“Ego” is not something that you got because you are beautiful or rich or you did something great. When you started kicking in your mother’s womb, the ego was born. The very first mistake was that you got identified with this little body. Getting identified with your physical body means the ego is born. It is a defence mechanism. This little organism has to survive in this vast existence of which you have no perception to even know where it begins and where it ends. Just to survive, you have to project yourself as somebody big. From then, the ego is born. It is a false reality you created just for the sake of survival.
So what is ego? It is like your shadow. The moment you have a physical body, you have a shadow. The shadow itself is neither good nor bad. If the sun is up there, you have a little shadow. If the sun is down here, you have a mile-long shadow. Whichever way the outside situation demands, that is the kind of shadow you have. That is also the kind of ego you should have.
You may have heard the word “vairagya”. “Raga,” means colour. “Vai” means beyond. “Vairag,” means beyond colour, which means you have become transparent. If you have become transparent - if what is behind you is red, you turn red too, if what is behind you is blue, you turn blue, if what is behind you is yellow, you turn yellow. You are unprejudiced. Wherever you are, you become a part of that, but nothing sticks to you. Only if you are like this, only if you are in a state of detachment, then you will dare to explore all dimensions of life when you live here.
To handle different kinds of situations in our lives, we need different kinds of identities. If you are fluid about it, if you can change from one to another gracefully, then you can play your role to the hilt and still have no problem with it. But right now, the problem is you get so identified with it, you start believing you are that. Once you believe “I am the shadow”, what would you do? You will have to crawl upon the earth because the shadow is there. If you crawl upon the earth, how will life be? If we carpet the floor, you will at least crawl in comfort, though not in joy. Suppose there are stones and rocks and thorns on the ground? Then you will cry out in pain. That is how your life is going on right now.
Right now your whole experience of life is limited to the physical. Everything that you know through your five sense perceptions is physical. The physical has no purpose of its own; it is there, like the outer peel of the fruit. The peel is only a protective layer to the fruit. This body is important only because there is something else inside. You have never experienced that something else. If that something else goes away tomorrow morning, nobody would want to touch this body which would have turned into a corpse. So, today when it is there within us, we have to take care of it.
If we do not transcend the limitations of the physical, if we do not transcend the limited existence of the physical, then life will only be a struggle. As long as the situations go well, you are very confident and as soon as problems creep up, you are diffident. And you are always aware that however great things are happening around you, any moment, things can go wrong. It is not even a question of going wrong. Life can just take a different course and the situation can change in a way that you do not like. Even if everything in the world is going dead wrong for you, and still you can go through this life untouched - in peace and joy - that means, you have understood life the way it is. Otherwise, you are just a slave of the physical.
Stop “destroying” the ego
Today, there is too much unnecessary talk going on in the world about destroying the ego. This has been picked up from the scriptures. Whenever your personality turns ugly, you call it ego. This is just one more way of passing the buck. When your personality turns ugly, you must just see it as you. If you see, “I am ugly,” you will want to do something about it. You would not want to be that way anymore, you would wish to be different.
But we have evolved so many strategies just to avoid this possibility. At a certain moment, whether you are beautiful or ugly, it is you, isn’t it? Keep it that way. Don’t create things which are not there – like your ego, your atman or something else. The moment you create ideas like “What is beautiful is my atman, what is ugly is my ego,” no transformation will be possible. On the other hand, if you say, “Whatever nonsense I am, Iam that,” “That which is beautiful and that which is ugly are both in me ,” then, what is ugly will naturally start changing , then you will naturally have to transform, you just can’t help it.
Today in the world, we need to bring about simple sense – life sense. Right now, people only have ego sense, they have no life sense. They are ego sensitive, not life sensitive. When you are in this state, you see yourself as life, but as far as you are concerned, no one else is life. Without any consideration, you trample upon anything and anyone. But when you are life sensitive, everything in your experience is life. So you tend to behave very sensibly with every other life around you. When you become life sensitive, the ego will no longer be a problem