Enlightenment is not evolution beyond ego, but evolution beyond the EXCLUSIVE IDENTIFICATION with ego. And by “enlightenment,” I mean the process of identifying with All-That-Is, the Absolute Reality that calls to us and obligates us to be one with — in all dimensions, states and stages*
When we are ready to say, “I AM ___” and fill in the blank with something outside of our comfort zone, then we are evolving.
No wonder that the great liberation movements of modernity and post-modernity — anti-slavery, anti-colonial, feminism, gay liberation, and so on — are stepping stones towards enlightenment. They strip our individual and collective egos of exclusive identification with that which is dominant.
And having won a measure of success, there is the danger of identifying exclusively with that which was once repressed or oppressed.
In attempting to consciously evolve beyond exclusive identification with ego, it’s understandable that we seek out new attachments: more embracing and inclusive philosophies (such as Integral theory) or spiritual paths (such as an evolutionary or world spirituality). While there’s always the risk of re-identifying our ego with such attachments, it is also possible to enjoy new philosophies and spiritual movements which feed not the ego, but the Self beyond ego.
Identification such such philosophies and spiritual paths strengthens the Unique Self, so that every time you go deeper you are solidfying your identification with the Self and weakening your identification with ego.
* In other words, AQAL: All Quadrants (individual and collective dimensions, interior and exterior aspects), All Levels, All Lines, All States, All Types. See the work of Ken Wilber and others.
Photo Credit: Peter Cartwright