O man! You practice greed, avarice and great falsehood,
(i.e. all evil passions) and you carry such a heavy burden (sggs 154).
Those who chant and meditate on God, who single-mindedly focus their
consciousness on Him, are rid of the burden of their ego (sggs 302).

Ego (Haume) is the great crushing burden. We are crippled carrying it around for too long! Now, in this present life, we are given an another chance to unburden ourselves. Choice is ours. Either we can chose to carry it around longer and keep suffering, or we can chose to end it here, right now. To end it here right now will need courage, watchfulness, determination and constant spiritual discipline. For the ego-mind is a great trickster and a liar. By attaching us to the mirage like world-appearance, it hides the Truth from us and makes us chase the illusion or the falsehood. Without getting rid of the burden of our ego, there will be no Freedom from repeated suffering and linking with the Supreme Consciousness. Ego (ignorance) is bondage, the living hell, and the body identity (body consciousness) that has turned our lives into a battlefield, where there is no pure love, compassion and humility. As a result, everybody seems to be an enemy. It's the mind's constant noise of "mine, mine". The ego is self-centered. Therefore, it hungers for attention, name, fame, power, prestige, and self-glorification. Due to the pull of such cravings, it will misappropriate, steal, loot or take everything from the world. It's manifestations are very subtle, therefore, not easy to guard against. The Gurbani insists we must completely Transcend it.

  • ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅੰਧੇਰੁ ਮਹਾ ਪੰਥੁ ਬਿਖੜਾ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਿ ਭਾਰਿ ਲਦਿ ਲੀਜੈ ॥: Agiaanu andheru mahaa panthu bikharhaa ahankaari bhaari ladi leejai (sggs 1326).
  • ਹਉ ਹਉ ਕਰਤੇ ਕਰਮ ਰਤ ਤਾ ਕੋ ਭਾਰੁ ਅਫਾਰ ॥: Hou hou karate karam ratt taa ko bhaar afaar: Acting in egotism, people carry the unbearable load (252).
  • ਮਨੁ ਭੂਲੋ ਸਿਰਿ ਆਵੈ ਭਾਰੁ ॥: Man bhoolo sir aavai bhaar: When the mind is deluded, the load of wickedness falls on the head (sggs 222).
  • ਰੇ ਮਨ ਤੇਰੋ ਕੋਇ ਨਹੀ ਖਿੰਚਿ ਲੇਇ ਜਿਨਿ ਭਾਰੁ ॥: Re mann tero koi nahee khinch lei jin bhaar: O my mind, no one will carry your burden (of misdeeds) (sggs 337).
  • ਕਾਇਆ ਕੁਸੁਧ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਲੁ ਲਾਈ ॥: Kaayaa kasudh haumai malu laaee: That body which is stained with the filth of egotism is false and impure (sggs 1045).
  • ਮਨ ਰੇ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਭਾਰੀ ॥: Mann re houmai mohu dukh bhaaree: O my mind, ego-attachment is such heavy load of pain (sggs 1260).
  • ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰੀ ॥: Ih mann nirmal hayumai maaree: The mind becomes pure when ego is killed (sggs 1049).
  • ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਕਉ ਹਰਿ ਭੇਟੇ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਦੁਖੁ ਹਉਮੈ ਰੋਗੁ ਗਵਾਇਓ ॥: Jan Nanak ko har bhette suaamee dukh houmai rog gavaaeio: The Divine has met servant Nanak, and the pain of the sickness of egotism has been eliminated (sggs 719).

