A child who gets praised since the beginning develops an ego. How can he reduce it to create a balance?
What is the meaning of “reduction of ego”? Can there be anything called reduction? Against what standard would you say that the ego is reduced. I mean is there a universal scale or chart which rates ego by some quantifiable data. Perhaps we have a standard in our mind which judges something as more egoistic and something as less.
Is the saint having less ego than a criminal? Both have fear, desire, the want for social approval. Does a social activist or an environmentalist have less ego than a capitalist? Is an environmentalist or social activist free from fear, desire, hurt and anger? The society may give more respect to a saint or social activist or environmentalist but all have the basic movements of ego – attachment, fear, desire, hurt, anger.
If as a parent I have really understood this, we are not going to train our children to become someone, not train him/her to any pattern of society. But this is almost non-existent in society because as parents we ourselves are caught in the pattern of ego – of psychological becoming.
Since we are all conditioned in childhood by our parents, school, society and institutions to a pattern of some form of psychological becoming, we are following all these patterns unconsciously. It’s not we living our patterns out, rather it is the patterns living us out.
When we talk of reduction of ego, we shall fall into another pattern. If I am a capitalist pursuing naked success and power through wealth, I will become a social worker or an environmentalist, thinking it’s a more noble work. But as I have noted before, if one examines all of them closely, each one has the ego operating. Environmentalist and social workers fight each other too, with their own ideas of what is going to solve the situation. Both are also hungry for public recognition and acclaim. Moreover, no amount of system changes are going to solve the situation. The environmental and social problems are related to the greed of man. Till this is not addressed, do what one will, the problem will keep coming back in different forms.
If I am truly interested in the question of self or ego, we would be interested in ending it, not reducing it. This does not mean controlling our desires. It means a desire for freedom, of living a life free of all conflict. Controlling desire, like a saint again brings us to conflict. Following a teacher or spiritual path, or for that matter following anyone, again brings us into conflict between what one is and what one should be: a path is only about control
If one is truly interested in ending conflict, one begins with understanding the roots of conflict without the aid of any paths or methods. One sees that one is in conflict because of various desires one has. Looking further one realizes that these desires are conditioning imposed on oneself during childhood. There is social conditioning and of course there is biological conditioning too, which we shall put aside for the moment.
I have been told since childhood that I am nothing and a nobody if I am not successful. I feel small and lonely if I do not fit in the crowd, fit into society. I feel inferior in front of my peers who have big houses and cars. So I examine this whole notion of competition, success and measurement. I see that society measures me through certain standards like money, knowledge, power and ethics. I begin to see that I am governed by these standards which I have never questioned. I never questioned whether I should live up to these standards. I have just been mechanically following them. Questioning them would mean that I am no longer part of this vicious society. I am also going to lose my friends with whom I seek pleasure, security and warmth. Questioning them would mean that I may lose my carefully erected social standing and status.
In effect, questioning would mean that I become psychologically alone. I am then no longer attached to people and society for deriving any comfort, security or pleasure. It does not mean becoming an ascetic. It means that one is not living one’s life conforming to social standards but living life based on one’s own inquiry into self. Such a person is lot more sensitive than a person imitating and conforming to society mechanically. One does not accept any authority of any kind, outwardly and inwardly. Again, this is bit tricky. I am not talking of becoming a revolutionary, a person revolting against some system to bring about another system: like a communist trying to change a capitalist society. Whether one is a capitalist or communist, both bow to their fears inside. I am talking of freedom from the authority of fear inside the mind.
Such a person, free from fear, and following standards, or authority, would bring about a transformation within his/her own consciousness. And since the consciousness of the individual is the consciousness of man, a transformation in one’s consciousness would affect the entire consciousness of man. And I think there is nothing more urgent than this for any human being.
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