When Yang Chu was passing through Sung he spent
the night at an inn.
The innkeeper had two concubines – one beautiful and the other ugly. The ugly one he valued and the beautiful one he neglected. When Yang Chu asked the reason, the fellow answered, “The beautiful one thinks herself beautiful and I do not notice her beauty; the ugly one thinks herself ugly and I do not notice her ugliness.”
Yang Chu said to his disciples, “Remember this: if you act nobly and banish from your mind the thought that you are noble, where can you go and not be loved?”
The ego exists through self-consciousness; it cannot exist otherwise. But remember, self-consciousness is not the consciousness of the self: self-consciousness is not self-remembering. Self-consciousness is in fact not consciousness at all. It is an unconscious state. You are not alert when you are self-conscious, you are not aware; you don’t know that you are self-conscious. If you become aware, self-consciousness disappears. If you become a witness, then it is not found there.
Remember one criterion: whatsoever disappears through awareness is illusory, and whatsoever remains through awareness – not only remains but becomes more crystallized – is real. Make it a criterion. Consciousness is the touchstone.
In a dream, if you become aware that you are dreaming then the dream disappears immediately. Not even a split second it can remain there. The moment you become aware that it is a dream it is no longer there, because the very nature of a dream is illusory. It exists because you are not. When you are, it disappears. It exists only when you are unconscious. If you take this touchstone and touch all that happens to you on it, there will be so much happening within you, such a great transformation is possible through it, that you cannot imagine it beforehand.
Anger is there; if you become aware, it disappears. Love is there; if you become aware, it becomes more crystallized. Then love is part of existence, and anger is part of dreaming. If you are unaware, then you exist; if you become aware you simply dissolve, you are no longer there – then God exists. And you both cannot exist together – either you or God. There is no choice and there is no compromise. You cannot say, “Fifty-fifty, a little ‘I’ and a little God.” No, that’s not possible. You are simply not found, and God is.
So self-consciousness is not a right word, because consciousness is used in it, and it is a very unconscious state. It will be better, if you will allow me, to call self-consciousness self-unconsciousness. Whenever you feel you are, something is ill.
Chuang Tzu says: If the shoe doesn’t fit, then you are conscious of the feet. If the shoe fits, the feet are forgotten. It is because of a headache that you become aware of the head. If the headache disappears, where is the head? Along with the headache, the head also disappears. When something is wrong it becomes like a wound. When you are ill, then this so-called self-consciousness exists. When everything fits, is a harmony, and there is no discord – the shoe is not pinching, everything is absolutely okay – you are not self-conscious. Then you are. In fact, for the first time you are – but you are not self-conscious.