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The Role of Ego in Service

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1 The Role of Ego in Service
March 04, 2007

2 Contents Table of Contents Concepts about the Ego
Program Overview Agenda Short Play Service Concepts Reading on Service Reading on Service Contd – 1 Reading on Service Contd - 2 Concepts about the Ego Concepts about the Ego Contd Short Readings Short Readings Contd - 1 Short Readings Contd – 2 Short Readings Contd - 3 General Discussion and Session Wrap up

3 Overview of the Extended Sunday program
Program Overview Contents Overview of the Extended Sunday program This extended Sunday program shall be an interactive exploration into the topic of “The role of Ego in Service” We shall collectively try to accomplish the following: Evolve a correct understanding of “Service” what promotes it? From Service to Love. Evolve a correct understanding of “Ego” Evolve a correct understanding of the role played by Ego in facilitating and in hindering Service. Evolve actionable items that we can incorporate in our attitude and thinking patterns that would allow us to let our Ego play the right role in Service. The approach used for this program is as follows: A brief talk, skit and short readings to act as triggers. Individual reflection and moderated discussion in a group to evolve an understanding of the topic.

4 Agenda Agenda for the day Program Item Duration Timings
Contents Agenda for the day Program Item Duration Timings Morning Group Sitting 30-60 minutes Starts at 10:30 AM Master’s recent talk given in Baroda 10 minutes After Morning Group Sitting Introduction to the Extended Sunday Program – Ravi Venkatesan After Master’s Baroda talk Experiences from recent visit to Master and introduction to the topic “The role of Ego in Service” - Victor Kannan 20-30 minutes After Sunday Program introduction Lunch 45 minutes 12:30 – 1:15 PM Short skit on “Mission Work” After topic introduction Reflection and discussion based on the Skit 15 minutes 1:15 – 1:30 PM Short readings followed by reflection and discussion 1 hour 1:30 – 2:30 PM Tea Break 15-30 minutes 2:30 – 2:45 Afternoon Group Sitting 3:00 PM

5 Short Play Short Play ShortSkit.doc Reflection and Discussion points:
Contents Short Play This short play attempts to set a context for the “The role of Ego in Service” topic through presenting a simple day to day situation. The characters and events described are fictitious and any resemblance to any persons dead or alive is purely coincidental. ShortSkit.doc Reflection and Discussion points: In the context of the topic “The role of Ego in Service” what did we observe in this skit. What were the various manifestations of the Ego we observed. What is true Service?

6 Some concepts about Seva (Service)
Service Concepts Contents Some concepts about Seva (Service) Seva is a Sanskrit word meaning, variously, to serve, to wait or attend upon, to honor, or to worship. Seva is usually translated as “service,” but not in the sense of something for which we’re paid. True seva must be done without desire or guile, in humility, with purity of intention, utter sincerity, and complete selflessness. ‘Seva’ is a word used to refer to "selfless service", performed without any thought of reward or personal benefit. The person performing this service is called a Sevadar. “Supreme devotedness of heart to the same end to which God is devoted. God is love, or benevolence, and is supremely devoted to the good of universal being. His heart is full of zeal, and his mind is wholly bent in promoting universal good, as far as it can possibly be done. Now the true service of God consists primarily in a heart of supreme benevolence, or of supreme devotedness to the glory of God and the interests of the universe.” “Helping prison” is our attachment to the idea that there’s a giver and a receiver, a helper and a helped. The deeper truth is that it is a privilege to have the means to give, and a blessing to give. The Dalai Lama speaks of selfish altruism, compassionate action done not for others, but with others, for ourselves. It grows our souls, and fulfills our life purpose.

7 Excerpts from SMRTI Reading on Service
Contents Excerpts from SMRTI Reading on Service When one serves, one should not be conscious of service. "I serve," that idea should not be there. It should be something natural, spontaneous, like a mother looking after her child, the baby. They also serve who stand and wait. Service does not mean doing something. Service means obedience. If Master says, "stand at the gate," you stand at the gate. "No, no, but Master! I am not doing anything." "Yes, but you are standing at the gate! Do you think it is not doing something?" So service is synonymous with obedience. The right aspect of service, service without bias, service without preference, service without seeking rewards is important. There is a difference between a sadhaka(one who does practice) and a sevaka(one who does service). A sadhaka does for himself, while a sevaka does for the Master. We have to act on that which has to be acted upon, in the plane of its existence. If a person is hungry and if you want to fulfill his hunger, you have to give him food. You cannot give him platitudes and send him away with a few good thoughts. No doubt, he will benefit from those thoughts later, but only when his stomach is full. So, therein hinges the philosophy of social service, for instance. But in spirituality, my Master considers sthoola social service, that is, concretized social service, giving of alms, giving of cloths to the poor, things like that, as the lowest level of service that we can offer each other. And, my Master used to say that it is not really service, it is our duty.

