Certainly you will ask, “Why should one want to choose a life of agony, anguish, anxiety, pain, suffering? Why? Why should one choose a life of sorrow?” There are reasons, great reasons behind it: because only in sorrow can you be. In ecstasy you disappear. Only in pain can you exist as an entity. In bliss you are lost, as a drop is lost in the ocean. You are afraid to lose yourself; hence you have chosen the ways of agony.
They create the ego: the more you suffer, the more you feel you are. Suffering gives you a definition. It makes you feel solid; it gives you a feeling that you are separate from the whole. That’s why you have chosen it. Nobody has chosen sorrow and suffering directly. Indirectly, you have chosen to be an egoist, hence you have to choose suffering. Without suffering you cannot be an egoist. The ego cannot exist without a sea of suffering around it. The ego is like an island in a sea of suffering.
You are enjoying your ego – you are continuously strengthening it, decorating it, making it more and more valuable. This is your choice.
Once you see that the ego is deeply connected with suffering and without suffering it cannot exist, then if you don’t want to suffer, you drop the ego. You forget all about the language of the ego – the language of the ego is the language of agony – and then things are very simple.
I have heard:
A little boy worrying through his very first day at school, raised his hand for permission to go to the washroom, then returned to the class a few moments later to report that he could not find it.
Dispatched a second time with explicit directions, he still could not find it. So this time the teacher asked a slightly older boy to act as guide. Success crowned his efforts.
“We finally found it,” he told the teacher. “He had his pants on backwards.”
This is the situation. You are enlightened beings, just your pants are on backwards. You need a little, slightly older boy to guide you, that’s all. That’s what a master is meant to be.
Nothing is missing; nothing can be missing. You are born enlightened. Then you have chosen a life of suffering and agony. You can live enlightened, you can die enlightened. It depends on you. It is a question of sheer choice.
“Are you the only enlightened person in this ashram?” In this ashram you will not even find trees unenlightened.
“If yes, is it impossible to enlighten or to be enlightened near an enlightened person?” It is not a question of being near an enlightened person. If you don’t choose to be, you can be here forever and you will not choose to be. If you choose to be enlightened, you can be enlightened anywhere.