Trying to get rid of your ego is like trying to get rid of your shadow.
- Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev 1
Asmita means "I-ness" and is actually a beautiful thing. It is necessary part of our survival, and it allows us to express creativity, uniqueness and individuality. Asmita only becomes an obstacle when it becomes inflated and we begin to feel separate or isolated from others or become attached to asmita, and allow it to run the show. In yoga the key to overcoming this obstacle is to deflate the ego rather trying to destroy it because the ego, just like our own shadow, can not be destroyed.
I like to compare asmita to our little mogwai friend "Gizmo" from the 1984 movie Gremlins. Gizmo is a lovable and loyal pet if taken care of properly by following three rules: 1) Keep the mogwai away from bright lights especially sunlight. 2) Keep him away from water. 3) Never feed him after midnight. What happens if these rules are not followed? Bright lights will harm him and sunlight will kill him. If he gets wet he will reproduce and the new mogwai are not so loyal and lovable, but rather rude and mischievous. If a mogwai eats after midnight then he forms a cocoon and turns into a violent, mean and nasty gremlin.
I watched that movie again last Christmas vacation and I realized how bad the acting was, there's no reason to watch it again unless you want to punish yourself. It seemed a lot cooler as a child in the 80's. None the less I feel compelled to dig up old throw back movies and give them a little yogic spin. To me Gizmo represents the ego as it was meant to be - an obedient companion to Atman (true self).
When Billy, Gizmo's new owner, spills water on him, he multiplies. Water represents emotional attachment to asmita. Which results in an inflated ego that clings to vrittis (all kinds of different thoughts). These new mogwai trick Billy into feeding them after midnight by chewing the chord to the clock at around 10pm. Billy, being not that bright or aware, feeds them a bucket of fried chicken. All of them eat except for Gizmo who remains loyal. Soon after the midnight snack they form cocoons and hatch as gremlins the next morning. One of the Gremlins finds a pool and jumps in, and then the multitude of gremlins terrorize the town. Its the same when we feed the ego with all the pleasures it wants then it will take over our bodies and oppress the Atman.
The solution is to simply look inward at our own gremlins and shed light on them and they will dissolve. An effective way to dissolve gremlins is with the three step process of Kriya Yoga. At the end of the movie the Gremlins (the offspring of asmita) are killed off, but Gizmo (our original asmita) remains unharmed.
1. Simone, Cheryl and Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. Midnights with the Mystic: A little Guide to Freedom and Bliss. Hampton Roads, 2008. (pg. 168).