The ego we identify with in the conditioned stage of existence is our acquired, material ego. It is based on our relationship with this body-mind complex, which is temporary. Just as the body is always undergoing change, so our ego also changes and will continue to change.
Transcendence of Ego
The ego we identify with in the conditioned stage of existence is our acquired, material ego. It is based on our relationship with this body-mind complex, which is temporary. Just as the body is always undergoing change, so our ego also changes and will continue to change. We have different egos which are expressed in relationship with the physical body. Even in different states of consciousness we have different egos. When we dream at night, our ego assumes a different identity. Thus the material ego keeps fluctuating, and we are unaware of our real, unchanging spiritual ego.
When we transcend our material ego, we become aware of the real ego, which eternally exists in relationship with God and expresses itself in unconditional love. In that state of divine love, emotions and personality do not cease. Rather, they are liberated into a pure, unconditioned state. The spiritual self is ever new, yet never changes, just as God never changes. Their relationship is eternal.
When we love God, we also love His creation. The two are not separate. Divine love flows to everyone, but we cannot truly and effectively love another living entity without first having attained love of God, Bhagavan. This spiritual love is part of Bhagavan’s own internal energy, called svarupa sakti. It is a very common belief that this love is inside all of us, and by certain practices or rituals, it can be released and experienced. However, according to scripture this is not the case. Pure unconditional love is part of Bhagavan’s internal energy, and we can receive it from Him alone.
In this world, we cannot find such purely spiritual love anywhere because everything here is material. The seed of this love is received only by God’s grace, which flourishes in this world via the association of saintly people, sadhus. They have received this love from Bhagavān and therefore can impart it onto others. Faith is the only qualification to receive this pure love. By regularly hearing from sadhus with faith and confidence, a person who has received divine grace will gradually become inspired to follow the spiritual path and accept a guru, a spiritual teacher representing a succession of realized teachers, called parampara. Such a guru will systematically impart knowledge of Bhagavan, the individual self and their relationship unto a surrendered soul and engage that person in the service of the Lord. This is called the process of devotion, or bhakti-yoga. By following it, unconditional supreme love will naturally blossom in the practitioner’s heart.
The Most Sublime Exchange of Love
The Sanskrit term for love is prema or priti. Both words come from the root pri, which means to please, to satisfy, to make happy. Therefore prema and priti signify the loving exchange between a subject (asraya) and an object (visaya), or more accurately, a giver (asraya) and receiver (visaya) of love: a lover (asraya) and a beloved (visaya).
Love eternally flows from the lover to the beloved and from the beloved back to the lover. It is an ever increasing exchange and competition of giving and receiving love. This loving exchange in its ultimate perfection is depicted in the dealings between Sri Krishna and the gopis, the cowherd damsels of Vrindavan.
The essence of love is to perform all activities in relation to God. This love of God has two attributes: It is causeless and it is unobstructed. It will eternally liberate us from material bondage and promote us to the realm of eternal loving exchanges with Bhagavan, the source of all bliss. This is the only purpose of life. Unless we strive and attain this goal, we remain dissatisfied and keep on searching for love.
It is said that by praising oneself one destroys one’s good quality and karma, and by criticizing others, one acquires the bad karma and quality of the person criticized. We create wrong samskaras in our heart which will continue to trouble us. Therefore, Krishna advises against it.
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