletter in its original format

Art by Mark David Gerson: Quantum Oneness (#112)

13 comments:

Angel-Light said...

Beautiful, Mark David! I recently posted a blog to my own site (http://angel-light-love-healing.blogspot.com) that is a review of the book "Multiplicity," which is about acknowledging and appreciating one's subpersonalities (which the author claims we all have). Today I spent several hours identifying and communicating with my major and minor subpersonalities and am preparing to post a blog about these parts of me. Your words about the ego fit very well with subpersonality/aspect work. I intend to refer people to your blog in my blog. Appreciate you!

Kent said...

As always Mark David your words encourage us to identify who this I really is and move in a way that is compassionate and loving. I agree the idea of "doing away" with anything would seem to imply some violent tendencies. But, I think the discussion that has been created by all of the ego smashing has been helpful to a regard, but most likely overboard as is popular. My own personal experience is that deep personal transformation can carry with it experiences of the fear of death or anihilation. Now, I don't think that's true for everyone because I was probably particularly identified with the parts that were falling away and their loss created feelings of panic so deep they bordered on madness. Now I certainly didn't kill my ego, but through that process I experienced my Beingness and realized I was not here or even there. So the wonderful irony may be the ego making such intense demands to kill the ego. But, it also may be the opening to realize if I am not this identification what Am I. The Course in Miracles describes "this" worldly experience mostly as a bad trip and when we forgive the thought from which it arose and that guilt we will realize it as the dream and know that we have never left our true identity as the One.
I know from hands on experience that through deep forgiveness I become blissfully free and aware. My work with one Shaman was like that. He was so light and free that it almost felt as those nothing touched him.
One thing that I do know is incredibly important at this time is that people release the energy coming up without identifying with it and creating more of that which created it fostering our experience (all of which is an illusion mind you ;-).
I love the words ascribed to Jesus in the bible "Resist ye not evil". If evil was considered to be thought forms of separation (ego) then this seems the correct statement. Don't kill it, don't fight it, see it as the illusion and it can not stand.
Wouldn't we have the greatest laugh ever if we see a headline that declares a "War on Ego". Now that's my idea of God humor.

Much love to you teacher of all and no thing.
K.

Mark David Gerson said...

Dear Angel-Light,

There are many ways to work with the ego -- and with all our aspects. As long as the approach is a loving one, all approaches are valid.

Knowing you as I do, I have no doubt that your approach is loving and heart-centered.

Blessings,
Mark David

Mark David Gerson said...

Dear Kent,

Your words are thoughtful and loving. Indeed, the concept of "killing the ego" might once have had a place in the roster of personal growth techniques -- although I'm not sure Jung would have agreed.

Yet, if it ever did have a place, it does no longer.

As long as we are on a journey of heart-opening and integration, there can truly be no place for a paradigm that is violence-centered. For as long as we focus violence within us, we will always be focused -- as we are in our culture -- on violence outside of us.

Abundant blessings,
Mark David

annettemariee said...

Dear Mark David,

I so enjoyed your latest message...not that I haven't enjoyed the others just this one really fits with where I am and what I am dealing with. I am taking the Oprah and Eckhart class on monday nights and as I started reading the book and initially when I came across the "death to the ego" I was screeming in my head "NO that is a part of me", I even emailed the question "aren't we supposed to love all parts of our selves?" and I never got a responce.

As I have traveled along my path and encounted one illusion and delusion after another to find I AM who I AM. I have come to see deeper meaning in Eckharts words, as with your work...and so beautiful it is, your works...you have to look or should I say allow yourself to "feel" the depth of who you are, meaning where I am at within the scope of isness that is this moment.

Just wanted to acknowledge this latest message since it hits so right on for me.

Love, Light and Many Blessings,
Annette

Mark David Gerson said...

Dear Annette,

Of course, nothing is truly dying or being killed when we speak about ego death. But words matter. They carry an energy and that energy seeps into everything else we do and are.

So, yes, there is a deeper -- and beautiful -- meaning in Eckhart Tolle's words. At the same time, his choice of words (and it's not his choice alone) simply contributes to the imagery and energy of self-hatred and self-inflicted violence that's is all too common in our culture.

How can be expected to have unconditional love for those around us when we're being discouraged from having unconditional love toward ourselves?

A Friend said...

Dear Mark David,

Your blog expresses my own thoughts on this topic exactly. It clarifies and validates it for me. Thank you so much.

~Bea

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks, Bea, for sharing your thoughts.

Joe Hurley said...

Dear Mark David,

Wow! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. You express wonderfully exactly what I live. I find great comfort in your words and in knowing more people come from this place of pure unconditional love.

thank you again,

Joe Hurley
http://www.TheDivineHeart.com

Mark David Gerson said...

Dear Joe,

Thanks for your words. As with all else, unconditional love must start within us or there's nowhere outside of us for it go!

Blessings,
Mark David
www.markdavidgerson.com

Artemis said...

Dear Mark David,

Thank you from my heart for your illuminating sharing of a different perspective to look at the ego. Recently I have been told that I am going through a psycho-spiritual process comparable to the destruction of the ego. At the same time, I have been listening to and reading the work of Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, Ph.D., the Jungian psychoanalyst story teller. Your wonderful writings remind me of two of her stories: The Three Gold Hairs and The Tiger's Eyelash. Both of the stories center around the theme of loving patience with ourselves and others. In this case, I relate it to your words of listening to the voice of the ego while still honoring it and making it feel secure, so that the less fearful, or "higher" (if you will) parts of us are the ones that make our important decisions.

Heartfelt thanks for your more loving perspective on this part of us, the ego.

With thanks from my ego :) and the rest of me, too,
Cynthia Kirk

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks, Cynthia, for taking the time to read and comment.

I think it's important to remember that, in some sense, the transformative process that Jung writes about and the "ego death" that others write about is, in the end, the same thing.

At the same time, I believe (as I wrote in the piece) that language matters and that the words we choose can be disturbingly revealing of our state of consciousness.

The unconditional love Joe wrote about in the previous comment, so necessary to our evolution, is more fully supported with loving language than with the language of violence.

Blessings on your transformative journey,
Mark David

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks, Cynthia, for taking the time to read and comment.

I think it's important to remember that, in some sense, the transformative process that Jung writes about and the "ego death" that others write about is, in the end, the same thing.

At the same time, I believe (as I wrote in the piece) that language matters and that the words we choose can be disturbingly revealing of our state of consciousness.

The unconditional love Joe wrote about in the previous comment, so necessary to our evolution, is more fully supported with loving language than with the language of violence.

Blessings on your transformative journey,
Mark David