Ego death is something with which I have profound and lasting experience, which I will write about one of these days. I admit to a bit of reluctance to return to the intensity of that space to accomplish this. It’s one of the most impactful things that can happen to a person’s psyche and sense of self, IMHO – aspects of which are luminous to the extent of sensing perfect bliss and divine union, while others can be frightening, disturbing, or at the very least, disorienting.
Meanwhile, here’s a ride on the subject by Jana Dixon, one of the most prolific and deep-diving writers on kundalini around currently – author of the tome, Biology of Kundalini. Even if you only get through the first few paragraphs of her article, I’m thinking you’ll be enriched for it. ox Whitehawk
The ego protects us from full knowledge of the shadow and to the extent that it does this it also blocks us off from super-consciousness as well.
The ego disappears in these extreme experiences because of the extreme energy going through the hindbrain, sensory-motor cortex and limbic brain. Especially in extreme fight-flight chemistry the prefrontal lobes are disengaged in order for the more instinctive parts of the brain to deal with the danger. During such a spiritual emergency however the sense danger is internally generated. Often the autonomic shock is many times greater than that which we could ever experience in the normal course of a human life.
Just as a virgin only has a limited grasp of what it is to be human prior to having sex, so to those who have not experienced the ecstatic inner-conjunction or a Dark Night also have a limited perception of the height and depth of reality. These extreme events in consciousness make the ego more sober, respectful and humble because of this reorientation of what it is to be Human. This adjustment is largely biochemical. There is both vast expulsion of stored tension-energy and extensive reconstruction of the brains hardware that is brought about by these events. And it is this chemical, energetic and experiential reformation, which leads to what we know as Ego Death… whereas really it should be known as an expansion of the tight boundaries of the Ego to encompass a larger felt-sense of humanization.
What is Ego Death?
Ego death represents the neurodetoxification of fossilized repression, removing the friction and futile cycling of the nervous system, allowing a higher pattern to form. (See Toxic Mind Theory). From our subjective point of view our self is composed of the parent=superego, adult=ego, child=id in ALL STATES. That is waking, dreaming and deep sleep, plus altered states. To this triad there is both the dark-bad-Thanatos aspect, and the light-good-Eros. Coupled with the Unconscious, conscious and Supraconscious. And all these factors interact to create the self and the Self.
Where we reside is related to the karma of happenstance and our response to it. Once we are able to stabilize our consciousness beyond knee jerk reaction to environment, then we are able to cultivate energetic/consciousness conditions in which vast regions of our brain can fall into sync. Zohar thinks the cohering frequency is gamma 40 Hz, yet whose to say it’s early days yet in the brain research domain. As we increase our “light” that is energy/consciousness we embody more of the positive-Eros qualities of the parent=superego, adult=ego, child=id triad. Also our conscious bandwidth expands to encompass more of the unconscious and superconscious.
Eliade says on page 291 of Yoga, Immortality and Freedom, that both yoga and alchemy are an experiment of “soul;” of austerely using the body as a laboratory for purification toward the final transmutation or perfection. Perfection being to “decondition life, attain freedom, bliss, the deliverance from the laws of time or immortality–ie: enlightenment. Ego death refers to the death of our resistance to enlightenment. To have mastered life is to realize–Life as Ego Death–is the glorification of the Ego not the degradation of it.
Here is a fabulous article on ego death: Death of the Ego, By David Loy
The ego protects us from full knowledge of the shadow and to the extent that it does this it also blocks us off from super-consciousness as well. The dissolution of kundalini lifts the repressive hold of the ego allowing us to embrace a much wider sense of ourselves. This is why Richard M. Bucke says that Cosmic Consciousness includes the loss of the sense of sin. That is we can still see the difference between right and wrong, but “evil” is seen within the context of compassionate understanding rather than self-righteous judgment. Kundalini awakenings allow us to get real beyond our conditioning and the social models under which we have been asleep.
Patriarchal rule of the ego over the body, mind and soul is the main problem that faces each of us individuals and collectively. In alchemical terms the red King must be boiled and dissolved in the great vessel-womb (regressed as the neurons dissolve themselves) in order for the “wounded King” to be transformed into the Universal or Sacred King. This is the main principle of all alchemical treatices that refer to human transmutation.
According to the Tao, the greater the King, the harder the fall because there is more a substantially strong tenacity to the brain and sense of self, so there is a need for a stronger force to “perturb” that stability in order for the ego-death and rebirth to occur. A lesser man would not have had to go through such an ordeal because it doesn’t take such force to reduce his brain to zero-point. That is to dissolve it down in the great vessel-womb of the void.
