The first question:
I feel that through developing an attitude of endurance toward difficulties, I have become resigned to much of life. This resignation feels like a weight pushing against my effort to become more alive in meditation. Does this mean that I have suppressed my ego, and that I must find it again before I can really lose it?
It is one of the greatest problems. It will appear very paradoxical, but this is true – before you can lose your ego, you must attain it. Only a ripe fruit falls to the ground. Ripeness is all. An unripe ego cannot be thrown, cannot be destroyed. And if you struggle with an unripe ego to destroy and dissolve it, the whole effort is going to be a failure. Rather than destroying it, you will find it more strengthened, in new and subtle ways.
This is something basic to be understood – the ego must come to a peak, it must be strong, it must have attained an integrity – only then can you dissolve it. A weak ego cannot be dissolved. And this becomes a problem.
In the East all the religions preach egolessness. So in the East everybody is against the ego from the very beginning. Because of this anti attitude, ego never becomes strong, never comes to a point of integration from where it can be thrown. It is never ripe. So in the East it is very difficult to dissolve the ego, almost impossible.
In the West the whole Western tradition of religion and psychology propounds, preaches, persuades people to have strong egos – because unless you have a strong ego, how can you survive? Life is a struggle; if you are egoless you will be destroyed. Then who will resist? Who will fight? Who will compete? And life is a continuous competition. Western psychology says: Attain to the ego, be strong in it.
But in the West it is very easy to dissolve the ego. So whenever a Western seeker reaches an understanding that ego is the problem he can easily dissolve it, more easily than any Eastern seeker. This is the paradox – in the West ego is taught, in the East egolessness is taught. But in the West it is easy to dissolve the ego, in the East it is very difficult.
This is going to be a hard task for you, first to attain and then to lose – because you can lose only something which you possess. If you don’t possess it, how can you lose it? You can be poor only if you are rich. If you are not rich your poverty cannot have that beauty which Jesus goes on preaching: “Be poor in spirit.” Your poverty cannot have that significance which Gautam Buddha has when he becomes a beggar.