Chapter 5: Monkey Mountain
Ego is a false phenomenon. It is the accumulation of others’ opinions, it is not a knowledge of the self. This self, the so-called self which is really the ego, is nothing but the accumulation of reflections - and then there is always fear. Others may change their mind, you are always dependent on them. If they say you are good you have to follow their rules to remain good, you have to follow them to remain good in their eyes, because once they change their opinion you will no longer be good. You have no direct approach to your being, it is via others. So you not only advertise, you magnify, you falsify. You may have a little truth, a little beauty, but you magnify it and it becomes ridiculous.
I remember - and I will never forget it - the first time Mulla Nasruddin was introduced to me. A mutual friend introduced us. The friend said, among other things, that Mulla Nasruddin was a great writer. And he smiled knowingly. So I asked Mulla Nasruddin, “What have you written?”
He said, “I have just finished Hamlet.”
I couldn’t believe my ears, so I asked him, “Have you ever heard of a guy known as William Shakespeare?”
Mulla Nasruddin said, “This is strange, because before, when I wrote Macbeth, somebody asked the same thing.” And he asked, “Who is this man William Shakespeare? It seems that he keeps on copying me. Whatsoever I write, he also writes.”
You think that everybody is copying you and the reality is that you go on copying everybody else. You are a carbon copy, you are not a real person, because a real person never needs any display.
I have heard:
It happened once at a hill station, on the lawn of a big hotel, that three elderly women were playing cards. A fourth approached and she asked if she could join them. They said, “Of course, you are welcome, but there are a few rules.” And they handed her a printed card, with four rules on it. The first was: Never talk about mink coats, because we all have them. Second: Never talk about your grandchildren, because we are all grandmothers. Third: Never talk about jewelry, because we all have precious jewelry purchased from the best of places. And fourth: Never talk about sex - what was, was!
But everybody wants to talk about himself: his mink coats, his jewelry, his children, his sex. And everybody bores everybody else. And if you tolerate bores, you tolerate them only because it is a mutual understanding: if he is boring you he will allow himself to be bored by you. You are just waiting - when he stops his display, you can start your own. And the whole of life becomes false, a continuous display. What do you achieve through it? Just a false feeling that you are important, extraordinary.