The concept of ego is neither ontological nor philosophical in my view. It is a practical instrument in our hands. When we consider any thing as an instrument, then it is neither good nor bad intrinsically. But unfortunately it is the most misunderstood and wrongly punished aspect of our being. Normally, in most spiritual circles ‘ego’ is looked down and is considered to be a big hurdle in the path of one’s spiritual journey. Several questions come up while accepting this concept. Let us try and find a logical understanding of this ‘ego’, so that we can utilize this highly simplified introspective knowledge for the healthy growth of the individual to live a happy life free from all distresses which is the goal of any spiritual seeker. Let us pause and think without any prejudice, if the ‘ego’ was only a big hurdle and, a poison why such a thing was created by God?? Like many things which are good in one area and dangerous in another area, my feeling has always been that ego also must have its good and bad aspects. It may be that we have interpreted it wrongly and overplayed its bad aspects and made it a big hurdle to one’s evolution. It is like the food which can be nourishing when taken in the right way, in the right place, in the right quantity and at the right time (in empty stomach) and can become a poison and destructive when the conditions are not right. It is not the fault of the food but the application is wrong. Similarly, according to Indian philosophy there are both the good and bad aspects of the ‘ego’, just like a sharp edged razor which can be used for killing some one brutally or saving someone through a life saving surgery. We discuss about ‘ego’ and think that only adults can understand and realize the impact of ego on one’s life as it is too philosophical. But an incident happened which surprised me to realize how even a simple child can also recognize this concept of’ ego’. A group of our friends were watching a documentary on yoga and its relevance to modern man in which there were several elite people who were being interviewed to give their ideas about yoga, yoga research and its application as a science etc.. The anchor person questioned one of the participants of the panel, about his opinion on yoga. He started talking about how much he is committed to scientific experimentation, how many papers in science he has published and how rigorously he is scientific in his temperament etc. Listening to this for about two minutes, a small girl of not more than eight years sitting next to me said very innocently, “Why is he talking about himself and not coming to the topic?” It was interesting to realize that , while an innocent young girl could understand what is ego and also that it is bad which the elite adult , the speaker, could not .What could be the reason ? There are several reasons. Let us understand how Indian scriptures understand this inner stuff called ‘ego’ and how it camouflages itself as we grow into adults.
Ego , the self, can have dual existence, (a) as a distinct entity (the observer mind) or (b) connected inseparably with all aspects of our personality ,the entire body mind consciousness complex. Ego exists not only in human beings but you can find it in entire creation. That means every thing in this manifested world has its own ‘being’ which distinguishes its ‘self’ from others. Hence it cannot be good or bad; it is only a self distinguishing quality of the organism. Animals have ego, plants have ego and even the matter has its ego. In case of physical matter, we may not use the word ‘ego’, but we call it as its innate property .Thus, ego of physical matter establishes its identity and individuality, manifests as its fixed property and is predictable. .For example water follows the law that under normal pressure and temperature, it becomes steam at one hundred degrees centigrade and turns into ice at zero degree temperature. It is the property of the water. This property inbuilt into its nature distinguishes it from other substances. This is what I call as the ego of nonliving physical world and all objects share their distinct ‘self’ or ‘ego’. Similarly plants also have their own individuality. For example, roots grow downwards into the soil in search of water. The genetic programming is to find water and not just a downward growth. Hence, if the roots happen to come across an obstacle of a huge rock on their way, they know how to negotiate themselves to reach the water. This clearly indicates the inbuilt intelligence that helps the plant to survive and is achieved through this programmed effort to strive to reach a goal. This ability and intention to pursue its goal is the ego of a plant. Thus, in case of living organisms the ego takes on the property of trying to protect its own existence in addition to its physical property .This can be established so clearly when we see small plants which start their small roots in small cracks in a wall. These little ones, as they continue to grow, send their roots into the wall in such a complex network that even the huge stone structure may give way over time although their aim was never to destroy the wall. This ‘ego’ makes the widespread roots of huge trees break open and lift off the heavily concreted road surfaces for their survival. This is the ego of living things that is characterized by the law of ‘survival instinct’.
