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Hunkaar (ego)

Discussion in 'Spiritual Articles' started by arshi, Oct 9, 2009.

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  1. arshi

    arshi United Kingdom
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    HUNKAAR (EGO)
    Rajinder Singh ‘Arshi’


    INTRODUCTION

    Increasingly, and regrettably, people observe more bigotry and hypocrisy in the House of God than elsewhere in Society. This is the reason often quoting by youngsters, today, for staying away from places of worship. They appear to ‘smell’ hypocrisy from a mile. They claim to see into the dual personas of their elders - on the one hand pretending to be acting in the interests of humanity and on the other hand doing quite the opposite in their practical day to day dealings. This is of course not entirely true as there are many well-meaning individuals who have a genuine desire to serve people and do so with great humility and dedication.

    DEFINITION

    Hunkaar is a derivation of the term ahankaar. The nearest translation of hunkaar in English is ‘ego’. Ego may be defined as pride based on one’s perception of self importance, worldly possessions and intelligence.

    The Sikh Gurus have used both the terms hunkaar and haumaito represent ego. Haumai, however, is used more often in Gurbani as it expresses the concept of‘individuality’ or ‘is-ness’(putting one’s self interest before everything else) more accurately, as Sikhism understands it. Guru Angad Dev Ji (the second Nanak) says ego is a chronic disease (haumai deeragh rog hai – GGS 466).

    In modern times ego has several meanings, for example, it is seen to denote an inflated or exaggerated sense of self-worth. In philosophical terms we may refer to this as ‘ones self’ or ‘I am’ or even ‘is-ness’. Jung talks about the ‘principle (concept) of individuation’ which will need to be discussed in separate article. Even Freud initially interpreted ego as meaning a ‘sense of self’ although he later connected it to psychic function and got obsessed with synthetic technicalities.

    Sikhism is not interested in Freud’s or Jung’s technical intricacies of synthesis of information, memory and intellectual functioning of the mind. This is more of an earthly pursuit than engagement in the search of spiritual enlightenment. In fact these are the very barriers which keep the individual away from realising the real goal, that of lighting the ‘lamp of wisdom’ in ‘mind's temple’kar kirpa jo Satgur mileo; man mandar meh deepak jaleo (Raag Gauri M.5). This is the only way to conquer ego if jeeva is to achieve oneness with the Supreme Power.

    Whilst inferiority complex is considered a negative trait in a person’s make up so is an exaggerated sense of superiority. Inclination towards ego and self-importance makes a person arrogant and devoid of compassion. Such an individual cannot do much good in society.

    WHAT CAUSES EGO?

    Where does ego come from and how can it be removed?
    Haumai kithhu oopjai kit sanjam ih jaa-ay (M: 2 GGS 466). Guru Angad Dev Ji asks the question and then answers it in the next line - haumai ayho hukam hai paeyai kirat feraahi.The Lord rewards people according to their past actions and their attitudes and wanderings in current lives are part and parcel of karma. Thus many wander in egoistical pursuits.

    Ego is the result of several factors, the main ones are listed below:

    Good looks and health: Nature is kind to many by endowing them with good looks and sturdy health. This creates a superiority complex in the subject concerned.

    Brilliant mind: Some are born geniuses and others develop good mental skills. These people too become the victims of their own wisdom and brilliance.

    Parentage and contacts: Being born with a silver spoon in the mouth is regarded as a reward for past actions. If not handled gracefully this boon could easily turn into a curse. Wealth handled recklessly, with excessive ego, can disappear very quickly with dire consequences.

    Sudden good fortune: Some become millionaires overnight due to good fortune (e.g. win on the lottery, successful property deals and inheritance). Only a few are able to handle such good fortune and in the case of many it is an ‘easy come easy go’ affair.

    Spiritual status and achievements: Superior knowledge of the scriptures, ridhis and sidhis (occult powers) inflate ego and leads one astray. Some start playing God. Such individuals will never find Param Pad. “Reading and reciting, the pundits, the religious scholars, and the silent sages have grown weary, but they have not found the supreme essence of the Fourth State” says Guru Amar Das (M:3 GGS 117).

    Success: Good fortune in business and professional dealings often make a person arrogant and self-conceited. Pride drives the person away from the ordinary and less fortunate people.

    HOW EGO EFFECTS US (dangers imposed by ego)

    The causes of ego mentioned above can influence a person’s personality to change from a humble disposition to one of exaggerated sense of self-importance. Ego makes a person become impetuous, restless and temperamental. The pressures imposed by it leave him stressed and exhausted.

    Gurbani refers to such an individual as a (1) manmukh. Deeds done out of egotism will only cause him more pain, says Guru Amar Das (manmukh karam karey ahaNkaaree sabh uko ukh kamaaey – GGS 87).

    Ego can overshadow even the good work done by a person. Acts of charity committed with ego will negate a person’s good intentions and are not spiritually effective. Outside appearances do not matter unless humility comes from the soul.

    Acting in egotism will not bring a person closer to the Lord even by wearing religious robes, says Nanak (haumai karat bhaykhee nahee jaanieyaa. (M:1 GGS 226).

    Ego is like a rope which not only ties a person’s mind but also strangles his soul (The mind is tied with the rope of egotism - M:1 GGS 1189). A person engrossed in egotism is ensnared by the intellect of his own mind (M:5 GGS 42). An individual in this situation becomes the victim of sexual desire, anger and egotism and often does not know what he is saying or doing until it is too late (manmukh bol na jaanee onaa anar kaam krodh ahaNkaar – M 3 GGS 950). We often say an egoistic person is intoxicated with pride or blinded by his success and good fortune, both of which drive a person away from others and this continues unless ego is restrained (kar ahaNkaar ho­ey vareh andh - M:5 GGS 889).

