What is the Ego?
Our special theme says, “To know reality is not to see the ego and it thoughts, its works, its acts, its laws and its beliefs, its dreams, its hopes, its plans for its salvation, and the cost belief in them entails.”
In short, to know reality is not to see the ego or its effects. They do not exist in reality.
Here is how Michael Langford describes reality:
Describing the final Reality as Infinite-Eternal-Awareness-Love-Bliss is the closest one can come in words. In the final Reality, which is the only Reality, there are no humans, no animals, no planets, no stars and no earth.
The final reality is infinite-awareness aware only of infinite awareness. In all of eternity the final Reality has never been aware of anything other than infinite-awareness-love-bliss. Awareness-love-bliss is not three, it is one. In all of eternity the final Reality, which is the true Self, has never been aware of a human, or a world or suffering of any kind. Humans, animals, earth, planets stars and other realms, entities, places, time, dimensions, and that which almost every word in the dictionary point towards is part of the ego dream. When the ego comes to its final end, the dream ends and almost everything that the words in the dictionary point towards disappears.
When the ego comes to its final end, what remains is Infinite-Eternal-Awareness-Love-Bliss and nothing ever reappears. The planets, the stars, and almost everything that the words in a dictionary point towards never reappear. They were all part of the dream. Upon awakening, the dream disappears.
That’s what our special theme teaches too.
People often wonder how enlightened masters, who claim to see no world, appear to us as everyday people with everyday lives. This is one of my favorite stories about that question:
Questioner: You said the body defines the outer self. Since you have a body, do you have also an outer self?
Nisargdatta: I would, were I attached to the body and take it to be myself.
Questioner: But you are aware of it and attend to its needs.
Nisargdatta: The contrary is nearer to truth — the body knows me and is aware of my needs. But neither is really so. This body appears in your mind; in my mind nothing is.
Questioner: Do you mean to say you are quite unconscious of having a body?
Nisargdatta: On the contrary, I am conscious of not having a body.
Questioner: I see you smoking!
Nisargdatta: Exactly so. You see me smoking. Find out for yourself how did you come to see me smoking, and you will easily realise that it is your ‘I-am-the-body’ state of mind that is responsible for this ‘I- see-you-smoking’ idea.
Questioner: There is the body and there is myself. I know the body. Apart from it, what am l?
Nisargdatta: There is no ‘I’ apart from the body, nor the world. The three appear and disappear together. At the root is the sense ‘I am’. Go beyond it. The idea: ‘I-am-not-the-body’ is merely an antidote to the idea ‘I-am-the-body,’ which is false. What is that ‘I am’? Unless you know yourself, what else can you know?
Questioner: From what you say I conclude that without the body there can be no liberation. If the idea: ‘I-am-not-the-body’ leads to liberation, the presence of the body is essential.
Nisargdatta: Quite right. Without the body, how can the idea: ‘I-am-not-the-body’ come into being? The idea ‘I-am-free’ is as false as the idea ‘I-am-in-bondage’. Find out the ‘I am’ common to both and go beyond.
Nisargadatta’s instructions are clear. Find the ‘I am’ and go beyond. That is how we come to not “see the ego and it thoughts, its works, its acts,” and etcetera.
My sinlessness protects me from all harm.
In today’s workbook lesson, our “sinlessness” is our true eternal nature. The lesson says, “My sinlessness ensures me perfect peace, eternal safety, everlasting love, freedom forever,… And only happiness can be my state, for only happiness is given me. What must I do to know all this is mine? I must accept the atonement for myself and nothing more.”
Today is a good opportunity to review the tip from Lesson 139, I will accept the atonement for myself. As you review that tip, keep Nisargadatta’s instructions in mind: Find the ‘I am’ and go beyond. Eternal life, which is infinite awareness, is beyond the sense of ‘I am.