By Praveen Nagda
Enemies and friends coexist in the material world. We create them for ourselves, and we do it with our thoughts, feelings, and actions – knowingly most of the time and unknowingly probably some of the time. On the one hand, we form relationships, build bonds, make attachments, establish connections, nurture friendships, develop acquaintances and on the other hand, we detach from people and relationships, experience break-ups, disconnect physically and mentally with loved ones, face deceptions in partnerships, and go through separations followed by emotional upheavals.
It is either the way we see ourselves and others’ interactions with us, or the way we see others and our interactions with them – these define how the relationships will develop, grow, mature, sustain, survive, collapse – and destroy or tarnish our physical and mental worlds. Deep in our own minds, perception and attention-seeking often form a self-image. This image of our own self is in continuous discussion with our own thoughts, and simultaneously relates to others whom we interact with and keeps making impressions about them.
‘Aham’ means ‘I’ but in the limited sense, it is always used in contexts that are complex. It is often referred to as a short form of ‘ahamkara’, ego. When a simple expression of ‘i am’ or ‘aham’ gradually leads to enforcing thoughts, ideas, beliefs and imposing of i, me, and myself over everyone else, it becomes ahamkara, ego, where there is no space for others.
Arrogance, pride, self-driven approach, aggression, competitive behaviour, being opinionated, judgmental and critical are clear signs of egoistic behaviour, also leading to stress, suffering, anxiety, destructive mindset, sorrow and pain, as the ego doesn’t allow for joy and happiness anymore.
In the Mahabharata, Arjuna’s ego was the attachment to his body, due to ignorance, until he was taught otherwise by Krishna. He then decided to follow the path of karma after understanding that the real true Self is eternal, and it doesn’t perish. Duryodhana’s ego was amplified by those he was surrounded with. The praise, admiration, applause and the respect he always received from his cronies led to his arrogance that eventually destroyed him.
Similar to incidents in the Mahabharata, we, too, are constantly fighting battles of ego all the time. Whether we are engaging with family, friends, relatives, acquaintances, or business associates, we tend to make comparisons and judgments, with reference to what they have or don’t have vis-à-vis ourselves. Doesn’t it create a tempest, turbulence, an uneasiness, often in our own minds, with our own thoughts? Doesn’t it interfere with our normal life, work and interactions with people?
The ego in us goes on creating enemies among friends, well-wishers, and thereby valuable relationships are compromised, bringing misery, pain and sorrow into our lives.
A part of our brain seems to be responsible for consciousness, for maintaining the ego. Scientists are working towards deciphering the mystery of our mind. However, various spiritual masters all over the world have given us enough guidelines, teachings, methods and practices that can help us manage our egos well enough for it to play a constructive role in our lives and save us from being devastated or from saving others from being devastated by us. Any time is a good time to move from ego, to let go!
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.