The Obstacle of Ego
When Maharaj Sawan Singh was asked “What is ego?” he replied:
Ego is the feeling or consciousness of one’s separate existence from God.… We strive to make everything ours. This causes strife and struggle, competition and quarrels. Then attachment, love and affection for the objects we call ‘our own’ enchain us to them and cloud our sense of discrimination, and we find ourselves caught in the cobweb of jealousy, greed, anger, hatred and all the evils born of ignorance.
The Call of the Great Master
In Greek mythology, there is the story of Arachne, an expert weaver, who challenged the goddess Athena to see who was the better weaver. The result was that Athena turned Arachne into a spider and she and her descendants are forever attached to the webs that they weave.
Unknowingly, we also are attached to the web of karmas that we have woven throughout millions of past lives. In the book One Being One we read:
Thoughts, moods, desires, attractions, aversions, images, and all the rest of it, pass through our minds like a confused and never-ending movie, with many scenes unfinished and unresolved. And each, however fleeting, grabs the attention of our self.… “We pronounce it ‘I,’ as if it were the whole of us, despite the fact that the very next moment when external circumstances change, another ‘I’ has ousted it and taken over control.”
Ego, it seems, is fundamental to our self-concept and identity. For this reason, it is so difficult to subdue and conquer it. Ego is so much more than arrogance or pride. The ego’s many attributes are always lurking in the background, diligently ready to block our awareness of the truth within. It is only through a deep feeling of love that one can get a glimpse of life guided by a consciousness devoid of ego. Only when we are filled with love of the Lord is true loss of ego achieved. Only true saints and mystics can give us the method by which this love can be achieved and egoless consciousness attained, but few are willing to listen to them and act on their advice.
Saints teach us that everything belongs to the Lord and that everything in this world is given to us by the Lord. When we labour under the illusion that we own or control anything, it is really our ego and pride that are controlling us. Over time, the saints show us that meekness and humility are essential to overcoming pride. Maharaj Sawan Singh says in Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. III:
What is false pride or vainglory? To be proud of a virtue we do not possess, or we possess merely as a gift from someone else, is false pride.… Another person is proud of his beautiful hair, fair face, soft hand or healthy body and walks about the streets like a bloated bag. Such pride is false: pride such as this is due to that all powerful Creator and nature which made him or to the soul granted by the Lord.
Only when we find a true Master or teacher will we be able to escape this profound obstacle of ego which fills our mind with such a false sense of identity. By following the teachings of a true Master we can eliminate our ego, see our true self, and find our origin where true peace and happiness prevail.