Question: What is the easiest way to be free of the 'little self?
Annamalai Swami: Stop identifying with it. If you can convince yourself ‘This "little self” is not really me,’ it will just disappear.
Q: But how to do this?
AS: The 'little self’ is something which only appears to be real. If you understand that it has no real existence it will disappear, leaving behind it the experience of the real and only Self.
Understand that it has no real existence and it will stop troubling you.
Consciousness is universal. There is no limitation or little self in it. It is only when we identify with and limit ourselves to the body and the mind that this false self is born. If, through enquiry, you go to the source of this 'little self’, you find that it dissolves into nothingness.
Q: But I am very accustomed to feel I am this "little self". I cannot break this habit merely by thinking I am not this "little self."
AS: This 'little self’ will only give way to the real Self if you meditate constantly. You cannot wish it away with a few stray thoughts.
Try to remember the analogy of the rope which looks like a snake in the twilight. If you see the rope as a snake, the real nature of the rope is hidden from you. If you only see the rope, the snake is not there. Not only that, you know that there never was snake there. When you have that clear and correct perception that the snake never at any time existed, the question of how to kill the snake disappears. Apply this analogy to the 'little self’ that you are worrying about. If you can understand that this little self never at any time had any existence outside your imagination you will not be concerned about ways and means of getting rid of it.
Q: It tis all very clear but I feel that I need some help.
I am not sure that I can generate this understanding by myself.
AS: The desire for assistance is part of your problem. Don't make the mistake of imagining that there is some goal to be reached or attained. If you think like this you will start looking for methods to practice and people to help you. This just perpetuates the problem you are trying to end. Instead, cultivate the strong awareness, ‘l am the Self. I am That. I am Brahman. I am everything.' You don't need any methods to get rid of the wrong ideas you have about yourself. All you have to do is stop believing them. The best way to do this is to replace them with ideas which more accurately reflect the real state of affairs. If you think and meditate ‘I am the Self’ it will do you a lot more good than thinking, ‘I am the "little self". How can I get rid of this "little self”.
The Self is always attained, it is always realized; it is not something that you have to seek, reach or discover. Your vasanas [mental habits and tendencies] and all the wrong ideas you have about yourself are blocking and hiding the experience of the real Self. If you don't identify with the wrong ideas, your Self-nature will not be hidden from you.
You said that you needed help. If your desire to gain a proper understanding of your real nature is intense enough, help will automatically come. If you want to generate an awareness of your real nature you will be immeasurably helped by having contact with a jnani. The power and grace which a jnani radiates quieten the mind and automatically eliminate the wrong ideas you have about yourself. You can make progress by having satsang of a realized Guru and by constant spiritual practice. The Guru cannot do everything for you. If you want to give up the limiting habits of many lifetimes, you must practice constantly.
Living by the Words of Bhagavan, pp 258-60