One Buddha Teaching That Will Tell You More About Yourself Than Anything Else

In Buddhism one of the ‘Three Characteristics’ is No-Self (the other two are impermanence and suffering which are closely associated with this). This refers to the illusion of reality having a permanent and separate self.

There is this notion that there is a permanent “I” or “me,” which is a separate entity that can be found. The obvious assumption of we are our body sounds good until we look at it and say “this is my body,” which implies at that moment that whatever owns the body wasn’t the body. The observer and the observed; duality denies our body being what we are. It is also in a state of impermanence, and at a sensate level it is made up of energy flickering at a similar rate to reality.

Perhaps thoughts are the “I.” They may seem more like the true “me” than the body does. But they come and go and are changing constantly too, as well as the majority of them not being under our control at all. They too aren’t something solid enough to assume they are the “I.” The ego is a process of identification with reality (physical and mental phenomena), not a thing in and of itself; it is like a bad habit. Not being a thing, it cannot be destroyed as some people say, but by understanding our bare experience, our mind, the process of identification can stop.

There is also something frequently called the “watcher” or “observer,” which is observing all of these phenomena. Strangely, the watcher can’t be found either, as it seems to sometimes be our eyes, sometimes not; sometimes it’s images in our head; sometimes it seems to be our body and sometimes it’s watching the body. It seems odd that this watcher to which all of this is being perceived by, which seems separate from reality and which seems in control of “us” is constantly changing and completely unfindable.

One of the biggest clues in solving this mystery is that if we are observing it, then by definition it isn’t us. Reality is made up entirely of sensations, and to begin to unravel this mystery is to begin to awaken. Reality with a sense of a separate watcher is a delusion. So who or what is it that awakens?

buddha

What Awakens?

In short, it’s all of this transience that awakens! Here’s an explanation, keep in mind this is an attempt at summarising something quite complicated.

No-Self teachings directly counter the sense that there is a separate watcher, and that this watcher is “us” that is in control, observing reality or subject to the tribulations of the world. These teachings stop the process of mentally creating the illusion of a separate self from sensations that are inherently non-dual and utterly transient.

buddhaThere are physical phenomena (everything we perceive with our senses) and mental phenomena (thoughts, feelings, emotions). These are just phenomena, and all phenomena aren’t a permanent, separate self as they are completely impermanent and are intimately interdependent. These phenomena arise and pass as we venture through reality, i.e. the sound of a bird singing comes into existence and then dissipates.

There is also awareness of these phenomena, but awareness is not a thing or localised in a particular place, so to even say “there is awareness” is already a large problem, as it implies separateness and existence of it where none can be found. Awareness is permanent and unchanging, and it is said that all things arise from it, and all things return to it. It could be called God, Nirvana, The Tao, Allah, the present moment, the Buddha nature or just awareness.

While phenomena are in flux from their arising to their passing, there is awareness of them. Thus, awareness is not these phenomena, as it is not a thing, nor is it separate from these objects, as there would be no experience if this were so.

True-Self

True-Self teachings point out that we actually are all these phenomena, rather than them being seen as observed. As phenomena are observed, they can’t possibly be the observer. Thus, the observer, which is awareness, cannot possibly be a phenomenon and thus is not localised and therefore doesn’t exist. Duality implies something on both sides: an observer and an observed. However, there is no phenomenal observer, so duality doesn’t hold up under careful investigation. When the illusion of duality permanently collapses in awakening, in direct experience, all that is left is these phenomena, which is the True Self.

There’s a great little Buddhist poem by Kalu Rinpoche that sums all this up:

We live in illusion and the appearance of things.

There is a reality, we are that reality.

When you understand this, you will see “you” are nothing.

And, being nothing, you are everything.

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65 comments
  1. What I think you got wrong there is that you say that awareness does not exist because it doesn’t have a place. From that notion you give your final conclusion. I believe that just because it doesn’t have a “place” doesn’t necessarily mean it does not exist. Examples: emotions, energy… Anyway, wonderfull post, I just think that you got this point wrong. If you think my reasoning is faulty, please explain why. Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Miguel,

      Well actually I didn’t say that, Theravadan Buddhism came to that conclusion. I’m just passing on their message. You can too by direct experience. 🙂

      What they are pointing to is that awareness is not a thing, it is not localised anywhere, it is not an entity, it is not a phenomenon and you can’t find awareness anywhere. It’s like the hand trying to grasp itself; if you try and find awareness, the very thing looking IS it.

      In the collapse of duality (the notion that there is an observer and something observed) we see that awareness IS these sensations. Awareness can’t be separated from the sensations, making them one.

      Does this help?

      1. Oh but we have an ego. The point is what to do with it. We can either choose to feed it with love, compassion, forgiveness etc or with greed, egocentric ideas, antipathy etc. Why not accept the ego when we have it. All the extras, the feeling, soul life, awareness, our higher selves are soul, spirit extensions of ourselves, that connect with what our ego is fed with (our choices). That is why we are here, to overcome, to let go eventually, to free our egos, when we die, but to overcome the struggle is important, because that is the lesson. Thats’ the whole reason we are here.

    2. I had the same notion, that to have no place does not logically lead to the statement it doesn’t exist. Being and space and time are different things.

      The aim of Buddha is non-existence, to go back to the origin and give up your own self to become something bigger what is essential not you. That sounds like black magic to me. To kill yourself to be something else.

      The observer of course exists and is the true self. The aim is to develope a full individuality separate from the big “God’. The way is in the opposite direction, not to go back to the source but go to become yourself.

      Therefore separateness is of the essence and the most important exercise. As Buddha separated inside himself what is not He, he did the right thing. The point he missed is that the observer does exist and that is the great achievement of humanity, which is distinct from animal live and from other, non-corporeal creatures.

      To give up your own self to become one with source from which you originated is retarding. Yes, it produces peace, bliss and other things but for the price of your ndividuality which we developed over the eons of time.

      From my point of view, Buddhism is plain wron

      1. Oh well, Buddhism isn’t for everyone 🙂

        I love Thich Nhat Hanh’s words on separateness. He doesn’t say separateness is our essence, on the contrary, he says it doesn’t exist at all. He says things like “a flower is made of all the non-flower elements. It is made up of the soil, the worms, the sun, the rain, the weather, gravity and time. If we were to take one of these things away, it would not exist.” The great Zen master Roshi, used to hold up a piece of paper to his class and ask them what they see. If their answer was paper, he would hit them on the head with a stick, and tell them that it was the paper mill, the tree, the workers at the mill, his family, and so on.

        I find through experience that the same can be applied to the human being. The body is in constant flow with the environment, with the air coming from trees, from particles being dissolved in our skin and gut, the food that is in our pantry and from the rays of the sun. There’s never a body existing by itself, and the moment you try and pin the body down as an entity, it has already changed and flowed with the environment, just as a river does.
        Same too for our intellect, thoughts, beliefs etc. They are in constant flux with the environment. So I agree with Buddhism, Zen, Advaita, and many other eastern traditions, that separateness is an illusion. But i’m not asking you to agree with me 🙂

      2. The aim of Buddhism is not nihilism as you assert; the aim is to cut the root cause of suffering and nothing more. Go ahead and be your ‘own self’, no problems…
        Buddhism is dialectic, and Buddha would ask you what is ‘own self’ and why are you so concerned to protect it?

