📖 Day 3 Cookbook Discussion Prompt - TAPASYA (Inner Fire)

Welcome to day 3 of our Cookbook for a Sacred Life virtual course!

Today our topic is Tapasya (Inner Fire)

We are all in the flow of our habits. When we take on spiritual practice - for example sitting in meditation for 20 minutes a day - it is like putting a dam in a river. The flow stops and we start to see how our desires and aversion want to pull us this way or that. When we go against the grain of that pull, it creates a kind of friction, or tapas (inner fire). The more we practice sitting still and resist the pull (tapasya), the brighter the flame will become until we are shining bright from within. Yet, Ram Dass warns us that even this practice can be hijacked by the ego…

From Be Here Now:
There are two warnings to be kept in mind with regard to any austerities:

1. Austerities can be performed in ways to enhance or strengthen the ego. Pride in how much one is suffering and masochism are two examples.

2. Austerities that are excessive (in relation to the degree of spiritual development) can harm the body or the mind in such a way as to make further sadhana in this lifetime difficult or impossible.

QUESTION: We’ve all experienced these feelings of “spiritual pride” at one point or another. Can you share an example of a time when you’ve been caught in your ego?

Log into Teachable to access your day 3 teachings here: Day 3 - Tapasya - March 18th | Ram Dass Courses


When struggling with anxiety and confidence issues, I have noticed that I become harsher and more reactive in making judgements towards others becoming caught in my ego. It is clearly an egoic reaction to try and feel better about what I am feeling self-conscious about by putting others down but it isn’t very sustainable and doesn’t help with my anxiety or confidence. Having a spiritual practice has been helpful in the past being able to notice this behaviour as it’s happening and also trying to find happiness outside of ego and endless desires.

This course has come at a really good time, helping me reestablish a spiritual practice. I am feeling blessed to be able to take part :slight_smile:


I totally relate to that, feeling the need to put down others to justify however I’m feeling. It was making me a much angrier person. My sadhana has been helping me to cultivate that extra moment to stop myself from being so caught in my ego, to say “yes and this too” and offer up the anxiety and the anger


Mainly it happens when I catch myself thinking I’m somehow “better” than, say, other family members, because I do spiritual practices, read spiritual teachings, etc. and they do not. It’s when I forget that everyone is on a spiritual path and just because I can’t see theirs doesn’t mean they are not on it.


Spiritual pride has hit me so many times. It’s simplest expressions are when I feel a certain smugness arising within me when I see someone else just expressing their religion in a way that I see as “inferior” or not as “evolved” as how I express my beliefs.

Also, I have felt the pride of ego well-up when I am presently resisting some desire or temptation and I see someone else indulging in that same behavior or activity. Yet, it’s amazing how quick I am to forget that just the day or week or hour before I had also given way to that temptation. Furthermore, I ignore the fact that at some point my resistance will falter again. There is also the error of self-righteousness which forgets entirely that my temptations don’t necessarily represent some universal evil. They are only things which are roadblocks in my spiritual life. The relationship the other person I am watching has with that behavior is likely entirely different. It very truly may be something they are entirely comfortable and at peace with.

Spiritual pride is not only so easy to fall into, it is also so easy to ignore in ourselves while we think we are so righteous. A beautiful trap, really. And one which can teach us so much once we see it at work within us.


When I was 22 years old and just beginning to practice yoga, meditate, learn about Hinduism and Buddhism, etc, I adopted a raw vegan diet. And I regularly judged other people for eating things that I deemed “unhealthy.” When I realized what I was doing, I realized how ridiculous it was. Also realized that ironically my diet was quite unhealthy (for a couple of different reasons), LOL.


Yes, for some reason diet can be such fertile ground for self-righteousness. Ram Dass addressed this very issue and talked about how after six years of strict vegetarianism he chose to go into a Chinese restaurant and as both a Hindu and a Jew break his attachments surrounding food by eating a plate of pork spare ribs. He tells the story so well.

