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Ego | Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Wisdom

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Ego | Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Wisdom
Your thoughts are very powerful; you can create what you want. First, believe that it is possible for you to live in a state of unconditional love, peace and tranquility. As a child you have lived in this state. As children we all have done it. We were bubbling with enthusiasm. - Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Ego means unnatural - showing something that you are not, such as pretension, or not feeling free. Not feeling at home with everyone is Ego. There is no Ego when one is natural. Despite what you think, ego is not entirely bad.

What exactly is Ego? Why make so much fuss about it? A positive side of Ego? Really? Find Gurudev's wisdom on 'Ego' below:

  • When you don't get attention.
  • When you seem to be losing attention.
  • 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 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.

The 'I' or ego in you is a tiny atom. If this atom is associated 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 explodes. 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.

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 valor 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 sattvic ego is always ready to sacrifice.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why do you want to drop the ego? Just keep it aside and do not struggle with it. Often we want to get rid of the ego because it brings pain. But this desire to be free from the ego magnifies the ego even more.

Being natural is the simplest way to overcome the ego. Just take it for granted that everyone belongs to you.

I have traveled to so many countries, yet wherever I have gone, I have not met one person whom I felt was a stranger for me.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Be natural. Be friendly with everyone. If we are natural, ego disappears automatically. Ego is building an artificial wall between others and ourselves and thinking that whatever we say is right. This harms us as well as others. If we are natural and feel that everyone belongs to us and have openness in our attitude, there will not be any kind of pressure on our mind. The mind feels light. That is why we have to be natural like a child. This brings ‘Karya siddhi’ (perfection in action). Whatever we desire gets fulfilled automatically.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t worry, don’t try to handle them. There is some hurt inside them and to hide it, they try and show their ego.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Nobody can take your self-respect from you. But ego is dependent on others. Whenever there is ego it will hurt you and bring you sorrow, but self-respect will always bring you peace. Got it?

Your ego can be hurt, but your self-respect cannot be hurt. There are many ignorant fools in society who abuse people. No matter how much good you do, there will always be people who talk negative. We must not be bothered by that.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ego is a sense of separateness, a sense of identity. There are three ways to see ego:

  1. Ego is identity. I am this. This is one ego.
  2. Ego is also I am not this.
  3. Ego is also I am separate from others.

How to dissolve this ego?

Either you expand your ego. I am this, I am that, I am that too. For instance, one ego is that you think you are an officer. But if you are stuck with only being an officer, and you come home and be an officer to your kids and wife, you create a problem. Suppose you are a major or colonel in the military, and if you behave with your family in the same role, then you are stuck in your ego of being an army officer. Your one identity is that you are a colonel, but you are a father/mother to your children, you are a husband/wife to your spouse, you are a son/daughter to your parents and so many. When you balance all these identities in your life, giving equal importance to all these, that is the way you dissolve your ego. Ego is getting stuck with any one identity. From that limited identity to identify with the unlimited divinity is the path of expanding, or you can call it dissolving identity. So you move from me to Aham Brahaman, I am somebody to becoming I am nobody, and I am nobody to I am everybody. Now, this looks very philosophical. You can’t go to your office and say that you are nobody, nor can you say at your home that you are everybody. It is not going to work. So, I would say that the simple way to counter your ego is to be natural. Ego makes you feel uncomfortable, unnatural, and separate. Egolessness, or expanded ego or transformed ego is being at home, being natural with everyone in every circumstance. Rather, it is being like a child. I would say just be like a child.

One last thing I would like to say about ego is that if you find you have any ego, then don’t try to dissolve it. You can keep it in your pocket. Don’t meddle with it, and don’t bother about it. Let it be there.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The tendency of the ego is to say 'I am not crazy, I am proper'. Ego is the biggest problem. Yet it is very easy to overcome. It is a one-day job. Just act like a crazy person. Can you do that? For one day. Done! Make people believe you have gone completely crazy. It is the best antidote for ego. If you cannot do this, can you simply behave like a child for the rest of your life? No third option. Be a baby for the rest of your life or a crazy person. Be one who has attained the essence. Apart from this, keep the ego. Don’t try to get rid of it. Do this slowly. Otherwise, it is impossible.

When people laugh at you, can you relax? When people point at you, just relax. Smile and accept it. A mother has no ego. Whatever the children say, she accepts. If they kick, does the mother get perturbed? If you are unperturbed, you have conquered the ego. Ego is just a feeling of having a wall between you and others. There is no wall. You belong to me and I belong to you. You are accepted the way you are. Naturalness is the antidote for you. Be spontaneous! Ego cannot stand spontaneity. Ego wants to present everything properly and prepare beforehand. Children are so spontaneous. They make mistakes. Never mind making mistakes. Just be like a child. Anybody can say anything about you.

