We’ve all heard the buzz about a collective awakening occurring on our planet. It is true that people are increasingly disconnecting from the mainstream-matrix, which dominates the mentality of the masses, and learning new ways to think and act. Much of this focuses on understanding the external realm, such as the truth about corrupt power structures, the fraudulent monetary system and other injustices of the world, yet we’re waking up other aspects of the self too.

The biggest internal shift is the philosophical shift, backed by revolutionary science which has emerged from specific disciplines. Essentially, reality is fundamentally connected, with consciousness making a comeback as the core fabric of reality. However, this knowledge has been lived and breathed for many centuries in various tribal traditions and spiritual systems, so really it’s a rebirth on both a rational and planetary scale.

Furthermore, there are other changes that individuals are creating within themselves too, particularly in terms of health. This doesn’t just apply to physical and mental health either; energetic, emotional, creative, intellectual, social and behavioral health all have their place in this transformation.

It is waking up these aspects of the self that I discuss in the video linked at the end, but first what follows is a rationale for embracing our ego, instead of rejecting it.

The Death of the Ego-Death

To wake up and take better care of the various layers of our health, we need our ego intact. There’s a new/old age belief that we need to kill the ego, however on closer inspection let’s hope it’s only referring to a small aspect of what the ego really is. I loosely used to be part of the ‘condemn the ego’ movement, but not anymore. As ideas no longer make sense to me I have evolved my view, including this one.

Personally, the idea that we should kill our ego is nonsensical. Now of course I’m not talking about transcending the egotistical and self-absorbed aspects of our personality, nor the false belief that at our core we are a separated being in a matter-based reality. These aspects of the human ego should most definitely be left behind in our wake of self-empowerment.

In addition, it is clear that philosophical materialism, which has dogmatically hijacked mainstream science, has amplified individualistic behavior and a consumerist society. These are primary drivers of all the excessive pride, greed, selfishness, vanity, corruption and competition that plague our modern day world, so we certainly need to transcend them on both individual and societal levels too.

So if the belief in overcoming the ego relates to these previous examples, then I wholeheartedly agree. Yet as I’ll explain, this concept runs much deeper.

To begin with, there are many definitions for many words, so the definition I use for ‘ego’ is the fundamental version: ‘a conscious thinking subject’. Based on this meaning, the ego is simply our ‘human-ness’, ‘self-ness’ or ‘I-ness’. The difficulty in maintaining a belief in an ego-death already becomes obvious as every single human being clearly has an ego. In fact, each human being is an ego. The truth be told; we all think, eat, shit, talk, love, learn and grow, don’t we? That question is of course rhetorical, because if we can actually answer it, then we have an ego firmly in place.

There are more superficial versions of this word too, such as ‘the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.’ My critique applies to this description too because as a human there is a fundamental need to mediate our subconscious drivers and our conscious perception of the world around us. In effect, without our ego, there would be no ‘subjective observation’ to actually have an experience, because that perception is literally filtered through the ego.

The other more common definition that is less relevant to this discussion is ‘a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance’. Obviously this is an aspect of the self that most of us would agree should be regulated in an appropriate and healthy way, so there’s no need to elaborate on this here.

Now I know what many people in the spiritual community might say, which is something along the lines of “the subject is illusory, there’s only awareness”, or something to that effect. But before your ego jumps to judge, hear me out, because I want to make my position super clear.

To start, in the world of duality there are two opposing forces, such as up/down, left/right, positive/negative, light/dark, no-thing/some-thing etc. Another way to look at this is simply awareness and self-awareness. The former is God, source, consciousness or whatever we personally like to call it, whilst the latter is self, ego, I-ness, Phil, soul or whatever we want to call that too. Of course there are many layers to the ‘self’, yet awareness can only look back on itself through some form of self-awareness, otherwise there’s no mechanism for it to occur. That is when duality is born.

Both layers are real, both layers are truths; however pure awareness is more fundamental and therefore more ‘real’ if we want to use that terminology. Yet our normal human experience is ‘self-awareness’; it’s an ‘I-ness’ which has the potential of understanding its inherent ‘all-ness’. The reality is no matter how much we meditate or how many psychedelic substances we take, we are never just ‘awareness’; we are always both at the same time because we are always anchored in human-spirit form.

In other words, regardless if we are a human or some other layer of the self, if we are a conscious thinking subject, then we always have an ego.

Like many people, I have had mind states which were altered to a high degree. The language that is commonly used to describe this altered state of consciousness is an ‘ego-death’, however I don’t believe that is a fair description. Based on my own experiences, as well as many others that I have either read or had described to me, there always appears to be a ‘self’, regardless if that self is identified more with unity than their humanity, in that particular experience.

This universal, meditative mental state that many people have – one in which they blur the lines between their inside and outside, their subjectivity with objectivity – leads some to say that “I had an ego-death and experienced oneness with reality”. Now, already we have an inherent contradiction. How can an “I” experience a oneness unless a “self” or “ego” exists?

