The ego is a disturbed, diseased state of the mind. The ego is not healthy. It is an illness. You become aware of it only when you are not in total harmony. When you are in harmony, you are, but there is no “I,” no feeling of the “I.” “Am-ness” is there, being is there, but without a center.
This is one of the most significant phenomena to be understood. For instance, you become aware of your body only when it is ill. If you are really healthy you don’t have a body at all; a healthy body is bodiless, there is no feeling that it exists. Your head exists only when there is a headache: if the headache is not there, the head is not there. Can you feel your head? If you can feel it, it means there is some heaviness. Something is disturbed, something is ill. You become aware of your stomach when it is disturbed.
This is the definition of health: that if the body is not felt you are healthy, if the body is felt you are unhealty – because only pain is felt. Whenever there is some pain, you feel it. Pain is needed to feel the body and pain is needed to feel yourself. And that pain creates the “I,” that suffering, anguish, anxiety, creates the “I.”
So if you are egoistic, remember that this shows that your inner harmony is lost. You cannot do anything about the ego directly – unless you regain the inner harmony. If you start doing something for the ego directly, nothing will happen. On the contrary, you may get more disturbed. All the religions say: be egoless. They mean: be harmonious. Their insistence to dissolve the ego is the insistence to dissolve the disturbance – become a rhythm, become an inner silence. They insist for health.
The Sanskrit word for health is very beautiful: the word is swastha – it means to be in one’s self. When you are in your self, there is no ego. The English word health also is beautiful from a different viewpoint. It comes from the same root as the word whole comes from – wholeness. When you are whole, you are healthy; when you are fragmented, divided, split, you are unhealthy. When you have a feeling of wholeness – no division, undivided, one – you are healthy. The word holy also comes from whole. When you are really whole, you are holy, you are pure, innocent.
The ego exists when you are fragmented, divided, split – when you are not one. When your parts are in conflict and there is a disharmony within, turmoil, anguish, the ego exists. The greater the anxiety, the greater will be the ego. If you try to fulfill your ego you will get more and more disturbed – and the last state of ego is madness. If you really try to fulfill the ego you will become mad.
In the East, madness is not such a problem as it is in the West because the whole Western mind depends on the ambition to fulfill the ego. American psychologists say that now three persons out of four are mentally ill. This is too much – unbelievable. And if it is true, then the fourth is just on the boundary line, because the fourth is a part; he lives among these three. He cannot be really healthy – just so-so, just on the boundary line. Any moment he can fall into madness.