There are awakened recluse types who are almost not in their bodies, and in those cases, their egos are basically dead. Which is fine if you're a recluse living in a cave. But, that's not a practical state to be in for people living in the world. As a friend of mine puts it, the ego is the staff sergeant of your relative existence; it's how we navigate through our relative lives.
The problem is when one is solely identified as the egoic I/me story, with the egoic dynamics of grasping and aversion endlessly trying to fill the unfillable gnawing emptiness. It's a state of pushing away the NOW and grasping for the past and/or future. Looking back, I see that all my decades of spiritual pursuit were all about rejecting who I am as a person and trying to perfect/purify the I/me story into an unrealistic glorified perfected future... a fantasy that is never going to exist.
Ultimately, I ended up working with a Waking Down
teacher, which precipitated a hellish free-fall into all the shadow stuff I'd spent decades trying to push away and change. About 19 months into it, I landed into a classic dark night of the soul
. Four months later, I had what Waking Down refers to as the second birth awakening, and in that state, I can completely recognize my own experience in the words of writers like Eckhart Tolle and Adyashanti. It's basically a state of floating in the NOW.
When there's no internal issue stuff demanding attention, that free floating in NOW is incredibly blissful. But, just because you're floating in NOW doesn't mean the present moment can't be painful. With those grasping/aversion dynamics so greatly diminished, I find that I feel pain even more deeply than I ever did before. Awakening to the conscious nature is a wonderful platform from which to much more quickly work through those issues, because it gives some distance from the story in which it can be witnessed. But, the intensity of being so hyper-aware can be a real challenge.