Ego is a very short word but the damage it can do to a human being’s life is immense! All of us have been a victim to this master at least once in our lifetime. We sometimes don’t realize when our ego takes over and what we do as a consequence of the same.
When we stand back and analyse the play of ego in our lives, it is both fascinating and frightening. I say frightening because of the near fatal consequences of its play. And it is fascinating because almost everyone is in its sway even without realizing the same. The mind has its own way of fooling us into thinking that we can never be egoistic. That is an amazing study in itself!
From where does this ego come? It is an exaggerated opinion of oneself. When we think that we are better than others in any context, we are projecting our ego. We feel that we are supreme. We certainly cannot claim to be the only person on whom the world relies for its existence. We are but a spoke in the wheel called life. We are a part of the whole. We play a role in the drama called life and exit. Like Shakespeare said,
“All the world’s a stage,
All men and women are mere players,
They have their exits and entrances.”
Another way ego manifests itself is when we feel that ‘I alone exist’. Here we stoop down to such drastic levels that we do not recognize the existence of others. It makes us utterly selfish and self-centered. We are ready to compromise other’s interests to serve our own purpose. Imagine the kind of environment we create when we project such an attitude!
And then comes the tricky part that all workaholics should beware of! The attitude of ‘I am the Doer’. This is the most dangerous attitude and can be fatal. Sometimes in the garb of loving what we do, we hardly realize when we slip from the attitude of ‘work is my pleasure’ to ‘I am the doer’. It is like a razor’s edge. While maintaining the enthusiasm and inspiration to work, we need to carefully keep this attitude away.
When it comes to ego with respect to spiritual knowledge it can be blinding. Camouflaged as knowledge, ego lives comfortably in our personality making us more and more arrogant. A human being seeking the knowledge of the Self should be very careful not to slip into superiority complex. This can prove detrimental to spiritual evolution. The knowledge that should help us evolve can lead to total devolution of the spirit.
At the highest level the very fact that we are separate from Brahman/Atman/Self, is the existence of ego. It is like the river claiming its existence till it merges into the ocean. The water in the river and the ocean is the same, yet the river is identified as separate and seems to exist on its own. (We are not really talking about the sweetness of the river water as against the brackish sea water. It is H2O ultimately!). The ego dissolves completely when the Jeevatma merges with the Paramatma (when the river merges into the ocean).
The play of ego is so subtle and absorbing that we do not realize we are in its sway till the damage is done. So stepping cautiously is the key to master this amazing slave!!