3 x OMs

“So Ham” Meditation to Calm the Mind | In the Voice of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Study circle Discussion questions on EGO

  1. Why do I think I am better than another person? ( appearance, job title, wealth, skill, maya etc.)
  2. Is God more accessible to me because I love him or is he equally available to all?
  3. When is one able to free themselves from the bondage of karma?
  4. Is it ok to be proud of my children and their accomplishments?
  5. Are we increasing ignorance in our kids when in the name of cultivating self esteem in children we give them awards for doing nothing? 
  6. What else are we doing to ourselves that holds us back in the shroud of ignorance?
  7. What is a good technique we can use to drive out our ego?

Ego makes one forget oneself – Sathya Sai Speaks

In human beings, there are certain reasons that source the emanation of either the bad or the good determinations. No action can be performed without a reason. Reason and result (or cause and effect) are, thus, inseparable. One cannot exist without the other. Therefore, there cannot be any result (or effect) without reason (or cause) in the world. 

But there is one result which has a free entry, and needs no reason whatsoever! That is Ego (ahamkaram). Ego is very spicy (Chala Karam). It makes a person forget oneself, causes humiliation to fellow-beings, and instills a superiority complex. These qualities are the greatness in Ego! 

The person intoxicated with ego would always remain in a state of complacence. An ego saturated person can never discriminate between good and bad. He becomes worse than an animal or even becomes demonic. In order to drive away ego, we are performing homam and casting the ego in it (Aahuti ). But humanity is not making progress in resorting to the sacred path of divinity. 

If there is ego and you think Swami is yours, then Swami gets imprisoned by your ego and cannot come to your help. But, if you think, “I belong to Swami”, then Swami becomes free to look after you and bring you spiritual progress

It is all a matter of humility and your attitude. Accept everything as God. God is everywhere, in everything. True realization of the omnipresence of God will knock out your ego, since it stands in the way of surrender. – Sri Sathya Sai.

A restless mind is an important source of ill health. Man is constantly afflicted with some source of worry or other. He is never free from anxiety. Why? Because he is identifying himself with the body. How did he acquire this body? Through his past activities and deeds. What were they caused by? By the twin pulls of love and hate. How did they originate? They were born out of the entanglement in duality, in the opposites. And, why does he get snared by them? Ignorance of the Truth, the One. You must know that each one is a pilgrim and each birth is but a stage in the journey towards the city of liberation. This body is a rest house, in which we stay for a short time, during the pilgrimage. The mind is the caretaker, the watchman in the place where we rest. We are not to treat him as if he is the master or owner. But, we ought to take care that the house we are privileged to occupy is not damaged or polluted. Take good care of it and its furnishings, and treat the watchman politely! – Divine Discourse, Nov 20, 1982.

What is the inner meaning of the inhalation and exhalation processes, i.e. SoHam? So means That (God); Ham means I. The sum and substance of this is that we have to take God into us (So – inhalation) and leave out ahamkaram, i.e. ego (Ham – exhalation). This is called Hamsa Gayathri. This inhalation and exhalation process goes on continuously for 21,600 times in a day in us. This means that you welcome God into you and drive out ego from you that many times. As long as there is ego in you, you will never be happy. – Sathya Sai Speaks

The great evil that undermines the units of this organization is pride and the jealousy that it engenders. When one person exudes the pride that he alone can sing Bhajans well among the group, naturally others develop anger, jealousy, hate, malice and such other deleterious traits. Love alone can root out the weed of pride from the heart. Love all, as so many forms of God, appear in these various roles. A heart without Love is as dreary as a town without a temple. Spiritual pride is the most poisonous of all varieties of pride; it blinds and leads the person suffering from it into ruin. Beware of pride; be always aware that you are but instruments in My Divine Mission of Dharmasthapana – Revival of Righteousness. Try to be more and more efficient as such instruments. The Hand that wields the Instrument knows how and when it has to be applied. – Sathya Sai Speaks Vol 10 (Pride and fall)

