You get the idea of who you are from others. It is not a direct experience, it is from others that you get the idea of who you are. They shape your center. This center is false. You carry your real center – that is nobody’s business; nobody shapes it, you come with it, you are born with it.
So you have two centers. One center you come with, which is given by existence itself; that is the self. And the other center, which is created by the society, is the ego; it is a false thing. And it is a very great trick: through the ego the society is controlling you. You have to behave in a certain way, because only then does the society appreciate you. You have to walk in a certain way, you have to laugh in a certain way, you have to follow certain manners, a morality, a code. Only then will the society appreciate you, and if it doesn’t, your ego will be shaken.
And when the ego is shaken you don’t know where you are, who you are. The others have given you the idea. That idea is the ego. Try to understand it as deeply as possible, because this has to be thrown. And unless you throw it you will never be able to attain to the self, because you are addicted to the center; you cannot move and you cannot look at the self.
And remember, there is going to be an interim period, an interval, when the ego will be shattered, when you will not know who you are, when you will not know where you are going, when all boundaries will melt. You will be simply confused, a chaos. Be-cause of this chaos, you are afraid to lose the ego. But it has to be so. One has to pass through the chaos before one attains to the real center. And if you are daring, the period will be small. If you are afraid, and you again and again fall back to the ego and you again start arranging it, then it can be very very long; many lives can be wasted.
Enlightenment is always sudden. There is nothing like gradual enlightenment. The gradualness comes if you are not daring, it comes out of your fear. Then you take one step towards the center, the real center, and you become afraid – you come back. It is just like a small child standing at the door thinking to go, but there is darkness. He looks out, comes back, again gathers a little courage, again looks.
I have heard: One small child was visiting his grandparents. He was just four years old. In the night, when the grandmother was putting him to sleep, he suddenly started crying and weeping and said, “I want to go home. I am afraid of darkness.”
But the grandmother said, “I know well that at home also you sleep in the dark. I have never seen a light on. So why are you afraid here?”
The boy said, “Yes, that’s right – but that is my darkness. This darkness is completely unknown.”