Another block we often have is to feel something is not practical. No need to practice anything. Our own mind is saying it is not practical. We wanted 2000 Hindustani classical musicians to perform together. Every teacher said it was impossible. A choir in India! It is not like here with so many people and that many styles. They have their own octaves. We had a program called Antarnaad. You should see it on Youtube. There were 2750 singers. Only one day of practice! Make the impossible possible. We should remove the block in our own mind. Top musicians were spellbound at the Antarnaad event.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You being in victim consciousness and having rage and anger, does it help you anyway to carry on your life? Absolutely not! Waste of time, waste of your potential, and life. So we must forgive, forget, and move on. You hurt someone in the past and somebody hurt you, that account is closed now. Finished! There was some problem that has to come, and that has come and our own foolishness made it happen. Now it is finished and move on. This is the line of thinking that you must adopt and that makes us feel better.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes. An enlightened person will act without any ego. See, praising a wise person is useless. They will anyway do good work. They will continue doing good work even if you blame them.

Praise a fool, that will pump up their ego and motivate them into doing good work. Have you noticed, the ego troubles one's own mind more than others?

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: By experience!

When do you drop your ego? When it is painful. When you have had enough pain then you say enough is enough, and then you simply drop it.

Either through wisdom or through pain you get over the smallness. If you have wisdom and a broader vision then there is no need to go through pain. But if there is a lack of wisdom then pain and suffering will take care of it and it will take you out of it.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, ego has positive aspects. Who says it is all negative? The positive aspect is that it can come with a challenge, a determination, and a will to act. All actions that are challenging, that need determination and passion are done by ego.

There can be an ego which is all-inclusive; ‘everyone belongs to me’ - that’s ego too. And, ‘only I am good’, is ego too but that is not a good ego. So there are different ways to look at ego.

If you give the definition of ego as, ‘lack of naturalness’, or as, ‘a wall between you and the other’, then it is something that you need to get rid of. It is like the covering on the seed that is essential till the seed sprouts, and once the seed sprouts, the covering or the membrane around the seed gives way for the seed to sprout. Like that, the ego comes up by the age of three and stays till you become mature. You move on from adolescence to an adult, till then it protects you. Then it slowly gives way to being a more broad-minded, broad hearted, large-hearted, universal identity.

The other type of ego is just the identity. Then you need the identity. All these identities, ‘I belong to one divinity’, ‘I belong to one humankind, one human race’, ‘I stand for righteousness’, is ego.

It is good that you stand against injustice and you fight against ignorance, and you say, ‘I am here so that nobody goes hungry or has any dearth.’ That dedication is part of ego as well. That ego is called sattvic ego.

In the Bhagavad Gita, there are three types of ego described, the sattvic, the rajasic, and the tamasic ego. It is very interesting; sometime you can read about it.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just be natural. Be considerate, be compassionate, and learn teamwork.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes.

Ego, possessiveness, jealousy, anger, greed are all linked. They are linked to the ego. Now, how to get rid of the ego? This is a big problem.

Actually the solution is very simple. Just agree to be crazy for one day. Just act like a crazy person for one day. That is good enough. Ego means that you are trying to impress others. You need the other for ego to be there. When you are alone in a place, there cannot be any ego. Ego pops up when the other is there. If you are like a child, if you are natural and feeling at home, that is the best antidote to ego.

Ego cannot sustain or survive when naturalness takes over, and when you feel at home with everybody and have a sense of belongingness with everyone. All these qualities can transform you. If the ego still says, ‘I am’, then that ego should be expanded. One is a Transparent Ego; the other is an Expanded Ego. Both mean the same. The Expanded Ego means – everyone is included – everyone belongs to me. I am everything. That is very good.

So, either pump your ego and make it very big or transform it with simple acts of simplicity and innocence. That just makes ego transparent.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Subtle ego is when you have the feeling that ‘I have no ego’. When you feel that ‘I am the most down-to-earth and humble person alive’, then that is the subtle ego.

See, if you find that there is some ego in you, never mind, just keep it in your pocket. If it is there, let it be there. It is alright. Why do you want to get rid of it?

If you try to get rid of the ego, then that will become another big problem for you. Because then you will say, ‘See, I have overcome my ego!’ Then that is the subtle ego.

You cannot overcome ego by destroying it. Just be natural. Ego dissolves in the naturalness of your being.