What is Ego?
Ego is basically an inflated state of the feeling of superiority in oneself. To live in today's competitive world, should one be egocentric? May be it depends about the degree of egoism in oneself which will have to be looked into?
“Every body needs to have an ego, an enlightened ego, a mature ego to accommodate others," says Swami Dayananda Saraswati in his, 'Need for personal re-organisation' He emphasises on understanding the ego.
Explore your ego
In the first place, is there a valid reason for ego to exist. In the Vedantic point of view, everything has been given to us. Starting from one's own body organs, when one is born, one's parents and relations, the five elements required to live, the entire galaxy of sun, moon, stars etc, one's own intelligence, a mind that can think, remember and recollect; possibilities to create, innovate and prove etc are all given.
When everything is being given, man only can put things together to create something. Every discovery and creation is based on whatever is been worked on before. Hence the base for all creations has also been given. Further more all means to create something are based on whatever is already present. So it is just putting things together. If reflected properly where is the question of ego?
We cannot even determine if our own body belongs entirely to us. It is claimed by parents, siblings, wife, children, relations etc. We are only managers of it basically.
Hence ego or arrogance is basically a product of ignorance; our oblivion of the basic facts of our own existence.
A beautiful example cited by Swami Dayananda Saraswati is worth mentioning. He cites the example of the modern flats (apartments). The owner of each flat living on any floor does not own the floor, nor the ceiling and the walls, for all these are parts of others' house too. Hence one only manages and enjoys the space. He may call it his own, however it is an erroneous concept for the entire land on which, the building stands does not belong to him. So where is the question of ownership?
Osho beautifully says, “The greatest myth is that of humankind," for the fact that each individual is unique on the Physical and mental level that a single term 'human' does not befit. Osho says that it is totally abstract.
Ramana Maharshi says that when one enquires within oneself, one will understand that one is not the ego. One is not the body or the mind. For the body is prone to changes from birth to death and the mind is made up of innumerable and varying thoughts. However the sense of 'I' in oneself is the same throughout and that is the true self.
Hence understanding the ego, helps one to function with an enlightened and a mature ego which, helps to look at life as a bigger picture. This helps accommodate others easily.
So are we really egocentric?
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