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.
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
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 a confidence that the universe and human nature is fundamentally good and loving, 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 turn out not to be bad.