“If you can recognize illusion as illusion, it dissolves. The recognition of illusion is also its ending. Its survival depends on your mistaking it for reality.” - Eckhart Tolle
Sigmund Freud explains that the ego is, “that part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world.” The id being the unconscious instinctual component of personality. According to Freud, our ego operates by attempting to satisfy our instinctual desires and pleasures rooted in our id. This is all operating at an unconscious level. It morphs into the voice in our heads and our daily stream of thoughts.
Within my own nascent journey of consciousness, I have begun to learn how to discern the voice inside my head as separate from my ‘Self’. I remember the day when I asked myself the question “who am I?” and then quickly slipped into a bottomless pit of confusion. This was my first experience with the detachment from my thoughts and identity. These moments of clarity continued. I would have a text interaction with a friend or family member, they could say “Sorry can’t talk right now”. And I would witness my mind start to curate a narrative. I would begin to wonder, “Are they mad at me?” “What did I do to them?” “When was the last time they said this to me? This isn’t a normal response, something must be off with them.” During this thought storm, I caught myself, and thought wow, there is my ego. My fragile and wounded ego, trying to protect itself from the world by projecting a story onto it…and most times, without my awareness.
I began to see the patterns emerge in my life. I saw how my conditioning shaped my ‘reality’ continuously, by the friends I chose, the path I took, the clothes I wore, my responses to experiences, my desires, my perfectionism and so on and so on. Eckhart Tolle explains this state, when our ego is running rampant, as being ‘spiritually unconscious’. A state where we are completely identified with our thoughts. A state where there no separation between the thought process and the emotions that drive them.
This isn’t to say the ego is ‘bad’, it is just unconscious. The ego is operating the way it was meant to – seek pleasure and avoid pain – primal and survival. But, if we choose, we are able to dissolve the ego and create a new reality (Eckhart Tolle calls it “A New Earth”). It all begins with self-awareness followed by detachment. I realize now, looking back, that my attachment to things, people or places was just an attempt of control to create safety and comfort. After entering recovery, I moved into a place of acceptance, that I am powerless to control anything and need to surrender to what is trying to happen around me. Little did I know, this process opened the gates to the beginning of detachment and dissolution of the ego. To dissolution of endless suffering, fear and resentment. This is the place where our reality begins to shift, into our natural state of being.