Considering ourselves to be significant, we often forget God’s magnificent glory and marvel. Veiled by ego, we easily become proud of our wealth, beauty, knowledge, talents, etc. Little do we realize that these same things that we are attached to, later become the cause of our suffering. Great sages and the holy scriptures teach us that ego limits our progress on the spiritual journey by blocking God’s glory and grace from shining through. If we can understand the detrimental effects of the ego, we can then control deleterious thoughts of pride and replace them with ones of humility and tolerance.
Let us look at an interesting incident. Rabindranath Tagore, the famous Bengali poet, was working by the seaside in a little hut on a piece of poetry. Though the moonlight was shimmering outside, the hut was dark, except for the light emanating from little lamp. Slowly, the lamp got extinguished and then Tagore opened the door of the hut, and suddenly, the hut was flooded with the moonlight. Like the moonlight, the grace of God is available everywhere, however, like the little lamp is our ego, which prevents us from becoming recipients of that grace. That is why somebody said, EGO is an acronym for Edging God Out. If we wish to transform our lives, we need to extinguish this enemy sitting within ourselves.
Let us ask ourselves, “What do we have to be proud of?” We don’t have the wealth of Kuber or the fame of Indra. Consider an ancient story. One businessman went to Saint Kabir. He was boasting about the big mansion he had built. Saint Kabir put a map before him and said, “Where on this map is the city in which you live? It is a little dot. Where in the city is your locality? It is a dot within the dot and where is the mansion? It was a dot within the dot, within the dot.” In the same way, in this expanse of creation, what is it that we have to be proud of? Nevertheless, whenever we do something, this pride of being the doer engulfs us and that is what dirties our mind and heart. If we wish to receive the spiritual gifts, we will have to strive to extinguish this pride.
Consider another compelling story. One scholar went to a God-realized Saint. He said, “O sage, I have read so much and heard so much, but I am still devoid of a genuine spiritual experience. I have not even seen the light of God. Please tell me a spiritual practice that will give me my first true divine realization.” The sage smiled and said, “Go out, lift your arms towards the heavens and cry out to God. You will have your first experience.” The scholar obediently followed. He went out but unfortunately, it was raining. Nevertheless, he lifted his arms and cried out to God for two hours. When he returned, the Saint asked him, “What happened?” The scholar said, “O sage, there were dark clouds in the sky, the rain was falling on my face, the hair was getting wet, my clothes were all soaked, and my feet were in a puddle of water—I felt like I was a gross fool.” The Saint said, “You have had your first spiritual realization.”
The fact is that the doors to spiritual treasures open up to the extent that we learn to master this virtue of humbleness within ourselves. That is why Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Consider yourself more insignificant than a blade of grass, be more tolerant than a tree, and desire no prestige for yourself while giving all respect to others. In this state of humbleness, you will always be able to chant the glories of God.”
So, how should we cultivate this virtue of humility? Actually, the closer we go to God, the more naturally humbleness manifests in us. We may see a hill in the distance and think it is only as tall as us. But in reality, it merely seems it is six feet high because we are very far away from it. As we start walking towards the hill, we see it to be a huge mountain, and now appreciate how small we are in comparison. Similarly, it is in forgetfulness of the glory of God that we become proud of our tiny significance. The firefly may be proud before the sunrise but has nothing to be proud of once the sun shines.
Further, we must also remember the shortcomings of our own personality. Endless lifetimes have gone by and yet we have not been able to overcome anger, greed, desire, hatred envy, illusion, etc. We still have the ignorance within us. What then is there to be proud of? When we revise these pieces of knowledge, it will help us develop humbleness within. So, let us always remember an effective tool—to strive to eliminate the pride within ourselves. We shall move ahead from here with another gem of wisdom on the fourteenth day of this Life Transformation Challenge.
Day-13 Life Transformation Challenge: Think of an instance when your ego impacted your life negatively—ponder upon how you could have avoided it.