Arjuna was trained by Krishna, without break, to control his egoism. Before the Mahabharatha war, Arjuna once happened to be at Ramasethu, near Rameshwaram. Arjuna spoke of the bridge with some scorn in the hearing of Anjaneya who was there and said that he would have built a bridge of arrows, single-handed and not bothered about subduing the sea and getting monkeys to pile up rocks one over the other. Anjaneya asked him to build one. When Anjaneya walked gently over the bridge, the arrows broke under his weight! Krishna suddenly presented Himself and suggested that it should be done in his presence, for there was no witness when the challenge was made and accepted. In order to save Arjuna from humiliation, Krishna bore the second bridge on His back, when Anjaneya walked on it, so that Arjuna saw the tell-tale streaks of red, where the arrow points had pierced the Lord’s back. Thus, Arjuna’s pride was humbled. He prayed to Anjaneya to fight on his side at Kurukshethra; but Anjaneya said that the Kaurava army would be too infinitesimal a foe for his prowess; it would not be fair to pit him against such a weak enemy; he would only watch the fight, from the flag of Arjuna’s chariot, he said; and the offer was gladly accepted.

Arjuna’s pride was humbled during the war in another interesting manner by Krishna. About the end of the war, one evening, Arjuna felt proud that Krishna was his charioteer, and his ‘servant.’ He felt that as master, he should get down from the chariot after Krishna and not before Him. So, that day he insisted that Krishna should get down first, that he should come down only afterward. But, Krishna was adamant; Arjuna must come down first, he said. After wasting a long time, pleading and protesting and praying, Arjuna got down, very unwillingly, swallowing his pride. Krishna then came down, and, immediately the chariot went up in flames! Krishna explained the reason. The incendiary arrows and missiles that had stuck on the chariot were powerless so long as He was on it; but, when his presence was no longer there, they set the chariot on fire. Thus, Krishna showed that every act and word of the Lord had significance and a purpose, which mortals cannot gauge. Egoism is a tough enemy and it requires constant vigilance to conquer it. – Sathya Sai Speaks Vol 4 (The bubble of pride)

Pride raises its head in every stage and state. Like grass which covers the earth with a green carpet, as soon as the rains fall even in places which appear dry waste, pride thrives upon opportunity. 

Sikhadhwaja, the King, got a feeling of extreme renunciation and left for the forest for ascetic practices. His queen Choodala had the spirit of detachment in greater measure, but she did not make a show of it as her husband did. The queen put on a male attire, wore ochre, spelt a rosary and sought him in the jungle. Discovering him at last, she asked him who he was. 

The king replied that he was the ruler of the realm, that he had given up his riches, his treasure, his army, his court, etc. “For the sake of what did you give up these?” asked Choodala. “For the sake of peace,” replied the king. But, he had to confess that he had not attained it. Then, Choodala taught him that the giving up of “things” will bear no fruit, that the desire for things, the pride of possessing things, of having once possessed them, has to be given up, that one must be detached from the objective world so that he might turn his eyes inward and conquer the foes of the inner realm and become a master of himself. 

When the king attempted to fall at the feet of the new Guru that had come to him, Choodala revealed her identity. She was a sathi (virtuous wife) who was the Guru of her pathi (husband); there were many such women in ancient times, when they were honored and educated much better than today. – Sathya Sai Speaks Vol 4 (The bubble of pride)

Gita 9:29

samo ’haṁ sarva-bhūteṣhu na me dveṣhyo ’sti na priyaḥ

ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā mayi te teṣhu chāpyaham

I am equally disposed to all living beings; I am neither inimical nor partial to anyone. But the devotees who worship Me with love reside in Me and I reside in them.

