“Remove your shoes…remove your ego”

Updated: Jul 8

Ego is the hurdle to attain self-realization

“Remove your shoes along with your ego outside before entering the temple”, this is what I read on a wall outside a temple’s entrance. Is it that easy, I doubted?

Well, there are very few who can actually do it, while the rest move inside with their egos. Frankly speaking, once I had entered the temple with my ego too, without knowing the meaning of the instruction. As I entered the abode of the deity like all others I looked at his idol and bowed in front of him and moved out from the exit door of the temple. And when I stepped out, I had a feeling of accomplishment of duly performing a ritual (darshan) which was on my wish-list for a longtime.

Having completed my task, I forgot the deity and started searching for my shoes which I had left at the entrance. But to my astonishment, my shoes were missing from the shoe rack and I started searching for my shoes, desperately. Later my hour-long search went in vain. I was shattered and dejected at the loss of my shoes and in exasperation, I decided not to visit the temple ever again. This entire event made me forget the image of the deity sitting calmly in that abode. Infact, in resentment, I wondered how the deity could do this to me… It’s unfair. Thank God, I did not remove my ego along with the shoes or else my ‘I’ would have lost forever.

This incident took place 30 years back in my life. And over the period of time, I changed my pairs of shoes innumerable times but my ego remained intact.

Later, I regretted not following the instruction. Over the years, the ego not just overpowered my being but has been the very reason for ruining my life. I wish I could have removed my ego along with my shoes then, my ego would have lost forever with the shoes…setting me free. Unfortunately, we all die holding the ego tenaciously in our crippled arms, as if walking barefoot, crossing the river and holding the shoes in one hand in the fear of slipping off and getting washed away by the flow of the river. We are too possessive, aren't we?

Finally, after years of a strenuous life journey, I decided to set out on a path of self-realization. And soon I learnt the meaning of the instruction written at the entrance of the temple.

It was indeed a laborious process to subtly disintegrate the stubborn and obstinate ego. Our ego is nurtured by our mind and the mind is cultivated by the thoughts of an individual. And to uproot one’s ego one has to restrict thoughts and tranquilize the mind. In the quest of eliminating the ego, I relentlessly pursued knowledge of Oneness to attain self-realization.

And when one's ego dies off, the self becomes almost weightless and floats in the space of the absolute. Gradually, the mind ceases to exist and the self gets transformed into a true being (self-realization). And this true self strives relentlessly to merge itself into the absolute, the supreme self. Ultimately, we experience the ever-prevailing and infinite source called “Oneness”.

Later, after many years, I happened to visit the temple, with a feeling of devotion. At the entrance, I read the instruction “Remove your shoes along with your ego outside before entering the temple”, I chuckled and removed my shoes, a worthless commodity now and with the same ease, I managed to dismantle the ego at my will. And walked inside with gaiety.

In the abode, I saw the same idol of the deity, but this time it was not just an idol but a divine flow of infinite energy. His profound calmness, His stillness and an affectionate smile aroused an adoration and His divine presence mesmerized my thoughtless & composed being. And in the egoless self, love for the divine blossomed. And I surrendered. Instantly, the idol turned into a formless aura of radiance. That very moment, the true self witnessed the merger into the absolute, the supreme being. I happened to experience the enigmatic state of non-duality and oneness. And the self-realization that Oneness is God and it is nowhere but within us, enlightened me.

In that very transcendental state, I walked out of the temple with a profound feeling of oneness. Later, I realized that I have not only forgotten my shoes in the shoe rack but also my ego ‘I’ forever.



Copyright © 2022 Manoj Sawant

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