Not to know oneself, to know one’s destiny, that’s certainly real hell. And man does not know himself. Now, the cheaper way is to create the ego, and the West has been following the cheaper way. And not only the West: the majority of people in the East, too, have been doing the same. Just leave a few enlightened people aside, and the whole world has been doing the same.
The West consists of ninety-nine point nine percent of the people in the world; the East consists of only a few people, they can be counted on the fingers. To me, the East and the West are not geographical – they are spiritual dimensions. Gautam Buddha, Lao Tzu, Zarathustra, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Saint Francis – the East consists of these people. Where they were born is immaterial, is irrelevant. Certainly Saint Francis was not born in the East, but I count him as part of the East.
The spiritual dimension, the dimension where the inner sun rises, is the East. And the dark night of the soul, which knows nothing of the sunrise, is the West. You don’t become religious just by being born in India. Religion is not that cheap. It is the costliest thing in existence, because it is the most precious. There is no shortcut to it, and those who seek shortcuts are bound to be deceived by somebody. They will be given toys, and you can go on believing in toys because you don’t want to risk an adventure into the unknown.
The greatest unknown exists within you. The most uncharted sea is your consciousness, and the most dangerous too, because when you start moving inwards, you start falling into an emptiness, and great fear arises, the fear of going mad, the fear of losing your identity. …Because you have known yourself as a name, you have known yourself as a particular person – you have known yourself as a doctor, as an engineer, as a businessman; you have known yourself as an Indian, a German, a Chinese; you have known yourself as black or white; you have known yourself as man or woman; you have known yourself as educated or uneducated – all these categories start disappearing.
As you move inwards, you are neither man nor woman: Neti, neti – neither this nor that, neither white nor black, neither Hindu nor Mohammedan, neither Indian nor Pakistani. As you move inwards, all these categories start slipping out of your hands. Then who are you? You start losing track of your ego, and a great fear arises – the fear of nothingness. You are falling into infinity. Who knows whether you will be able to come back or not? And who knows what is going to be the outcome of this exploration? The coward clings to the shore and forgets all about the sea. That’s what is happening all over the world. People cling to the ego because ego gives you a certain idea of who you are, gives you a certain clarity. But the ego is false, and the clarity is false.
It is better to be confused with reality than to be clear with unreality.
You are right: with me a great confusion is bound to happen – because all your knowledge, slowly, slowly, will be proved simple ignorance and nothing else. Hiding behind your knowledge is your ignorance. Hiding behind your cleverness is your stupid mind. And behind the ego there is nothing – it is a shadow.