By Sant Rajinder Singh Ji
One of the subtlest and trickiest blockages to overcome is ego. Ego is the mind’s way of keeping us from having contact with our spiritual nature. Ego manifests in many forms: pride of wealth, pride of knowledge, pride of beauty and pride of power.
We may suffer from the ego of wealth in which we are proud of how much money we have or our expensive possessions. We may have ego of knowledge in which we become proud of how much we know or the number of educational degrees we have. We lack humility and think we are the source of all knowledge and look down on others who know less than we do. There is also the ego of beauty. We may flaunt our looks to such a degree that we make others who are not as beautiful feel inferior. We can become an egoist when we talk too much about ourselves or think too much about ourselves.
Outer beauty fades with age. If we do not have the beauty of spirit, few will be attracted to our outer beauty as wrinkles appear on our face. Knowledge is also temporary, for it changes every year. What we learnt in elementary school may be obsolete today. Wealth can disappear with the changes in the economy. Stocks and bonds may lose value or a serious illness may drain our finances.
The harm caused by ego is that it boosts up our mental and physical attributes, worldly positions and possessions while it negates God, who is the true Giver of these gifts. It causes us to forget our true self and God. Rooting out ego takes understanding and a firm grip on the mind. If our attention is on the outer being, our personality, looks, mind, or possessions, then we are certainly not going to be focusing on our soul. The soul is the source of all beauty, wisdom, and wealth, but we remain bereft of these gifts as long as we are filled with thoughts of our body and mind.
Our soul is free of ego. Thus, it is free from fear of the vicissitudes of life. Empowering our soul means we free ourselves from reliance on outer sources of pride to make us happy. Rather, we live in a state of eternal happiness with the state of our soul, because it is one with the Lord.
It is said that among the ascetics and monks, the last enemy they must conquer is the ego. They may give up desire for material possessions, they may give up lust, anger, greed and attachment. But if they pride themselves on giving up these things, they are still caught in the net of ego. That is how ego imperceptibly rears its ugly head.
It is said by the mystics, “Where I am God is not. Where God is I am not.” In Sikh scriptures it is written:
Where egoism exists, Thou are not experienced,
Where Thou art, is not egoism.
You who are learned, expound in your mind
This inexpressible proposition.
(Adi Granth, Maru-ki-Var,M.1, p1092)
If God and the soul are one, there is no question of I and Thou. Both are Thou. When we eliminate ego—- I-ness is gone, and there is no separation between the soul and God.