Even a small child asks for attention. He may go on playing silently, but a guest comes…and the mother has said to the child that when the guest comes, he has to be silent: “Don’t create any noise, and don’t create any disturbance” – but when the guest comes, the child has to do something because he also wants attention. And he wants more, because he is accumulating an ego – just growing. He needs more food and he has been told to keep silence – that is impossible! He will have to do something. Even if he has to harm himself, he will fall. Harm can be tolerated, but attention must be paid to him, everybody must pay attention, he must become the center of attention!
Once I stayed in a home. The child there must have been told that while I was there he was not to make any trouble, he had to remain quiet and everything. But the child could not remain quiet, he wanted my attention also, so he started creating noise, running here and there, throwing things. The mother was angry and she told him many times, admonished him: “Listen, I am going to beat you if you go on doing this.” But he wouldn’t listen. Then finally she said to the child, “Listen, go to that chair and sit there now!”
From the very gesture the child understood, “Now it is too much and she is going to beat me,” so he went to the chair, sat there on the chair, glared at his mother and said, very meaningfully, “Okay! I am sitting, on the outside – but on the inside I am standing.”
From childhood to the final, ultimate day of your death, you go on asking for attention. When a person is dying the only idea that is in his mind, almost always, is, “What will people say when I am dead? How many people will come to give me the last goodbye? What will be published in the newspapers? Is any newspaper going to write an editorial?” These are the thoughts. From the very beginning to the last we look at what others say. It must be a deep need.
Attention is food for the ego; only a person who has attained to the self drops that need. When you have a center, your own, you need not ask for others’ attention. Then you can live alone. Even in the crowd you will be alone, even in the world you will be alone, you will move in the crowd, but alone.
Right now you cannot be alone. Right now if you go to the Himalayas and move into a dense forest, sitting under a tree, you will wait for somebody to pass by, at least somebody who can carry the message to the world that you have become a great hermit. You will wait, you will open your eyes many times to see – has somebody come yet or not? …Because you have heard the stories that when somebody renounces the world, the whole world comes to his feet, and up to now nobody has reached – no newspaper man, no reporters, no cameramen, nobody! You cannot go to the Himalayas. When the need for attention drops you are in the Himalayas wherever you are.
Lieh-Tzu exhibited his skill in archery….
Why “exhibit”? He was still concerned with the ego, he was still looking for attention, and he showed his skill to Po-Hun Wu-Jen who was an enlightened master, a very old man. The story says he was almost ninety – very, very old – when Lieh-Tzu went to see him. Why to Po-Hun? – because he was a renowned master, and if he says, “Yes, Lieh-Tzu, you are the greatest archer in the world,” it will be such a vital food that one can live on it for ever and ever.