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For the first years of our devotional life we may not give much attention to
the topic of the false ego. We may not even be aware of how it affects us –
every day, prompting us to say things which we should better not say, and do
things which we should better not do. We may not realize the existence and
impact of this constant companion, because the false ego works in very
subtle ways. It can so easily remain hidden.

In due course of time, we may come to understand just how important this
topic of the false ego is! After all, material life and its culture is all
about feeding and blowing up our false ego, taking every opportunity to
place ourselves in the centre of attention; whereas spiritual life and its
culture is designed to subdue and dissolve it. Thus, in all discussions on
spiritual life and its culture we sooner or later come across this subject.
And the realization may strike us, how easily we can entirely miss the
target of devotional life: we can do the very opposite of what we should be
doing – all in the name of Krishna consciousness.

Instead of dissolving and subduing the false ego, Krishna consciousness can
offer an excellent opportunity to increase and feed it. It is going on
massively. And we may think ourselves to be doing the right thing, but we
are not. We entirely miss the target, and thus we will not harvest the
fruits of pure devotional service, even after many years of so-called
spiritual practice.

Furthermore, after making efforts in deepening our chanting of the holy
name, we may come to understand how we will never be able to receive the
full benefit and mercy which the holy name carries, unless we make a
concentrated effort to subdue our false ego. This does not take place
automatically simply by time passing by, but requires special endeavor. The
two practices have to go hand-in-hand: chanting the holy name and dissolving
our false ego – mainly by serving according to Vaishnava etiquette and

Unless we add the culture and etiquette into our daily life, we easily
remain trapped in the ego-driven patterns of behavior, since this is what
material life and its culture foster. And as a result we don’t move forward
but invite stagnation into our devotional life. Therefore Chaitanya
Mahaprabhu instructs us in the third verse of the Sri Sikshastaka to chant
the holy name in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the
straw in the street, and more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of
false prestige, and ready to offer all respects to others. Only in such
state of mind can we receive all the wonderful powers and benefits which the
holy name carries.

Vaishnava etiquette and culture is helping us to cultivate exactly this
state of mind, which Mahaprabhu is recommending to us.
Unless we make such concentrated endeavor to transform our patterns of
behavior parallel to our practice of hearing and chanting, we can hear
Krishna katha and chant the holy name for many years and yet maintain our
ego-driven patterns of behavior. Through such hearing and chanting one acts
like an elephant that covers itself in dirt immediately after bathing. Not a
very effective process for purification. Furthermore, we commit the tenth
offence to chanting the holy name by maintaining material attachments, even
after understanding so many instructions on this matter. We maintain the
attachment to the satisfaction which our false ego demands: wanting to be
special and unique, and desiring to become a more and more important person
– recognized as an advanced or serious devotee.

Besides, while chanting japa, our mind may take us for a ride and distract
us. Once we understand how the false ego affects the mind and intelligence,
we discover that it is indeed the false ego, which is our main enemy when
chanting. This underlying culprit makes its demands for a certain
gratification, which pushes the mind to engage us in all kinds of internal
discussions or monologues, taking us in circles. Just trying to control the
restless mind may thus not offer a good solution. We have to start at the
very root of the problem by targeting the false ego.

Sometimes, people may say to us: “You know, what you say is really good and
so true, but how you say it…….!” And at times we may respond: “If it’s
true, then why not just accept it?! I have good intentions, even though my
character or nature may not allow me to always present things in such an
appealing or polite way. That’s just the way I am! I am saying the right
thing. So, what’s the problem?”

We may not realize how the best idea, the best concept can be completely
poisoned and spoiled through the influence of the false ego. Nor may we
understand that what we think to be our nature or character may very well be
our conditioning – our baggage we have been lugging around with us for many
life times. We are not meant to maintain and protect such baggage but throw
it gradually over board. Nobody may have ever explained to us these things
more deeply – we may have never heard much about such subtle topics.

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  • This is a very vital piece of reminder.
    Thank you and Hare Krishna!
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