BTW, I am no innocent in that dietary self-righteousness. Been there for sure.


this quote helps me get this much more - that when I work with. my desire not to just habitually react to it that friction. is actually serving. me - as I wrote yesterday. I struggle. with attachment. and his. root. beer example (sorry my. laptop puts in extra periods!). in that example. I. really get that idea of being distracted and preoccupied even when. I am trying to do or. be spiritual and. not do the thing that I am attached to. doing… I think that this idea of friction may help me because I often feel this fire in my belly in regards to my attachment (relational addiction…pursuing even when it isn’t being returned) - to understand that it creates friction when I dont act and I sit with the feelings generated that will transform me is a ray of hope that I haven’t had for awhile. It might make me feel like I am doing it “right” - even tho it feels bad. Tho I know attachment can be to doing it right. But I get the whole rootbeer thing that if I am just sitting and obsessing that is not progress…but I think it means moving more into a being with state like being with my feeling the fire in my body without needing to act without thinking it is wrong or that it will hurt me… and actually let that fire fuel my transformation. I also am seeing that this way that when I give in to an obsessive behavior I am giving energy away seeking outwardly. When I sit with it without acting and feel the feelings without acting I am in a sense. reclaiming that energy fueling myself. There’s a lot to process from this seeming short teaching of Rd and really appreciating the added quote from Ouspensky.


Ego trips around spirituality are so easy to fall into. Even reading through today’s lesson I caught myself feeling pride in that I must have less of an ego than others because I don’t find myself struggling with this anymore :joy: how delusional!
I grew up choosing to be involved with a fundamentalist Christian sect and would look down on people outside the church thinking they had no idea what spirituality really was and felt pitty for their “shallow” lives. Then in my late teens/early 20s I started studying science and left the church. I then became someone who looked down on people in the church as delusional sheep who weren’t smart enough or free-thinking enough to question the church’s teachings. It took me a while to come back around and see that everyone is on their own path and I definitely don’t have it all figured out.
I still struggle with this, especially as my practice deepens and I see other people getting caught in their minds and think, “if only they started meditating!” Forgetting how long it took me to start meditating regularly after initially being introduced to it and how privileged I am to have a life where meditation and other spiritual practices can easily be made a priority. I also often forget that not everyone wants to change or be involved with anything spiritual all together, and that’s okay.


One example for me would be when abstaining from something- say fasting or doing a raw food diet- instead of just graciously declining something that is offered, I might unnecessarily tell the person why I don’t want what they offered, thus making it an opportunity to bring attention myself or the ‘cool thing’ I’m doing, when they don’t really need to know. I really try to be aware that now- not only does it make you an irritating person, it’s like ego sabotaging the practice.


Maybe my ego appeared when I was trying to convince people I love, to start working on themselves too. I don’t think though, that this was out of spiritual pride. I have to learn to accept that other ppl may not be interested in getting more connected with themselves as they prefer to just live their lives as they already know it.


I don’t know if this is fitting but it’s the thought that came to mind when I read todays course:

I got ‘payed’ yesterday but it wasn’t automatic like it normally is and my boss had to give me a check. Fine. All my impulses start rushing in. A sort of anxiety. The universe is not letting me get this money today and I have to sit with that. Breath*. I got it into the bank but I can’t access it in till tomorrow (today). Panic :scream_cat: BUT, since I’ve been in this course and doing some inner shadow work from this book called ’ Beqoming ‘, I went back to my teachings and returned back to breath.

This morning I work up and instead of looking straight at my phone for validations I sat there with my mantras and breath. It was so much more validating and a calmer sense of awareness knowing that I’m at the mercy of my universe. And that I got paid! (Lol).

I have to have a better understanding with my relationship with exchange and all its validity.

Anyways, it’s been a calmer cooler sense of realization that I’d like to bring into the future.

