What is Ego?
If you ask me, I would say, Ego is not being natural, not feeling at home, and not having a sense of belongingness. This is what creates tension and problems within you. It makes you stiff, it makes you suffer, and brings tears to your eyes.
- Ego doesn’t let the love flow
- Ego is separateness – the sense of wanting to prove and possess
Isn’t Ego Essential?
Ego is essential till a certain stage of growth, but then it must be transcended.
Like a caterpillar. The intention of a caterpillar is to fly high, but it winds itself into a cocoon; it does just the opposite of flying. But then, it comes out of the cocoon as a butterfly and flies high. In the same way, at the age of two, you get into a shell of Ego, and you grow in it.
Once you cross a certain age, you realize that all that you went through as a teenager—all the uproar and emotional upheavals—has dropped from you and you have started smiling from a different space. You have become mature. At this time, the Ego has to be dropped, and it drops if the growth is balanced and perfect.
If our growth is imbalanced, then our mental growth does not go beyond the age of 15 or 16. You may have come across many people who have grown physically, but their mind is still between 15 to 20 years of age. This is a fact.
You know, how school-going children say, “My teacher is better than your teacher”, “My mother is better than your mother”, or “My things are better than your things”. Don’t you see this? There are people who stick on to this even as they get older. There are so-called mature people in high positions that say, “My country is better than your country” and “My state is better than your state”.
If you listen carefully, you can see such smallness in people’s attitudes. I tell you, this is not essential.
Ego creates this fear in you – what will the other think about me? Are they respecting me or not? Ego gives importance to someone else’s thoughts, which are anyways momentary. Ego needs the other to be there. All alone by yourself, your Ego falls off. That is why a very egotistic person is either very comfortable being alone, or very uncomfortable being alone. They want someone else to express their Ego, or because they are so tired of expressing all the time and nothing has worked, they like to be alone. If you are natural, you don’t mind if there are people or if there are no people, because you are the same. Egotistic people are different in different company.
How to transcend the Ego?
Now, don’t try to eradicate or erase the Ego. Just be aware of it and just let go. Just don’t do anything about it. Your trying to erase the Ego becomes a problem.
A story about Mullah Nasruddin
Mullah Nasruddin went to Calgary. When he went to Calgary, he was honored there in a very big way, but none of his friends were there to watch that, and unfortunately no one had a video camera.
People were giving so many compliments and praises to Mullah while Mullah was searching the whole crowd to see whether there is someone from Turkey, his home town, or anywhere nearby. He thought: even a German would do! He even asked on the mic, “Are there any Germans here?” Nobody raised their hand.
Then he asked, “Anyone who is French?” No one raised their hand.
Suddenly Mullah became very sad, he said, “I am so unfortunate – all this honor and praise and not a single person from my home town to hear it.”
Ego wants recognition – that too recognition from people in front of whom you want to show off. In an unknown place, when strangers compliment you, you don’t value it much.
Such an Ego needs to be superseded, or transcended. You have to go further. The cocoon has to be broken and you have to come out with flying colors. That is going back to innocence; that is going back to the Self.
Waves of Emotion
Haven't most of us wondered how to resolve misery and depression, how to release hate and increase contentment in life, how to overcome fear and ego, and how to eliminate habits that bring us unhappiness in life. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar gives simple answers to these daily challenges.