The first question:
You said we suffer because of the ego. And then you also say that the ego does not exist. My suffering is real. How can it be caused by something that is not real, that doesn’t exist?
You can suffer in a dream, you can suffer in a nightmare. While it lasts, to all practical purposes, it appears real. But when you awake, then you know it was not real, and even then you know that you had suffered. You may still be perspiring, you may still be trembling because of the nightmare. Your heart may still be beating faster than usual. Awake, you know that it was just a dream, but still you suffered. Not only that, but even now when you are awake, there is a hang-over. The after-effects are still continuing.
You suffer from an ego which does not exist. In fact, you suffer because it does not exist and you go on believing that it exists. If you believe in something which is not, you are bound to suffer because you will try in every possible way to feel that it exists. But it cannot exist. Just watch: whenever you suffer, watch; where does it hurt? – you will always find that it is the “I,” the ego that hurts.
You would like to live a life where there is no suffering, but that life is not possible if you continuously carry the ego with you. You cannot make a life around you so that suffering disappears. If you carry the ego, again and again you will bump into some reality which will hurt the unreal. Whenever there is an encounter between reality and unreality, the unreal causes suffering.
I have heard one anecdote about a very famous man, Oscar Wilde. At a function where the views of celebrities were being canvassed, Oscar Wilde was asked to compile his list of a hundred best books. “I fear,” said he, “that would be impossible.” “Why?” he was asked. He said, “Because I have only written five.”
You go on looking at life just from one single point – you. Humanity used to believe that earth was the center of the universe; and man, of course, the center of the earth; and you, of course, the center of humanity.
I have heard about a professor of philosophy in the university of Paris. One day he declared, “I am the greatest man in the world!”
The disciples laughed: he was a poor philosopher. But whenever he said something he must mean something, so they asked. And they asked, “You being a logician, please prove it.”
He brought a map of the world into the class, and said to the students, “Which is the greatest country in the world? Can you tell me, can you show me?”
They were all French, so of course France was the greatest country in the world.