It seems fairly common for people on a “spiritual path” to have certain ideas about the ego. One that shows up is the idea of having to “kill the ego”, of the ego resisting its own death, of a tremendous struggle and effort in the process.
This can come from an idea of the ego as equated to the personality, not realizing that ego typically refers to merely the exclusive identification with the small self (body/personality). Even when the identification is more inclusive/expansive, there is still this body and personality. Nothing has changed, except the view and context. Now, awareness recognizes itself as Big Mind, and the small self as a vehicle for Big Mind.
Small Self view
This sense of struggle also comes from a small self view, from a dualistic perception. Awareness sees itself as only a deluded and messed up small self, and enlightenment and Big Mind (or whatever it is seeking) as separate from itself. When engaged in, struggle tends to reinforce the exclusive identification of awareness with the small self. Struggle is from, and reinforces, an exclusive identification with small self.
If the process is one of sudden encounter with the Absolute, then there is indeed an equally sudden “killing” of the ego. Awareness is no longer identified with the small self. In this case, it may appear as a struggle.
If the process is more gradual, there is more of a softening of the ego. Awareness softens its exclusive identification with the small self, and makes room for something else – the recognition of itself as also Big Mind. In this case, there is less of a struggle.
The Big Mind process is an example of the softening approach. We explore the different ways that awareness/mind can function on personal and transpersonal levels. And we recognize that it is all good. It is fine for mind to function through the small self, and all the ways of the small self. And it can still do so even though it has awakened to the Big Mind view. The body and personality is still there, as a vehicle for Big Mind.
In the Big Mind process, awareness comes to recognize that all the ways it functions through the small self – are essential for the (physical) survival of the small self. It is doing an essential job by manifesting as anger, sadness, grief, joy, controller, seeker, desire, etc. These are all necessary functions, for the small self to survive and operate effectively in the world. And they are all essential for the small self to function effectively as a vehicle for Big Mind as well.
Through this honoring, this respect and acknowledgement of the universal aspects of the personality, and how they express themselves in this small self, the threat is diffused. We see that it can all still be there, even when awareness awakens to Big Mind.
Resistance from lack of acknowledgement
When we don’t acknowledge and respect a person, we can expect to meet resistance. And this seems to also be the case with the voices, the different ways mind functions on a personal level.
The resistance against dropping the ego may be related to just this. If there is an idea of the small self and everything associated with the small self as “bad”, as something to get rid of, there is naturally a resistance. And this resistance comes from an underlying wisdom.
The small self, and everything associated with it, is an essential vehicle for awareness to awaken to its own nature. It is essential as a vehicle for Big Mind. It is an expression of and part of Big Mind. And it is Existence exploring itself, in always new ways.