  2. The mind/body complex is what IMO I observe.
    I have to make a decision not to be pulled into the mind/body illusions created by the lower carnal nature. Like jealousy, fear, hate,, envy etc I have to choose to observe those thoughts and then listen to my higher-self or Universal Mind which I believe in your article is the true self.

  3. Maybe the spirit within us is the awareness? Born of creation itself, transformed back into eternity, when our bodies cease to exist, that which we label as our soul. Humans have been conditioned into an ego state of unconsciousness from thousands of years of not understanding why we exist. Very few of the billions of lives inhabiting this planet have gotten above this reality, thus their understandings and teachings have been viewed from a lesser perspective as mystic or prophecies in origin. I believe another realm exists beyond what thoughts or the words we craft to label this existence have defined. The energy, that binds the atoms of which everything physical, exists by the results it produces, yet lacks a definition of its origin. There is an energy to reality, that the human consciousness has yet to grasp in terms that create what we relate to as an understanding?

    1. What a beautiful thing it is to contemplate these things David. Zen teacher Adyashanti calls the spirit/soul as awareness. It seems like there are quite a few words that pertain to the same thing. Spirit, awareness, consciousness, present moment, love, god, atman, etc.

    2. David, my ears pricked up when you said “Humans have been conditioned into an ego state of unconsciousness from thousands of years of not understanding why we exist. Very few of the billions of lives inhabiting this planet have gotten above this reality, thus their understandings and teachings have been viewed from a lesser perspective as mystic or prophecies in origin.”

      I just figured that out this week – that it could be that the way we see the world is because this is what has been handed down to us since the beginning of time. I don’t know what a baby would “see” if it were to grow up living freely. Is the universe really like we see it or are we missing something? I feel we have to connect back into nature again but I don’t know how to relate to nature properly. I feel clumsy, like I’m talking to an immigrant from a country I’ve never heard of with a very different culture. I feel nature is very accommodating though.

      Nature is so beautiful that an artist must have designed it. The idea of eating other species is a smart idea to keep the populations of singular species from taking over. (That obviously failed with humans because we don’t have a predator) The only ugliness in nature is killing meat for eating but it makes perfect sense as a strategy to keep the numbers balanced. Actually it’s brilliant, it’s just ugly. I am wondering if the animals are evolving too and learning from us. I feel trees have a lot to tell us. We have to learn how to listen to them and connect with their consciousness. Many of them have witnessed the span of long periods of time in silent vigilance. I bet they have much wisdom to impart.

  4. Nice article..awareness, to me, is as you say nothing and everything..it cannot be pinned down, cannot be localized. so it is what i like to call essence…it just is and yet it isn’t. so i think omnipresent – being everywhere and yet nowhere… could be a term to describe or atleast have some grasp of awareness/essence

    Lovely article anyways!

  5. ” When you understand this, you will see “you” are nothing.
    And, being nothing, you are everything.”

    Ahhhh, but that’s the sticking point isn’t it?

    My identity as a “you” seems all too important to give up – at least it seems so to me. My , me, myself and I cannot be nothing….can I?

  6. The problem with the concept of a “true self” is that it is a thought created by a ‘thinker’ (at least that is the assumption that is made).

    But any “self” , in order to be real, MUST engage in the ‘movement’ of self-reflection; and that ‘movement’ of self-reflection necessarily is the origin of duality. In other words, there is no such thing as ANY “self” which is non-dual.

    So, what is the solution?

    That there are three dimensions of consciousness: 1) the “self”, 2) the ‘thinker’; and, 3) a non-spatial and non-temporal dimension of consciousness outside of, as well as prior and subsequent to in terms of time.

    A person cannot BE that third dimension of consciousness.

    On the other hand, it is possible to have access to information–from the observation of the characteristics of the “self” and the ‘thinker’ (as pointed out in some detail by J. Krishnamurti)–from that third dimension of consciousness; for example, the observation of the memories of previous lives from a ‘frame of reference’ in terms of consciousness which is prior and outside of the experiences of “selves” and ‘thinkers’ from those previous lives…

    As I explain in more detail on my webpage.

    Michael

    1. Hi Michael,

      Is not a “problem” something of the mind itself too? I just want to make clear that this doesn’t come from an opinion I formed, this comes from various teachers of Theravadan Buddhism, mainly Arahat Daniel Ingram.

      The “true self” are words that describe a way of being. For the purpose of writing all this down I had to use words, and as soon as we use words we are only the finger pointing at the moon. But the “true self” can only be felt, experienced, we can only BE it, any words describing it, or ideas about it, will never be it at all.

      Much love

  7. Great article Andrew,

    What we call reality is only our mind’s interpretation of encoded energy. The DNA designers who designed us left us the hardware but not the owner’s manual and hence have today a lobotomized humanity is the last throw’s of another failed emergent society.

    “They use their gold brain glands” and ours are in an atrophied state. For a simple technique to rejuvenate the pituitary and pineal (DMT) glands and achieve brain shifting dosages, go to http://fukushima50.blogspot.ca/2011/03/on-becoming-sovereign-being_2906.html

    Kick it up!
    Sovereignty

  8. Nothing from nothing leaves nothing,
    but you gotta have something,
    if you want to be with Me..

  9. It’s all God, all the time. Only the real is permanent, The rest is just part of the eternal game of life. Life is the miracle.

  10. You have a flash of awareness or consciousness. Simultaneous with that are perceptions and thoughts. Then nothing. Then you have another flash of awareness or consciousness. Perceptions and thoughts also arise simultaneously with the second flash of consciousness that overlap with those that previously arose with the first one. Thus the most recent flash of consciousnes erroneously believes that it had a pre-existence, because it “inherits” thoughts, memories from previous ones. In reality, just Maya or Cosmic Illusion. (I believe this is the Theravadan teaching, something along this line.)

    1. Yeah that sounds like what I learnt too Bill. This teaching is mirrored in Vipassana meditation too. In that reality is made up of pulses, and in each pulse there is a visual image, smell, maybe a bit of a thought, an emotion possibly and so on. This pulse lasts a fraction of a second, then dissipated into nothingness. Followed by another pulse, and so on. Reality is so impermanent it’s not funny!

      This flashing or pulsing of reality can be experienced directly too. They call it the “arising and passing event”. Where you can delve so deeply into the present moment, that you can see the “pixels” of reality forming, then disappearing.

  11. Good Work Andrew Barker 🙂 . Billions of people are surrounded inside a boundary themselves.They cant see beyond the limits.Actually The Lord of Buddha is a some kind of scientist.He understood what is the reality of the universe and explained it to the people. Do not depend on a god.It is good as a concept to encourage yourself. But you should not depend on that. The God can do nothing for you. Come to the reality Study the Buddhism 😉

    1. Very true. The findings of quantum mechanics are now coming to the same conclusion as the Buddha did 2,500 years ago. That reality is made up of vibrating quanta (he called them kalapas), and that without consciousness present, matter doesn’t exist as a particle.

  12. Hi Andrew,

    This is a very fascinating subject!

    Lao Tzu said much similar things in his Tao Te Ching.

