Chapter 5: Watch This! Stranger than Fiction
If parents are really wise they will create opportunities for the children to say no - and beautiful opportunities. Right now, unknowingly, they give ugly opportunities. For example, you say to the child, “Don’t smoke cigarettes.” This is an ugly opportunity because the child will smoke - you have tempted the child to smoke cigarettes. You should have told him something better - “Don’t go out in the sun. Don’t climb the tree.” But you say to the children, “Don’t eat ice-cream.” You should say to them, “Don’t eat fruit” - that will be a wise temptation. “Eat as much ice-cream as you want, but don’t eat fruit.” Give them such a temptation as leads them to say no to you but does not harm their lives; otherwise they will remain deformed their whole lives.
Two old men - one was seventy, the other was eighty - were talking. They were talking about the most embarrassing moments in their lives. The seventy-year-old man said, “I have never told anybody, but you are my bosom friend and I know you will keep it a secret. The most embarrassing moment of my life was when I was caught looking through the keyhole of a bathroom when a young woman was taking a bath.”
The other said, “Forget all about it - each child does that. There is nothing to be so much embarrassed about.”
And the old man said, “I know - but it was yesterday.”
Once wrong habits are formed they continue; they remain like hangovers and they become more and more ingrained, more and more deep they go into your unconscious.
I am perfectly in favor of creating an ego in the child, because without an ego the child will remain a part of the parents; he will never be an individual on his own. But the no and the no-saying creates only a superficial individuality; because no is negative it cannot create real individuality.
The superficial individuality is called personality; the ego gives you a personality. But it is better than having nothing at all, at least it gives you a sense of your being, it defines you. But don’t remain in it forever; it is a passing phase, a stepping-stone. From the personality you have to reach individuality. From the superficial individuality you have to attain to a core individuality. That is possible only by saying yes. But yes is significant only when you have become able to say no. If you say yes from the very beginning, your yes carries no meaning at all; it is meaningless. If you are capable of saying no then your yes has meaning, as much meaning as your no has strength.
Hence the society teaches you a false, superficial personality. But when you come to a Buddha, to a Jesus, to a Krishna, to a Mahavira - to a master, to a real master - he will teach you how to say yes. He will take away your no, he will take away your personality.
The personality is like the shell of an egg - the ego is the shell of the egg. It protects the life within for the time being only; beyond that it will be destructive. The egg has to be broken one day so the bird can come out. No only creates a shell around you. It is good, it is needed, it is protective, but one day you have to come out of it. That’s the function of religion.