    An egoistic, self-willed person will never be able to take advantage of his human form and will remain in the vicious cycle of life and death (manmukh ahaNkaare fir joonee b-vai – M:1 GGS 228).

    A direct effect of humility will reflect in our actions. Guru Angad Dev says – "haumai aeyho hukam hai paeyai kirat firaahi”. As per Lord’s Ordinance, our ego is the direct result of our past actions. The only way to rid ourselves of this chronic disease is to perform good deeds in our current existence otherwise it will be back to the same routine of birth and death. If we insist on the path of (2) mankukhta the cycle of bad karma and reincarnation will continue – the soul will never find salvation.

    Guru Arjan goes to great lengths to stress the evil influence of ego on our soul. His wisdom is enshrined on page 1358 of Guru Granth Sahib as follows:

    hay janam maran moolaN ahaNkaaraN paapaatmaa.
    O egotism, you are the root cause of birth and death and the cycle of reincarnation; you are in fact the very soul of sin.

    mitraN tajant satraN darirhaaNt anik mayaa bisteerneh.
    You influence people to forsake friends and instead they cling to enemies; you create and spread countless illusions of maya.

    aavant jaavant thakant jeeaa dukh sukh baho bhognah.
    Living beings (souls) come and go, because of you, until they are exhausted; under your influence they experience pain and pleasure.

    bharam bhayaan udi-aan ramnaN mahaa bikat asaadh rognah.
    You drive them into wilderness and terrible bouts of self-doubt and dilemma; you inflict them with the most horrible and incurable diseases.

    Guru Ji follows this up with heavenly advice that there is only one physician who can save us from the onslaught of ego, the one Transcendent Supreme Lord; therefore always, meditate, adore and worship that Lord (baid-yaN paarbarahm parmaysvar aaraadh naanak har har haray – GGS 1358).

    We have a tendency to become proud of his worldly achievements and status. We forget that wealth and status can be wiped out very quickly ending in nothing but remorse. We have seen in our own lifetime how the fortunes of some individuals changed with drastic consequences. The Shahof Persia was deposed and had to abandon his throne and flee his country. Idi Amin was responsible for displacing hundreds of thousands of Asians from Uganda and a lot of bloodshed ensued. He did not remain in power for long. No man on earth had as much power and sway over his people as did Sadam Hussain of Iraq. We have seen how it all ended for him, his family, friends and loved ones. The destruction it led to was impossible to assess. Such are the consequences of extreme obsession with this propensity that it prompted Guru Nanak to say “I have seen the world being destroyed by greed and egotism (Jag binsa ham eykhi­aa lobhė ahaNkaaraa – GGS 228).

    Guru Nanak very aptly pointed out: “Were I to install myself on the throne of an emperor, possessing a huge army, endowed with worldly riches; And were I able to exercise total control over my people, all this will not help achieve Eternal Bliss, for O’ Nanak, such worldly possessions will blow away with the mere gust of wind” (GGS 14).

    Some individuals even get an inflated view of self from their acts of charity and religious recognition and status. Others become proud of religious merit attained through pilgrimages. Some acquire occult powers by worshiping satanic gods

    Guru Nanak enlightens us: “Were I to become a man of mystic powers, adept in the arts of occult and mysticism, able to perform miracles and summon wealth and glory at will; were I to become visible and invisible at will, thereby earning myself the reverence and esteem of all people - may I not O Lord on attaining this forget Thee and remember not Thy Name” (GGS 14).

    The world is just a dramatic play and it is human nature to get over-excited on achieving worldly success and status and hit the bottomless pit of depression on losing these. Bhagat Ravidas likens a man to a puppet: “Look how the puppet of clay dances. When he acquires something he becomes inflated with ego and when he loses it he wails uncontrollably” (GGS 487).

    Houmai is the worst of the five thieves. Many spiritual men and women manage to overcome the first four but falter on the fifth. Even when they do manage to conquer all five, they are not able to sustain this spiritual balance for long. The feeling that they have conquered all five once again opens the door for ego to creep in. It is important that the sense of humility must prevail at all times.

    Its only when egotism departs that the state of supreme dignity (param pad) is obtained – says Guru Nanak (GGS 226). Therefore, abandon your mind to the True Guru and at the same time unburden your problems and place them at his door. By doing so the outcome of your actions rests with the Guru and he will surely resolve all the affairs of his humble servant (Man biechai satgur kai paas tis sayvak kay kaaraj raas – M:5 GGS 286). The Guru himself then takes responsibility andprotects the honour and status of his disciple. In return he only asks for total humility and surrender to the Will of the Lord (hamri jaat patt gur satgur hum vaicheo – M:4 GGS 731).

    Can ego be justified? Many say that it is acceptable for a person to feel some sense of pride over genuine achievements –after all we are human beings – they claim. True there are many decent, generally humble people who are sometimes given to harmless flights of pride. We must differentiate between pride and ego. Pride some will say is the first stage on the path towards ego. Ego, whilst a latent force within us, does not develop over a day. It evolves over a period of time and harmless thoughts of pride do tend to sow seeds of ego. Whilst it is impossible to avoid an occasional sense of pride on our successes, at the same time it is important to thank the Lord for His Grace and Blessings. This will quickly bring us down to earth and spare us from the evil clutches of ego.

    REMEDIES (how to control ego)

    Restrain greed: Human nature is based on greed. We are always seeking wealth and prosperity. Even when the Lord obliges we ask for more but He never tires of giving. So what do we offer Him in return? In return be kind to His people. Show love to mankind and above all stay humble.

