Your Ego, Your Friend

egoThere was a time, not so long ago, when I totally bought into the idea that the only thing that stood between me and my spiritual enlightenment was the Ego. A big part of my spiritual practice for becoming enlightened was to ‘do battle’ with it. The Ego was said to be the part of me doing everything to keep me stuck in the illusion. If I were to realize the truth of who I am, the Ego would die. Therefore, this battle was a fight for it’s very survival.

As I developed the Radical Forgiveness concept, I became increasingly uncomfortable with this belief system. To me it began to look like just another manifestation of victim consciousness. The narrative seemed to go something like this: “I would be enlightened and fully in touch with my divinity if it were not for my Ego.” This had a familiar ring to it, like, “I would be whole and complete now if it weren’t for my parents.” The blame game. Projection.

In the first edition of my book, Radical Forgiveness, I mostly supported that belief. However, in the second edition, I gave two definitions of the Ego. The first cast it as our enemy like before, while the second portrayed it as our friend and loving guide. The two definitions are outlined below:

1. The Ego is an insidious, deep-seated, subconscious guilt complex based on our belief that we committed the original sin of separating from God, who will eventually punish us for doing so. The Ego seeks every way possible to reinforce itself and block any attempt to reveal the truth that we never separated from God at all. It cleverly ensures its survival by ‘protecting’ us from our overwhelming guilt, as well as the fear of God’s wrath, through the mechanisms of repression and projection.
2. The Ego is A part of our soul whose job is to lovingly find all sorts of ways for us to experience the pain of separation. In cahoots with our Higher Self and our Spiritual Intelligence, the Ego serves to reveal the purpose for our being on the earth plane. In other words, it helps to really get at the feeling level of the true nature of Oneness.

[For an extended description of each of these definitions and the beliefs underlying them, refer to chapter 6 in my book Radical Forgiveness, available as a download by clicking here.]

If you have been following me over the years or have recently read my latest book, Expanding Into Love, you won’t be surprised to know that I now favor the second definition. Far from being the enemy with whom I have to do battle, I now see the ego as the part of me that helps create all the separation experiences I said I wanted.

During the first phase of my journey, my ego took me into the illusion and taught me to believe in a false reality based on separation until I was ready to awaken. But, it did so not for the sake of its own survival, but because it loved me and knew that I wanted these experiences for my spiritual growth. Then, when the time came it handed me off to the part of my soul I now know as my Higher Self, whose gentle whispers encouraged me to wake up, bit by bit, until I finally remembered who I was. I am truly grateful for my Ego and thankful that there is nothing standing in the way of my connection with everyone and everything to the point where I can truly say and feel, “We are One.”

14 thoughts on “Your Ego, Your Friend

  1. Jan

    Hi Colin, Firstly, thank you for your great work. I hve only just recently “discovered” you and your work and have felt as if I have come home!! I live in South Africa and you do not seem to be well known here – I plan to change that, because if it’s one thing our country needs, it’s forgiveness!

    I love your explanation 2 of the Ego and agree 100% with your assumptions. I have come to many of your conclusions on my own over the years and it is nice to have someone “cement and endorse” my feelings. So thank you for your excellent and very much needed work. Kind regards JAN

  2. Lucero

    Hi Colin,

    I have been reading and practicing Radical Forgiveness
    for about three years. The impact that it has had
    in my life has been Radical!!! My life has changed
    tremendously and so the lives of those who I have
    handled the RF book.
    Thank you Colin for such a gift!!!

  3. Curtis Neimeister

    Hi Colin;
    My wife of 52 years, Karol, is sending you the “Fundamental Christian” version of your book. We both have profited greatly from reading the book and openly discussing the ideas you presented. I am frequently amazed at your insight on one page and your mis-directed ideas on the next. You have apparently never encountered the Holy Spirit on a face-to-face basis, while being blessed by him constantly. If you are interested in a different perspective on “personal Divinity” let me know and we’ll “have at it”.

    Thank you for your work and dedication…sincerely!
    Curtis

    1. Rob

      Curtis,

      Seriously… did it ever occur to you that YOU are the one who is mis-directed? I say this in love, only in the hopes that your mind can open.

      Have you ever heard of the “First Council of Nicaea”?? Christian and secular scholars agree that it took place. Much of what was decided there is agreed upon as well. What is NOT in agreement, is what the intent really was.

      If you really want to understand the nature of that which you hold dear, it would help you to read the book “In God’s Truth” and develop your own true relationshp with God.

      Best of luck in your search for Truth! I sincerely hope you find it before you pass over to the other side and learn.

      Many blessings

  4. clareobdoyle

    Finally! For years I would cringe when people would speak of the terrible ego. After all, it kept us going for so long. Like anything else, making friends with it and learning to understand what is going on is key to resolving the deep seated issues.

  5. Grace

    Hi Colin,
    Love this! Seeing the ego in ourselves and attacking it is a viscous cycle. When we use the ego as a tool for guilt and condemnation we suffer, severely I might add . To see it as a tool for forgiveness is the great leap to freedom. To not attack (the ego) is true peace! It’s taken me a long time to really get this concept and now that I have – the whole world has changed!
    Thank you for helping change our mind.
    Grace

  6. Susan

    One of my favorite spiritual directors says, “The only way to end the ego’s power is to love it to death.” I’ve been so much happier since I’ve adopted that attitude, and grateful for the many ways your work points out to do that.

