Ego is the root cause of all misery. It is identifying with the name and form, considering ourselves this limited body and chattering mind. knowledge is falling of i-ness, that is detachment from the mind and body and knowing ourselves as the eternal, timeless, formless, spaceless, still, presence, in which all events are taking place.
For thousands of years, we have identified with the mind so much that what the voice in the head says we think it to be ourselves. As for example-
When the head says – I am not happy or there are so many problems in life, we think it to be true, although in reality our real nature is peace and bliss.
Another significant trait of ego is – it is never satisfied with what is, it wants more and more and it feels more complete and fulfilled when it gets success, name, fame, property – all these gives an egoistic person a sense of completeness. The Being is already complete and whole but ego is never satisfied.
Another very pronounced dimension of ego is – it is always thinking about past and future. It is clinging to the past because ego thrives on misery and the mind created story, the unhappiness. Unhappiness gives more energy to ego and ego is always seeking the future because it is not happy now and thinks it will be happy when it achieves something great in its life.
What Does Ego Do?
1) Ego is always thinking about past and future. Past is like rotten fruit, like eating from the dustbin. It is like a cancelled cheque. Neither we eat a rotten fruit nor we eat from the dustbin, the same way a cancelled cheque is useless. Thinking of the future is like a raw fruit, like a promissory note. Ego always recalls the sad story because this sad story pampers ego.
2) Ego always speaks of its need to be recognized from time to time. If we question ourselves, what do we want- peace or drama. The part of us which answers peace is our real self but ego always answers drama. Ego thrives on conflict, when everything seems to be at peace, ego feels at danger.
3) Ego spurs all pains, negativity, fears and worries.
What Does Ego Lead To?
We are already whole and complete but self-forgetfulness creates holes which we want to fill with worldly possessions. Ego leads to-
1) Dissatisfaction– Ego never makes us feel complete and fulfilled. It always wants more and more. An egoistic person always says- give me, give me. It has been rightly said keeping in mind the egoic part of a man that there is enough for man’s need but not for man’s greed.
2) Diseases– There are three basic components of the well-being of a person-
Ego creates physical ailments, mental discomfort and emotional blockages. Thus, ego pulls us back from our well- being.
How to Recognize Ego?
1) Blame and complain– Ego is never satisfied with what is. It wants something else to make it happy and fulfilled but doesn’t know what it wants. An egoistic person always has his finger pointing towards the other person- “You did this to me”. He is always blaming the other person, situations for his miserable condition, although nobody can make us unhappy if we don’t identify with the mind.
When ego complains about others, it feels superior and it labels people as unworthy, idiot, good for nothing and if the person is unconscious, it may lead to shouting and sometimes even violence. The solution is non- reaction. When you don’t react at the unconsciousness of the other person, i.e., you forgive him, it dissolves your ego and it helps the other person also to dissolve his unconsciousness.
2) Reactivity and grievances- When the mind is badly hurt and we harbor that hurt for a long time, it becomes a grievance and the ego keeps it alive by repeating it again and again. The best way to overcome grievances is to forgive one’s own self and the other person who has hurt you. Forgiveness is a gift which you give to yourself as you set a prisoner free and that prisoner is you yourself because you are hurting yourself by repeating the unhappy story again and again.
3) Fear- Ego is always fearful because it sees the other person as a threat. This threat arises out of the feeling of insecurity that he may lose his name, position and recognition. He thinks that the other person will snatch all the love, money, position that was his share. He always compares himself with the other person and feels jealous of others success which, at times, hinders his own success. All these feelings arise out of duality, i.e. seeing everybody as another person which creates threat. When he sees that the same consciousness has manifested itself in different forms, he feels oneness with the whole existence, thus ego vanishes.
4) Judgement- The egoic mind is always judging and labeling people and situations. Whenever we see any person, place or thing, the mind immediately labels it as good, bad, happy, unhappy. When we stop labeling and judging, the mind is more silent and less turbulent. Judgement clutters the mind. We all love the company of small children because they don’t judge us. We love animals also because they don’t label us, they give unconditional love. When we don’t judge anybody and we see them as our own self, it is unconditional love and gives immense happiness. So don’t judge anyone.
There are certain other traits also that ego brings with it like anger, frustration, stress, criticism and guilt. When mind brings these, just detach from the mind, know that this is all egoic mind.
How to Overcome Ego?
1) Be in the Now- Our real Self- Being is timeless. There is always the Now. Past and future have no existence. Yesterday is a cancelled cheque, tomorrow is a promissory note and today is like cash money. Brooding over the past will give us only unhappiness. It is like eating from the dustbin. Future doesn’t exist, it is like a raw fruit. Both past and future are only in the mind. They are mental phantoms. To go beyond ego, be in the Now.
2) Be an observer of the mind- Mind is only a tool, when we mistake this tool to who I am, we are ruled by the mind. To overcome ego, we should learn to see the mind as a detached observer. Whenever there is a misery, blame, complain, past and future, just be aware- it is only the egoic mind that is trying to overpower you. Detach from this mind. Tell yourself-I am Atma- ‘Being’. I don’t have to mix with these thoughts. When we mix with the mind, we give it energy. Recognize the egoic mind, detach, come back in Self. Slowly you’ll overpower the egoic mind.
3) Acceptance- Acceptance weakens our ego. An important step towards welcoming acceptance in life is being a Yes person. Yes has lot of power, it kills our ego. When we say ‘Yes’, we say yes to life and when we say ‘No’, we say no to life. Repeatedly saying ‘No’ strengthens our ego. We may be saying ‘Yes’ outwardly but inside there is a lot of resistance and non acceptance. Acceptance makes the mind silent.
4) Surrender- A peaceful way to overcome ego is to surrender. When we surrender, the Consciousness works through us. But surrender never means not doing any action. It means doing action with a feeling of internal acceptance and faith that whatsoever life brings to me is for my good. For example, if you buy a new car and the next day somebody hits the car, your mind starts grumbling and abusing but that won’t do any good to the situation, what you need to do is to surrender from inside and let the required action happen through you and that action will be surrendered action and not egoic action. Thus surrender makes the mind silent. In silence, you are connected to the Supreme, and ego dissolves.
5) Silence- To overcome ego, we need to be silent for some time. Access the stillness anytime in the day, be silent for 2-2 minutes several times a day. Our mind continuously brings lots of thoughts. A common man has approximately 60,000 thoughts per day. Silence not only means being quiet from outside but it means accessing the gap between two thoughts. When slowly this gap increases, ego weakens its grip over us. With acceptance, surrender, meditation and unconditional love, mind becomes silent.
6) Unconditional love- Unconditional love is a way to overcome ego. When in the presence of a Divine Mentor, we receive His unconditional love, our mind becomes silent. His love is not based on the physical appearance of a person and his merits but it is at the Atmic- Being level. When we receive such unconditional love, we also learn to love a person unconditionally, without judging and labeling. Unconditional love- seeing all as our own self makes our mind silent and ego is dissolved.
There are certain other ways also through which ego vanishes like being able to say sorry, not carrying past hurts, working as a team, appreciating and encouraging others and being in the attitude of gratitude. By being grateful and happy, the egoic mind loses its existence, as it thrives on misery. Ego gone, gone all the troubles.
We all are a fountain head of joy, we can experience that joy when our mind is not thinking this or that. Hence when the egoic mind loses its grip, mind is always in present moment awareness, full of unconditional Divine love. Life becomes a celebration.