IMO, Ego isn't limited in a context of conflict. The ego is the mind, the voice in your head, the thing you get rid of with tryptamines, the identification process, the thing that likes to put words on things and things in little boxes...
I do get your point about conflict, though, but I feel that's far from the whole story...
[EDIT] I think I found it : ego is the thing that stops us from being ONE, that separates our collective consciousness.
When I "lose" my ego on tryptamines there is still a self-aware perceiver present, it just seems to have forgotten how it relates to the surrounding non-self.
I have read some compelling arguments against the existence of ego, and have started leaning toward the possibility that like the concept of a "dimension" in physics, "ego" is similarly not an actual "thing." As one physicist put it:
Dimensions are symbolic conveniences, not accurate descriptions of reality, but descriptions of the limits of minds habituated through the use of grammatic conventions and the experience of time as linear, unidirectional, nonsimultaneous, and through empirical assumptions derived from 'filling in the blanks to make a coherent continuous picture' style of processing visually accessed data. In other words a way of modeling. Models are by definition not real. String theory seems to me to be all tangled up in the practice of adding these supposed dimensions in order to make the model coherent.
It's not a perfect fit, but I can replace the terms "dimension" with ego and "string theory" with psychology and it sort of approximates what I'm getting at.
It may be possible to achieve permanent ego loss by declaring the ego to be non-existent, but if we don't have an ego then what DO we have? It might be loops of meta-awareness, and by that I mean there's a perceiver inside our mind that observes the thoughts of that mind while somehow remaining separate from them, and we can step back further and think about the thoughts we had about the thought we had and step back again to see the thoughts about the thoughts about the thought and so on like two mirrors reflecting each other as many times as one cares to look.
I suspect that what we usually call "ego loss" during a psychedelic experience can also be explained as a loss of that meta-analysis ability which leaves us perceiving the world but unable to perceive our perceptions thereby making interpretation much more difficult. Perceiving perception is not the same as a sense of self, or the concept of "I" since while I've felt the Oneness with all things that mystics talk about there was still a discrete perceiver of that feeling "in here" somewhere. That's probably why powerful trips often leave us just sitting there in awe, taking it all in and not really able to do much else. We might even forget our own name, and yet we're still awake and aware and able to interact with our surroundings (unless we're delirious on a dissociative) so clearly some parts of our brains are functioning normally and some are not.
I really think "ego" is too simplistic to explain the kinds of things we're experiencing and the term was coined before modern neuroscience had been born and the more up to date research I read about the more "ego" seems like an obsolete concept. It's a work in progress.
Edited by TVCasualty, 28 April 2012 - 09:24 AM.