The national as well as international events of public importance keep on providing us the chance to have glimpses of ‘Ego’ tussle among renowned public figures on some issue or the other which is followed by accusation and counter accusation from parties in position and opposition.
We also know, due to this simple looking three letter word EGO, many wars have been fought, many countries disintegrated, many negotiations failed, many friends fell apart, many homes turned into houses of disharmony, numerous divorce took place, many sleepless nights spent, many talents spoiled and what not.
The famous author Adrian Cooper writes, "The ego is responsible for many negative human traits, including but certainly not limited to being critical and judgemental of others, being rigid and inflexible, being manipulative, need to feel superior, feeling anxious and fearful, mood swings, taking everything too personally, taking everything too seriously, constant need for approval and praise, feeling hurried and driven to do things, competing rather than cooperating, feeling resentful and guilty, unable to live in the present moment, addictions to alcohol, tobacco and other Mind altering substances, overly concerned with personal appearance, overly concerned with success, feeling insecure, constant worry over trivialities, clinging to the past, feelings of despair and hopelessness, feeling life is meaningless, and the need for power over others. All of these are seriously negative human traits and ones that can easily make a person’s life a misery".
The list is endless, yet we continue to be the slave of this most unique virtue (?) of mankind which, of course, Sigmund Freud says in these words, "Where id was, there shall ego be." Interestingly, however, the conflict between 'ego' and 'our true self' too goes on ceaselessly till the end of our last breath in this world.
Before dwelling further on this deliberation, let us enjoy the following three quotes of these well-known personalities on the subject:
- Whenever I climb, I am followed by a dog called, Ego. - Friedrich Nietzsche
- The foundation of Buddha's teachings lies in compassion and the reason for practicing the teachings is to wipe out the persistence of Ego, the number one enemy of compassion. -- Tenzin Gyatso.
- Ego has a voracious appetite, the more you feed it, the hungrier it gets. -- Nathaniel Bronner Jr.
It is very interesting as well as intriguing that despite knowing fully well that Ego is the number one enemy of mankind, we fail to shed what is unwarranted. Yes, it continues to happen because we are obsessed with the famous, 'I' Thought which Sri Ramana Maharshi described when inquired about the nature of our mind, as:
"The mind is nothing other than the 'I' thought. The mind and the ego are one and the same. 'I' (that is the 'I'-thought) am doing this, 'I' am thinking this; 'I' am feeling happy, etc. Thus, the 'I' thought is the all-important thought, since each idea or thought arises only as someone's thought and it is not known to exist independently of the ego. From where does this 'I' arise? Seek for it within; it then vanishes. This is the pursuit of wisdom. When the mind unceasingly investigates its own nature, it transpires that there is no such thing as a mind. Get rid of the 'I' thought. When 'I' ceases to exist, there is no grief and there is peace". So, he suggested that yoga and self-enquiry are two methods of controlling the mind, which he compared to an agitated bull. Yoga attempts to drive the bull with a stick, while self-enquiry coaxes it with green grass".
Medical research did prove the fact that many brain and heart diseases are ego related. Stress has been the natural outcome of this ego driven thinking, be it your work place or your home. The human history testifies this fact that no good can ever be achieved by carrying it in your head. Then, why not keep the ego away and experience the beautiful change in our life?
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