Only a wise man can say: “I don’t know.” But in saying that he doesn’t know, he is not hankering after knowledge, he is simply stating a fact. And when you can say with your total heart: “I don’t know,” in that very moment your eyes become open, the doors of knowing are open. In that very moment when you can say with your totality that you don’t know, you have become capable of knowledge. This ignorance is beautiful, but it is attained through knowledge. It is poverty attained through richness. And the same happens with ego – you can lose it if you have it.
When Buddha comes down from his throne, becomes a beggar – what is the necessity for Buddha? He was a king, enthroned, at the peak of his ego – why this extreme, moving down from his palace to the streets, becoming a beggar? But Buddha has a beauty in his begging. The earth has never known such a beautiful beggar, such a rich beggar, such a kingly beggar, such an emperor.
What happened when he stepped down from his throne? He stepped down from his ego. Thrones are nothing but symbols, symbols of the ego, of power, prestige, status. He stepped down and then egolessness happened. This egolessness is not humbleness; this egolessness is not humility. You may find many humble people, but under their humility subtle egos are functioning.
It is said that once Diogenes came to visit Socrates. Diogenes lived like a beggar; he always wore dirty clothes with many patches and holes. Even if you presented him with a new dress he would not use it – first he would make it dirty, old, torn, and then he would use it. He came to visit Socrates, and he started talking about egolessness. But Socrates’ penetrating eyes must have come to realize that this man was not an egoless man. The way he was talking about humility was very egoistic. Socrates is reported to have said: “Through your dirty clothes, through the holes in your clothes, I cannot see anything else but the ego. You talk of humility, but that talk comes from a deep center of the ego.”
This will happen, this is how hypocrisy happens. You have the ego, you hide it through the opposite; you become humble on the surface. This surface humbleness cannot deceive anyone. It may deceive you, but it cannot deceive anyone else. From the holes of the dirty dresses your ego goes on peeping. It is always there. This is a self-deception and nothing more. Nobody else is deceived. This happens if you start throwing the unripe ego.
What I teach will look contradictory but it is true to life. Contradiction is inherent in life. So I teach you to be egoists so that you can become egoless. I teach you to be perfect egoists. Don’t hide it, otherwise hypocrisy will be born. And don’t struggle with the unripe phenomenon. Let it ripen – and help it, bring it to a peak. Don’t be afraid – there is nothing to be afraid of. This is how you will come to realize the agony of the ego. When it comes to its peak, then you will not need a Buddha or me to tell you that the ego is hell. You will know it, because the peak of the ego will be the peak of your hellish experiences, it will be a nightmare. And then there is no need for anybody to tell you to drop it. It will be difficult to carry it on.