God is egoless. Hence, the best way to destroy ego in oneself is to become like God, that is, to merge with God. Merging with God implies imbibing His qualities. The efforts to be made daily for this is known as spiritual practice. In short, more the time in a day we perform spiritual practice, faster will be the reduction in our ego.
1. Seva (Service unto the Absolute Truth)
1A. We should not think that a particular seva is superior or some other seva is inferior. Rather, we should have a bhav (Spiritual emotion) that seva is the means to offer our body, mind, wealth, intellect and ego.
1B. While performing seva, we should have a bhav that ‘I am a servitor’. How His Holiness Dr. Athavale served His Guru, His Holiness Bhaktaraj Maharaj, will be understood from the following examples.
After arriving at the Ashram, His Holiness Dr. Athavale would first offer obeisance to His Holiness Bhaktaraj Maharaj. Thereafter, He would see if there was any waste littered around. If so, He would clean up the place.
When sitting near His Holiness Bhaktaraj Maharaj, His Holiness Dr. Athavale would press His feet, while doing so, He would do it lovingly and gently.
His Holiness Dr. Athavale would pay absolute attention to every word of His Holiness Bhaktaraj Maharaj. If His Holiness Bhaktaraj Maharaj asked someone to bring something, His Holiness Dr. Athavale would get up and bring it Himself.
When His Holiness Bhaktaraj Maharaj would rise to go to the toilet, His Holiness Dr. Athavale would immediately open the door for Him. Before Maharaj could return, His Holiness Dr. Athavale would dust His bed and arrange the pillows neatly. His Holiness Dr. Athavale would then wait with a towel in His hands, since Maharaj would come after washing His feet. After Maharaj came, His Holiness Dr. Athavale would wipe His feet and sit only after He was seated.
If there was no electricity, His Holiness Dr. Athavale Himself would fan His Holiness Bhaktaraj Maharaj throughout the day.
When His Holiness Bhaktaraj Maharaj would rise to go out, His Holiness Dr. Athavale would go out ahead of Him and fetch His slippers.
However late it might be in the night, until His Holiness Bhaktaraj Maharaj did not ask Him to leave, His Holiness Dr. Athavale would neither leave nor even ask if he could leave. His Holiness Dr. Athavale would leave only after Maharaj asked Him to.
1C. A seeker should have a bhav that, ‘I have to perform seva in the best possible manner, but the one who performs it as well as gets it done through me is Guru or God’.
A seeker asked a Saint, ‘If a seeker experiences Anand (Bliss) by remembering the Guru or thinking of God, how much is the ego in the actions performed by him in that state of Anand ? The Saint replied, ‘If the seeker has a bhav that everything is done by the Guru or God, Then no ego remains in him. All actions are offered unto God. However, if the seeker forgets the Guru or God even for a short while, then in that period one can never say when ego, selfishness and expectation of fruit will arise in any task’.
1D. Seva of the Shudravarna (Labour class), such as washing utensils, cleaning, etc. helps reduce ego faster.
1E. We should try to perform day-to-day chores as seva; for example, if we have to iron our clothes, it should be done with a bhav that it is seva unto the Guru Himself. This will help augment the attitude of seva. More the bhav that ‘I am a servitor’ is generated; faster will be the reduction in ego.
2. Tyag (Sacrifice unto the Absolute Truth)
To be able to offer everything unto God, it is necessary to sacrifice the body, mind, wealth and ego sequentially.
2A. Selfishness is of three types – physical, verbal and psychological. Physical selfishness means taking care that the body is not put to hardship due to others. Having an attitude that ‘Others should respect my words, even if I speak harshly the person should quietly listen’ amounts to verbal selfishness. A desire that ‘All should behave as per my wishes’ amounts to psychological selfishness. Discarding selfishness is necessary for destroying ego.
2B. Giving an object that we like to someone amounts to curbing our desire. By doing so, thoughts about the self will gradually reduce and consequently, the ego will begin to decrease.
2C. We should offer our house to the Guru mentally and take care of it with a bhav that ‘I am a caretaker of His house’. Due to this, ego about owning a house, household items, etc. will begin to decrease.
2D. Making efforts so that seva of other seekers is expedited amounts to sacrificing our own time. To be able to sacrifice everything unto God, we should be able to sacrifice the body, mind, wealth and even our life.
3. Priti (Spiritual love devoid of expectations)
Generally, in worldly transactions, we expect something or the other from someone we love. Spiritual love means loving God and each and everything created by Him without any expectations.
3A. We cannot simultaneously love two things truly. If we love ‘I’, then we cannot truly love God. Moreover, if we truly love God, then we cannot love ‘I’ at all. Hence, when we love God truly, love for the self will decrease, that is, the ego will decrease.
3B. The more we think of spiritual benefit of others, the less we will think of our self and this will help make the mind expansive. In the process, we will be able to attain a state that, ‘the entire universe is my home’.
4. Namjapa (Chanting the Name of a Deity)
When someone is adopted, he has to forget his earlier name and switch to the new one to inherit any property. Similarly, to obtain God’s grace, we have to forget our ego and our own name and chant His Name. Chanting God’s Name is the way to forget our own ego. A seeker should get engrossed in chanting God’s Name, and forgetting himself he should become one with the Name.
At least in the period when chanting of God’s Name is going on, there is no ego. When chanting of God’s Name is going on, the thoughts entering the mind are overcome through prayers. As against this, it takes a long time to overcome thoughts when chanting of God’s Name is not going on, and we have to struggle a lot for it mentally. We should not have a bhav that ‘I am chanting God’s Name’, but that ‘the Guru or God is getting chanting (of God’s Name) done through me’. As a result, one will not develop ego about chanting God’s Name. In the satsang of a Saint, chanting of God’s Name takes place automatically due to the Divine Energy in Him. Hence, a bhav that ‘I am chanting God’s Name’, that is, ego about spiritual practice does not arise. – His Holiness Bhaktaraj Maharaj
Spiritual experience of
reduction in ego upon chanting God’s Name
On 27.8.2003, while I was chanting the Name of Shri Durgadevi, I could understand that Shri Durgadevi was releasing a lot of weapons. All these weapons were striking my ego. Then, a thought arose, ‘Will my ego be completely destroyed today?’ Immediately the next thought arose, ‘Shri Durgadevi will destroy my ego gradually’. After chanting, I realized that my ego had reduced a little. I had been trying hard for several months to reduce ego. As a part of these efforts, I was conscious about not expressing myself when my mind reacted to some incident, not feeling sad about events around, etc., and this made me tense. However, after chanting the name of Shri Durgadevi I experienced that my mind automatically stopped reacting to incidents and I did not feel sad about events around either. – A Seeker
(From this spiritual experience, we realise how powerful is the chanting of a Deity’s Name; however, to experience the Shakti in the chant, it is equally important that the chanting be done with yearning and bhav.)
Reference : Sanatan Sanstha’s Holy text ‘Spiritual Practice for Destroying Ego’.