Interviewer: Everybody talks about destroying the ego as if it were some terrible thing. But I spent my life creating one and in fact, many people who follow spiritual teachers are looking for self-confidence and a better ability to function. I wish you would explain it to me.

Sri Chinmoy: Let us try to be explicit in our understanding of what ego is. According to my inner experience, there are two types of ego: one ego is limitation, bondage and death. This is the ego that says ‘I’ and ‘my’. When we speak of “I” and “my”, we confine ourselves to the finite. The other ego is the divine ego. “I am God’s son, so how can I stoop to such ignorance? God is all Light, all Perfection, and I am His son. It is beneath my dignity to surrender myself to ignorance.” This kind of ego is very good.

The human ego binds us, but the divine ego only liberates us. The divine ego says, “You are free, you are eternal, you are infinite, just because you are one with the eternal Father, who is infinite, eternal and immortal.”

Interviewer: So the first ego you define as a sort of small, selfish kind of thing.

Sri Chinmoy: That is absolutely right. It cares only for its own existence. The other one is the universal “we”, the universal heart. As I said before, the heart means identification, oneness. God is everywhere, so if I am God’s son, then I can claim the entire universe as my very own. If I remain in my room and you remain in your room, then there is a sense of separativity. You have your life and I have my life. But if we feel our divine oneness, then there is no separativity. I claim you and you claim me. When we are aspiring, we feel the presence of God and we feel our universal oneness, our oneness with the Universal Consciousness. If we don’t aspire, then we remain with our limited, selfish consciousness.

Interviewer: How does one get from the one kind of ego to the other?

Sri Chinmoy: A child’s world, in the beginning, is his parents. Then gradually, gradually, his world becomes more vast. In the spiritual life also, we grow from the one to the many. From limited experiences we get very high, deep, vast experiences. Similarly, we can start with the human ego and gradually transcend it; then we enter into the divine ego. Or right from the beginning, if we pray and aspire, we can try to curb our human ego and remain in the divine ego.

Interviewer: Let’s go directly to the phones. Hello, you're on the air.