I was looking for a small place to stay in the city, just before you go into the forest and into the caves. There are so many caves – and I am not a tourist who can go and come back within half an hour – so I wanted to stay for a few days. Each cave may take days for me. If the cave has taken hundreds of years to make – the carvings, the statues of thousands of meditators – then you don’t just go in and have a look and you are finished. It is not a tourist place. You have to be in that cave one day, two days, three days to be acquainted with its vibe. It must be still vibrant with those thousands of meditators who had worked for hundreds of years. Generations of meditators…and they have not just painted like modern painters; they have made those statues with a certain specific aim in mind, that they will convey to people something which cannot be said in words. Otherwise, there are so many scriptures, what is the need to carve these beautiful statues in different postures, lotuses, flowers? It seems to be sheer wastage of time.
So I was looking for somewhere to stay, and I came across a small temple. I went in and I asked the priest, “Will you allow me to leave my luggage here? And it will be very, kind of you if you can allow me to sleep here for two or three days, because in your town there is no hotel.” The priest said, “But nobody stays here. People come and within an hour, or two hours at the most, they are gone.” I said, “I am not a tourist. I am one of those who have carved these statues.” The man looked at me as if I am mad! He said, “My God! Then it is okay, you can leave your luggage in the temple.”
As I entered the temple, on the door there was a sentence – that’s why I had remembered it – a very famous quotation from the Vedas: “The king is respected in his own country, but the enlightened one is respected in the whole world. So strive to become enlightened.” I asked the priest, “Please remove this sentence from here. You have spoiled the whole thing. ‘A king is respected in his own kingdom.’ The emphasis is on respect. ‘The enlightened one is respected in the whole world, so strive for it.’ You are making enlightenment also an object for the ego. Who cares about respect except the ego? And ego is the only barrier which does not allow a man to become enlightened. So if a person is trying to become enlightened to be respected all over the world, it is impossible that he will ever become enlightened.”
But I can understand; whoever made that sutra must be aware that unless you make enlightenment an object of the ego, nobody is even going to try. I can understand his idea, to make enlightenment so respectable, far better than becoming a world conqueror, that the ego becomes interested in it. But whoever made the sutra is a fool. He does not know that if ego is interested in becoming enlightened, then there is no possibility for enlightenment.
The only barrier is the ego. Whether one becomes respectable or not, whether anybody knows or not, whether your name is written in golden letters in this history or not does not matter. Only then, when respectability does not matter at all and you are perfectly happy just being yourself, your very ordinary self…
The phenomenon is very simple, that’s the trouble. It is your birthright. That’s why nobody seems to be interested in it. If it were far away, as the moon is, then many idiots would have been trying to reach there. But it is within you. You are carrying it day in, day out; wherever you go it is there with you, within you. Even while you are committing a crime, a murder, it is there. If you can witness your murder, you will become enlightened. It does not matter what you are doing. What matters is whether you are doing it as a witness. Perhaps as a witness you cannot murder, you cannot commit a crime. But that is a separate story.
Witnessing you have brought with your birth. But the society, the educational system, the family, all are trying to make you ambitious.