Aham means “I” or “1 am." Kara (from akar) means form. When the I assumes a form it becomes ahamkara. When the center of activities in the player’s individual self becomes his “1,” then his ahamkara gets trapped in the maya of me and mine. When ahamkara — which is actually the highest aspect of reality — fails to identify with the whole and becomes a lonely part, then ahamkara becomes egotism.
When all the attentions of the player are directed solely toward attaining the object of his desire, the player becomes self-centered. Means are no longer important. The only good means are those, fair or foul, that hasten him to his goal. As long as he has humility and consideration, respect, and love for others, the means he adopts will have to make sense to him. He knows his own desires are not so important that they justify causing pain to another. But when desire overcomes the player’s psyche, and he can no longer identify with humility, love, patience, respect, and consideration, he becomes an agnostic. He loses all sight of values in the here-and-now, by involvement in the karmas of establishing his identity in the game.
Melding with Cosmic Consciousness looks like a death to the ego. Old patterns, notions, and ideas must fall away if the player is to attain liberation. But ahamkara does not want to die. The ego wants to hold on to old identifications. This resistance increases the closer the player comes to attaining Cosmic Consciousness.
Hindu seers believe that sound is the source of all creation. Sound is the subtlest gross form in which energy existed before the creation. There are fifty-two forms in which sound energy exists in manifested form (akar), and when the human organism evolved, these sounds localized themselves at the nerve endings of the psychic energy centers. The beginning sound is the simplest sound, aa. The last sound is ha. So all existence is from aa to ha. And the sense of identification that joins the aa to ha is ahamkara, the sense of being an individual self.
Yogis recognize consciousness in the human organism as having four primary aspects or categories: manas, mind; buddhi, intellect; chitta, being; and ego, ahamkara. All that is received as sensory perception is mind. The understanding of sense perceptions — their categorization and evaluation — is buddhi. The enjoyment and feeling of the sense perceptions is registered upon chitta. He who thinks he is enjoying or receiving those sense perceptions as one person is the ego, ahamkara. When this ego becomes "the only one,” every other thing becomes a means for the player to fulfill himself. Thus when ahamkara is not joined to Cosmic Consciousness it becomes egotism.
Ego is a direct effect of the feeling-self, chitta. In order to play the game, this feeling-self identifies with an object that moves from square to square, sometimes raised higher by arrows and at other times dropped precipitously by snakes. When the player totally identifies with the object, becoming elated with the arrow’s rise and depressed with the serpent’s bite, he is a victim of egotism. He is too attached to the object of play and has forgotten his own divine nature.
This ahamkara does not exist before the fifth chakra, while the player is still in the process of taking birth. The fifth chakra is the plane of the birth of man, where ahamkara appears on the stage. The ego passes through ignorance and right knowledge and learns to hear the voice of his conscience as he enters the sixth chakra. But it is in the seventh chakra that the player really establishes his identity and begins to stabilize himself around an internal center. The player has found that he does not exist as a separate reality, that he is a manifestation of energy and must at some stage in his development merge with his source. It is here that the ego faces the danger of death and can turn into egotism.
The seventh chakra is the highest plane in the microcosm of the player. Here he reaches the peak and attains all that he has striven for. There are only two possibilities when one has attained a summit: merging upward in pure vibration and becoming formless, or falling. And the higher the player rises the farther there is to fall. If ahamkara fights the flow of sudharma, anger is the inevitable result. This draws his energy down to the first chakra, where he must begin again his climb to the top.
Ego becomes egotism when the player is too self-centered.
In Hindu mythology the Puranas are filled with descriptions of this egotism, which was always reached after great penance and austerity. After the aspirant attained the boon of power, and became an egotist, he proclaimed himself to be God. This false identification drew him down to first-chakra anger, greed, delusion, vanity, and avarice. The whole planet became disturbed. Earth appeared as a cow before Vishnu and asked him to relieve her of the burden of egotism. At this point as described in the epics, Vishnu, the great protector of life, assumed a form by taking birth. In l.eela, the God then sets out to slay the dragon of egotism in the player, an egotism contrary to the principle of preservation. Ahamkara is the food of Vishnu. Cosmic Consciousness is his dwelling place.