Chapter 9: Possessing Nothing, Wanting Nothing
Children are imitators; the only way they learn things is by imitating their parents and the people who surround them. They are all running after money, after power, prestige, respectability. Naturally the child thinks these are the things that have to be attained, achieved. “Whatsoever the cost, I have to risk all. And life is short; hence I have to focus my energies in a concentrated way. I have to move in one particular direction with my totality. I have to be money-mad if I really want to possess money, because I am not the only one who is running after it; millions of people are running after it. It is going to be a great struggle and only those who are cunning, clever, crafty, are going to win the race.” So be cunning, be crafty, but anyhow you have to win the race. You have to prove yourself, that you are somebody, that your life was not in vain.
The child learns all this in a very unconscious way from the atmosphere into which he is born. And whatsoever the society is, the game is the same. Somewhere it is money that is more important. If you are born in America, money is more important; that brings power. If you are born in Russia, then money is not so important; then political power is real money, real gold. You have to be high in the hierarchy of the Communist Party, but the game is the same. If you are born in a so-called religious country like India, then you have to become a great saint, you have to defeat all the other saints. It is the same game now played in the name of religion. You have to be the greatest ascetic, the most famous; you have to leave everybody far behind.
Look deep down: it is one single game being played in so-called religious countries, in capitalist countries and in communist countries. Whatsoever the format, the structure, the game is the same. The game is the game of the ego.
And we are tremendously interested in fulfilling our ego, but it cannot be fulfilled. It is impossible to fulfill it - because in the first place the ego is a nonentity. It is not real, it is fictitious. If you have real hunger there is a way to satisfy it, but if your hunger is unreal there is no way to satisfy it. If you have a real disease it can be cured, but if you are a hypochondriac and you invent diseases which exist nowhere, nobody can cure you. It is impossible to cure you - there is nothing to cure. And if somehow you are convinced that one disease has been cured, you have the same old mind and it will invent another disease. It will go on inventing.
Ego is your invention. The hunger of the ego is your invention. You have to keep yourself occupied because you feel in a state of embarrassment. You are not even aware of who you are - how can you be at ease? You feel a deep unease, it is always there. To hide it you keep yourself occupied with money, with power, with religion, with politics. These are all escapes. You can find any escape - there are many alternatives available - but you keep yourself occupied so that there is no need to become so conscious of your inner trembling.
Whenever you have time, whenever you are unoccupied, suddenly the inner hollowness starts opening up and you become afraid. It is like an abyss, you are afraid you may slip into it. Hang onto something, invent something if there is nothing else to hang on to.