We all intuitively believe that if there is a God, He must be perfectly just; there cannot be an unjust God.  People suffering injustice in the world make statements such as, “Mr. Billionaire, you have the power of money on your side. Do what you like.  God will settle our dispute.  He is watching and will definitely punish you.  You cannot escape.”  This sort of statement does not indicate that the person making it is a saint, possessing absolute faith in God, for even common persons believe that God is perfectly just. 

However, the previous verse by Shree Krishna creates the doubt that God is partial toward His devotees, because while everyone is subject to the law of karma, God releases His devotees from it.  Isn’t this symptomatic of the defect of partiality?  Shree Krishna feels it necessary to clarify this point and begins the verse by saying samo’ ham, meaning, “No, no, I am equal to all.  But I have a uniform law in accordance with which I bestow My grace.”  

This law was previously stated in verse 4.11: “In whatever way people surrender unto Me, I reciprocate accordingly. Everyone follows my path, knowingly or unknowingly, O son of Pritha.”

The rainwater falls equally upon the earth.  Yet, the drop that falls on the cornfields gets converted into grain; the drop that falls on the desert bush gets converted into a thorn; the drop that falls in the gutter becomes dirty water; and the drop that falls in the oyster becomes a pearl.  There is no partiality on the part of the rain, since it is equitable in bestowing its grace upon the land.  

The raindrops cannot be held responsible for this variation in results, which are a consequence of the nature of the recipient.  Similarly, God states here that He is equally disposed toward all living beings, and yet, those who do not love Him are bereft of the benefits of His grace because their hearts are unsuitable vessels for receiving it.  

So, what can people do whose hearts are impure?  Shree Krishna now reveals the purifying power of bhakti.

Gita 4:11

ye yathā mā prapadyante tāns tathaiva bhajāmyaham

mama vartmānuvartante manuhyā pārtha sarvaśha

 In whatever way people surrender unto Me, I reciprocate accordingly. Everyone follows My path, knowingly or unknowingly, O son of Pritha.

Here, Lord Krishna states that he reciprocates with everyone as they surrender to him. For those who deny the existence of God, he meets them in the form of the law of karma—he sits inside their hearts, notes their actions, and dispenses the results. But such atheists too cannot get away from serving him; they are obliged to serve God’s material energy, Maya, in its various apparitions, as wealth, luxuries, relatives, prestige, etc. Maya holds them under the sway of anger, lust, and greed. On the other hand, for those who turn their mind away from worldly attractions and look upon God as the goal and refuge, he takes care of them just as a mother takes care of her child.

Shree Krishna uses the word bhajāmi, which means “to serve.” He serves the surrendered souls, by destroying their accumulated karmas of endless lifetimes, cutting the bonds of Maya, removing the darkness of material existence, and bestowing divine bliss, divine knowledge, and divine love. And when the devotee learns to love God selflessly, he willingly enslaves himself to their love. 

Shree Ram thus tells Hanuman:

ekaikasyopakārasya prāān dāsyāmi te kape

śhehasyehopakārāā bhavām iino vaya

(Vālmīki Ramayan)[v14]

“O Hanuman, to release myself from the debt of one service you performed for me, I shall have to offer my life to you. For all the other devotional services done by you, I shall remain eternally indebted.” In this way, God reciprocates with everyone as they surrender to him.

Gita 18:17

yasya nāhankṛito bhāvo buddhir yasya na lipyate

hatvā ‘pi sa imāñl lokān na hanti na nibadhyate

Those who are free from the ego of being the doer, and whose intellect is unattached, though they may slay living beings, they neither kill nor are they bound by actions.

Having described the obtuse intellect in the previous verse, Shree Krishna now describes the pure intellect. He says that those with purified intellect are free from the false pride of being the doer. They also do not seek to enjoy the fruits of their actions. Thus, they are not bound in the karmic reactions of what they do. 

Previously in verse 5.10 as well, he had stated that those who are detached from results are never tainted by sin. From a material perspective, they may appear to be working, but from a spiritual perspective, they are free from selfish motivations, and therefore they do not become bound by the results of karma.

