Chapter 8.2 from "Study Circles for Divinity"
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8.2  EGO


"It is God who has produced you all from a single self, so here is an abode, and a lodging. We have defined the signs for a people who understand."    Mohammed

"Whoever comes to Me cannot be My disciple unless he loves Me more than he loves his father and his mother, his wife and his children, his brothers and his sisters and himself as well."    Jesus Christ
"If anyone wishes to be a follower of mine, he must leave self behind: he must take up his cross and come with me. Whoever cares for his own safety is lost; but if a man will let himself be lost for my sake, he will find his true self."    Jesus Christ

"Easy it is the faults of others to be shown, not as easy it is, to see the faults of one's own. Just as one would sift the hull, the faults of others one would show, and just as the flower covers himself with leaves, his own faults he shields so that others would not know."    Buddha

"That person who lives completely free from all desires, without longing, devoid of the idea of ownership and egoism, attains to peace."    Sri Krishna

"Forsaking egotism, power, annoyance, desire, anger and superfluous things, free from the notion of 'mine', and tranquil, he is fit for becoming Brahman."    Sri Krishna

"Seek not and judge not your neighbour's faults. Turn your gaze within you to see if vice lurks therein."    Zarathushtra

"If in a certain manner you wish others to perform, then do so yourself first, to set a norm. Make yourself subdued first, before you make others do the same  -  and the most difficult thing in the world is to make oneself tame."    Buddha



The first aim of human existence should be to experience Divine Bliss. Everyone should keep in mind the Divine principle. This Atma is called awareness. This awareness produces in every being the sense of 'I-ness'. It is expressed in the term 'I' ('Aham'). When this 'I' identifies itself with the body, it takes the form of 'I-am-the-doer', the ego. This is what is called delusion. It is not the real 'I'.

The first sound emanating from the Atma (Real Self, Divinity) which one hears is 'I'. It is only after the emergence of 'I' that the whole process of creation began. If there is no 'I', there is no creation. The terms, 'I', 'Atma', and 'Brahmam' are all synonymous. The 'I' not associated with the mind is Atma. The 'I' associated with the mind is pseudo-atma. There is only one Atma. That is the real 'I'.

Hence, all the phenomenal experiences caused by delusion are 'mithya' (both real-unreal). Basing your life on this 'mithya', you are giving up the Truth. Identifying yourself totally with the body, you are encouraging the ego to grow. If you grasp one simple truth, you will develop a wide vision. There is nothing in the world separate from you. All the diverse objects are images of the One. For all worldly things there is a creator, causal action and the end product. In the sphere of the spiritual, however, there is only the Creator. There is no action. He is the doer. He is the outcome of what is done. The Atmic principle, which represents the unity of all these three, is the One that pervades the entire cosmos. It is the Universal Consciousness. It is impossible for it to be present in some and not in others. (290590)


Usually, the Sanskrit word 'Ahamkara' is translated into English as 'ego'. Both these words are employed in common usage to mean self-esteem or pride born of delusion about one's wealth or scholarship etc. This is a wrong usage of the words. Their correct meaning is the mistaken identification of oneself with the body. All may not be proud of their wealth or knowledge, but everyone is a victim of ego in the sense of considering oneself to be the body. It is this ego that shrouds the intellect and misleads it on the wrong path. Hence, if the intellect is to develop faith, we should first eliminate ego. (SSB 90,94)

There are two 'I's' in everyone - the 'I' that is associated with the mind, and the 'I' associated with the Atma. Consciousness of the Atma is the real 'I'. When this 'I' is wrongly associated with the mind, it becomes the ego. When the 'I' associated with the Atma experiences Atmic Bliss, it realises that the universal consciousness is One, though it may be called by different names. When you eliminate the body consciousness in you, you will have the consciousness of the Universal within you. Without this consciousness, all spiritual exercises are of no avail.
To experience the presence of the Divine the devotee's love flows as a pure, selfless stream. It proclaims that it needs no one except God. It is oblivious to all other things. It regards the Divine as the One that pervades everything. God is in every object in the cosmos. All names and forms are derived from God. But by regarding them as distinct entities, man becomes a prey to many difficulties. Man's ego is the cause of this divisive attitude. The man who is wrapped up in his ego cannot recognise God. When the ego goes, God appears. When the ego merges in the Atma, there is liberation. The ego arises from the Atma. From the ego, thought emerges and thought is the source of speech. All these have emerged from the Atma. It is only when the ego goes that the truth of the Atma can be realised. It is ego that is the cause of man's bondage. (150988)

