Buddha is even more keen. He will not use any wishy-washy expressions. He says simply, “I am not.” Because the danger is – saying that I am “God,” or “God” is my center – the danger is that the “I” may enter again from the backdoor. Buddha says, “I am not.” He simply goes on dissecting the very phenomenon of “I,” and comes to a point where nothing is left. Just as matter disappears in the hands of the physicist, self disappears in the hands of Buddha.
I have heard:
One day an elephant went walking through the jungle. He was feeling in the pink, ready to challenge the whole world. As he walked along he met a lion. He threw out his chest, issued a loud trumpeting noise and said, “Why are you not as big as I am?”
“I don’t know,” the lion gasped, walking away.
Next the elephant met a hyena. He swelled out his chest and asked, “Why are you not as big as I am?”
“I don’t know,” said the hyena as he walked away as well.
Then the elephant met a poor little mouse with a runny nose and pink eyes.
“Why are you not as big as I am?” he roared.
The mouse looked up at him and said, “I have been very sick lately.”
Everybody, even a mouse, has his own ego. Everybody, even a religious man, has his own ego. Even while declaring, “I am just dust underneath your feet,” you are gathering ego.
The ego and the personality have to be dropped, then you will find individuality arising…a feeling of uniqueness. Yes, you are unique. Everybody else is also unique. In this world only unique people exist, so comparison is just stupid, because you alone are like yourself. There is nobody like you, so how to compare?
Comparison is possible if there are many people alike, similar to each other, but this existence is so tremendously creative, so originally creative, it never repeats. It does not believe in carbon copies. It makes everybody an individual, unique. When personality is dropped you suddenly feel you are unique – but remember, you also feel everybody else is also unique. Uniqueness is a common quality of all, there is nothing to brag about. It is the universal quality of every being.
With the individuality you have a subtle center of a feeling – “I am.” Buddha goes far beyond it. Mahavira, Krishna, Jesus, they don’t say anything beyond this. Maybe they think it is not possible to say the beyond – they stick to individuality and the feeling of “I-amness.” But Buddha goes to the very end of his logic. He says personality has been dropped, now drop this individuality also. The ego has been dropped, now drop this “I-amness” also, this self-hood also.
Then nothing is left, then only nothing is left, and in that emptiness you become virgin, uncorrupted. Emptiness cannot be corrupted. Being is, but there is no feeling of “I am.”