What is Ego? The habit of I-thought identifying with body-mind-intellect complex has been with us since several thousands of Janmas. It is the oldest, strongest & thickest of the vasanas inherited from our previous janmas. Such I-thought is called Ego. Therefore Ego is the seed from which grows our thoughts, desires, actions, experiences & all other vasanas. Ego-centric actions lead to bondage. Ego gives rise to pride, arrogance, vanity, hypocrisy, haughtiness & delusion of ownership, doership & enjoyership. To be egoless is to free ourselves from bondage.
“Now, impelled by what does a man sins,
forcibly constrained, as it were ?” Ch III-36
The Lord said,
“It is desire, It is anger. It is born of Rajo guna (passionate nature), the all-devouring and sinful.
Know this as the foe here on earth” Ch III-37
The bane of desire is too well known to need a lengthy discussion here. Suffice to say that desire is the root cause of all our negative emotions, such as, anger, hatred, lust, greed, envy etc…
What is desire and how does it arise? From where does it crop up? Obviously, it is our mind thinking & coordinating with sense organs that seeks to satisfy/fulfill desires by engaging in actions of various kinds. Liking a thing is not desire. Liking is just a thought, an opinion about something. Liking a thing and also wanting it is desire. Liking a thing is merely about what it is. But wanting it is about what it would be to possess it. Liking can be in the present if not caused by past knowledge but wanting is for the future only and must have been based on past experience. Favorable and agreeable estimation against past experience/ knowledge results into liking the thing. Wanting also is caused by the accumulated impressions of experiences and acquired knowledge, both in the present life and past births. Signals received by brain through the nerves are categorized, analyzed and evaluated drawing upon the accumulated impressions of knowledge and experience and based on such analysis in favorable & agreeable experience of sense objects, desire is born. It may be an unfulfilled wish or it may have been an addiction or it may have been enjoyed in the past. Whatever it is, there is a feeling of incompleteness or deprivation or lackness lurking in the subconscious and when opportunity to make good is presented before it, this aforesaid lurking feeling stirs up, as it were, the conscious mind and then a desirous thought is born. From the foregoing analysis of desire it follows that to be desireless is to strive for Chittta-Shuddhi (cleansing of mind and intellect). And also vasana shuddhi (extinction of the inherited impressions).
What causes the cycle of birth & death? One gets birth in a body again & again to expend & experience one’s fruits of actions. So Karma causes rebirth. Who causes Karmas? It is our mind which executes thoughts & desires by engaging the organs in actions. And thoughts, desires arise in our mind because of vasanas (inherited impressions of knowledge & experience). What are vasanas? Vasanas is the tree, the seed of which is the ego of I-thought.
Can we deny that we are what we are because of influence of our society, community, neighborhood, family, friends & parents; because of our religion, culture, customs & traditions; because of the books we read, because of our teachers and knowledge gained? Are not our present thoughts influenced by these aforesaid factors & our actions impacted by such influenced thoughts? These very same influencing thoughts, experiences, when related to the accumulated past births are called vasanas, i.e, inherited impressions, also termed as traits, gunas, nature, inclinations etc etc . . . Any strong smelling substance when stored in air tight container for a long duration continues to smell even after emptying the container. Vasana shudhi is therefore very important as much as Chittha shuddhi is in our spiritual progress.
N Balasubramanian is an old time honours graduate in economics and has vast experience and expertise in human relations and resources development. A devotee of Sage of Kanchi - Maha Swamigal, N Balasubramanian is living a quiet and meditative life based upon the Guru's teachings. An avid reader of philosophy in his younger years, he wholly devotes his energies presently, in discovering insights and practical wisdom from ancient Indian scriptures. Based upon his understanding of Acharya's discourses and writings on spirituality, N. Balasubramanian shares these thoughts on IndiaNewsBulletin.com to just provoke your thoughts and kindle your interest in spirituality and philosophy.