Further in case of insects or animals, we can see this ego for survival or the survival instinct has an added advantage of mobility. Try to disturb an ant that is resting, you can see the ant becoming alert at once and trying to run away or fight for its survival. This survival instinct can be found even in the new born.
In the’ Animal World Channel’ of the television i saw a live video, wherein the baby
Turtles coming out of their eggs early in the morning on the sea shore, were swiftly rushing towards the ocean! They were millions of them and not one of them missed their direction. Who told them that the ocean is in that direction and they have to go to the ocean for their survival? Even though at some places the sand dunes were going up and the ocean was far behind them, the turtles made no mistake. The anchor of the program picked up one of them and turned it around and left it on the sand in the opposite direction, the turtle wasted no time to turn around and proceed on its journey to the ocean! It is the ego of the turtle which makes it to do this way. It is the individuality which ensures its survival. This I call as the ‘good ego’, the very nature of the individual described as ‘Asmita’ in Vedanta. This ‘Asmita’, the ego, is the first aspect of our personality to take birth as we evolve as an individual and then comes the other aspects of our being that includes the mind and the physical body.
As human beings also, we all have this ego that strives for survival. This exists from the time of birth. This is very much visible within seconds after birth even in human babes. I was watching a documentary where the doctor puts the baby on the mother’s tummy as soon as it is born (even with out cleaning it) and in less than ten minutes, it crawled on the mother’s tummy to reach the breast! How did the baby know that the food is available there! This is the ego of survival.
In the case of human beings, apart from this survival ego which is programmed into our physiology, we have evolved enormous degree of free will which we may perceive as psychological ego. There are three aspects of this psychological ego that we use for our day to day functioning. These are- the doer ego, the identifier ego and the experiencer ego, which are called Kartrutva Asmita, Bhoktrutva Asmita and Jnatrutva Asmita respectively in Indian scriptures.
Let us try and understand what we mean by these three types of Asmita.
Doer ego is responsible for carrying out the actions that we do and we need to do.
For example we have legs and in order to keep the legs in good shape we need to walk. ‘I’ have to walk;’ I’ need to walk and this requires the ‘ego’ which is the good ego. If we do not have this ego we can not take care of our legs. We can not keep our body in a healthy state. Say you are convinced that doing yoga is good for your health and you have made a resolve that you shall do yoga regularly. If there is no strong ‘doer ego’, you can miss out on the regularity in spite of being convinced about its benefits. Thus a strong ‘doer ego’ is necessary under all circumstances so that we do not become parasites on the society. In order to promote this good doer ego, wise people said that if you do not take care of your ‘self’, you are a sinner. This concept of sin in this context was probably introduced to encourage us to recognize that if one does not put in the right amount of effort through a strong doer ego, he cannot be happy.
A young man saw a caterpillar just turned into a butterfly and fighting to come out of its cocoon. With lot of sympathy for the struggling insect, he took a pair of scissors and very carefully cut the shell to release the butterfly out of its cocoon and was very happy about his success in helping a small creature.
Side by side, another butterfly also struggled and came out of its cocoon by itself.
Finally when both of them were out in the free world, the butterfly that did not fight or struggle could not fly because the wings had not grown fully. On the other hand, the one which had struggled through its life had strong wings and flew freely. We realize that even a butterfly has to nurture a strong doer ego in order to grow fully! Same way we have to do what we need to do, in order to grow. This is the positive ‘doer ego’.
