The Ego

By Ketut Suardana
For The Bali Times

UBUD ~ In the Hindu belief, there are two elements that constitute our existence. They are the Universe/macro cosmos (Purusha) and human beings/micro cosmos (Prakriti). As these two aspects are interrelated, it is believed that one cannot exist without the other. Therefore, it is said that if the mind does not exist, the Universe will not exist.

Source of all intellect is the Veda. The root of the Veda is the Vid, which means to learn and comprehend knowledge. The human body is like the Universe – the physical and mental aspects. The first requires physical nurturing and sustenance, while the other, the mind, needs knowledge to perpetuate its existence.

The structure of nature is a combination of opposites: eternal/not eternal; free/not free; time/space. Prakriti exists in these realms.

So what is eternal? It is the soul.

The Soul is Purusha. The body, Prakriti, is made up of five elements: Panca Buta – earth, water, fire, ether and air. The Panca Buta are the five physical elements (Sthula Sarira/rough body). In addition to the Panca Buta there is another intangible element that is Buddhe/intellect, ego/ahamkara and mind (Suksma Sarira/sensitive body). These two parts of the human body cannot come together and stay together without the soul (Anta Karan Sarira/supreme body).

Prakriti is our mother because we are born from nature and this is the essence of God. Purusha is the father of all beings. Thus, God is father and mother of the Universe.

“Nature is said to be the cause and effect, instrument and agent, and the soul is said to be the cause in regard to the experience of pleasure and pain.”

Bagavadgitha XIII-21

Where is the Ego/Ahamkara

Egoism means arrogance, loathing, praise for oneself and a life only for satiating one’s own desires.

The two types of egoism are ethical egoism and psychological egoism.

Ethical egoism is the concept of:

1.    Increasing one’s personal prosperity through self-interest.

2.    Hedonistic ethical egoist being the highest in reference to prosperity and self-interest.

3.    Eudemonistic ethical egoism is success and self-happiness.

Egoism psychological refers to:

1.    By thesis: when an individual is only interested in self-gratification in all one’s thoughts words and deeds without regard to others needs or desires.

2.    By theory: all human action, consciously or unconsciously, is aimed at achieving success in one’s life though it may seem it is being done for others.

The ego in Hinduism is one’s entity – the source being the human body (Sthula Sarira, Suksma Sarira and Anta Karana Sarira) that is Brahman/God. We see the ego as an illusion.

It is hard for people to remove the traps of pleasure and pain, if the ego or mind is attached to external objects or is in constant contact with the same. Especially, in this modern age, there are a lot of challenges or temptations for people who are looking for Ananda (supreme happiness) and a peaceful life. People have to control their ego in order to be in harmony with the Universe because the aim of the soul or Atman is to be one with Paramatman/God.

“Like all rivers that flow through to the ocean

Even when it continues to fill it remains calm

People who have a calm mind will reach peace

But not for those who are searching for pleasure”

– Unknown

Controlling the Ego/Ahamkara

Moksatham Jagathitayam Brahman means worldly happiness and spiritual unity with God to attain eternal life.

The three ways to find peace and happiness for an eternal life are knowledge, meditation and works/karma.

“By meditation some perceive the Self in the self by the self, others by the path of knowledge and still others by the path of works.”

Bhagavad-Gita XIII-25

Knowledge brings about an understanding through subjugation of the ego. It calms the restlessness within us and makes us happy.

The mind and body cannot be separated. If one cannot control the body with one’s mind, then the former becomes a slave to external enemies, thereby increasing one’s ego. These external enemies in Hinduism are called Sad Ripu (Sad means six and Ripu, enemy).

They are as follows:

1.    Kroda/anger

2.    Kama/desire

3.    Loba/greed

4.    Matsarya/jealousy

5.    Moha/drunkness

6.    Mada/arrogance

To do away with these negative aspects, Balinese have to follow the Tri Kaya Paramartha: Wacika/words, Manacika/thoughts and Kayika/deeds.


Words are communications tools that we use in our lives. These can be used in a pleasant or unpleasant manner. The holy book, Sarasmuscaya, likens hurtful or wicked words to an arrow that hits its target and causes pain to the person it is intended for. Words that are kept in the heart gives one sleepless nights and also reduces the desire to eat or enjoy life in general. Hence, Budhiman/intellectual people or holy men should not express hurtful or evil words.

The holy book cautions one against even using words of wisdom, for if they are said with a wrong attitude, it could cause pain. Therefore, it is necessary for one to utter words with love and sincerity, to bring about a peaceful and harmonious feeling. This can be achieved by chanting the Mantras.


Thoughts are the source of all human activity and, like wild monkeys, are never quiet. One has to control one’s thoughts. They are powerful and if used in the right way can make one’s life prosperous and peaceful. However, if thoughts are unfettered, then the resultant effect is a life of despair and evilness.


When the body is healthy and strong, one must do well for all as this purifies the soul because in latter years, as old age sets in, not much can be done, for one is more preoccupied with approaching death. How one acts or behaves in life is called Kayika. The reaction to one’s actions creates karma. Good or bad behavior will determine one’s past, present and future karma. Therefore, for one’s future karma, it is essential to say and do good things for people, nature and God.

Balinese Hindus carry out a ritual that aims to subjugate the ego/ahamkara, by filing one’s teeth. This tooth-filing ceremony is significant as it is intended to liberate the body from Sad Ripu – greed, jealousy, arrogance, drunkenness, anger and bad desires; and Sad Rasa, which are the six flavors – salt, bitter, sour, spicy and astringent. If Sad Ras is not controlled, then one can possibly poison one’s body. For example, if one eats too many sweets, it could cause diseases like diabetes. Or if one drinks too much, it could damage the liver.

This ceremony symbolizes submission of the ego and helps in creating a harmonious life.

“He who draws away the senses from the objects of the sense on every side as a tortoise draws in his limbs (into the shell), his intelligence is firmly set (in wisdom).”

– Bagavadgitha II-58

Semoga damai di bumi, damai di hati, damai di langit

Peace on earth, peace in your heart, peace in the sky

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