    What words do we utter to evoke His Love? In the early hours of each morning (amrit vaila) meditate on the True Name, and contemplate His infinite qualities (Japji GGS 2).

    Although ego is a chronic disease, fortunately, it also contains its own cure (haumai deeragh rog hai daaroo bhee is maahi – GGS 466). The cure lies in the Shabad (the Word). With the Shabad wash away the filth of your vices. The Lord will grant His Grace only if you act according to your Guru’s teachings (kirpaa karay jay aapnee taa gur kaa sabad kamahi – M:1 GGS 466).

    So burn away your egoistic pride, attachment and greed, and wash away your filth, says Guru Nanak (Ha­umai mamaa lobh jaalhu saba mail chukaaee-­ai - GGS 843).

    Talk to the mind (address your mind): Guru Ram Das Ji suggests a psychological solution. He advises “say to yourself - I am egotistical. I am conceited, and my intellect is futile and only the Guru’s blessings will wash away my selfishness and conceit (hum ahaNkaaree ahaNkaar agi­aan ma gur mili­ai aap gavaaeyaa - GGS 172).

    Sewa and Saadh Sangat: Serve with humility and without expectation of return. The Sikh Gurus have laid great stress on serving humanity with tan, Man, dhan (body, spirit and wealth, respectively). Also see remedies under the earlier article Lobh (Greed).

    Think of the less fortunate: We have a tendency of always looking upwards, i.e. looking at people who appear to be more fortunate than us in terms of fame and wealth. This affects people in different ways. Some harbour jealousy and ill feelings towards the more affluent members of their society. Others will embark on ambitious programmes of their own to outdo them. Many become depressed. All of these are, in terms of spirituality, negative reactions which take us away from our real goal – merger with the Supreme Soul. Only by conquering self-conceit will the gurmukh find the Lord and achieve subsequent merger with the Supreme Soul (aap maar gurmukh har paaey Nanak sahej s-maa-ey laeyaa - M:1 GGS 907).

    Think of the less fortunate and thank the Lord for what He has given you. Nurture contentment because without contentment the craving for more will never end (bina santokh nahin ko raja - M:5 GGS 279). Greed renders a person’s life worthless. Greed and ego are interrelated – one feeds the other.

    By serving God’s people one automatically serves his Guru which assists immensely in shedding ego. Serving the Guru, I have found eternal peace; my ego has been silenced and subdued (Gur seyvaa tey sadaa sukh paaeyaa haumai meraa thaak rahaa-ey-aa - M:3 GGS 110)

    Pilgrimages not the answer: Undertaking regular and hectic pilgrimages will not automatically curb ego; in fact it can often be counter-productive and result in the pilgrim gathering more of the dirt of egotism (M:3 GGS 116).

    Is self-denial the answer? Yogis run to the forest to escape from the five evils but are often undone by the fifth, i.e. ego. They claim that the life of the householder is full of distractions and pitfalls and opt for the life of an ascetic. However, Sikh Gurus do not recommend isolation. They claim that the life of the householder is the best way to realise God. Whilst the householder’s life is no bed of roses and is often charged with anxiety, it is in fact the trials and tribulations of this mode of life that moulds the character and assist the individual to look inwards and recognise his ‘true self’. Guru Arjan enlightens us when he says that whilst the householder's life has its anxieties, in the life of the ascetic there is egotism (GGS 385).

    CONCLUSION

    For the vast majority it is impossible to escape from ego altogether. Even the realisation that one has conquered, recreates it. We are all smitten by it at one time or another. This is the reason why this propensity is the hardest to come to terms with. The author found this article hardest to write because whilst one can enjoy partial success in tackling the other evils, ego, for mere mortals is impossible to overcome. So how does one write about something which is beyond one’s reach? It is at times like this that the True Guru’s grace is appreciated. We are after all human and will make mistakes, and that is why when we conclude our Ardas each day we ask for forgiveness for our transgressions and seek Guru’s grace to guide us and to keep us on the righteous path. The Guru will bestow his grace provided the Sikh is sincere. Even temporary moments of humility may yield glimpses to enable one to understand houmai.

    Each day we sin and each day we have an opportunity to confess our transgressions and beg for forgiveness. The Daily Ardas offers us this opportunity but it must be done sincerely with a resolve to repent and practice the teachings of the Sikh Gurus. Merely giving lip service is just not good enough. Guru Nanak blesses us with following verse which should be incorporated into our Daily Ardas:

    “Our sins are as immeasurable as the water that fills the seas and the oceans. O Lord, have mercy upon our souls and extend a little pity; keep the sin-laden mankind afloat. With Your Grace even the sinking stones will float. Our souls burn in the fire of ignorance and sin and the innerself is being shredded by unseen scissors of desires and vain pursuits. Pray Nanak that we may come to terms with the Lord's Order so that we may live in Eternal Bliss (Jeytaa samund saagar neer bhari-aa taytay augan hamaaray - GGS 156).”

    Guru Arjan says “In the Company of the Holy, I have renounced my other cares and anxieties. I dug a deep pit, and buried my egotistical pride, emotional attachment and the desires of my mind” (GGS 671). A person driven by ego can never benefit society. The thick simmal tree stands tall, straight and proud but it produces nothing of value. Its fruit is bland, flowers scentless and its leaves serve no useful purpose. Even the birds which perch on it fly away disappointed. Guru Nanak says humility is a virtuous quality and sweetness lies only in humility (GGS 470).He preferred ‘kodhrey di roti’ (dry, course bread) of humble Lalo to the sumptuous food offered by the rich and egoistic Malik Bhago.

    Ego will not help the soul in achieving Unification with the Supreme Soul. Why then, Guru Nanak asks, do we look on our wealth with such pride and joy; nothing goes along with us when we depart (kaahay maal darab daykh garab jaahi; chaltee baar tayro kachhoo naahi – GGS 1189).

