Ego – The Ghost, The Wedding Crasher
Note : Ramana Maharshi explains the nature and behaviour of the Ego very clearly in this conversation. He gives lucid examples to make it easy to understand for the devotees.
Mr. Ward Jackson: When we read about all this, we read it intellectually. But it is all too remote. When we see you in form, we are brought nearer to Reality and it gives us courage to bring our knowledge into our everyday life.
If one realized the Self and acted up to it in the West, one would be locked up in a lunatic asylum. (Everybody laughs.)
M.: You will be locking yourself in. Because the world is mad, considers you mad. Where is the lunatic asylum if it is not within. You will not be in it, but it will be in you. (Everybody laughs).
M.: Uncertainties, doubts and fears are natural to everyone until the Self is realised. They are inseparable from the ego, rather they are the ego.
D.: How are they to disappear?
M.: They are the ego. If the ego goes they go with it. The ego is itself unreal. What is the ego? Enquire. The body is insentient and cannot say ‘I’ . The Self is pure consciousness and non-dual. It cannot say ‘I’ . No one says, ‘I’ in sleep. What is the ego then? It is something intermediate between the inert body and the Self. It has no locus standi, a firm argument to support itself. If sought for it vanishes like a ghost.
You see, a man imagines that there is something by his side in darkness; it may be some dark object. If he looks closely the ghost is not to be seen, but some dark object which he could identify as a tree or a post, etc. If he does not look closely the ghost strikes terror in the person. All that is required is only to look closely and the ghost vanishes. The ghost was never there. So also with the ego. It is an intangible link between the body and Pure Consciousness. It is not real. So long as one does not look closely it continues to give trouble. But when one looks for it, it is found not to exist.
Again, in a Hindu marriage function, the feasts continue five or six days. A stranger was mistaken for the best man by the bride’s party and they therefore treated him with special regard. Seeing him treated with special regard by the bride’s party, the bridegroom’s party considered him to be some man of importance related to the bride’s party and therefore they too showed him special respect. The stranger had altogether a happy time of it. He was also all along aware of the real situation. On one occasion the groom’s party wanted to refer to him on some point. They asked for him. He scented trouble and made himself scarce. So it is with the ego. If looked for, it disappears. If not, it continues to give trouble.
How it is to be looked for is learnt from those who have already done so. That is the reason why the Master is approached.
Talks With Ramana Maharshi
19th January, 1939