Remember the definition: a conscious thinking subject. In these meditative states our thinking changes dramatically and we certainly become less identified with our human form and more identified with the source, but we were still an ‘I’ having a conscious experience of different layers of our inherent ‘all-ness’. Therefore it’s clear that we cannot escape it; we are always an ‘I’, regardless of what dimension it is in and what it is experiencing in that specific moment.

I know that some people will continue to argue that the human subject simply became reality itself, but this idea cannot be rationally justified, so let me explain why.

If a human is having an altered mind state in the third dimension and is subjectively merging their ideas and concepts about the world, with many dimensions of the world, then there is still a ‘human self’ which is having an experience because it is anchoring that experience. It was a temporary ego adjustment, an expansive experience, not a death; otherwise there would be no body to return to. Plus, there was still a ‘self’, regardless of how it changed, that was consciously experiencing its different layers and its ‘oneness’ with the external world.

Some people believe that the self really was the totality of existence, but instead can it be more accurately described as a conscious experience of its various interconnection with the totality of existence?

Those experiences are exactly that; experiences. They were not the totality of existence; they were an experience of the totality of existence. That’s why if we say that we have no ‘self’ and that we are just pure awareness, we are being unrealistic. As a subject with a human anchor, no matter how trans-formative our mind state might be, we are still always a snapshot of consciousness and never only consciousness itself.

I should also briefly write for those who believe in the ascension process. Just say it is possible, we would still be a conscious thinking subject, we would still be an ego, even if that was to occur.

The reality is we can’t transcend our self-awareness, our egoic filter, unless of course we die and our energy melts back into pure awareness. There we are just awareness without any degree of self. That’s why it makes sense that God or the universe only becomes conscious of itself through self-aware beings such as us.

In any case, our goal should be to transcend or evolve certain layers or conceptions within our ego, especially the patterns and cycles of suffering that we’ve subjected ourselves to for our entire lives. To wake up, we need our ego to be operating healthily, functionally and productively. It also needs training in understanding its deeper truths. For example, instead of only ‘identifying’ with its human-ness, we can also teach our ego, our-self, to identify with both our energetic blueprint (the soul) and our source-ness.

Mind Before Matter

If we disregard our ‘self-awareness’ then we disregard many expressions and truths of whom and what we are. To be straightforward, I believe that you all exist as much as I exist, and you are just as real as my own finite version of infinity. Any alternative thinking, ironically, is egotistical. Yet some teachers say to let go of the ‘I’ and only be the ‘all’. Well, I say that’s bullshit.

Every single person that exists, even those recommending to kill the ego, have an ego. Of course I agree that we should identify with more than just our human form, such as our inner divinity, as well as heal and grow many aspects of ourselves, but none of us can escape the fact that we are still an I. Therefore, we should embrace both. To say that self-awareness doesn’t exist is to not only deny our own human snapshot of consciousness, but that of our family, friends and fellow human beings too.

The metaphorical truth is that we are an energetic instrument in the orchestra of reality.

Conceptually, we are a human mind having an experience of ‘Mind’, along with many other minds. The philosophy that captures this is Monistic Idealism, meaning One Mind (OM). This metaphysical idea, which is backed scientifically by an evidence-based interpretation of Quantum Physics (see the ontological extension of the Copenhagen interpretation), imply that we are interconnected through OM, but are also having our own personal or unique experience of it.

And that’s duality; at the core of reality is OM (awareness), which manifests as an infinite amount of experiences of itself (self-awareness). Each one of those experiences is just as valid as another; however they are all illusory in the sense that the fundamental reality is OM. Yet that doesn’t mean that an ‘experience of OM’ isn’t real or true, it just means that there is something more primarily real, or truer.

Another couple of philosophies that can potentially capture the idea that existence is made of OM are pantheism and animism. The former means that “the universe is not separate from God, it is God”, whilst the latter means that “everything, both so-called animate and inanimate objects, have spirit”. Now to reconcile these philosophies it obviously depends on the definition we have of God and spirit. Personally, I don’t believe in the personal conception of god, which implies that there’s a self-aware deity outside of our manifested reality. In contrast, I believe that God is simply all of reality itself and spirit reflects any form of self-awareness in its duality with awareness.

In my view, therefore, our reality is best described as the minds of consciousness.

Ultimately, there is no rationale for undertaking an ego death because our human self-awareness, in a reality fundamentally made of awareness, is the ego. We don’t have an ego, we are an ego. The way that I see it, the terminology that certain circles use has simply confused the hell out of the ‘awakening’ community, so that’s why I’ve made it an aim to clarify all this ambiguity for my readers instead of perpetuating ‘beliefs’ that I believe are both dis-empowering and a disservice to each individual and humanity as a whole.

What we should aim to do is expand, evolve, empower and enlighten the ego, as well as weed out its traumas, conflicts, dysfunctions and untruths, not unrealistically and harmfully attempt to deny or transcend its existence. Furthermore, from the standpoint of the rationale that I have just put forward, if we are attempting to kill off our ego, we’re attempting to kill off our own humanity.

And that, of course, is a slow, torturous death.

Please note: This video discuss the various levels of connecting with and waking up the self. Enjoy! 🙂


Phillip J Watt lives in Australia. His written work deals with topics from ideology to society, as well as self-development. Follow him on Facebook or visit his website.