Bruised and battered, the ego went to bed in a heap of self-betrayal, lies and agony. The ego thought that Vedanta would offer some answers but all attempts at reading and watching spiritual videos had not helped.
And as the sun was beginning to rise, the ego had a dream, where it was speaking to the self- luminous Atma.
Atma: Namaste Ego, Looks like you have been struggling lately.
Ego: In different spiritual circles, they say I am the enemy. I am blamed for all kinds of conflicts, insecurities, and struggles – both internal and external. I cannot live with myself nor with anyone for a long period of time.
What do I do?
Atma: First things first, just relax. You are not the enemy. I repeat, The Ego is not the enemy.
Ego: Then who is?
Look, Atma, I do appreciate your words, but it’s hard not to feel like I’m the source of all the problems.
Atma: Let us undertake an enquiry into who you are. Only then we can ascertain if indeed you are the enemy or someone else is.
In psychological terms, the ego refers to the conscious self, the part of an individual’s identity that is aware of itself and its surroundings. You try to balance the person’s desires and societal norms.
From a Vedantic standpoint, the best Sanskrit equivalent for you is Ahankara, aham karta iti ahankara. I do therefore I am. So, you are because you identify with the body and mind. You hold the mind, decision and memory together.
However, since there is self- ignorance, you just grab whatever you associate with.
I am short (You take the quality to be you),
I am running(You take the action to be you),
I am a mother (You take a relation to be you),
I am male (You take a gender group to be you)
Really speaking, you are me, the Atma – the unconditioned, boundless I.
Ego: Are you criticising me? I am very sensitive to criticism. Even gurus don’t spare me. I constantly need to feel worthy and valuable. What should I do?
Atma: As long as you believe you are the body and mind you will always feel not enough. You cannot escape wanting to feel validated all the time.
Ego: Are you cursing me?
Atma: (laughing) I am just pointing the truth. The truth sets you free.
Atma: You have a very important role.
As the Ego you form and maintain a coherent sense of identity.
You consolidate the thoughts, feelings, and experiences into a unified self-concept.
You process sensory information, assess risks and rewards, and make decisions based on a complex interplay of desires, emotions, and rational thinking.
As the ego, ahankara, you integrate the person’s achievements and positive qualities providing with a sense of self-worth.
You are the one because of which the person can pursue goals with determination and resilience, ultimately contributing to growth and success.
You protect by guiding people away from potential harm and towards opportunities for growth and fulfillment.
For example for a person considering a new career path, you as the ego is responsible for evaluating the pros and cons of such a decision, considering factors such as financial stability, personal interests, and long-term aspirations.
You can recognize mistakes, adjust your behavior and evolve.