    As you’ve laid out already, words are sometimes not adequate to describe a state of being. But from all my own studies and personal experiences it seems as though there are 3 parts: Body, mind and the spirit (or observer.)

    There’s sort of a gradient approach to realizing this as the very first apparent thing is that you’re a body – you can use the physical senses to pretty quickly ascertain this.

    One also early on realizes one has thoughts and one wonders if that is part of a body or comes from something else. One get interested in consciousness, etc.

    However, the mind can potentially contain a lot of extra baggage so to speak – garbage which can quite severely process things in quite a distorted manner. This gets extra bad when one tries to makes sense out of it strictly using physical science.

    But is the observer, the unit of awareness also the mind, or does the observer HAVE a mind? I think the latter.

    The “observer” or “awarer” is “nothing” as far as can be defined within the physical universe. He is also “nothing” from the aspect of having to have an identity which is a social rule but not a universal truth.

    But the observer is the source of the creation of reality and that is quite something, and, if he realizes it fully, he can be everything. Real truth and peace and compassion of mind are two very important ingredients in getting there.

    I believe enlightenment has a lot to do with a self realization of what you are, really, and what is reality and what I laid out above. At first one has to use identification and words to try to make some sense out of it, but as one digs in, one will come to certain realizations about the mind he possesses and what his own causation has to do with reality.

    Looking at it this way, Buddhism isn’t that different than what Lao Tzu described almost a thousand years earlier, nor very different in principle from what the Vedas laid out even earlier than that. Just a different way of describing it, different symbology and possibly a more acceptable vocabulary as “nothing” can rub some people wrong unless they understand a broader concept – which I hope my scribblings above can do.

    1. It certainly is fascinating!

      Actually, this might help with the direction you’re going in… Are we the body?… or are we what the body is sensing? These are two vastly different ideas, and is at the base of what Buddhism is getting at when it is said that the world we are privy to, is all sensation, i.e., there is no physical body at all, there is only what the body sees, hears, tastes, touches, smells etc.

      See for yourself. What do you have available to you? There is what the eyes see, but never the eyes themselves. There is what the nose smells, but aside from the sight of your nose, and the touch of it, is it truly there? Reality is entirely made up of sensation, reality is what the body has decoded. Is there anything else other than what the body has translated in your world? Keeping in mind that emotions are sensations, feelings are, and even the mind with all its thoughts are vibrations of energy decoded by your body.

      If you contemplate this, see if it fits for yourself, and then what I wrote may have a deeper meaning for you 🙂

    2. In the world of code, there is only zeros (nothings) and ones (one makes up a unit of all numbers). I encourage everyone to youtube what fractals are (self repeating patterns that go on for infinity) I believe that there is good evidence that light itself is consciousness, and that its infinite and fractal in nature. Science is the other side of the coin and really expresses these ideas in more concrete form.

  13. We are the observer,each of us never left heaven .We each observe from beyond the vale. Each of us are infinite . Each of us is this. eg ,take three playing cards.The 1st is this Jointly created Universe. The 2nd card is your vast infinite big empty(void) which is not empty because it is you. 3rd card is your Conscious creative blue sun,which is the base building blocks of all that is. We are each 3 dimensions ,and we are layered together like a pack of cards. This 3 dimensional universe is where we create our experiences,so that we can experience ourselves and others. Together this Universe was created by all infinite beings. Duality of illusion is separated when one passes beyond there doorway into the long dark path (void,it is black and void of anything other than you,this is because that is what you witness) Into there Conscious creative blue sun ,which is the base building blocks of all that is. Lao Tzu called the secret sun of self ,Qi and represented it with the yin yang symbol. Which is really a tunnel spiral vortex travelling in two directions,Buddha represents this as his cosmic mind an on the statues it is represented by the spirals an flame upon the head. Christ called this his fathers crown in heaven ..It has been referred to as gods throne room.there are many names from every culture . Rumi called this his beloved or his blue sun of perfection,The doorway is round you seek….

  14. “One of the biggest clues in solving this mystery is that if we are observing it, then by definition it isn’t us.”
    This is a HUGE logical leap. Please prove this before hurrying on and building more ideas on this idea.

    1. Not illogical at all. One cannot be an observer and the observed at the same time. At least not perfectly.

      It may be (to paraphrase the Heisenberg principle) that the states are both inseparable yet incompatible with each other. However, the more one becomes one state the less it becomes the other.

      Ideally, Oneness is the perfect balance between being observer and observed.

      1. The observer and that what is being observed are inseparable as the observation itself alters what is being observed, and our definitions of things change the way we look at things while thinking that’s how they look like to begin with.

  15. The observer, observed and the observation is the triad at the root of all illusions. In reality there is only observation. The observer arise from a false identification with the observed. This false self or ego is only a reflection of our light through the body,mind, world. As long as we take ourselfs to be what we are not, we see separtion everywhere and we are led by fear and desires.

  16. we are both everything and nothing all at once. life is full of opposite polarities so that we can understand the universe. without everything we would not know what nothing is. observation is only attained by comparing one thing to another. for example love and fear, good and evil, right and wrong, hot and cold, open and closed, etc. Relativity suggests we cannot experience one thing unless its polar opposite is also experienced. yet it’s one thing to know something and quite another to experience it. We all know what we are and yet if it’s not experience in the moment we are found wanting. Meditation is a great way to pin point this observer, then we are no longer imprisoned by the body, or thoughts, or the ego, we are free to create our life the exact way we want it, no longer a victim of circumstance.

    “be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Gandhi

  17. Fritjof Capra termed it that we “bring forth a world”, meaning that your reality is created through the process of human consciousness and is sustained by your human body. This isn’t to say consciousness doesn’t exist outside the body, but your own reality, derived from sensing by your body, has to be bound by it. If there is an objective reality, then it’s just a sea of quantum soup, which is always there but unknown until some consciousness is there to bring it forth.

  18. Buddha said the five aggregates (form, sensation, perception, mental formation, consciousness) are empty. Since life is a dependent arising any notion of separate self is therefore false – the root cause to our suffering is clinging attachment to a self that does not exist.

  19. Great article and I largely agree with it all but the final conclusion. I’ve come to see “myself” as simply a perspective in time-space, having experiences that grow and change over time, as my mind-body changes/ ages/ evolves and “I” dis-identify with that which arises until the only thing left as “I” is this point in space time, enjoying the empty stillness of existence full of activity. If I meditate on “myself” long enough I can have trans-personal experiences that take my to other points in space-time, and include variations in the amount of matter that seems to be “I” in that moment. The mystics point to Gia experiences, looking out the eyes of an eagle, past life experiences, etc. This space-time fluidity is more possible since those aspects of experience that normally keep us tacked down to our typical point of space time are no longer seen as self – thoughts, feelings, body, etc.

    However if we believe that trees and rocks exist, then “I”s and “us” and “we” exist, initially as fairly gross conglomerates, but eventually and ultimately just as perspectives in space time. To say otherwise is deny the multiplicity that does exist at the level where language is needed to communicate. If we move out of that, into the unity or single beingness experience, then yes it is all one and there is no differentiation, no individuals, no space, no time, etc as we think of it (here in multiplicity land).