8 Reading on Service Contd -1
Contents One can serve him by assisting him with the work of the Mission. The work of the Mission is his life work, the purpose of his mortal existence. In assisting him in that work, we certainly serve him in a more vital and necessary way. This does not mean that we should not help him find his slippers or his stick. We should not stop with this level of service. We should strive to rise ever higher in the levels of service available. He serves the Master most nobly, most lovingly; who becomes what the Master wants him to become. It is easier to get from the Master through service than through devotion, love. Who knows what is devotion? Who knows what is love? I have said again and again, love is not so easy as we think. It is something which we have to achieve. So, it is easier through service. My Master was able to love his Master, and he never looked at another person, that is what he has written. But I don't have that ability, so I got through service. So what is the difference? Service is easier than loving, loving is a very difficult thing. Service is very easy. Put your heart and serve somebody, you automatically get his love and his obligation to you, and he has to give you whatever he has to give you. But we should not serve with the idea of getting something, that is one important thing. Then we become servants and we get only what a servant gets. We have this mystery in spirituality, "service without servility," as Babuji emphasized again and again. We serve but we are nobody's servants. Servants serve for money, out of fear, for existence. We serve because we love.

9 Reading on Service Contd -2
Contents Humility should not be confused with servitude. Humility is an attitude of the soul, where I tell myself, "I am what I am, but I should be what I should be." And this gap is my humility. The more I am inclined to think that I am already what I should have been, the more arrogance it is. So when I am conscious that between me and my goal there is still something to be achieved, it makes for humility.

10 Concepts about the Ego Contents Some concepts about the Ego from famous thinkers Psychologists: Carl Gustav Jung’s classifies the Ego as a compass of functions:                   Intuition                       |   Feeling |------  Thinking                       |                 Sensation Freud’s conception of Ego is the “I” (rational mind) that negotiates between the “It” (emotional mind) and the SuperEgo (Moral mind) to deny both instant gratification and pious delaying of gratification. Philosophers: Plato drawing on Socrates considered Ego as one of 3 parts of the soul: Logos (mind, nous, ego, or reason) Thymos (emotion, superego, or spiritedness) Pathos (appetitive, id, or carnal) The logos equates to the mind. It corresponds to the charioteer, directing the balanced horses of appetite and spirit. It allows for logic to prevail, and for the optimization of balance. Friedrich Nietzsche talks about letting go of the control of the ego on conscious reality. He talks of ego as something which is to be surpassed.

11 Concepts about the Ego Contd
Contents Immanuel Kant views the Ego as a synthetic or transcendental unity of a perception, an I, which cannot be identified with a perception or a thought and without which no knowledge is possible. But this ego of Kant is different from the Atman of Vedanta, for the former is still an empirical form relating itself to empirical experience. Kant holds that his ego transcends empirical consciousness Arthur Schopenhauer every individual is an ego whose interest in staying alive overrides every other, including the life interest of every other individual. The only way to avoid this suffering is through denial of the will. Ultimately, the conscious acceptance of the need for annihilation as the only true cure for the sickness of life is the inevitable outcome drawn by the famous pessimist. Shankara (ISAVASYOPANISHAD) contends that action and knowledge are like darkness and light respectively, he refers to the action of the ego directed to the acquisition of objects and states circumscribed by space, time and causation. Such an action is evidently alien to the characteristics of the knowledge of Truth. He states that the Ego is not true to the Self. He also states that nothing that is a result of the struggle of the Ego is long lasting. He talks about the need to surrender it (Ego). Ego is the deeply felt sense of being separate and superior. -- Anonymous

12 Short Readings Contents The word 'ego' is said to have been abused by all the present and past writers. The ego gives you strength for all the work. It points out to you that you have got the power to do a certain thing. But we identify ego with the body, instead of with the soul. It is the production of God, which you cannot annihilate. You should modify it. Suppose a man has got an immense fortune and he is proud of that He commits no sin because it does not do harm to anybody. What happens, as a result of it is that the wisdom of the man becomes blunt. Taken from the book "Complete Works of Ram Chandra Vol. 3", pg 35 - by Babuji. Master [Rev. Babuji] spoke about egoism and said, "Suppose I see a trunk or case weighing three tons or something like that, and I estimate that I can lift it. The 'I' which thinks it can lift it is the ego. Now I am telling you, egoism can never be totally removed. This is my idea, though I may be wrong. But this is my practical finding. I also think the ego is necessary, and all that is necessary is to utilize it properly. Look here! It is egoism which allows us to progress, and it is also the cause of our downfall. Egoism cannot be completely removed. But if correctly used, it is useful in our spiritual development. The mistake we make is in identifying the ego with the body. That is wrong. It should be identified with the soul. The highest condition is where it is identified neither with the body nor with the soul! You understand?" Rev. Babuji, qtd. in Yatra, vol. 2, p. 28, chapter "Malaysia" -Rev. Chariji

