Sri Sri's Knowledge Sheets on Ego

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Respect and Ego

There are two types of respect.

1. Respect that comes to you because of your position, fame or wealth. This type of respect is impermanent. It can be lost once you lose your wealth or status.

2. Respect that comes because of your virtues like honesty, kindness, commitment, patience and your smile. This respect, no one can take away.

The less you are attached to your virtues, the more self respect you have. If you get attached to your virtues, you look down upon everybody else and they (the virtues) start diminishing. Non- attachment to virtues brings the highest self respect.

Often one confuses ego with self esteem. Ego needs the other for comparision, self esteem is just confidence in oneself. For example, a gentleman claims that he is thorough in Mathematics or Geography, this is self esteem. But to say that I know better than you, that is Ego.

Ego simply means lack of respect to the Self.

Ego upsets you very often. Self esteem is immune to getting upset by external factors. In self respect, everything is a game, winning or losing has no meaning, every step is joy, every move is celebration.

In Self esteem you simply realise you have it.

The Other Side Of Ego

Ego is an impediment for a leader, wise man, merchant or a servant, but it is a necessity for a warrior, a competitor.

A warrior is one who takes on challenges and commitment and stands by it.
Ego makes one sacrifice oneself for a cause. Ego gives strength and courage, brings valour to meet the challenges with endurance and perseverance. A strong ego will counteract depression. Often ego is thought to be selfish but it is the greatest motivating factor for creativity and generosity. Ego propels one to venture into the unknown.

There are 3 types of ego - Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic.

Tamasic ego is barbaric and blind, and has self-destructive tendencies.
Rajasic ego is self-centered and causes misery to oneself and others.
Sattvic ego is creative and has protective tendencies.
If you cannot surrender, at least have a Sattvic ego, as a Sattivic ego is always ready to sacrifice.

Bhanu: This is very good! It gives many people a relief. (laughter!)

"I" or ego

The "I" or ego in you is a tiny atom. If this atom is put with the body the matter, it identifies with the matter. If this atom is put with the Being, the Infinite, it identifies with the Infinite.

When this atom, this ego, is associated with the material world, it becomes mundane. When it is associated with the spirit, it becomes Divine. It becomes shakti when associated with the Being, the Self. It becomes miserable when identified with the body.

You see, in a huge atomic reactor, it is just one tiny atom that is exploded. In the same way, in our whole body, there is just one little tiny atom of "I". And when this "I" explodes, that is when it becomes the light of the Self.
Usually we say, "I am miserable, " or "I am happy"

Shift this atom from identifying with the body and the conceptual world, to identifying with the Real World.


When is the Ego there?
1. When you don't get attention.
2. When you seem to be losing attention.
3. When you get attention (Laughter).
Ego causes heaviness, discomfort. It doesn't let love flow. Ego can be transcended by knowing the Truth; by enquiring "Who am I?" Often, your attitude towards one who has ego is of contempt or jealousy. But rather you should have compassion, or even pity, isn't it?

There is also a positive aspect of ego. It drives one to do some work. A person will do a job either out of compassion or out of ego. Most of the work in the society is by boosting the ego. But in Satsang, work is done out of love. Ego is separateness; non-belongingness. It is wanting to prove and to possess. And when you wake up and see, there is nothing to be proved and nothing to possess, ego dissolves.

Singing, Communication and Ego
There are three modes of communication: in head to head communication you talk, in heart to heart communication you sing, and soul to soul communication happens in silence.

When you meet with people, often you communicate from head to head. When you are with nature, you start singing, you communicate with nature from your heart. Often when you are with people you keep talking, blabbering, and you keep the communication on the level of the head only. But when you are with nature, you start humming and your communication comes through the heart. And when you are with the guru, you go blank and forget all the questions. Then communication comes through the soul in silence.

When you meet with people, you like to remain in the head, you seldom sing with people (other than when it is organised). Your ego obstructs you from singing. Many do not feel comfortable singing with people. When you sing with people then you descend to the heart level or feeling level. Some feel comfortable just listening to music. Some feel comfortable singing only when they are alone. Some sing to draw attention or to charm others. Some only want to join in when all the others are singing. All this singing comes from ego.

Bhajan means sharing, sharing from the deepest level of our existence. Bhajan is authentic sharing. If you could sing with people, then your ego shatters. Children can sing with people for they do not have ego. To sing with a stranger you have to be free of ego. Ego doesn't let you sing with a stranger. Head level is safe for the ego -heart level breaks the ego - soul level dissolves the ego. All communication gaps happen because of ego.