Adyashanti sometimes talks about the difference between the ego and the self, and I am not sure if I completely understand what he refers to.
Here is my best guess:
The ego, in this context, is the me, the human self, all the different hopes, fears, drives, desires, wounds and trauma of the human self. When this is seen through, and seen as what it is, there is a relaxation and sense of unification of the me. Traditionally, the dark night of the senses is what helps wear off identification with the me, although some may be left even after a dark night of the senses. I assume that seeing through the me is what leads to liberation. All is recognized as consciousness, but there is still a sense of identification as a center, as an I, which brings us to the self…..
The self is the loop, consciousness turning back and looking at itself. I assume this is the I, identification as an observer and doer. The human self may be seen through, and there may still be identification as an I, an observer and doer. When the I seen through, center of gravity goes to the whole field of consciousness.
For me, it’s easier to see this in terms of which images and words are identified with. Is it something part of the me, the human self? Or is it the I, the observer and doer?
It’s all about seeing through the appearances of a me and I. Seeing how these appearances are created. Seeing images as images. Seeing words as words. Feeling sensations as sensations. And for a while, until it’s seen through, there is the appearance of an interplay here between what “I” can do, such as inquiry, prayer and meditation. And grace, the way life works behind the scenes, the way life set situations up. And it’s all really grace, including the apparent doing. That too is life’s activity.