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Death is never far away. In fact, death is part of life, yet many people have a hard time accepting it. Death stands for an end. Then why bother with ego-death? Ego death stands for letting go of your own self, of that which makes you feel like an individual. By letting go you can feel a deeper contact with the world around you. That is why many psychonauts go in search of ego death. Are you curious about this phenomenon? In this blog, we explore what ego-death is and what it can bring you.

Ego and ego-death

Most people find death terrifying. That is of course not very strange, because it stands for the end of life. We are also afraid because it is the great unknown. But how you view death also says a lot about how you live your life. Perhaps you are always afraid of death, you live in fear, and you are overly cautious. Some people become depressed when they think about death. Others simply don't think about it and try to repress their thoughts about death. Yet death is part of life, and you could also look at it differently, namely as a new beginning.

Ego death is something you can encounter when you take mind-altering drugs. These resources can set something in motion, which leads to you losing your self, your individuality. But to understand what this means, you would first have to know what the ego is. The ego is what you identify with, that makes you feel like a unique person. In Buddhism, it is said that the ego is a collection of patterns, which has arisen during your life (present or past). They are your thoughts, emotions and behaviours.

Put simply, your ego is your consciousness, the part of your mind with which you identify. But the ego is also something that we have invented ourselves, and that we think we need to survive. What would happen if that ego wasn't there? What's left then?

Ego-death: letting go of the self

The moment when your life ends, when you don't have a “I” more, is something most people would rather not think about. But wouldn't you rather be at peace with this inevitable end? A gentle way of facing death can be achieved with magic mushrooms. When you trip on a dose of magic mushrooms, all kinds of new connections are created between different parts of the brain. Normal thought patterns are disrupted. By the way, you cannot achieve this only with drugs, it is also possible to experience ego death with the help of meditation.

What happens when there is ego death? In sobriety, you can distance yourself from the ego under the influence of the mind-altering substance in magic mushrooms (psilocybin). You can compare it to standing still in a big city. You can only see your immediate surroundings, with people busy and fast walking through a shopping street. Then suddenly you are lifted and you ascend above the buildings. You have an overview and can distance yourself. You can also think of it as “enlightened”.

Dying a little bit

Worded that way, ego death might sound less creepy. But keep in mind that it is more than just distancing yourself. It is an intense experience and comes down to practicing dying. It is not for nothing that psychonauts long for it, but are also afraid of it at the same time. What does ego-death practically mean?

As mentioned, your ego is that part of you that makes you feel like yourself. With ego death, this concept disappears completely. You will completely let go of your mask, that image of yourself that you yourself have created, your unique identity. It takes surrender, but also a lot of courage and wisdom. This state of being is what Buddhist monks try to achieve through meditation. Magic Mushrooms give you the option to actually use a cut-off route here. But keep in mind that it is a very intense experience, which is not always easy. Through this process you gain more insight, but that also means that you bring out everything in yourself that you can have a hard time with, such as shadows of yourself and fears that play under the surface. And once you've started, there's no going back.

At the same time, experiencing ego death also has benefits, otherwise people would not seek it out. It's completely letting go of the ego allows you to feel that everything in this world is connected. You can feel like you are falling like a raindrop in the great ocean, after which you become one with it. You gain insight into what you can let go of, such as desires, thought patterns and fears. The ego can get in the way of your personal development. Now that you can rise above this, this hindrance may have disappeared.

Peace with death

Ego death can therefore give your personal development a major boost. That it is no exaggeration to say this is evident from studies that have been done on this powerful experience. Terminal cancer patients who suffered from anxiety and depression because of their impending death were given psilocybin. They benefited greatly from this and then viewed their mortality differently. The positive effect was even present up to 6 months later, in 80% of the participants.

Facing death is not easy. Especially here in the Netherlands, death is carefully avoided, we rarely talk about it and prefer to keep it all out of sight. It can also be different, because in other cultures people deal with death completely differently. Death is simply a consequence of life. You can also celebrate death, as Jason Mraz says in his beautiful song Everything is sound:

“Whether it's your birthday or your dying day, it's a celebration too.”

Ego-death can help you to come to peace with your own mortality, and therefore to be more relaxed and optimistic in life. If you also want to try to achieve ego death, make sure you first gain some experience with psychedelic substances, such as magic mushrooms. Start with lower doses and gradually build up. For beginners, for example, the Mexican Magic Mushrooms are very fit. You can easily grow your mushrooms at home with the grow kits from Fresh Mushrooms, Mondo or All In One.