Abba Alonious tells us that the destruction of his ego was necessary so he could rebuild himself from the ground up.
“If I had not destroyed myself completely, I should not have been able to rebuild and shape myself again.” (1)
The ‘water of God’s grace’, Paramahansa Ramakrishna tells us, “cannot collect on the high mound of egotism. It runs down.” (2)
He also tells us that we won’t truly connect with Source until we renounce the self-serving ways of the ego.
“Unless one renounces the ego, one does not receive the grace of God.” (3)
‘Narendra’, who later became Swami Vivekananda, rejoiced at the transcendence of his ego and his experience of heaven on earth.
“Thou One without a Second, all Peace, the King of Kings! At Thy beloved feet I shall renounce my life And so at last shall gain life’s goal; I shall enjoy the bliss of heaven while yet on earth!” (4)
Sri Aurobindo encourages us to drive the ego out of all of its clever disguises and hiding places so we can finally and justly transcend it.
“The centre of all resistance is egoism and this we must pursue into every covert and disguise and drag it out and slay it; for its disguises are endless and it will cling to every shred of possible self-concealment. … There is no I nor thou, but only one divine Self equal in all embodiments, equal in the individual and the group, and to realize that, to express that, to serve that, to fulfill that is all that matters.” (5)
In a Q&A, Ramana Maharishi tells us that renunciation doesn’t just entail giving up the ego – it entails giving up the false self who’s influenced by it.
“Q: What is renunciation?
“M: Giving up the ego.
“Q: Is it not giving up possessions?
“M: The possessor too.” (6)
In order to ‘give up everything’ materialistic, he advises, we’ll have to understand that the ego feeds all of it.
“If the ego is, everything else also is. If the ego is not, nothing else is. Indeed, the ego is all. Therefore the enquiry as to what this ego is is the only way of giving up everything.” (7)
Krishnamurti tells us that we’ll eventually care so much about others that we’ll have little desire to stimulate the ego.
“You must distinguish between the selfish and the unselfish. For selfishness has many forms, and when you think you have finally killed it in one of them, it arises in another as strongly as ever. But by degrees you will become so full of thought for the helping of others that there will be no room, no time, for any thought about yourself.” (8)
After so much diligent work, we’ll care less about our wants and desires and more about helping others find what they need to physically and spiritually thrive. We’ll stop wanting to stimulate the ego as we steadily learn to care more for the plight of others, and our selflessness will affect everyone who’s been lost in the confines of the ego.
We’ll serve others with and open and loving heart, and they could in turn awaken to their potential and start helping others find a spiritual perception or simply get a leg up in this difficult world.
The people out there who are feeding the hungry, giving drinks to the thirsty and giving clothes and shelter to the homeless probably don’t think much about themselves. Even though enlightenment isn’t their goal, they’re still doing selfless things that spirit will most likely reward them for when they’re back in the higher realms.
A lot of them probably don’t think about spirituality or the possibility of an afterlife – they simply see atrocities that need mended and seek to mend them. This is true selflessness, and in time, everyone will grasp it and finally start helping others.
In our final quote, Adyashanti encourages us to transcend our fixation on failure and success. Only when we cease to care about ‘our story’, which is meant to be blank so we can perceive Source with a greater degree of purity and clarity, can we embrace love.
“The biggest challenge for most spiritual seekers is to surrender their self importance, and see the emptiness of their own personal story.
“It is your personal story that you need to awaken from in order to be free. To give up being either ignorant or enlightened is the mark of liberation and allows you to treat others as your Self. What I am describing is the birth of true Love.” (9)
It’s easy to stay fixed on our accomplishments and our failures, but as we’ve heard endlessly, only when we can empty ourselves of any thoughts that aren’t aimed at Source or service (I.e., when we can transcend egotistical thoughts) can we do anything pure or significant with our time on earth.
Once our sense of self is transcended, we’re basically infinite. We can explore our Christ consciousness with meditation, creativity and various other spiritual tools, and along the way, we can openly and lovingly serve others with the understanding that our service makes not only their lives, but ours more enjoyable
We obviously won’t serve others for the karmic rewards that are involved.
We’ll do it because we’ll have moved past our desire to help ourselves, which we’ll have replaced with the desire to help others. The whole world would benefit if even two seekers could transcend their sense of self and start serving this planet, and we definitely need more humanitarians and spiritual teachers.
We only need more spiritual teachers in the sense that we need more people who are willing to selflessly help show the way back into the higher realms, and it goes without saying by now that we’re our best spiritual teachers and inspiration or clarity can only come from within.
In the face of the ego’s constant schemes, I think the best thing we can do is live humble lives and serve others with an open heart, free of any ego-driven concerns about how the world sees us. We aren’t here to please the egos of others – we’re here to help the world find a higher state of consciousness that’ll liberate us all the stress and drama we’ve come to see as ‘normal’.
When we can do our work with no mental concerns or attachments, we’ll unlock our true potential; the true secret of life. This planet would change in an instant if everyone opened up to this, and the world will eventually awaken as long as we can continue to live in love and set an example.
- Benedicta Ward, trans., The Sayings of the Desert Fathers. London and Oxford: Mowbray Books, 1981, 35.
- Swami Nikhilananda, trans., The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Ibid., 111.
- Ibid., 790.
- Ibid., 120.
- Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1983, 3-16.
- Paul Brunton and Munagala Venkataramaiah. Conscious Immortality. Conversations with Sri Ramana Maharshi. Rev. ed. 1996, n.p.
- Sri Ramana Maharshi. Forty Verses on Reality. Trans. Arthur Osborne. Mountain Path, October 1964. Downloaded from http://www.realization.org/page/namedoc0/40_verses/40_verses_0.htm, 25 August 2005, Verse 25.
- J. Krishnamurti, At the Feet of the Master. Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1974; c1910, 34-5.
- Adyashanti, “How You Treat Others,” 1998, downloaded from http://www.adyashanti.org, 2004.
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