Question: Will the company of a person with a very strong ego strengthen our own ego?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, it will. When you are with somebody who has a strong ego you will consciously or unconsciously be influenced by it. How? By its unlit, obscure, arrogant, aggressive power. His ego will try to make you his slave all the time. But while he tries to make you the slave of his ego, from deep within you your own ego will come forward to resist him. While he is exercising his ego, he is sowing the seed of ego in you, and that seed germinates and grows. Gradually it becomes a tiny plant. The person with the strong ego is already a huge banyan tree in the realm of ego, and you are an ordinary small plant. But you will be able to grow from there. After a few months or a few years you will try to exercise your own ego by making somebody else your slave. He is fulfilling his ego by exercising it on you, and you will try to fulfil your ego by exercising it on somebody else, because this is what you have learnt from him. But by exercising one's ego one can never be happy and satisfied. Outwardly he can make you feel or make himself feel that he is happy, but inwardly he never feels happy. By exercising one's ego nobody can be happy in the inner life. You will discover the same if you allow your ego to come to the fore.

When you accept the spiritual life, your own inner light should separate you from that person's longing for false wisdom. You know that what that person is doing is wrong, but at the same time, if you mix with him too much, you will also want to do the same. If you are given the opportunity, you will also try to impose your supremacy on others. If you follow the spiritual path, once you know that what he is doing is wrong, you must say, "I know he is doing something wrong. I will not do the same wrong thing. I know I won't be satisfied by doing what he is doing, so let me take a different path." The different path is the path of oneness.

Where does this oneness come from? From aspiration. Aspiration means the inner cry that goes up high, higher, highest. When we don't consciously aspire to go high, higher, highest, what happens? Automatically the law of gravity pulls us down. We see that those who are not aspiring are constantly staying at one level. Every day they are caught by endless desires. They are at the mercy of desire. But if you aspire, it is just the opposite. Today you have a little feeling of aspiration, a little feeling of a good quality inside you. Tomorrow when you meditate this good quality will increase. The day after tomorrow it will become very vast. The following day it will become infinite. When you start with one desire, the next day you have a stronger desire and the following day the strongest desire. Each day desire is binding you, grabbing you, strangling you. But when you start with aspiration, each day aspiration frees you, liberates you, immortalises you.

Ego can be conquered only through conscious aspiration. And this aspiration comes only when you have a path, a Master and spiritual company. You need spiritual people around you to inspire you continuously. Unspiritual people will ruin your aspiration if you stay with them too much. You have to follow a path so that you will travel steadily in the direction of the goal. A path without a goal is impossible. A path will always take you to some destination, although that destination need not be your goal. You can take any road, but if you want to go to a particular place, you have to take the proper road. If you don't take the proper road, you will not reach your goal. Any road you choose will take you somewhere. There is always an end to the road, but that end need not be your destination. That is why a specific path is necessary: the path that will lead you to your goal, which is God-realisation.

If you aim for the Highest, you must pay attention to transcending the ego. Otherwise, if one person exercises his ego on you, you will exercise your ego on someone else and he will do the same on somebody else. This is a contagious disease. One has to be cured. Two sick persons remaining together cannot cure each other. No matter how many sick persons stay together they are not going to strengthen themselves. On the contrary, each may catch the other's disease since they are already weak, and then there is every possibility that both of them will die. One strong person has to be there to cure the weak ones. In the spiritual life, if you mix with weak people you are weakening yourself. Only if you mix with spiritual people are you strengthening yourself. Then your own power of inner light will be able to stand against someone with a strong ego. Once you can conquer his ego's strength with your inner light, then his strength will be divinised strength, and he will fight on your side against ignorance.