Ego is a false sense of attainment. It is a perfect example of viparya (wrong knowledge). For example, you say, ‘I go to satsang’. But who goes to satsang? It is the ego that takes you to the satsang. In the satsang you will listen to somebody speaking and you will get the viparya, that now you know! You have heard all these lofty things, like ‘I am Shiva’, ‘I am Brahman’ or ‘The world is an illusion, only God is true’. And you come back with the wrong knowledge that now you know it.
When we say ‘I’, the ego, where is this ‘I’? Is it in the body? The sense of ‘I’ is not in the arm; if an arm is amputated the ego is still there. If legs and arms get removed, the ‘I’ is still there. If the whole body is taken away at the time of death, the mind still lives on. The ego, the I-ness, is beyond the layers of the mind and the subconscious. You say, ‘I am this’. But are you this? Are you this body? Who are you? Continuously enquiring and contemplating on these truths alone, will lead you to the realization of the true Self. Reading and listening will just give you the information and inspiration, but you need to take the next step of contemplating on these realities. Otherwise you may end up walking around with puffed up head saying, ‘I know so much, I am so intelligent.’ You think that inside this head, there is a brain and that is ‘me’. But is it?
Then, what is this ‘I’? You don’t really know anything about ‘I’ but you say ‘I go to satsang’.
‘I am being told to remove this ‘I’ but, how can I? How will I live?’, you wonder. Where is this ‘I’? What is this ‘I’? This ‘I’ which you know as an ‘I’ is just an illusionary, reflected ‘I’. Prana makes the body alive. When there is no prana, body is dead. Prana is the cosmic energy which binds all the elements of the body together. It is the five senses of knowledge (seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching), five senses of action (moving hands, walking, speaking, urinating and eliminating feces), mann (mind), buddhi (intellect), chitta (subconscious), ahamkara (ego), and the prana that is conjoining all these together. And when all this is sealed in one packet (body), the ‘I’ springs up and says, ‘I am’.
When we say that you have to drop your ego, it means that you have to drop this reflected ‘I’. And you have to look for the one who is the ‘real being’ in this whole packet of body, senses, prana and antahkaran (mind, intellect, subconscious and ego). Isn’t this the most important thing in your life? To know who this real being is? Prana is the force which is making your body move. When you say ‘I am alive’, actually you should say ‘prana is alive’. When prana, the cosmic force, is functioning in the frame, body is alive. When prana is gone, life is gone. Then where is this ‘I’? It is like a battery in the toy; the doll is singing and dancing, but once you remove the battery, everything stops. A robot has a chip inside with a human intelligence but it only works on electricity. We can say that the chip is the mind and the intellect, but when you unplug the robot, robot cannot perform any functions.
You don’t know how to differentiate between the body, prana, senses, mind and the ‘I’ which you think is ‘I’. People have no time to even think about it. They are just being thrown from side to side in life, saying ‘I am sad’, ‘I am happy’, I am suffering’, etc. They are too busy to be looking for the real Self, the Self that is eternally blissful. This seeking however should be the primary aim of human life, and the discovery of this Self would solve all the riddles of human existence.
To read about ego and the real Self is a theoretical knowledge. It is just a milestone. When you see a sign that says ‘London 140 miles’, you don’t see London yet. It is just a pointer. So, when you read about the ego, it is just a hint. Now you have to explore it. This is a path of self-discovery. Dropping off the ego is the core of spirituality; it is the most important thing to do in life. You are not the owner of the body, yet you say ‘I am this body’. You act like you are the body, but actually you are not the body. Now you read this fact as a hypothetical statement and you listen to people repeat it in satsangs, but in real life you still live through the body. It is now up to you to ask these questions, meditate on it, contemplate and realize who the real being, the real ‘I’ is. Set on a journey to your ever-blissful Self.