Spiritual Musings - Part 4
Mastering Your Ego
I had been asked by my Guru to discuss the causes of my discontent with him. So I picked up my diary and headed on to the solitude of my room to note down the quota of sorrows I had been nurturing inside me from this lifetime or perhaps from the others as well! Without beating about the bush I would share with my readers, the first cause from my list as I jotted them down, along with the replies given so effortlessly by my Spiritual Mentor, Reverend Saint Sukh Sagar Ji :
“In my day to day life, I am very nice to the people I come into contact with. I am generous with my friends, relatives and even with strangers. I go out of the way to be good to them…sometimes outstretching my material resources or patience levels. When I do not get appropriate response or acknowledgement, I feel upset. There are times, when, far from being appreciated for my ‘benevolence’, I am criticized, termed as an ‘emotional fool’ and even sneered at! This devastates me, pains me deeply and throws me into fitful fretting and crying…”
My Guru came out with a reply, which has sunk in the innermost recesses of my being. Very chivalrously he pointed out that without my realizing so, I had a personality, which was prone to be Approval Addict. Not that my intensions of being helpful and good were questionable, but deep down, they also were feeding my Ego of wanting to be termed as an excellent human being from all quarters. According to him, I had started expecting ‘a good conduct certificate’ from all my relations. This was the cause of my unhappiness. The problem was not with others, it was with me. I would have to learn not to expect them to change, but to mould my own perspective of looking at things. In the concept of remaining unconditionally happy, it is you that matters…the behavior of others is inconsequential according to him.
Let me mention here that when Saint Sukh Sagar Ji interacts with an individual in the beginning, he classifies him/her according to certain Personality types, whom he also terms as ghosts/egos. He says that this recognition is necessary to pinpoint the causes of a particular individual’s dominating ego. It is important to recognize our Ghost category so that the required suggestions to overcome these may be offered. He highlighted that broadly the human nature falls under two groups-I am Right types and You are Wrong types, both of these are totally opposite to one another. These groups are then, further divided into sub-types. I, according to him belonged to the first (I am Right) group. The sub-categories of my type of Ghost are, the Possess instinct, theDominating instinct and the Justifying instinct. The characteristics my ego is to constantly look for approval and recognition. My kind of people, he said, do not vent out their emotions. They keep their feelings, anger and disapproval locked inside them. They want people to like them, and look for their approval. They do not retort back when someone hurts them because they would not displease anyone (Not even their tormenter). They do not want anyone to term them as being ‘Not Nice’. As a consequence they start suffering themselves by bottling up their anger, guilt, disgust and other emotions!
This kind of Personality analysis was a concept totally alien to me so far. My Guru had introduced me to a very practical way to recognize my ‘ghost’. He elaborated that most of us continue to live at their Ego level, all through their lives and are not able to come out of its shackles. My type of ego was prone to weave stories in mind. As a result, I ended up in blowing every situation out of proportion. For example, if somebody did not answer my phone call, my thoughts would start building a story that he/she was deliberately ignoring me. Whereas, in most of the cases it turned out that, the battery had run down or the person was busy in some business meeting… a number of such genuine reasons!!! Ruminating back, I can actually feel that, there were many issues, which were the products of my agitated imagination. The other oriented causes might have existed also, but if honestly analyzed, they were not as serious as I had overstated them to be!
Acceptance of the fact that, it was my Ego, which was central to my agony, was very painful in the beginning. So far I had been in the convenient habit of assigning my causes of unhappiness to ‘others’. This ‘shifting’ of ‘blame’ was unpalatable! But with regular and ‘aware’ reinforcement under the guidance of my Guru, I started recognizing the fact that ‘unhappiness’ is the product of the clash of EGOS only and never the outcome of two BEINGS…one of my first lessons inSPIRITUALITY.
I began to pay attention to read my Ego, whenever, some situations or people were not pleasant to me. It was a slow process, I admit. Gradually, I was able to control my mood swings. For example, if in the beginning, I was upset for weeks together, it came down to days and then to hours. Finally, a stage came that negative emotions emerged like waves, but receded back quickly, washing away all the rubbish collected by my ‘ghost’.
The people under the You are wrong group, are much more outspoken, and always look for shortcomings in other people. The sole motive of their Egos is not to let others Possess,Dominate or to justify them; and this becomes a constant cause of conflict between these two different personality types. (I am not going into details here to expound the concept, but this can be discussed, if the readers are interested) Saint Sukh Sagar Ji clearly emphasized that none of the persons belonging to either of the above categories was better or worse…they were just two “Ego” or “Ghost” types. Every single person is born with his/her set or sets of ego…so nothing to be remorseful or guilty about belonging to either of the two groups.
In order to be happy, the key is to recognize your ‘type’ and to work unrelentingly on mastering that ‘Ghost or Ego’ rather than to let it master you. He also stressed that a person needs to knowhis category in order to reinforce the idea that, whenever any clash occurs in one’s interactions with others, it is fundamentally the clash of ‘Egos’ and not the people. Hence no ‘blame game’…the key lies only WITHIN and not WITHOUT. In inter-personal relationships, you should train your mind in such a way that you grasp your Ego. It will make you understand that it is only the inability to master your ego, which hinders your behavior to match with that of others. And therefore the resultant unhappiness!
In inter-personal relationships, my Guru also advised me to stay away from EXPECTATIONS. This is also a very practical advice, which has benefitted me a lot. To exemplify, I take a gift for my friend, and start expecting that I will also be reciprocated in the same or perhaps ‘better’ way. If things do not turn out according to my expectation, I start burning inside. What a ridiculous way to ruin your inner calm!
This was a very logical approach. I had learnt two important lessons so far. First, it immediately dawned to me that I was unhappy because I had been living my life not for my own ‘self’ but for ‘people’. As a result, I had made myself, the football of other people’s opinion. I saw myself through their mirrors! How very unfair I had been to myself that I could not afford to look directly into my ‘own’ mirror!!! I was living a life, which was not being lived according to my dictates, instead was being maneuvered by ‘others’…and on top of that, I had given them this right, they had never asked me to do so!!!
Secondly, so far, my eyes had been blind-folded by my Ego, which had narrowed down my appreciation of other people’s perspectives, causing more damage to me than to them. I must train myself to separate myself and others from the garb of Egos in order to be peaceful inside and to control the turmoil within, which was the root cause of all this unhappiness. Until I was calm inside, I would not be ready for my next step on the mystical path of my Spiritual journey!
(How I proceeded further to the mastering my Ego with the help of Meditation...and what were the other causes of my unhappiness…I will discuss in the coming episodes….)
Previous - Part 3 ====> Learn to be Unconditionally Happy - The First Lesson
Next - Part 5 ====> Living In Acceptance Mode
© 2014 Puneet Sodhi