In the above video we combine the findings of modern psychology with the wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita to present an in-depth understanding of what’s actually happening when you are messed up in a relationship conflict.
As you watch the video, you will understand how it’s not just the ego that is the culprit. Every element of your psyche – mind, intelligence and of course the ego – come together to modify your perceptions.
A transcript of the video can be found below (In between we have added external links that will take you to articles that further explain the concepts introduced in the video):
Your ‘3 selves’ that comprise your subtle body
Gopinath Chandra: In the beginning most relationships seem great. I like almost everything about you, and you like almost everything about me. But with time, something happens. I stop liking you, or worse, I may start hating you. Why does this happen? Of course, one reason is familiarity breeds contempt. But there are other reasons that are connected with our psyche.
Patrick Renvoise: What we know about the brain is that, you don’t have a single self. You have three selfs. First you have the neocortex or new brain, and that’s the rational self. Then deeper inside you have another self, the emotional self. Deep down below in the brain is your reptilian brain, and that’s your instinctual self.
Vidagdha Madhav: Even according to the Bhagavad Gita, our psyche consists of 3 selfs – budhi, man and ahankara.Buddhi, or intelligence, is our rational self, man, or mind, is our emotional self, and ahankara or ego, is our instinctual self.
Gopinath Chandra: The Buddhi, man and ahankara are together called the sukshma sharir or subtle body. So the soul, the real me, is covered by the sukshma sharir, or subtle body that cannot be seen or touched and sthula sharir, gross physical body, that we can see and touch.
The role played by the ego, mind and intelligence in relationship conflicts
Vidagdha Madhav: The ahankara or ego, it’s job is to give the soul different identities. For example, my ego tells me that I am a monk. So my instinctive behaviour is like that of a monk. If I come across something spiritual on the internet, I am instinctively drawn to click that link. That’s why my ego, or my ahankar, is my instinctive self. The ego also tends to make us self-centred.
Patrick Renvoise: The reptilian brain is self-centred. It’s all about me-me-me.
Braj Bihari Das: The materially influenced ego has a natural tendency to assume a boss-like identity. The ego says, ‘I am the greatest’ or ‘I deserve all respect and honor’. So suppose an educated man with a degree from the Harvard University and with thirty years of experience in the corporate world comes along and complements you for being a thoughtful and an intelligent person. What then happens inside you is this. The ‘boss’ –ego- is happy; ‘My estimation of myself being the greatest or deserving all respect is confirmed by this man’.
Vidagdha Madhav: The middle brain covers the reptilian brain, as if protecting it. Even functionally, your emotional self,or man, always protects and supports your instinctive self, the ahankara.
Braj Bihari Das: The mind acts as a dutiful servant and a body guard of the ego. This servant is rich in feelings, but doesn’t behave rationally. He does only two things- ‘Accept’ or ‘Reject’. The satisfaction of the Ego resulting from the complement from the Harvard Graduate is immediately noticed by the devoted security guard- the mind- who then straightaway ‘accepts’ this person as a friend.
The role played by the intelligence in relationship conflicts
Vidagdha Madhav: And the neocortex covers the middle brain, as if supporting it. And functionally, your rational self, or buddhi or intelligence, backs your emotional self with logic and reasoning.
Braj Bihari Das: Intelligence acts swiftly; he provides plans, arguments, and ‘logical’ reasoning to confirm what the Mind has accepted or rejected.
In this case, intelligence declares about your new-found friend, “He’s got a degree from Harvard and has over thirty five years of experience, naturally he’s right in his views and he’s definitely good and surely a loveable person”
Why relationship conflicts can be vicious, and how to resolve them
Gopinath Chandra: Your man, or your mind, and your buddhhi, or your intelligence, always take sides with your ahankara, or ego. So, in any relationship, as soon as the ego is hurt, you automatically find all emotional and rational reasons to justify a break up.
Braj Bihari Das: One day you discover that this friend from Harvard thinks you are a smart aleck or worse a phony. What happens then?
There’s a whole world inside of you, parallel to the outside realm – something like the famed Wizard world of Harry Potter- and there are laws and people and even mafia in there. The Ego –boss of this syndicate- is now livid at being criticized; he’s been attacked, and the servant, Mr. Mind jumps to protect the master by instantly ‘Rejecting’ the attacker and dismissing his scathing remarks. But Mind needs help to protect his master; he draws strength from his dutiful partner, Mr. Intelligence. The intelligence quickly reasons, “Harvard makes you proud; three decades of experience breeds arrogance. He’s senile; should have retired long ago”
Gopinath Chandra: One approach to solving this ego problem, that destroys relationships, is to strengthen our intelligence so that it doesn’t follow the whims of the mind and ego. Scriptures like the Bhagvad Gita guide our intelligence by giving us an in-depth and holistic perspective of ourselves and the world, so that the decisions we take in life, and in our relationships, are objective and not corrupted by our selfish ego.
Bhagavad Gita 3.43: Thus knowing oneself to be transcendental to the material senses, mind and intelligence, O mighty-armed Arjuna, one should steady the mind by deliberate spiritual intelligence and thus – by spiritual strength – conquer this insatiable enemy known as selfish passion.
Gopinath Chandra: Another approach to the solution is to work on spiritualising the ego
Braj Bihari Das: The spiritual ego, which is our real ego, has a servant-like identity. You know it’s the ‘Real’ Ego that’s ruling your private world when the inner decree is ‘I want to serve God and all living entities; I am grateful; I love, not exploit; I spread goodness and give, not grab and hate’.
Gopinath Chandra: When egos are spiritualised, the relationship is no longer about ‘me’, it’s no longer about ‘you’ either. It’s about us, it’s about how we can serve each other, how we can serve God together, and how we can be of service to all living entities.
If we throw two stones in a pond, if they are thrown at different spots, the ripples that are formed will have different centres, and so as they expand, it is only a matter of time before they will collide. But if the stones are thrown at a common centre, the ripples will expand harmoniously. So, to have a common centre of seva, or selfless service, far from our individual egos, that’s the secret to a lasting relationship.
Radhanath Swami: To come out of the cradle where everything is taking and taking and taking, and growing into that mature state where we understand and appreciate the joy of giving, of loving, that is real progress. That is where we can really connect with God, with each other, and actually make the world something beautiful.