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Ego Explained

What is the difference between self-confidence, self-esteem and ego? Self-confidence is having belief in yourself, having trust in your abilities, having the conviction that you can achieve, attain. Self-esteem is seeing oneself in a positive light, seeing the positive and creative dimensions of one's life and living according to them. Self-esteem is knowing what your abilities and strengths are, what your limitations are, knowing how to manage them, and knowing that you are there to help all those who need your help.

Ego is knowing that 'I exist'. The negative side of ego is arrogance, hard-headedness. The positive side of ego is appreciation of the self, being thankful for existence, for being alive. Maintaining that identity that 'I live, I exist' is awareness of your existence.

How can one be confident without becoming egotistical? Confidence has nothing to do with ego. Confidence is knowledge, understanding and awareness of one's strengths and ability to deal with a situation. When you know you are the master of the circumstance or event and can control it, and you have the wisdom to know what is right and wrong and act according to dharma, that is confidence. There is bound to be ego, whether you do anything or not. Ego is your personality, life without ego is no life.

Ego is subject to the three gunas. Sattwa guna leads to a deeper awareness and understanding of how one can link with the cosmic consciousness. At this point the sattwic ego becomes the motivating factor to unite with the transcendental. When this sattwic ego becomes subject to the influences of the senses and mind, it becomes rajasic. When it becomes rajasic, it begins to manipulate the expressions of the personality. It manipulates thoughts, it manipulates ambitions, it manipulates desires. You are affected by it and other people are affected by your actions. When this ego identifies with the basic instincts in your life, then it becomes tamasic. These are the three expressions of ego.

Thousands of strands from the dimensions of manas, buddhi and chitta emanate and come to the ego, ahamkara. Whenever there is movement in one of the strands, the vibration will be felt by the ego. Stimulation and activity will be felt by the ego. If you love somebody, the ego is being touched. If you feel compassion towards somebody, the ego is being stimulated. If you hate somebody, the ego is being activated. Ego is the final state of individual experience. What one has to learn is how to channel the expression of emotions, feelings, thoughts and actions towards transcendence. That is the way to manage the ego.

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