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Ramana Maharshis Thoughts on Ego

Publication: The Times Of India Jaipur;Date: Apr 14, 2014;Section: Editorial;Page: 12


Ramana Maharshis Thoughts on Ego
Anup Taneja

Atypical feature of the ego is that it cannot remain independent of association with forms. Though itself devoid of form, the ego establishes its existence and flourishes by holding on to a form. Hence, no sooner than we wake from the deep sleep state of consciousness, i-thought or ego arises and starts operating through the senses and identifies itself with the body. Ramana Maharshi says that the body is a creation of ego. In reality there is neither death nor birth. The egos tendency to objectify brings about our false identification with the perishable body of flesh and bones. The Maharshi refers to this as aham-vritti those results in dark ignorance and misery of present life. In the process, the Selfluminous, eternal I is obscured and the external universe appears to be an objective reality. The essence of the mind is only awareness or consciousness. However, when the ego clouds it, it functions as reasoning, thinking or perceiving. The universal mind, not being limited by ego, has nothing outside itself and is therefore only aware. The relation between Self and mind may be compared to that of a clear crystal and its background. If the crystal is placed against a red flower, it shines red; if placed against a green leaf, it shines green, and so on. Ramana Maharshi points out that one cannot deny ones existence in sleep; nor can one deny you were happy then. But in the waking state you express feelings of unhappiness. You are now the same person speaking and raising doubts. What has transpired in the meantime so that happiness experienced in sleep has ceased to exist in the waking state? This, according to the Maharshi, happens because of the rise of I in the waking state. Ego gives rise to I-am-the-body thought the one thread on which are strung various other thoughts. There was no ego in deep sleep; hence no unhappiness was experienced. Thus, the basic difference between the waking and deep sleep states lies in the emergence of the ego while no change occurs in the Eternal I. The question is: How to get rid of the ego in order that the eternal I is realised? According to the Maharshi, it is only by atma-vichara or Self-enquiry that you can realise the inner Self. Self-enquiry is not an exercise in concentration, nor does it aim at suppressing thoughts; it merely invokes awareness of the source from which mind and ego emanate. This involves constant reflection on the question, Who am I? The attempt to get rid of ego by methods other than Self-enquiry is akin to a thief turning policeman to apprehend the thief that is himself. Self-enquiry, when carried out on a regular basis over a period of time, results in the mind becoming introverted and vasanas or deep-rooted cravings that cause the ego to rise becoming extinct. When the vasanas become extinct the mind also disappears, being absorbed in the light of one reality, the eternal Self. Realisation then dawns upon the seeker that neither mind nor ego really exists and that he in reality is the eternal I, the pure Self. This, according to Ramana Maharshi, is the exalted state of aham-sphurana the state of Selfrealisation. The Maharshi says: Search for the source of the I-thought. That is all that one has to do. The universe exists on account of the I-thought. If that ends there is an end of misery also. Post your comments at speakingtree.in