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The Ego Is Not the Problem
Arlindo: No, Doug, the ego is not the bad guy who needs to be destroyed. But an ego operated by self-ignorance is a small problem. Such an ego is inevitably operated by an unconscious mechanism that attempts to compensate for his sense of smallness, incompletion and inadequacy with arrogance. Arrogance, in this context, is the desperate attempt to prove to himself and others that jiva is adequate, satisfied, complete and not in need of any teaching/teacher. He wants validation and recognition, but the last thing he wants is to be taught the scriptures.
But an ego operated by knowledge understands the big picture – he knows that all players are governed by maya/Isvara like puppets on strings. He knows that we are all creatures born out of ignorance, and that there is no point in denying, justifying, blaming or covering up a fact that is not under its control, but Isvara’s. He/she stops behaving childishly, and just like Arjuna did, he declares to the scriptures in the form of the teacher: “Teach me!”
Doug: What is your relationship and responsibility to Silvia (wife)? Is it a karmic connection or a spiritual acknowledgment? How do you view that?
Arlindo: Dharma is a complex subject. It is not “black and white” – “either/or.”
As a husband, I am very much aware of my dharma towards Silvia, as well of my dharma as the son of my father – or as the father of my son – among others. Dharma is best defined as “the most appropriate response to life’s situations.” Every stimulus requires a timely response. If our response is in harmony with the dharma of the situation, it will produce punya (good) karma. If it is not, it will produce papa (bad) karma.
Look at the situation between myself and Silvia: Isvara has assigned me the dharma of teaching the Vedanta scriptures. If at any time this dharma of mine as a teacher conflicts, for example, with my dharma as her husband, I will need to respond to the situation from the perspective of my highest dharma.Undoubtedly, my highest dharma is to teach the scripture to those rare souls wanting to liberate themselves from samsara. Why? Because that dharma goes to the benefit of more people.
All connections are karmic – they are based in causality, cause and effect between jiva and the world. But we could call a karmic connection “spiritual” when it is a connection between two jivas side by side supporting one another other to “attain” moksa, or freedom. And to a great extent my 25-year relationship with Silvia has had that element.