Live In The Present, Free Of Ego
By: Seema Burman on Dec 27, 2014 SPEAKING TREE ARTICLE FROM TIMES OF INDIA
A colleague went to Andaman & Nicobar on holiday with his wife and child. Next day his wife died of a heart condition. When I phoned him to console him, his first sentence was, ‘There is no God’, followed by, ‘It’s my fault’.
In extreme pain faith gets shaken and we take the entire burden of blame on ourselves. I too had chosen to sleep at night when my father was coughing incessantly while my mother took him to the hospital and soon i received the devastating call saying he had left us. Years have passed but whenever i recall this i blame myself. I could not forgive myself. I tried immersing myself in rituals, meditation, pilgrimages, worship, but the only place i found answers was in the Gita.
When Krishna tells Arjuna, “All actions are done by the qualities of nature only, He whose mind is deluded by egoism thinks: ‘I am the doer’” (3.27), it comes as a big relief. ‘I am the doer’ is like confessing to a crime which can either produce guilt or pride and will certainly reinforce the idea that ‘I am the body ‘and crush us in the wheel of birth and death. Krishna wants us to see that actions and thoughts are influenced by Nature.
Nature works through three gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas — which sway our actions and thoughts. Gunas come to us due to our samskaras, consistent habits, and if we do not make the effort to uplift them to saatvik level they become part of our personality and we consider them natural. So either we can change them by selfless action, meditation, worship, positive thinking and living in the present or by completely surrendering all actions to Krishna with love. Krishna means the Supreme Self, the eternal Divine.
Ego of doer-ship strengthens identification with body, mind and senses which leads to accepting its good and bad results, too. Identifying with body, mind and senses is ignorance as it takes away attention from soul and brings with it ego, desires, depression, mental weakness and ultimately our downfall. Krishna says, ‘Renouncing all actions in Me, with the mind centred in the Self, free from hope and egoism, and from (mental) fever, do you fight’ (3.30). Renunciation is giving up fruits of actions, with mind immersed inwardly in remembering the Eternal, free from hope of future and ego of past, without mental weaknesses, performing righteous actions. One way of surrendering is by offering all actions to the Supreme by saying, ‘Sri Krishna arpanamastu,’ while another way is to let the ego be proud that it now belongs to the Lord, ‘Asa abhimaan jaaye nahi bhore, Mein sewak, Raghupati pati more’(Sri Ramacharitmanas). Rama’s devotee Suteekshana admits that the ego is like a serpent which will raise its poisonous head so why not teach it to be proud of being the Lord’s humble servant? Thus ego’s taamsik guna of pride becomes saatvik, as positive pride. An intimate relationship of the seeker with God is built which is saatvik and will not result in bondage as desires are removed.
Wise is he, who, disconnecting himself from body, mind and sense organs, identifying himself with Atman, sees that senses are functioning according to gunas while the Self is action-less, and escapes the burden of karmas. Unwise is he who imagines that he is doing the action. In life, usually the scene is tough to handle but being instruments of God we have no choice but to participate in this big cosmic drama. Thankfully, free will means we can progress from taamsik to saatvik.