To live into the promises of awakening, we must somehow turn the hard chunk of ice that is our ego fixation back into the fluid state of its origin. Up until very recently, most spiritual teachings, in both the East and the West, have been given from a masculine perspective. This has often lent itself to a macho approach of hacking away at our ego tendencies, like taking an axe to the ice. While this might break the ego down, it is hard work and can easily turn into aggression toward our humanity in the name of awakening. Ego annihilation engenders fear, creates unnecessary resistance, and can even build a more spiritualized ego, strengthening the delusion you are in charge of the show. While dedication, rigor, and discipline are important, so too are compassion, mercy, kindness, and, most of all, love.
Consider how the fundamental substance of ice is still water, even though it may be hard, opaque, and dense. So too at the deepest level is your ego still part of the divine fabric of God — just frozen in fixed patterns and ignorant of its holiness. Understanding this nondual principle helps you recognize there is no enemy and thus nothing that needs to be hacked away. Rumi explained it when he said, “Be melting snow. Wash yourself of yourself.” True surrender is really a process of melting, yielding back into our primordial condition.
Just as the warmth of the sun will naturally transform the hard block of ice back to its original fluid state of water, exposing your dense, fixated patterns to the presence of loving awareness will melt the distortions. You don’t do the melting; Grace does that. Your part is learning to just be here, right where you are, relaxing the usual attempts to do something, get somewhere, become different, seek for something other, and relinquish what you believe should not be there.
Your job is to be present and undefended, facing everything, while ceasing and desisting your efforts to rearrange yourself. This is the practice of ego relaxation.