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At the Feet of The Mother

The Action of the Ego


Everybody is an instrument of the Cosmic Force through his ego.

The Divine is there in all men, so the Divine and the ego do live together. But the Divine is veiled by the ego and manifests in proportion as the ego first submits itself, then recedes and disappears. There can be no complete possession by the Divine without disappearance of the ego. Any man can be an instrument of the Divine, e.g. X, Kemal Pasha — the thing is to be a perfectly conscious instrument.

My English teacher told me that the ego and the soul are like two sides of a rubber ball. The outer side is the ego, the inner is the soul. So if you pull out what is within, you have the soul, the psychic being.

The ego has nothing to do with the soul. It is a formation of Nature in the mind, vital or physical.

I read somewhere that the ego is to be dissolved, while in another place I read that it is to be transformed.

The form of ego has to be dissolved, it has not to be replaced by a bigger ego or another kind of ego. It has to be replaced by the true being which feels itself, even though individual, yet one with all and one with the Divine.

Is it a fact that R’s ego has risen up more than before?

It is not more than it was. One cannot expect him to divest himself of his ego at this early stage of his sadhana.

You have described certain kinds of egoisms — pride, vanity, etc. Are there other kinds?

Any number of kinds, sattwic, rajasic and tamasic.

In most there are one or two defects which are exceptionally obstinate and return even after a long rejection. Cannot the Mother’s Force intervene directly and quickly wash them out?

If there is the consent from the part affected, it can be done.

The ego can be made to give its consent. If it were not so, the transformation would not be possible.

In the beginning many sadhaks were proud of their surrender — but how could surrender and ego go together?

But who has got rid of ego in this Ashram? To get rid of ego is as difficult as to make a complete surrender.

So long as the ego remains below and acts behind the veil, one can’t see its manoeuvres in full light; therefore it will be difficult to tackle it and transform it.

Yes — it is true.

It is said that with the presence of ego one cannot have love, joy, happiness etc. in Yoga. But I had these experiences in the past. What then about my ego?

It had been subdued, by a knowledge from above and a will in the mind. It was still there, but its movements and their power were too small and the movement above too large for that to interfere except by bringing in small movements of error and desire.

Error and desire are not the same thing. Error is of the mind, desire is of the vital.

What still comes in the way of Mother taking me on her sunlit path?

If the ego is gone and the full surrender is there, then there should be no obstacle. If however the rajas of the vital is only quiescent, then its quiescence may bring up the tamas in its place, and that would be the obstacle.

Some suggestions say, “You are studying by a push of ambition.” Is it really so?

That is for you to see. You have to become sufficiently conscious of yourself to see where ego mixes and where it does not.

You say that the difficulty in the descent of the Mother’s Force is due to something in the vital which is not ready. What is this “something”?

I suppose not yet sufficiently surrendered or free from ego. The Force can come down in spite of that, but then it is in danger of being misused by the exaggerated ego for its desires.

Instead of thus being misused, cannot the descent be rather used for lessening or destroying the ego and its desires?

That is its proper working, but if the ego is not rejected, then the wrong use may take place.

Could you kindly tell me why I have become so dry?

It is a natural result of the rising up of the vital and the ego with inertia — whenever that dominates you get into the dryness and when you can overcome it, you get into a good condition.

Does the present coming up of the vital and the ego coincide with the need of my sadhana, i.e. for their transformation?

The ego and the vital movements do not come up for the sake of the sadhana, but because they are there and wish to remain there. Whenever the consciousness relaxes and gives them room, they rise up.

Don’t you think I have rejected whatever is to be rejected?

Obviously you have not, otherwise the ego and the vital would not have risen so strongly.

The vital sensitiveness is becoming excessive — I can’t stand any disagreement, refusal or clash with others.

That all comes from the ego and it is precisely the thing you have to get rid of.

If one is more sensitive, does it follow that he has more ego in him?

It depends on the nature of the ego. Some egoists are hard-skinned and not sensitive at all; others are hypersensitive.

Most sensitiveness is the result or sign of ego.

So many pretensions and excuses are there for self-indulgence. Sometimes they are very subtle and therefore more difficult to deal with even than hostile forces. Should we not deal with them with a concentrated mind?

Yes, certainly. The mind must become conscious of these things and on its guard — without this consciousness it is not possible to get rid of these vital things — they will go on lurking under all sorts of disguises.

Can the ego be thoroughly rejected?

If it is not ever indulged in thought, speech or action, it will not return. That is the full rejection.

I find that even the descents cannot change or purify the ego and desire.

It is not descents that can do [it]. It is either psychic rejection or the settling of the higher consciousness in the lower nature or both together that can do it.

The ego comes out in most of my thoughts, feelings and actions, even in trifling and stupid movements where there is nothing to be proud of. Please explain why it is so.

But that is the case with all human beings. All the action is shot through with ego: acts, feelings, thoughts, everything, big or small, good or bad. Even humility and what is called altruism is with most people only a form of ego. It does not depend on having something to be proud of.

But why only now do I feel the presence of ego in such little acts? Formerly it was detected only in things done with desire or pride.

Perhaps because then you were looking for ego only in the form which people specially call egoism, i.e. pride, vanity, selfishness, insistence on vital satisfactions. But ego is of all kinds — and you are only just now finding it out.

As most of my activities are “shot through with ego” my life has become a source of trouble, not of delight as a sadhak’s should be. For there is a division in the being. The inner being is very strict that there should be no sense of ego in whatever is done. But the ego never forgets to colour everything.

