Haume, Ahankar, Self-conceit and Ego

We went and saw the movie Iron Man 2 the other day. It was pretty entertaining and I enjoyed watching it. At the same time it made me think about something that had been on my mind for a while now, the concept of ego/pride or ahankar as it is known in hindi and punjabi. Guru Nanak Devji talked about the five thieves that sap our positive energy making it difficult to lead a righteous life, ahankar is one of them. Growing up I was decent is school but regular feedback from the teachers was that I was “over-confident” in my abilities, implying that the hubris in me always impeded  my learning and growth. Nothing has been a bigger obstacle in my spiritual growth as my ahankar and haume or duality self-conceit.  While ahankar/ego is pretty easy to define and most people understand, the word haume which in my opinion stands for love for duality and self-conceit, is a lot more nuanced and difficult to grasp.  There are a lot of passages in Sri Guru Granth where the Gurus repeatedly talk about the traps of ones haume.

Hum moorakh, mooraakh man mae. Haume wich sab kam kamae. Gur parsadi haume jae. Ape bikhse mile milae. Bikheya ka dhan bahut abhiman. Ahankar doobe na pave maan. Aap choddhi sada sukh hoe. Gurmat salahi sach soe.

We are ignorant; ignorance fills our minds. We do all our deeds in ego. By Guru’s Grace, egotism is eradicated. Forgiving us, the Lord blends us with Himself. Poisonous wealth gives rise to great arrogance. Drowning in egotism, no one is honored. Forsaking self-conceit, one finds lasting peace. Under Guru’s Instruction, he praises the True Lord.

While attaining professional success or doing any good deeds, the tendency to become arrogant comes, a lot of times it is almost glorified in the general culture. One of the first steps was to start full accepting it without any judgement towards myself. It is a personality trait that I needed to addressed and hence watching my thoughts, words and actions daily was required. While the ego and pride can be checked through the rationalized mind, working on self-conceit required the exact opposite.  Jesus Christ said:

Those that are humble shall be exalted and those that are exalted shall be humble.

So humility is something that the great masters completely agree on.  You just can’t attain any kind of spiritual enlightenment if you think it is “I” or “me” that is working to attain it. Bhagat Kabir ji has a beautiful doha or couplet:

Bada hua to kya hua, jaise pedh khajur
Panchee ko chaya nahin, phal lage ati door

What if it is big in size, like a date tree in a desert
If it can’t provide shade to a bird, then it will not bear any fruit.

Osho says that Ego is the resistance of your mind to the existence, as in when we let-go and fully accept things as they come lovingly and joyfully then the Universe smiles on us.  I had to disassociate with my own mind a lot of times and with the tricks that it tries to play. One of the big issues on being on a spiritual path is a tendency to develop a “holier that thou” attitude which has become very dangerous at times. It makes me forget the central philosophy that we are all from the same light, that the divine in my heart is same as the one in your neighbors. Hence, any attempts to differentiate oneself based on the grace the universe has bestowed will only make things worse. The duality needs to be extinguished and I can’t do it by thinking it away.

In meditation it is stressed to be an observer, look at your minds thought patterns and slowing try to move away from them.  Swami Rama’ talk connects the concepts of emotions, mind and ego very clearly. There have been so many occasions where my mind would make me believe that finally the hold of ahankar and haume is loosening, only to realize how much garbage still exists. While doing path/prayers/meditation in the morning these days I try to remember this and pray for grace from the divine. At least the awareness of it has now started to dawn, yet the daily struggle continues.

I would appreciate if you could share your views and experiences in this regard.

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