  7. Cecilia

    I find myself disagreeing with your interpretation of the choices for considering the ego. I have read this argument in your books and heard you make it on some web seminars, and (from my perspective) it misses the point. The ego is neither enemy nor friend; it is not real. If I accept the ego as an enemy or a friend then I am giving credibility to a dualistic way of thinking. The point of view you are critiquing does not accept a dualistic perspective. Even your description of how to view the ego is dualistic; it is either an enemy or a friend. Either way its existence is legitimized. The forgiveness that is called for asks us to see through the illusion of dualism. This places all that I deal with under the realm of personal responsibility. If I separate myself from God, or Spirit or Higher Power or whichever term works in your paradigm, then the ego exists. As enemy or friend it is still given credit for what has occurred. It is lessening my personal responsibility. If I reach through the illusion to “oneness,” then I am responsible. I am either open to God’s will and guidance for me or I reject it. God is always there. The ego is an excuse, a fabrication, for me saying no to God instead of yes. There is no ego to counsel me. I am either accepting Spirit’s guidance, God’s Will, or I am not. And through all the levels of forgiveness, the self-forgiveness includes my letting go of ego as a force that directs my journey or choices in any way. There is no right or wrong or good or bad in any of this, it just is.

    1. anna

      Yes. Agreed. To create a story of ego bringing me fearful experiences out of a loving intent is just another story that perpetuates the victim/hero cycle. The ego is no more my hero than my tormentor. When I choose what the ego offers I will suffer. When I’m finished with all of the stories of suffering and partnership with heros and victims I hope to experience true Freedom. Needing to experience separation in order to experience oneness is, in my estimation, insane just as choosing to experience it is insane. Now, looking straight at the ego and the suffering I choose to allow it to show me is another matter. Just look at it. I don’t want to give it a personality of friend or enemy. Inviting Mara to sit and have tea is inviting myself to stop running and to stop clinging. Forgiving and finding gratitude for the freedom it offers is fabulous, by the way. Your worksheet is one way of walking through the twelve steps. Finding our responsibility in the events that we create, the stages we direct and the perceptions we choose to have about those events gets us off of the hamster wheel. Whatever it takes. Just be sure you’re not tricking yourself into” just one more” go round on the wheel. Any alcoholic can tell you that that convincing voice of the ego is “cunning, baffling, and powerful!”

      1. anna

        Not ALL of the 12 steps. I meant to say, “the fourth step.” And, a superficial method as well. To exclude the rest is probably, in my experience, NOT very useful and possibly unhelpful at that.

  8. The Possibility Coaches

    Colin,
    Thanks you so much for this powerful and empowering post! We have been following your work for many years when your Radical Forgiveness book was first launched! Over the years, we both have learned not to fight our egos. If we do, it just strengthens it. The ego then tries to fight for its’ life. We have personally learned to bless our ego, send it light and love. When you shine the light of love on the ego, it takes a back seat in your life. When our egos do act up, we have learned to treat it like a little child who is in fear. We say to our egos,”thanks for sharing and thanks for wanting to protect me. However everything is OK and now please wait outside the door until you are invited back in”.
    Thanks again for the work you do. It has made a huge difference in our life! ~Jon and Chris -The Possibility Coaches

  9. Charlotte Bruns

    I was in a Radical Forgiveness weekend retreat with you at Unity of Tustin, California.
    I think it was about 3 or 4 years ago and I and my friends that were there all had moving and growing experiences.
    The cirlcle that you did with us with the forgiveness was the most moving of all for us.

    I wanted to become a Radical Forgiveness Coach and I called but the person told me I needed so kind of credintials to do it.
    I had the money then but not now. I am a widow and 68 years old on social security.
    I am a recovering alcoholic and addict since 1985, also went to school to work in treatment for addiction and I am a CADAC Associate. I also have been a Course in Miracles student and do the lessons every morning since 2007.
    I just resently moved and picked up your book again and lit my fire for Radical Forgiveness again.

    I also teach a 12 step workshop twice a week since 1989. Forgiveness as you know is very hard for us addicts sometimes we balk at step 9.
    I try to incorporate your principles with my teaching in that step.
    Thanks so much for what you do and sharing your experiences with us.
    Charlotte Bruns

  10. BeAnne Lane

    I am happy to have my ego as my friend.
    I have always felt that attaacking a part of me was wrong; and that all of me was created for my highest good – including the ego.
    The ego has a purpose in the divine plan and now with your help, I can see that more clearly.
    In appreciation,
    BeAnne

  11. Bernie Rowe

    Remember, the prevailing worldview is still largely anchored in victim consciousness, where life is a game of chance, and bygones are bygones. However, reframing our story invites us to expand and approach our habitual perpetrator story from radically different angles. Consider this for example: I am a spiritual being having a human experience. By that I mean that I have chosen to come to Earth in order to learn lessons and evolve spiritually. I made agreements with souls prior to my incarnation that they would do things not so much to me, though it will feel that way while I am in a body, but for me. I also enrol others while I’m here to give me opportunities to learn. They look like my enemies, but I see them as my healing angels. That’s how I see forgiveness – that everything that happens invariably occurs for a spiritual purpose and that, while I remain accountable for what I do in the human world, in purely spiritual terms nothing wrong ever happens.

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