Ego - An impediment to Happiness

By Ravi Valluri

Narender (name changed) was born into an opulent family and bestowed all the bounties by his indulgent parents. His father was a civil servant, who served the government in various capacities and his mother had the pedigree which the hoi-polloi, the flotsam and jetsam were envious of and would always aspire to acquire.

Her parents and the luxuriant, deluxe family virtually owned a quarter of the wealth of the state they hailed from. The petite woman was trained to be a classical dancer and a singer of remarkable repute. She honed these skill sets diligently. To sleep well in life, she whetted her appetite and was to strop the aesthetic skills to an optimal level. She grasped these nuances from the Maharani- her mother pretty early in life and that provided her with a head start over her compatriots.

Narender, blessed with this extraction and bloodline was naturally expected by the ménage to expand the family fortunes. While still in the cradle, it was decreed that the child would be educated in estimable and illustrious schools and colleges. The family was suffused with jollity and animated exuberance. The world of the cock-a-hoop and airy family came crashing when it was detected the child was suffering from dyslexia. ‘He is mentally retarded,’ over-reacted the distraught father. The danseuse-songstress was aghast.

It was as if lightning had struck the family and happiness was swiftly supplanted by an eerie silence of disconsolance. Why were they engulfed and subsumed by negative emotions and feelings?

Exalted expectations tend to diminish joy when humans begin linking and conjoining happiness with events, situations and individuals. Normally, the human mind is wont to postpone happiness and the propertied family had advanced this state of mind.

Invariably, humans postpone happiness by not living in the present moment, deferring happiness. For instance, a child arrives on planet earth and it is widely expected that upon completion of educational edification he would be ensconced in a reputable job, then get married and procreate. The unabated cycle would be continued ………and perhaps in the winter of his life the child, now a grandfather would finally attempt the pursuit of happiness.

This indeed was the state of mind of Narender’s parents and the Sakya king Suddhodhana. The Sakya king fervently and passionately expected young prince Siddhartha to ascend the throne after him. But Siddhartha was in search of expression of joy and the ultimate reality. He cast the princely garments to adorn ochre robes. The father was dismayed and rendered speechless.

Living in the present moment is the genuine expression of joy and happiness and this is nothing but achieving enlightenment.

The mental state of ego can be closely examined at the coattails of happiness.  At a cursory level the word ego means- amor propre, self-conceit or self-importance.

However, psycho analysts view the subject radically differently. For them ego is that part of a human which mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is verily responsible for a reality check and sense of personal identity.

Philosophers delve deeper and try to fathom ego as a conscious thinking subject.  Therefore, it is a multi- dimensional motif. Ego when cultured and harnessed effectively can spur an individual to scale the summit, but to the bovine, obtuse and imperceptive individual it acts a road block in pursuit of achieving stated goals, as they operate from victim or guilt consciousness where the vision gets blurred.

Ironically a timorous or a shy person who is encompassed by negative emotions such as diffidence, timidity or wariness becomes a prisoner and victim of the mind games.  

But in reality, shyness is attributive of an egotistical state. Why? As the individual is not natural; the creation of the universe needs to be, inevitably, natural, guileless and unpretentious. As the intrinsic quality of the geometry of creation is its pristine beauty. Truly childlike is the infant who can perform, say Pavan Mukta asana, devour a chocolate or render a speech with remarkable felicity and aplomb. Effort is an act of the body while effortlessness is quality of a cultured and cultivated mind.

Let us imagine sitting in the swathes of large fields while observing the enchantress called the Universe; we examine azure blue sky, wafting clouds, flock of birds moving in patterns in complete harmony. Or in the darkness of night we are mesmerised with planets, stars dotting the majestic skyscape.

Or say in a corn field, individuals can observe an entire spectrum of field of flowers. We look at all the flowers from the prism of our mind and soak seamlessly in the atmosphere.

These are effortless acts, where the mind does not draw any comparisons. The ethereal beauty encompasses our minds. The mind does not posit one cloud against the other, one rainbow against another, sunrise from sunset, one flock of birds against the other, one set of stars against another or one set of flowers against the other. The mind is merely observing and appreciating various facets of nature in its aggregate and totality, with mindful awareness and breathing.

Sage Ashtavakra, opined that witnessing these acts of nature when the mind virtually halts and individuals do not juxtapose or collate one against the other is that exalted state when humans drop all cravings and desires and look at life in its entirety and inclusiveness. We are one with nature and its manifestations. However, the bedrock of this state is when humans are neither critical nor judgemental and do not attach strings to their thought process.

There is a subterranean axis between happiness, ego and a non- judgemental mind. Humans can reinforce the positive aspects of ego (self-esteem) and appreciate jollity, radiance and happiness by dropping judgemental positions.













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