There is nothing to be troubled about. You ought rather to congratulate yourself that you have become conscious. Very few people in this Ashram are. They are all ego-centric and they do not realise their ego-centricity. Even in their sadhana the I is always there, — my sadhana, my progress, my everything. The remedy is to think constantly of the Divine, not of oneself, to work, act, do sadhana for the Divine; not to consider how this or that affects me personally, not to claim anything, but to refer all to the Divine. It will take time to do that sincerely and thoroughly but it is the proper way.

It is better to be conscious of the egoism than to think that one is free when one is not.

Off and on, time breaks into my eternity when the small ego turns up and says. Hello! “What are you doing leaving me alone?”

Obviously, unless the object is Nirvana, the small ego has to be attended to, — not indulged, but transformed out of existence.

Can the ego disappear totally in the self-realisation?

The sense of ego can disappear into that of the Self or the Purusha but that of itself does not bring about the disappearance of the old ego reactions in the Prakriti. The Purusha has to get rid of these by a process of constant rejection and remoulding. The remoulding consists in turning everything into a consecration to the Mother and doing all for her without regard to oneself, one’s desires, opinions, vital reactions, as if they were the things to be fulfilled. This is most easily done if the psychic being becomes quite awake.

I go on rejecting the ego-movements but they go on assuming new forms. My rejection seems to have a negative result. I am afraid there will be no final change unless some positive thing intervenes from above.

Without persistent rejection it cannot be done. Going up into the Self liberates the higher parts, but the ego remains in the lower parts. The most effective force for this liberation is the psychic control along with steady rejection.

It is rather a wider than a higher consciousness that is necessary for the liberation from the ego. Going high is necessary of course, but by itself it is not sufficient.

I was under the impression that the psychic can be liberated by love and devotion and till then the ego cannot disappear.

Without the liberation of the psychic and the realisation of the true Self the ego cannot go, both are necessary. If there is no consciousness of the Self how can the ego disappear? The psychic can be liberated by love and devotion, but I was speaking of a case in which it is not so liberated, and the realisation of the Self seems more easy — a case like yours.

The ego wanted to utilise my present experiences and trances for its own aggrandisement! Something like what X did. It picked out particularly that samadhi experience of “trance within trance” as something unique!!

Good Heavens!!

What is the attitude in action of the unegoistic and the ego-centric man?

The ego-centric man feels and values things as they affect him. “Does this please me or displease, give me gladness or pain, flatter my pride, vanity, ambition or hurt it, satisfy my desires or thwart them,” etc. The unegoistic man does not look at things like that. He looks to see what things are in themselves and would be if he were not there, what is their meaning, how they fit into the scheme of things — or else he feels calm and equal, refers everything to the Divine, or if he is a man of action how they will serve the work that has to be done or the life of the world or the cause he serves, etc. etc. — there can be many points of view which are not ego-centric.

You wrote, “If it was an impersonal experience how does the ego come in? Self (Atman) is one thing, the ego another.” Certainly the ego did not come with the experience. It was only when the experience was over that the foolishness of my mind brought it in as an idea. Why? Because I had heard that X’s ego became aggrandised after his experiences of the Self.

The ego cannot come into the experience as an experience. What the ego can do however is to get proud of having the experience and think “What a great one am I.” Or it may think “I am the Self, the Divine, so let me go and do what I will, for it is the Divine who wills in me.” It is only if the experience of Self imposes silence on the other parts and frees the psychic, that the ego disappears. Even then not ego itself, but numerous fragments and survivals of ego-habit can remain and have to be eliminated.

I cannot say my ego is gone. Only it is controlled by the mental will.

It is not possible to get rid of the ego-movements all at once. They have to be worked out of the nature by a constant consciousness and rejection. Even when the central ego has gone, the habitual movements stick for a long time.

For so long I have been trying to get rid of the ego! But something of it always remains!

The element of the egoism in the thoughts, feelings, actions has to be got rid of, but that cannot be done in a day.

If I work for the Mother alone, the interference of the ego would mean that it comes from outside. For the Mother’s work and the ego can’t go together.

Of course it is a way. But one has still to be careful about the ego. Even people who sincerely think they are doing only the Mother’s will are yet actuated by ego without knowing it.

You said above that people “are yet attached [1] by ego without knowing it.” In which way are they attached to it?

I don’t know what you mean by “in which”. Ego attaches them means that it gets into their thought, feeling or action. It gets in in whatever way it can — there is no rule that it can get in only in certain things and not in any others.

One cannot dissolve the ego in the early stages of the sadhana. But one can keep it separate from oneself and at a distance, can’t one?

In the inner being, yes — the difficulty is to exclude it from the action (thought, feeling, motive, etc.) of the outer part of the consciousness.

Because of my increased withdrawal from social contacts like mixing, talking etc., people around me say that I am becoming more and more egoistic.

Obviously one must not get egoistic about it, but withdrawal from the outer or lower consciousness into the inner is not in itself an egoistic movement. If it were so, all sadhana would be egoism and to be always social and on the surface would be the only thing!

I feel no love, devotion or joy even when there is no ego or inertia.

The quiescence of ego or inertia does not automatically bring love, joy or bhakti.

Now I feel that to have desires, attachments, ego, is something strange to my true consciousness!

Yes, these things are foreign to the true being.

During one of the meditations, I found that the ego was disturbing my life and sadhana. So I separated myself from it and kicked it out. Is there any validity to such a feeling?

It has a validity of experience — if the action repeats itself consciously and applies itself to all the movements of the ego, then by an accumulative effect it can get rid of the ego.


[1] This word was misread; Sri Aurobindo wrote “actuated”, not “attached”.

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