There are two ways in which one can utilize this Kartrutva. The doer ego can be called Asmita when we do the work with a sense of duty which is the good Kartrutva ego. The same Kartrutva becomes Ahankara or ‘bad Kartrutva ego’ when we try to claim the ‘doership’. In the present day life style we see many stress related problems in high profile performers (executive stress) that can go on to many killer diseases such as hypertension and heart disease. The doer ego of such a workaholic person is very strong and effective that produces great results .But the problems of stress that goes with it is basically created by the ‘ahankara’, (‘I am the doer’) that goes with it and not the Asmita ego. The problem of such an activity is not created by the activity, but by the doer. Hence the solution does not lie in giving up the activity but changing the inner ‘doer ego’ through right understanding and introspectively change from Ahankara to Asmita. Of the several techniques that have been recommended for this, Sri Krishna in Bhagavad-Gita says ‘the fire called true knowledge of the self burns the action’ .Through the right knowledge, the Ahankara is removed resulting in complete freedom from the distresses of life including the so called executive stresses. How can knowledge burn an activity? Spiritual knowledge has especially no connection with activity. Knowledge has nothing to do with action directly. It is directly connected with ignorance. Knowledge has its role in removing the ignorance. Ignorance gives rise to Ahankara. What is this right knowledge of self? The right knowledge is to realize that it is really the universal intelligence that is doing the work using ‘me’, the doer ego, as an instrument .Ignorance of this knowledge obviously results in doership and Ahankara. With the dawn of the right knowledge that ‘ I am only an instrument in the hands of the divine universal will or the universal ego’, the Ahankara gets burnt. The moment the identification with this limited ‘I’, the Ahankara goes, the ‘doer’ falls and the attachment to the action also drops. Then the burden of ego is dissolved.
Here, the question that needs to be addressed is, how can such a person with no ‘doer ego’ function in this world after it has been completely burnt ? How can any one function efficiently without an intense commitment to the activity on hand? The answer comes from the following proclamation of the scriptures. After attaining this true spiritual knowledge, although the doer ego does not exist in its earlier form, its functional aspect continues to be available with all its capabilities. Hence the practically useful functional abilities that are necessary for survival and doing good to others etc., do not go away, but the snow balling effect of the repercussions of good and bad actions(called vasanas) are completely erased. The example for this is that of a burnt rope.
Krishna says that even after the action is burnt by the fire of knowledge, he continues to function with an ego with utmost efficiency. A burnt rope that is not disturbed has exactly the same appearance as before but cannot act any more like a rope. Another useful example of a burnt ego is that of a burnt seed which has the same size, shape and appearance as a live seed but it has lost its potential to sprout any more. This seed does not give rise to any branches and reproduce more seeds. Same way a burnt action cannot gather unconscious impressions (vasanas) of suppressed emotions such as unfulfilled desires, hatred, anger, frustration etc. The activity goes on with a sense of duty and joy without any distress. Sri Ramakrishna says that the realized person goes on working like a wheel that continues to rotate and function with gathered momentum without collecting any mass on itself. It is like the way light removes the fear of darkness. Light literally has nothing to do with fear, but it was the non visibility of the obstacles in the room due to darkness that created the fear of a non-existent danger. And the moment he light is lit, things become clear and the fear drops off. If you were holding a gun to protect yourself from danger in the dark room, you drop that gun too. Light directly can not drop the gun but it appeared that light dropped the gun from your hand. Same way knowledge drops the identification of the doer. Once the doer is dissolved, the fever of activity also disappears.
The difference between an ordinary person’s Karma (the unconscious non erasable impressions created by any action )and the Karma of a Jnani is that, in the case of a Jnani, karmas are like lines drawn on the water and in case of an ordinary person the Karma is like line drawn on a stone. Even of you take a sharp instrument and draw a line on water the line will not last even for a second. On the other hand even if a soft substance like water falls on the stone repeatedly it can make lasting impressions as we see in river beds. This is to say that in case of a Jnani even if he does work of killing as a worrier he will not be affected but in case of an ordinary person who does the work with ahankara, even a respectable action of giving a charity, can lead to intense attachment and result in deep impressions (called punya vasana).
