Grace & Liberation | How the ego can use ‘Grace’ as an ego-preservation strategy

For other articles I have written on the role of Grace in liberation please see here.

I have seen that the idea that Liberation is all down to grace is often an ego-preservation strategy and excuse for the mind not to engage with the actual liberating teaching and practice.

Great sages like Sri Ramana always emphasised the need to listen to the Guru’s teaching and do the practice suggested as it is this which leads to liberation. Otherwise suffering continues indefinitely.

Teachings such as ‘no need to practice as all is already one’ and ‘no need to do anything as there is no-one to do anything’ just allow the present ignorance and suffering to continue unabated. These types of teachings give temporary relief at best, with the sense of individuality & suffering reasserting itself as the root ignorance has not been fully destroyed.

Grace is always here. Grace simply means the ever-present unchanging Self. We (the jiva or ego) must turn towards the Self to ‘activate’ Grace. The Self or Grace then does the last part by finally destroying the ego (the illusory sense of individuality), hence it is said ‘Liberation arises through Grace’, but we must turn within towards the Self first.

This is what Bhagavan Sri Ramana said again and again.

Otherwise it is just the ego-mind saying ‘all is one’, etc, etc, whilst the suffering and the sense of duality continues.

The perceived world is the ego! Do thoughts and desires create the Universe? How can physical objects be thoughts? Advaita | Non-duality

Is everything I see ego? Do thoughts create the world? What is ego? What is duality?

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Q. What is ego?

Q. What is ego?

Tom: if there is any sense of individuality whatsoever, then that is ego; if there is any sense or something apart or outside of you, then that is ego; if there is any sense of multiplicity, that is ego; if there is any notion ‘I am the body-mind’, then that is ego. The ego, no matter how refined, is suffering. The ego is the body-mind-world appearance.

In Reality, there has never been any ego, there has never been any duality or multiplicity, there has never been any suffering whatsoever. Reality is only Infinite Love & Bliss, Infinite Being-Consciousness, Formless-Spirit-Bliss.

To realise this one must turn within.


To say ‘there is no ego’ without turning within and dissolving into Reality – that is merely the ego-mind saying ‘there is no ego’.

To say ‘all is One’ without venturing inwards and discovering the Self (by Being That) – that is merely the ego-mind saying ‘all is One’.

In this way (through not turning within, through not inquiring into the Subject-Self) ego-mind-suffering-duality continue.

Hence the instruction to turn within.


The true teachings always emphasise the Subject (Reality or Self) and to turn towards and discover That, whereas false teachings emphasise objects, stating things like ‘all these objects are already That so no need to turn within’ and ‘there already is no ego so no need to turn within for what entity could even turn within?’. So egotism, duality and suffering are perpetuated.

Therefore turn within and discover what you truly are


Q. Isn’t it the ego that wants to turn within or end the ego? | Why we need to turn within | Advaita Paradox

Q. Isn’t it the ego that wants to turn within or end the ego?

Tom: yes, it is only the ego, also known as thought or mind, that requires a teaching or needs to turn within.

Because the ego-I is an unreal illusion and doesn’t really exist, when it turns within towards the Subject or I AM, the ego and all multiplicity/duality disappear and the (true) Self is revealed as Self by the Self.

Through (the ego) turning within, the Reality that is Eternal Timeless Thoughtless Bliss-Love is revealed. This Reality is what you are, what you have always been, and is beyond words, but the above words (…thoughtless bliss…) are just used as indicators.

Without turning within, it is merely the ego proclaiming ‘there is no ego’ or ‘all is already perfect’ or something similar, and the teaching remains on the superficial levels of concepts and words only, and the illusion of suffering and duality continue.

As long as ego-mind-thoughts persist, there is need for effort or spiritual practice (sadhana), for ego-mind-thought is duality, ego-mind-thought is suffering.

As long as separation or multiplicity is perceived in any way shape or form, there is need for effort or sadhana.

As long as identification with body-mind continues (and therefore desire, fear and suffering continue), there is need for effort or sadhana.

However the Self itself is beyond any such efforts!

Oh, the paradox! However, turn within towards your Self, towards I AM, towards the Subject, and all these paradoxes will be resolved and dissolved in the Reality-That-Is.


A very useful teaching: Structural and Dynamic (or functional) aspects of the ego | Liberation

This is a very useful teaching for those seeking spiritual liberation. I also have written about this here in this article: Essential teachings for liberation: we need a ‘double teaching’ as we suffer from ‘double ignorance’| The ‘two wings’ of the teaching | Buddhism | Vedanta


Some say that all is One already, All is Divine, so no need to give anything up, no need to do anything. Whilst there is a truth in this, and whilst this type of teaching can provide us some limited time-bound relief (which is good as a start), it is almost always an ego-preservation strategy: the thinking mischief-causing mind is allowed to continue with its ideas and concepts and beliefs about ‘this’, and the genuine thought-free Blissful Realisation of That Which Always Is, is postponed yet again. Suffering and duality continue, apparently, and we remain stuck in illusion, apparently.

Why ‘apparently’? Because in Reality there was never any ignorance, any delusion, any duality or any suffering. Only Blissful Being ever really is.

‘This’ never was (referring to objective phenomena/maya).

There is only That (Divine Formless Spirit)…
…and That Thou Art.

To realise this is very simple: (1) Surrender all to the Him (or Her or It), (2) allow the mind to become first happy, then very calm and still, and then (3) enquire into yourself as per instructions of Bhagavan Guru Sri Ramana Maharshi

Bhagavan Ramana summarises the teachings using the Biblical phrase ‘Be Still and Know I Am God’

Om Tat Sat

Q. How can I or Atman be beyond the EXPERIENCER as well as the doer? | Nisargadatta Maharaj

Q. Hello Tom , Thank you for your efforts in helping us. I have a doubt: Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj says that YOU ARE BEYOND THE EXPERIENCER – I understand that experiences changes but the experiencer is constant, but what can be beyond the experiencer, and does that mean we avoid experiences of our lives and even spirtiual realisation is a sort of experience, as we feel more peaceful and joyful, please explain this to me.


Great question. The ego is both the experiencer AND the doer. These are both Maya (ie. illusion or fiction) or part of the waking dream. What you are, the Self, is beyond this Maya or waking dream.

Sometimes the Self is said to be the Witness, but this is not actually true, for it is the (fictional) ego that witnesses things/objects, it is also the ego that thinks, that emotes, etc.

The Self is devoid of all phenomena.

This can only really be understood fully by doing Self-Enquiry, eg. as per Sri Ramana’s instructions in the text Who Am I?

eg. See here verse 7 from the Mandukya Upanishad which explains that the Self is not the witness/observer of objects and also the Self is devoid of phenomena (note Turiya is another name for the Self (Atman means Self), as is also explained in the verse):

‘Turiya is not that which is conscious of the inner (subjective) world, nor that which is conscious of the outer (objective) world, nor that which is conscious of both, nor that which is a mass of consciousness. It is not simple consciousness nor is It unconsciousness. It is unperceived, unrelated, incomprehensible, uninferable, unthinkable and indescribable. The essence of the Consciousness manifesting as the self in the three states, It is the cessation of all phenomena; It is all peace, all bliss and non—dual. This is what is known as the Fourth (Turiya). This is Atman and this has to be realised.’

~Mandukya Upanishad, Verse 7

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