One thing emphasised in the order was the focus on controlling the "ego". It was the key to becoming a more spiritual person and towards becoming close to God.
It's not something new. Every religion stresses the importance of controlling desires and having discipline. You've probably heard of monks who could walk on water after years of practising restraint.
But the Naqshbandi put the ego in a context that differentiates your ego from yourself. Seeing it from this perspective will allow you to understand the ego better and to realise how it has manipulated you all this while.
Have you ever found yourself fighting with yourself over something? Perhaps one part of you want that ice cream, and another is telling you not to go for it? That's the example of you and your ego.
Imagine that you are made of several "selves". There is a true you, and there is your ego. The true you are in control of your body, but the ego is always trying to control you.
The true you is an ethical and spiritual self without worldly desires but is susceptible influences and tricks of the ego.
The ego is the self that wants to be recognised and feels itself to be important. It is the self that has all the worldly desires: money, power and sex. It doesn't care about others; it only cares about itself.
For most people, it's a constant battle between their true self and their ego. When their true self wins, they do something good. The more times their true self wins, the more good they do.
Some are weak against their ego and always loses against it. These people indulge in acts of self-importance and destructive behaviour. They abuse power. They hurt others.
Even when they do something good, people with uncontrolled ego are not doing with ulterior motives. Perhaps seeking praise, fame or influence, but never sincerely.
Without the ego, you would be a selfless, kinder and stronger person. You would help others more, and you would do it because you care.
Your priorities would change. You would be more inclined to spirituality than materialism.
Your life falls into order. You would be calmer and more relaxed. Happier. Healthier.
You control the ego by first recognising that it is a separate entity from you.
Next, recognise the things it demands from you. Think of it like a spoilt child demanding you to give it sweets and toys. You can easily recognise the things it asks because they are based on desires and fears instead of right and wrong.
Then, deny the ego what it wants. The more you can deny your ego, the more you will become in control of it.
It may sound like an easy thing to do, but take it from someone who has been trying to control his ego for over 30 years: It's not. The ego is relentless and will catch you the moment you are weak. But the good news is that being able to control the ego a little makes a big difference in the kind of person you are. Being able to control your ego completely will make you godly.
Strengthening your willpower will help you against your ego.
A person who is in control of his ego is easily noticeable. His priorities are in the right place, he is fearless and he is likeable. You might have thought such characters only existed in movies and novels, but now you can be one.
© Osman Mia