Ego and Bliss


If only you knew what bliss I find in being nothing ! ~ Rumi

The picture and quote were shared by Rumi Quotes Facebook Page.

I remembered that many years ago I was given the name Anandamurti by Swami Niranjananda. As part of an initiation I brought him a coconut as a gift. He asked me if I knew the meaning of the gift and I said that I did. I had been told that it signified the surrender of the ego. Niranjananda gave me three things in return, the yogic name Anandamurti, the mantra ‘So Hum’ and the psychic symbol of white light that I should visualise. He said that Ananda means bliss and that where there is bliss there is no ego and where there is ego there is no bliss.

‘So Hum’ is the mantra of the breath and commonly used in yoga meditations, white light is an image I found hard to visualise and ananda, meaning bliss, seemed to point to nothing more than being ‘blissed out’ and the yogic name indicates a potential rather than a present reality. My ego was disappointed that I had not been given a more personally significant name, mantra and symbol. Maybe my ego understood that the name the mantra and the symbol all pointed to the dissolution of ego.

So many years later my ego has not dissolved. But I am more fully aware of my ego. Tolle says once you know the ego is there it is not strictly speaking ego any more, it is a set of ego habits and you are free to choose something different. I say that I am ‘more fully’ aware of ego because I’m sure that while I am aware of many of my ego driven motivations I am not aware of them all. Also it is not so easy to ‘chose something different’ even when you are aware of your habitual thinking, emotions and behaviour. Nevertheless Tolle is right to say that awareness of the presence of ego makes a difference to our relationship with ego:

Being able to dis-identify with ego is like being aware that you are living in a prison, you can see the way out but you don’t know if you want to take it because prison is all you have known and you’re afraid of dropping its routines and security and stepping out into the unknown. Maybe prison’s not so bad after all.

We understand ego, we don’t understand bliss. Someone wrote in response to my comment on the Rumi post:

“…and yet, are we not born to experience ego? Bliss is stasis – ego is energetic.”

I replied “Perhaps we are born to experience ego and to transcend it. Sometimes we feel at our most dynamic in those moments when the ego disappears and we feel we’re one with whatever we’re doing, when we’re ‘in the zone’. Maybe the sages who transcend are there all the time. There is a zen poem that seems to make this point:


Knowing I have to transcend the prison of egoic action and knowing that there is a way out am I better off than the other prisoners or am I more culpable because I choose to remain within its walls?