We claim credits for things for which we are not really responsible and we become a Kartru for that action. For example, we say ‘I breathe’. We cannot take even a single breath by our own effort if the system fails. If the “I”, the ahankara type of (bad) ego had to decide to do the job of breathing, we would have been dead by now. Many things which we are supposed to do, we conveniently forget and this can be one of them because taking breath is such a monotonous activity and hence this has been programmed into our nature and is the Asmita type of doer ego. God has given us legs and we are supposed to walk. How many of us walk regularly? God has given us joints and wanted us to regularly exercise them but we don’t do it and land up with ailments like arthritis. That is why God kept the activity like breathing to go on by itself but we claim that ‘I breathe’! Similarly we say ‘I have given birth’ to my son. Giving birth to another human being is such a great act of creation that only God can do that and in this process he uses us as an instrument .We are only the birth canal and nothing more than that! But we do have the responsibility to take care of them to develop into a healthy human being. When we say ‘I gave birth to him or her’ it is Kartrutva Ahankara which is bad, but when we take the responsibility of bringing up our children that is Kartrutva Asmita which is good.
When Buddha came back from his tapas of several years, his father said to him ‘I gave birth to you!’ Buddha replied, “Oh Father, when you were not born ‘I’ was there. I am coming from the time when this universe was created and you are also coming from the time of creation. We are meeting here in this life like two passengers meeting in a train. We both only happen to meet here as father and son!”
Another form of Kartrutva Ahankara is found in organizations. There are many responsible members in the structure of an organization to run it efficiently. Some times, some people want to take on every thing on their own shoulders and are never satisfied with any one else’s way of functioning and they tend to suffocate the other functionaries. Here the intentions may be good but the ego of one person wanting to be the Ahankara Kartru is the sickness that prevents him from functioning with a peace of mind and getting the joy of performing! In addition it also comes in the way of the growth of the other persons in the organization. Here, the litmus test is whether the activity is done using Asmita or Ahankara type of ego. If one can nurture the capacity to move from Ahankara to Asmita, then it will help them to enjoy the work they are doing .This helps one to grow. But if the work is done with Ahankara Kartrutva then the person will not grow.
When I was working as an engineer, one of my colleagues- a senior executive, wrote a very unsatisfactory report about his junior and sent it to the administration asking them for extension of his probationary period and not to make him a permanent employee although he was his close friend at a personal level. But we all knew that the junior was very capable, intelligent, and hard working. The administration asked me to solve this problem! I observed their way of functioning in the office for ten days. I noticed that, whenever there was any work in the office, the senior would ask the junior to attend to it and within a few minutes he would go back and check whether the work has been completed. If it was not completed he would conclude that the junior is not confident to tackle the problem, immediately jump in and complete the work himself. Poor fellow, the junior employee had to stand there as a mere spectator with folded hands! Now, this senior executive has a valid point when he said ‘look at his way of doing. How can you expect me to give him a good report?’ I interfered and explained to him that he, as a senior is not allowing the junior to grow. I advised him,’ give him an opportunity, give him time, let him do mistakes and you please correct his mistakes and help him to grow’. The senior understood and gave him time to finish the work at his own pace. When the junior was given the freedom and opportunity, in less than three months, he came up so well that the same senior, not only sent a good report but also mentioned that this junior should be working under him only. This is a very subtle Kartrutva ego! This Kartrutva ego undermined the Kartrutva responsibility of training a junior. This can be seen happening in many organizations where very efficient seniors cannot create and recognize capable juniors to take over!. Thus the Karturtva ego is not always bad . One needs to grow from the doer ego to the responsible ego
The second type of ego is the ‘experiencer’ ego or the Bhoktrutva Asmita. We require this experiencer ego to perceive and experience the inputs from the world around us through our sense organs such as eyes, ears etc. Hence the experiencer ego is incorporated into the act of perception. For example, the eyes carry the experience of light and its diversities.
Seeing is an experience and we are continuously guided by this experience.
Sense perception is a direct experience for which we don’t have to depend upon anybody else’s experience (This is called pratyaksha pramaana). We say, ‘I have seen with my own eyes’. I see through my eyes and not through your eyes. We see using my experiencer ego and not someone else’s experiencer ego.
