Part I - What is Ego?
There seems to be a bit of confusion about who is Enlightened and who is not, about ego and no ego, about dualism and nondualism. Let us look into some facts. First of all, no human can function with any facility without ego. What is ego? Identification with the flesh, the time/space world, the human mind and all that. I hear so much talk in yoga circles that really is a lot of nonsense. The idea being that
in our normal waking state, our everyday life, we should have no ego at all. Let me share with you what we'd be like with no ego.
There have been many cases, and still are, of beautiful souls in God, who have no ego. They sit in a trance under a tree, or in a garden, or in some lonely temple, and they remain absorbed in God. People
notice them and kindly souls - one or more - provide for them. They have to be given food and shelter. They become unkempt, dirty, their hair matted, their nails like claws. Sometimes, they turn into skeletons.
Many Saints went into this samadhi (Ramana Maharshi) but later came out of it and functioned very well. I know of numerous Christian Saints, in medieval days, who went into this samadhi also, and stayed in some degree of it for years, until they found Enlightenment.
The most famous 'fool for God' who fell into chronic trances was Sri Ramakrishna. He couldn't keep a job - not even the simplest one. He was only good at one thing - God worship. Other people had to
provide for him. He could not even function as Priest in the Kali Temple - his trances were so frequent. So he was relieved of the job, given room and board and remained a dependent for the rest of his life. What did Ramakrishna have to say regarding ego? He said,
'It always comes back.'
Even the champion of trance admits to some ego. He made a distinction between 'ripe' and 'unripe' ego. I believe what this meant was that the soul who loves God totally has a 'ripe' and the one who does not,
Ego is not a sin! Ego is something natural that one must have in order to survive in daily living! Having ego is no sort of denouncement of a person, it is a natural fact of life. (Here let us assert that 'ego' does not mean 'egomaniac' or 'egotist' in the sense of vain or proud person.)
To be in a state of 'no ego' has to be a temporary rather than a permanent situation. When Sri Ramakrishna went into his six-month Nirvikalpa Samadhi, he could have died had not Totum Puri fed him with rice water. When he came out of it, the Avatar said,
'I would rather taste sugar than be sugar.'
Ramakrishna was good at what he did - being an Avatar. It was his mission. In India, these sort of people go into trances. It is expected of them, it gives them credibility, it is a spiritual aspect of all their Saints.
Other souls are holy too - and they also meditate and go into samadhi. But it has to be a temporary thing. Come on - we have to pay our bills! We have heavy responsibilities; homes, cars, children,
grandchildren, medical and dental appointments, schools and work, among other things. Without ego, or identification with this world, we could not manage these activities. In fact, the most successful people have to have their 'feet on the ground' no matter how much they love God. Sometimes they cannot afford the luxury of hours of samadhi, no matter how much they'd like to be in meditation.
In the best of both worlds, a person loves God with all their heart, soul and mind, and with all their strength and they have what ego they need to maintain life. They are not puffed up, pompous, vain and
proud. They are normal. I resent terribly yoga experts who accuse people of 'having ego.' Without ego you wouldn't take a bath, wash your hair, wear clean clothes, because your mind is absent from the body.
Part II About Desires and Suffering
Another thing yoga/Buddhist pundits espouse is to be without desires. In fact I've heard claims from people that they don't have desires. Take all this with a grain of salt. There have been so many Gurus,
Swamis, Lamas who claim they have no desires, yet their behavior is the same as everyone elses. In fact, they even claim they are past the human state. (They say they don't get upset or mad, but try and contradict what they say and see what happens.) This flies in the face of the lives of, for example, Jesus and Ramakrishna. Both these saints had desires, and they suffered greatly.
Ramakrishna was so upset with not getting a Vision from Kali, that he picked up a sword and was going to kill himself. Luckily, God quickly gave him Vision. Later on, he almost had a nervous breakdown
yearning for Narendra. He said he was dying from longing and love. He had desires for his 'boys,' he had desires to run the mission. He also liked smoking, an earthly desire or addiction. He had innocent
and holy desires. But don't accuse any Lama Dorky's of desires! They'll bite your head off!
Jesus also had desires. He desired to save souls. He desired relationships and friends. He cried when Lazarus died, he loved the company of Mary Magdalene. And no one has to tell you how much He
But don't tell any puffed-up yogi about this! He'll tell you he has no desires, no ambitions, no mission,
and suffering is only for deluded souls. In fact, he'll make you feel guilty if you suffer, 'There is something wrong with you! If you are suffering, it proves you are ego based!'