    (1) manmukh: A self-centred persons who follows his mind rather than his conscious.

    (2) mankukhta: Act of a manmukh or acting likea manmukh


    Author's notes:

    1. This is the first edition of the article – it may undergo changes for quality and accuracy.

    2. For simplicity, throughout this article, I have referred to the masculine gender but, wherever appropriate, this should be read as including the female gender.

    3. Differences of opinion are inevitable when interpreting Gurbani. The author most humbly regrets any inaccuracy or errors in quoting or interpreting Gurbani and prays Satguru grants him the boon of greater insight into understanding the Guru’s word.



    Copyright: Rajinder Singh ’Arshi’
     
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  2. Randip Singh

    Randip Singh
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    I would define Hankaar not as "Ego" but "Egotism" a subtle but important difference.
     
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  3. arshi

    arshi United Kingdom
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    Having posted 5 articles (plus 3 related Sakhis) I will be expected to demonstrate some of the values to be gained from these articles. In that spirit I acknowledge Randip Singh Ji’s comments.

    However, these articles are not necessarily written for critics or experts and therefore, sometimes we do write with our guard down. Members of the public at whom these are aimed always translate houmai as ego. Let alone appreciating the subtleties many do not even know that egotism can also be written as egoism. Generally, ego and egotism (or egoism) are regarded as synonyms. Whilst ego is: “part of a person's self that is able to recognize that person as being distinct from other people and things” egotism is a tendency towards focusing on that distinction.

    With great humility I would say that we must not get too caught up in the subtleties of the terminology and in the process miss out on the substance of the term which is the main aim this article.

    ‘Arshi’
     
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  4. Archived_Member16

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    Food for thought:

    "If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and the internal dialogue. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three things the ego is doing all the time. It's very important to be aware of them every time they come up."

    - Deepak Chopra
     
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  5. Randip Singh

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    My view is that Ego can relate to someones self esteem. For example Sikhs generally, have good self esteem, but are not necessarily egotistical.
     
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  6. Kookar Guru da

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    Vahiguru Jee Ka Khalsa
    Vahiguru Jee Kee Fateh !

    Excellent article Veerjee.

    I have always understood haumai to mean ego. Ego is the Latin for "I am", so we could plausibly translate haumai as "I am-ness". Even in Punjabi "I am" is translated "Main haan". Turn it around and it's "Haan main"...haumai.

    Hunkaar/Ahankaar I have understood to mean pride, i.e. feeling superior. Obviously haumi is the root of ahankaar.

    In Maslow's hierarchy of needs, once the physiological, safety and belonging needs are satisfied, there still remains a need for esteem. This is all about haumai. In office environments this is typically seen - competition for importance, seniority, knowledge, visibility, status. In Gurdwaras we see it too: typically Gurdwara management is made up of individuals that are not the most educated or successful in life, and so they seek to fulfil their esteem needs at the Gurdwara.

    But if the esteem need is satisfied, the human still has a need for something else for he is yet not satisfied. The pinnacle of Maslow's hierarchy is Self Actualisation, a strange term that needs unpicking. One way to understand this is to consider Viktor Frankl's work. An Austrian Jew and a highly qualified professional pycho-analyst, Frankl was arrested by the Nazis and tortured in Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps. He observed human behaviour in those extreme circumstances from a scientist's viewpoint. Some inmates reverted to animal behaviour while others behaved "like saints".

    A couple of quotes:
    1. "We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

    2. "A human being is not one thing among others; things determine each other, but man is ultimately self-determining. What he becomes - within the limits of endowment and environment- he has made out of himself. In the concentration camps, for example, in this living laboratory and on this testing ground, we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions."

    So those that behaved like saints did so by virtue of their selflessness, i.e. not haumai. It was more important to those saints to help others than to satisfy their own needs. This is the very ideal of haumai-less behaviour. Perhaps Maslow's pinnacle ought to be called Self-Effacement instead.

    As Bhagat Ravidas says on panna 657:
    jb hm hoqy qb qU nwhI Ab qUhI mY nwhI ]
    When there was me then there was no You, now there is You and no me.

    Therefore, the very thing that separates us from Akal Purkh is the sense of "I".

    When there is no more "I", one can pass the most extreme tests. Guru Arjun in the boiling cauldron utters only "Tera bhaNa meettha laage". Bhai Mani Singh is butchered joint by joint but will not yield his faith. The chhote Sahibzade are bricked alive and shout Vahiguru Jee Ka Khalsa, Vahiguru Jee Kee Fateh! Bhai Taru Singh willingly has his scalp removed to retain the sanctity of his kesh. At Jaito Morcha, the British become exhausted from beating one Sikh after another, yet the line of Singhs waiting for the punishment only gets longer. The Punjab police eliminate a generation of Sikh youth in fake encounters and apply viscious tortures to tens of thousands, yet theGuru has not finished this story yet.
    YouTube - SIKH HISTORY (MUST WATCH!!!)

    All these are only possible when the "I" is obliterated. For where there is no "I", there is only You, O Beloved.

    - Kookar

    Vahiguru Jee Ka Khalsa
    Vahiguru Jee Kee Fateh !
     
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  7. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Randip ji's comment gets to the core of something that has attracted my attention on Sikh Buddhist and Hindu forums for some time -- and this is just an off-the-top-of-the-head comment from me.

