Spiritual Blossoms
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We now come to an important topic – the dissolution of the ego. The term ego is normally associated with a sense of pride, arrogance, etc. Here it is used in a larger sense – it denotes the whole gamut of what is often called body-consciousness.

Ego is built into us from the start. In a manner of speaking, God has put it into us, and not without reason. One may then ask, “If that is the case, why try to get rid of ego?” Well, there is a good reason.

Let us start by looking at the origin of body-consciousness. One of the remarkable characteristic of a living being is that it knows that it exists. Many years ago, scientists were trying to formally describe a living entity. They said a living entity must have three characteristics. 1) It must exhibit metabolism [i.e., it must be able to take in high-grade energy (as food) and reject low-grade energy as waste]. 2) It must be able to reproduce. 3) It must show growth and decay. From the point of view of science, this operational definition may be OK, but it misses one vital aspect of the living being, namely that it is CONSCIOUS that it is alive. It is AWARE of its being. Science has not yet been able to come to grip with consciousness, and that perhaps is the reason why it has side stepped this aspect.

Let us take a rat. It knows it exists. It knows it is alive. And it wants to keep its life intact. If it sees a cat, it knows that the cat is different from itself. In fact, it knows that the cat had better be avoided! In other words, Nature has endowed living beings with a certain amount of body-consciousness (BC) for the purpose of survival and such other things. If that is the case, then why make such a big fuss about BC? Why make a special effort to get rid of it? Is it not like throwing away a boon of Nature?

This is where one must understand the special position and role of a human being. A human being cannot escape being conscious of his body, at least some of the time. For example, if there is an acute stomach ache one cannot help feeling it! But body consciousness ought not to develop into attachment, and then lead on to a number of undesirable things. It should not, in particular, develop into pride, arrogance, and promote an intense feeling of ‘mine’. People, for example, are proud of their physical beauty. This is the direct result of body consciousness. Truly speaking, one is NOT the body; why then feel it is ‘mine’ and be proud about it? The feeling of ‘mine’ creates a strong sense of possessiveness, which is bad for spiritual progress. Why? That is what we shall examine next.

If a person is dominated by the feeling, “This is mine”, etc., then that person might also want to acquire that which is now not his. All territorial wars of olden days started with this kind of ambition on the part of various kings. One may say: “That’s OK, but why dub it as not in conformity with spirituality?” This is a crucial point and needs to be examined carefully.

The entire Universe is packed with diversity. No two stars are identical, no two planets are identical, and no two blades of grass are identical. Indeed, even the so-called identical twins are not identical. Perception of diversity may be a necessity for purpose of living in the world and surviving in it. Where lower beings are concerned, that is all they bothered about - to survive and to procreate. For them, being immersed in diversity is perfectly OK. For human beings, it is NOT OK. Why? Because, a human is not born for the limited purposes that form the goal of animal life. Swami uses four words to describe mundane and animal-like existence – eating, drinking, sleeping and dying! Human life ought not to consist of just these four. One might argue: “Don’t trivialise like that. Humans exhibit creativity and originality. They explore, they compose (poems, songs and music), they write, they paint, they invent, they make discoveries, and so on. Do not all these make it clear that human are way above animals?”

Yes, humans do exhibit remarkable creativity. But that alone is not enough. They ought to rise to even greater level. What is that? They should know who exactly they are. They ought to realise that beneath the diversity that is so prominent in the external world, there lies a Cosmic Oneness. It is that substratum of Divine Unity that is far more important than the diversity that preoccupies man today. The gift of human birth has been conferred not merely for the purpose of exhibiting creativity and achieving all kinds of worldly triumphs and success, but more for discovering the latent Divinity within.

God and ego simply do not go together. If the Divinity latent within has to be discovered - and that is why we have been given human birth – then clearly, everything possible and necessary for reducing ego/body consciousness ought to be done – that is for sure.

As someone said, “EGO means EDGING GOD OUT!” That should make it clear why we must get rid of ego as fast as we can!!


  • Seekers everywhere and belonging to all faiths have clearly understood that EGO is the greatest obstacle to Self-realisation.

  • Ego makes a person think, “I am great. I did that, I achieved this,” and so on.

  • The truth, however, is very different. A person claims he is great. In reality, that person is great because of HIM!

