Ego plays spoil sport on our “happiness” and is the source of our spiritual ignorance, as it is the root cause of doubts. According to Ramana Maharishi, repeated questioning itself is not good, as this not only works on our ego, but also works on our intellect. Someone could be highly knowledgeable and can answer all the spiritual questions; but this does not mean that he is a realized person. Unless ego is shed, quest for the Self will not be real. “Every question that arises is vitiated by the ignorance which takes the ego at its face value, as the real Self. All questions are therefore reducible to one “Who am I”. Only through the quest for the Self, egoless state can be reached. What is egoless state? It is the state of silence, where quest for all answers are annulled. Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad (II.ii.8) says, “If a person can realize Brahman, as the cause and effect as his own Self, all his doubts are dispelled and the fruits of all his work also get destroyed” When we see ourselves as the cause and effect of everything, our ego gets destroyed. Egoless state is not nothingness.
Ego is the root cause of all desires. In the blissful state, ego is destroyed completely, as in the powerful waves of bliss, a tiny piece of ego is swept away, not to rear its ugly head again, unless one is destined to fall from the heights of spiritual evolution. If one falls, it is again due to the improper destruction of ego. Reflection on the Truth is hundred times superior to hearing. Meditation on the truth is a hundred thousand times greater than reflection and this reflection is possible only in the egoless state.
What is the difference between Paramātmā and jīvātmā? Paramātmā is egoless state as It is not bound; whereas jīvātmā has inherent ego and is bound. However, be it Paramātmā or jīvātmā, the Self is the same. The only difference is that the Self really exists and the self does not really exist. The self becomes the Self when the ego is annihilated. We are not able to realize the Self as the Self because of our material desires and ego. Desires are products of mind, and mind by nature seeks the material pleasures and when the mind is active through organs of perception, naturally ego will be predominant. Often mind and ego go together.
The Self always exists in all the three states of consciousness (active, dream and deep sleep). This way, the Self always exists within us perpetually. This Self is immortal and would survive the reduction to nothingness of the unreal, called egoism. Bliss is the inherent nature of the Self, where ego is absent. Hence great importance is stressed on egoless state to realize the Self. When we enter into egoless state, we automatically enter into the state of silence. “Silence is the language of the Self and it is the most perfect teaching. Language is like the glow of the filament of an electric bulb; but silence is the electricity, which silently makes the bulb to burn.” This is the basis for saying that Self-realized persons are always silent and down to earth in behaviour. There is another saying. “He who speaks about It (the Self) has not seen It. He who has seen It does not speak” A real Guru is the one who falls under the second category.
Kaṭha Upaniṣad (II.iii.14) says, “When a man destroys all the desires in his mind, he attains the immortality and becomes one with the Self in this life itself.” But this is not as easy as we think. There are two impediments, mind and ego combine. Unless the ego is destroyed, thought processes in the mind cannot be destroyed. Unless the ego is surrendered, it is not possible to realize the Self, as in order to become one with something, we have to have the quality of the same thing. Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad (III.39) further explains this. “There is a kind of yoga called asparśayoga which deprives all sorts of contacts with the external world. It is difficult even for yogis to practice and perfect this yoga. This yoga leads to state of fearlessness (as ego is destroyed here). Ironically, yogis are frightened away from this state, as they do not want to lose their ego.” Thus it is easier to talk about egoless state, but in reality, only those who have complete desire to realize the Self can reach egoless state.
In deep sleep state, we become egoless, but on waking up, our ego is back. Same is the experience with trance. Only in the liberated state, ego is completely annihilated. State of spiritual a preceptor or a Guru can be ascertained from the level of his ego. Mere pāṇḍitya (knowledge) is of no use in the path of Self-realization. Pāṇḍitya often makes a person more egoistic and hence pāṇḍitya and Self-realization never go together. The egoless state can be attained only after liberation. Liberation is the point of no return for ego, as otherwise, it is like ego returning after we wake up from deep sleep. There are references where sages never slept for days together and continued in trance for infinite number of days. When the mind is reactivated after meditation, it starts to function from the point where one entered into trance. Once the Self is realized, then sleep and meditation do not matter for the mind and ego.
“The Sage enters the egoless state by extinguishing his ego, which is part of innate ignorance. He loses contact with his subtle and gross bodies by the dissolution of his causal body, which is primary ignorance. He passes straightaway from his active state. Hence the Sage becomes free from his causal body. But for this body, there is no sort of connection between the Real Self, which is the condition of the Sage, and other bodies. Thus the Sage is both bodiless and mindless.” In the case of common man, during his sleep, his causal body or primary ignorance are not dissolved and continued to exist and into it, both ego and mind are merged and is in the form of a seed to sprout again after sleep. Sages have explained the ego ridden existence is death (to transmigrate again).
Ramana Maharishi says, “Unless the ego, the identification with the body dies, it will be impossible for anyone to realize that natural and abiding state of absorption within the heart. Until this merger happens, there is no liberation for the jīva.
“You think that you can get happiness when there is contact with something separate from you. But that is not the truth. Bliss is the very nature of the Self. The happiness that you get from other things is part of the happiness of the Self, but it is not the complete happiness. So long as external object is required for happiness, incompleteness is felt. When it is felt that Self alone is there, permanent happiness stays forever.” This is true egoless state, where we experience perpetual Bliss; and we unknowingly enter into Shiva Consciousness.