Ego as the Basis of the Human Mind
Each human being is a unique individual with his or her own angle of vision, point of view, or determination of reality. Yet unless we are able to recognize the different points of view of others or the diverse orientation of life as a whole, we can get trapped in the limitations of our own bodies and minds.
Each human being has an ego, and the human ego, even at an intellectual level, can be strong, even when it is sophisticated. Ego is the basis of the mind, so we often use our minds to justify the biases of the ego, whether personal or collective. Unless we learn how to meditate and question the ego-mind, we will remain caught in its whirlpools that lead to conflict with the egos of others, which are also justified by the conclusions of their own thoughts.
Certainly, we must acknowledge our many differences. We don’t all think alike any more than we all look alike. This is not to say we must accept all different points of view as equally valid. They may just as well be equally invalid. But we must allow these differences to exist along with dialogue as part of a longer evolutionary process of human life and communication. We must aim to go beyond mere physical or material reality to the essence of consciousness behind the universe.
Though no two people think completely alike or have the same views in all areas, there is usually a common ground for us to work with, particularly if we look back to our common connections in the interdependent fabric of life. Nothing in nature is stereotyped or uniform, and no species can claim rulership over the planet. Our human life is woven together with all the ecosystems of nature, extending to nature’s intelligence, which is much more profound and enduring than our own.
From Ego to Jivatman
It is not just a question of becoming a good citizen of a particular country or culture, however important that may be, but of opening our sense of Self to the universe as a whole and becoming a good citizen of the entire cosmos. This involves not only to our current human life but the many lives of our Jivatman, our reincarnating inner being, that has had many lives in different bodies and lokas, from the physical to subtle realms of space and light.
We are all related Jivas in a vast and benefic universe. While we must face the consequences of our karmas, we are not limited by any single birth. Our inner being moves through all of nature, stars, planets, atmosphere, mountains, oceans, forests, and every sort of creaturely manifestation. The Jivatman has a higher intelligence born of its sense of eternal existence and relationship with the universe as a whole. We must learn to awaken that higher intelligence called the sattvic buddhi in Vedantic thought.
The Self as the Common Ground for All Beings
The Vedic view is to be open to friendship with all, recognizing the common ground of our own Self-being in the greater Self-aware universe. This extends not only to other human beings but to the whole of life and higher realms of intelligence beyond our dark and dense material world. This is not a matter of mere diplomacy, a political strategy or an attempt to influence others. It is a means of opening up the boundless flow of prana and awareness in life taking us behind the hard and fixed boundaries of our ego-minds.
Our true Self, which is unity consciousness, is the best basis for harmony in life and society. But to discover that we must look beyond the ego, with its physical, mental and social limitations, to the real source of consciousness within us that is the inner light of Being.
Relationship forms the basis of human life, as we are social beings starting from a family and a community, with a long social education. Yet we must accept differences as part of our associations. We must allow others the space in which to question, learn and grow, even if their views may be different than our own.
Unfortunately, friendship does not always work and the ego may become intractable. We all have our battles or Kurukshetras as portrayed in the Bhagavad Gita. Yet as in the Gita we must ally ourselves upwardly in consciousness with such as Sri Krishna as the world guru of Self-knowledge, who reveals himself in his universal form. We must remember our common universal connections and not take transient social ego boundaries as the last word.
Each one of us has a powerful sense of self, but we must remember that ultimately the sense of Self-being is universal, not simply our personal identification with body and mind. We must expand our sense of Self beyond body and mind, society or even history, to embrace the greater Self-aware universe where differences in name and forms are but waves on a boundless ocean of unity, Brahman, the cosmic and transcendent reality beyond.