The faults of this self-centered ego are numerous, of which the most talked about are the following "Panch" or five demons: lust, anger, greed, attachment, and pride. Some of the numerous other variations of these five demons are, jealousy, stubborn mindedness, doubts, falsehood, slandering, and all the rest of the mental negativity and impurities. Thus, the ego-consciousness makes us sin by committing misdeeds. Ego and the mind are one and the same. It is mad and crazy. It only destroys. But we do not realize the destruction because its working is very subtle. We carry the load of this destructive consciousness all our life. In the process, we start believing it to be real, and our True Nature ("Joti-Svaroopa") to be false. It thus hides the Reality and deceives us believing in falsehood that this world is the play of ego instead of the Divine. When we grow up, our egos also grow stronger and subtle. We thus get accustomed to living in a limited cocoon of ego-mind, unaware of the disastrous consequences. A silkworm spins silk cocoon around itself, unaware. Upon completion of the cocoon, the initial step in manufacture of the silk is to kill the insect inside the cocoon. This is done by throwing the silkworm either into the boiling water or in an preheated oven. Thus, a silkworm shapes its own fate and destiny by weaving silk around itself. Similarly, we also weave our destiny by our own thoughts, speech and deeds. By weaving the cocoon of false ego around ourselves, we suffer here in this world and hereafter. Our birth is the proof of this.

  • ਲਬੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਮੁਚੁ ਕੂੜੁ ਕਮਾਵਹਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਉਠਾਵਹਿ ਭਾਰੋ ॥: Labu lobh much koorr kamaavahi bahut outhaavahi bhaaro: You practice greed, avarice and great falsehood (i.e. all evil passions), and you carry such a heavy burden (sggs 154).
  • ਸਾਦਿ ਮੋਹਿ ਲਾਦੀ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੇ ॥ ਦੋਸੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕਰਣੈਹਾਰੇ ॥: Saadi mohi laadee ahankaare. Dos naahee prabh karanaihaare: You are burdened with desire, emotional attachment and pride; it is not the fault of God the Creator (sggs 389).
  • ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਬਿਖੁ ਬਜਰੁ ਭਾਰੁ ॥: Kaam krodhh bikh bajar bhaar: The burden of lust, anger and corruption (i.e. all evil passions) is unbearable (sggs 1187).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਬਿਖੁ ਮਨੁ ਮੋਹਿਆ ਲਦਿਆ ਅਜਗਰ ਭਾਰੀ ॥: Houmai bikh man mohiaa ladiaa ajagar bhaaree: The mortal is enticed by the poison of corruption (i.e. all evil passions); he is burdened with such a heavy load (sggs 1260).
  • ਅਣਹੋਦਾ ਭਾਰੁ ਨਿੰਦਕਿ ਸਿਰਿ ਧਰਾ ॥: Anahodaa bhaar nindak sir dharaa: The slanderer places an unbearable burden upon his head (sggs 145).
  • ਪਾਪੁ ਪੁੰਨੁ ਬੀਜ ਕੀ ਪੋਟ ॥ ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਜੀਅ ਮਹਿ ਚੋਟ ॥ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਿਸਾਰਿ ਚਲੇ ਮਨਿ ਖੋਟ ॥: Paap punn beej kee pot...: Sin and virtue are the seeds of load. Lust and anger (i.e. all evil passions) are the wounds of the soul (i.e. they inspire us do evil). Thus the evil-minded ones forget the Divine Naam, and then depart (sggs 152).
  • ਮੂੰਹ ਅਖੀਂ ਨਕ ਕੰਨ ਹਥ ਦੇਹ ਭਾਰ ਉਚਾਂਦੇ ॥: Moonh akheen nak kann hath deh bhaar ouchaande: The feet carry the burden of mouth, eyes, nose, ears, hands and the whole body (Bhai Gurdaas Ji, Vaar 9).

