An Introduction To Ego Transcendence And Ego Dissolution
You can watch the video versions of this article Ego Transcendence, Ego Dissolution on Donca Vianu’s Youtube channel.
The Ego. If you liken yourself to a country, your Ego is your central government. The Central Government handles the country’s finances, military, health, education, law, and order.
Similarly, the Ego has to take care of the body it inhabits to help it stay healthy. It has to decide which behavior is desirable and beneficial, and which is not. It helps you with things as simple as paying the bills, or more complex behaviors such as having defenses or maintaining relationships with others.
What you call “I, me, myself, mine” is the Ego - the central government of the totality of who you are.
Every country’s central government needs to keep itself informed about what is going on in its country. It has to maintain relationships with neighboring and far away countries. Similarly, the Ego has to receive the messengers from remote and rather hidden parts of the personality and make sense of the messages.
Being talented and intelligent is like a country rich in natural resources. Yet if you feel small and insecure, saddled with low self-esteem and anxiety, it is akin to having a weak central government that is not able to make good use of all the natural resources it possesses.
A weak government cannot keep different divisions aligned. It does not defend the borders of the country, which therefore are easily overrun by hostile neighbors who exploit the situation and plunder what they can. Similarly, a weak Ego that does not set clear boundaries with others can be easily exploited.
As discontentment with the poor administration of the country grows, it leads to regular internal insurgencies. These can disturb the functioning of the central government even more, much like the psychological and physical complaints that befall the Ego. The achievements of the country are below its capacity. The achievements of the person are below their innate potential.
On the other hand, perhaps you are someone who is convinced that you are a beauty and/or genius. This is a central government that is convinced that it is able to rule the world. They would make it mandatory for others to pay tribute to it, and would not have a problem invading neighboring territories. It considers it its right to do as it pleases.
As you can imagine, this leads to terrible wars, with funds being funneled into the military at the expense of health, education, scientific research, or artistic endeavors. Internal uprisings would therefore require even more investments in the military, to fight not only the outer wars, but also to suppress inner revolts. When the Ego is in jeopardy, it is being attacked from within and without. It tries hard to suppress psychological problems, but they only rebound again at a later date, triggered by outer conflicts.
This is the Ego and its problems. It constantly has to negotiate between the inner and the outer worlds and decide what course of action to take. Like states, it can be democratic, tolerant, authoritarian, totalitarian, sexist, racist, egalitarian... And like countries, Egos also have constitutions.
But after many cycles of dire poverty and nauseating opulence, many victories, and many lost wars, the government has finally learned its lessons. It knows how to govern efficiently and adequately, smoothly and wisely. It takes care of the whole population and that its inhabitants live in harmony, peace, and prosperity.
Now imagine yourself as this country. After your many struggles, you gain valuable insights and implement them, and can live in harmony, peace, and prosperity.
Now imagine that you, as a country, have been elected to govern the rest of the world thanks to your holistic wisdom. The welfare of the whole world, of all nations with their races, creeds, cultures, nationalities are entrusted to you to handle all their needs, differences, and aspirations. From one country, you become the whole world.
You transcend your Ego.
For what is this good? Your responsibility increases. You suffer with everybody who is suffering, and do what is in your power to alleviate the pain. You rejoice with everybody who has something to celebrate, who is content, who leads a fulfilled life. Your understanding of life has deepened tremendously, as well as your capacity to feel.
You also have more means at your disposal. Everything you do is truthful, full of compassion, and does not revolve around yourself. Your life is dedicated solely to others. How do you achieve this transformation? It is not something that happens suddenly and in one go. It is a step-by-step process unfolding in time, requiring dedication, sharper discrimination, that brings your life, both your inner and outer selves, in balance.
You need to know yourself. You need to know where you stand.
Let’s say you want to get to Paris. First, you need to know if you are in New York, Tokyo or Sydney. If you don’t know where you are, the chances of getting to where you want to be are pretty slim. Those chances also get better if you have a map, compass, and perhaps even a vehicle.
The map is the wisdom teachings of all cultures from time immemorial. The compass is an ethical conduit. The vehicle is a technique that expands your consciousness, like holotropic breathing, active imagination, drumming, dancing, hypnotic trance. Using all these tools, you can plot a path to becoming the person you want and are truly meant to be.
Ego is everything I call “I, Me, Myself, Mine.” When ego dissolution happens the “I” dissolves, the “I” disappears.
Our life is determined, defined, confined by our identity. Our identity decides our fate. Everything related to our worldly identity plays out on the horizontal dimension of our life. Every endeavor to enlarge our identity belongs to the vertical dimension.
We can think about this with one example: Are you a man or a woman? How much does your gender identity influence your life? The answer depends on many factors. To be a woman in an Arab country has different consequences than if you are a woman in the Netherlands, and again other if you were born and live in India.
Identity is in your psychological DNA, in your cultural programming, in your family upbringing, in your profession, a.s.o. Identity is a conglomerate, not a monolith. Identity is fastened to your personality on three levels: your body, your mind and your Ego. You can compare the identification with the body, the mind, and the Ego with knots.
Disidentify with your body:
I am not the body.
I am not the perceptions that reach my mind through the body.
I am not the senses.
What I touch, smell, taste, see, hear is not me.
Disidentify with the mind:
I am not my feelings, emotions, beliefs, thoughts, opinions, convictions.
The Ego is a construct of the mind. As you loosen more and more the identification with the mind, “I, me, myself” is released too, and nothing is left for “mine”. That the Ego, the body, and the mind can be separated, has been lately repeatedly demonstrated in neurobiological teleporting experiments at different university research centers.
The Dissolution Of The Ego Without Psychedelics
Juan Ramon Jimenez, a Spanish poet who received the Nobel prize in 1956 for his “high spirit and artistic purity”:
“I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
who remains calm and silent while I talk,
and forgives, gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die.”
And Jalalludin Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet:
“I went through a journey without I
A new birth came, and I was reborn without I
Now I am always drunk without wine
Do not ever remember me who I was
I am the remembrance of me without I
I say happy and loving words without I
It is I who is always alive without I
With I, even if I am a king, I am a slave of time I am drunk with the wine of Shams Tabriz
May this drunkenness of love be always without I.”
So far about the dissolution of the Ego without psychedelics. People who are in this state of consciousness are not easy to encounter and recognize.
The Dissolution Of The Ego With Psychedelics
With psychedelics, the dissolution of the Ego is a temporary state, although it can be powerful and bring about changes in the personality. The experience can be frightening, not because Ego dissolution is scary in itself, but because Western culture worships the Ego, and does not offer guidelines on how to handle such a state.
The experience can be blissful too. If it occurs repeatedly, it can be one time blissful and another time scary, without any apparent reason for the one or the other. Basically, you lose the sense of your body, your mind, and your separate identity as an “I, Me, Myself.”
It is an experience that cannot be put into words.
Donca Vianu is a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. She offers individual counseling and guidance for integration processes. You can follow her work through her Youtube channel and watch the video versions of this article here Ego Transcendence, Ego Dissolution.