The problem with identifying with/as your ego is that it brings with it an intolerable sense of division. There’s “me” and “the World.” And with this sense of separation comes fear. “What’s going to become of me?” “How come my life isn’t going the way I want it to go?” “What will happen to me after I die?”
So naturally the egoic identity sets about trying to get rid of this elusive sense of anxiety, dread and fear. Drugs, money, sex, power, fame, alcohol, eating, and numerous other addictions or distractions keep our mind occupied so as not to have to deal with this nagging sense that “something is off.”
Yet, as much as we try to ignore this little voice within, it won’t go away. This often leads to confusion and depression in the seeker as they can’t really put their finger on why they are so unhappy. They just know they are despite trying to present a happy and socially acceptable face to the world.
Awakening is the realization that there’s no solution for the ego’s plight. That as long as you believe yourself to be separate from the Totality, you’re going to suffer. Thus, the only thing that actually works is to see the Absolute Truth. Not your mind’s relative version of the truth, but the actuality of Reality: You’ve never actually been this separate person you’ve imagined yourself to be.
That, in fact, Consciousness is one unified Whole which doesn’t leave anything out. In other words, everything’s the Tao because there’s only the Tao.
It’s the mind that attempts to break the Tao into parts and label them, i.e., “this is good, this bad,” “this is pretty, this is ugly,” “this is me, this is not me,” etc. That’s it, that’s the mind’s one magic trick. Appearing to create duality out of non-duality. And without this sense of separation, there would be no dream. However, at a certain point, Consciousness wants to come out of the dream and wake itself up.
The key is earnestness. Not giving up. You must have a burning desire in your heart for liberation, “as much as you want your next breath,” as goes the story about the zen master holding the seeker’s head underwater until he was about to pass out. In other words, a 9 on a scale from 1-10 isn’t good enough. Liberation must be a white hot 10. Otherwise, in my experience, whatever else your mind believes is more important will always take precedence.
Again, it’s ALL the Tao. Tao leaves nothing out. Every thought, every sensation, every breath, every word, every movement is IT.
One of the things that strikes me about awakening is how obvious it is after you see it. Kind of like learning to ride a bicycle or swim as a small child. At first it seems incredibly difficult and frustrating, finding the balance point on the bike or keeping yourself from drowning in the water. But eventually you get the hang of it and once you do, you forget all about how hard it was and simply get on the bike and go or jump in the water and swim. No thought required!
With awakening, at first, letting go of all of our concepts and beliefs about “the way things are or should be” seems incredibly difficult. But if you hang in there, and don’t give up, eventually you will see that you’ve only ever been fighting with Yourself.