Friday, October 17, 2014

Meher Baba on the Ego

I have written about Baba's discourses on the ego in the past, but have long wanted to revisit the subject, as it is so easy to misunderstand Baba on this topic.

When people hear Baba talking about the ego, they often get the first impression of someone who is 'egotistical' or an 'egomaniac.' They think he means to avoid such egotism. Nowhere does Baba ever say that.

Baba is referring to the limited sense of identity, where a person identifies with his limited mind and his single limited physical body. This must eventually go in order for the "Divine Ego," which identifies with the true Self that is Everywhere and in Everything, to come. However, this cannot be accomplished, Baba says, through mere self-flagellation or by acting humble. To the contrary, Baba is clear that such acts only strengthen the limited ego.

The limited false ego also cannot be reduced or eliminated through identification with any group. There is a common idea that to identify with one's group, rather than with one's individual self, is less egotistical. Here is what Baba says about that:

Discourses, 1967 edition, Volume 1, p. 24
It is common also to see the initials IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) as a new internet expression. Baba has little regard for such pious displays of self-effacement.
The moment you say, "I say in all humility," the very expression is the expression of the ego in you. Even if in your mind you feel that you are humble, this feeling is egoistic. (Lord Meher, 1986 print edition, p. 4322)
So how does one achieve the annihilation of the false and limited ego, which Baba says occurs with God-realization? If one reads Baba closely he sees that the focus on ego for ego elimination is always going to be self-defeating, as it still amounts to focus on the false ego. Therefore, the only remedy is to focus outside of the false self, beyond it, and placing the focus on something that is not limited. All attempts to do this are called "yogas." All yogas are attempts to divert attention from the ego and onto the unlimited or empty, in short to forget oneself. And there are as many ways to do that as there are temperaments, but generally they fall into a few basic types that Baba explains in greatest detail in Infinite Intelligence, though to some extent also in his Discourses.

One of these yogas Baba describes in detail is called Karma yoga. This yoga entails a refusal to react positively or negatively to what is happening, yet attending to all duties. Thus, for instance, if one's karma is to be a great conqueror or artist, one simply acts in accord with these sanskaras from the past life, but neither wales over his failures nor swaggers over his successes. If he acts in a way others deem to be "ego" he pays no attention to that either. In other words he acts without reacting, as all is simply duty and nothing to do with him.

The most effective way, however, Baba says is the yoga known as Bhakti. In this yoga, rather than worrying about oneself, about one's failures and accomplishments, about one's future or past, about one's ego or non-ego, or even about one's Realization of non-Realization, one focuses as much as possible on the realized Perfect Master or Avatar (such as Jesus, Krishna, or Baba himself) by for instance focusing on his image or taking his name. This is the fastest and easiest way to achieve true Humility, which leads instantly to God-realization. Note that the same goal is here as in Karma yoga, of taking the attention off of the self and putting it elsewhere. This is the common thread of all the yogas Baba describes — the conscious movement of the attention from the false and limited either to one's duty or to the Master.

I end with a few paradoxical quotes by Baba on the ego and humility.
Beware of modesty. Modesty, under the cloak of humility, invariably leads one into the clutches of self-deception. Modesty breeds egoism, and man eventually succumbs to pride through assumed humility. (Meher Baba's Call, September, 1954)
The real goal of life is not death of the ego, but of the mind!... When the mind dies, the false ego is transformed into Reality. Real Ego is never born and never dies. Ego is always real but due to the mind, it feels and acts as limited and false 'I'. (Lord Meher, 1986 edition, p. 3713)

Just as the eye cannot see itself, so the ego is unable to end its own existence. All that it does to bring about self-annihilation only goes to add to its own existence. It flourishes on the very efforts directed against itself. (Discourses, 1967, Vol. II, p. 37)
No sooner humility is given an expression, it is no longer humility. It is humbug to give deliberate expression to humility. The life of humility is to be lived spontaneously, and it should not give rise to any thoughts either about humility or about modesty. (Lord Meher, 1986 edition, p. 4322)

1 comment:

  1. I really like the quotes of Baba you ended this post with. Very thought provoking! Thank you.