A human life is a series of experiences. When we have little awareness of our predicament, experiences feed our attachments and condition our desire for more experiences. Our perspective changes when we begin to sense, even momentarily, the unity of all things and our identity with the Self.
We start to see each experience as a teaching to be brought into awareness and loved until we are free from being captivated by the experience. As we begin to awaken, experiences lead to reflection and contemplation. Then as we become more aware, experiences become a fire of purification, a burning ground of the ego, grist for the mill of developing consciousness, food enabling the emerging soul to break free of its bonds.
What is the nature of the mind stuff that keeps us in our egos? Ego attachments may be habits of thought, the residue of experiences, desires we've developed and reinforced or that have been implanted, even unconscious urges and tendencies. Attachments conspire to create this stuck-together bundle of changing thought forms and feelings we label a self, our ego. This sanguine idea of self is just that, an idea, a description of how we're doing at the moment, self-inflated or disappointed, a conglomeration of thoughts, feelings and concepts that changes all the time. One morning I wake up thinking about enlightenment. The next morning I wake up thinking about world politics and environmental disasters. The next day I'm anxious about finishing the book I’m writing. These temporal experiences that form our ego are like flickering images of a passing show. Each one seems real at the time, but they keep changing.
One of the first steps in getting free of the attachment to this ego idea is to develop a witness. We have thousands and thousands of me's, but there is one me that is separate and watches all the other me's. It's on a different level of consciousness. It's not just another role; it's part of the heart-mind.
This witness is your leverage in the game. The witness me isn't trying to change any of the other me's. It's not an evaluator or a judge; it's not the super-ego. It doesn't care about anything. It just observes. "Hmmm, there she or he is, doing that again." That witness place inside you is your centring device, your rudder.
The witness is part of your soul. It's witnessing your incarnation, this lifetime, from the heart-mind. It's the beginning of discrimination between your soul and your ego, your real Self and your self in the incarnation. Once you begin to live in this witness place, you begin to shift your identification from the roles and thought forms. As you witness yourself, the process becomes more like watching a movie than being the central character in one.
As you begin to dwell in Self-awareness, the old identifications with ego roles begin to just fall away. You shift your identification from the external roles and attachments to internal awareness. It's a being thing, not a doing thing. You don't do anything.
The ego is based on fear, but the soul is based on love. As you witness your ego stuff, one way to release it is to constantly offer it into the fire of love in your heart. “I am loving awareness”.
Another mantra I have used to get into witness awareness and see the ego from the God perspective is: “I am a point of sacrificial fire held within the fiery will of God”.
As meditation deepens, you identify less and less with the ego and begin to touch and enter more deeply into the space of love. You begin to experience love toward more and more people and find love in the experiences that come into your field of awareness.
When Maharaj-ji said, "Ram Dass, love everybody," I said, "I can't". That was my ego talking. He said, "Love everybody". He wasn't listening to my ego. In that moment I saw my dying ego and who I was becoming. I looked between him and me and had a vision of a coffin, and my old self was in the coffin. I had to give up. He just wasn't going to honour my ego any longer.
As you keep giving up the habits that hold you back from loving, the ego's fear of letting go dissolves in the love. From the ego's vantage point you surrender into love. From the soul's vantage point you are coming home, the boundaries of separation are fading, and the two are becoming one. As you begin to enter into Oneness and to become love, instead of perceiving from your ego, you're perceiving from your soul. You are shifting your identification from ego to soul. You don't kill your ego; you kill your identification with your ego. As you dissolve into love, your ego fades. You're not thinking about loving; you're just being love, radiating like the sun. That last step requires Grace.