The Ego is the part of the Self that most people present to the world. The Self whispers while the Ego SHOUTS . When I refer to the "self," I am referring to the "higher self:" , Your soul, Your center. The ego and the Self stand at two opposite ends of our spiritual journey. Our inquiry begins with the ego and culminates in the realization of the Self.
Man is afraid of aloneness. He becomes afraid of aloneness because in aloneness he will find a reflection of his real state, he will come across the reflection of his own face. And it will be very frightening, very scary. So, from getting up in the morning till going to sleep at night, he uses all kinds of methods to escape from himself so that he doesn't have to face himself. He is afraid that he may see himself.
We want to forget the state which is inside; we don't want to see it. It may be possible to convince our mind that something which is not visible is not there but that does not mean that it has gone away. There is no relation between not being visible and being non-existent. If something had been visible then perhaps we could have been able to change it, but as it is not visible, change is not possible. It will go on growing inside like a wound, like an ulcer which we have hidden and do not want to look at.
What people are hiding inside and what they say on the outside are very different. What you see outside on their faces is completely different from what is going on inside them. It is possible that outside they are talking about love but inside they are full of hate. They may be saying to somebody, "Good morning! I am pleased to see you. I am happy that I met you this morning," but inside they are saying, "Why do I have to see the face of this stupid person first thing in the morning?"
The image formed in other people's eyes deceives us and we become afraid to look within. We want to see the image people have of us, not ourselves. What are people saying? We become very interested in knowing what people say about us. There is nothing else behind this curiosity to know. We think we can recognize ourself through the image formed in others' eyes. This is very surprising! Even to know ourself we have to look into another person's eyes.
Man is afraid that people might say something bad about him. He feels happy if people say something good about him because his knowledge of himself depends on their opinion. He doesn't have immediate knowledge of himself; he does not have any direct experience of knowing himself. This experience can happen, but it doesn't because we try to escape from it.
The first thing in encountering the mind is not to bother about what others say or how one appears to others; rather, one has to have a direct encounter with what one essentially is. In one's aloneness one has to open one's mind totally and see what is there.
A young monk lived in a village in Japan. He was very famous, and had great reputation. The whole village loved and respected him. Songs were sung all over the village in his honor. But one day everything changed. A young girl in the village became pregnant and gave birth to a child. When her family asked her whose child it was she said it was the child of the young monk. How long does it take for admirers to become enemies? How long? It does not take even a short while because inside the mind of an admirer condemnation is always hidden. The mind just waits for a chance, and the day admiration ends, condemnation begins. Those people who show respect can change in one minute to being disrespectful. The people who are touching a person's feet can within a moment start cutting the same person's head off. There is no difference between respect and disrespect, they are two faces of the same coin.
The people of the whole village attacked the monk's hut. For a long time they had been showing respect to the monk but now all the anger that they had suppressed came out. Now they had the chance to be disrespectful, so they all ran to the monk's hut and set it on fire and threw the tiny baby at him.
The monk asked, "What is the matter?"
The people shouted, "You are asking us what the matter is? This child is yours! Do we have to tell you what the matter is? Look at your burning house, look within your heart, look at this child and look at this girl. There is no need for us to tell you that this child is yours."
The monk said, "Is it so? Is this child mine?"
The child started crying so he started singing a song to make the child silent, and the people left him sitting by his burnt-out hut. Then he went to beg at his usual time, in the afternoon , but who would give him food today? Today every door he stood in front of was slammed shut. Today a crowd of children and people started walking behind him, teasing him, throwing stones. He reached the house of the girl whose child it was. He said, "I may not get food for myself, but at least give some milk for this child ! I may be at fault, but what is the fault of this poor baby?" The child was crying, the crowd was standing there, and it became unbearable for the girl. She fell at the feet of her father and said, "Forgive me, I lied when I gave the name of the monk. I wanted to save the real father of the child, so I thought of using the name of this monk. I don't even have any acquaintance with him."
The father became nervous. This was a great mistake. He ran out of his house, fell at the feet of the monk and tried to take the baby from him.
The monk asked, "What is the matter?"
The girl's father said," Forgive me, there has been a mistake. The child is not yours." The monk replied, "Is this so? Is the child really not mine?"
Then the people of the village said to him, "You are mad! Why didn't you deny it this morning?" The monk said, "What difference would it have made? The child must belong to somebody. And you had already burnt one hut , you would have just burnt one more. You had enjoyed defaming one person, you would have enjoyed defaming one more. What difference would it make? The child must belong to someone , it could also be mine. So what is the problem? What difference does it make?"
The people said, "Don't you understand that everybody condemned you, insulted you, humiliated you very much?"
The monk answered, "If I had been concerned with your condemnation, I would have been concerned about your respect also. I do as I feel right; you do whatever you feel to be right. Until yesterday you felt it right to respect me so you did. Today you felt it right not to respect me so you didn't. But I am not concerned with either your respect or your disrespect. The people said to him, "Gentleman, you should have realized that you would lose your good reputation."
He replied, "I have dropped this idea of seeking to be good and bad in people eyes. I have dropped all concern in becoming good because the more I tried to become good, the more I found that I became bad. The more I tried to escape from badness, the more I found that goodness was disappearing. I dropped the very idea."
The journey of a seeker is not one of becoming a good man in others eyes ; the journey of a seeker is one of becoming a sage or wise.