Such conditioning results in false self-identifications (i.e. body identity or body consciousness) with the time-bound consciousness, resulting in forgetfulness of the state of one's Pure Being ("Joti-svaroop"). The Gurbani urges us to abandon this "burden" of false self-identifications with the time-bound consciousness (ego) if we wish to retrace our steps back to our Pure, Original State which we all were born with — Baal Budhi, the state of egolessness or desirelessness, Timeless Awareness or Intact Consciousness. An infant's mind is unconditioned for it is not influenced by the ego or the world. Such Pure mind is free of imprisonment from false ego. As an infant, we all were born with such a Pure mind! However, afterwards, while growing up, we were programmed and trained to identify with the feeling of "mine, mine!". In the process, side by side, false ego gets developed as we grow from infancy to adolescence. It then gets firmly-rooted after we marry and entangle in the achievement of various worldly desires. The moment physical ego becomes stronger in us, we become prisoner of cravings, fears and delusions. Consequently, the world-appearance looks real to us. And we take this body-frame to be our true Self. It is the defiled senses that bring the external world into the mind for it to further develop its own world of attachments and emotions. Thus each individual lives in a world of his own based on his impressions and judgments, which have no bearing on the Reality. It is this false identity that the Gurbani and the Realized Souls want us to give up. The Gurbani calls it the "great disease" and "chronic disease" responsible for one's birth and death and related repeated suffering. The Gurbani says we must overcome our attachment to the false ego-sense.

  • ਜਉ ਲਉ ਪੋਟ ਉਠਾਈ ਚਲਿਅਉ ਤਉ ਲਉ ਡਾਨ ਭਰੇ ॥ ਪੋਟ ਡਾਰਿ ਗੁਰੁ ਪੂਰਾ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਤਉ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਿਰਭਏ ॥: Jayu layu pota ....: As long as I walked along, carrying the load (egotism, love of Maya...), I continued to suffer. (But) O Nanak! meeting (Realizing...) the Perfect Guru (the Perfect Aatam-Giaan, Gur-Giaan, Upadesh of the Gur-Shabad ...), I unloaded myself and became Fearless (sggs 214).
  • ਮਹਾ ਬਜਰ ਬਿਖ ਬਿਆਧੀ ਸਿਰਿ ਉਠਾਈ ਪੋਟ ॥: Mahaa bajar bikh biaadhee sir outhaaee pot: (Man) carries on his head a load that is like Bajjar (horrible, etc.), Bikh (poison of Bikaar, perversions, etc., that kills man's spiritual life - ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ ਲਿਆਉਣ ਵਾਲੀ ਬਿਖ ), and Biaadhi (diseases-mental ailments, etc.) (sggs 1224).
  • ਮੰਮੈ ਮਤਿ ਹਿਰਿ ਲਈ ਤੇਰੀ ਮੂੜੇ ਹਉਮੈ ਵਡਾ ਰੋਗੁ ਪਇਆ ॥: Manmai mati hir laee teree moorre houmai vadaa rog paiaa. Mamma (a letter of the Gurmukhi alphabet): You have been cheated out your intellect, you fool, and you are afflicted with the great disease of ego (sggs 435).
  • ਅਹੰਬੁਧਿ ਬਹੁ ਸਘਨ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਹਾ ਦੀਰਘ ਰੋਗੁ ॥: Ahambudhh bahu saghan Maya mahaa deeragh rogu: Egotism and love for Maya are the most chronic diseases (sggs 502).
  • ਮੇਰੀ ਮੇਰੀ ਕਰਤ ਕਿਆ ਲੇ ਚਾਲੇ ਬਿਖੁ ਲਾਦੇ ਛਾਰ ਬਿਕਾਰਾ ਹੇ ॥: Meree meree karat kiaa le chaale bikh laade shaar bikaaraa hey: Indulging in egotism (mine,mine), what will you be able to carry with you, except the load of ashes from poison and corruption? (sggs 1031).

Even after so many births we are still in bondage! To get out of this vicious cycle, this baggage of ego and the related inner "garbage" or the baggage of misdeeds or the baggage of memories of the dead past and anxieties of the unknown future has to be shed. This is what the soul has to aspire for. The Lord is eager to help the suffering soul who wishes to be liberated from the mundane world. He promises to free the soul from this bondage, if the Jeeva (individual being) unconditionally surrenders his false ego-sense to Him. Then the Divine Grace is awakened within, which redeems us. But it is not easy for us to surrender our ego for we are so much attached to it. But we have no other choice. Sooner the better. Meditation on the Divine Name is the must to unburden ourselves and "dispose of garbage". All spiritual practices are intended to make oneself worthy of the Divine Grace. The more we surrender our ego, the more God will express thorough us.

  • ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਰੰਗਿ ਰਤਿਆ ਭਾਰੁ ਨ ਭਰਮੁ ਤਿਨਾਹ ॥: Raam naam rang ratiaa bhaar na bharam tinaah: Those who are imbued with the love of the Name of the Lord are not loaded down by doubt (sggs 23).
  • ਨਾਨਕੁ ਸਿਖ ਦੇਇ ਮਨ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮ ਹਰਿ ਲਦੇ ਖੇਪ ਸਵਲੀ ॥: Nanak sikh dei mann preetam har ladde khep savalee: Nanak gives this advice: O beloved mind, load the profitable cargo of the Lord's Name (sggs79).
  • ਜਿਨ ਜਪਿਆ ਇਕ ਮਨਿ ਇਕ ਚਿਤਿ ਤਿਨ ਲਥਾ ਹਉਮੈ ਭਾਰੁ ॥: Jin japia ik amni ik chiti tin lathaa hauami bhaaru: Those who have understood (Hari: Mool...) by becoming "Ik Mani Ik Chiti" (i.e., concentrated mind), they have gotten rid of the load of egotism (of their mind). (sggs 302).
  • ਵਿਸਰਿਆ ਜਿਨ੍‍ ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇ ਭੁਇ ਭਾਰੁ ਥੀਏ ॥: Visariaa jinh naam te bhui bhaar theeeye: Those who forget the Name of the Lord are a burden on the earth (sggs 488).
  • ਜੋ ਤੇਰੀ ਸਰਨਾਗਤਾ ਤਿਨ ਨਾਹੀ ਭਾਰੁ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਸਿਮਰਨਿ ਤੇਰਾ ਹੋਇ ਉਧਾਰੁ ॥ ਜਨਮ ਜਨਮ ਕਾ ਉਤਰੈ ਭਾਰੁ ॥: jo teree saranaagathaa thin naahee bhaar. Har simaran teraa hoi oudhaar. Janam janam kaa outarai bhaar: Whoever surrenders to You is relieved of his burden of sin. Meditating in remembrance on the Lord, you will be saved. You swill be rid of the burden of countless incarnations (sggs 895).

A Grmukh is the truly unburdened and surrendered being. He is the awakened person. So the Gurbani asks us to become Gurmukhs. Divine virtues and false ego cannot coexist. Hence the ego must be eradicated. Thinning of false ego-sense makes room for noble qualities, which help taking care of and transforming our lives and the society. Exercising attention to the every moment restores the quietude in us, opening doors to firsthand understanding of our living, and thereby changing the way we think and deal with the world. Relaxed or still mind naturally improves our communication, behavior, conduct, assertiveness and humor. It shuns selfishness, upsetting circumstances, bad company, destructive use of energy, frustrations, irrational ideas, emotional upheaval and related physiological arousal. Then, when we realize the false beliefs that our conditioned mind was clinging to, they drop away. The root-cause of evil passions then melts away; true love remains over and spiritual life dawns as there will be no anxieties or material conditionings.

