The ego is the thinker, not the act of thinking

Bhagavan Sri Ramana

Bhagavan Sri Ramana

Decorative Line

Sunday, 8 May 2016

The ego is the thinker, not the act of thinking

 In a comment on my previous article, The person we seem to be is a form composed of five sheaths, a friend called Ann Onymous wrote, ‘Ego is the very thinking that there is, orEVEN seems to be an ego’, but this is confusing an action with the actor, mistaking the former (the thinking) to be the latter (the thinker). Thinking that there is an ego or that there is no ego, that it actually exists or just seems to exist, or thinking any other thought about it or about anything else cannot be the ego, because thinking is an action, whereas the ego is the thinker, the one who does that action.

If the ego were the act of thinking, we could investigate it simply by observing our thinking, which is obviously not the case. To investigate this ego we must ignore all thinking and observe only the thinker, the one who is aware of thinking and of the thoughts produced by thinking. Therefore it is necessary for us to clearly distinguish the thinker from its thinking, and also from whatever it thinks.

The thinker, its thinking and its thoughts together form a tripuṭi, a triad consisting of the three factors entailed in any form of objective (or transitive) knowledge or experience, namely the subject, the object and whatever action connects these two. Other examples of a tripuṭi include the knower, its knowing and whatever it knows; the experiencer, its experiencing and whatever it experiences; and the perceiver, its perceiving and whatever it perceives. In all these cases the subject — the one who is thinking, knowing, experiencing or perceiving — is the ego; the object is whatever it thinks, knows, experiences or perceives; and the action that connects these two is the subject’s thinking, knowing, experiencing or perceiving.

The one constant factor in all such tripuṭis is the ego or subject, because it is always the same ego and is essentially unchanging, whereas what it thinks, knows, experiences or perceives changes from moment to moment, and its actions of thinking, knowing, experiencing or perceiving therefore change along with whatever objects it is thinking about, knowing, experiencing or perceiving. The ego is therefore the root, foundation and support of every tripuṭi, as Bhagavan points out in verse 9 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:

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