Occasionally, however, the ego tends to envelop the intellect, the innate power of discrimination. The senses are more subtle than the body. The mind is even more subtle than the senses. The intellect is far more subtle than the mind. The Atma is the most subtle of them all.

If it is said that the ego is able to envelop the intellect, it must be deemed more subtle than the intellect. The ego is extremely subtle. It is all-pervasive. It enters into all one's actions. This is the reason why man is unable to transcend the ego and comprehend the Atma. (260590)


It is the identification with the body that is causing the ego to flourish and grow. The feeling, 'I am the doer', 'I am the enjoyer', 'I am achieving success', is growing constantly in man. Students! You must realise that victory or defeat is not the result of your actions or spiritual exercises. Immersed in your egoistic delusion, you are imagining that you are the architects of your fortunes. You can see in the world numerous instances of failure in spite of heroic efforts. You can also see examples of successes achieved through very little effort. Instead of courting failure, relying on your own efforts, and getting dispirited, put your trust in God and offer all your actions to Him. You have to realise that little depends on your efforts alone. You can have proofs of this in your own body. For instance, what efforts are you making to see that your heart beats regularly? How far are you responsible for the breathing process that goes on continually? What is your contribution to the digestive process thatgoes on within you? Are these the results of human efforts? No. Can you continue to live merely by wishing that you should go on living? Are you able to end your life when you wish it? Are you responsible for your birth? Not at all. When you inquire into this problem, you will realise that it is your sense of doership and enjoyership which is causing all difficulties. All actions done by man today are intended to satisfy the mind. But however much you may try to satisfy the mind, it can never feel contented. (290590)

It is important to recognise that as long as the mind is there, desires will not leave you. As long as you have desires, the false notion of 'I' and 'mine' will not leave you. As long as the feeling of 'I' and 'mine' is there, ego  -  your wrong identification with the body  - will not leave you. As long as ego does not leave you, ignorance too will not leave you. In effect, it means that there is no way other than the annihilation of the mind to attain knowledge of the Self, or vision of the Self, or Bliss of the Self, whatever you may choose to call it. (SSB 90,116)


The ego is deep-rooted in man during countless previous lives. It grows fast in this life also, seeking sensual pleasure, possessions in plenty, applause and appreciation, authority over others, fame and fortune. It can be removed only by relentless enquiry into our Reality. (010287)

Everyone should first seek to know the answer to the question: "Who am I?" Without knowing who you are, what is the meaning in trying to know all about others? At birth you cry out "koham?" ("Who am I?"). You should not die with the same question on your lips. When you die, you should end your life with the assertion "so-ham" ("I am He"). Then alone you can justify your birth as a man and enjoy the satisfaction of having fulfilled the purpose of human birth. (SSB 90,97)

To get rid of egoism, there is only one path: it is to pursue the Godly way of life. When you are puffed up with the sense of ego, sit silently in a corner and observe what your breathing is telling you. It is declaring: "So...Ham". (So while inhaling and Ham while exhaling. Swami demonstrated how the breath is conveying the message). So-Ham is made up of the two words: Sah (He, that is Brahman) and Aham (I). 'I am Brahman'. If this is constantly meditated upon and this consciousness grows within, the 'I' will cease to be a bother. This mantra has been described as Hamsa Gayatri in Vedantic parlance.