    The concept of ego is something that is understood in a fundamentally different way in Eastern v Western thought. Often too much is made of the East/West dichotomy especially in light of the fact that all intellectual history traveled from east to west. But ego may be one of those ideas that mark the great divide. In another post someone mentioned Carl Jung's theory of ego development, and it is correct that in his theory maturity comes with the development of a integrated and coherent ego or Self. But Carl Jung, who was both genuinely interested in and influenced by eastern thinking, went on to talk about the archetype of the SELF - often represented in dreams as a circle. The circle has no beginning and no end. Depending on context, this circle can represent never ending renewal of Self; or it can represent a closed, obstinate and stubborn system that will not open up to something greater THAN ITSELF. The later sense is meant as spiritual expansion. Carl Jung openly admitted and wrote that the eastern view was still difficult for him to endorse because it seemed to be reaching to something, formless and powerful and absorbing, oceanic like the womb, and therefore regressive. He admitted his limitations to grasp or understand what eastern philosophy was talking about.

    Ego simply does not mean the same thing east v west.

    Dualism, the great sorrow in dharmic traditions like Sikhism, is an essential tenet or property of intellectual and emotional development in the West. I would go as far as to say there is no western philosophical tradition without dualism. All the misunderstandings of the nature of the Divine, even translations of "bani" or "shabad" into words like "word of the Lord" come from this intellectual divide. Even "God" who is immanent and transcendent in the western traditions -- yes it is true -- enjoys a relationship with creation that is explained in terms of dualism.

    Please forgive me.
     
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  8. Randip Singh

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    Spot on.

    Hankaar does not mean Ego. It actually means something more selfish.

    Ego has more to do with self esteem. If you remove self esteem, you are left with nothing. You are left with people with mental disorders.
     
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  9. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    randip ji

    :idea::idea::idea: Randip ji

    Not only mental disorders, but even possibly mental retardation.

    Again framing this in the western understanding of ego. Without ego, as described in the western philosophical/psychological tradition, memory, problem solving, language, empathy and compassion, planning for the future, social organization, all would be impossible. The mind has to differentiate itself from its immediate context of perception and experience, and then reflect on perception and experience, in order to "think." Thinking is the main function of the ego. When ego becomes aware of its own reflections on self and others, then there is consciousness of self and others."

    The process of breaking out of our context of individual sense and experience is called de-contextualization, and without that, mental functions cannot develop. De-contextualization is dualism. That is the western view.

    Now in ancient Hindu texts, there is extensive discussion of this process. The ancients were fully aware and gave it a lot of thought. They even explained how consciousness of one's own reflections leads to illusion, delusion, false realities, and ultimately to sorrow.

    And this is where the great divide between traditions starts. All dharmic faiths describe "ego," or the false reality that is a creation of mind, "mun," to be the source of sorrow - "dukh." In the Western tradition, dukh also comes from "creations of mind." But the cure is not the same. In the Western tradition false thinking (neurosis, psychosis, etc) is "cured" by reflecting on thought and bringing the "ego" into "harmony" with itself. That is referred to as re-integrating the parts of the self (a long discourse is possible about how this works).

    In the Eastern traditions, false thinking is "cured" in an entirely different way. It is cured by integrating the self with something larger than the self. That was the part that Jung and Freud BTW had difficulty defining and ultimately accepting because it sounded like a return to the womb.
     
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  10. arshi

    arshi United Kingdom
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    Kookar Ji

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

    Many thanks for your appreciation and kind words. I particularly liked your observations as quoted below:

    “In Maslow's hierarchy of needs, once the physiological, safety and belonging needs are satisfied, there still remains a need for esteem. This is all about haumai. In office environments this is typically seen - competition for importance, seniority, knowledge, visibility, status. In Gurdwaras we see it too: typically Gurdwara management is made up of individuals that are not the most educated or successful in life, and so they seek to fulfil their esteem needs at the Gurdwara.”

    “But if the esteem need is satisfied, the human still has a need for something else for he is yet not satisfied. The pinnacle of Maslow's hierarchy is Self Actualisation, a strange term that needs unpicking. One way to understand this is to consider Viktor Frankl's work.”

    I have compared MASLOW'S HIERARCHY and SPIRITUAL HIERARCHYin my article ‘LOBH’ posted earlier. I very much see houmai along the lines you have observed. There will always be subtle differences amongst individuals depending upon our background, understanding and interpretation of spirituality.

    Humbly

    Rajinder Singh ‘Arshi’
     
  11. Randip Singh

    Randip Singh
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    Arshi ji,

    but I think in this instance it is pretty clear.

    I too was under the illusion for many years that Hankaar was ego....but ego relates to image of self.

    The Tenth Master gave poor downtrodden an "Image of self". Never bow down to no man. Where the uniform of a warrior. Call our selves Lions and Princesses. This is the image of self. There is nothing wrong with sayin "Ego Sikh" , "I am Sikh".

    What is wrong is going beyond that and having "Egotism", i.e. having a bloated image of self, which is Hankaar.

    It is very clear.:yes:
     
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  12. arshi

    arshi United Kingdom
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    Randip Singh Ji

    I can see what you mean now – one liner posts can sometimes be difficult to interpret, but your latest post clarifies things a lot.

    I fully agree that Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave the down trodden and the suppressed a pride and a belief in themselves – self esteem – chardhi kala. In fact in some of the articles I wrote earlier ‘Why I am a Sikh’ and ‘An audience with Guru Granth Sahib’ I would finish with a note reflecting some pride in being a Sikh - although I did later tone it down. Was I being egotistic? Perhaps not! But these are the questions which come to mind and we have to constantly appraise ourselves. However I do take your point that self esteem of this kind is harmless and to some extent needed.

    Some people may criticize, unjustly in some cases, self esteem of this kind as taking ‘a holier than thou’ attitude. However self esteem carried to the extreme can pose problems. For example if I were to claim that that God can only be realized through Sikhism as some faiths do (Tejwant Singh Ji made some very good points in this respect in The Janeus We Wear’and The Mool Mantar: Sikhi's Blueprint and Roadmap) then I would certainly be egotistical.

