This is the 3rd installment of my “ego” series. The first two installments were:
In Sufism, when they describe the ideal human being (Insan-i Kamil), they always mention the ‘no anger, no envy’ aspect of that personality. Most of us had glimpses of that state of the mind, some of us lived it for extended periods of time, and some of us stay in that state of the mind permanently. I pray that we all may live in that blissful state permanently.
Not being angry or envious can be best described as happiness. When I first reached that stage after numerous disillusionments and frustrations in life, I felt happy and I saw the light at the end of the dark tunnel.
I was in that wonderful state of mind for extended periods of time; but, unfortunately, I fall from grace occasionally. The return of the anger sends shock waves through my system disturbing my mental equilibrium for a long time. In the aftermath of the fall I deal with regret and guilt which disturbs the mind even more. It takes years of spiritual practice to reach that ‘no anger, no envy’ stage and when I fall from that height in a moment of self-indulgence I feel defeated. The fall from grace really hurts.
How do I deal with regret, guilt and self-doubt after the fall? Kiirtan always saves me. After days of sulking I begin to chant Baba Nam Kevalam. The devotional feeling returns quickly and the mental equilibrium is regained eventually.
I once heard in a television interview that the film industry, especially the one in Los Angeles, is built on envy. I have witnessed the same problem in academia as well. Otherwise blissful academic life is poisoned by envy. The huge egos of the academics prevent them from seeing the beauty of their surroundings and appreciate how lucky they are. Like anger, envy prevents us reaching a state of grace.
I claim that the root cause for anger and envy is ego. Others claim the root cause is desire. I can see how desire for money, fame, power and sexual pleasure can drive people into angry, destructive and envious behavior. The most basic instinct is the instinct for happiness. All living beings want happiness. This is the basic instinct, more basic than the instinct for self-preservation and procreation. After the formation of the human ego, the most basic instinct – the seeking of happiness – is transformed into numerous desires. In terms of precedence, not counting the original desire, the formation of ego comes before the formation of human desires or propensities.
In the early stages of human development, desires stimulate physical and mental development but after a certain point, when ego becomes thick and opaque, the light of the soul cannot illuminate the mental plate anymore, and ego starts developing reactions when desires are not satisfied. The opaqueness of the ego prevents people from seeing the real reasons behind their circumstances and this ignorance manifests itself as anger and envy.
I admit that when one has the object of their desire, that particular samskara may get resolved. There is no guarantee, however, that when you have obtained the desired object you will be completely satisfied. It seems that for most people just the opposite happens. Human beings always want more. When they own an expensive car, then they want the fancier one as the next car. When they are promoted to their dream job they want a better job. It seems that people always want better things for themselves and their families. Nothing wrong with that! We are created this way, right?
Right! There is nothing wrong with asking for better things for ourselves and our families as long as we do not become slaves to anger and envy.
If ego is an obstacle to reach happiness then ego must be transformed. Ego must be made transparent.