She chased ‘ego death’ — first in religion, then in parenthood

Jia Tolentino, staff writer for The New Yorker, offers insights into her spiritual journey from religious upbringing through to parenthood.

Personal experiences: After a lifestyle of personal freedom and autonomy, Tolentino felt a primal need to shift her mode of living into a less self-centered ethos.
* This led to her desire for a committed relationship, marriage, and children.
* In her thirties, instead of seeing family life as a threat to her identity, she chose children and marriage as a means to engage in a more responsible and committed lifestyle.

Drawing parallels: Tolentino compares aspects of religion, parenthood, and drug-induced experiences around the concept of ‘ego death’.
* She defines ‘ego death’ as the experience of losing oneself and merging with a collective or greater entity.
* Raised in a religious family, Tolentino initially found ‘ego death’ in prayers and large congregation experiences.
* After leaving her religious background, similar experiences were achieved through psychedelics and independent pursuits.

On parenthood: Tolentino indicates the process of childbirth and parenting provide frequent moments of ‘ego dissolution.’
* She acknowledges that her capacity to access transcendental experiences has lessened since having children and attributes it to the demands of parenting.

Closing thoughts: Tolentino views the miracles of life and existence as reminders of the divine, relating this to her own experiences of parenting.
* She notes that the experiences of being a new parent bring moments of mystery, fear, and a sense of the unknown.

Discussion with Rachel Martin: Martin, in discussion with Tolentino, probes the spiritual component of parenting and the relationship between ego dissolution and assuming personal responsibilities.
* Equating parenting with ‘ego death’, Martin and Tolentino discuss the potential tension between personal agency and the self-abnegation involved in parenting.

View original article on NPR

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