    So it is all about contexts: if there is language and communication and trees and rocks, there are “I”s. If we change contexts, then there is just the great movement of universe and life and consciousness unfolding, but its good to be clear which context we are speaking from or it begins to seems nonsensical/ paradoxical/ internally inconsistent.

    What do you think, “I” would like to know.

    1. Hi Doug,

      I think… I think I like reading what you wrote. I certainly don’t put all my eggs in the Buddhist basket.
      I am interested in what you said about what you are. Do you think that the word “perspective”, what it’s pointing to, could be substituted for the word “emptiness”? Is there much dissimilarities between yours and the Buddhist’s notions?
      I guess, another way I put it to myself, on the nature of “me”, using different metaphors and language is this: Imagine a body, a conglomeration of energy intimately hooked in to all the energy around it; never separate from it. For this part of the energy – lets call it amalgamation – to know and live in amongst all this other energy, it has to have an interface. This interface is created through the nervous system – one type of system amongst millions of other systems, each selecting out their own frequencies, and therefore world.
      So, all there ever truly is that is in existence, all that can be known, are these interfaces, these little bubbles of reality – which could also be called consciousness. Each little bubble has a body usually included in the image, it has the interface that the nervous system has created, aswell as bodily sensations and emotions.
      And I guess this is where, for me, the buddhist notion of “you are that reality”, or “it’s all this transience that awakens” fits in with my own findings. That essentially we are the screen that the whole movie is played on – but not the character in the movie.

      1. Hi Andrew

        I would say that my view on this is entirely compatible with the Buddhist perspective, but offers a stabilizing nuance that help to reconcile the notion of “no self” with our lived experience as individuals. It explains how both conceptualizations are true, and that specifying the context from which you are speaking eliminates the apparent paradox.

        I would not say that my use of “perspective” is the same as their use of “emptiness”, though its hard to say as I hear “emptiness” used in different ways. I would say that “perspective” emphasizes the point of space-time having the experience, while “emptiness” emphasizes the seamless whole of the undifferentiated (or completely unified) movement of life. It seems that different teaching then go on to further differentiate nuances. “I”, as a perspective in time-space, can have the experience of emptiness, and live in that state. I believe that is referred to as turiya. Turiyatita emerges when even the experience of being a perspective disappears, and there is just the one seamless movement of life. I believe they also call this non-dual. I have personally found it useful to refer to personal and transpersonal experiences of these latter states. I suspect that ultimate enlightenment is in the transpersonal realization of Turiyatita, in which you then pop out of (or become bigger than) the entire space-time continuum completely.

        And yes, I like your notion of “I am” a “conglomeration of energy intimately hooked in to all the energy around it” and needing an interface, called a nervous system, to manage “myself” within all that energy. Its a good 3rd person perspective on what we have been trying to explicate from a 1st person perspective. And then switching contexts, as I specified in my first comment, we are the screen on which the movie is playing, and none of the characters. I like that. Nicely said.

  20. Essentially every child is a Buddha, but child’d buddhahood, child’s innocence, is natural, not earned. Child’s innocence is a kind of ignorance, not a realization. Child’s innocence is unconscious — Child is not aware of it, Child is not mindful of it, Child has not taken any note of it. It is there but Child is oblivious. Child is going to lose it. Child has to lose it. Paradise will be lost sooner or later; Child is on the way towards it. Every child has to go through all kinds of corruption, impurity — the world.

    The child’s innocence is the innocence of Adam before he was expelled from the garden of Eden, before he had tasted the fruit of knowledge, before he became conscious. It is animal-like. Look into the eyes of any animal — a cow, a dog — and there is purity, the same purity that exists in the eyes of a Buddha, but with one difference.

    And the difference is vast too: a Buddha has come back home; the animal has not yet left home. The child is still in the garden of Eden, is still in paradise. He will have to lose it — because to gain one has to lose. Buddha has come back home…the whole circle. He went away, he was lost, he went astray, he went deep into darkness and sin and misery and hell. Those experiences are part of maturity and growth. Without them you don’t have any backbone, you are spineless. Without them your innocence is very fragile; it cannot stand against the winds, it cannot bear storms. It is very weak, it cannot survive. It has to go through the fire of life — a thousand and one mistakes committed, a thousand and one times you fall, and you get back on your feet again. All those experiences slowly, slowly ripen you, make you mature; you become a grown-up.

    Buddha’s innocence is that of a mature person, utterly mature.

    Childhood is nature unconscious; buddhahood is nature conscious. The childhood is a circumference with no idea of the center. The Buddha is also a circumference, but rooted in the center, centered. Childhood is unconscious anonymity; buddhahood is conscious anonymity. Both are nameless, both are formless…but the child has not known the form yet and the misery of it.

    It is like you have never been in a prison, so you don’t know what freedom is. Then you have been in the prison for many years, or many lives, and then one day you are released…you come out of the prison doors dancing, ecstatic! And you will be surprised that people who are already outside, walking on the street, going to their work, to the office, to the factory, are not enjoying their freedom at all — they are oblivious, they don’t know that they are free. How can they know? Because they have never been in prison they don’t know the contrast; the background is missing.

    It is as if you write with a white chalk on a white wall — nobody will ever be able to read it. What to say about anybody else — even you will not be able to read what you have written.

    If you write on a white wall even you yourself will not be able to read it, but if you write on a blackboard it comes loud and clear — you can read it. The contrast is needed. The child has no contrast; he is a silver lining without the black cloud.

    Buddha is a silver lining in the black cloud.

    In the day there are stars in the sky; they don’t go anywhere — they can’t go so fast, they can’t disappear. They are already there, the whole day they are there, but in the night you can see them because of darkness. They start appearing; as the sun sets they start appearing. As the sun goes deeper and deeper below the horizon, more and more stars are bubbling up. They have been there the whole day, but because the darkness was missing it was difficult to see them.

    A child has innocence but no background. You cannot see it, you cannot read it; it is not very loud. A Buddha has lived his life, has done all that is needed — good and bad — has touched this polarity and that, has been a sinner and a saint. Remember, a Buddha is not just a saint; he has been a sinner and he has been a saint. And buddhahood is beyond both. Now he has come back home.

    That’s why Buddha said “There is no suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path. There is no cognition, no knowledge, no attainment, and no non-attainment.” When Buddha became awakened he was asked: “What have you attained?” And he laughed, and he said: “I have not attained anything — I have only discovered what has always been the case. I have simply come back home. I have claimed that which was always mine and was with me. So there is no attainment as such, I have simply recognized it. It is not a discovery, it is a re-discovery. And when you become a Buddha you will see the point — nothing is gained by becoming a Buddha. Suddenly you see that this is your nature. But to recognize this nature you have to go astray, you have to go deep into the turmoil of the world. You have to enter into all kinds of muddy places and spaces just to see your utter cleanliness, your utter purity.

    Only a perfect ego has the capacity to disappear, not an imperfect ego. When the fruit is ripe it falls; when the fruit is unripe it clings. If you are still clinging to the ego, remember, the fruit is not ripe; hence the clinging. If the fruit is ripe, it falls to the ground and disappears. So is the case with the ego.

    Now a paradox: that only a really evolved ego can surrender.

