What is ego?
You are actually asking me what non-reality is. But how could it be described? What’s the point of talking about something that is not real, that is non-existent? And how can you talk about what is real?
I’ll just give you a few pointers. The mind is the EGO. But the EGO is a big lie. He is not evilIt.
There was once a cattleman who would take his cows to graze every morning and bring them back to the stable every night. One evening, while tying the cows so that they would not run away overnight, he noticed that one of them no longer had the rope with which he was supposed to be tied. He was afraid at the thought that the cow might disappear overnight, and at that time the store where he could buy rope was closed. He didn’t know what to do, so he went to the wise man who lived nearby and asked for his advice. He told her to simulate that he was tying the cow and to be sure that the cow saw him doing it.
The boy listened to his advice. The next morning, the cow was in the stable. He untied the others, as usual, and they went out. He was getting ready to go with them to the pasture, when he noticed that the cow without rope was still in the stable, in the same place where he had stayed all night. He tried to take her with the bin and get her to join the others, but she didn’t budge. The boy remained perplexed. He went again to the wise man, who said to him, “The cow thinks she is still bound. Go ahead and show her that you’re untying her. Make sure he sees what you’re doing.“The boy followed the counsel of the wise man, and thus the cow left the stable.
This makes the spiritual guide with the EGO of the spiritual aspirant. The spiritual guide helps the aspirant to unravel something that has never been linked. Like the cow, due to ignorance, we believe that we are chained to EGO, when in fact, we are completely free. However, we must be convinced of this. The EGO is an illusion, which does not have an existence of its own. He only appears as real. Stop supporting him and he will retire and disappear. We alone give life to the EGO. Become aware of what the EGO really is, or rather what is not, and thus the EGO will disappear.
The dog cradled its tail – it was not the tail that cradled the dog. If that were the case, it would be a disaster! So it is with the mind. The mind or ego should be nothing but an instrument, a SADHAKA (spiritual seeker) should not let himself be led by the whims and fantasies of the mind.
The EGO is made up of our thoughts and mind. Our thoughts are our own creation. We make them real by cooperating with them. When we no longer support them, the thoughts disappear. We just need to observe our thoughts, to become their detached witnesses. The clouds in the sky have different shapes, which change incessantly. You can see in the clouds the faces of people, shapes of animals, ships, etc. A small child thinks that these forms are real, but of course they are illusory. In a similar way our thoughts, always changing, pass through the mind. They assume different forms, but are no more real than the clouds in the sky. If we only observe thoughts when they cross our minds, without interfering with them anymore, they will cease to affect us.
A lion made from sandalwood is considered alive by a child, but for an adult it remains a piece of sandalwood. For the child, sandalwood is obscured, while the shape of the lion is revealed. The adult person also enjoys the shape of the lion, but knows that he is not a real lion. For him, sandalwood is real, not the lion. In a similar way, for a spiritually liberated being, the entire universe is nothing but the essence, the “wood” in which everything is contained, BRAHMAN or the Supreme Consciousness.
Q: What does the death of the EGO actually mean for an authentic seeker of spiritual liberation?
MA: If the EGO isn’t real, what death are you talking about? We supersede the unreal over the real. What really exists is BRAHMAN. There is no discovery, only disclosure.
Q: What are the signs of the authentic transcendence of the EGO?
MA: The one who has gone beyond EGO becomes an offering to the world, just as a scented stick, while burning, offers its fragrance to others. For such a person, there is no sense of separability. It is very difficult to pinpoint a clear sign of this transcendence. People can claim or imitate one quality or another – but for a true spiritual guide, who no longer identifies with the EGO, his whole being and his every action are a pure expression of divine love and self-sacrifice. Divine love and self-sacrifice cannot be imitated.
Q: In what way does a spiritual guide help the disciple to transcend the EGO-ul?
MA: An authentic spiritual guide creates situations that will allow the spiritual seeker to emerge from his dream. The spiritual aspirant wants to continue to sleep and dream, but his spiritual guide wants to awaken him. The effort that his spiritual guide makes is to bring the aspirant back to the reality of his true existence, to his true nature, the Supreme Self, ATMAN.
A true spiritual guide will not allow the ego of his disciples to be amplified. To stop this, a spiritual guide can act in a very severe manner. People who see a blacksmith hitting a hot piece of metal might think that he is a severe being. Even metal might think that there has never been a worse man. But with each shot, the blacksmith thinks only of the final product. So is an authentic spiritual guide.
Q: It is said that the EGO will do everything in its power to further master the individual consciousness of the aspirant to spirituality, disguising itself even in the form of a so-called spiritual aspiration (but which is in reality dictated by ego). What are the essential qualities that the spiritual aspirant must have in order to win the fight against the endless deceptions of the EGO?
MA: The aspirant to the state of spiritual liberation must carry out his spiritual practice with perseverance and with intense faith. These are very important, even essential in practice. We must have the belief that there is a reality superior to the EGO, to love this reality and to want with all our soul to achieve it.
