22 Apr 2012 - QA 1

Can you speak on how devotion can transform the ego in order for the self to be realized?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:

Listen, what is devotion? It is a state of Love.

What is ego? It is a sense of separation and a boundary; a wall; an identity.

Love seeks to dissolve the identity, love seeks to merge. Ego wants to maintain one sidedness. So they play different roles and they can coexist at different times.

So when there is love at that moment there is no ego, and when there is ego at that moment there is no love.

When you want to take up a challenge, love does not work, ego works. Ego can take challenges. But when you want to relax and have fun, at that time, ego does not work, love works. Do you understand what I am saying?

That is why nature has put both things in you, it has put love also and ego also. But if you are stuck in ego, it is like getting stuck into your shoes. You don’t know how to get it out of your feet. Then you are bathing with the shoes on, you are sleeping with your shoes on. You should know when to remove your shoes and be at home.

So love is the first thing that has happened in life. As soon as a child is born and it opens its eyes and looks at the mother, there is love. In that very first glance it receives love from the mother and gives love to the mother. But the ego comes at the age of three. Identity becomes very strong after three years and then it grows, and sometimes one gets stuck with that.

But when you become very old; most senior citizens if you see, there is no ego in them. They become like a child again. Past ninety hardly anybody can maintain their ego.

Before three you can’t have it and past ninety you can’t have it. It is almost like sex; there is an age for it, after that it is not possible and before that it is not possible. But they all have their roles to play.