13 Short Readings Contd - 1 Contents In our work, our sole intention must be to do the work entrusted to us with diligence, patience and a sense of responsibility. When we think of pleasing others, we start with an attitude which is already condemning us to fear and possible failure. The biggest thing is to satisfy one's own conscience. If we attend to this, everything will be fine. It is a sign of weakness of the ego when a person wants praise from outside. Source: P. Rajagopalachari, Chapter "Duty," The Spider's Web, Vol II, p. 243. So I wish to see now a new, shall we say era in our spiritual life where people will shed their egos, minimize them, sublimate them, become service- oriented human, serve without the knowledge you are serving, serve without the consciousness that you are serving, because serving with the idea that I am serving is again an ego manifestation." Charji For our purposes, the definition of a Master is also "one who has mastered himself." That is to say, such a person is no longer a slave to the ego or to personal desires for worldly gains, and is consequently free to be of genuine service to others. The term in no way implies a relationship of servitude on our part. On the contrary, the Master in Sahaj Marg has the unique capacity to create equals, i.e. other Masters. He is always striving to lead us toward our highest potential, not to fulfill any need of his own, but solely for the sake of our Self realisation. From Sahaj Marg Handbook, section: The Role of the Master.

14 Short Readings Contd - 2 Contents Generally, when we waste our youth, the rest of our life is spent in regret. And by then it is too late to do anything positive, anything tangible, anything useful. That is why old age becomes - I don't mean old age, ninety, I mean starting even from forty. At least at forty there is still some steam power left in you, health left in you, to change. But then the ego takes over, because it is not easy to accept that you have not done right. So we tell lies to ourselves, we try to justify ourselves to ourselves, and miss further opportunities. Taken from Youth: A Time of Promise and for Effort, vol. 2, chapter "A Guided Life" p by Rev. Chariji Spirituality is nothing but an effort to change one's self, to try and realize the real value of life that we must aspire for. What is life? Is it only this bodily life, starting from birth and ending with death? This short sloka, as we call it, a couplet in the Gita, which says that as we change our shirts, our dresses when they are dirty, and put on new ones, similarly the soul, in its passage through existence, uses bodies for its journey. Spirituality, says it is that inner continuity of existence which is represented by the soul to which we should pay attention, because we find that there are two entities struggling now. In the average human being there is the ego, the life of the ego, which wants the continuation of the bodily life, the bodily existence, because the ego is working only through the body. Its instruments are the senses. When we make the mistake of identifying our life with this body and the senses, it is the life of the ego that we are promoting, supporting. And, therefore, the inner spiritual life comes down to almost nonexistent levels. Taken from the book Heart to Heart Vol. 4, chapter "What is spirituality?", pg no: by Chariji.

15 Short Readings Contd - 3 Contents In his spiritual character, however, he [Rev. Babuji] never felt that he was anything except a citizen of the world. He also said that what he had received from his Master he had received very cheaply, and it was of such great value that he felt it to be his bounden duty to offer it without any distinction to people all over the world, and also to offer it as cheaply as he himself got it. This emphasizes the second lesson that I learned, namely, whatever be the circumstances of our birth, it is in our power to grow out of the narrow environmental limitations imposed on us by birth and by geography, and thereby really become servants of the Master serving the world and possibly even serving the universe. Taken from Yatra, vol.1, p.183, (India in the West, Epilogue) -Rev.Chariji The concept of a Master is very often repugnant and I have often wondered why it should be so. Do we not seek guidance even in trivial matters where our capacity falls below our need? Do we not seek the guidance and assistance of doctors, of launderers, of barbers, and in fact of innumerable other offerers of service? And we do so without losing our individuality or sacrificing our ego! Why should not such an attitude also include a Master of yoga for spiritual needs? After all, as my Master often says, when a man is in a serious physical condition he literally surrenders to a doctor, gets anaesthetized and loses all consciousness, and what is going on is unknown to him. This surrender to a doctor is purely on the basis of hearsay, on the basis of the doctor's reputation, or his degrees. Why it should not be possible for us to similarly surrender to a Master of yoga is something that passes comprehension. Taken from The Principles of Sahaj Marg, Set 1, vol. 1, chapter "The Inner Needs of Man" p Rev. Chariji. The remembrance of God can be easily accomplished if we treat all our action and work to be a part of divine duty, entrusted to us by the Great Master whom we are to serve as best we can. If we think that while doing a work we are really serving one or the other of the God's creatures and not our own purpose, we are all along following the path of service, although we are outwardly busy with our usual routine of work. This practice allows universal love to become predominant and we begin to love every being of God’s creation without any feeling of attachment with it. It leads us to devotion and sacrifice. Devotion makes our passage smooth and creates a channel for the Godly current to flow into our hearts. --- Babuji ---

16 General Discussion and Session Wrap up

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