    Coming back to the use of the words ‘ego’ and ‘egotism’ I used the term ‘ego’ as we see it in its negative form (you have used a very good term ‘having a bloated image of self’. In the context of the subject ‘Hunkaar’ that is what I assumed it would reflect. Most authors from the east use both ‘ego’ and ‘egotism’ to mean houmai and I just followed suit – there is not much more to it – Although I did refer to, albeit briefly, Freud’s and Jung’s technical intricacies of synthesis of information, memory and intellectual functioning of the mind etc going into psychoanalysis (more the domain of maya) was not my objective. My emphasis was on the spiritual aspect and that is the spirit in which the article should be taken.

    I do take your (and Narayanjot Kaur Ji’s) point on the subtleties of language and values and would certainly take these on board next time I write on the topic. For this I am grateful to both of you.

    Although I do not normally cut and paste and use my own interpretation of Gurbani but in this case, due to lack of time, I leave you with the following translation (by Sant Singh Ji Khalsa) of two shabads.

    slok mÚ 1 ] (466-10)
    Shalok, First Mehl:

    hau ivic AwieAw hau ivic gieAw ]
    ha-o vich aa-i-aa ha-o vich ga-i-aa.
    In ego they come, and in ego they go.

    hau ivic jMimAw hau ivic muAw ]
    ha-o vich jammi-aa ha-o vich mu-aa.
    In ego they are born, and in ego they die.

    hau ivic idqw hau ivic lieAw ] )
    ha-o vich ditaa ha-o vich la-i-aa.
    In ego they give, and in ego they take.

    hau ivic KitAw hau ivic gieAw ]
    ha-o vich khati-aa ha-o vich ga-i-aa.
    In ego they earn, and in ego they lose.

    hau ivic sicAwru kUiVAwru ]
    ha-o vich sachiaar koorhi-aar.
    In ego they become truthful or false.

    hau ivic pwp puMn vIcwru ]
    ha-o vich paap punn veechaar.
    In ego they reflect on virtue and sin.

    hau ivic nrik surig Avqwru ]
    ha-o vich narak surag avtaar.
    In ego they go to heaven or hell.

    hau ivic hsY hau ivic rovY ]
    ha-o vich hasai ha-o vich rovai.
    In ego they laugh, and in ego they weep.

    hau ivic BrIAY hau ivic DovY ]
    ha-o vich bharee-ai ha-o vich Dhovai.
    In ego they become dirty, and in ego they are washed clean.

    hau ivic jwqI ijnsI KovY ]
    ha-o vich jaatee jinsee khovai.
    In ego they lose social status and class.

    hau ivic mUrKu hau ivic isAwxw ]
    ha-o vich moorakh ha-o vich si-aanaa.
    In ego they are ignorant, and in ego they are wise.

    moK mukiq kI swr n jwxw ]
    mokh mukat kee saar na jaanaa.
    They do not know the value of salvation and liberation.

    hau ivic mwieAw hau ivic CwieAw ]
    ha-o vich maa-i-aa ha-o vich chhaa-i-aa.
    In ego they love Maya, and in ego they are kept in darkness by it.

    haumY kir kir jMq aupwieAw ]
    ha-umai kar kar jant upaa-i-aa.
    Living in ego, mortal beings are created.

    haumY bUJY qw dru sUJY ]
    ha-umai boojhai taa dar soojhai.
    When one understands ego, then the Lord's gate is known.

    igAwn ivhUxw kiQ kiQ lUJY ]
    gi-aan vihoonaa kath kath loojhai.
    Without spiritual wisdom, they babble and argue.

    nwnk hukmI ilKIAY lyKu ]
    naanak hukmee likee-ai laykh.
    O Nanak, by the Lord's Command, destiny is recorded.

    jyhw vyKih qyhw vyKu ]1]
    jayhaa vaykheh tayhaa vaykh. ||1||
    As the Lord sees us, so are we seen. ||1||

    mhlw 2 ] (466-16)
    Second Mehl:

    haumY eyhw jwiq hY haumY krm kmwih ]
    ha-umai ayhaa jaat hai ha-umai karam kamaahi.
    This is the nature of ego, that people perform their actions in ego.

    haumY eyeI bMDnw iPir iPir jonI pwih ]
    ha-umai ay-ee banDhnaa fir fir jonee paahi.
    This is the bondage of ego, that time and time again, they are reborn.

    haumY ikQhu aUpjY ikqu sMjim ieh jwie ]
    ha-umai kithhu oopjai kit sanjam ih jaa-ay.
    Where does ego come from? How can it be removed?

    haumY eyho hukmu hY pieAY ikriq iPrwih ]
    ha-umai ayho hukam hai pa-i-ai kirat firaahi.
    This ego exists by the Lord's Order; people wander according to their past actions.

    haumY dIrG rogu hY dwrU BI iesu mwih ]
    ha-umai deeragh rog hai daaroo bhee is maahi.
    Ego is a chronic disease, but it contains its own cure as well.

    ikrpw kry jy AwpxI qw gur kw sbdu kmwih ]
    kirpaa karay jay aapnee taa gur kaa sabad kamaahi.
    If the Lord grants His Grace, one acts according to the Teachings of the Guru's Shabad.

    nwnku khY suxhu jnhu iequ sMjim duK jwih ]2]
    naanak kahai sunhu janhu it sanjam dukh jaahi. ||2||
    Nanak says, listen, people: in this way, troubles depart. ||2||


    Humbly

    Rajinder Singh 'Arshi'
     
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  13. Randip Singh

    Randip Singh
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    Arshi ji,

    I am glad we understand each other now.

