Now an ego is born. Through appreciation, love, care, he feels he is good, he feels he is valuable, he feels he has some significance. A center is born. But this center is a reflected center, it is not his real being. He does not know who he is, he simply knows what others think about him. And this is the ego: the reflection – what others think. If nobody thinks that he is of any use, nobody appreciates him, nobody smiles, then too an ego is born – an ill ego: sad, rejected, like a wound, feeling inferior, worthless. This too is the ego. This too is a reflection. First the mother – and mother means the world in the beginning – then others will join the mother, and the world goes on growing. And the more the world grows, the more complex the ego becomes, because many others’ opinions are reflected.
The ego is an accumulated phenomenon, a by-product of living with others. If a child lives totally alone he will never come to grow an ego. But that is not going to help, he will remain like an animal. That doesn’t mean that he will come to know the real self, no. The real can be known only through the false, so ego is a must. One has to pass through it. It is a discipline. The real can be known only through the illusion. You cannot know the truth directly: first you have to know that which is not true. First you have to encounter the untrue. Through that encounter you become capable of knowing the truth. If you know the false as the false, truth will dawn upon you.
Ego is a need; it is a social need, it is a social by-product. “Society” means all that is around you – not you, but all that is around you. All, minus you, is the society, and everybody reflects. You will go to school and the teacher will reflect who you are. You will be in friendship with other children and they will reflect who you are. By and by, everybody is adding to your ego, and everybody is trying to modify it in such a way that you don’t become a problem to the society.
They are not concerned with you, they are concerned with the society. Society is concerned with itself, and that’s how it should be. They are not concerned that you should become a self-knower; they are concerned that you should become an efficient part in the mechanism of the society. You should fit into the pattern, so they are trying to give you an ego that fits with the society. They teach you morality: morality means giving you an ego which will fit with the society. If you are immoral you will always be a misfit somewhere or other.
That’s why we put criminals in the prisons – not that they have done something wrong, not that by putting them in the prisons we are going to improve them, no. They simply don’t fit. They are troublemakers. They have certain types of egos of which the society doesn’t approve. If the society approves, everything is good.
One man kills somebody, he is a murderer, and the same man in wartime kills thousands – he becomes a great hero. The society is not bothered by a murder, but the murder should be committed for the society – then it is okay. The society doesn’t bother about morality. Morality means only that you should fit with the society. If the society is at war, then the morality changes. If the society is at peace, then there is a different morality.
Morality is a social politics, it is diplomacy. And each child has to be brought up in such a way that he fits into the society, that’s all, because society is interested in efficient members. Society is not interested that you should attain to self-knowledge. Society is always against religion. Hence, the crucifixion of Jesus, the murder of Socrates – because they also didn’t fit.