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but what is
Death is a word that we humans usually associate with darkness,
mourning, decay, and general creepiness.
We spend our entire
lives running away from, avoiding, and denying the fact that we
will someday physically die...
However, the death that
I'm talking about in this article isn't the typical kind of death we
The death I'll be referring to is the most beautiful, illuminating,
awe-inspiring, expansive, enlightening, and paradigm-shattering
experience you could ever go through.
This experience is known as "ego death," and for every
serious spiritual seeker, it is a pivotal part of the spiritual
What is the
In order to understand what ego death is, we must first understand
what the ego is.
As I explored in "What
is the Ego?",
the ego is basically
our sense of self or our identity...
The ego is a biological
and spiritual tool that defends the belief that we are all separate
As a result of believing that we are separate and isolated in this
life, we suffer immensely.
The Ego and
The ego - our sense of self - perceives life through the lens of
Duality is the
opposite of reality - it is the division of life into opposing
forces such as love/hate, good/bad, right/wrong, and
When we divide life, we suffer.
The result of the
dualistic ego is judgment, hatred, condemnation, and alienation.
While we accept some
things, we reject other things.
While we love some
people, we hate other people.
unconditionally accepting life in its wholeness, we slice it into
"acceptable" and "unacceptable" experiences, people, beliefs,
thoughts, and emotions.
Thus, we suffer...
As a result of our feelings of being separate from the Whole (which
gives birth to duality), we also begin to reject ourselves.
Any thought, feeling, sensation, experience, or belief we have that
is judged to be "bad," "unacceptable" or "wrong" we suppress, avoid,
As a result of this
repression, we fuel our
Shadow Selves which become more
twisted and monstrous the longer we keep them buried under
Living through the ego
can be observed in our world very clearly.
anxiety, mental illness, murder, hatred, greed, poverty, war,
and environmental destruction we experience is all a reflection
of our internal suffering.
It is a loss of Soul...
And why do we suffer?
We suffer because of the separate self we carry (i.e., the ego) that
believes it's a little isolated speck cut off from existence.
What is Ego Death?
I've used the term "ego death" in this article because it's the most
popular phrase out there used for such an experience.
But the truth is that,
the ego can never
really "die"; instead, it can be made conscious so that it's no
longer running our lives...
So how can we define "ego
Ego death is the experience of temporarily transcending the ego,
self, or personal identity.
This experience is the most mind-bending, awakening, awe-inspiring,
peaceful, and unconditionally loving experience you could ever have.
Ego death is
essentially an experience of embodying your
True Nature (or returning back
to who you really are), temporarily.
However, while the
experience of ego death is indescribably beautiful, it can also be
indescribably horrific for those who are not aware of the spiritual
path, and for those who resist the actual experience.
Those who report ego death generally fall into two groups:
I have experienced both
states of pure ecstasy and pure horror - and let me tell you, it can
turn your life upside down and inside out.
Whether that is a
good thing is up to you decide...!
the Screaming Abyss
If you're familiar with the psychonaut community (a
collection of people who use
psychedelic substances to access
higher states of being), you would have heard of many "ego death"
The answer is that
shamanic plants such as ayahuasca, DMT, and psilocybin mushrooms
are powerful gateways to the Divine experience.
Dennis and Terence McKenna (who referred to themselves as
the "Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss") often mentioned the state
of pure awe and also terror experienced in the face of ego death.
However, as Terence McKenna once said, the abyss must be approached
with courage, because only then can you discover that the fear is an
Nature loves courage.
You make the
commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by
removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and
the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up.
This is the trick.
This is what all
these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really
touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This
is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is
By hurling yourself
into the abyss and discovering its a feather bed.
Ego death can feel scary
because it is the ultimate threat to the ego:
to die. To cease to
exist, even for just a minute...
The ego creates intense
fear as a
defense mechanism to try and hold
onto a sense of control and power.
However, to progress on our spiritual paths, we must understand the
role of this fear, be mindful of it, and not permit it to limit us.
7 Stages of
Ego death happens in stages, and if courageously pursued, eventually
results in the experience of
Self-Realization, Nirvana, Oneness,
spiritual ascension, or Enlightenment.
While ego death is not formulaic or necessarily predictable, it does
tend to follow a pattern:
Stage 1 - Spiritual Awakening
In the first stage of ego death,
we begin to "wake
up" to life.
Our process of
spiritual awakening might be triggered by an existential crisis,
a tragedy, a chronic illness, or simply the natural process of
When we experience a spiritual awakening, we begin to search for
more depth in life.
