There are a few posts where I lean on scriptural evidence from Advaitha Vedanta or Buddhism to make my points. This post is not one of them. This post is based on pure experience and my learnings over this lifetime.

The source for this post is a beautiful question about the relationship between Ego and Detachment by my spiritual brother Ravi Trivedi. There comes a time in every Sadhak’s life when you are at the cusp of transformation. You can call it the Tipping point for a Sadhak.

You have two key indicators to identify a tipping point.

  1. A question or an idea comes to you, and you cannot get it out of your head.
    You stay with an idea and refuse to accept an answer for it till you feel fully satisfied and your inner voice tells you that you have reached a conclusive answer.
  2. When you work on both these points, you gradually see a fundamental shift in your nature. Today my story could have been about my journey with lust or ego since these are the two main obstacles I had to deal with in my spiritual journey. Since Ravi asked a question on ego, I will focus on that today and leave lust for another day.

My First Brush With Ego

I clearly remember the first time someone called out my ego. In 2008, my boss, a wonderful lady, gave me some feedback. We were in a meeting room in my company’s corporate headquarters in Houston — Texas.

“I can ask a question and know that you will have the best answer in the room and the most convincing logic to justify it. However, the challenge is you know that too, and the way you say it ensures no one else will ever feel it’s their idea.”
I nodded, and put on a wise expression, but never thought about that feedback.

My Second Brush With Ego

I continued to be the same slightly brash and cocky yet loveable character at work and home. My general sense of kindness and wholeheartedness compensated for some insensitivity I displayed at times. The second time I remember thinking about ego was when my wife and I visited a psychiatrist for anxiety issues. I saw her open up and talk about things. What hurt me was that she had tried to discuss these things with me. I chose to listen to a little voice in my head that said — “You are a nice person. Your parents are lovely and gentle humans. So what if your wife has a few challenges settling down in a different culture. She will learn.”

Every time my wife tried to discuss her issues with me, I listened to that familiar voice. Listening to her speak openly to the doctor and my brush with depression and anxiety helped me be more sensitive to other people’s needs and helped me start putting curbs on my little ego voice.

My Third Brush with Ego

I visited my Guru’s Ashram for the first time and was ambivalent about the experience for the first couple of days. I knew I was at the right place but being in Swami’s presence was uncomfortable. I thought I was almost perfect, and he would tell me how good I was. Instead, he magnified all my faults and shone a spotlight on a couple of them. After I came back, I could barely go to my altar. It’s only after reading my divine mother’s post on Nav Durga Sadhana did I start some basic spiritual practices again.

The Attempt to Reduce Ego

It’s absolutely true that if you walk one step towards your master, they will walk the remaining distance and carry you in their arms. I thought the only way I could serve Swami was to write on his platform. Hence, I began my journey as an author. I felt a deep desire to share my truth with my spiritual family, so I started sharing my experiences with utmost honesty, even if it meant coming across as an imperfect human being. My divine mother reached out to me after one such post. The amazing thing is she did not reach out after I posted about Guru Sadhana or Gayatri Sadhana. Instead, it was a post about my flaws as a person and how I worked over years to correct them. Thus, I began my beautiful journey with my Ma.

The first time I talked to her, I immediately felt Ma could read me like an open book. She sensed my purity of love, but she also saw all my other flaws and accepted me wholeheartedly. She radiated so much love, joy, and affection and gave me so many blessings I did not know how to receive them. So I did the best thing I could. I listened to my inner voice that told me she was my truth, and I refused to entertain any other thoughts. Over time she taught me so much about love, kindness, compassion, and surrender without ever preaching. She and Swami are the only two people I know who never try to be compassionate or humble. That is simply their true nature.

How do you be with someone like this? What behavior do you adopt? The only lady saint I could find any reference to in modern times was Ma Sarada Devi. So I read about the holy mother. The one lesson I got was unconditional love. That was easy for me. I already felt that for Ma. All I needed to do was to guard that emotion. The more time I spent like Ma, the more I wanted to be like her. The more I tried to be like her, the further away I moved from all my pettiness of wanting credit for things, being told I am a good person and wanting to be loved universally.

The Big Dent of Ego

The most significant dent on my ego was during my recent trip to my guru’s ashram for Nav Durga Sadhana. I have written about my experience where the mind started abusing the divine mother, and Mantra chanting came to my aid. The one thing that became crystal clear during that experience was that I AM NOT THE MIND. I could never abuse my divine mother, and if my mind was doing it, it was clearly not ME. I was not the body or the mind.

What Happens When Your Ego Reduces

There is a school of thought that says you need a productive ego. You can master your ego and harness it. It may be a reality for others, but not for me. I realized that my Ego can essentially be called “I.” It’s a word we used so many times. I wrote this article. I am sharing my experience. Please come to my house. I am glad you liked my blog. We are so full of ourselves in our lives that there is barely any space for the divine to enter. The more I wanted to be like my mother, the emptier I became. The open space was being filled up and being her and Swami, and it was so blissful that I wanted to completely kill the “I” and make this body and mind a vessel for them. When you even have that desire, they walk 99 steps toward you. The emptier you become, the happier you become, and the more you want to serve them.

When you want to serve them and have not dropped your ego, it’s hard because they cannot wield you, and you are not ready to be an instrument of the divine. So what happens when you start the process of emptying yourself? Do you become a doormat? Can people walk all over you? Anyone who tells you that has clearly never done it. You gain immense courage because you realize two things:

You don’t care what people think of you. The “I” that worried about keeping people happy has significantly reduced. Hence, you do what your inner voice tells you without fear of judgment.
Your life is much more at ease because you are riding on a chariot with Krishna holding the reins. One of the best things that happens is that you realize your guru loves you so much more than you can ever imagine. Your relationship with them only starts after you are consciously aware of them in this lifetime. When your ego has significantly diminished and you have met a true master, you realize that your master has been holding your hand forever, and every success or challenge in your life was to get you to the exact point you stand today. Once you have that realization, fear and stress don’t hold too much sway in your life.

My brother Ravi asked about the relationship between Ego and detachment. If we follow the scriptures, the more you reduce the ego, the greater your degree of detachment. However, that’s not the complete picture. When your ego diminishes, the divine starts establishing in your heart. The joy and the warmth you get from that relationship can never be described in words, and that’s the greatest gift in my experience.

A Short Note to my Parivar

Om Sri Hari. I plan to keep comments closed on my posts for a couple of reasons which are personal to me. However, if you ever want to reach out and chat with me about anything, I am always available. You can email me at akssenti@gmail.com.

 

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