It is a well-established fact that the biggest impediment in the way of one’s peace, happiness and enlightenment is one’s ego. A person’s ego causes the person to be regretful in life, distances friendship and attracts enmity, puts a person into depression, causes unnecessary grief, does not let the person progress easily in any field of life. Moreover, ego becomes a serious obstacle in the spiritual progress of a person as well.
Hence, it is of utmost importance that we consciously try and get rid of any ego that we might possess, so that we can progress spiritually. And complete reduction of ego of all forms will eventually lead to enlightenment — which is the singlemost important purpose of our existence! However, to even consider trying to get rid of ego, one needs to understand what is ego, what are the indications of a person having ego and, then subsequently, how to reduce it so as to achieve eternal peace, happiness and enlightenment! Ego can be broadly classified in three categories:
Sthool ahankaara (gross ego): This type of ego is possessed by people who are egoistic of gross things like wealth, riches, beauty, looks, status, fame, success, progress etc.
Sukshma ahankaara (subtle ego): This type of ego is possessed by people who are egoistic of subtle things like experience, age, bhakti (devotion), gyana (knowledge). It is astonishing to see that some people are egoistic about their bhakti towards god also.
Shudh ahankaara (pure ego): This is the state of enlightenment because we establish ourselves in the pure consciousness which possesses a pure ego of its existence. And we become one with this pure ego and relieve ourselves from the birth cycle.
Next step is to realise whether we are being egoistic or not. Few indications that help us realise whether we possess any ego are (a) whether we judge people or look down upon them for no fault of theirs. For example, we look at a beggar and laugh at his hardships or we think other people are stupid in front of us (b) whether we start getting irritated/annoyed at the smallest of instances. For example, if something is not done as per our idea or when we try and find faults with food etc.
Once we are well aware of the above two steps, we should consciously try and reduce the level of ego in us. One of the ways to do so is slowly establish ourselves in the third and the most important form of ego — the pure ego. This will free you from the gross and subtle ego. Slowly, you start associating everything, everyone as an extension of your existence. By doing this you will eventually stop looking down on anyone because indirectly, you will be looking down upon yourself. And, this stage is nothing but the ultimate stage — that of enlightenment....