The word “ego” has different meanings depending on the context.
The use of the word ego from a spiritual perspective has to do with how we (mis-)identify our sense of self with the unique life and conditioning we experience as separate individuals – our personality and our history.
In psychology circles, the ego refers to that executive function of the psyche which mediates between our internal “need states” and the external opportunities for “need gratification” that present themselves or are attainable in our environment.
One is a defined function of the mind. The other refers to identification with that mind.
Moving through ordinary daily life from a source that lies beyond what is commonly referred to as the “ego” in spiritual circles, i.e., identification with the individual personal self / the “small” self / the “me”, is different than navigating life from down within that more constricted (small self) perspective of the psychological ego, which looks like and is experienced as ego-motivated, desire-driven behavior.
In the pursuit of spiritual awakening, it is not uncommon to conflate the two meanings of ego, and thus become confused about how to live successfully.
In an attempt to become less ego-driven – making an effort to drop, dissolve or rise above those constellations of identities, patterns and habits that form our (spiritual) ego – we can sometimes go too far. Becoming more “spiritual” does not mean dismantling the psychological ego (as executive function for this body-mind) such that our daily life becomes unmanageable and dysfunctional.
You don’t have to wreck your life to awaken to a Higher Self and a Higher Purpose in life!
It’s OK, and it is possible, to be a well-functioning, successful and fulfilled individual (small self) AND realize / recognize / remember that another – and in some ways more essential – Self (as living Presence) is both animating and contextual to that smaller, individual life.
It seems paradoxical, but there you have it.
As long as we have a body and a mind, we are going to have an ego. It’s what keeps us alive and moving forward in life.
And a strong, healthy, well-functioning ego is more likely to provide a sure ride to success than a fragile, dysfunctional ego.
Transcending identification with this (small self) perspective, rather than staying stuck in the belief that it is the only or even the most essential perspective, brings greater potential to life.