Chapter 11: Ego Is Just a Habit
The first question:
would you please say something about the relationship between spontaneity and working on oneself? Shouldn’t we be loving as much as we can? If there are certain things to do or ways to be to increase our capacity for joy, shouldn’t we do them? Shouldn’t we let our egos drop?
Many good men have written that love can begin as an impulse of the will, and trying to be spontaneous seems to be a contradiction. Would you comment on this?
One has to work upon oneself, but only in a negative way. One cannot work upon oneself in a positive way, because it is not a question of creating something but a question of discovering something which is already there.
When you paint, it is a positive act - you are creating the painting - but when you dig a well it is a negative act. The water is already there; you have only to remove a few layers of earth, stones, rocks. The moment you have removed them, the water becomes available. The water is there, you are here, and between the two there is a barrier: the barrier has to be removed. That’s what I mean by negative work.
Man already has god whatsoever he is seeking and searching for. The truth is there, the bliss is there, the love is there - in one word, God is there. God is not a person, God is only the totality of all the values which are beyond mind. But the mind is the barrier, and you have to dig a well. You have to remove a few layers of thoughts, memories, desires, fantasies, dreams. The moment you have opened a door in the mind to the beyond, all that you always wanted becomes available.
The moment Gautam the Buddha became enlightened he laughed, and he said to nobody in particular - he said to himself - “This is ridiculous! I have been searching for it for thousands of lives, and it has been Lying deep down within myself!”
The sought is in the seeker. Hence the Upanishads say the method to find it is neti neti. Neti neti means “neither this nor that”; it is a process of elimination. You go on negating, eliminating. Finally, when there is nothing to be eliminated, nothing to be negated, when you have totally emptied yourself, it is found.
So the first thing to be understood is: working on oneself gives you the feeling of some positive work and that is wrong. Working on oneself simply means a negative process; it is emptying yourself. And the moment you are empty of the mind and all its processes, spontaneity explodes; Once you understand that the process is negative, then there is no contradiction between the process and spontaneity.