Stop treating your ego as the enemy and let it guide your spiritual growth
“To grow as a spiritual being, you need to let go of your ego.”
You’ve heard this piece of advice so many times that you probably don’t question it anymore.
You may not know how to put this into practice yet. But parting ways with the ego seems to be the way to move forward on your spiritual journey.
In today’s conversation around spirituality and personal growth, the ego is often pictured as evil, wrong, or redundant. You may have been told that as long as you have an ego, you can’t live freely. You can’t surrender to the flow of life while your ego runs the show.
It seems that abandoning the ego is necessary if you want to grow. It’s an obstacle you need to overcome to tap into equanimity, present moment awareness — or even enlightenment, if that’s what you aspire to.
But what would it mean in practice — to “let go of your ego”? How does this idea translate into concrete actions and choices? And, more fundamentally: Should it really be your priority? Who would you be if you lost your ego right this moment?
In the modern world where many traditions and practices blend together, spiritual growth can be a tricky endeavor. If you don’t have a trusted teacher or mentor, you’re bound to be your own guide. You do your best to assemble scattered pieces of spiritual knowledge into one coherent picture.
This can lead to traps and dead-ends. When spiritual ideas are transferred from culture to culture, they may get distorted along the way. That’s what happened with the concept of ego abandonment, as it was transplanted from Buddhism into the Western context.
Many spiritual seekers today conclude that ego is something to get rid of. But this idea is misguided. You need an ego not just to navigate the world — but also, your spiritual journey.
The real problem is, most people’s egos are less than healthy. As we grow up, they accumulate various baggage and dysfunctions. You need to address these first if you want to progress in your psychological and spiritual evolution.
With this book, I want to encourage a new conversation and approach to the ego. Instead of seeing it as an obstacle to get rid of, you can look at it as an ally that facilitates your growth. By choosing to make friends with your ego, you can get to know yourself on a very deep level.
The consequence of this is creating a more authentic, healthier sense of self. And if that isn’t a sign of spiritual growth — then I don’t know what is.
After years of misguided efforts to get rid of my ego, this is the path I choose today. By looking at my ego as a “loving guide” (as Colin Tipping named it in Radical Forgiveness), I turn it into a friend, not an enemy. This is the perspective I encourage you to take in this book.
We’ve already created enough hostility towards ourselves and our egos. From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t work. So let’s stop fighting ourselves.
Let’s try another path instead — one of acceptance, compassion, and awareness. I hope you’ll walk it with me.