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The Ego’s Death

Is enlightenment the death of the ego?

In my definition, the ego is that part of our being that is concerned with survival including its counterparts in the emotional and mental facets of personality therefore it naturally has a mechanism of caution or fear built into it. 

A significant part of ego is legitimate. The ego becomes programmed to defend itself. When that is applied to the normal requirements of life that is totally valid. We need money, health, protection and reputation in order to function decently in life.

So, from that perspective, why would anyone wish the ego to die?

The short answer is no, there is no such thing as the death of the ego in relation to enlightenment. That is an invention based on some ideal of enlightenment, not based on actual enlightenment. It is fantasy spurred by the desire to eliminate what we do not like or what causes us trouble. 

Many people have an over-emotional or over-moral response to the ego itself and then create some kind of enemy to despise, denigrate, fight against, and ultimately kill. That is the ego itself impinging on spiritual or psychological work. It is not a healthy or mature way of thinking about or dealing with the ego. It is tyranny.

In the process of learning to survive the ego usually does not receive appropriate education and fear becomes overblown by a mental process of imagination and belief, usually based on past experiences of transgression, aggression or violence on various levels having been inflicted on it.

One of the challenges of psychological work is to discern what is valid and what is overblown in the ego, and then perhaps do some adjustments in our inner education. 

That education comes from teachers, from therapists, parents, friends, peers. But the transgressions and ignorance can also come from those same people, especially when we are children, but it can happen when we are adults too

So, the proper education of the ego is usually accomplished later in life when we, as mature adults, teach ourselves based on awareness and conscience. Perhaps with help from a teacher, therapist or friends. However, in the great majority of people this education is never completed.

The ego does not need to die or be eliminated. The ego needs understanding, compassion and education.

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