Devotees would often ask Sri Ramakrishna about the nature of ego. They would express their inability to get over it. Sri Ramakrishna who always led by his own personal example would explain the nature of ego beautifully. Once he had gone to the house of Shri Surendra, one of his devotees on the occasion of Annapurna Puja. After the darshan of Mother’s image he was requested to take a seat and was offered a cushion as support. Sri Ramakrishna, who was extremely alert, shoved the cushion away and then sat down. He exclaimed, “Sitting down with the support of a cushion!”

He was referring to the fat owners of jewelry and other shops sitting at the cash counter using such cushions. He had observed that these were marks of terrible ego that one was rich and extremely powerful. He then said that ego is such that one might think that he or she has driven it away, but without any notice it would somehow appear again. He gave the example of a sacrificial lamb. The animal was cut into two pieces and its head had been severed from its body.

Although there was no life in the animal, yet it would make violent movements. Sri Ramakrishna said that ego or Ahamkara is like that. It is impossible to find out its origin or how it sustains.

He also gave another example. Suppose one sees a terrible dream. But, even after one wakes up and sees for oneself that what was seen in the dream was not real or did not exist, still one experiences terrible palpitation. Sri Ramakrishna would say that the nature of ego is like that. He would conclude that the only way to get rid of ego is to surrender to the Divine Mother or God with the attitude that one is the machine and God or Mother alone is the operator and one moves as he or she is moved by such a power.

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