Egoism

Definition - What does Egoism mean?

Egoism is a display of behavior that's motivated by self-interest. It can also refer to the theory that self-interest is the basis for moral behavior.

In the world of yoga and in the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali defines egoism (asmita) as the misunderstanding that the physical, emotional and mental aspects of an individual comprise their true Self. Egoism is an attachment to ego (ahamkara) and the ego's sense of reality. It is one of the five obstacles (kleshas), that hinder samadhi (union with the Divine).

Yogapedia explains Egoism

Some sources equate ego and egoism, and consider asmita and ahamkara to be synonymous terms. But others make the distinction that ego is the individual's sense of self – their thoughts, desires and personality, as shaped by the mind. Egoism, on the other hand, is the attachment to whatever that ego wants. It is this attachment that hinders the individual from reaching a state of bliss and oneness with the Divine.

One of the goals of yoga practice is to remove any kleshas, including egoism, so the practitioner may experience samadhi. In asana practice, egoism often manifests itself as a desire to perform a pose perfectly or to compete with others, rather than looking inward for what the body and the Self need and focusing on that.

Through asanas, opening the chakras, meditation and pranayama breathing, the practitioner can clear the mind and detach from the ego. From this state, they can observe the wants and needs of the ego without any attachment, gaining a truer sense of the Self.

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