Honoring ego and its role in our inner ecology

There’s a lot of talk in contemporary spirituality equating “true” spiritual realization with “getting rid of,” “transcending,” “killing,” or “annihilating” the ego. These archaic, patriarchal, war-images and metaphors are violent and feel very tired. A more dynamic, systems-based, holistic, and compassionate alchemy is, instead, to respect and relativize the ego, and help it to find its place in the larger ecology of what we are. The ego is simply our self-image, how I’ve come to imagine myself. We each imagine in this way, even if we fantasize that we don’t. We human beings are storytellers, mythmakers, and need not apologize for this, but engage it with depth, subtlety, and soul. The rush to deny ego and declare its illusory status often arises from a fragmented, dissociated split in the self, where there’s been a history of early relational trauma which has not been repaired. This is understandable. Not surprisingly, it’s safer to fantasize that this self is “illusion” than it is to enter into its world, collect and hold the broken pieces, and grieve what until now has been ungrievable. The ego is one voice among many, one figure sitting at the table of Being, a unique and essential mode of perception and activity. At that same table, there are also other non-ego voices and persons, representing the ancestors, mythological beings, and figures of the archetypal field; personifications of our dreams, fantasies, symptoms, and complexes. These ones dwell in the shadow, the somatic unconscious, and the subcortical places. They long for our presence, embodiment, devotion, and care. They are not obstacles on our path, but are the very path itself. To facilitate dialogue and relationship between ego and the Others in psyche and soma, to help the dissociated to re-associate, the unlinked to link once again, is an act of wisdom and also great love. Not only for ourselves, but for all of life.Image: Gerd AltmannLearn more about Matt’s online group and communityView Matt’s YouTube channel here

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