Spiritual awakening requires becoming aware of the ego structure

The first step in spiritual awakening is becoming aware of our ego structure — actually perceiving the particular beliefs and images that we have identified with and taken to be true — then dissolving that, letting go of that part of one’s identity.

Extended paraphrase:

The ego is a psychic structure that is based on crystallized beliefs about who we are and what the world is. We experience ourselves and the world through the filter of this structure. Spiritual awakening involves connecting with those dimensions of experience obscured by ego structure.

The first step is becoming aware — actually perceiving the particular beliefs and images that we have identified with and taken to be true — then dissolving that facet of the ego structure. This means letting go of part of one’s identity, which can be painful or frightening because the old sense of your identity crumbles and you don’t know what will take its place. Letting go of what has felt real feels like jumping into an abyss.

The jumping can be easy or difficult depending on the presence of “basic trust” — the sense that whatever happens will ultimately be fine. The ego’s perspective arises out of a lack of this trust. It is based on distrust, paranoia, and fear that the universe will not take care of you in the ways that you need. Basic trust is the confidence that the universe and human nature are fundamentally good and loving, and that life is fundamentally benevolent. It will help you take that plunge.

You don’t need assurances that things are going to be okay because you implicitly know things are going to be okay. Basic trust gives you the capacity and willingness to let go of the identifications, beliefs, and concepts — remnants of the past — that make up the ego.

If you don’t have basic trust, you will react to what arises in accordance with your conditioning and will want things to go one way or another, rather than to just be, without reacting, which is allowing the ego to die. The more that basic trust is present, the more smoothly the process of realization and transformation can proceed.

If we lack basic trust, it is important to develop it. With basic trust, our lives have a sense of freedom. The desire to know where things are going arises out of simple curiosity rather than a desire to control the unfoldment. Tension and stress from constantly struggling and fighting with our reality become relaxed into a sense of peace that allows a spontaneous and natural unfoldment of one’s being. A new outlook emerges, allowing us to see that whatever happens is right even if it’s painful. Things that we had thought were bad turned out not to be bad.

Doug Sensei teaches on the enneagram, drawing from this source:

Facets of Unity: The Enneagram of Holy Ideas by A.H. Almaas, 1998; Chapter 4, Basic Trust
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Podcast Transcription:

From the point of view of basic trust, the universe will work out. Something will happen. You might end up as a bum under the Trevi fountain or you may end up the king of France- does it really matter from the point of view of transcendence? Not a bit. And since you live your life in such a way that you naturally jump into the abyss without even conceptualizing that you’ll be okay. You have to be very clear, you can’t care. For freedom in your being, for freedom in your being – never mind freedom in the world- for freedom in your being, you can’t actually care if you die tomorrow. Because if you die tomorrow, well, then we’ll see what happens then. Maybe nothing happens then, in which case it won’t be a problem.  Or if something happens then it will be, well, it’ll be different.


I guess the selling point for this whole argument is that it’s going to happen anyway. So why freak out about it if it happens tomorrow? My brother, I’m sure, did not know that he was gonna have a stroke yesterday – 65 years old, walking along, retired, thinking, well maybe I’ll run for politics. But then, you know, you get a stroke and then your head, you’re all of a sudden your life is hanging by a thread, right, who knows? And it can happen when you’re 20, you could be in that plane going from Boston to L. A. – or wherever it was headed- and find yourself going into the Twin Towers, you don’t know. So given the fact that you don’t know, anything could happen at any time, don’t you think It’s just better to be really happy about it?


You know, there’s a law of thermodynamics, right? Like energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It only changes its form and fundamentally you are a form, you are energy embodied in a form. And this form is as impermanent and as insubstantial as a dandelion spore in the wind. So what are you worried about? Your life is already a mess. It’ll be equally a mess 20 years from now. It won’t be any more together when you’re 80 than it was when you are when you’re 60. And it’s not any more together when it’s 60 than 20. The only thing that’s changed in all that time is you’re not worried about it anymore. All right, then let’s go one step further. Trust that the ego’s unity with his experience is available to you now, and then you manifest the forms.


So this basic trust is huge, huge, huge. Without it, you’re not gonna be able to let go of your angiogram type unless you trust the universe more than you trust yourself. Unless you trust the universe more than you trust your senses more than you trust your feelings, and more than you trust your thoughts or you’re thinking of your concepts. It’s got to be bigger than that. So the initial step in the process of the transformation of any sector of the ego is this basic trust. The step is only completed by giving up the particular structure that we’ve been holding onto. What is it that you are holding on to? And I don’t mean like your job. I mean, what is it in-depth that you’re hanging on to? Your image? The curious thing about it is if you can surrender that, then you’re quite capable of just being.


It’s not so much that the old dies, as it is that the clinging to it dies.  And that allows a realization to occur that you don’t have to fight anymore for anything in your life. You don’t have to struggle. You no longer need to struggle. You have to trust that the universe is okay and that what comes your way will and what doesn’t want. That doesn’t mean from an ego level that you don’t have to go to work, right? Because you’re paying Caesar what’s caesar’s, but you don’t have to struggle about it anymore. So what if you don’t like your job and quit? Well, then what am I gonna do? I don’t know, do something else. Well, then I might have to give up my apartment. Well then don’t quit and continue to struggle, but you can’t have it both ways.


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