the treacherous subtle ego

Recently there was the Kannada serial Muktha (discussion) on E TV Kannada channel. One of the scenes (an excerpt) they showed was that of the inspector who in all her fortrighness and idealism was incriminating her own mother and was always talking very condescendingly about her. Though nowadays I’ve actually been following the serial, I haven’t really watched that particular part it, so don’t know the exact details. But the advice her mother gives her in reply is pretty interesting. She says that its true you are superior in your thinking because of your principles and your high level of integrity. But don’t condemn others who are not and don’t look down upon them especially your own mother and or else you are dragging yourself down along with them. [I can’t remember the exact dialogues, if anybody has any more details or comments please add them here].

Some people say “I’m not a spiritual person” and some other’s say ‘I’m a very spiritual person’. There is a quote…

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

So it dosen’t really matter whether we consider ourself spiritual or not! 🙂 Anyone who considers himself/herself to be spiritual or just righteous or disciplined [however weak it may be (as it is in my case 😉 ) ] – might find it hard to not to feel superior when confronted with anyone else. The book (fiction) Siddhartha by Herman Hesse illustrates this point…

…his mouth twitched with contempt, when he walked through a city
of nicely dressed people. He saw merchants trading, princes hunting,
mourners wailing for their dead, whores offering themselves, physicians
trying to help the sick, priests determining the most suitable day for
seeding, lovers loving, mothers nursing their children–and all of this
was not worthy of one look from his eye, it all lied, it all stank,
it all stank of lies…

This was Siddhartha’s state of mind at some point. I few years ago, I myself used to see people around me and think… look at all these fellows, trapped in all their anger, sadness, frustration, etc all because of their ego… why cant they just be peaceful and objective and about life like me. Over time, I realised that I was actually ending up being egoistic about not being egoistic… quite a paradox! 😀

Its relatively easier to eventually manage to “see through” facades of self-importance caused by wealth, power, talent, looks, physical provess, etc. Seeing through of course need not necessarily mean throwing it away and becoming a recluse. On the other hand, I would say one could value things one has – especially family, friends, colleagues, etc – all the more, and try to value them in the best possible way for the benefit of oneself as well as others.

But ego can arise in various deceptive forms. Subtle ego is pretty hard to recognise (within oneself, recognising in others is of course very easy! 😉 ) or conquer. We see in Indian mythology some stories of people who after years of meditating, when disturbed or angered, have no hesitation in issuing a curse on people! Even in daily life, I’ve come across many people who get really angry when they find other’s are not up to their standards. Sometimes this is a good thing, when anger is pretended, out of genuine compassion, it really goads the others to scale up! But this is unfortunately rarely the case, its more anger out of intolerance that benefits neither the recepient nor the angry man! 🙂

I found this pretty useful to explain such a situation…

My other group member was a good guy, but bit on the lazy side; his attitude would really frustrate me sometimes. Fortunately or unfortunately, I remembered a quote by Herman Hesse: “You only experience that which is within you.” That translates to — if I didn’t have a latent greed for comfort, my friend’s laziness wouldn’t frustrate me.

This recognition that the world with all its limitations is a reflection of ourselves is something that I’m personally going to take a very long time (maybe many lifetimes!) to completely digest 😀

Anyway, either a person recognises the subtle ego and conquers it, or maybe its possible that it does not arise at all. Either way, I believe there’s no substitute for complete down-to-earth humility, dosen’t matter if one may appear to be egoistic from outside.

If one looks at evolution, monkeys became apes, and over time apes became primitive humans. And those primitive humans evolved into the modern man. But the thing is evolution hasn’t ended, its going on all the time, left to each individual’s choice to either go further or hang around at the same level. May not be according to science fiction where people float around communicationg through ESP 😉 but merely a refinement of the thought process – where we develop a more holistic perspective rather than merely a self-centered one. Everyone is already going through such a process in different ways anyway – though with age, this process often slows down and at some point may get stagnated… after we’ve put in too many bricks in the wall.

The story of Siddhartha reflects JK’s words that truth is a pathless land, that each individual beats his own evolutionary path. And the story shows that the path need not be in a straight line, it might go round and round in circles as well. And the really big joke indeed is that the destination is nothing more than to finally catch up with where we already are 😀 – to find peace… in the Here and Now, as Eckhart Tolle elucidates in his book Power of Now.

4 Responses to “the treacherous subtle ego”

  1. P. Kalyan Says:

    I was getting irritated when I see people who don’t stand for values that I stand for. It was very uncomfortable for me to be with them. Fortunately I realized that it is only ego and…
    “Don’t expect others to be like what you would like to be. Like them for what they are.”

  2. msanjay Says:

    Nice observation Kalyan – thanks 🙂

  3. Veena Shivanna Says:

    Very nice post. I need to read through some of your old post. Some really reminds me Nipun & Guri.
    I remember that scene of IAM & MP where IAM says abuot
    ‘Nytika aTTahaasa’.
    IAM says to MP that neenu jagattalli ellarigu OLLeyavaLu, olle aadarsha iTTiruvavaLu, aadre nimma taayina kaMDre isTonDu kOpa yaake? neenu tumba OLLEyavaLu anno garva “puTTi”, adannu biTbidu “puTTi”. You can real see the tone which IAM uses, MP is moved after this.

    Its very nice actually, something like a caution for people like me. sometimes I start preaching people a logic of adarsha etc., when I can’t stand them for their valueless thoughts. Then I self impose a thought to not have such expectations from others.

    In one of the books I read, some people show their index finger when they want to scold somebody, thats a representations of one’s EGO.I don’t remember where I read this or dreamt about it may be 🙂

  4. msanjay Says:

    Thanks Veena, that’s really nice info.

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