Rare Quotes from a Rare Master
by Swami Krishnananda

5. The Ego Analysed Threadbare

The notion of oneself being identical with the body is the cause of egoism. It is this egoism that entangles all judgments of value in the preconception that knowledge is acquired through the senses and the mind or the intellect. This prejudice of egoism is Samsara, the persistent idea that all knowledge is in terms of space, time and externality.

No amount of struggle, fretting and fuming by the ego can bring it salvation from a bondage which it has woven around itself. The difficulty is precisely in him who sees the difficulty around. It is a situation which has become a part of one’s personality and so it cannot be examined as an objective condition. This is called Mūla-Avidyā or the ignorance which covers the seer himself and prevents the very process of seeing correctly. It is like a devil sitting in one’s brain itself. Who is, then, to think of exorcising it?

When we get irritated or annoyed in the midst of work, for any reason, it is to be taken as a caution that our personality has entered into it, and the ‘unselfishness’ of the work has been adulterated with that undesirable and vitiating factor, the ego. When the work is ‘not mine’, there is no reason for internal disturbance.

It is futile on the part of a Sadhaka to attempt at sense-control when he or she is in the vicinity of objects of enjoyment. It is necessary that one should be wary of this truth of Sadhana, a truth which most people do not recognise due to vanity and foolishness.

If the hydrogen and oxygen that are in the entire atmosphere get mixed up in the proportion of H2O, what will happen to us? And why should it not happen? Who controls the atmosphere and prevents such a combination? What is this mystery and this precariousness of life? Where then is the need for man to be proud of his powers?

“Man proposes; God disposes,” says an old adage. It does not mean that God is perpetually opposing whatever man does. What really happens is that when man exerts through his egoism in a manner which violates the eternal law of God, he naturally feels frustrated, being beaten back by the law of Truth.

What ‘happens’ is done by God. What is ‘initiated’ is done by the Jiva. We should be able to distinguish between what happens without our interference and what is done with it.

The body is an eddy or whirlpool in the ocean of Nature and identification of consciousness with any particular entity or whirl therein is egoism. Thus the ego is a false assumption in consciousness and not a substance or a thing. Particular attachments are attributable to this mistaken attitude of consciousness towards the many forms of the vast Nature. The localisation of consciousness as subject and object is on account of a false interpretation of oneself in terms of the diversities of the universal Prakriti.

There are no human beings with whom we come in contact or whom we confront. We only meet forces or centres of energy, among whom we are also some. There is mutual attraction and repulsion of forces with various permutations and combinations and the idea of personalities, while there are only forces, arises by a concentration of consciousness in these centres. This concentration is called the ego-principle. Men, things and all variety are these dramatic dispositions of cosmic energy.

It is difficult to live in society with mental peace, because it is difficult to be charitable in nature. Charity of things is of less consequence than possession of charitable feelings, and resorting to charitable speech, charitable demeanour, and charitable actions through a general charitable temperament. This is, in short, what is called self-sacrifice, for it involves parting with some part of the delights of the ego.