Facing Your Ego's Death

Continuing a rather morbid string of blog posts, I want to talk about ego death. In my ebook, Everyday Spirituality, I essentially outline a gentle way to take apart your ego. At the same, time the concepts in the book are meant to help you create a lighter and more loosely held sense of self--a spiritual ego, if you will. Because anyway you cut it, while you are living in this body, you have a point of view and collected set of experiences that you express as "you." And that's okay. It's just important that you know that you're doing this and that you can choose to change how you are when it is time to make that shift in yourself.

But before we get there, the original ego that thinks the world revolves around it or that there is no other way of living. The spark of a spiritual opening or an awakening can light a fire under this ego. In awakening, the fire can be so strong that it fissures the ego away from the soul, leaving no doubt about what is real. Everyone experiences this differently, but let's take some time to talk about what ego death is, how it may feel, and what you can do to move through it.

If you feel like you are really moving through a lot of issues and watching the old ego die, I am here to help. You can learn more about my sessions in the below link:

Frequently Asked Questions About My Sessions

My Ego's on Fire! Just Let It Burn
Awakening struck, and for a moment, you touched beauty deep within you and without. It's profound, but most likely, at some point, your old ego ran in to take hold of that experience. It decided to try and conceptualize it, own it, or get rid of it. The ego's days are now numbered however.

I love Plato's allegory of the cave. Initially, we all live in a darkened cave and have no idea what light really is. Once you step outside of that cave, you can never fully go back in again. Because you know what's out there. It begins a process of letting go, so that you can completely leave the cave and the darkness.

Of course, many people run right back into the cave completely freaked out by all the light and beauty. It was too much. In many ways, as a teacher, I like to build up a loose framework for my students precisely because when awakening hits, I want them to have been building a spiritual ego that can be okay with all this light and beauty. Without it, the old ego goes into shutdown and denial mode. It's not a pretty sight. And the truth of the matter is that awakening has just started to burn away the old ways of being. Much of the awakening process is a process of burning away old ego and learning how to let go. Ego death can be as smooth or as painful as our own abilities to release into it and to allow.

The Body Feels Like Its Dying
The more identified someone is with their ego, the harder this ego death can be. You may begin to have phantom pains in your body from the intensity of your own resistance, which is generally based in fear. If the fear is intense enough, illnesses and disease can be manifested because your ego believes that everything really is dying. Not everything is dying, though. Just the ego. Your body is just fine.

Of course, because everything is going in six directions from Sunday for you, none of this is happening completely on its own. There's often a whole other set of experiences all moving at once. For instance, awakening is also clearing out all the issues that have been stuck in your body and your energetic body. The release of that pain can make someone sick, which is a natural clearing process. In the space of awakening or simply in healing, after this happens, you feel lighter, clearer, and more energetic. You may also have to learn how to stay energetically connected or else you're getting really drained by the world around you because so much is shifting inside you. Make no mistake about it; awakening often takes a lot of force, discipline, and energy to overcome our resistance and the structures we've surrounded ourselves with. Consider how much energy it takes to move; if you're in a home that's not healthy for you, you have to move. It takes quite a bit of work to do this, and there's just no two ways about that (although getting help makes it go smoother--subsequently, getting help and support from a spiritual community and a spiritual teacher is really beneficial during awakening).

You can go to a doctor if you feel really bad. It's always good to get checked up on, but in awakening, most modern science won't find anything wrong. Truly, nothing wrong is happening. So, you have to make mental space to understand that what is "dying" is an old way of thinking and living in the world.

Rebirthing Your Spiritual Ego
As I've alluded to, we all have egos. The spiritual ego serves spirit. In truth, when you serve spirit, you are most truly serving yourself. I've found that in all the ways that I've aligned myself with God's plan, our plans have turned out to be the same. It becomes really easy to ask how to serve God because when I do this, I feel so much more fulfilled, happy, and connected than doing half of the stuff I used to think that I should do. In saying all of this, I am speaking from a spiritual ego. I have a perspective and set of experiences that I define as "Jim the spiritual teacher," but I also know that this can shift and go away when it is no longer needed. Older versions of my ego were completely dug in and entrenched willing to hurt others because "I" had to get my way. Not very enlightened at all. They kicked and screamed on the way out, I don't mind telling you. Parts of them are still kicking and screaming, but it's much easier to be with these days as I watch old elements around fear and control dissolve.

So as traumatic and uncertain as awakening can be, if you're in this profound shift, you need to bring intention to the new you that you want to bring into the world. Rebirthing yourself is part of the process. Everything gets rebirthed so that you can come into alignment with Truth, Love, and Beauty. It's just how it goes. In all the ways that you resist what's coming, you're going to find yourself in more agony than you can possibly imagine.

