“Ego is the basic problem, the most basic. And unless you solve it, nothing is solved. Unless ego is disappears, the ultimate cannot penetrate you.
The ego is like a closed door. The guest is standing outside; the guest has been knocking, but the door is closed. Not only is the door closed, but the ego goes on interpreting. It says: there is nobody outside, no guest has come, nobody has knocked, just a strong wind is knocking at the door. It goes on interpreting from the inside without looking at the fact. And the door remains closed. By interpretations, even the possibilities of its opening becomes less and less. And the moment comes when you are completely closed in your own ego. Then all sensitivity is lost. Then you are not an opening, and you cannot have a meeting with existence. Then you are almost dead, the ego becomes your grave.
This is the most basic problem. If you solve it, everything is solved. There is no need to seek God. There is no need to seek truth. If the ego is not there, suddenly everything is found, if the ego is not there, you simply come to know that truth has always been around you, without and within. It was the ego which wouldn’t allow you to see it. It was the ego that was closing your eyes and your being. So the first thing to be understood is what this ego is.
A child is born, a child is born without any knowledge, any consciousness of his own self. And when a child is born, the first thing he becomes aware of is not himself. The first thing he becomes aware of is the other. It is natural, because the eyes open outwards; the hand touch others, the ears listen to others, the tongue open outwards, that is what birth means. Birth means coming into this world, the world of outside.
So when a child is born he is born into this world. He opens his eyes, sees others. ‘Other’ means the ‘thou’. He becomes aware of the mother first. Then, by and by, h becomes aware of his own body. That too is the other, that too belongs to the world. He is hungry and he feels the body; his need is satisfied, he forgets the body. This is how a child grows. First he becomes aware of you, thou, the other, and then by and by, in contrast to you, thou, he becomes aware of himself. This awareness is a reflected awareness. He is not aware of who he is. He is simply aware of the mother and what she thinks about him. If she smiles, if she appreciates the child, if she says. “You are beautiful,” if she hugs and kisses him, the child feels good about himself.
Now an ego is born. Through appreciation, love, care, he feels he is good, he feels he is valuable, he feels he has some significance. A center is born, but this center is a reflected center, it is not his real being. He does not know who he is, he simply knows what others think about him. And this is the ego: the reflection __ what others think. If nobody thinks that he is of any use, nobody appreciates him, nobody smiles, then too an ego is born __ an ill ego: sad, rejected, like a wound, feeling inferior, worthless. This too is the ego. This too is a reflection. First the mother __ and the mother means the world in the beginning __ then others will join the mother, and the world goes on growing. And the more the world grows, the more complex the ego becomes, because many others’ opinions are reflected.
The ego is an accumulated phenomenon, a by-product of living with others. If a child lives totally alone he will never come to grow an ego. But that is not going to help, he will remain like an animal. That does not mean that he will come to know the real self, no. the real can be known only through the false, so ego is a must. One has to pass through it. It is a discipline, the real can be known only through the illusion. You cannot know the truth directly: first you have to know that which is not true. First you have to encounter the untrue. Through that encounter you become capable of knowing the truth. If you know the false as the false, truth will dawn upon you.
Ego is a need; it is a social need, it is a social by-product. ‘Society’ means all that is around you __ not you, but all that is around you, all, minus you, is the society, and everybody reflects. You will go to school and the teacher will reflect who you are. You will be in friendship with other children and they will reflect who you are. By and by, everybody is adding to your ego, and everybody is trying to modify it is such a way that you don’t become a problem to the society.
They are not concerned with you, they are concerned with the society. Society is concerned with itself, and that’s how it should be. They are not concerned that you should become a self-knower; they are concerned that you should become an efficient part in the mechanism of the society. You should fit into the pattern, so they are trying to give you and ego that fits with the society. They teach you morality: morality means giving you an ego which will fit with the society. If you are immoral you will always be a misfit somewhere or other.
That’s why we put criminals in the prisons __ not that they have done something wrong, not that by putting them in prisons we are going to improve them, no. they simply don’t fit. They are troublemakers, they have certain types of egos of which the society doesn’t approve. If the society approves, everything is good.
One man kills somebody, he is a murderer, and the same man in wartime kills thousands __ he becomes a great hero. The society is not bothered by a murder, but the murder should be committed for the society __ then it is ok. The society doesn’t bother about morality. Morality means only that you should fit with the society, if the society is at war, then the morality changes. If the society is at peace, then there is a different morality.
Morality is a social politics, it is a diplomacy. And each child has to be brought up in such a way that he fits into society, that’s all, because society is interested in efficient members. Society is not interested that you should attain to self-knowledge. Society is always against religion. Hence, the crucifixion of Jesus, the murder of Socrates __ because they also didn’t fit.
Two types of people don’t fit. One: someone who has developed an anti-social ego; he will never fit. But he can be put on trial, there is that possibility, you can torture that man, you can punish him and he may come to his senses, the torture may be too much and he may be converted. Then there is another type of man who is impossible for the society __ a Jesus. He is not a criminal but he has no ego. How can you make a man who has no ego fit? He looks absolutely irresponsible but he is not: he has a greater commitment to God. He has no commitment to the society. One who is committed to God doesn’t bother; he has a different depth of morality. It doesn’t come from codes, it comes from his self-knowledge.
