Insignificance of the human ego
By Mata Amritanandamayi
17th June 2012 12:32 AM
Great masters, who have explored life in depth and understood it, compare life to a bubble. Time is infinite. Human life, which appears and quickly fades away, is transient. But in his arrogance, man forgets this truth. When still in possession of wealth, status, authority and youth, man lives in reckless arrogance, thinking, “I am great. Everything is under my control”. He forgets his dharma to the world, his nation, his fellow-beings, to Nature — even his dharma to himself. Consciously or unconsciously, we give our ego complete rein to rule and control our life.
When a human life comes to an end, all that it can look back upon are the actions done in that lifetime and how they have influenced people and society. Our lifespan, health, strength and physical beauty are limited. They all fade with time. Change is the powerful signature of time. There is nothing in this universe upon which time does not leave its mark. It is this change that the ancient sages named maya. Maya does not mean that which does not exist. Rather, it means something that undergoes constant change. However consciousness, which is still and constant, is the underlying foundation of all that undergoes change. We should learn to recognise the difference between the body and the external universe — which undergo constant change — and the unchanging consciousness that serves as the substratum of the body and universe. When we recognise this difference, we will learn to see all changes in life as natural and accept them.
Man is like a drop of water in the vast ocean of this infinite universe. When he gives undue importance to his ego and asserts its greatness, it is like a drop of water proclaiming that it is the ocean. It is not man’s ability that makes the sun, moon and planets move; nor is it his ability that sustains the earth and its innumerable life forms. Man, who is just another creature that inhabits this infinite existence, should not nurture his ego. Instead he should realise its insignificance and move forward in his life with humility.
Amma has heard a story. Once there lived an old woman in a village. One day, she quarrelled with some people and decided to leave the village. As she was making her way out, she exclaimed, “Now let me see how the sun rises over this village!”
“What do you mean?” asked the villagers. The old woman replied, “The sun rises here only because my rooster crows at dawn. That is not going to happen anymore. Both my rooster and I, are leaving this village!” The old woman reached another village where she decided to stay. The next morning, as usual, her rooster began to crow. And the sun rose in the sky. The old woman drew herself up and said haughtily, “Ha! That will teach them to trifle with me!” The foolish woman believed that, after she left the village, the sun never rose over it again. Often, due to our arrogance, we also tend to think like her.
We often hear people say, “That person has hurt me a lot. He has made me so unhappy that I will never be able to forgive him.” But if we think a little deeper, we will realise that it is actually our own ego that is hurting us. Also, on such occasions, it is good to remember that we too have hurt others and made many people unhappy. In fact, no one can hurt us without our permission.
Ego instigates us to approach individuals and situations indiscriminately and develop unhealthy attachments. Whether it is an inner emotion, or directed towards an external object or individual, it is when we establish an indiscriminate attachment that we become hurt and disappointed.
Consider a man tightly hugging a thorny bush and screaming, “Help! Help! I cannot bear this pain!” Who can help him? Only he himself because he is the one hugging the bush. Only if he himself lets go of the bush, will his pain cease. Many of our troubles are like this — they are our own creations. They are the result of our own indiscriminate and uncontrolled ego. We impose the troubles created by our own mind upon external objects, individuals and situations, and constantly fool ourselves. We can be free of this only through spiritual contemplation and practice. Therefore, children, just as you eat and sleep, you should try to make spirituality a part of your life.
The writer is a world-renowned spiritual leader
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