“Ego-death does not mean the disintegration of the healthy ego, the ego we need in order to function in daily life. What dies in this process is the part of us that holds on to the illusion of control, the part of us that thinks we are running the show, that we are in charge. What disintegrates is the false identity that operates as though we are the center of the universe.” Christina Grof
It is my “opinionated opinion” that we can see the necessity for a strong character (ego) prior to having a kundalini awakening in the example of the two Krishnamurtis.
U.G. Krishnamurti went too far into the dissolution/negation/darknight and the general breakdown of the self-system during his awakening, and he didn’t have the strength of character to do the rebuilding, creative, positive side of things to balance the dissolution. This is because he was probably not given self-building skills in childhood, was probably not “loved” and was of a melancholic-depressive nature. Combine this lack of ego-character strength with a fierce intellect and you get U.G. Krishnamurti. What U.G. is good for as a teacher however is to cut through the pie-eyed BS that constitutes much of the spiritual “industry.” His statement is too negative however to be considered as one’s sole or major teacher.
Jiddu Krishnamurti however was his polar opposite in that he was so extremely positive and Apollionic in his sense of “order” (The Good, The True and the Beautiful) that no amount of kundalini dieoff/darknight/dissolution could break his character and turn him toward a nihilistic interpretation of reality. As such Jiddu Krishnamurti is an example of an impeccable teacher and his work provides a strong building-force, enabling us to strength our own orderly self-system through reading his works.
The fear of death arises because we have been programmed to believe we are an object. It is then we have to invent stories like reincarnation, heaven-hell and punishment-reward mythologies in order to reinforce our belief in continuation of the “object.” However once we truly Grok that we are a “process” and death is a continuation of the life process then we no longer feel like it lies as a final humiliation in a long gauntlet of humiliations to our objectness. It then becomes a welcome reward for a life truly lived, rather than a death avoided. Perhaps the only struggle there is, is in giving up our survivalist personality, and allowing this meltdown to occur, trusting that there is a new world on the other side of the chasm of the unknown.
Q: There’s a part early in “Rudi: 14 Years With My Teacher” by John Mann where he mentions planetary alignments and cosmic events, and mentions that if we don’t work to receive the energies emitted from these events, we may lose a key component in our development altogether. By the grace of Kundalini, do we automatically receive the benefits of unique planetary alignments?
A: Yes that is where the term “suck up the Grace” comes in. However it is not just important during “special” times, but “any” time on earth in relationship with lunar, planetary, solar, stella influences. For all aspects are preparation for the next. Thus it is very important to become a Taoist and not get overly excited about the tops of the hyperbolic cycles and to fully enjoy the times when the tide is out also. The more mastery we bring to the upward swing, the more mastery we can bring to the downward swing and vice versa. Kundalini amplifies the electromagnetism of all our atoms and cells, and raises our energy for “receiving” our cosmic Self. People are tending to call this “downloading.” Whereas I consider it the temporal uploading a continuously fuller essence of who we are from the All…there is a transtemporal element to this that can only really be grokked through post-conventional transrational intuition, and which cannot really be expressed to others who have not achieved this degree of openness.
If we bite down, reject or seriously become delinquent towards this emerging Self that is seeking birth in us, the scared little temporal self will greatly hinder the metamorphosis of this larger cosmic being that has its antennae merged with the infinite ocean. In this way we might fight enlightenment tooth and nail, and miss out on the only real reason for our existence in the first place. Ego death is overcoming this resistance. If you fight the death of prior stages you have outgrown, the new cannot be reborn. The enlightenment process is an infinite spiral of death and rebirth through time through re-membering the transtemporal or Eternal.
One of the safety valves to ensure that only the truly awakened get the full siddha power, is that Awakening is an inexorable process of death. Without the sadness and humility of having to “edit out” ones former self…the new cannot be born. True power therefore, is in the death of the former self, thus the first stages of awakening correspond to the Kübler-Ross stages of grieving:
1.Denial: “This can’t be happening!”
2.Anger: “Why me, why do I have to do all the work?
3.Bargaining: “Just let me keep my pointless job, my car and a beer or two.”
4.Depression: “It’s hopeless, why bother with anything?”
5.Acceptance: “I know that I will be in a better place.”
After the child is “let go to Spacemind” you pass through the self-Self membrane into the higher stages:
5.Progressive Surrender: Falling into sync with the Muse and Kairos.
6.Progressive Differentiation: Pulling away from the need for social affirmation.
7.Progressive Solidification: Strengthening of identity with Spirit-in-action.
8.Progressive Rewards: Increased bliss, Presence and self-assurance.
9.Progressive Awe and Magic: Realization of goals, less obstructions in the way.
10.Progressive Unity: Nottwo/Nondual realization continuous in daily life.
All perception of lack is acknowledgement of inherent potential.