But the ego belongs. It exists in a pattern. So if you are left alone for a long period your ego will, by and by, subside. By and by you will feel that your ego is being starved, because the ego needs constant help from others. It needs a constant energy, food from others. That’s why love gives you a very heightened feeling of ego because in love the other gives you significance, meaning. You become, for the first time, important. And in love, lovers help each other mutually. Love is a very subtle food for ego. The ultimate vitamin for the ego is love.
That’s why Mahavira and Buddha and Mohammed and Christ, they all escaped from society. It was not really escaping from society, they all escaped into loneliness. It was not against society. Basically, it was to know whether their egos could exist outside society. And Mahavira was in loneliness continuously for twelve years just to dissolve this ego, this social construct. He chose to be without a center for the time being so that a real center, the authentic center, could come up.
One has to be in a gap, mm? That gap is bound to be a chaos, because you are centered in the ego and the real center is hidden behind. Unless you dissolve this false center you cannot reach to the real center – because there is no need, the ego goes on substituting for it.
The ego is enough as far as the world is concerned, society is concerned, relationship is concerned – the ego is enough. If you go on a lonely retreat in nonrelationship, this ego cannot exist because it is a bridge between I and thou. If the thou is not there, the bridge cannot exist on one bank, it needs two banks to be there. That’s why this retreating into loneliness became a deep sadhana.
But you can deceive yourself. If you go into loneliness and then begin to talk with God, then again you will create your ego. You have created the thou, the other, again. So if you retreat into loneliness and then pray to God and begin to talk with God, then you have created an imaginary thou, now the ego can exist again. So to be in loneliness means to be without thou, no thou – to be totally alone. Then this ego cannot exist, it will wither away, and you will be thrown into chaos because you will be, for a certain period, without any center. This chaos has to be faced. Unless you face it you cannot be centered in your Self. You have to pass through this.
Christian mystics have called this “The dark night of the soul.” Really, one just becomes mad, because when you have no center you are mad. You have nowhere to function from; you have no unity now. You are just fragments with no energy in them, with no center, with no focus. You are a crowd. You will be mad. This madness has to be faced. This is the only courage the religious revolution needs – to be mad, to be without a center. This is the real austerity, to pass through it without creating any false center again; to be so honest that unless the real center comes up you are not going to create any center anymore. You will wait. This waiting may take any length of time. Nothing can be said.