How can I leave my ego outside the front gate? It follows me like a shadow and even hides behind my back and then I am not able to see it.
Anand Shantideva, the question shows you have not understood the meaning of the ego. It is not something visible or tangible; it is not even a shadow that follows you. It is something that sits upon your head – that’s why you cannot see it. It is all that you know about yourself: your name, your respectability, your power…. Whatever you have, it is your ego.
The ego is simply a mind formation. To understand it is a very subtle process. The society you have been brought up in does not want you to know yourself. But it will be very dangerous not to allow you to know yourself and to leave you in a state of chaos. The danger is that in that chaos you may start looking for yourself.
One cannot live in a chaos. One has to find the center of the cyclone; it is an absolute necessity for survival. The society creates the mind as a substitute for your being. And for its own part, the mind creates the idea of “I,” the ego. That substitute is absolutely necessary to keep you away from yourself, because once you believe that this is you, the very question of any search for yourself does not arise. That has happened to millions of people who have lived on this earth and that is happening even today to the millions of people that are on the earth.
Today we have more ignorance in the world than ever, just because of the population. Now there are five billion idiots on the earth. It has never happened before; it is absolutely unique. You are living in a world that is very special – five billion people knowing nothing about themselves. The ignorance was never so thick and the night was never so long.
But whatever the case with the world, each individual is capable of coming out of this darkness. The first thing he has to realize is that he does not know himself. And whatever he knows about himself is just opinions imposed on him by others.
Somebody has said to you, “You are so intelligent,” and it was so satisfying to believe it that you believed it. It needs tremendous courage to disassociate yourself from all that you have been believing you are.
Shantideva, you are the ego; hence you find it difficult to leave it outside the gate. If you leave it outside you will be leaving yourself outside because you don’t know anything else about yourself except the ego. It can be left outside the gate only if you understand its very structure. It is a false substitute to keep you engaged and busy so that you don’t have time, you don’t have the energy and you don’t have any need to look for your authentic self.