But then a problem arises, because societies have created their moral codes. Those moral codes are man-made. Whenever a Jesus or a Buddha happens, he doesn’t bother about the man-made conventions. He has a greater commitment; he is involved with the whole. Each moment he decides his response through his awareness, not through conditioning; so nobody knows about him, about what he will do. He is unpredictable.
Societies can forgive criminals but they cannot forgive Jesus and Socrates __ that’s impossible. And these people are almost impossible. You cannot do anything about them because they are not wrong. And if you try to understand them, they will convert you __ you cannot convert them. So it is better to kill them immediately. The moment the society becomes aware it kills them immediately, because if you listen to them there is danger __ if you listen to them you will be converted, and there is no possibility of converting them, so it is better to be completely finished, to have no relationship with them. You cannot put them in prison because there also they will remain in relationship with the society, they will exist, just their existence is too much __ they have to be murdered. And then, when priests take over, then there is no problem. Then pope of the Vatican is part of the society; Jesus never was.
That is the difference between a sect and a religion. Religion is never part of any society, it is universal, it is existential, and very very dangerous. You cannot find a more dangerous man than a religious man, because his revolution is so absolute that there is no possibility for any compromise with him. And because he is so absolutely certain __ he knows what he is doing __ you cannot convert him. And he is infectious: if he is there he will spread like a disease, he will infect many people.
Jesus had to be killed. Christianity can be accepted, but not Christ. What is Christianity? Christianity is society’s effort to replace Christ. Christ is dangerous, so society creates Christianity around him. Christianity is okay, the priest is okay __ the prophet is dangerous, that’s why three hundred religions exist on the earth, how can there be three hundred religions? Science is one. You cannot have a Catholic science and a Protestant science; you cannot have a Mohammedan science and a Hindu science. Science is one __ how can religions be three hundred?
Truth cannot be sectarian. Truth is one and universal, only one religion exist, Buddha belongs to that religion, Jesus belongs to that religion, Krishna, Mohhamed, they all belong to that religion. And then there are three hundred religions __ these are false religions, these are tricks the society has played with you, these are substitutes, imitations.
Look: Jesus is crucified on the cross, and what is the pope of the Vatican doing? He has a gold cross around his neck. Jesus is hung on the cross, and around the pope’s neck the cross is hanging, and it is a gold cross. Jesus had to carry his own cross; that cross was not golden, how can crosses be golden? His was very very heavy. He fell while carrying it on the hillock of Golgotha, under the weight he fell, he fainted. Have you seen any priest fainting under the weight of the golden cross? No, it is false substitute, it is a trick. Now this is no longer religion, this is part of the social politics. Christianity is politics Hinduism is politics, Buddhism is politics. Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, they are not social at all. They are not anti-social __ they are beyond society.
So there are two dangers for the society: anti-social people, criminals; you can tackle them. They may be dangerous but something can be done about them; they are not dangerous. Then there is a group of people which is beyond society. They are impossible, you cannot change them, they will not be ready to make any compromise.
The society creates an ego because the ego can be controlled and manipulated. The self can never be controlled and manipulated. Nobody has ever heard of the society controlling a self __ not possible. And the child needs a center; the child is completely unaware of his own center. The society gives him a center, and the child is by and by convinced that this is his center, the ego that society gives.
A child goes back to his home. If he has comes first in his class, the whole family is happy. You hug and kiss him and you take the child on your shoulders and dance and you say, “what a beautiful child! You are a pride for us.” You are giving him an ego, a subtle ego. And if the child goes home dejected, unsuccessful, a failure, he couldn’t pass, or he has just been on the back bench, then nobody appreciates him and the child feels dejected. He will try hard next time, because the center feels shaken.
Ego is always shaken, always in search of food, that somebody should appreciate it. That’s why you are continuously ask for attention. That’s why ego has always been a misery. If the husband comes into the room and doesn’t look at his wife, there is trouble. If he is more interested in his newspaper there is trouble __ how dare you be more interested in the newspaper when your wife is there? If a man is very very great, then his wife is always a problem. The contrary will also be so: if a wife is very very great, her husband will be a problem. Ask the wives of great men __ because a great man has many deeper things to do. A Socrates,,,, he was more interested in meditation than in his wife, and that was a wound. Socrates’ wife was continuously nagging. He was more attentive to somewhere else __ “something is more important than me?” __ and this shakes the ego.
I have heard: Mulla Nasruddin and his wife were coming out from a cocktail party, and Mulla said, “Darling has anybody ever said to you how fascinating, how beautiful, how wonderful you are?”
His wife felt very very good, was very happy. She said, “I wonder why nobody has ever told me this?”
Nasruddin said, “Then from where did you get this idea?”
You get the idea of who you are from others. It is not a direct experience, it is from others that you get the idea of who you are. They shape your center. This center is false. You carry your real center __ that’s nobody’s business; nobody shapes it, you come with it, you are born with it.
So you have two centers. One center you come with, which is given by existence itself; that is the self. And the other center, which is created by the society, is the ego; it is a false thing. And it is a very great trick: through the ego the society is controlling you. You have to behave in a certain way, because only then does the society appreciates you, you have to walk in a certain way, you have to laugh in a certain way, you have to follow certain manners, a morality, a code. Only then will the society appreciates you, and if it doesn’t, your ego will be shaken.
And when the ego is shaken you don’t know where you are, who you are. The others have given you the idea. That idea is the ego.”
Osho, Returning To The Source, pp 101-107