    Ordinarily you think that an egoist cannot surrender. That is not the observation of Buddhas down the ages. Only a perfect egoist can surrender. Because only he knows the misery of the ego, only he has the strength to surrender. He has known all the possibilities of the ego and has gone into immense frustration. He has suffered a lot, and he knows enough is enough, and he wants any excuse to surrender it. The excuse may be God, the excuse may be a master, or any excuse, but he wants to surrender it. The burden is too much and he has been carrying it for long.

    People who have not developed their egos can surrender, but their surrender will not be perfect, it will not be total. Something deep inside will go on clinging, something deep inside will still go on hoping: “Maybe there is something in the ego. Why are you surrendering?”

    In the East, the ego has not been developed well. Because of the teaching of egolessness, a misunderstanding arose that if the ego has to be surrendered, then why develop it, for what? A simple logic: if it has to be renounced one day, then why bother? Then why make so much effort to create it? It has to be dropped! So the East has not bothered much in developing the ego. And the Eastern mind finds it very easy to bow down to anybody. It finds it very easy, it is always ready to surrender. But the surrender is basically impossible, because you don’t yet have the ego to surrender it.

    You will be surprised: all the great Buddhas in the East have been kshatriyas, from the warrior race — Buddha, Mahavira, Parshwanath, Neminath. All the twenty-four tirthankaras of the Jainas belong to the warrior race, and all the avataras of the Hindus belonged to the kshatriya race — Ram, Krishna — except one, Parashuram, who was, accidentally it seems, born to a brahmin family, because you cannot find a greater warrior than him. It must have been some accident — his whole life was a continuous war.

    It is a surprise when you come to know that not a single brahmin has ever been declared a Buddha, an avatara, a tirthankara. Why? The brahmin is humble; from the very beginning he has been brought up in humbleness, for humbleness. Egolessness has been taught to him from the very beginning, so the ego is not ripe, and unripe egos cling.

    In the East people have very, very fragmentary egos, and they think it is easy to surrender.

    They are always ready to surrender to anybody. A drop of a hat and they are ready to surrender — but their surrender never goes very deep, it remains superficial.

    Just the opposite is the case in the West: people who come from the West have very, very strong and developed egos. Because the whole Western education is to create an evolved, well-defined, well-cultured, sophisticated ego, they think it is very difficult to surrender. They have not even heard the word surrender. The very idea looks ugly, humiliating. But the paradox is that when a Western man or woman surrenders, the surrender goes really deep. It goes to the very core of his or her being, because the ego is very evolved. The ego is evolved; that’s why you think it is very difficult to surrender. But if surrender happens it goes to the very core, it is absolute. In the East people think surrender is very easy, but the ego is not so evolved so it never goes very deep.

    A Buddha is one who has gone into the experiences of life, the fire of life, the hell of life, and has ripened his ego to its ultimate possibility, to the very maximum. And in that moment the ego falls and disappears. Again you are a child; it is a rebirth, it is a resurrection. First you have to be on the cross of the ego, you have to suffer the cross of the ego, and you have to carry the cross on your own shoulders — and to the very end. Ego has to be learned; only then can you unlearn it. And then there is great joy. When you are free from the prison you have a dance, a celebration in your being. You cannot believe why people who are out of prison are going so dead and dull and dragging themselves. Why are they not dancing? Why are they not celebrating? They cannot: they have not known the misery of the prison.

    These seven doors have to be used before you can become a Buddha. You have to go to the darkest realm of life, to the dark night of the soul, to come back to the dawn when the morning rises again, the sun rises again, and all is light.

    But it rarely happens that you have a fully developed ego.

    If you understand me, then the whole structure of education should be paradoxical: first they should teach you the ego — that should be the first part of education, the half of it; and they should then teach you egolessness, how to drop it — that will be the latter half. People enter from one door or two doors or three doors, and get caught up in a certain fragmentary ego.

    The first is the bodily self. The child starts learning slowly, slowly: it takes nearabout fifteen months for the child to learn that he is separate, that there is something inside him and something outside. He learns that he has a body separate from other bodies. But a few people remain clinging to that very, very fragmentary ego for their whole lives. These are the people who are known as materialists, communists, Marxists.

    The people who believe that the body is all — that there is nothing more than the body inside you, that the body is your whole existence, that there is no consciousness separate from the body, above the body, that consciousness is just a chemical phenomenon happening in the body, that you are not separate from the body and when the body dies you die, and all disappears…dust unto dust…there is no divinity in you — they reduce man to matter.

    These are the people who remain clinging to the first door; their mental age seems to be only fifteen months. The very, very rudimentary and primitive ego remains materialist. These people remain hung up with two things: sex and food. But remember, when I say materialist, communist, Marxist, I do not mean that this completes the list. Somebody may be a spiritualist and may still be clinging to the first….

    For example, Mahatma Gandhi: if you read his autobiography, he calls his autobiography My Experiments With Truth.. But if you go on reading his autobiography you will find the name is not right; he should have given it the name My Experiments With Food And Sex. Truth is nowhere to be found. He is continuously worried about food: what to eat, what not to eat. His whole worry seems to be about food, and then about sex: how to become a celibate — this runs as a theme, this is the undercurrent. Continuously, day and night, he is thinking about food and sex — one has to get free. Now he is not a materialist — he believes in soul, he believes in God. In fact, because he believes in God he is thinking so much about food — because if he eats something wrong and commits a sin, then he will be far away from God.

    He talks about God but thinks about food.

    And that is not only so with him, it is so with all the Jaina monks. He was under much impact from Jaina monks. He was born in Gujarat. Gujarat is basically Jaina, Jainism has the greatest impact on Gujarat. Even Hindus are more like Jainas in Gujarat than like Hindus. Gandhi is ninety percent a Jaina — born in a Hindu family, but his mind is conditioned by Jaina monks. They are continuously thinking about food.

    And then the second idea arises, of sex — how to get rid of sex. For his whole life, to the very end, he was concerned about it — how to get rid of sex. In the last year of his life he was experimenting with nude girls and sleeping with them, just to test himself, because he was feeling that death was coming close, and he had to test himself to see whether there was still some lust in him.

    The country was burning, people were being killed: Muslims were killing Hindus, Hindus were killing Muslims — the whole country was on fire. And he was in the very middle of it, in Novakali — but his concern was sex. He was sleeping with girls, nude girls; he was testing himself, testing whether brahmacharya, his celibacy, was perfect yet or not.

    But why this suspicion? — Because of long repression. The whole life he had been repressing. Now, in the very end, he had become afraid — because at that age he was still dreaming about sex. So he was very suspicious: would he be able to face his God? He was a very primitive materialist. His concern was food and sex.

    Whether you are for it or against it doesn’t matter — your concern shows where your ego is hanging. A capitalist’s whole concern is how to gather money, hoard money — because money has power over matter. You can purchase any material thing through money. You cannot purchase anything spiritual, you cannot purchase anything that has any intrinsic value; you can purchase only things. If you want to purchase love, you cannot purchase; but you can purchase sex.

    Sex is the material part of love. Through money, matter can be purchased, possessed.

