To Let Go of Your Ego, You Need to Make It Strong First

As the Western world adopts Buddhist teachings, some ideas are distorted along the way

Marta Brzosko
Human Parts


Photo by Samuel Austin on Unsplash

WWhen I first started meditating, I encountered the concept of “letting go of your ego” almost immediately. I found it appealing. I gave in to fantasies of “being one with all life” and “finding infinity in the present moment.”

Getting rid of my ego quickly became the main theme in my spiritual growth.

“It is important to see that the main point of any spiritual practice is to step out of the bureaucracy of ego,” advises Tibetan monk and scholar Chögyam Trungpa in his book Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism. “This means stepping out of ego’s constant desire for a higher, more spiritual, more transcendental version of knowledge, religion, virtue, judgment, comfort or whatever it is the particular ego is seeking.”

I know I’m not the only Westerner to become obsessed with the necessity of ego abandonment that Trungpa advocates for here, but the mistakes I made as I pursued this goal are proof that trying too hard to do so can backfire.

As I began meditating, I attempted to toss away all the desires, judgments, and other constraints stemming from my ego. I wanted to go with the flow, to embrace all the…