Tell that to Jesus and Ramakrishna!
Part III About Enlightenment
Another strange thing some Realized or Enlightened souls will tell you is,
'I am in the highest place of attainment and there is nothing beyond this.'
You wonder. Then you pray. And God says,
'A person could be in a state of Enlightenment, but that state is relative. A human is like a cup which grows. When the cup is full, the person is in a state of Enlightenment. But after the cup gets bigger, there is some emptyness, and one must reach for Enlightenment again. Enlightenment is when your capacity for God is full.'
Then one remembers. You learned long ago that everyone in Heaven is happy. And yet, there are untold mansions in Heaven, some lower, some higher. Yet, they are all perfectly happy. Why? Because each and every one is full. The cup does not grow any more. One stays filled with God to capacity forever, and since one's capacity is full, one is always happy.
Part IV Dualism vs Non-Dualism
Probably the funniest claim of all time is the 'Nondualist'. The nondualist is like the one without ego. If you are without ego, as I said, you forget your body. And the processes of your body can run havoc in appearence and smell. In order to be in a nondualistic state, you must also forget your body. It is really the same thing. Look at these things which are the same or almost the same:
No desires, no ambition
Unless you want to 'drop out' of normal life, you cannot live in a 'nondualistic' state. The best there is - the state of Avatars, Saints, is the dual-nondualistic state. The nondualistic state again, like no-ego state, has to be temporary. You see or experience God for a while. It could be seconds, minutes, hours, weeks or months. Then you come out of the 'other world' and you are normal again. For those
who claim to be 'nondualistic' all the time, to give them the benefit of the doubt, it is partial nondualism. If you are functioning as a separate human being, doing things as an individual, then you are dualistic. When you talk to people, send e mails, you are being dualistic, and so on - take it from there. The best of this world is to understand nondualism and keep it in your psyche, perhaps experiencing it from time to time. Anyone who is saying they are nondualistic all the time will have to prove it to me. And they can't.
Part V Can You Tell Who is Enlightened?
The greatest story in this regard is when Our Lord Jesus sat with His disciples and said to them,
'Who do they say I am?'
One disciple said they say you are so and so. Another said they say you are this and that. But Peter suddenly piped up with,
'You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!'
And Jesus told Peter that it was not man, but the Holy Spirit that had given him this.
Now you have to laugh when humans think they can see, by outside appearences, who is Enlightened and who is not. They go by human respect. Who has the title or the degree or the respectable position
- surely that one could be Enlightened. But the one who has washed floors for twenty years to make a living, that one is probably not. The maids, the waiters and waitresses, the construction workers, the
prostitutes on the street, they are probably not Enlightened. But then the one they assumed was Enlightened is discovered a vagabond and a charlatan. And everyone got fooled. And God watched as the respectable Cardinal or Pope was hauled off to a long Purgatory or even Hell, while the hooker, window washer, or even thief, made it to Heaven alright. Now what is happening here? Enlightenment, holiness and Realization are hidden states. They are not made obvious by outside appearences.
'God judges the heart.'
Did God not say through Jesus,
'Blessed are the Poor?'
These poor are the ones you overlook. They are needy, uneducated, disrespected, and losers by the standard of the world. These people might be in misery. In great suffering - that state some yogis scorn - can be found holiness. Yes, suffering can cleanse. And also, suffering can lead to Enlightenment. Who suffers you might ask? Those who are overlooked, hated and ridiculed. Certainly not the Harvard, MIT graduates, nor the Vassar women of this world. The people that are marginalized from the outskirts of society are most likely the ones who suffer. And they could be the next ones ready for Heaven as soon as the trumpet calls. There is no evidence of their Enlightenment, but it is there!
To Sum Up
To sum up, I am a bit tired out by the 'wisdom' of those who claim they know it all and have it all, and everyone else is ego-bound, in deep bondage and far from Truth. There seems to be a bit of swaggering going on as to who knows the most and has the highest state. I am wondering how God judges Enlightenment. I prefer the axiom I have always heard from the saints, that on the day of judgement, we will all be measured by one thing and one thing only. And that thing is CHARITY.
For myself, I resolve I will not be a respecter of persons. I will not judge by outward appearences. I will look at everyone as if they might be an incarnation of God, and that way, I will not be offensive just in case they are. I will wait for the Holy Spirit to tell me who is Enlightened and who is not. I will not assume one is Enlightened, nor that another is not. I will wait for the Truth to reveal Itself to me.
Rasa Von Werder
Oct. 15, 2005