So the basic, the very basic, teaching of Tao is to be in a state of non-being, what Buddhists call anatta, a state of no-self. Empty, a deep nothingness, nobody inside…then you really are. But then you are not: the whole is. The moment you start thinking about yourself as a separate individual the part is claiming to be the whole; the part has gone mad. The ego is the only insane thing in the world. The ego is neurosis, and anybody who suffers from the ego suffers from neurosis, because he thinks as if the part were the whole. The part is not the whole. If a leaf in the tree starts thinking “I am,” then the leaf has gone mad. The tree is and the leaf exists only as a part, an organic part, of the tree. Even to conceive of the leaf as separate is impossible. The tree is flowing in it. It is the tree’s energy that has become the leaf. If a wave in the ocean thinks “I am separate: I am,” then the wave has gone mad. The ocean is. All waves are nothing but the ocean waving.
All human beings are nothing but the universal consciousness waving. We are waves. The moment you understand “I am a wave” that means you have understood you are not – only the ocean is. Sometimes the ocean waves and you are, and sometimes the ocean remains silent and you disappear.
Tao says: The ego is the only barrier. All other religions say the same, but Tao goes deepest in its approach; its insight is the greatest. All religions say that the ego has to be dropped, but if you listen, if you read, if you look into those religious people, you will find that their insight is not very deep and the ego comes up in different forms again and again.
About the ego only two persons have touched the very substratum and these two persons are Lao Tzu and Gautam Buddha. Religions go on saying “Drop the ego. Be egoless,” but in a subtle way, somehow, they go on protecting it too. They say “If you drop the ego, you will become spiritual. If you drop the ego you will be the first in the kingdom of God. If you drop the ego you will be the chosen one. If you drop the ego great is going to be the pay-off in the other world – the heaven, the paradise, moksha.” On the one hand they say “Drop the ego,” on the other hand they persuade you, they bribe you, they buttress your greed. They say, “You will be special. You will be extraordinary.” On the one hand they say “Drop the ego,” on the other hand they go on strengthening the same ego under different names. “You will become a miracle man. You will have siddhis – you will have spiritual powers, occult forces. You will be able to manipulate the existence more deeply. You will become telepathic. You will be able to read others’ minds. You will be clairvoyant.” This and that…all the siddhis of the yogis – all the miraculous powers of Yoga…. But again you are decorated, again you become very, very strong.