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Ego transcendence is often misunderstood by Western spiritual seekers. In this paper, I hope to clear up some common misperceptions about the state of consciousness known as ego transcendence.

First, let’s briefly define ego. That which we call “ego” is actually a collection of thoughts and concepts which form an identity about what and who we are. This ego identity arises from a larger Self called our greater Self, Inner Being, or multidimensional Self. Therefore, each of us, as we know ourselves to be, are one, small portion of this greater Self projected into a time-space reality called the physical universe.

Our greater Self has the ability to take on characteristics that allow it to perform in many dimensions including this three-dimensional physical world. Therefore, each one of us is a stream of consciousness flowing from a greater, non-physical Self and expressing itself through a perceived physical form. As human beings, we experience this stream of consciousness as an individualized, unique, personality structure or ego. Our ego personality is only one of many aspects, facets, or expressions of our greater Self.

It is important to note that our greater Self and its earth-based ego expression exist at the same time. Our ego personality always remains grounded in a more fundamental state of consciousness called the greater Self. Our greater Self is always aware of our earth-based existence and is constantly offering support and guidance to us. However, our ego-based personality is totally free to create its own reality, including one that does not recognize the greater Self as its fundamental source of support and guidance.

Ego transcendence does not mean getting rid of our ego personality structure; it means transcending the illusion or limited view (deceptive appearance) that the ego is actually who we are. It suggests acknowledging the ego for what it is – an expression of our greater self — and recognizing that the ego is simply an instrument or mental construction through which the greater Self temporarily expresses itself.

The ego does not completely dissolve upon transcendence. As human beings, we will always experience a sense of having a body and personality. The operational functioning of the ego remains intact, although it becomes less dominant in our everyday living. What dissolves is our sense that we are separate, independent, self-sufficient entities. When transcending the ego in this manner we are able to recognize, access, and receive the infinite resources of our greater Self on an ongoing basis.

In brief, transcendence suggests freeing ourselves from being lost in the ego — lost in the illusion that our sense of being a separate, personalized self “is” our deepest, truest existence. It means transcending the illusion that the ego is the fundamental core of our existence.

Transcendence occurs when we recognize the ongoing presence of our unchanging, greater Self that experiences “all” that is happening, including recognizing the concepts and beliefs associated with the formation of the ego itself. Eventually, we realize that the ego is not a thing (not a noun), it is a process. The ego is actually a dynamic, interactive process, function, or stream of consciousness that permits our greater Self to manifest and know itself as a conscious being expressed in physical reality.

Accepting and opening ourselves to all that appears in our awareness allows the boundaries between our greater Self and ego personality to dissolve, thus freeing us from the illusion of separateness. To be a fully functioning, transcendent being requires resolution of the apparent paradox that we are both spiritual beings and human beings at the same time.