  • ਹਉਮੈ ਬਾਧਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਛੂਟਾ ॥: Houmai baadhaa garmukhi shootaa: Egotism is bondage; by becoming a Gurmukh, one is emancipated (sggs 131).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਰੋਗੁ ਮਹਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਲਾਗਾ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਲੇਵਹੁ ਰੋਗੁ ਗਇਆ ॥: Houmai rog mzhaa dukh laagaa guramat levahu rog gaiaa: You suffer great pain from the great disease of egotism. Following the Gurmat, you will be rid of this disease (sggs 906).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰੇ ਤਾ ਦਰੁ ਸੂਝੈ ॥: Haumai maare taa dar soojhai: Kill your ego, and then you will find God's Door (sggs 842).
  • ਸੋ ਜਨੁ ਸਾਚਾ ਜਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰੈ ॥: So jan saachaa ji haumai maarai: That humble being is true, who kills his ego (sggs 230).
  • ਏਕੁ ਪਛਾਣੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰਿ ॥:  Ek pashaanai haumai maari: Recognize One Truth by eradicating egoism (sggs 1277).
  • ਮਾਰਗੁ ਮੁਕਤਾ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰਿ ॥: Maaragu muktaa houmai maar: The path of liberation is found by killing ego (sggs 1274).
  • ਸੋ ਜਾਗੈ ਜੋ ਤਤੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੈ ॥ ਆਪਿ ਮਰੈ ਅਵਰਾ ਨਹ ਮਾਰੈ ॥੩॥: So jaagai jo tatt veechaarai. Aap marai avraa nah maarai ||3||: One who contemplates the essence of reality remains awake and aware (spiritually alert, etc.). (He) kills his ego; (he) does not kill others ||3|| (sggs 1128).

A thread that has the smallest fiber sticking out cannot pass through the eye of a needle! Similarly, one cannot fully realize the Self within (God, Waheguru, True Nature, True Being as "Joti-Svaroopa" etc.) if he has even a least trace of egoism. Therefore, the inner "filth" must be completely dissolved. That is, the false ego-sense must totally disappear — it has to be defeated in order for one to become the Gurmukh or Self-realized. The real life as Jeevanmukta (living liberated, Gurmukh etc.) begins with the death of the ego. The Gurbani says:

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰੀਐ ਮਨੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਹੋਈ ॥: Gurmukh houmai maareeai manu niramal hoee: By becoming the Gurmukh, the egotism (Haume) is kills, and (consequently) the mind becomes immaculately pure (sggs 424).
  • ਜੀਵਨ ਮੁਕਤੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕੋ ਹੋਈ ॥: Jeevan mukat gurmukh ko hoee: How rare are those who, as Gurmukh, become Jeevamukta - liberated while yet alive (sggs232).
  • ਜੀਵਨ ਮੁਕਤੁ ਸੋ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿਸੁ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਹਉਮੈ ਜਾਇ ॥: Jeevan mukat so aakheeai jis vichahu houmai jaai: He alone is called Jeevanmukta, liberated while yet alive, from within whom ego is eradicated (sggs 1009).
  • ਆਲ ਜਾਲ ਨਹੀ ਕਛੂ ਜੰਜਾਰਾ ਅਹੰਬੁਧਿ ਨਹੀ ਭੋਰਾ ॥: Aal jaal nahee kashoo janjaaraa ahambudhi nahee bhoraa: No worldly entanglements or snares can trap me, and no trace of ego-sense (sggs 821).
  • ਸਦਾ ਸੀਗਾਰੀ ਨਾਉ ਮਨਿ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਮੈਲੁ ਪਤੰਗੁ ॥: Sadaa seegaaree naao man kade na mail patang: She is adorned forever with the Divine Name in her mind, and she does not have even an iota of inner filth (sggs 642).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਹਰਦੀ ਪੀਰਤਨੁ ਹਰੈ ਚੂਨ ਚਿਹਨੁ ਨ ਰਹਾਇ ॥ ਬਲਿਹਾਰੀ ਇਹ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਕਉ ਜਿਹ ਜਾਤਿ ਬਰਨੁ ਕੁਲੁ ਜਾਇ ॥: Kabeer haradhee peerathan harai choon chihan n rehaae: Kabeer says, tumeric has lost its yellow color, and no trace of lime's whiteness remains (when they merge, they both lose their color). Similarly, the one who loves God is said to be linked with Him only when he loses the sense of differences i.e. he sees the same one God in all beings (sggs 1367).

— T. Singh