Chapter 44: Paradise Is for the Courageous
Historians who say he was defeated by Wellington are wrong. No, he was defeated by a psychological trick. He was defeated by the cats - he was defeated by his childhood, he was defeated by a fear over which he had no control.
He was kept imprisoned on a small island, Saint Helena. There was no need for handcuffs, because the island was small and there was no way to escape from there.
On the first day he was going for a walk, and because of the nervous breakdown and the defeat he had been given a doctor to take care of him. The doctor was with him. They were walking on a small footpath, and a woman carrying a big load of grass was coming from the other direction. The path was very small; somebody had to give way. Although the doctor was English, he shouted to the woman, “Stand aside! You don’t know who is coming. Although he was defeated, it doesn’t matter: he is Napoleon Bonaparte.”
But the woman was so uneducated she had never heard the name of Napoleon Bonaparte. So she said, “So what? Let him stand aside! And you should feel ashamed. I am a woman carrying such a load, I should stand aside?”
Napoleon Bonaparte took the hand of the doctor, stepped aside and said, “The time when mountains used to give way to Napoleon Bonaparte is gone; the soap bubble is no longer there. I have to give way to a woman who is carrying grass.”
In his defeat he could see what had happened: for his whole life he had been repressing a fear. It was kept as a secret, but now the secret was known, the fear exposed. Napoleon Bonaparte was just nobody. This is the situation of a great egoist.
So don’t think that cowardice is an essential part of egoism; it is the whole of it. Ego is cowardice. And to be without ego is to be fearless - because now nothing can be taken away from you; not even death can destroy anything in you. The only thing that can be destroyed by anybody is the ego.
The ego is so fragile, so much always on the verge of death that the people who are clinging to it are always trembling deep inside.
Dropping the ego is the greatest act a man can do. It proves your mettle, it proves that you are more than you appear; it proves that there is something in you which is immortal, indestructible, eternal.
The ego makes you a coward. Egolessness makes you a fearless pilgrim of the eternal mystery of life.
When I sit with you, sometimes I hear you say that enlightenment is a sort of death and it means never coming back to this life again. My mind freaks out about this, and I am not sure if I want this or not. Then I ask myself, “Well, then what are you doing with this crazy guy?” Then all I know is that you are irresistible to my heart and that is why I am here. What is happening?