12. DISSOLUTION OF
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
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
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!!
ADDITIONAL NOTES RELATING TO THE
Seekers everywhere and belonging to all faiths have
clearly understood that EGO is the greatest obstacle to
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
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?”
POINTS TO PONDER OVER
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
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
It is said that pride goes on horse back before a fall.
Collect stories that illustrate the point.