Ego as a Cosmic Principle
Every one of use might have had some experience of these forms of egoism in our life. But to experience the primal ego- principle in its cosmic and individual forms requires an advanced yogic consciousness. We must remember here that this idea of Ahankar as a cosmic principle is not a speculative concept of the Sankyas but a fact of spiritual experience. For example, Mother describing her own experience of the ego-principle says:
“And in individuals, when there is any knock or shock, always the only perception is a clear vision of the ego –the ego manifesting itself. They say, “It is the other”. I would not say, “Oh! that one was angry” or “Oh! this one…”, no, it is his ego; not even his ego, the ego-principle — the ego–principle which still intervenes. It is very interesting, because the ego has become for me a kind of impersonal entity, while for everybody else it is the acute sense of his personality! Instead of that, it is a kind of way of being (terrestial or human, one can say), which is in greater or lesser quantity here or there, giving each one the illusion of personality. It is very interesting” (2)
And Sri Aurobindo gives a very precise and clear description of the nature of the primal ego-principle in the individual:
“But even if all this has been done, something remains still; there remains a substratum of all these, a general sense of the separate ego. This substratum ego is something vague, indefinable, elusive; it does not or need not attach itself to anything in particular as the self; it does not identify itself with anything collective; it is a sort of fundamental form or power of the mind which compels the mental being to feel himself as a perhaps indefinable but still a limited being which is not mind, life or body but under which their activities proceed in Nature. The others were a qualified ego-idea and ego-sense supporting themselves on the play of the prakrithi; but this is the pure fundamental ego-power supporting itself on the consciousness of the mental purusha. And because it seems to be above or behind the play and not in it, because it does not say ‘I am the mind, life and body’ but ‘I am a being on whom the action of mind, life and body depends’, many think themselves released and mistake this elusive Ego for the One, the Divine, the true Purusha or at the least for the true person within them, — mistaking the indefinable for the Infinite. But so long as the fundamental ego-sense remains, there is no absolute release. The egoistic life, even if diminished in force and intensity, can still continue well enough with this support. If there is the error in identification, the ego life may under that pretext get rather exaggerated intensity and force. Even if there is no such error, the ego life may be wider, purer, more flexible and release may be now easier to attain and nearer to accomplishment, but still there is as yet no definitive release. It is imperative to go further, to get rid of this indefinable but fundamental ego-sense also and get back to the purusha on whom it is supporting itself, of whom it is a shadow; the shadow has to disappear and by its disappearance reveal the spirit’s unclouded substance” (3)
Thus even when egoism is eliminated from the consciousness, the primal Ego, the principle of separation and division may remain. But the highest spiritual liberation comes only when this essential Ego is dissolved. But how to do this? The only sure and radical remedy to the problem of Ego is the realisation of the absolute Unity and Oneness of the Spirit. Constant thinking and remberance (sravana and rnanana) and contemplation (nidyyasan) of the idea, all in the Self, Self in all, Self as becoming the all is the discipline prescribed in the Indian Yoga of knowledge to raise beyond Ego to the Unity- consciousness of the Spirit.
This practice has to be pursued until intellectual understanding through the Idea is transformed into inner vision of the truth behind the idea, darshana, and vision into experience anubhuthi by direct contact with the truth, and finally experience into realisation by identity or becoming one with the Truth.