Some years ago a friend told us a story. She had heard a chant at Ananda, which goes:

Before my eyes,

My dead self lies,

Oh, bliss beyond compare.

But she had somehow misheard the words and thought for years that the last line said, “hopeless beyond compare.”

Isn’t it interesting how misperceptions can turn truth on its head? Now, instead of the bliss that comes through the death of the ego, the song became an affirmation of the worst sort of self-image where she saw herself as hopeless. Self-esteem is a vital ingredient for success and happiness, and many people are crippled for life by the lack of it. Probably all of us have to deal with this demon to some degree.

Is low self-esteem really a demon? Paramhansa Yogananda taught that there is a conscious negative force pushing creation toward separation and isolation, and this is what is called Satan. Creation exists because of duality — light and dark make a picture, first inhalation and final exhalation make a lifetime, and positive and negative charges in atoms makes a physical universe.

These opposing forces, of separation and unity, call them “Satan” and “Samadhi, “are also at play in our minds. Each of us has the free will to attune ourselves to one pull or the other, one leading to “bliss beyond compare,” and the other to “hopeless beyond compare.” Master said, “Any thought that makes us doubt ourselves comes from Satan.”

Wouldn’t we all prefer a positive self-image? There are hundreds of books, articles, and studies showing us how to build self-esteem. Ah, but which self are we talking about? — The little self of the ego, or the big Self of the soul? While it is important to develop a positive self-image, there is a limit to how far even the best psychology can take us. Self-esteem is a stepping-stone not a goal. Even the healthiest ego still leaves us in delusion. As truth seekers, we want to break the delusion of the ego, which Swami Kriyananda called, “a bundle of self-definitions.” And yet, it simply does not work to suppress the ego. We must break delusion’s spell by expanding our self-identity.

Yogananda Poem When I Am Only a DreamTrue self-confidence comes by realizing ourselves as the soul, as an individualized expression of God. Ironically this comes with the death of the ego, which is expressed beautifully in the chant, “I am the Bubble, Make Me the Sea.” The bubble, no matter how big or beautiful, will always be fragile and, ultimately, hopeless. Bliss is described in the final lines of the great poem, “Samadhi”: “A tiny bubble of laughter, I am become the Sea of Mirth Itself.”

So, when the demon of hopelessness attacks, throw him out by singing, “I am the Bubble, Make Me the Sea,” or repeat over and over, “A tiny bubble of laughter, I am become the Sea of Mirth Itself.”

With love,
Nayaswami Jyotish


  1. Thank you Jyotish! A few minutes after I read this, I came across the following from Master:
    “All the evils and miseries of human existence begin when the soul forgets to use the body and the senses as its instruments and servants. When the soul becomes identified with the body, its consciousness is turned sense-ward, away from the inner intuitive perception of truth. After once attaining ecstasy and communion with God, all devotees must try their uttermost to be conscious of the divine state even during the egoistic or human state. This steady centering of the consciousness will preclude all confusion between good and bad actions.”
    Isn’t resonance wonderful?! LOL…

    1. Oh wow! Thanks so much. That one was really needed and the words have taken root in my heart. Blessings!

  2. Thank you Jyotish, it’s great to have the succinct explanation of what Satan is. Your article reminds me that I’m sure I sometimes hear people singing “God is your bondage” instead of “Gone is your bondage.”

  3. Thank you Jyotish! Your weekly letters are always “a touch of light” in my day. I really liked your painting of Paramhansa Yogananda on the last blog. Beautiful! Blessings to you both.

  4. This was just beautiful, Jyotish! I am saving this and reading it often. The best explanation regarding how to work with one’s human self (ego), in order to align it knowingly and consistently with our Divine Self. And I so love Master’s poem, “Samadhi”. It is the most moving and meaningful poem I have ever read.
    I also embraced the comment left here by Jim Williams. Thank you Jim! That quote from Master was a perfect follow-up to the theme of this week’s letter from Jyotish.
    Excellent advice and guidance from the Master and Jyotish.

    1. I like the part that says self esteem is a stepping stone not a goal. I completely agree – I’ve struggled with low self esteem all my life and am now just aiming for the next step, one at a time. Its given me a manageable goal and ended the cycle of trying to be perfect and then failing.

  5. Thank you so much Jyotish for this enlightening touch. I enjoyed especially your comparisons of duality; …a picture,…a lifetime,…a physical universe.
    Low self esteem has been a constant battle for me and your comments shed great light on the corners of my mind.
    Much love and blessings,
    Brahmacharini Rose

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