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3. Haumain (Ego) | Sikhi

3. Haumain

The doctrine of Haumain is basic to Sikh theology. The present state of man's consciousness, the Gurus say, is egoistic, i.e. it is governed by Haumain.

The Gurus call such a person Manmukh. In this normal state of man, his self-will and animal propensities dominate. The ideal man, with the highest level of consciousness or God consciousness, is called Gurmukh.

This egoistic consciousness or Haumain is the cause of all man's problems and limitations. This doctrine of Haumain holds the key to the understanding of Sikhism.

Haumain is the "I" of the normal individual psyche:

It is the director of all one's organs, including the nervous system and human reason. It is the self, the ego, or the centre of control of all working in every being or individual.

The Gurus say that "the world came into being by individuation."

Evidently, for the growth of life, this creation of an individual self or Haumain in every being was essential. There could be no animal life without there being in each organism a centre of consciousness.

Haumain has, thus, enabled the evolution of life:

Every man is equipped with many kinds of organs and faculties. These faculties, including his thoughts, are subservient to his individuality, self or ego.

Throughout the evolution of life, this ego-centre, or Haumain has been the instrument and guardian of his security, welfare and progress.

Without a deep commitment to the interests, preservation and progress of the self, to the exclusion of every other being or self, life could never survive the battle against challenges from the environment.

This ego, or Haumain, has been the best means of securing the survival and the progress of life from amoeba to man.

But, what has been the very means of life's survival and progress, has now become "the great malady of man."

The struggle against the elements and other species having been largely won, man still finds himself quite unequipped and helpless in dealing with the other members of his own species.

The Gurus emphasise that this Haumain has become the greatest problem of man both for his social life and future progress.

Just as it is impossible for one's stomach or liver to digest food for another person;

in much the same way, it is impossible for one's thought system, intellect or reason to be anything but self-centred, the same being basically subservient to the individual self or ego- consciousness.

It is this organic condition of man that the Gurus call Haumain or ego. Man's consciousness being self-centred, he is constitutionally incapable of looking to the interests of others.

This is the root cause of the entire conflict between man and man, between one society and the other, and between one nation and the other.

Man is very well equipped intellectually and materially, yet poverty, misery, and war remain his major unsolved problems.

The altruistic tendencies developed in man as the result of cultural conditioning over the years are only superficial or conditioned. Spontaneous altruism is constitutionally and psychologically impossible in the ego-centric or Haumain governed man.

The moment, the struggle for existence becomes keen, the basic self-centredness of man comes into play. Thus start all the conflicts of man, social as well as national and international.

According to the Guru in this state of Haumain man has 3 limitations:

He and his consciousness are alienated or unconnected with the Basic or the Higher Consciousness that is the source of all energy, virtues and goodness.

"God created individuation but by forgetting Nām we come to grief."

Secondly, he is unaware of his inalienable kinship with the other beings.

Thirdly, ego-consciousness, by and large, works in a determined or mechanistic way. It is not creative or free. The Basic Reality or God alone is Free and Creative. God is the causeless Cause or the Un-created Creator.

We have already referred to 2 important aspects of God:
1. He is Creative or Free. 2. He is the Ocean of values and virtues.

Man's ego-centrism or Haumain thus, constitutes his basic moral or spiritual problem.

The fundamental question is, how to shed one's egoism and transcend one's present limiting state or development.