    The communist and the capitalist both in the same category, and they are enemies, but their concern is the same. The capitalist is trying to hoard money, the communist is against it. He wants that nobody should be allowed to hoard money except the state. But his concern is also money, he is also continuously thinking about money. It is not an accident that Marx had given the name Das Kapital to his great book on communism, Capital. That is the communist Bible, but the name is Capital. That is their concern: how not to allow anybody to hoard money so the state can hoard, and how to possess the state — so, in fact, basically, ultimately, you hoard the money. The communist mind is basically a capitalist mind, the capitalist mind is basically a communist mind. They are partners in the same game — the game’s name is capital, Das Kapital.

    Many people, millions of people, only evolve this primitive ego, very rudimentary. If you have this ego it is very difficult to surrender; it is very unripe.

    The second door is self-identity.

    The child starts growing an idea of who he is. Looking in the mirror, he finds the same face. Every morning, getting up from the bed, he runs to the bathroom, looks, and he says: “Yes, it is I. The sleep has not disturbed anything.” He starts having an idea of a continuous self.

    Those people who become too involved with this door, get hooked with this door, are the so-called spiritualists who think that they are going into paradise, heaven, moksha, but that they will be there. When you think about heaven, you certainly think of yourself that as you are here, you will be there too. Maybe the body will not be there, but your inner continuity will remain. That is absurd! That liberation, that ultimate liberation happens only when the self is dissolved and all identity is dissolved. You become an emptiness….

    That idea that the child has of self-continuity is carried by the spiritualists. They go on searching: from where does the soul enter into the body, from where does the soul go out of the body, what form does the soul have, planchettes and mediums, things like that — all rubbish and nonsense. The self has no form. It is pure nothingness, it is vast sky without any clouds in it. It is a thoughtless silence, unconfined, uncontained by anything.

    That idea of a permanent soul, the idea of a self, continues to play games in your minds.

    Even if the body dies, you want to be certain that: “I will live.”

    Many people used to come to Buddha…because this country has been dominated by this second kind of ego: people believe in the permanent soul, eternal soul, aatman — they would come to Buddha again and again and say: “When I die, will something remain or not?” And Buddha would laugh and he would say: “There is nothing right now, so why bother about death? There has never been anything from the very beginning.” And this was inconceivable to the Indian mind.

    The Indian mind is predominantly hooked with the second type of ego. That’s why Buddhism could not survive in India. Within five hundred years, Buddhism disappeared. It found better roots in China, because of Lao Tzu. Lao Tzu had created really a beautiful field for Buddhism there. The climate was ready — as if somebody had prepared the ground; only the seed was needed. And when the seed reached China it grew into a great tree. But from India it disappeared. Lao Tzu had no idea of any permanent self, and in China people have not bothered much.

    There are these three cultures in the world: one culture, called the materialist — very predominant in the West; another culture, called the spiritualist — very predominant in India; and China has a third kind of culture, neither materialist nor spiritualist. It is Taoist: live the moment and don’t bother for the future, because to bother about heaven and hell and paradise and moksha is basically to be continuously concerned about yourself. It is very selfish, it is very self-centered. According to Lao Tzu, according to Buddha too, and according to me also, a person who is trying to reach heaven is a very, very self-centered person, very selfish. And he does not know a thing about his own inner being — there is no self.

    The third door was self-esteem: the child learns to do things and enjoys doing them.

    A few people get hooked there — they become technicians, they become performers, actors, they become politicians, they become the showmen. The basic theme is the doer; they want to show the world that they can do something. If the world allows them some creativity, good. If it does not allow them creativity, they become destructive.

    The criminal and the politician are not very far away, they are cousin-brothers. If the criminal is given the right opportunity he will become a politician, and if the politician is not given the right opportunity to have his say, he will become a criminal. They are border cases. Any moment, the politician can become a criminal and the criminal can become a politician. And this has been happening down the ages, but we don’t yet have that insight to see into things.

    The fourth door was self-extension. The word “mine” is the key word there. One has to extend oneself by accumulating money, by accumulating power, by becoming bigger and bigger and bigger: the patriot who says: “This is my country, and this is the greatest country in the world.” You can ask the Indian patriot: he goes on shouting from every nook and corner that this is punya bhumi — this is the land of virtue, the purest land in the world.

    India is the only country where so many Buddhas were born, so many avataras, so many tirthankaras — Rama, Krishna and others. Why? – if in the neighborhood you see that in somebody’s house a doctor comes every day — sometimes a vaidya, a physician, an acupuncturist, and the naturopath, and this and that — what do you understand by it?”

    Simple! That the family is ill.

    That is the case with India: so many Buddhas needed — the country seems to be utterly ill and pathological.

    So many healers, so many physicians. Buddha has said: “I am a physician.” And you know that Krishna has said: “Whenever there is darkness in the world, and whenever there is sin in the world, and whenever the law of the cosmos is disturbed, I will come back.” So why had he come that time? It must have been for the same reason. And why so many times in India?

    But the patriot is arrogant, aggressive, egoistic. He goes on declaring: “My country is special, my religion is special, my church is special, my book is special, my guru is special” — and everything is nothing. This is just ego claiming.

    A few people get hooked with this “mine” — the dogmatist, the patriot, the Hindu, the Christian, the Mohammedan.

    The fifth door is self-image. The child starts looking into things, experiences. When the parents feel good with the child, he thinks: “I am good.” When they pat him he feels: “I am good.” When they look with anger, they shout at him and they say: “Don’t do that!” he feels: “Something is wrong in me.” He recoils.

    A small child was asked in school on the first day he entered: “What is your name?”
    He said: “Johnny Don’t.”
    The teacher was puzzled. He said: “Johnny Don’t? Never heard such a name!”
    He said: “Whenever, whatsoever I am doing, this is my name — my mother shouts: ‘Johnny don’t!’ My father shouts: ‘Johnny don’t!’ So I think this is my name. ‘Don’t’ is always there. What I am doing is irrelevant.”

    The fifth is the door from where morals enter: you become a moralist; you start feeling very good, “holier than thou.” Or, in frustration, in resistance, in struggle, you become an immoralist and you start fighting with the whole world, to show the whole world.

    Either the child is accepted — then he feels good, then he is ready to do anything the parents want; or, if again and again he is frustrated, then he starts thinking in terms of: “There is no possibility that I can receive their love, but still I need their attention. If I cannot get their attention through the right way, I will get their attention through the wrong way. Now I will smoke, I will masturbate, I will do harm to myself and to others, and I will do all kinds of things that they say ‘Don’t do,’ but I will keep them occupied with me. I will show them.”

    This is the fifth door, the self-image. Sinner and saint are hooked there. Heaven and hell are the ideas of people who are hooked there. Millions of people are hooked. They are continuously afraid of hell and continuously greedy for heaven. They want to be patted by God, and they want God to say to them: “You are good, my son. I am happy with you.” They go on sacrificing their lives just to be patted by some fantasy somewhere beyond life and death. They go on doing a thousand and one tortures to themselves just in order that God can say: “Yes, you sacrificed yourself for me.”

    It seems as if God is a masochist or a sadist, or something like that.

