Student: How does ruthlessness apply to the destruction of ego? Ruthlessness seems so uncompassionate, almost ego-like itself.

Trungpa Rinpoche: Well, it is ego’s intensity that brings forth “uncompassionate” measures. In other words, when neurosis and confusion reach an extreme point, the only way to correct the confusion is by destroying it. You have to completely shatter the whole thing. That process of destruction is demanded by the confusion itself rather than it being a question of somebody thinking it is a good idea to destroy the confusion by force. No other thinking is involved. The intensity of confusion itself demands its own destruction. Ruthlessness is just putting that energy into action. It is just letting that energy burn itself out rather than your killing something. You just let ego’s neurosis commit suicide rather than killing it. That’s the ruthlessness. Ego is killing itself ruthlessly, and you are providing the accommodation for that.

This is not warfare. You are there, and therefore it happens. On the other hand, if you are not there, there is the possibility of scapegoats and sidetracks of all kinds. But if you are there, you don’t even actually have to be ruthless. Just be there; from the point of view of ego, that is ruthless.

Chögyam Trungpa, “Crazy Wisdom”