Chapter 3: From Accidental to Essential
The twentieth century is the most accidental. By and by, man has become too much attached to “my” and “mine” - to possessions. And he has completely lost track of his being. He has completely lost track of “I.” “My” has become more important. When “my” becomes more important, then you are getting attached to the accidental. When “I” remains more important and “my” remains just as a servant, then you are a master, then you are not a slave - then you live in a totally different way.
That’s what Zen people call the original face of man, where pure “I” exists. This “I” has nothing to do with the ego. Ego is nothing but the center of all the non-essential possessions that you have. Ego is nothing but the accumulated “my” and “mine” - my house, my car, my prestige, my religion, my scripture, my character, my morality, my family, my heritage, my tradition. All these “my’s,” all these “mines” go on getting accumulated; they become crystallized as the ego.
When I am using the word “I,” I am using it in an absolutely non-egoistic sense. “I” means your being.
Zen people say: Find out your face, the face you had before you were born; find out that face that you will again have when you are dead. Between birth and death, whatsoever you think is your face is accidental. You have seen it in a mirror; you have not felt it from the within - you have looked for it in the without. Do you know your original face? You know only the face your mirror shows to you. And all our relationships are just mirrors.
The husband says to the wife, “You are beautiful” - and she starts thinking she is beautiful. Somebody comes, buttresses you, says, “You are very wise, intelligent, a genius!” - and you start believing in it. Or somebody condemns you, hates you, is angry about you. You don’t accept what he says, but still, deep down in the unconscious it goes on accumulating. Hence the ambiguity of man.
Somebody says you are beautiful, somebody else says you are ugly - now what to do? One mirror says you are wise, another man says you are an idiot - now what to do? And you depend only on mirrors, and both are mirrors. You may not like the mirror that says you are an idiot, but it has said so, it has done its work. You may repress it, you may never bring it to your consciousness, but deep down it will remain in you that one mirror has said you are an idiot.
You trust in mirrors - then you become split because there are so many mirrors. And each mirror has its own investment. Somebody calls you wise - not because you are wise; he has his own investment. Somebody calls you an idiot - not because you are an idiot; he has his own investment. They are simply showing their likes and dislikes; they are not asserting anything about you. They may be asserting something about themselves, maybe, but they are not saying anything about you - because no mirror can show you who you are.
Mirrors can only show you your surface, your skin. You are not on your skin; you are very deep. You are not your body. One day the body is young, another day it becomes old. One day it is beautiful, healthy; another day it becomes crippled and paralyzed. One day you were throbbing with life; another day life has oozed out of you. But you are not your periphery - you are your center.
The accidental man lives on the periphery. The essential man remains centered. This is the whole effort.