The ego’s main goal for you is to obey its every whim. To do everything that it wants. In fact, it actually wants you to worship it as your Lord. If left unchecked the ego would only ask for more and more of those things that take us away from true spirituality and to our Lord Allah Almighty. How can we be over our ego? Shaykh Nazim (qs) says control your ego with your will.
Shaykh Nazim (qs) says that the ego is like a horse or a donkey. You are the rider on it. With your wisdom and with your mind you must be able to ride on your horse. Why should you otherwise be living on earth? Man must be the rider. Or have you seen a man carrying a horse on his shoulders?
What Does the Ego Look Like?
The ego can be a negative and positive effect on us. If not controlled it can lead us in to the fire of debased desires. If tamed it can support us on our journey towards our Lord Almighty.
I once asked ‘what does the ego look like?’ and was told it is similar to the ‘Hydra‘ (from Greek mythology). Whereas the Hydra had nine heads, which when cut off, two more grew in its place, ego has 70,000 heads and 70 grow back when one is cut off!
The question then remains – how do you combat something as seemingly monstrous as the ego? It lies within us and is part of the essence of who we are and what we are?
In my research into answers I came across advice by our Grand Shaykh Maulana Shaykh Nazim (qs) and I am sharing this with you in this post.
Below is an excerpt of a conversation held between Maulana Shaykh Nazim and his followers and other attentive listeners/guests, during associations in Switzerland in the summer of 1985. The full discourse can be found in ‘The Secrets Behind the Secrets, Behind the Secrets’, originally published in 1987.
Control Your Ego With Your Will
We don’t use that method! We are only giving and we don’t take. We obey, but our ego doesn’t obey us.
You must make that condition. One for one. Obey, and I will obey! Do as I like and I will do as you like! That is a method that has been used in the traditions and will be used until the end of time.
Set a condition on your ego
Yes, we must know the methods. Because if the ego puts up traps for us, then we must also out up traps for it.
“Why should I obey you in everything and you are not obeying me and pray. I will not obey you the whole day and will not give anything to eat or to drink. Be hungry and thirsty!”
In the night it will come to you and say “I am sleepy, please let me sleep?”. No, it doesn’t say please! It never says please. If it was afraid it would say please. But no, he orders! “I must sleep. I must take my rest”. And you say, “I have so much business , so many things to do”, and he says, “I have never understood those things, I am just asking to sleep now”.
Or if you say “I must pray to my Lord now”, it will say, “No, that is a long way to pray. That takes a lot of time. I now need my rest!”. That is when you have to be brave enough to order him with “No! I am not letting you sleep until you have prayed!” It will say, “But my eyes are falling down, what can I do?”. You must respond with “If you don’t follow my orders, I will put salt in your eyes. And when salt comes in your eyes you cannot sleep at all!
If you do this I will do that!”. That is a method.
You should try in 24 hours at least once that your ego is obedient to you. If you follow it 99 steps, then at least he must follow you 1%, one step. That is the minimum. You must try to control your ego with your will. I am not saying that you will make a complete control over you will at once because that is very difficult. But it will be step by step.
There is great wisdom and mercy in all the teachings of Maulana Shaykh Nazim (qs). Trying to overcome the ego in one attempt does not work. Like Maulana says try one step, then another and then another. Eventually, Allah Almighty willing, your ego will become subservient to you!