Students! You must note that this So-Ham mantra goes on in each of you 21,600 times a day. "I am Brahman" is the message of the inner voice all the time. Ignoring this, each one identifies himself with the temporary name given to the body. In this way there can be no God-realisation. You will remain what you were according to the name given to the body. So-Ham is the name with which you were born. That alone is permanent. That is your real self. When you realise it, you will experience Being-Awareness-Bliss (Sat-Chit-Ananda). (260590)

Egoism affects not only human beings alone, but even birds and beasts. For instance, a dog kept in a rich man's gate barks at every passer-by to exhibit its authority. It is an example of egoism in an animal. The dog wants to show that it is the guardian of the house and that no one dare enter it. The dog assumes that 'this is my house, I have to protect it', but it does not know what that 'I' is. If today a man does not know what his 'I' signifies, he is in the same position as the dog. Every moment, a person talks about 'my body, my mind, etc', but does not ask: "Who am I?". He alone is a man of wisdom who has discovered the truth about himself. One who goes on using the word 'I' but does not know who he is, is an ignorant person. (060389)


The wise man is one who knows his true nature. As long as one is filled with ego, he cannot experience the Divine. The actions undertaken to destroy the ego become self-destroying acts (without karma). Love-filled devotion is the easiest path to the Divine. You must love all. The great quality of love is that it is the royal road to unity. All the diversity and manifoldness that we see in the world have come from the One. The One is the basis for the many. Once we realise the unity that underlies the diversity, the problems arising out of differences can be resolved. (231187)

The ego-alloy enters man only when he is misled by the apparent diversity, to posit multiplicity in creation. The reality which is misconstrued in the dull dusk of primeval ignorance, is God. To see through the fog that projects many where there is only the One, is the purpose of all spiritual practices. If even after years of spiritual practices, by whichever religion it be prescribed, to the aspirant who continues to see differences, distinctions, and diversities, we can conclude that he has a long way to go before he can fulfil the aim of this human existence. (160277)

Without getting rid of the ego, the bliss of Divinity cannot be experienced. Ostentatious worship is of no use. Wealth, power and position are of no avail in the spiritual quest. They cannot confer peace or remove the fear that haunts man all the time. Only the man of faith is completely free of fear. Hence, develop faith in God and lead a God-directed life. (251287)

As long as the ego is dominant, the Atmic consciousness will not develop. The egoist cannot recognise the Atma.

It is egoism that is at the root of all man's trouble. It is a kind of delusion based on the misconceived notion that the body is real and permanent. The truth is otherwise. From an early age one should recognise the evanescence of the body and the senses, and control the desires prompted by the sense organs. Desires are insatiable. The pursuit of wealth, power and position can only end in misery. Instead, one should take refuge in God and dedicate all actions to the Divine. (090188)

There should be no sense of egoism in doing one's work. 'This is my work. I alone am entitled to its fruits'  -  this attitude should be given up. If you plant a tree, what is the guarantee that you will live to enjoy its fruits? Your progeny may enjoy the fruits. Your duty is to do your allotted work. 'Doing one's duty is yoga (spiritual discipline)'. (050987)

The sense of ego separates the individual from the Divine. When the individual offers everything to God, this ego barrier is removed. Of all the diseases to which man is prone, the disease arising from the ego is the most deadly. The only panacea for this disease is surrender to the will of the Divine. (210188)

The ego-feeling which makes one think of the 'I' all the time should be given up. The sense of possessiveness and the ego-feeling are the cause of attachment. How is this disease of attachment to be eradicated? By the process of self-enquiry. When you realise the impermanence of the body and of all sensory experiences, you acquire the sense of detachment. It only means that you should discharge your duties, treating the body as the God given instrument for this purpose. 'This body is for the purpose of helping others.' It should not be used solely for selfish ends. (091188)

You have heard some basic directions that I have been continuously giving. I have been telling you to deal with them, as directions for life. 'Duty is God; Work is Worship', and another dictum, 'Heads in the Forest; Hands in Society'. Do such deeds as are holy and beneficial, untarnished by ego and the greed to benefit. Start on the sacred pilgrimage to the Divine goal, and make every minute of your life holy and purposeful. (221178)

The 'I' when crossed out becomes the symbol of cross; so, what is crucified is the ego, remember. Then, the Divine nature manifests itself unhampered.

The ego is most easily destroyed by devotion, by dwelling on the magnificence of the Lord and by rendering service to others as children of the Lord. (250358)

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