Skip to main content

Why Ego is bad

I met a person some time back to whom I had gone to advice regarding a career in a bank, he worked in a bank and was about to join the CSS service – the bureaucracy in Pakistan. In the conversation I had with him he mentioned I should take advice from my parents in the matter to which I told him that such an effort would be pointless because banking was an alien domain for my parents.

In the course of events I said that he wasn’t getting it and that we should move on. On his persistence I finally told him: “what the hell is the issue here…my parents won’t be able to help!”.

At this he said: “You don’t know what I can do to you, you should not talk that way to me.” In an intellectual explanation of his statement: his rationale, he said: “You don’t know how much ego I have, you can’t even imagine. It is much more than you can ever have”.

Now that statement caught me and I thought to myself: “how in the hell can ego be a good thing. It is the one thing I have always known is bad, strange guy indeed!”

A couple of years later I heard of a book, one that is so common that some of the people you know will have heard of it too. The name of the book is: “Fountainhead” and the motto of it is: “Man’s ego is the fountainhead of human progress”.

Now this was a bigger shocker. Not only was that guy thinking on these lines but a very large part of the reading human world since 1943 –when the book was published – has been reading it. In fact on further reflection I realized that I was thinking on these lines as well, when for example in school in the spirit of competition I wanted to come first and the reason was simply that it was Me we were talking about. How could I not come first?

Now there is a counter argument that many religions including Islam produce. This is of “understanding reality as it is” and doing this by doing things like praying and fasting and other exercises that help you negate yourself with the goal being of bringing yourself in control.

How polar these two ideas are and what I present below is the conclusion in favour of the latter:

Ego while having utility in that it helps motivate a person also in the process “burns” him and is actually not necessary at all and is as unnecessary as melodrama is in our everyday lives. We don’t need that melodrama and we don’t need the ego all that we need to do is to think things through and execute them.

A very powerful example given in the Quran is of God giving two big lessons to man kind at the creation of human kind:
Lesson 1: Adam was the supreme of all creation because of his “knowledge”
Lesson 2: The devil was made the most inferior of all creation because of his “ego”

Knowledge is not dependent on ego but you might be dependent on it if you do not use knowledge to free yourself.

Is he liyae "unparh" log har waqt phadae mein par-ae rehtae hein because un kae liyae har cheez anaa ka masla ban jatee hae.

And herein is the shair of Iqbal when he said: “khud he ko kar buland itna kae har taqdeer sae pehlae khuda tujh sae khud poochae kae teree raza kya hae”. The boland that he was talking about is through knowledge and control of the will not through ego and the fuelling of it.


Popular posts from this blog

Explanation of the movie 'Revolver'

I saw the movie for the umpteenth time last night and I finally got it.

This is what the movie says:

1) In every game and con there is always a victim and there is always an opponent. It's good to know when you are the former so you can become the latter.

2) But the question is how do you prepare yourself for this game?

3) You only get smater by playing a smarter opponent.

4) The smarter the game the smarter the opponent

5) Checkers is an example of such a game. Chess is a better game. Debate is an even better opportunity to learn and so on.

6) But the question is where does the game stop? or one can ask what is the smartest game one can play?

7) The answer according to the movie is: "The game of con you play with yourself".

The text below has been added on 3 Dec 2008 and is based on a comment posted on October 30, 2008, at time 4:12 PM. I have only recently understood what this person meant and it is …

The beauty of self-negation

Self-negation is the act of exercising your will power to do what you don’t want to do such that you benefit from this act [of self negation]. The more one practices self-negation the better you get at controlling your will and making it do what you want it to, when you want it to.

For obvious reasons this can have tremendous benefits. Just imagine a situation where your superior wants you to sit late or gives you a task that is very difficult and you have enough control over yourself to not get flustered! In fact imagine turning your world into the world you always imagined as a child… by taking the difficult steps, through self-negation…one can only marvel at the beauty of creating the world you want!

We get the chance to practice self-negation many times in the day, each chance another ‘opportunity’ to get better at controlling ourselves.

Every time we sit down to eat for example we can eat good food in the quantity that the body requires and after that leave some space in our stoma…

Why feedback is important

We learn about the world as we get feedback from things within it such as from family, friends, mentors and even books.

Feedback can tell you where you went wrong and affirm what you do right. It can thus help you predict the future.

Interestingly there are people I have met who question the importance of feedback. They say: “I can figure out everything I need to on my own. I don’t need feedback like others do.” This is not true. In fact there is a big danger lurking in this notion.

If the world you are creating is your own you might get stuck in it or some part of it and not know what to do next.

If however, this world of yours and all parts of it are based on some feedback you will always know who to ask if you get stuck.

Somebody once said that "fundamentally we are here not to be seen, but to see" i.e. to see things outside of ourself. You will notice that all growth you have had has owed itself to some consistent feedback.

Suppose you wrote an essay. You wouldn't rea…