Milarepa, you are asking, “My ultimate question is: To be and not to be?” That is not a question. That is the only way you can find yourself. But first comes “not to be,” and second comes “to be.” That is the only change I would like to make in your question. You say, “To be and not to be?” – “not to be” has to be first, then “to be” follows. You have just to give space. Throw out all the furniture that is filling your space. And the greatest block is the ego – throw it out!
Let the temple of your being be utterly empty.
That is the state of “not to be.”
And you will be surprised…here you are trying “not to be,” and from the back door comes a new realization of being, of “to be.” But your effort should not be based in this order – first to be and then not to be. That is against the natural process of enlightenment. You have to attain nothingness first, nobodiness first.
This is the price you have to pay for attaining to the experience of authentic being. This is the sacrifice you have to make. This is what Jesus means when he says, “Unless you are born again, you will not enter into the kingdom of God.” What does he mean when he says, “Unless you are born again”? He means, first you have to die, and after death is resurrection.
As the ego dies it allows space for your authentic being to blossom. On the grave of your ego blossoms the lotus of your being. But remember, you have to change your statement because in this statement your ego lingers. “To be” is your first desire. But if that is your first desire, then it will be very difficult, almost impossible, to allow “not to be.” You will cling to your ego.
You are saying, “To be and not to be.” One thing is certainly right, that both have to exist together…but which is to be the first? You cannot start from the wrong end. You have to start by being nobody, by simply being spacious. In that spaciousness the guest arrives.
But it is natural…the way you have put your question is natural to the mind. It happened…A man came to Gautam Buddha with almost the same question that you have raised here. Gautam Buddha said to him, “First you have to drop your ego and then you need not worry; everything happens on its own accord, spontaneously.”
The man said, “If that is the way to realize myself, then I will make every effort to drop the ego.”
Buddha said, “You have not understood me. You are still trying to realize yourself. You are even ready to drop the ego, but the desire deep down is to find a truer ego, a more eternal ego; that’s what you are calling the self. Forget about the self. There is nothing to be achieved! You have simply to drop your ego and wait.”
There is no question of any effort to be made; no achievement is going to be there. What happens, happens on its own accord. You cannot claim that it is your realization. That’s why Gautam Buddha is the first person in the history of man who has not used the word self-realization. He came to know…so many people, under the disguise of the word ‘self’, are simply protecting their ego. They are calling it self-realization, but they really mean ego-realization. They have a disguised desire to make their ego permanent and eternal.