Q: What is the best way to amplify the discernment in the face of all the ego temptations?
MA: The authentic spiritual seeker obtains the power to discern between that which is eternal and that which is ephemeral with perseverance on the spiritual path. The power of discrimination develops when we become spiritually mature. As we learn to properly evaluate life’s experiences, we begin to use our discriminatory intelligence. It’s an inner growth, a slow but safe process. Each life experience brings with it a divine message —both positive and negative experiences. Nothing comes from the outside, everything is and is born within us. The whole universe is in us. On the spiritual path there are many tests and temptations. Only a being who has passed these tests and overcome these temptations can help you. The road to MOKSHA is very subtle, and it can be quite difficult for a spiritual aspirant to permanently maintain himself vertically and not be deceived.
Q: What is the role of the spiritual guide in guiding the aspirant on the path to supreme liberation?
ME: If you want to learn to drive a car, you need an experienced driver to do that. A child needs to be taught how to tie himself to the shoelaces. How could you learn math without a teacher? If teachers are indispensable to everyday life, the more they are needed on the spiritual path, which is strewn with so many pitfalls. Although true knowledge is our essential nature, we have identified with the world of names and forms for so long that we consider them real. We need to stop this identification. In reality, there is nothing that needs to be taught. A spiritual guide helps you end your journey.
If you want to go somewhere far away, you need a map. But no matter how well you study that map, if it’s a completely unknown land, you won’t really know anything about that land until you see it with your own eyes. The map will not tell you anything about the trip, about the road you will go on or about the possible dangers of the route. The best guidance you can receive from a being who has been on this journey and can speak to you from his own experience. On the spiritual path, we must really listen and submit to the authentic spiritual guide, only in this way we will assimilate his teaching in our being.
Q: Why is submission to the will of the spiritual guide so important for the disciple to succeed in transcending his EGO?
MA: The EGO lies in the mind. Any other obstacle can be removed using the mind, except for the EGO, because it is more subtle than the mind. Only by abandoning the egotistical will in front of an authentic spiritual guide, in front of a being established in the Supreme Consciousness of BRAHMAN, the spiritual aspirant can defeat his EGO.
Q: Is the perfect submission to the will of a spiritual guide identified with the death of the EGO?
MA: Yes. Therefore, the authentic spiritual guide is sometimes called in sacred texts as YAMA, the god of death. The death of the ego of the spiritual aspirant happens naturally in front of an authentic spiritual guide, this submission I am talking about is not a forced experience. The mere presence full of light and humility of the spiritual guide awakens in the disciple the state of abandonment.
Q: How can we recognize a genuine spiritual guide to a false one?
ME: An authentic spiritual guide is a completely independent being. Such beings do not have to depend on anything external to be happy, because their whole being is full of bliss, which is born from the fact that their Self is completely revealed. I would say that every being is part of a crowd, except for the authentic spiritual guides, who are unique and clearly distinguishable from the crowd. An authentic spiritual guide must be an example through his life and actions. The one who abuses their status and power, taking advantage of others, obviously does not find the source of happiness within their being, so they cannot be spiritually realized beings. A true spiritual guide claims nothing. He just is – he is the very presence.
Q: So can it be said that the false spiritual guides became more proud because of the spiritual experiences they had?
MA: There are beings who have a spiritual experience or a flash of a divine state and who are quick to consider that now their path is over, they have reached the supreme liberation. But know that a being who has not attained the supreme realization can repeat everywhere: “I am a liberated being! I am a liberated being!” This will create a very subtle EGO, which is much more dangerous than the coarse EGO.
These beings do not even realize that what motivates them is this very subtle ego, which becomes a part of their nature. These beings would do anything for name and power. This kind of pride leads to the loss of the ability to listen. And listening is very important on a spiritual path. A being who does not know how to listen does not know how to be humble. And only when we are truly humble will the Pure Consciousness hidden within us be revealed to us. Only the humblest of the humble can be considered the greatest of the great.
Q: Since there are these dangers, is it good to cultivate the state of purity?
ME: We must not now become obsessed with purity. Fulfill your DHARMA with the right attitude and with love. And the state of purity will come by itself.
“An ordinary spiritual aspirant wants to keep his EGO, while an authentic aspirant wants the death of ego, so that he can live in a state of pure consciousness and love. The death of the EGO will make you become immortal. When the EGO dies, you live eternally in bliss.”
“If you want to know God, you must eliminate the EGO, finding refuge next to an authentic spiritual guide and listening to him humbly and abandoning yourself to his wisdom. When we bow our foreheads in front of an authentic spiritual guide, we avoid the pitfalls of the EGO and allow our Self to reveal itself.”
“Not seeing with your physical eyes is a bearable and can be alleviated suffering. You can still demonstrate a loving and compassionate heart. But when the EGO is the one who speaks to you, you really can’t see anything at all. The blindness that is due to the EGO throws you into the fullest darkness.”