This is inevitable; this creation of the ego from the very birth of the child is inevitable. This is an unavoidable evil. But to get stuck there and not to move on destroys our whole life, because then we remain deprived of knowing that entity which is hidden within us. We will be able to know it only when we drop our ego. Why? Why in religion is there so much emphasis on dropping the ego? The emphasis is because one who feels that he is the center of the world remains deprived of knowing his own center. That man lives believing a false center to be his center. A man who believes that he is the center of others’ eyes never bothers to seek if he in reality has any center of his own, and thus a pseudo center is born. This pseudo center is dependent on others, and therefore one only gains unhappiness from the ego.
When you say, “You are a good man,” you are reinforcing my ego. Tomorrow, if you say, “No, it was a mistake, you are not a good man,” then you have just withdrawn the brick you lent to my ego and with which I had built up the castle; it then comes to the verge of collapsing.
The ego is created through the eyes of others, through the ideas of others; ego is dependent on others. And remember, whatever is dependent on others cannot be your center. So we worry too much about who says what, who says good things about us and who says bad things.
A friend had come to me who said, “This is my problem”…he is present here. He said, “This is my very problem, that somebody says something, a small thing, a quite insignificant thing, and I am so hurt that I cannot sleep the whole night.” For example, he said, “I had gone to a shop to buy some material. I wanted to buy some material, but I did not like what the shopkeeper had showed me. The shopkeeper said, ‘Leave it. I knew when I first saw your face that you would not buy any.’ I could not sleep that night, trying to work out why this shopkeeper spoke like that.”
Our ego is dependent on what others say. The people all around us either contribute to our ego or they take away some of it. This is why we are concerned the whole time as to what people are saying or thinking about us. That is our capital. Collecting others’ opinions contributes to our pride – but what is the reliability of others’ opinions? Their opinions are in their hands. Today they may be extending it in our favor, tomorrow they may not. Today they may have a good opinion of us, tomorrow they may have a bad one – and they have their own motivations.
That shopkeeper had his own motivations. He gave a hit to the ego. Now two things could have happened through it. One was that this man might have purchased the material, just to save face if for nothing else. And it would have been better if he had made a purchase, for at least he would have saved himself from a whole night’s sleeplessness. But then another worry would have gripped the mind: “Why did I buy the cloth which I did not want?” And you all have bought many such items that you never wanted to buy, but on many occasions your ego goads you to buy.