A man who is constantly worried about his impression in others’ eyes, how he looks in mirrors, is a fool, because he is wasting a great opportunity in which tremendous experiences are possible. But he has not taken the first step, afraid because he will look like a fool. Don’t be afraid of foolishness, otherwise you will remain a fool.
One day or other you have to recognize the fact that up to now you have lived in deep stupidity. And if you go on living this way – through mirrors, reflections, opinions – you by and by lose your individuality, you become part of the masses, you lose your soul. Then you are not an authentic individual.
The word mass comes from a Latin root massa. Massa means something which can be molded, kneaded. And when I say you become a mass, I mean that you are being continuously molded by others, kneaded by others. But you allow it, you cooperate with it. You take all sorts of trouble to become a part of the mass, of some crowd, because alone you lose your identity. Your whole identity is through the crowd.
That’s why people, when they become retired, die sooner. Psychoanalysts say that at least ten years’ life is cut. Politicians, when they are in power, are very healthy; once they are out of power, their health disappears, they die soon – because out of power their whole identity starts disappearing like a dream. Out of the office, suddenly you are nobody. You have been nobody your whole life, but you go on believing in the fictions that you create around you.
A man who is a great officer thinks himself great; once his post is gone, all the greatness is gone. A man who is rich thinks himself rich through his riches; he feels he is somebody. If he becomes a bankrupt suddenly, it is not only that his wealth disappears, his soul disappears, his whole identity is gone. It was a paper boat, it was a house of playing cards – a small breeze and everything is gone.
Self-knowledge means that you have come to understand one thing: that you have to know yourself immediately, directly – not through others, not via others. There is no need to ask anybody; how stupid it is to ask somebody: Who am I? How can anybody answer it? Go withinwards – that is the search of the bull. Go into your own energy; it is there. Just taste it, just merge with it.
Once you have understood that you have to seek your identity within yourself, in total aloneness, you are becoming free from the masses, from the crowd. Individuality is born, you are becoming an individual, unique. And remember: when I say “individual” I don’t mean an egoist. An egoist is always part of the masses. The ego is the total of all the opinions that you have gathered from others about you, and hence the ego is very contradictory. Sometimes it says you are not beautiful, very ugly; sometimes it says you are very beautiful, very lovely; sometimes it says you are a fool; sometimes it says you are a wise man – because in so many situations so many things have been said to you about you, and you have gathered all of them.
The ego is always in trouble. It is a false entity. It appears as if it is, and it is not.