This ‘I’ who sees cannot be replaced by any amount of technological development. When I was a boy of ten years, I went to an ophthalmologist to get my eyes tested. At that time the sophisticated technology was not developed. The doctor put a frame on my eyes and mounted a lens and he asked me whether I see clearly. After a few trials, I said that ‘wow, this lens is the best as ‘I’ can see clearly with this’. Then the doctor gave me a prescription of that particular power of glasses. Recently I had an eye checkup in USA and this time it was they used the latest computerized technology. A gadget was mounted on my eyes and some computer signals were generated. But this time also the decision was made based on my inputs as to when I see it blurred or when I see it clearly. The experiencer is important for right perception happen and it can not be replaced how ever much the technology develops. This experiencer ego is a life saving mechanism. The experience brings about responses that can invite immediate self protective actions. Like the experience of pain or suffering, experience of a foreign and dangerous virus entering our system through the nasal passage or a wrong food put in the stomach etc.. This perception immediately sets the system into action and helps us to protect ourselves. If there is discomfort, immediately the child cries to indicate that it is experiencing some thing which is not agreeable with the system and the mother immediately responds. That is the experiencer ego which is present even before the intellect is born. Therefore, the experiencer Asmita does not belong to intellect. For example, when a wrong and unhealthy material enters through the air that we breathe, immediately the nasal passage responds by sneezing.
This is the experiencer ego which is the good part of our ego. Every part of our body has its own experiencer ego which protects not only itself but has the ability to respond suitably to protect the whole body.
The experiencer ego is also responsible for our sensitivity. We have the capacity not only to experience our own pains and sufferings, but we do experience the pain, suffering and joy of others. Even the pet dog in your house is sensitive to your pleasures and pains, your anger and joy etc.
Thus we have seen how important the experiencer ego is, for the sake of healthy survival. It also becomes a problem when it functions the ahankara way and not the Asmita way..
Sensitivity is a gift and a sign of evolution, but oversensitivity or wrong sensitivity can create problems. This oversensitivity can lead to unnecessary responses that can upset our emotional balance resulting in agitation, anxiety, depression etc. with the resultant health problems. For example, many do not have the sensitivity to be clean and neat .That is the reason the preparatory steps of ashtanga yoga prescribes shoucha or cleanliness (outside and inside) as one of the important steps to promote and maintain cleanliness and orderliness. This is one of the niyamas, the individual disciplines. But some times people can be so obsessed with cleanliness that their whole time is spent on cleaning and arranging things that they can do nothing beyond and their life revolves around that for ever. At that point they can only see dirt every where and that can turn into a disease called obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) !
Same way, our good Bhoktrutva ego aids in healthy perception of smell so that we can smell good fragrance to enjoy and smell bad things to protect our system. But if one becomes over sensitive, he not only perceives unwanted smells but can be so sick that his life becomes miserable. On close observation, we can see that this is not because of sensitivity of the sense organ that he is in trouble but he is suffering because of his attachment to the sensitivity. Therefore the experiencer is Asmita which is useful and the attachment to the experience is Ahankara which is suffering!
The third aspect is the identifier ego which is known as Jnatrutva Asmita. This identifier ego is very important and exists even in plants and animals. Because of this ego, a dog can recognize a dog, and not only as a dog but can distinguish a ‘she dog’ from a ‘he dog’. A he-dog not only recognizes a dog but he also recognizes whether the other one is she dog or he dog. If the other one is a she dog then he approaches it a wagging tail but the other dog happens to be a male then he is ready to fight or run away for life. This recognition is necessary for the sake of maintaining the species. This shows, though the dog does not know the word called dog, he knows that the other one belongs to his own species. This is its Jnatrutva ego. Similarly we also have identification ego, the Jnatrutva Asmita.
Even in human beings also, this Jnatrutva ego has the two dimensions of species and sex identity as seen in animals. The moment we see another human being we feel a form of comfort that we can not experience with animals or plants around us. We also have the ego that identifies ourselves as a man or a woman. This identification is so strong and deep that it will not leave us even in our dreams. In dreams also we belong to the same gender. This is the power of Jnatrutva Asmita. This identification is very important to maintain the social order and discipline.
