I'm going to give a short upper level class on killing your ego. It's going to involve thought experiments and theory, so if it gets too deep too quick, you may at least be able to take away a structural foundation on how to approach killing your ego. So take what you can and come back for the rest later. And of course as a practical approach to killing the ego, fake it til you make it.
If you want to bore yourself to death learning about the ego, read/listen to Eckhart Tolle. He has some good points though. He compares the ego to the state of an unconscious (reactive) mind which is seeking to defend itself from pain. The ego exists in the mind, in thought. The ego also, however, needs to recieve pain in order to exist. It's addicted to it. It craves it. It craves it so much that it sometimes even creates it. So how to deal with a monster that can self sustain?
Tolle mentions 2 ways to deal with the ego:
- Be the watcher. The watcher is aware of the ego and it's need for pain. But like a student studying a subject but not actively manipulating it in real life, the watcher merely observes the relationship between the catalyst, the pain, and the ego. It's as if pain is a car speeding toward the body. The watcher merely disassociates itself from the body and watches the car smash into it. The watcher feels the pain, the reactive need, the damage it causes to the ego's link to the construct of you in the mind. But it does nothing, it simply watches and learns.
In this way the watcher deflects the pain by accepting that the pain happens, but by studying it, it's as if the pain is not happening to him, but to someone else. This isn't entirely ideal because the pain is still there. The ego is still there. You have just shut yourself off from it.
- Consciousness. Consciousness is a little harder to explain but Tolle puts it in terms of Buddhist enlightenment. Consciousness eliminates the pain by being aware of its effects but not letting them impact them because the mind is no longer the hub from which the person operates. The person operates from a zen-like awareness of life and all the causes and effects in it. It's effectively like the watcher who has learned about the pain, and can now smile and watch as the interconnected causes and effects of the pain happen in real life.
I relate it strongly to the idea of amused mastery...you know why things are happening, you know that you usually unconsciously act because of those things, but instead you smile and flow with the events that are going on, instead of fighting them. This is almost like realizing the car is flying at you, and you allowing it to knowing what will happen if it hits you, and totally accepting that. Thing is, because you allow it, you are no longer operating from the physical bounds of your body and the car (pain), like a ghost, flies through you.
So you see, your need to crush your ego is, in itself, ego. Instead, accept your ego and it's need for pain. And by achieving consciousness of your ego and accepting it, you kill it. In effect: "This doesn't affect me, because I know it affects me and accept that."