  • Let us examine this further. We were small, and then we became big. How? Because of HIM! He has built into our systems the mechanisms for growth.

  • Similarly, we knew nothing to start with but later we learnt many things. How? We may claim that is because of the effort we made. No doubt the effort is not dismissed, but who gave us the capacity to learn? Can a crocodile learn calculus, a lion acquire proficiency in literature, or a tiger become an expert in trigonometry?

  • In every case, it is HE who has provided the “seed capital” in the form of comprehension, learning capability, etc. Without those, we would be nowhere; and yet, seldom do we recognise that we have received such a matchless blessing, much less, who gave that blessing.

  • According to scientists, the genes that control the development of the tongue of humans and chimpanzee are very similar – barely five percent different. It is further claimed, that it is precisely this five percent difference that has enabled man to speak. That may be true as far as the flexibility of the movement of the tongue is concerned. But the faculty of speech is not connected with the tongue alone – the brain plays a key role. It is the creative brain-power endowed by God specially to man that enables him to speak, and not merely the extra flexibility of the tongue that he enjoys compared to the chimp.

  • Getting back to the dissolution of the ego, this is not merely an academic topic or a purposeless exercise.

  • Many of today’s problems can be traced directly to ego. The Second World War, for example, could perhaps be traced to Hitler’s massive pride and ego. Having said this, it must also be added that one must be careful in making judgements like this. One cannot naively segment and declare, “This is good, that is bad, and that the two have no connection whatsoever.”

  • It must be understood that good can become bad, and equally, the bad can transform into good. Thus it is often said, “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future!”

  • What it boils down to is that one cannot place himself on a high pedestal and look down upon those supposedly bad. Everyone, without any exception whatsoever, has a duty to check ego, and eliminate it altogether if possible.

  • If individual egos are kept in check, then ego snowballing in Society will not occur, and there would be no place for aberrations like Hitler. But if individuals want popularity or are fired by perverted ideals and start making inflammatory speeches, then individual ego can spark collective arrogance, leading finally to massive disaster.

  • Ego is a great enemy to Peace. There is a beautiful story that Swami often tells in this connection. Once a devotee told Baba, “I want Peace.” Baba smiled and said, “Simple. First cross out the I, then remove want. What is finally left? Peace!” This might sound like a play on words. To correct that impression, Baba has also explained His remark. He says, “When I ask you to cross I, it means remove ego! Next I ask you to remove want. I am not merely asking you to drop the word want from your sentence with three words. I am asking you to limit your desires; that really is what I am telling you! If you eliminate ego and reduce your wants, how can Peace elude you any longer?”


  • The most direct manifestation of ego is Pride. The opposite of pride is humility. Thus, one way of crushing ego is to practice humility. Incidentally, it is important to train children in being humble. Humility should not be confused with cowardice! Gandhi was no coward; but at the same time, he was most humble, always.

  • Why does ego surface? And at what stage in one’s growth?

  • Can you come up with any step by step procedure for systematically eliminating ego that you can place before the members of your Study Circle for their consideration?

  • Ego should not be interpreted merely as pride. Pride is just one aspect of the manifestation of ego. Ego is associated with the lower self, and basically it leads to what is called body consciousness [Baba refers to this as Deha Abhimanam, meaning literally love for the body]. This body consciousness manifests as attachments to all sorts of things connected with the body/lower self. Thus, attachment to one’s blood relatives, to one’s property, etc., are all indicative of body consciousness.

  • List a few complex situations in human life and analyse first how they are connected with ego [inmost cases they would be!]. Next, examine how the removal of ego could lead to the solution of the problem.

  • Like individuals, entire communities and even countries can be driven by ego. Ego is almost certainly at the root of all the major conflicts in the world today. One would find that in every case, the two warring parties are rigid in their stance, and unwilling to try compromise of any sort. If only they tried understanding, accommodation and love, most of the problems would vanish. That shows what a blinding effect ego can have. People are prepared to suffer any amount rather than adjust, accommodate and live in love.

  • Collect as many sayings of Baba as possible on body consciousness.

  • It is said that pride goes on horse back before a fall. Collect stories that illustrate the point.


Volume - 2 Issue - 7 Radiosai Journal - PSN 2004