    People torture themselves with the idea that they will be making God happy. What do you mean by this? You fast and you think God will be very happy with you? You starve yourself and you think God will be very happy with you? Is he a sadist? Does he enjoy torturing people? And that is what saints, so-called saints, have been doing: torturing themselves and looking at the sky. Sooner or later God will say: “Good boy, you have done well. Now come and enjoy the heavenly pleasures. Come here! Wine flows here in rivers, and roads are of gold, and palaces are made of diamonds. And the women here never age, they remain stuck at sixteen. Come here! You have done enough, you have earned, now you can enjoy!” The whole idea behind sacrifice is this. It is a foolish idea, because all ego ideas are foolish.

    The sixth is the self as reason. It comes through education, experience, reading, learning, listening: you start accumulating ideas, then you start creating systems out of ideas, consistent wholes, philosophies. This is where the philosophers, the scientists, the thinkers, the intellectuals, the rationalists are hooked. But this is becoming more and more sophisticated: from the first, the sixth is very sophisticated.

    The seventh is propriate striving: the artist, the mystic, the utopian, the dreamer — they are hooked there. They are always trying to create an utopia in the world. The word “utopia” is very beautiful: it means “that which never comes.” It is always coming but it never comes; it is always there but never here. But there are moon-gazers who go on looking for the faraway, the distant, and they are always moving in imagination. Great poets, imaginative people — their whole ego is involved in becoming. There is somebody who wants to become God; he is a mystic.

    Remember, “becoming” is the key word on the seventh, and the seventh is the last of the ego. The most mature ego comes there. That’s why you will feel, you will see a poet — he may not have anything, he may be a beggar, but in his eyes, on his nose, you will see the great ego. The mystic may have renounced the whole world and may be sitting in a Himalayan cage, in a Himalayan cave. You go there and look at him: he may be sitting there naked — but such a subtle ego, such a refined ego. He may even touch your feet, but he is showing: “Look how humble I am!”

    There are seven doors. When the ego is perfect, all these seven doors have been crossed; then that mature ego drops on its own accord. The child is before these seven egos, and the Buddha is after these seven egos. It is a complete circle.

    Buddha has moved into all these seven egos — seen them, looked into them, found that they are illusory, and has come back home, has become a child again. That’s what Jesus means when he says: “Unless you become like small children, you will not enter into my kingdom of God.”

    Ego starts growing as the child grows. The parents, the schools, colleges, university, they all help to strengthen the ego for the simple reason that for centuries man had to struggle to survive and the idea has become a fixation, a deep unconscious conditioning, that only strong egos can survive in the struggle of life. Life has become just a struggle to survive. And scientists have made it even more convincing with the theory of the survival of the fittest. So we help every child to become more and more strong in the ego, and it is there that the problem arises. As the ego becomes strong it starts surrounding intelligence like a thick layer of darkness. Intelligence is light, ego is darkness. Intelligence is very delicate, ego is very hard. Intelligence is like a roseflower, ego is like a rock. And if you want to survive, they say – the so-called knowers – then you have to become rock-like, you have to be strong, invulnerable. You have to become a citadel, a closed citadel, so you cannot be attacked from outside. You have to become impenetrable. But then you become closed. Then you start dying as far as your intelligence is concerned because intelligence needs the open sky, the wind, the air, the sun in order to grow, to expand, to flow. To remain alive it needs a constant flow; if it becomes stagnant it becomes slowly slowly a dead phenomenon. Happiness is threatening and misery is safe – safe for the ego. Ego can exist only in misery and through misery. Ego is an island surrounded by hell; happiness is threatening to the ego, to the very existence of the ego. Happiness rises like a sun and the ego disappears, evaporates like a dewdrop on the grass leaf. Happiness is the death of the ego. If you want to remain a separate entity from existence as almost everybody is trying to do, you will be afraid of being blissful, cheerful. You will feel guilty in being blissful. You will feel suicidal because you are committing suicide on the psychological level, on the level of the ego. It almost always happens that people enjoy a few moments and then afterwards feel very guilty. The guilt arises because of the ego. The ego starts torturing them, “What are you doing? Have you decided to kill me? And I am your only treasure. Killing me? You will be destroyed. Killing me is destroying yourself.” Try to understand the ego. Analyze it, dissect it, watch it, observe it, from as many angles as possible. And don’t be in a hurry to sacrifice it, otherwise the greatest egoist is born: the person who thinks he is humble, the person who thinks that he has no ego. That’s what the religious people have been doing down the ages – pious egoists they have been. They have made their ego even more decorated; it has taken the color of religion and holiness. Your ego is better than the ego of a saint; your ego is better, far better – because your ego is very gross, and the gross ego can be understood and dropped more easily than the subtle. The subtle ego goes on playing such games that it is very difficult. One will need absolute awareness to watch it. Misery has many things to give to you which happiness cannot give. On the contrary, happiness takes away many things from you. In fact, happiness takes all that you have ever had, all that you have ever been; happiness destroys you. Misery nourishes your ego, and happiness is basically a state of egolessness. That is the problem, the very crux of the problem. That’s why people find it very difficult to be happy. That’s why millions of people in the world have to live in misery, have decided to live in misery. It gives you a very, very crystallized ego. Miserable, you are. Happy, you are not. In misery: crystallization; in happiness you become diffused. If this is understood then things become very clear. Misery makes you special. Happiness is a universal phenomenon, there is nothing special about it. Love and ego cannot go together. Knowledge and ego go together perfectly well, but love and ego cannot go together, not at all. They cannot keep company. They are like darkness and light: if light is there darkness cannot be. Darkness can only be if light is not there. If love is not there the ego can be; if love is there the ego cannot be. And vice versa, if ego is dropped, love arrives from all the directions. It simply starts pouring in you from everywhere. The Ego Feeds off Your Desire to Be Something Else. Where does the ego get its energy? The ego feeds off your desire to be something else. You are poor and you want to be rich – the ego is absorbing energy, its life-breath. You are ignorant and you want to become a wise one – the ego is absorbing energy. You are a wretched nobody and you want to become powerful – the ego is absorbing energy. Understand the process of the ego. How does the ego live? The ego lives in the tension between what you are and what you want to be. A wants to be B – the ego is created out of this very tension. How does the ego die? The ego dies by you accepting what you are. That you say, “I am fine as I am, where I am is good. I will remain just as existence keeps me. Its will is my will.” When you have dropped all the tension about the future – that I should become this and I should become that – the ego evaporates. The ego lives on a base of the past and the future. Understand this a little. The claims of the ego are of the past, “I did this, I did that” – it is all in the past. And the ego says, “I will definitely accomplish this, I will definitely show you that I can accomplish that.” That is all in the future. The ego simply does not exist in the present. If you come to the present, then the ego disappears. That is death to the ego.Coming to the present is the death of the ego. The ego exists through friction. Have an ideal, and you will become an egoist. The idealist is an egoist. Have a bigger ideal, and you will be a bigger egoist. The greater the ideal, the greater the ego, because the greater is the friction. The ego is created by friction between the real and the ideal. Now you may have the ideal of egolessness – that doesn’t matter. You may say, “But I have the ideal of being egoless” – it does not matter, the ideal brings the ego. Now your idea of egolessness will bring great ego. So the real egoists are those who think they are humble people, who pretend that they are egoless.

