The transcendence of ego does not mean the annihilation of the ego. To spiritually transcend means to go beyond, AND include.
Indeed, The word 'ego' has many different connotations and definitions. Some use the word to describe the aspects of lower self based upon conditioning, that are responsible for greed, extreme self-consciousness, lack of empathy, anger, etc.
Rather than labeling these facets of experience as a specific entity (ego) it’s much more accurate to see ego more as a state of or position of seeing/perceiving. As states of being, and positions of perceiving go, there is always in flux; As individuals, we are continually moving, changing, growing.
Many others use the word "ego" to refer to the entire concept of and identification with "self," the specific personality that each of us identifies with. Many spiritual teachers (Eckhart Tolle being one) advocates working to eliminate and escape the confines of one's identification with this "self" and unique sense of person-hood. In doing so, these teachers say we will achieve true happiness, freedom from attachment, freedom from suffering and ultimately, enlightenment.
While I do agree that expanding consciousness does lead to greater joy, my experience has shown me that this comes about much easier if we make peace with and accept the presence of ego, or less expanded state of being, rather than fight against it, to try to be rid of it. Thus, we have transcendence of Ego, rather than negation of the ego. Transcendence of ego is about seeing ego for what it is and becoming aware when it arises. With awareness, contracted states of being will cease to exist.
In my opinion, it’s foolish to attempt to annihilate a part of self for the sake of supposedly becoming enlightened. In attempting to ‘kill’ the ego, we are effectively attempting to ‘kill’ a part of self. Rather than attempting to do away with or annihilate this aspect of self, it’s so much better to simply strive for the transcendence of ego, to become aware that the ego (or part of ourselves we recognize as our physically based person and personality) is merely a PORTION of our total self.
Once this realization is made and embraced and life is then lived from the vantage point of this realization, the ego, as a PART of self, with all it’s unique attributes and variations, can actually be celebrated! The Transcendence of ego simply equals moment to moment awareness of the ego.
I see the ego as merely the vehicle through which our total self, or spirit, focuses more minutely to have a very specific physical life experience. It is our unique framework of person-hood that sets certain parameters and as such defines the very specific experience we will have while here in the physical.
Our unique framework or person-hood is responsible for such things as our personal likes and dislikes, our specific talents and aspirations and our very unique viewpoint. All these things work together to create our particular desires and choices in life. In short, our unique sense of person-hood helps to carve out the specifics of our physical life experience and everyone and everything within it. When we achieve the transcendence of ego, these things do not cease to be, but rather, we see them for what they are; a mere portion of the totality of self...of who and what we really are: spirit made physically incarnate.
Many hold a basic belief that says, “spiritual self is better than physical self.” The truth is that our physical self is an extension of spiritual self. To say one is ’better’ than the other would be like saying that an adult is better than a child, or that the universe if better than the earth.
I say, fully accept, embrace and make friends with the ego, with that special part of yourself that is uniquely YOU....and when you find this self operating from a place of contracted awareness, treat it with extra love, kindness and understanding. The result will be an immediate expansion of self, towards a vantage point of expanded consciousness that allows you to see the larger picture. This is the transcendence of ego.
When we operate from a place of the transcendence of ego or expanded consciousness, we can stand back and observe ourselves operating from various levels of self. From this vantage point we have the power to make choices regarding which level we choose to operate from to engage within the life experience. Through the transcendence of ego, this choice becomes available.
While moments or even longer periods of enlightenment may occur, there's still nothing wrong with choosing to operate from a perspective of immersion within the more contracted, personality aspect of self. There are definitely times when adopting such a perspective only adds to the excitement and adventure of the physical experience.
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