Does ego surrender and transcendence inevitably lead to loss of autonomy and spiritual bypassing?
At this specific cultural moment, the cultivation of a higher and more radical sovereignty has become the primary goal in leading-edge spiritual circles. Serious spiritual seekers now see this as their North Star – the most prized of all attainments.
It seems that the ultimate aim of the spiritual path has moved away from surrender and ego transcendence, and towards this new form of radical sovereignty. This shift of emphasis reflects a growing sense, within the most sophisticated spiritual communities, that surrendering the ego is irrelevant, counterproductive, or even dangerous.
In this new cultural context, surrender is equated with loss of power, the denial of the individual self-sense, and spiritual bypassing – a need to avoid psychological shadows and disconnect from one’s humanity. In the new spiritual lexicon, surrender has become a word that invariably means “denial of self”.
But does ego surrender and transcendence inevitably lead to loss of autonomy and bypassing, as many claim? Or could it, in the right context, give birth to a higher state of liberated sovereignty that simply cannot be understood from the limited perspective of the small self?
The purpose of cultivating sovereignty is to disentangle ourselves from conditioned thinking, and to free ourselves from blind or unconscious alignment with the minds of others. While this is a rare and important attainment, if we are really interested in being radically free, we must also ask who or what is it that seeks for sovereignty, and why?
The ego habitually and reflexively looks for ways to keep us apart, fundamentally separate from others, even when it doesn’t make sense. This irrational need for separation can inadvertently be confused with the attainment of true sovereignty – so how do we make the subtle distinctions that can help us to navigate this challenging terrain?
In the next episode of our bi-weekly series, Andrew Cohen asks us to consider whether we can realise and attain authentic sovereignty while transcending the personal and cultural prison of the small self. How do we surrender the ego without losing or sacrificing our autonomy in any way? And is it possible to cultivate a kind of sovereignty that is not dominated by the irrational needs of the separate self-sense?