    The man who is egoless is the man who has no ideals. Let this be the criterion, and you have stumbled upon a fundamental. The man of no ego is the man of no ideals. Then how can the ego be created? – the very energy is missing. The energy comes out of friction, conflict, struggle, will.

    When you accept your life – when you take your breakfast, and when you sleep and when you walk and when you take your bath – how can you create an ego out of these things? Sleeping when feeling sleepy, eating when feeling hungry, how can you create your ego? No, if you fast, you can create ego. If you are on a vigilance for the whole night, and you say, “I am not going to sleep,” you can create the ego. By the morning, the person who has slept well will have no ego, you will have a great ego. But the ego does not want to be whole, because once you are whole the ego cannot exist. The ego exists only in the split. When you are fighting with yourself, the ego exists. The ego always exists through conflict; conflict is its food, nourishment. So if you are whole, the ego cannot exist. You can watch it. You can go and watch the criminals – they have their ego, you can go and watch your saints – they have their ego: the ego of the good and the ego of the bad. But if you can find a man who has no ego, he will be neither a sinner nor a saint, he will be very simple. He will not claim anything good or bad; he will not claim at all. The ego is created by the rift. When you are fighting, the ego comes in; when you are not fighting, the ego cannot come in. Ego is a tension. If you want the ego, then divide yourself as fully as possible – become two persons. That is what is happening to many people, that is what has happened to whole of humanity. Everybody has become two persons: one voice says “Do this,” the other voice says “Don’t do that” – then the ego arises. Out of friction ego arises, and ego is very intoxicating; it makes you unconscious. This is the whole mechanism.

    I am’ is nothing but another name for the ego. Now you will be getting into trouble. If the ego is convinced that the only way is to drop the ego, then who is going to drop whom? And how? It will be like pulling yourself up by your own shoestrings. You will look just silly. Watch each word that you use. ‘I am’ is nothing but the ego.

    The second thing: nobody has ever been able to drop the ego because ego is not a reality that you can drop; anything to be dropped at least has to be real, substantial. Ego is just a notion, an idea. You cannot drop it, you can only understand it. Can you drop your shadow? You can run as fast as you want but your shadow will run at the same speed, exactly the same speed. You cannot drop the ego. Once you start trying to drop the ego you will get in a very deep mess; you will become more and more worried and puzzled. And this is not the way to get rid of the ego. The only way to get rid of the ego is to look at it.”

    So when you do something, watch, be alert. And if it leads to misery, then you know well that it was ego. Then the next time, be alert, don’t listen to that voice. If it is nature, it will lead you towards a blissful state of mind. Nature is always beautiful, ego always ugly. There is no other way but trial and error. Life is subtle and complex and all criteria fall short. You will have to make your own efforts to judge. So whenever you do something, listen to the voice from within. Make a note of it, of where it leads. If it leads to misery, it was certainly from the ego. If your love leads to misery, it was from the ego. If your love leads to a beautiful benediction, a blessedness, it was from nature. If your friendship, even your meditation, leads you to misery, it was from the ego. If it were from nature everything would fit in, everything would become harmonious. Nature is wonderful, nature is beautiful, but you have to work it out. Always make a note of what you are doing and where it leads. By and by, you will become aware of that which is ego and that which is nature; which is real and which is false. It will take time and alertness, observation. And don’t deceive yourself – because only ego leads to misery, nothing else. Don’t throw the responsibility on the other; the other is irrelevant. Your ego leads to misery, nobody else leads you into misery. Ego is the gate of hell, and the natural, the authentic, the real that comes from your center, is the door to heaven. You will have to find it and work it out. Before you can lose your ego, you must attain it. Only a ripe fruit falls to the ground. Ripeness is all. An unripe ego cannot be thrown, cannot be destroyed. And if you struggle with an unripe ego to destroy and dissolve it, the whole effort is going to be a failure. Rather than destroying it, you will find it more strengthened, in new and subtle ways. This is something basic to be understood – the ego must come to a peak, it must be strong, it must have attained an integrity – only then can you dissolve it. A weak ego cannot be dissolved. And this becomes a problem. In the East all the religions preach egolessness. So in the East everybody is against the ego from the very beginning. Because of this anti attitude, ego never becomes strong, never comes to a point of integration from where it can be thrown. It is never ripe. So in the East it is very difficult to dissolve the ego, almost impossible. In the West the whole Western tradition of religion and psychology propounds, preaches, persuades people to have strong egos – because unless you have a strong ego, how can you survive? Life is a struggle; if you are egoless you will be destroyed. Then who will resist? Who will fight? Who will compete? And life is a continuous competition. Western psychology says: Attain to the ego, be strong in it. But in the West it is very easy to dissolve the ego. So whenever a Western seeker reaches an understanding that ego is the problem he can easily dissolve it, more easily than any Eastern seeker. This is the paradox – in the West ego is taught, in the East egolessness is taught. But in the West it is easy to dissolve the ego, in the East it is very difficult. This is going to be a hard task for you, first to attain and then to lose – because you can lose only something which you possess. If you don’t possess it, how can you lose it? When you are in anger, in passion, violent, aggressive, you feel a crystallized ego within you. Whenever you are in love, in compassion, it is not there. That’s why we cannot love, because with the ego, love is impossible. That’s why we go on talking so much about love, but we never are in love. And whatsoever we call love is more or less sex, it is not love; because you cannot lose your ego, and love cannot exist unless the ego has disappeared. Love, meditation, godliness, they all require one thing – the ego must not be there. That’s why saying that Love is Lord Shiva is right, because both phenomena happen only when the ego is not. The child is born with a Self but not with an ego. The child develops the ego. As he becomes more and more social and related, ego develops. This ego is just on your periphery where you are related with others – just on the boundary of your being. So ego is the periphery of your being, and Self is the center. The child is born with a Self, but unaware. He is a Self, but he is not conscious of the Self. The first awareness of the child comes with his ego. He becomes aware of the “I”, not of the Self. Really, he becomes aware first of the “thou”. The child first becomes aware of his mother. Then, reflectively, he becomes aware of himself. First he becomes aware of objects around him. Then, by and by, he begins to feel that he is separate. This feeling of separation gives the feeling of ego, and because the child first becomes aware of the ego, ego becomes a covering on the Self. Then ego goes on growing, because the society needs you as an ego, not as a Self. The Self is irrelevant for the society; your periphery is meaningful. And there are many problems. The ego can be taught and the ego can be made docile and the ego can be forced to be obedient. The ego can be made to adjust, but not the Self. The Self cannot be taught, the Self cannot be forced. The Self is intrinsically rebellious, individual. It cannot be made a part of society. Everybody, even a religious man, has his own ego. Even while declaring, “I am just dust underneath your feet,” you are gathering ego. The ego and the personality have to be dropped, then you will find individuality arising…a feeling of uniqueness. Yes, you are unique. Everybody else is also unique. In this world only unique people exist, so comparison is just stupid, because you alone are like yourself. There is nobody like you, so how to compare? There are only two states of consciousness that exist – the state of the ego and the state of love. The ego is the narrow state, the seed-form, the atomic stage; love is all encompassing, love is God. The center of the ego is I; the ego exists for itself. The nectar of love is the universe. Love exists for all. The ego is exploitation; love is service. And the service that flows from love, freely and spontaneously, is non-violence.

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