Be aware!! It can make you blind. You may fail to realise the truth even with your eyes open.
I don’t know the correct definition of ego. I don’t even know if any definition can explain it properly. What i know is i understand that well now from my personal experience. Yes, we need to experience it. We can learn it better through experience only. Why am i saying so much about ego? Is it something new that i discovered a virtue or a vice? It does not belong to any of these categories as i can’t term a person to be virtuous or vicious having ego. Why? This is because it’s a human characteristic that no human being can escape. Sounds strange? What do i mean by saying about certain characteristic that can’t be categorized as good or bad? There is a question in my mind. Is it necessary to classify something as good or bad? Not necessarily. It’s quite possible certain quality in a person can be both good and bad. I am writing about a human quality that can’t be termed good as it’s not completely bad.
One such evil quality is our ego. I can describe ego in short as me and myself. It talks about our self-interest. It restricts us think about others and the social need. Egoistic people distort the famous dialogue by Abraham Lincoln to suit themselves. They understand the quote as “of me, by me, for me” and not that of people. Egotists always think about their own prosperity even at the cost of the society. They forget they are too a part of the society and they can’t grow at the cost of others. By growth if they understand as material growth they can’t enjoy that forever. The only good nature of our ego is it helps us love our own self that is quite natural. People who don’t understand love or can’t develop loving his/her own self can’t generate love for his/her society and environment. This self-love can help us if we keep that limited to 1 % only. If it’s 99 % unwanted we should rise ourselves above our ego.
Till now i have not wrote anything to give a correct understanding of ego. Later in this article I’ll give example to make it clearer. You may notice i have mentioned it to be a human characteristic. Yes, i mean it. Do animals have ego? If you ask me this question my answer would be “I don’t know”. If i think about personal experience and probability, I’d say no. I love animals like my mother. I am fortunate to have close association with our pets from my early childhood. I can say i have been brought up along with them and we grew together. I’ve not noticed such a quality in them ever. Human beings are bestowed with certain special qualities that are not found in animals and few ugly qualities too like the human ego.
Do animals understand ego? I think no. They are blessed with certain qualities that help them maintain harmony in the group. Are we devoid of such qualities? No, unlike other animals we are social animals. Animals do live in their society but not like that of human beings. We have developed certain other qualities that make us distinct to animals. Those can be in the goodwill of human beings or can cause problems in the society too.
Somebody argued they fight with each other for territory to prove their supremacy over others in the region. So they do have ego. I agree they compete with each other, but it can’t be characterized as their ego. I’d rather say it’s a survival mechanism. Unlike human beings they don’t fight for things they don’t need. Have you ever noticed how a tiger shares food with others in the group after a kill even though all in the group were not involved in the hunting? This is because they love each other and free from ego. They care for their need and not the want. They are more concerned about their basic need only that applies to humans too. The basic need is food, cloth and shelter. Their want is love, attention and compassion in their natural state. God have fulfilled their clothing need naturally by giving them thick skin/fur/feathers which condition them in every season as per need. They are in need of the rest two for which they are dependent on their environment. Due to human activities now they don’t find their natural environment in many regions where they can have sufficient food and shelter without intervention.
Let’s analyse few signs of ego. I am the best. What i know is the truth. What i think is the ultimate and all others are wrong. Others are responsible for something went wrong with me. These kind of thought will always cripple your mind when full of ego. We have two words in English dictionary to describe people having ego – one is an egoist and the other is an egotist. As per dictionary an egoist is someone who is self-centered or selfish, often without realizing it. An egotist is an arrogant or conceited person, always talking about himself. So an egotist practices ego with full consciousness unlike an egoist.
We come across many people in our life. It happens at home, at our study, at the workplace and even at public places. You might have noticed people talking about others and comparing themselves with their counterparts. Everybody does that. We do it with others at school, college, home, workplace and every other place where we get an opportunity. Is this quality a boon or bane for our personal growth and the growth of our society at large? To get an answer to this question we need to understand first our priority in life. For instance my priority is my personal growth so that I’ll live a happy life. Somebody else have a priority for his society and environment like “ Anna Hazare ” who works for social welfare. Such people are very rare in our society who works for people without any self-interest so that everybody can become happy and content.
The control mechanism one need to develop on his/her own from personal experience. The first and foremost is self-acceptance of what we are. Then we need to think how we should be in the best interest of our society. This is the starting point. This will open up a channel and give us direction for change. I’ll not write more on this. Let’s rediscover our own self first and do experiment with our ego. It will help us rise above our ego.
It’s not very much difficult to gain victory over ego. It’s a basic quality inherent in every human being. Though it’s not possible to get rid of it completely one can maintain a good balance. With proper understanding and work on our ego we can maintain a ratio of 99:1. Let’s wipe out that 99 % of ego in us and the rest 1 % will help us grow as a human being. It’s important not to lose our originality and stay as a human being. One shouldn’t try to become GOD but can inherit godly qualities for a better living.
Now i am a happy person. I don’t mean i was not happy before. I am happier now. I have gained good control over my ego. It will not direct me anymore. I’ll guide it to control my thoughts and act. What benefits can i derive by this? The most important i think it will help me become more responsible in every field. A responsible person only can think about others in the society and excel in life.
** I welcome your comments to improve this article further.