“I am curious to learn more about how Yoga practice functions to undo the ego mind set.”
Dear Inquisitive Mind your inquiry is such an excellent question. I deeply appreciate this inquiry into the studies of Yoga’s roots.
“Human destiny is to refine and perfect oneself and one’s world.”
Within us lies an impulsive reaction chain. Western philosophers separated our knowledge of self into dualistic a perspective so notions of “mind” are separated from the “heart.” It allows the individual to masquerade attachments to image and material objects as a way to increase one’s sense of self-worth. The individual is continually enticed to follow yearnings as they present themselves. “Our ego believes the more Ihave, the more I am,” says author Cox. This is seen as a darker side of our engagement with power, according to researcher Lindsey who labels this phenomenon as a “postmodern mega-myth of narcissism, ego, gratification and greed.”
When the ego becomes strong, in the Western sense, it can be labelled as negative and have harmful impact on those around the person and even to oneself. Inwardly, the term ego also invokes the maintenance of a sense of separation, because it is usually rooted in a competitive stance. This segregation and compartmentalization leaves Westerns with a very different understanding of the mind, resulting in a sense of being that is disconnected from other sources of potential support and empowerment. I refer to this as the small ‘s’ “self.” Concepts comprising “self” are all based on activities of the brain feeding the Western cognitive conception of ego.
Within Eastern teachings there is a recognized evolutionary process, of which a different kind of ego is a part of. It is referred to as the inner instrument, antaḥ-karaṇa. Antaḥ-karaṇa, in Sanskrit, is an aspect of the subtle energies of a human being. It is comprised of the mind (manas), the intellect (buddhi), the ego (ahaṇkāra), and consciousness (citta). When engaging in meditative processes and other reflective practices one works through the levels of the antaḥ-karaṇa. Manas senses and perceives incoming perceptions and organizes them. Buddhi discriminates the received sensory information. Ahaṇkāra is associated with the individual sense of I or ego; translated directly from Sanskrit to be “the concept of individuality” or the “I-maker.” Citta holds imprints of all impressions of saṁskara, habits and patterns. Ātman is an inner knowing that comes from connection to divinity beyond the physical or mental aspects of self. Ātman, or what I also label as the capital ‘S’ Self is considered to be the origin of true intelligence. The resulting instrument, of full non-dualistic recognition, is configured through being able to release self from the bondage and obstacles of the mind formed by continual temptation of impulsive actions. This impulsive reaction chain is recognized and subdued through a mindful process unveiling a path through one’s being to a deeper understanding of the inner instrument, antaḥ-karaṇa. This progression of refinement occurs through the multiple layers of meditative practices. When one reaches ātman consciousness, the path of refinement is complete, and any notion ofdualism no longer exists. This inner formation provides a sense of deep peaceful quietude.
Scholar Jack Hawley notes it is “a seldom visited level of consciousness”
to this I add, it is a life’s work.