losing what you think you know,
like a wave of
destruction that leaves nothing,
but what is
Death is a word that we humans
usually associate with darkness, mourning, decay and general
We spend our entire lives
running away from, avoiding and denying the fact that we will
someday physically die. However, the death that I'll be talking
about in this article isn't the typical kind of death we
The death I'll be
referring to is the most beautiful, precious, 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 process to go through.
What is the
In order to understand what ego death is, we must first understand
what the ego is.
As we elaborated on in the article "What
is the Ego?" the ego is
basically our sense of self or our identity. The ego is a biological
and spiritual tool that was created by and defends the belief that,
we are all separate "individual" entities.
As a result of believing that we are separate and isolated in this
life, we suffer immensely.
The ego perceives life
through the lens of duality. Duality is the opposite of reality - it
is the division of life into opposing forces such as love/hate,
good/bad, right/wrong and holy/sinful.
When we divide life,
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 segregate it
into "acceptable" and "unacceptable" experiences, people,
beliefs, thoughts, and emotions.
Thus, we suffer...
As a result of our perceived separation from Spirit, and the duality
lens we see life through, 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 and
As a result of this
repression, we fuel our
Shadow Selves which become more
twisted, angry and perverted the more we "lock" away.
The product of living through the ego can be observed in our world
anxiety, mental illness, murder, hatred, greed, poverty, war and
environmental destruction we experience is all a reflection of
our internal suffering.
Our internal suffering is
solely the product of the ego that believes it is separate from
others and life itself.
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
transcended and made conscious so that it's no
longer running our lives.
So how can we define "ego death"?
Ego death is the
experience of transcending the ego, self or identity. This
experience is the most mind-bending, awakening, awe-inspiring,
peaceful and unconditionally loving experience you could ever
Ego death is
essentially an experience of embodying your True Nature
completely (or returning back to who you really are),
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.
If you are 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"
This is because
shamanic plants such as,
...are powerful gateways
to the Divine experience.
Psychedelic explorers 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 approach with courage, because
only then can you discover that the fear is an illusion:
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
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:
complete loss of
"self," if only for a minute.
As a defense mechanism,
the ego creates intense fear.
However, in order 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, results in
the experience of,
While ego death is not
formulaic or necessarily predictable, it does tend to follow a
Stage 1 -
In the first stage of ego death, we begin to "wake up" to life.
spiritual awakening might be triggered by,
When we experience a
spiritual awakening, we begin to search for more depth in life.
Often, we ask big
questions such as,
"what is my
"what is the
meaning of life?"
are triggered by the sensation that something profound is
missing in life, and are accompanied by the feelings of
depression and anxiety.
You can learn more
about the spiritual awakening process in our book.
Stage 2 - The Dark
Night of the Soul
Dark Night of the Soul is
inseparable from the spiritual
When we experience
the Dark Night, we become extremely conscious of our separation
from ourselves, other people and the Divine.
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
Deep down, we know
something has to drastically change in our life, but we don't
know what or where to look.
Stage 3 - The
Eventually, after experiencing a spiritual awakening and Dark
Night of the Soul, we stumble into the field of spirituality. We
start 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 - Satori
The word "Satori" is a Zen Buddhist word that means "momentary
enlightenment." Satori is a small glimpse into your True Nature,
or Consciousness itself; a moment when your ego is completely
For some, this
experience is scary, and spiritual growth stagnates, for others,
it is deeply life-changing and spiritual growth continues.
Stage 5 - The
After a certain period of time, we begin to develop spiritual
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 and more
soulful maturity, 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 them go and letting the
...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 Now. The
search to become something, to lose something, to find something
and to accomplish something perish.
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 things.
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
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 encapsulate such an
Ego death is a serious,
purging, profound, and shattering experience.
It is so deep and so
beyond anything we have experienced in this life, that it changes
your 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 stripping
away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to die before
you die - and find that there is no death.
Power of Now)