So the real self is both: no-self in the sense that it is not only yours, and it is the ultimate self also because it is the self of all. You lose your tiny center and you attain to the center of existence itself. Suddenly you become infinite; suddenly you are no longer bound, you have no cage around your being. And infinite power starts flowing through you. You become a vehicle – clear, with no obstructions. You become a flute and Krishna can sing through you. You become just a passage – empty, nothing of your own. This is what I call surrender.
Self-consciousness is a non-surrendering attitude – it is the attitude of conflict, fight, struggle. If you are fighting with existence you will be self-conscious and, of course, you will be defeated again and again and again. Each step is going to be a step in more and more defeat; your frustration is certain. You are doomed from the very beginning because you cannot hold this self against the universe. It is impossible. You cannot exist separately. You cannot be a monk.
This word monk is good. You must be aware of similar words like monopoly – that comes from the same root; or monastery – that comes from the same root; or monologue – that comes from the same root. A monk is one who is trying to be oneself, who is trying to define his boundaries, and who is trying to exist separate from this total existence. His whole effort is egoistic, it is bound to fail. No monk can ever succeed.
You can succeed only with existence, never against it. You can succeed only with the whole, never against it. So if you are frustrated, in deep misery, remember: You are creating that misery. And you are creating it by a subtle trick: you are fighting against the whole. It happened:
It must have been a rainy season like this – and the village river was overflowing. And people came running to Mulla Nasruddin and said, “Your wife has fallen in the flooded river. Run fast! Save her!”
Nasruddin ran. He jumped into the river and started swimming upstream. The people who had gathered to see, they shouted, “What are you doing, Nasruddin? Your wife cannot go upstream, the stream has taken her downwards.”
Nasruddin said, “What are you talking about? I know my wife: she can only go upstream!”
The ego is always an effort to go upstream. People don’t like to do easy things. Before they want to do them, they want to make them hard, difficult. People enjoy doing hard things. Why? Because when you face a hard thing, your ego becomes subtle, sharp; there is a challenge.
When the first group reached the top of Everest, somebody asked Edmund Hillary, “Why did you take such a risk? It was dangerous – many others have died before you and have not been able to reach.” And the person who was asking was unable to understand why people go on trying to reach Everest and losing their lives. What is the point of it? What is there to achieve?
Edmund Hillary is reported to have said, “We cannot rest as long as this Everest remains unconquered. We have to conquer it!” There is nothing to get in it, but the very presence of Everest unconquered is a challenge. To whom is it a challenge? – To the ego.