The ego is a slippery creature. It is usually easy to spot out in the open in others, but hides under the shade of the Twisted Logic Tree in the forest of our own minds. Some egos are loud and arrogant, drunk with their own beauty, while others sneak and scurry in the darkness, ashamed to show their own light.
They ride of the coattails of self-esteem and can, when you least suspect it, jump out in a costume designed to fool you into thinking they are their own healthy cousin...self-respect. They also, however, and this is sometimes even more tricky, can ride on the boat of despair and water-log your ship into a feeling of hopelessness.
Ego is basically that which feels separation from the whole. It is a consciousness of self rather than Self. They do have a plus side (for everything in the universe has balance), in that they allow you to experience your life as an individual and have a sense of separate identity. However, they never evolved a sense of moderation, and for the vast majority of us, can build momentum and become steam locomotives of self-aggrandizement or deprecation.
Luckily, there is a mantra that is the ego's kryptonite. The 33rd Pauri of Japji, written by Guru Nanak, the first Guru of the Sikhs and an enlightened master, is a poem of total surrender to the Greater Consciousness and is a mantra for ego. The last line, "Nanak utam neech na ko-i" refers to the concept that all creation is equal in the eyes of God. A small field mouse is beloved. A great king is beloved, too. It is a mantra of a level playing field, and reminds the subconscious that any power we have is an extension of the power of the Divine. We are not the source of the flame, but we are all candles.
This pauri, or stanza, of Japji is said to remove negativity, smooth the ruffled feathers of your ego, prevent harm to another by your hand, and bring you into a greater sense of your own divinity.
You repeat this mantra 11 times for effect, and I often find myself singing it as a bedtime lullaby for my ego. "Go take a nap," I tell it, while I find something better to do with my energy than follow its wild goose chases.
Try it. Sing it soothingly to yourself. It is like taking a shower in light. Not that my light is any better than your light, nor your light any better than mine. Both glimmering. Both shining. Nanak utam neech na ko-i. Aakhan Jor.