The Gurbani tells us that the false ego-sense (Haumai) is the great crushing burden we Jeeva (embodied beings) carry around. This life is a chance given to us to unburden ourselves of this load. Choice is ours – either we can chose to carry it around longer and keep suffering, or we can chose to unburden ourselves here and now. To end it here and 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 enchanting objects of the mirage-like world, it hides the Truth from us and makes us chase the illusion. Without getting rid of the burden of our egoism, there will be no Freedom from repeated suffering and no chance of linking with the Supreme Consciousness. Ego is bondage, ignorance and the living hell. Our identification with the gross body (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 stresses we must completely Transcend it.
- ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅੰਧੇਰੁ ਮਹਾ ਪੰਥੁ ਬਿਖੜਾ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਿ ਭਾਰਿ ਲਦਿ ਲੀਜੈ ॥: Agianu andheru mahaa panthu bikhraa ahankaar bhaari ladi leejai (sggs 1326).
- ਹਉਮੈ ਬਿਖੁ ਮਨੁ ਮੋਹਿਆ ਲਦਿਆ ਅਜਗਰ ਭਾਰੀ ॥: Houmai bikhu manu mohiaa ladiaa ajagar bhaaree (sggs 1260).
- ਹਉ ਹਉ ਕਰਤੇ ਕਰਮ ਰਤ ਤਾ ਕੋ ਭਾਰੁ ਅਫਾਰ ॥: Hou hou karate karam ratt taa ko bhaaru afaar (sggs 252).
- ਮਨੁ ਭੂਲੋ ਸਿਰਿ ਆਵੈ ਭਾਰੁ ॥: Manu bhoolo siri aavai bhaaru (sggs 222).
The faults of this self-centered ego (Haumai) 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 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. Mad and crazy, ego and the mind are one and the same. 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 like a silkworm that spins silk cocoon around itself, unaware of the consequences.
- ਲਬੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਮੁਚੁ ਕੂੜੁ ਕਮਾਵਹਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਉਠਾਵਹਿ ਭਾਰੋ ॥: Labu lobhu muchu koorru kamaavahi bahutu outhaavahi bhaaro (sggs 154).
- ਸਾਦਿ ਮੋਹਿ ਲਾਦੀ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੇ ॥ ਦੋਸੁ ਨਾਹੀ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕਰਣੈਹਾਰੇ ॥: Saadi mohi laadee ahankaare. Dosu naahee prabh karanaihaare (sggs 389).
- ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਬਿਖੁ ਬਜਰੁ ਭਾਰੁ ॥: Kaam krodhh bikh bajar bhaar (sggs 1187).
- ਅਣਹੋਦਾ ਭਾਰੁ ਨਿੰਦਕਿ ਸਿਰਿ ਧਰਾ ॥: Anahodaa bhaar nindak sir dharaa (sggs 145).
A Gurmukh is the truly unburdened (Awakened) person. So the Gurbani asks us to become the Gurmukhs. Divine virtues and false ego-sense cannot coexist. Hence the Gurbani time and again urges us to unburden ourselves of egoism. Thinning of false ego-sense makes room for noble qualities and mental purity.
- ਹਉਮੈ ਬਾਧਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਛੂਟਾ ॥: Houmai baadhaa garmukhi shootaa (sggs 131).
- ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰੀਐ ਮਨੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਹੋਈ ॥: Gurmukh houmai maareeai manu niramal hoee (sggs 424).