Guruji on Destroying The Ego

In our worldly life, we are advised to maintain our self-respect, to not allow anybody to insult us, to carry out our tasks and duties in such a way that we command respect from all around us. But when we enter the spiritual life, it is necessary for us to unlearn this attitude of self-respect. That does not mean that one should be shameless. Instead, one should be balanced in thoughts, words and actions, but should not be unduly perturbed by perceived slight against oneself or one’s self-respect. If you examine this matter closely, you will find that what we call self-respect is in fact a subtle form of ego, which can get wounded all too quickly. Our ego is a barrier that keeps us away from God. So, in order to get closer to God it is necessary to identify and destroy all forms of ego that we knowingly or unknowingly carry with us through our lifetimes.

It is in this context that the Guru’s teachings have to be understood. You might be unconsciously carrying the impression that since you have adopted the life of a sadhaka since a long time, you have managed to destroy all ego, but this need not be the case. The Guru is the examiner who will be able to assess your spiritual flaws and will voluntarily correct your faulty thinking. At times, the lessons imparted by the Guru, may prove to be a direct blow to your ego. It is terribly painful to bear insults and bad treatment especially when it is meted out by your Guru whom you hold in such esteem. You may be perplexed and at times, and may feel that you have been wronged and condemned for no fault of yours. Yet, this is the acid test that a sadhaka has to undergo at the hands of his Guru, especially since it is for his or her own spiritual advancement.

You must understand that you have been led to your Guru through divine direction for your spiritual advancement. Spiritual enrichment cannot take place without dissolving all remnants of one’s ego. By your own efforts, dissolving the ego might prove to be difficult, and therefore guidance of the Guru is solicited by you. Always remember the Guru knows best as to what spiritual lessons are required for the specific sadhaka. Hence, it is of paramount importance that one surrenders at the feet of the Guru, and with guidance sheds the subtle or gross ego buried deep within oneself, perhaps carried forward since many lifetimes. It is a fact that each and every sadhaka is at a different level of sadhana and evolvement. There is no point blaming the Guru for being partial towards one disciple while being severe towards another. Once the tenet “the Guru knows the best” has been adopted, surrender and learning happens automatically.

Ego can be generally divided into three types: Tamasic, Rajasic, Satvik.

  • Tamasic ego is gross. It is a constant goal-less lamenting, a continuous whining that life is filled with unhappiness and sorrow. It keeps one away from all situations of joy and peace. Tamasic ego takes pride in the so-called miseries, and wills oneself to be depressed even amidst joyful and peaceful situations. It makes the person negative, restless, lazy, self-destructive, and God-less.
  • Rajasic ego is a result of attachment to the outer world, and an eagerness to dominate the world. Immersed in self-importance, the rajasic ego takes one away from God. Such a person is delusive, possessive and blind to reason and to the ultimate goal of life. He keeps on creating more karma, and plunges deep into the cycle of birth and death while living a life that is deprived of peace.
  • Satvik ego is a subtle ego that is difficult to identify and erase. It tends to induce a sense of pride and superiority, comparing oneself to the rajasic and tamasic people. So, even when one is full of the spiritual qualities of love, compassion and service, the subtle ego raises its head and takes one away from God-consciousness. One can be generous yet egoistic, and one can even be egoistic in self-sacrifice. Over a period of time, it becomes a hindrance for one’s spiritual progress.

This can be better explained by an old story. A man was passing through a thick forest. He was attacked by three robbers who robbed him completely and then tied him to a tree. One of the robbers said, “Let’s kill him and then proceed.” The second robber said, “No, do not kill, just leave him tied to the tree.” Leaving him thus, the robbers proceeded on their way. But after a while, the third robber came back and freed the man. He then guided him out of the jungle towards his home. The grateful man in turn, invited the robber to his home, but the robber refused, and proceeded on his way.

The first robber is similar to Tamoguna which is destructive and negative, and destroys the sadhaka. The second robber is similar to Rajoguna which is not so destructive but ties the sadhaka to the tree of Samsara. Finally, the third robber is similar to Satvaguna which shows the sadhaka the right path and destination, but does not take him to his own home God’s abode.

Only when one is devoid of all ego the gross as well as the subtle the sadhaka will be able to achieve Self-Realisation. So, allow the Guru to shed you of all ego in whatever manner chosen. Do not criticise the Guru or jumping to unrealistic conclusions. Remember, the Guru exists only so that the spiritual aspirant reaches the pinnacle of success, i.e. God realisation speedily.

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