Sufis say there are two things the whole of religion consists of. One is faqr: nobodiness, nothingness, egolessness, humbleness. In faqr, all those things are implied. The basic point is that you are not separate from existence. To think yourself separate from existence causes the phenomenon of the ego. And the ego gives you the idea that “I am somebody,” and then, “somebody special.” And then you have to prove, then you have to compete, then you have to be ambitious and succeed. Then you have to leave your footprints on the sands of time; you have to leave your name in history. And then all kinds of desires start arising in you.
But the root of all desires is in the acceptance of a false idea, that “I am.” When a person drops that idea, he is a fakir, he has attained to faqr. This is the real meaning of fakir. It does not mean just a beggar, it does not mean just poverty. The real poverty consists of egolessness. That’s what Jesus means when he says, “Unless you are poor in spirit you will not attain to my kingdom of God”…poor in spirit.
It is very easy to renounce your wealth and become poor outwardly; it is very easy. But rather than helping you to become inwardly poor it may hinder, because the person who renounces becomes very egoistic. He starts thinking, “Look, I have renounced so much. I am no ordinary mortal. I am a great sage, a saint, a mahatma – I have renounced all.”
And deep down in him he starts comparing himself with those who have not renounced. He becomes “holier-than-thou.” He starts pretending that he is on a high pedestal, that everybody else is condemned, that everybody else is going to hell except him – because he has renounced the world, the joys of the world, the things of the world. Rather than becoming inwardly poor he has become inwardly very rich. The ego is strengthened. The ego has become stronger; it is more solid than before. It is almost a rock.
That’s why I don’t say to my sannyasins: renounce the world. I say renounce the ego! Let the world be as it is. Who are you to renounce it? In the very idea of renouncing, you accept one thing, that it belongs to you. How can you renounce something which does not belong to you? See the simple point: nothing belongs to you.
You come into this world without a thing and you go from this world without a thing. You come empty-handed and you go empty-handed. Nothing belongs to you, so how can you renounce? Renunciation is possible only if possession is possible. Possession is just an illusion; you don’t possess anything. How can you possess anything? Death will come and will separate you from all your possessions, and you will not be able to take a single thing with you.
The first illusion is of possession and the second illusion is of renunciation. And both are based in the same ego. First the ego tries to possess as much as it can – the more it possesses, the more it is. Then comes a point when you have possessed so much that it loses all interest, it becomes boring.