The Ego and the Veil
Why are we so afraid of death?
What causes the fear of death within us as soon as we gain our senses?
Doesn’t the fear of death rule all our efforts?
In the fear of a strange inevitable force, we all appear to be powerless and meek. We feel helpless when someone — a close one or a dear one — is suddenly snatched away from us. In moments like these, such questions come to the surface:
Why do we all die?
If we were to die, why were we born at all?
What is the purpose of life, if death is the inevitable end?
Is life meaningless after all?
All the triumphs in plots of great legends are based on this very foundation that the hero of the story is somehow able to overcome death, the defeat of death being more of a matter of celebration when the hero is not only able to save himself but also the damsel in distress, more so when he is able to save the entire land to which he belongs.
But, the question arises: Does the end of the story guarantee a happily-ever-after for the hero and his community? Or does the plot entail more than that? Quite often, the grim facts of the sense of ending are not addressed fully.
What is the end? Why is it so horrible? In trying to preserve our egos, to ensure that things never end, why do we move to extents that are not acceptable to ourselves later? The line between morality and sin seems to disappear in that moment of anger or deceit. This brings us to another interesting question to ponder — why do we work at all?
In performing our day-to-day duties, why are we so fixated on the goal or the fruit of labour? If we do not receive the desired results, why aren’t we the heroes in the strife? If we aren’t the heroes in the strife, should we value ourselves? Isn’t our sense of identity veritably linked to our sense of self-esteem or the lack thereof?
Perpetually, consciously or unconsciously, in every endeavour we embark upon, we are fixated on receiving a prize towards the end. In receiving the prize, we do not contemplate the source of that which we have waited for so very earnestly.
The source of the reward, that we either receive or are unable to even after making efforts, is the Self — the pure eternal consciousness — that is capable of granting us everything. At a subtle level, everything is always available to us. However, due to the ignorance of having a separate self of our own which is egoistic and in greed of respect and honour, we keep believing all our lives that this is the self we need to appease in order to experience true gratification and bliss.
The reality is, however, a tad different. We can never appease the individual self that is born out of ignorance as it is illusory and doesn’t even exist.
“The untrue never is. | The true never isn’t. | The knowers of truth know this. [2:16]” (Bhagavadgita)
The death of ourselves is truly the death of the false individual ego for us, to which we cling with all our might. We can only appease the Self which is all-pervading and ever-accessible. This power of the Self which is above all, some might call it God, while a few others the universe, if considered and thus regarded, can lead us to realisation of the Truth quite easily.
It does not even need to be appeased or honoured or garlanded or respected. The true Self simply stays, shining more brilliantly than thousands of bright white suns. If one does not open the doors of one’s room and allow the light of the sun to fill the room thus driving the darkness away, one could keep waiting forever for the sun to rise. Similarly, if one does not open the doors of one’s being and become a receptacle of love and light, one might never be able to experience the power that is hidden in oneself.
This, precisely, is the power of Maya which shrouds everything under the veil of ignorance. The veil is so strong and powerful, not-to-mention, ever consistent and all-encompassing, as beautiful as the Self, as it is verily generated by the Self for Its own fulfilment, that it can keep us feeling for lifetimes that we are separate from our own true Self, which is untrue, and hence, the harbinger of all misery.
Therefore, the Self never dies. Only the self dies. Only a self-constructed and perpetuated mental image of ourselves vanishes. Ego dissolves in love. And this is why transactional logic and language fail to recognise that ending could be treated as a wonderful tool to self-realisation as it keeps reminding us of the pride that we find so difficult to let go of.
Once we completely let go of it, we would be free. We do not want freedom from death or life itself. What we truly want is freedom from ourselves — more precisely put — the petty imagined versions of ourselves the scaffolding of which is too precious for us to smash. But only a complete breakdown would open the doors to the eternal light of the Self. And, this day of light will come to all — as the great men and women have admitted. Until then, march on — humbly and receptively.