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Swami Sukhabodhananda on the Ego

There was an egoistic king. Once when he went to the forest to hunt, he met a sage. The sage was deeply engrossed with his eyes closed. The king said, ‘I have fought so many great emperors, won over many lands and have annexed them to my kingdom.

My treasury overflows with riches that I have brought from various places. In my palace, there are many wonderful and pretty women from different regions, at my beck and call, ready to please me. Yet I am not happy. When will I become happy?’

The sage, opening his eyes, screamed at him, ‘You will be happy only when I die!’ and went back to meditation. In a rage, the king drew out his sword to kill him, saying, ‘I am a great king! How dare you insult me thus?’

The sage opened his eyes again and said, ‘You fool! I did not mean myself when I said ‘I.’…I meant the ego. When the ego dies, you will be happy!’

Hindu scriptures mention God as ‘Ananda’ meaning ‘joy.’ The word ego could be expanded thus – Edging God Out – that means, moving God or joy away from us is the state of ego.

In Hindu tradition, people break coconuts in front of God to symbolize breaking of ego. While breaking the coconut, we indirectly signify to ourselves, ‘Oh, God! I am breaking my ego – ‘I’, in front of you!’

Just as sweet water comes out of the broken coconut, so does joy emerge when one surrenders his ego.

Swami Sukhabodhananda

(Source: The column Third Eye in the Arts & Culture section of the Deccan Herald)