Is the ego saying the ego has been killed?

One of the most common situations to arise among people who are trying to kill the ego, realize their true nature, become enlightened, or whatever term you want to use, is to become self-deluded. The ego is quite the clever thing.

This brings up a couple of questions: How do you know when you know? How does the ego delude itself?

Let’s begin with a common truth about enlightenment. It is only a concept that is paradoxical at best. This is because the self, “I,” or egoic mind, can never be enlightened. If it were to be enlightened, then it could not have been the self. When there is no self, who is there to be enlightened? You may argue that you are really consciousness and not the self, or the “I.” If this is true, then certainly consciousness cannot become enlightened; it already is! So who is it that becomes enlightened? The answer is no one at all.

There are many misconceptions about so-called enlightened people. This is because what is said about them is said by people who are not in their state. What can you really know by looking from the outside-inward? One of the bigger misconceptions is that the mind is killed, or disappears. Not true. The mind is a thinking part of the brain. The mind solves problems, remembers where you parked your car, knows who your friends are, and keeps you from eating a golf ball or from walking off the edge of a cliff. It is a useful and necessary tool of this physical existence. So there is no killing the mind.

Although we use these words, we do not mean to imply that there are two minds: the practical mind and the egoic mind. The practical mind helps us navigate through life, and the egoic mind is only a construct, a belief.

Killing the ego mind is an expression. It does not mean actually destroying it, but rather knowing it for what it is — an illusion, or a belief. The “I” is a construct created when consciousness identifies with, and places its attention on, objects, including the body, possessions, territory, relatives, titles, awards, memories, and so on. Why does this happen? Because psychological conditioning throughout life makes people deluded into thinking that they are separate from consciousness. This separation creates ideas such as “I am the body,” “I am a woman,” “I am an American,” “I have a terrible life,” “I have trauma,” “I am a golfer,” “I am wonderful,” and so on. The practical mind has none of these thoughts.

When consciousness buys into a sense of individuality and separation then all conflict and suffering is apt to occur. This is because it wants to have the things that it perceives are separate from it. To avoid the suffering and to “be enlightened” means to no longer believe that you are the “I.”

So here’s the crux of the problem: The ego, the “I,” can state, “I’ve done it! I have finally transcended the self and am now enlightened! Let’s have a party for me!!” What’s wrong with these sentiments is that the “I” is claiming defeat over itself. But look at the sentences — there’s an “I” or a “me” in every one of them. The “I” is the one making the claims, because it has deluded itself once again. This is why the ultimate question leading to the dissolution of the identity as the self is simply: “Who am I?” Find out who this “I” is.

When the realization truly takes place that you are not the self, then it becomes obvious that the true “you” is prior to the self. This is not a flash of light, a billion exploding suns, or an epiphany. Rather, it is a knowingness from the core of what you are, and not from the intellectualizing mind.

We have a problem with language. Even when a person who has realized her true nature will use the words “I” and “me,” because we have no other words in our vocabulary to act as apt pronouns.

Until your entire paradigm, perspective, or worldview switches from the self to consciousness, then the self is still in the driver’s seat. When this happens you, and only you, will know it. Until this point, the egoic mind holds on tightly to avoid becoming obsolete, destroyed, or marginalized.



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Vic Shayne

…writer for 40+ years, mind/body practitioner, self-enquiry meditation, NY Times best selling author (, consultant, researcher.