The Illusory Ego


There is an interesting anecdote concerning the Buddha. Lord Buddha’s directive to his disciples was: “Be a light unto yourself.”


King Prasenajit came to see the Buddha. He saw a large number of bhikshu-s (monks) bowing to him, saying Buddham Sharanam Gacchami (I surrender to the feet of Buddha). Prasenajit found a contradiction in this.

He asked Buddha, “Master! You tell people, ‘Be a light unto yourself‘. But even after this, when they say surrender to you and touch your feet, you don’t prevent them. If you say ‘Be a light unto yourself‘, there is no need to surrender to anybody else, so why should they fall at your feet?”


The Buddha laughed and said, “These are not my feet. They are not surrendering to me, because there is nobody inside me as the ego who can claim surrender. The disciples are simply surrendering. It is not surrender to me. Since they are not fully evolved yet, they are not capable of surrender without an excuse. My feet are just an excuse. I, as a person, do not exist!”


The Buddha as a manifestation of ego called the jeeva or the finite, limited self, or the conditioned consciousness, doesn’t exist. But the Supreme, Infinite Self or Pure Awareness He is, not the jeeva. The ego is an illusory entity and it is used till the real Self is known. Then it naturally falls away.


This illusory ego causes us all the trouble. All the sorrows, miseries and pain belong to this ego. This is proved by our experience of deep dreamless sleep. Whatever misery, sorrow or pain we may be suffering in the waking plane of consciousness or may have gone through in the dream state of consciousness or however big a tragedy we may have suffered in the waking or dream state, it doesn’t touch us in the deep sleep state. That is because the ego, to whom they belong, is absent temporarily in the deep sleep state, where it is considered to be absorbed in its own source, so to say. It is a fictitious entity, which appears in its own absence like mirage water. Therefore, on inquiry it simply disappears. What remains is the Pure Blissful Self, of which we get a small glimpse in the deep sleep state. Hence no one wakes up from deep sleep and says ‘I was miserable’. In fact, he or she would say, ‘I didn’t know anything, but I enjoyed it’. Therefore, our existence is not affected by the presence or absence of the ego. In fact, we are happy and better off without this ego


“The taller we are, the longer shall be our shadow. The one way to end the shadow — our EGO, is to turn our gaze towards the light within. If not, do the easier act of self surrender. Bend double — the shadow is half. Fall flat at His feet in love, devotion and surrender the shadow is no more.”

 Swami Chinmayananda


“He who mistakes this excreta-making body for Self is worse than one who, born a pig, for food takes excreta.

By him alone who’s saved himself can other folk be freed; the help of others is as if the blind leading the blind.”

— Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharishi


Happiness is your own nature; hence it is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it outside, because it is within.” — Sri Ramana Maharishi

Lord Jesus says, “The kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke: 17: 20/21).

If it is said that “the kingdom of God is within you”, then it is definitely not a posthumous attainment. It has to be sought and discovered within oneself very much while living here itself.

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1 Comment

  1. Chintu

    How the ego imprisons us in its fold and wrecks havoc is very clearly shown.Thanks Guruji.

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