Understanding that we are not the sole cause responsible for our accomplishments frees us from the egoistic pride of doership.

Gita 3:27

prakṛiteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśhaḥ

ahankāra-vimūḍhātmā kartāham iti manyate

all activities are carried out by the three modes of material nature. But in ignorance, the soul, deluded by false identification with the body, thinks of itself as the doer.

We can see that the natural phenomena of the world are not directed by us, but are performed by prakiti, or Mother Nature. Now, for the actions of our own body, we usually divide them into two categories: 

1) Natural biological functions, such as digestion, blood circulation, heartbeat, etc., which we do not consciously execute but which occur naturally. 

2) Actions such as speaking, hearing, walking, sleeping, working etc. that we think we perform.

Both these categories of works are performed by the mind-body-senses mechanism. All the parts of this mechanism are made from prakiti, or the material energy, which consists of the three modes (guas)—goodness (sattva), passion (rajas), and ignorance (tamas). 

Just as waves are not separate from the ocean, but a part of it, similarly the body is a part of Mother Nature from which it is created. Hence, material energy is the doer of everything.

Why then does the soul perceive itself to be doing activities? 

The reason is that, in the grip of the unforgiving ego, the soul falsely identifies itself with the body. Hence, it remains under the illusion of doership. Let us say there are two trains standing side-by-side on the railway platform, and a passenger on one train fixes his gaze on the other. When the second train moves, it seems that the first is moving. Likewise the immobile soul identifies with the mobility of prakiti. Thus, it perceives itself as the doer of actions. The moment the soul eliminates the ego and surrenders to the will of God, it realizes itself as the non-doer.

One may question that if the soul is truly the non-doer, then why is it implicated in the law of karma for actions performed by the body? The reason is that the soul does not itself perform actions, but it does direct the actions of the senses-mind-intellect. For example, a chariot driver does not pull the chariot himself, but he does direct the horses. Now, if there is any accident, it is not the horses that are blamed, but the driver who was directing them. Similarly, the soul is held responsible for the actions of the mind-body mechanism because the senses-mind-intellect work on receiving inspiration from the soul.

Gita 2:71

vihāya kāmān yaḥ sarvān pumānśh charati niḥspṛihaḥ

nirmamo nirahankāraḥ sa śhāntim adhigachchhati

That person, who gives up all material desires and lives free from a sense of greed, proprietorship, and egoism, attains perfect peace.

In this verse, Shree Krishna lists the things that disturb one’s peace, and then asks Arjun to give them up.

Material desires. The moment we harbor a desire, we walk into the trap of greed and anger. Either way, we get trapped. So the path to inner peace does not lie in fulfilling desires, but instead in eliminating them.

Greed. Firstly, greed for material advancement is a great waste of time. Secondly, it is an endless chase. In developed countries, very few people are deprived of enough to eat and wear, and yet they remain disturbed; this is because their hankering is still unsatisfied. Thus, those who possess the wealth of contentment possess one of the biggest treasures of life.

Ego. Most of the quarrels that erupt between people stem from the ego. Mark H McCormack, author of What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School writes: “Most corporate executives are one giant ego, with a couple of arms and legs sticking out.” Statistics reveal that a majority of executives, who lose their jobs in the senior management level, do so not because of professional incompetence, but because of interpersonal issues. The way to peace is not to nurture and increase pride, but to get rid of it.

Proprietorship. The feeling of proprietorship is based upon ignorance because the whole world belongs to God. We came empty-handed in the world, and we will go back empty-handed. How then can we think of worldly things as ours?

Video resources for study circle

Other References and links

The Gift of Failure | Psychology Today

Pride can be a virtue, but it needs to be the right kind of pride |

Confident vs Cocky (Animated)

Dissolving the Ego | Eckhart Tolle Teachings