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Post-autonomous Ego Development

2 min

Hi friends,

The term “post-autonomous ego development” points to a way of experiencing oneself and the world in which we go beyond a discrete, bounded, autonomous self. Analogous to a cell experiencing itself as a part of an organ or even an organism, rather than a “heart cell”.

As we enter adolescence and early adulthood we become increasingly conscious of ourselves as a “self”. We then start accumulating experiences that build up attributes of this distinct self. I am ____, I like ____, I believe ____, I care about ____, etc. We build up this sense of self.

Then, if we continue to mature (which is not a given), we experience the paradox and inherent contradictions of our sense of self, and gradually we dis-identify from these smaller I’s and begin to experience ourselves as larger, more fluid, and interconnected with the wider systems we are embedded within.

Generally speaking as we develop across adulthood, our subjective experience becomes freer, more spacious, less constricted.

We go from being identified with narrow self-images and identities, to more complex, multi-perspectival identities, and eventually become less attached to these narratives and identities altogether. As we do this, life becomes more fluid as the fixed images and objects that we are used to encountering start to have softer edges.

Here are some haiku-esque poems I wrote a couple years ago while inquiring into post-autonomous ego development.

These poems are meant to evoke a sense of these states. Most of you have probably glimpsed moments of heightened presence and at-oneness with reality. These sorts of mystical experiences become more frequent and even ordinary as our self-system evolves.


The elegant self
Lives with immediacy
More intimacy


Be clear and simple:
Go slow, bring patience and light.
Like sun melting ice.


Open, present, clear.
Never knowing who I am.
Becoming anew.


Presence yields virtue
Right relationships arise
Freedom from the I’s


Clear sense of Being:
Coherence and elegance
A relaxed presence


The not-knowing knows
Let go of entanglements
Clear seeing follows


If you're interested in these ideas, I recommend you read this paper:

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