    I appreciate your efforts and one of the things that I am at pains to get across, is the need for accurate and concise translations.

    The closest I have seen to precise and concise translations of Bani have been that by Pritam Singh Chahil and possibly Mcleod.

    We must guard against this practice, by many to either not realise they are mistranslating, or in the case of some groups I have come across (AKJ, Namdhari etc) to deliberately mistranslate.

    The essay fools wrangle over flesh http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/sikh-sikhi-sikhism/8828-fools-who-wrangle-over-flesh.html people still think it is about meat. It is not. It was chosen by me and my learned colleagues to highlight in a very controversial topic how poor translation and misinterpretation can lead to problems (as well as personal prejudice).

    For example, there is a dispute over the word "Kuttha" and someone quoted me the following:


    page 956


    ਤਿਸ ਦਾ ਕੁਠਾ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੇਖੁ
    तिस दा कुठा होवै सेखु ॥

    Ŧis ḏā kuṯẖā hovai sekẖ.
    If the Shaykh is killed with that,

    and so I thought that Kutha meant "killed", but then another fellow pointed me to reading the entire shabad:


    page 956



    ਮਃ
    मः १ ॥
    Mėhlā 1.
    First Mehl:

    ਸਚ ਕੀ ਕਾਤੀ ਸਚੁ ਸਭੁ ਸਾਰੁ
    सच की काती सचु सभु सारु ॥
    Sacẖ kī kāṯī sacẖ sabẖ sār.
    The knife is Truth, and its steel is totally True.

    ਘਾੜਤ ਤਿਸ ਕੀ ਅਪਰ ਅਪਾਰ
    घाड़त तिस की अपर अपार ॥
    Gẖāṛaṯ ṯis kī apar apār.
    Its workmanship is incomparably beautiful.

    ਸਬਦੇ ਸਾਣ ਰਖਾਈ ਲਾਇ
    सबदे साण रखाई लाइ ॥
    Sabḏe sāṇ rakẖā▫ī lā▫e.
    It is sharpened on the grindstone of the Shabad.

    ਗੁਣ ਕੀ ਥੇਕੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਸਮਾਇ
    गुण की थेकै विचि समाइ ॥
    Guṇ kī thekai vicẖ samā▫e.
    It is placed in the scabbard of virtue.

    ਤਿਸ ਦਾ ਕੁਠਾ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੇਖੁ
    तिस दा कुठा होवै सेखु ॥
    Ŧis ḏā kuṯẖā hovai sekẖ.
    If the Shaykh is killed with that,


    ਲੋਹੂ ਲਬੁ ਨਿਕਥਾ ਵੇਖੁ
    लोहू लबु निकथा वेखु ॥
    Lohū lab nikthā vekẖ.
    then the blood of greed will spill out.

    ਹੋਇ ਹਲਾਲੁ ਲਗੈ ਹਕਿ ਜਾਇ
    होइ हलालु लगै हकि जाइ ॥
    Ho▫e halāl lagai hak jā▫e.
    One who is slaughtered in this ritualistic way, will be attached to the Lord.


    ਨਾਨਕ ਦਰਿ ਦੀਦਾਰਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥੨॥
    नानक दरि दीदारि समाइ ॥२॥
    Nānak ḏar ḏīḏār samā▫e. ||2||
    O Nanak, at the Lord's door, he is absorbed into His Blessed Vision. ||2||

    In this instance, what the person tried to do was a two fold deception:

    1) They quoted a one liner for the word from the shabad and hence took it out of context.
    2) They wished to impose their own view on this word.

    I do not wish to go into detail as to their reasoning, but one can clearly see the word does not actually mean "Killed" but a specific form of killing, i.e. sacrificial killing.

    The same lesson I think can be applied to Hankaar, it is not just ego,but a "bloated ego" hence egotism.

    If you replaced ego with egotism in your essay, I think it would have the same meaning, yet be even more precise.

    regards
     
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  14. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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    The word 'Ego' is the Latin pronoun for 'I'. It is only the consciousness of the 'false self', i.e., self-centered 'I', and has no existence of its own.

    It is like a 'Maniac' - thinking, posing, and acting like a 'King'.
    His imaginary kingdom exists only in his deranged intelligence and imaginative beliefs. Therefore the Maniac is an imposter !

    The real kingdom of God is above and beyond the grasp of imagination and illusory intelligence.

    God is Divine Light, Divine Intelligence, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent.

    Where there is no Light of God - there is darkness of ignorance, illusions, false beliefs and misconceptions, in which Humanity thinks, acts, and lives under the spell of false Ego of 'I', 'Me' and 'Mine'.

    Extracted from a booklet by KHOJI named TRANSFORMATION OF EGOISTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
     
  15. Tejwant Singh

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    In the above two Shabads, if we change EGO to ME-ISM, the message becomes clear and takes away the cloudiness and fog created bythe incorrect and misguided literal translation by Sant Singh Khalsa.

    Tejwant Singh
     
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  16. Randip Singh

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    Yes:happy:
     
  17. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Narayanjot ji and Randip ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    Thanks for your insights by explaining the difference between ego and egotism. I also want to thank Arshi ji for the great article which is a true soul food for thought. It does need to be savoured by all.

    Sikhi journey is about interacting and learning because this learning process is not only the stepping stone for us to get better as Sikhs but it makes every step forward we take itself the destination.

    There is a very thin line between these two and this line is only blurry and many may think it is drawn is sand which can disappear with the next wave that hits it, but that is true only for those who do not follow the message of our Gurus given to us in SGGS, our ONLY GURU.