And I know that this isn't convenient. It's never convenient to your old ego because it knows that it's days are numbered. You are going to have to make big changes in life. The more you've been out of alignment with who and what you really are, the more changes you'll have to make. That's part of the process. While spiritual awakening isn't a process per se, we still have to figure out how to manifest and embody that awakening in a world that doesn't quite know what to do with awakened people yet. That takes a lot of patience, tenacity, energy, and love. It also takes a lot of courage.

Tools Assisting Ego Death
Many of the tools for doing this are much like the tools that I've mentioned all along. One way to help yourself transition is to write down what your intuition is telling you to do. The spiritual information will help you to redefine who you are, but in doing so, be loose with the definitions. Remember, these new definitions are just new sets of clothing. You don't want to get lost in this latest guise. So for instance, if you're supposed to be a healer, then journal about what that might look like for you. It's okay to not know precisely, but it's also important to engage with your imagination and intuition around how you'd be a healer.

Then you need to act on that information to begin to see what manifests and what works. A lot of stuff won't work. This is also part of the process of trial and error. Acting on the information is a way to embody the shift coming into your life. The lower energy systems want you to do things. Being doesn't mean sitting in meditation day and night. Being and stillness actually are very active. Mother Teresa didn't sit around by herself doing nothing in India. The Dalai Lama tours all over the world. How you choose to consciously act brings your spiritual ego into existence in the physical plane of existence, and it can make it easier to let go of the old ego.

In many ways, the transitional time is like building a bridge to another point. Some people will have such a profound shift that the old ego immediately dies, and a new one naturally arises. That's beautiful. Obviously, I'm writing to a lot of other people because I think many people will touch beauty and just have no clue what to do with it. This is the time to explore. Because facing your ego's death is a scary, scary thing when you have no way to understand it or a bridge to move away from it. It doesn't have to be scary though. And hopefully after reading this blog post, you'll understand that you are not your ego and that something really beautiful is about to give birth through you so that you can truly live your life in integrity and love.


  1. Very good! Great info. :) Reposted here: http://lovesguidinglight.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/spiritual-awakening-process-facing-your-egos-death-with-jim-tolles/

  2. You're welcome. Thanks for reading it.

  3. I scan your blog regularly because it reinforces my efforts. Thank you!

  4. truly inspiring. I really needed this today, Thank you. Beautiful picture too.

  5. Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it, Lila. :)

  6. First off, I loved this post and could relate to it more than most others ive seen. I am 100% sure that i am going through this same process. SWIM comes from a group of friends that are heavily into drugs and tho SWIM has drastically cut down since his experience, i was wondering if u think drug abuse will hinder the path of letting go of the ego. Im mainly ttlking about opiates, adderall, and alcohol. I know this is a strange question but any feedback would be greatly valued

  7. Thanks mastershake02. Generally speaking drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and other forms of mind-altering substances will cause a lot of problems in life much less on the spiritual path. Those things mess up our internal barometers. Cleansing is super important to find out what it feels like to feel good naturally. Reconnecting with that internal barometer is essential in developing your own internal knowing about what is right and what is wrong for you on every level--physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. You can read more about the topic in this post: http://www.spiritualawakeningprocess.com/2011/01/healing-substance-abuse-issues-clearing.html

    I hope this is helpful to you. Sending much light and love to you on your path.

  8. Ego has been testing me over the past few months, but I have learned to smile and wink at it as if it were a small child who didn't know any better! My attention to it seems to magically calm it into submission, even if only temporarily. Over time, I find it less intrusive and even predictable because I have learned to recognize its conditioned behaviour patterns and reactions that were programmed early in my life. I no longer find it an enemy within; it has become a friendly reminder to remain "aware" of it all times!