In the society, the Jnatrutva Asmita has other forms of identities. A father has father’s Asmita, mother has mother’s Asmita, a child has child Asmita, a citizen has his citizen Asmita etc. this identity or Asmita provides the necessary social bonds and fixes their roles in the social organization.
For a family to survive healthy and happy, all these forms of Asmita are very important. In the Indian society particularly there are such strict adherences to family structure that they observe their roles with religious rigor. We have such stories from Ramayana.
Lakshmana, the younger brother of Rama had identified so intensely with his role of protecting them that Seeta, the elder brother’s wife, became his mother for the entire period of their stay in the forest. His deep respect for her made him always look at her with head down. This aspect has been brought out poetically by the poet Valmiki. When Seeta was abducted and was being taken away by air in Pushpakavimana by air by the evil Ravana, very thoughtfully Seeta bundled some of her ornaments and dropped on a hill when she heard some voices so that this may guide Rama to find her. . The monkey army on the hill had found them and had preserved them. When ram reached that place in search of Seeta and Sugreeva the chief of the monkeys showed them to Rama ,he says ‘Oh, lakshmana ,The memories of Seeta by looking at these ornaments are filling my eyes with tears .I just cannot identify them . Can you please help me?’ Lakshmana examines them and indentifies only her toe rings and says, ‘My dear brother, I am sure these are her toe rings as I would see them daily when I bow down to her feet. In the morning’. He could not identify the necklaces or bangles as he never would raise his head in front of mother Seeta.
That way, he sets an example for how a brother should respect his sister in law.
Just like we all have our roles (role ego or role Asmita) and responsibility for the health of the family, we also have a responsibility in the society too. In society a teacher has teacher’s Asmita and an executive has executive’s Asmita etc. Same way all the roles have their respective egos. If a person who is a teacher does not have that teacher’s ego he can not be an efficient teacher, like the way a father who does not have a father’s ego is not an efficient father. In an organization it is also necessary that we not only have to take care of our own Asmita but we also need to protect the organizational ego. For example if you are the chief of an organization and if you cannot uphold the ego of your juniors in the company in front of others, then not only the outsiders do not respect the organization but they loose their respect for you also.
The role ego is important. One has to have the core competency. Adi Shankaracharya in this context says that those who have this core competency are Adhikarinah. Therefore it has to be understood that the role ego is actually the responsibility of a person and is not for feeling egoistic about it. But unfortunately today when one assumes administrative positions, they become egotistic and tend to lose their responsibility. Especially when one gets into political positions it becomes a matter of Ahankara and not Asmita. It generally happens that people who occupy high positions end up as poor administrators because they are not competent to adhere to their Asmita ego to function with responsibility and end up becoming egoistic and self centered due to the Ahankara Bhoktrutva.
In Ramayana, when it was decided that Rama was to be enthroned as the prince, Sage Vasishtha says to Rama, ‘my dear Rama, this is a time for people of Ayodhya to celebrate as they are going to have a great prince, but for you, this is the time for contemplation as you are taking up the responsibility for the kingdom. Becoming a prince is to take up responsibility for the entire community by nurturing the king Asmita and give no room for the king Ahankara to capture your mind’.
When Asmita ego is at work the person identifies with the position, only during the work because this ego belongs to the position and not to the person. But ordinary persons do not understand this. The ignorance of the Ahankara ego is to identify with the position inseparably. This identification results in making a teacher behave like a teacher even while he is not teaching. A doctor becomes a doctor even in the shopping place. He may be playing cards in a club, but he thinks that he is doctor there too. They don’t realize that it is a big burden to carry that title wherever they go. We tend to forget how to be a simple common human being. When he is giving medicine to a patient, identifying with the position of a doctor gives him the freedom and authority to function efficiently as a medical doctor. But in the market place, being a doctor takes away this freedom which a common man can enjoy. We tend to forget that we are a common man and want to ride over others. This is like an actor is doing a role where he becomes a murderer or a criminal but he is not so otherwise when he is not on the stage. In fact, if only he actor does the role like that then only he can do it much more effectively than when he gets lost and becomes the role that he is playing! Once the famous Indian scientist and highly respected person in early nineteenth century Eswarachandra Vidyasagar was watching a stage drama being played in Calcutta sitting in the front seat he was totally absorbed in the play. A person who was acting like a bad person was giving such a trouble to the young lady character. It was all in the drama but Eswara Chandra Vidyasagar felt it so real that out of total rage he got up and hurled his shoe at that actor. The person immediately caught the shoe and paid his respects to the professor saying, “Sir, I received many many mementos for my acting but to day what I received in the form of your shoe is the most precious one and I would like to preserve it for the life time. Please allow me not to return this shoe to you,”
Only then Eswara Chandra Vidyasagar, realized what happened! An actor does much better wok than a person who forgets this and gets attached to what role he is playing.
