Your self needs many degrees, your self needs recognitions, honor. Those are its nourishment; it lives on them. And even the people who renounce the world – become sannyasins, monks – do not renounce their selves. It is easy to renounce the world; it is very difficult to renounce the self, because you don’t know anything else about yourself. You know your business, you know your education, you know your name – and you know perfectly well you had come without a name. You had come a tabula rasa; nothing was written on you, and your parents and your teachers and your priests started writing all over you.
You go on believing in the self your whole life. It is very touchy, because it is very thin. Thin, in the sense that it is false. That’s why the egoist is a very touchy person.
I used to go for a morning walk when I was a teacher in the university. I had no idea who he was, but there was an old man and just because of his age I used to say, “Good morning,” to him – and we were the only two persons at that early hour, three o’clock in the morning.
One day I forgot to say good morning to the man and he said, “Hey, have you forgotten?”
I said, “This is strange! I don’t know you at all; it was just out of sheer courtesy toward an older man, who is as old as my grandfather, that I used to say good morning to you. But it is not a contract that I have to do it every day.”
He was demanding it because it had become a fulfillment of a certain part of his self. I had no idea who he was, but he had every idea about me, and it was hurting to him that I had not said, “Good morning, sir.”
I said, “I will never say it again to you – or to any old man – just out of courtesy, because I was poisoning your mind.”
Have you ever wondered: you have entered the world without a name, but if somebody says something against your name you will be ready to fight without knowing, “I had come into the world without a name; this name is a false label.” You don’t have any name – namelessness is your reality.
People who renounce the world are worshipped as saints, but nobody sees that their egos have become even more subtle, stronger than ever before.
I have heard that there were three Christian monasteries deep in the hills, and one day three monks, one from each monastery, just by chance met on the road. They were tired – they had been coming from the city – so they rested under a tree.
The first monk said, “I am proud of my monastery. We may not be as knowledgeable as the people who live in your monasteries, but you cannot compete with us as far as living in austerity is concerned.”