  9. A Spiritual Vision
    I was sitting at my computer reading a new Near Death Experience on the internet and listening to a CD of "A Day Without Rain" by Enya.
    The NDE story that I was reading, focused on a woman that was going through a major operation, and her heart had stopped. She had recognized a disturbing error in her past behaviors during her life review, while experiencing the great light on the other side. She remembered what was really important in life. ("Putting people before pursuits") As in her past, she was more interested in pursuits.
    As I dwelled on the quote, tears began to stream down my face; I recognized that I too shared this same character deficiency. This was a deep striking truth that penetrated me mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I thought about how I had harmed and pushed away many of the people in my life, too busy accomplishing single minded acts, and focusing only on my desires and afraid to get in too close.
    The curtains in the window were open as beams of sun light poured into the room from a passing cloud. As I gazed into the light only looking into space, I felt a very profound sense of peace and calm come over me. Then there was a sudden elimination of all fear lifting away. Fear that felt like a thick heavy metal layer of armor, that's like something that I've always anonymously warn. I felt lighter than I could ever remember being.
    In the next moments I felt the most wonderful sensations in my entire life. The best way that I can explain it is to call it an overwhelming tidal wave of the most intense and powerful feeling of love and joy that I've ever experienced. It was an unconditional saturating love, without condemnation or expectations, and that forgives all for any trespass. I felt that this kind of love extends throughout the cosmos into everything. It was a love that completes everyone and everything to its core. This occurrence was an influence infinitely beyond my understanding.
    Finally, I began to blend with this energy source (God?), until I understood that I was a part of everything and in every place simultaneously. There were what seemed like billions of multiple flashes of views, seeing everywhere and everything for milliseconds.
    When the vision ended, I felt as though I was radiating with the sun in my chest. I don't recall how long the moment lasted because there wasn't any sense of time involved in the experience. It all could have happened in the flash. But I estimate it lasted about 10 to 15 minutes.
    I found that the vision had elevated me spiritually, and had a direct positive life affirming effect on everyone that I came into contact with. I was a messenger of love and become one with everyone. It seemed as though I could understand all great wisdom and problems of people effortlessly.
    But this was not to last. I soon felt the slow declining of the awakening slip away daily, and within two weeks I had returned to my normal self. I was addicted to the memory of the unconditional love that I had received, but to no avail, there only remained a recollection. I search desperately for two years, looking for a way to return to that enlightened state of consciousness without success as yet. The experience was more real and natural to me, than the reality that I've been living in my whole life.
    However, I do look at this vision as a gift of grace. I am not special, and I can't think of any reason why I had that moment. It's definitely had a colossal impact in my life that I can never deny, and I know without a doubt for myself, that there's something wonderful out there waiting.
    Q: So what does all of this mean?
    A: Maybe I had a peak at what's to come, maybe not.
    Though, I do believe this is a possibility of what could come for us all in the continuous evolving of humanity.
    One thing that I can say, "It was the only experience which has far surpassed any of my life's greatest expectations".

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this story. That sounds like a beautiful and profound spiritual opening. An opening gives us a glimpse of truth and can start the wheels towards awakening. You can't ever reclaim that experience because that moment is passed, and furthermore, the more you integrate spirituality into yourself, the more open you naturally are. The difference between being open and closed become less and less, so a similar experience may feel less profound. Ultimately, you have to make space for this beautiful radiance that is who you truly are. It's like a flood. With nothing to absorb it and channel it, the waters rush everywhere, and then it's gone. So I encourage you to do the internal work to make space for these waters to come again, and if it is meant to be, then you'll be able to absorb and hold more of this unconditional love than you could possibly imagine.

    2. Sounds amazing! Those flashes are precious and beautiful beyond words sometimes but know that you will have them again... don't let your need to have them again take control and drain you of energy... the need or want sometimes pushes the very thing you want to experience! You are that vision you had... you don't need to search you just need to peel those layers and know that you will see this beautiful light underneath it all! :-) A book that has helped me tremeandously is "The Power of Now" and "Stillness Speaks" by Eckhart Tolle... he hasn't reinvented the wheel but has used simple words to help us feel his message as opposed to understanding it.. I hope this helps! :-)

  10. Very nice indeed... visit to watch Mooji giving a beautiful description about the spiritual growth and ego that hinders it:

    1. Thank you. Yes, Mooji is a wonderful teacher. Thank you for sharing. You can check out my YouTube video channel if you're interested in how I speak about this path as well: http://www.youtube.com/user/Jimtolles

  11. Hi Jim,

    Grieving parts of my ego is very new to me as I've had a rigid ego for 29 years. I am 30. feel this is the process I am going through. I recently opened up to a lot of old pain of childhood, past lives, etc and created a lot of space; beautiful beautiful space and wonderful levels of Love, clarity, and much more connected with myself than I can ever remember. Old parts of me are coming up and the story my ego has in the moment of feeling these old spaces come up is that I'm "regressing" so I resist them. Am I regressing or are these parts coming up to die? And how can I change this story of that is the case and be brave to surrender into it to grieve it. I'm afraid that by surrendering I'll "re-adopt" these old ways of Being.

    Warm regards and all the Love,


    1. Hi Tristan. Simply breathe and come back to the space of the observer. Watch the stories without feeding them more thoughts and emotions.


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