    Self esteem is must. Sikhi is based on self esteem. Baal Nanak showed us that when he was mere 7 years old when he refused to wear the Janeiu and asked the Pandit to give him the kind of Janeiu that never gets dirty nor does it break. This was not out of egotism but out of self esteem. Only by having self esteem, one can challenge the status quo of the mechanical and useless rituals in dogmatic religions created by the honchos of the respective religions that people perform out of sheer fear, and if they did not, then something bad may happen to them, they will end of in purgatory.

    In other words, they all lacked self esteem because they were told what to do and when and how in order to " save" themselves.

    Guru Nanak with his self esteem started changing people.

    As they say, "one can only awaken the one who is asleep but can not awaken the sleep walker". Guru Nanak proved them wrong and did awaken the sleep walkers so they could live their life in SAT- TRUTH and gave them/us the tools to cultivate self esteem and last but not the least showed us through Gurbani with the help of the following Nanaks that this line between ego and egotism could be thin but it is not drawn in sand but etched quite vividly in our Munn, heart and soul.

    Guru Amardas, the third Nanak showed this etching very clearly in anand Sahib that we read everyday.

    Khaneio tikhi, valon niki, eiet marg jana. ll14ll Page 918
    Life of a Sikh is not just a high wire event of any circus but this is the only path a Sikh has if he/she wants to find the connection with Ik Ong Kaar.

    Now, the above line is not for those who were/ are faint at heart or have found themselves incapable of cultivating self esteem, but for those who have found the tools in SGGS, our ONLY GURU to cultivate self esteem with its help and guidance.

    Now, the question arises, how is it possible to live this high wire way of life without any safety net, just like in some of the more daring circus performances?

    The self esteem of a Sikh says," Merah SATGURU rakhvala hoah".
    Ik Ong Kaar is my safety net, I do not need anything/anyone- personified deity for that.

    So, YES. I am a SIKH, a SEEKER, a LEARNER and I am not afraid to make a mistake, or fall down nor am I fearful to take a step backwards in order to move two steps forward because my IK ONG KAAR is there to correct me, to lift me up and to give me a push to move forward.

    Yes, I am a SIKH.

    Tejwant Singh
     
  18. arshi

    arshi United Kingdom
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    Tejwant Ji wrote: “I also want to thank Arshi ji for the great article which is a true soul food for thought. It does need to be savoured by all.”

    Tejwant Singh Ji

    This is really high praise coming from someone whose writings and hudd beeti (life experiences) I read with avid interest and great admiration.

    Earlier you wrote “if we change EGO to ME-ISM, the message becomes clear and takes away the cloudiness and fog created by the incorrect and misguided literal translation by Sant Singh Khalsa.”

    A very good suggestion. I agree Sant Singh Ji’s translations are often too literal and do not always convey Guru Ji’s message clearly or accurately. However, in this instance to be fair to him he has used both ego and egotism in his translations of the word houmai. He, like many others, has taken the two terms as synonymous, in that the term ‘ego’ is also used to represent an exaggerated or bloated view of the self. For that reason, perhaps no one has ever, in the past, picked on this point regarding my writings on the subject. However, I regard both Randip Singh Ji and Narayanjot Kaur Ji highly and must take notice of their reservations on the use of the term. We may also say that whilst ego, in its negative form. is a bloated expresssion of the self, egotism is the doctrine of subscribing to it.

    In defence, however, I would say that with wide and long-dated use of the term ‘ego’ to mean ‘houmai’ or ‘hunkaar’ has rendered it (amongst most non-western individuals) as a good synonym for this ‘thief’. Perhaps there is a case here for the English dictionary to adopt this term to mean exactly that – why can’t we have ‘translation in reverse’ i.e. English to Punjabi or Gurmukhi? After all there can be more than one meaning for a word. I could envisage ego as defined as:


    1. The ‘I’ or self – that which is conscious and thinks.

    2. houmai as understood in Sikhism to mean an exaggerated view of the self.

    OK, I agree, I am day-dreaming – my self esteem is working overtime – but some would say nothing is impossible.

    On a serious note, as far as the five thieves are concerned, Sikhism does not advocate that the energy that produces these should be completely destroyed or eliminated, for example an element of lobh is needed to make money for a livelihood. So there is enough room for self esteem. The point is that houmai or hunkaar should be converted into humility (nimrata) through devoted service and love for mankind whilst still retaining an element of self esteem. Self esteem within reasonable limits is desirable but we must remember that there is very thin line between self esteem and houmai.

    As far as my own take on the term is concerned, my self esteem (not houmai) dictates I should reserve judgment for now and use the terms houmai and hunkaar with a note. We need to look into a number things that arise from our exchange of ideas above. As Tejwant Singh Ji aptly put Sikhi is a journey about interacting and learning because this learning and “a SEEKER, a LEARNER and I am not afraid to make a mistake, or fall down nor am I fearful to take a step backwards in order to move two steps forward” Let us together enhance our learning experience and uphold our self esteem.

    Number of threads can emerge from my points above but I am not divulging them yet because I wouldn’t want Tejwant Ji, Narayanjot Ji, Randip Ji, Aman Ji, Soul Jyot Ji and Gyani Ji to steal my thunder :roll: only joking folks.


    Humbly

    Rajinder Singh 'Arshi'
     
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  19. spnadmin

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    arshi ji

    You are very funny -- OK -- When I am attached to haumei I am stuck on myself.
     
  20. arshi

    arshi United Kingdom
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    Narayanjot Kaur Ji

    Should I take that as a complement? Please say yes !

    You come across to me as a humble person with genuine self esteem :yes: - how dare I think otherwise?

    Chardhi Kala Ji

    Rajinder Singh 'Arshi'
     

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