Once the governor of Kyoto Mr. Kitagagi went to a Zen master and gave his visiting card to the young boy sitting at the front desk to be presented to the master. The moment the young boy saw the card , he was alerted, filled with fear, because such a great person had come to see the master, and responded saying “Sir, please wait here , I shall show this card to the master and come back to you to take you in”. The boy rushed in and presented the card to the master.
The master was busy in talking to some body and casually looked at the card and continued his dialogue. The boy became restless and tried to draw the attention of the master to the card. Master replied, “Wait! Let me finish my work on hand before I attend to the card”. After a while, he slowly looked at the card from top to bottom and with a harsh tone said, “Why is this man here? Ask him to get out immediately!” The boy was surprised at the harshness in the tone of the master. The boy could not say any thing and hesitantly came back to Mr. Kitagagi who was eagerly waiting expecting the answer from the master to bring him in. But the boy said “sir, the master is busy.” Kitagagi said, ‘I can wait I am not in a hurry’. Now the boy was in trouble and and had to say, ‘Sir, may be he is not available today’ as he did not want to repeat the harsh words of the master to the governor. Looking at the discomfort of the boy the Governor asked him, “Tell me exactly what the master told you?”
The boy narrated every word that the master had said very apologetically. The governor went in to deep thinking for a moment. Suddenly he took the card and scratched the word ‘governor of Kyoto’ and asked the boy to produce it to the master. The boy did not feel comfortable. But very reluctantly he went in and showed the card. The moment the Zen master saw the card, with a great joy he told the boy ‘why is he sitting out side? Please bring him in”. In fact, the master got up from his seat, walked towards the door and said ‘Kitagagi, please come in’.
In this anecdote, one can see that the governor is necessary for a state. But he was carrying this burden of a governor even when he came to the Zen master.
A seeker of truth has to drop all burdens. We tend to carry the burden and suffer because of inseparable identification of our ego with the position we hold.If this identifier ego can identify only at the time of being in that position, then it is Asmita and if the Jnatrutva ego becomes identified inseparably all the time and carries the burden around, then it becomes Ahankara type of Jnatrutva ego.
Thus we find the clear distinction between good ego(Asmita) and bad ego(Ahankara) ,in all three aspects of our being, i.e. the doer ego(Kartrutva), the experiencer ego( Bhokrutva) and identifier ego( Jnatrutva).This clear and useful distinction portrayed in Vedantic scriptures should help a sincere seeker to culture Asmita and get out of the bondage of Ahankara which is the ignorance that is repeatedly recognized as a hindrance to one’s spiritual growth . Let me summarize this in the following way.
|Aspect||Asmitha or good ego||Ahamkara or bad ego|
|Kartrutva or doer ego||Need for doing like exercising, learning etc |
Allowing others to grow and develop taking the team in collective way
|1.Instead of doing a work as responsibility but taking pride of it |
2. Interfering in others works with a feeling I can do better…
|Bhotrutva or experience ego||Being sensitive to not only the sensory perceptions but to others feeling and caring for that||1.Not only sensitive but also over sensitive and developing allergic tendencies due to attachment to sensitivity. |
2. Growing sensitivity to that degree that one only sees negativity and bad!
|Jantrutva or identifier ego||We have identification not only of ourselves but about others and giving respect to this||Identifying self with the responsibility. |
Carrying the position where it is not necessary.