The active ego is easy to recognize. People with an active ego will behave in a highhanded fashion; they will claim self-importance openly. They will be arrogant. This ego is actually easy for a master to deal with. He just needs to bang on it a few times and it will break! A person with an active ego will not be willing to let go of it at any cost.
Passive ego is very subtle and cunning. People who have a passive ego will pose as being very humble, lacking courage to face people, and shying away from taking credit. The worst part of this is that they think they are like this because they are not egoistic. Actually, they are so carefully guarding their ego from getting hurt by unconsciously thinking they are humble!
People with active ego are like dried, hard twigs. They can be broken easily. People with passive ego are like fresh, green twigs. Each time their ego is hit, they bend but don’t break! Their ego is so well safeguarded that it becomes difficult to deal with. Actually, they work very hard to safeguard it but in a sweet and passive way.
You care so much about others’ reactions and opinions towards you. You cannot bear to suffer hurt to the ego that you have nurtured so carefully all these years. This ego is your very anchor point. If it is jolted, you will feel anchorless. So, with the excuse of being humble and obedient, you keep quiet. You miss one more opportunity of exposing your ego in the master’s presence. You miss one more opportunity to take a big step towards flowering.
There is one more play of ego that we all nurture so well. It is called ‘social ego’. You feel that your life is highly private to yourself and that no one should be let into it. You are afraid that your whole image might come crashing down and there will be nothing to prop you up in society. This is social ego. It is more of an identity for you to experience than for others! If you can show yourself to the world just as you are, you will be more relaxed because then there will be no pressure to cover up anything. Because of our social ego, we are always self-conscious. We think people are looking at and talking about us all the time. When you are self-conscious, you are egoistic. You think that you are a big entity and that everyone’s eyes are on you all the time. That is why you get self-conscious.
When you become self-conscious, you are living and yet not living. Self-consciousness is a barrier to your beauty and grace. Your beauty does not come forth freely. Look at animals and nature. They flow so beautifully and freely, because they are not self-conscious. They are simply happy being one with Existence. The moment you start thinking that people are watching you, ego has stepped in, and you lose your natural self.
Children are not as self-conscious as adults. If you watch them play, you will see they have so much beauty and innocence. Even when pictures are taken, you will notice that pictures taken without you being aware that you are being photographed look much better than pictures taken when you pose for the camera!
The moment you are asked to pose, you become self-conscious. Your ego is afraid of what people might say and think about you. The self-conscious ego is all the time calculating and weighing others’ opinions. When you stop calculating and start being innocent and open, you will be filled with wonder and freshness all the time. Life will never become dull and restrained for you.
‘I’ is the ego, the root of fear. ‘Mine’ – ‘this is my house’, ‘that is my car’, ‘these are my friends’ – is the root of greed.
‘I’ means continuously doing. ‘Mine’ means continuously having. Continuously you try to expand your boundary. Continuously you try to change the things outside. You want to expand your boundary of ‘mine’. For example, you have a basic car now but you want to have a more luxurious car. You may want more than one car. You have a house to live in, but you want a bigger house. This kind of personality is based on having. Such people feel happy, secure and relaxed only when they continuously possess more and more things.
The deep feeling of insecurity and fear drives us to more greed, to continuously try to possess more things. Continuously possessing things is nothing but a feeling of deep insecurity. You can see the idea of continuously possessing more and more things is just because of fear and insecurity.
We usually feel more secure if we have more friends, more relatives, and more things around us. With more security, we feel we will not be taken away from this world.
People ask me, ‘Why do we have to follow masters?’ I tell them, ‘You don’t have to follow masters. But if you don’t follow masters, you will be following your ego, that’s all. There are only two options: either you listen to the master or you listen to the ego.’
Master is the being who has already achieved eternal bliss, nithya ananda. If you follow him you will also reach that state. As for your ego, you know what it has achieved so far and what it is heading towards! If you are happy, comfortable, contented and blissful in the path in which your ego is already leading you, then you can follow your ego. Nothing is wrong with that. If you are a little uncomfortable, if you want to change, then follow the master’s path.
There are only two things, master and the mind. If you follow the master, you cannot follow the mind. If you follow the mind, you cannot follow the master.
There is a beautiful word, ‘na maha’. It means, ‘not mine’, ‘I am not’ – I surrender the ‘I’ and ‘mine’ at the feet of the master or god.
source: Living Enlightenment