Often, we hear contemporary spiritual folks talk about the ego as if it is the devil. In traditional religion the devil has long been the scape goat that we blame all our woes on. But in reality, what we call “the ego” is not a devil at all……It is simply a personal sense of self. Now it is vitally important to come to understand what the ego is and what the ego ins’t, but the ego, or personal sense of self, is an essential part of any human life and we need to acknowledge it, learn to express it in a healthy way, and we even need to appreciate it and embrace the personal and unique gifts it may have to contribute to the world.

There is certainly a dysfunctional and deluded aspect of the ego…I would call this aspect egocentricity. We definitely need to let go of egocentricity…It is the deluded belief that the personal me is the center of the universe. This is clearly a deluded notion. There are roughly 5 or 6 billion people on the planet now and obviously, none of them can be the center of the universe. But they are all PART of the universe, they are all INCLUDED in the universe, and that includes the personal you and me.

The aspect of ego that the spiritual journey can help us die to is the dysfunctional egocentricity that seeks to manipulate life to always come out on our personal terms and give us only what we want for ourselves.

But the personal sense of self that brings into the world our own particular gifts, that expresses our own unique characteristics and personality is not something to be denied or dismissed, it is meant to be discovered, embraced and expressed and celebrated in the world.

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.” ~ Martha Graham

Not only is the personal sense of self NOT the enemy, it is actually the vehicle through which life expresses itself as you and me and everyone else…….Each expression of it is unique and beautiful and precious, because each expression of it  is somehow needed. The proof that you and I are needed on the planet is found in the simple fact that we are existing on the planet. “God” wanted us to be here…..or else we wouldn’t be.

The famous aphorism of Adi Shankara, the founder of Advaita Vedanta, actually  illustrates this truth……….

1)The world (you, me, the phenomenal world of nature, animals, mountains, ants, aardvarks…etc, etc) is illusion (in other words, none of it is ultimately or absolutely, or eternally, real)

2) Only Brahman (God, pure consciousness, awareness) is real (ultimatly or eternally or absolutely speaking)

3) The world (you, me, nature, animals, stars, the moon, the sun, everything in the physical world) IS Brahman (the absolute, un-manifest, formless Reality taking form and manifesting in the physical/material realm.)

So, while the selfish, narcissistic, egocentric aspect of ego needs to be let go of, the functional, healthy sense of the personal self needs to be seen, acknowledged, embraced and expressed in the world…If it is not, it will never, ever be expressed in precisely the same way ever again because, “there is only one of you in all time……..this expression is unique.”

And if that unique expression is never expressed, that would be a shame and a great loss to all of us. You must learn to dance your own unique dance and then dance it for yourself and for all of us!