H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Freeing Ourselves From Our False Ego

By Matsya Avatara Dasa

Our ego is a Destructor, the principle of separation and disunion. It is the opposite of Love.

The ego gives illusion to possess happiness, but if we come in contact with it we only get ephemeral pleasure. The ego gives illusion to possess love, but this sentiment, when it gets close to the ego becomes nothing else than unhealthy attachment. Divine immortal love belongs to the soul. Egoistical and conditioned attachments belong to the ego.

Freeing ourselves from the prison of the ego, (ahamkara) is the first and most important job to do for an aspirant spiritualist, whatever tradition or spiritual path we chose to follow.

By freeing ourselves from it we don’t lose our identity, instead our true identity can rise again only when the false identifications and masks of their personality (sarvo upadhir vinir muktam) will be gone. As long as we remain clutched to our false ego and we entertain ourselves with it, there will not be a reason to know God or ourselves. The job to be done is serious and demanding, but also wonderful and charming. It leads us to see ourselves, others and anything in this world with the eyes of the soul, by perceiving ourselves as creatures of the Lord and we will work for His Grace and Mercy, in harmony with the Whole.

In Buddhism ego is described as the cause for pain and of all illness. It is fought with the radical renunciation of the world. In the mid-oriental Traditions, Judaism, Christianity and Islamism ego is fought with renunciation, prayers and fasting. In the Franciscan order, the three perpetual vows are: poverty, chastity and obedience.

In Vedanta and Samkhya, ego is considered the principal cause of avidya, removal from God, collapse and degradation. It is the greatest obstacle to realization of the Inner Self and of Happiness. It is the strength that is opposed to the soul and to God. It is the main cause for envy and the falling of angels and men such Lucifer and Macbeth in ancient stories, as well as other examples in modern ones. Because of his ego, Lucifer becomes Satan and Lord Macbeth becomes a degraded and disgusting individual. In Lord Macbeth, the ego manifests itself in the form of Eva, Lady Macbeth who stimulates and increments his most negative tendencies. The principle of Eve and Adam is in each one of us, as in each of us is the angel, the pure devotee who aspires to liberation for himself and others. If we chose to feed the snake, the snake will win. If we feed the angel and his luminous spiritual nature, the angel will win. In each of us there are Vitra and Indra, Lucifer and Michael. Our destiny depends on the choices that we make, one way or the other.

Together with pride and haughtiness, the false ego is the principal characteristic of the asura. Humility is the opposite attitude and partially it is the antidote.

In a famous metaphor where Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu trains his greatest devotee, Shrila Rupa Gosvami, the Bhakti of the aspiring spiritualist is compared to a tender little plant, bhakti lata bija, surrounded by plants infested by the ego which aim to grow and destroy it. We must, with all of our might, take care of and protect this tender plant of Bhakti by practicing sadhana (spiritual discipline) in a constant way (abyasa) with emotional detachment from world phenomena (vairagya), by developing pure desire of service and offering to God. The offer to the Supreme of all that we own is defined by Shri Caitanya as the highest renunciation: yukta vairagya. The bad plant of the ego is eradicated by constant practice of sadhana bhakti with humility and in spirit of service.

In the vaidhi sadhana bhakti the centrality of the spiritual practices is constituted by Harinama Japa and Harinama Sankirtana, the imploration to God through the Holy Names and serving the Deities by calling His Name, because God and His Name are the same thing, His Name Itself is a divine manifestation.

Invoking the Holy Name with purity and without an offensive attitude takes humility. This derives from the consciousness of our nature of servants of God. The humility of one part relates to the Whole, to God, to His creatures and to His create.

Humbleness is developed by learning to respect and value all living beings, whomever or whatever they are, it doesn’t matter what body they temporarily wear. Only then, for divine mercy, the offenses that threat our spiritual realization will cease and it will be possible to chant the holy names in ecstasy.

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