The ego is your false idea of who you are; it is just a fabrication of the mind. It is your own homemade mind-manufactured concept, but it has no corresponding reality to it. It is perfectly good as far as the world is concerned because there, you are dealing with other egos. The moment you go beyond your mind, you also go beyond your ego, and suddenly you realize that you are not what you have always thought yourself to be – that your reality is totally different, that it does not consist of your body or of your mind, that in fact you don’t have any word to express it.
But it is still not the ultimate reality; it is just in between, between the ultimate reality and the ultimate falsehood. It is better than the false, but it is lower than the really real. You are still carrying a certain idea of separation from existence. That separation keeps you unavailable to all the blessings which are your birthright. If you can drop those walls and open yourself to the immensity of reality, you will disappear as a separate entity.
But this is only one side. On the other side you will appear as the eternal, the immense, the vast reality – the oceanic experience, which is the only experience of enlightenment or liberation.
You have to get rid of the ego first. That is your psychological trauma, or better, your psychological drama. There are religions which have accepted the false ego as the end of all, there is nothing beyond it. That is the religion of all the atheists of different trends, a communist. Or the atheist may not be a communist, but the atheist in any form stops himself at the ego; that is his ultimate reality.
He is the poorest man in the world. All other religions except atheism…because I take atheism also as a sort of religion, a lower form of religion than other religions. Christianity, Judaism, Mohammedanism, go a step further. They all insist to drop the ego and to recognize your authentic reality, your real self.
But there are religions like Zen which go to the very end of the road. They are not satisfied just by dropping the ego. They are satisfied only when there is nothing left to drop – even the self is gone – when the house is absolutely empty, when you can say, “I am not.”
This nothingness is creating the space for the ultimate to blossom. It does not come from anywhere else. It has always been there, just cluttered with rotten furniture, with unnecessary things. As you remove all those things and your subjectivity becomes empty – just as a room becomes empty as you remove everything from it – in this emptiness of your subjectivity, blossoms the flower of ultimate experience – you are no more.
Naturally, you cannot have your old miseries, your old traumas and dramas. You cannot have any connection with your own past; you have abruptly cut yourself away from all that you used to be. Suddenly a new, totally fresh opening…in a way, you disappear. In a way your authentic essence has the first opportunity to come into its full glory, into its absolute splendor.
This is what enlightenment is. It is a negative process: negate the ego, the psychological; negate the self, the spiritual. Go on negating until nothing remains to negate – and the explosion! Suddenly you have arrived home, with the revelation that you have never been out of your home. You have always been there, your eyes were just focused on objects.