Thanks for reading :pray::sparkles::green_heart:


I used to be completely trapped by my ego before I began spiritual practice. I would always assume that my view was the right one, and I would judge people who acted in a way that I didn’t understand or approve of. Since beginning my spiritual journey, I’ve come a long way, but still regularly recognise the seeds of judgment forming.

For example, when I see people with strong political views, I see myself as being ‘higher’ because I can see both sides and not get caught in the division. Or when I see people adamant that their religion is the only true one, I feel a sense of knowing more because I see all religions as pointing to the same place. Even just generally having my ego attached to the idea of being a ‘spiritual person’, and wanting people to validate this for me. It’s a constant back and forth between my ego and my intuition, and I imagine it’ll carry on for a while!

Much love to everyone here! Thank you if you’ve read this far! :grin:


Thank you Charlie for your candor. I feel all religions point to the same place LOVE. It is often challenging to Love everyone the way I wish to. Let’s bring joy to our journey. I have never been one to feel suffering has benefit. Is this ego talking ?

Such an easy and common trap to get caught in.


Theres been times where I have meditated or done chanting, and feel good about my practice and myself, basking in my feeling of loving awareness, but then something triggers me or catches me, sets me off, and I get angry or reactive. It brings me back down to my grounded self and lets me know I still have work to do, and a long way to go.

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I can identify with all the shares so far. I also have found my ego hiding out in my self criticism. I can fall down the rabbit hole of feeling like “the worst” blah blah blah- the worst mother for example. Or when I feel judged by someone else I will judge back. I can really feel the separation then. I can feel like I have put a wall up or even that I have surrounded myself with a wall, isolating myself. It feels terrible.And also almost always when I feel I have " mastered" some bad habit or character defect and it instantly returns. Without fail when I am judging someone I am actually “guilty” of whatever I am accusing them of! Hilarious and humbling!


Oh, there are probably endless times that I have been caught in my ego, particularly at this point in my life, when I am sharing things I have learned and perhaps even when I am guiding a connecting meditation! I will certainly be more aware of how that might be true of me from now on. It is easy to be ‘caught in my ego’ in interaction with my 44 year old youngest daughter. We live together currently so that is a daily practice - remembering that her path is her own as mine is mine - as all of my life has become since retirement. Giving up - renunciation - the idea, belief, conviction that it is my responsibility to provide her with everything that she needs is perhaps the reason I am writing and have taken on this course.

I gave up nicotine back in 1988 and along with it went my desire for alcohol. There have been 3 or 4 slips since then, each tied to a developing unhealthy relationship. What is unhealthy?? (for me being with someone who drinks daily)

I maintain a regular practice by sitting, chanting, practicing with others on Zoom. In isolation from my spiritual group, much of my ‘normal’ practice fell away and T’ai Chi Chih took its place along with Tao meditation - again connection with others. For me, that has been my path. Glad to be reading, listening, learning more about Ram Dass and each of you.


i’ve definitely gotten caught in my ego/spiritual pride when it comes to interacting with my oldest sister… we had a difficult relationship growing up that left marks on me, and now we get along much better but I have learned to set boundaries with her to avoid making myself vulnerable to unnecessary/confusing conflicts with her, that basically take me for an exhausting rollercoaster ride. now though, a lot of times when we’re talking, I notice myself judging her for the way she sees things, gossips about others, etc… thankfully over the years ive gotten quicker to notice this and laugh at myself – thinking im more wise than her is actually just a representation of my own insecurities, and aspects within myself that she reflects, that I don’t yet accept about myself. she’s taught me so much, more than anyone else in my life!


Aloha Erin—so beautiful to connect with you here. Are you still on Maui?[quote=“Erin_Pillman, post:7, topic:774, full:true”]
When I was 22 years old and just beginning to practice yoga, meditate, learn about Hinduism and Buddhism, etc, I adopted a raw vegan diet. And I regularly judged other people for eating things that I deemed “unhealthy.” When I realized what I was doing, I realized how ridiculous it was. Also realized that ironically my diet was quite unhealthy (for a couple of different reasons), LOL.

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