Before we can mature beyond ego, it seems that we need to have developed a relatively strong and healthy ego.
For instance, it seems that The Work requires a certain maturity.
First, it seems to require an openness to see what awareness is when it is not attached to its content. To see that it is spaciousness, clarity and responsiveness – and that there is fluidity enough there for engagement and effective action in the world.
And it seems to require having developed a healthy enough ego to know how to relate to inner/outer situations effectively, so that these skills come up even when there is no/little attachment to particular ideas/thoughts.
Before this level of maturity, it may be that we need attachments to ideas/thoughts to function in the world. It is a way of operating that typically works adequately – it helps us navigate so we stay alive and out of the worst trouble – although it also brings with it a good deal of suffering. It is a rule-based way of operating, and its effectiveness depends on the particular configuration of rules and how they fit with our inner/outer circumstances. Most western psychotherapy focuses on this level – on how to rearrange and reconfigure the particular rules (beliefs/ideas/ideologies) we operate from.
Of course, there is no need for preconceived ideas. With The Work, we can try it and see what happens. My current sense is the The Work works, at whatever level people are at and in a way appropriate to the level. Apparently, it works even with children so there may be a way it exists in parallel with an healthy development of the personality. Maybe even supporting a healthy development.
Ego in this context refers to a way of operating where awareness is attached to its content – the sensations, emotions, thoughts. Where “me” is seen as exclusively this body, emotions, thougths/ideas, and where awareness is not aware of itself as the space in which these unfold. This brings about a perception of strong separation between inner and outer, as well as between the poles of other polarities. There is awareness of only small self, not also Big Mind.