Often, we ask big
questions such as,
Spiritual awakenings are
triggered by the sensation that something profound is missing in
life and they're accompanied by feelings of depression and
Stage 2 -
The Dark Night of the Soul
Dark Night of the Soul is
inseparable from the spiritual awakening process.
When we experience the Dark Night, we become extremely conscious
of our separation from ourselves, other people, and the Divine.
How does the Dark Night often lead to ego death?
The Dark Night of the Soul is a period when we feel
utterly lost, lonely and isolated from others. It is the
accumulation or culmination of our suffering.
Deep down, we know something has to drastically change in our
life, but we don't know what or where to look.
Often, this experience culminates in a sudden 'pop' of the ego
bubble - like the cork from a wine bottle suddenly releasing
Stage 3 -
The Spiritual Seeker
Eventually, after experiencing a spiritual awakening and Dark
Night of the Soul, we stumble into the field of
experimenting with different spiritual practices and find
that some alleviate our suffering.
We become obsessed with reducing the suffering we have been
carrying and explore many different fields such as energy
healing, zen, yoga, astrology, mysticism, etc.
Stage 4 -
The word "Satori"
is a Zen Buddhist word that means,
Satori is a
small glimpse into your True Nature, or Consciousness itself; a
moment when your ego completely dissolves.
For some, this experience is scary, and
spiritual growth stagnates. But
for others, the Satori experience is deeply
life-changing, and spiritual growth continues.
Many describe Satori as,
being the result
of a kundalini awakening...
Stage 5 - The Elder Soul
After a certain period of time, we begin to develop
We discover the
gimmicks and spiritual bypassing practices that keep us trapped
in the cycle of pain, fear, and separation, and learn practices
that open us to the Divine.
As we begin to
experience more soulful maturity and reconnect with our
higher Self, we learn the
virtues of self-discipline, patience, and focus.
Stage 6 - Dissolution and Deconstruction
In this stage, we begin to surrender all that we are not.
This stage is not just about identifying our destructive and
limiting beliefs and behavior patterns but actually letting go
of them and letting the light in.
discipline, trust, courage,
...all play an
important role in this process.
Stage 7 -
The End of the Search
Finally, we come to a stop.
We realize that
all that we are, and all that we need, can be found right
The search to
become something, to lose something, to find something, and
to accomplish something perishes.
We see through the illusion of looking for truth, joy,
peace, and love in any place outside of ourselves.
We see the truth that we are mirrored in all beings and all
We experience interconnectedness and Oneness.
While the ego still
exists, we become aware of the ego as simply a tool,
not the Truth of Who We Are.
Transcending duality and the grip of the ego, we develop the
capacity to give unconditional love and acceptance.
This is the state of ultimate inner peace, freedom, and what
people refer to as "enlightenment," yet those who experience
this know that no possible label or mental construct can
describe such an experience.
The end is the beginning, and the beginning is the end...
We shall not
cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
FAQ About Ego
If you needed more clarity, here are some answers to common
What does ego
death feel like?
Ego death is an intense experience that can alternate between
feelings of horror and ecstatic bliss.
While one person may
experience nothing but terror, another may experience only
cosmic Oneness. But often, most people experience both extremes
while undergoing ego death.
What happens after ego death?
Usually, ego death is such a paradigm-shifting and mind-blowing
experience that a person's life will change forever.
What happens after
ego death often involves a lot of soul searching. The person
will be inspired to seek a deeper sense of meaning and purpose
and will embark on a spiritual quest for answers.
Most people forget
about the importance of
spiritual integration after
this experience - which is crucial to make the most of it!
How to experience ego death?
Some people deliberately seek out ego death to try and achieve a
However, a word of
can be extremely dangerous for those unprepared (see:
Once you've checked
your intentions, you'll be pleased to know that there are quite
a few paths to ego death.
meditation retreats, entering altered states of
consciousness through mystical paths like dancing or
chanting, and ingesting psychedelic substances.
For serious spiritual
seekers, almost every mystical tradition offers pathways to ego
Ego death is a serious, purging, profound, and shattering
It is so deep and so
beyond anything we have experienced in this life, that it
changes our perception of existence in a single moment.
I hope these "stages"
have helped you to understand it better.
Finally, I'll leave you
with a beautiful quote to ponder
about death itself:
Death is a
of all that is
The secret of
is to die before
and find that
there is no
The Power of Now