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Ego Hurts

You said we suffer because of the ego. And then you also say that the ego doesn't exist. My suffering is real. How can it be caused by something that is not real, that doesn't exist?

You can suffer in a dream, you can suffer in a nightmare. While it lasts, to all practical purposes, it appears real. But when you awake, then you know it was not real, and even then you know that you had suffered. You may still be perspiring, you may still be trembling because of the nightmare. Your heart may still be beating faster than usual. Awake, you know that it was just a dream, but still you suffered. Not only that, but even now when you are awake, there is a hang-over. The after-effects are still continuing.
You suffer from an ego which does not exist. In fact, you suffer because it does not exist and you go on believing that it exists. If you believe in something which is not, you are bound to suffer because you will try in every possible way to feel that it exists. But it cannot exist. Just watch: whenever you suffer, watch; where does it hurt? - you will always find that it is the I, the ego that hurts.
You would like to live a life where there is no suffering, but that life is not possible if you continuously carry the ego with you. You cannot make a life around you so that suffering disappears. If you carry the ego, again and again you will bump into some reality which will hurt the unreal. Whenever there is an encounter between reality and unreality, the unreal causes suffering.

oscar wilde

I have heard one anecdote about a very famous man, Oscar Wilde.
At a function where the views of celebrities were being canvassed, Oscar Wilde was asked to compile his list of a hundred best books.
′I fear,′ said he, ′that would be impossible.′
′Why?′ he was asked.
He said, ′Because I have only written five.′

You go on looking at life just from one single point - you. Humanity used to believe that earth was the center of the universe; and man, of course, the center of the earth; and you, of course, the center of humanity.

I have heard...

A professor of philosophy in the university of Paris one day declared, ′I am the greatest man in the world!′
The disciples laughed: he was a poor philosopher. But whenever he said something he must mean something, so they asked. And they asked, ′You being a logician, please prove it.′
He brought a map of the world into the class, and said to the students, ′Which is the greatest country in the world? Can you tell me, can you show me?′
They were all French, so of course France was the greatest country in the world.
So he said, ′Now, the whole world is not the question. If I can prove that I am the greatest man in France, then I am proved.′
They said, ′That looks right.′ But now they started feeling a little uneasy.
He said, ′And which is the greatest city in France?′
Of course, they were all Parisians, so it was Paris. Now they became even more afraid; he was bringing the truth home.
And then he said, ′Which is the greatest and the holiest place in Paris?′
Of course, it was the university.
′And which is the greatest department in the university?′
Of course, it was the department of philosophy.
And he said, ′I am the head of the department!′

When for the first time it was discovered that the earth was not the center of the universe, it damaged the human ego tremendously. The church fought it because it was not only a question of the earth. Deep down it was a question of the human ego: if the earth is not the center, then man cannot be the center; and if earth is just a far-off outer post, and not at the center of existence, then man may be, at the most, a coincidence. The so-called religious people struggled against the idea.

Galileo was called into the court, an old man, and was asked to confess his sin: that he had committed a mistake, and to admit it. He had said and proved that it is not the sun that moves around the earth; On the contrary, it is the earth that moves around the sun. If the earth moves around the sun, then the sun is the center. He said, ′I can admit that I have committed a mistake, and I confess, but there is one thing I must tell: whether I confess, whether I admit it or not, makes no difference. The earth moves around the sun. It will not change its course just because Galileo asks to be forgiven. You can kill me, and I am ready to ask to be forgiven. I am ready to admit that I have committed a mistake, but my admission is not going to help; the earth will go on moving around the sun, the earth is not at the center.′

Why was the church so adamant? There was reason in it, very, very significant reason in it: once earth is not at the center, man is not at the center. Then you disappear in a vast universe. In fact, religious people should have been in favor of it because they had been against ego. But then religious people, really religious people, are very rare and few.
The whole effort of religion is how to drop the ego. The whole effort is how to penetrate into the phenomenon of the ego and to see the unreality of it.
I, it is unreal, and I know your suffering is real. The unreal can cause a real suffering; there is not a problem in it. Because the unreal becomes almost real when you believe in it - you believe in a ghost, then the ghost is there.
In my town, just near my house there was a very old tree. My window was just near the tree, and I didn′t like people walking, coming and going, so I spread a rumor that there was a ghost. By and by, it became a reality. First people laughed, but even in their laughter there was fear.
I had an old servant, so I told him one day to just sit in the tree, and when people passed by, to just create noise. The whole town recognized the fact that this was the truth. My family knew that I wanted absolute silence near that tree so that nobody would pass. But by and by, they also became afraid - ′Who knows?′ I told them, ′You know that this is just a trick!′ But they said, ′When the whole town believes, and nobody walks on that path in the night, and even in the day people are afraid... who knows?′
Once you believe, the unreal thing becomes real. Your belief makes it real: then it hurts, then it hurts almost as if it were real. It is only a question of belief. Man is a believing animal. Whatsoever you believe, you make it real by your belief And you can come to know the reality only when you drop all beliefs.
Remember, you can face reality only when you drop all beliefs, all conceptions about it, and you come naked, nude and empty; carrying no philosophy, no belief, nothing - not even the belief that ′I am′. That too is a belief. Just come empty, innocent, not knowing anything, and then the mystery will be revealed to you; not before it. And the ego is one of the most unreal things; but one wants to believe in it, one wants to be someone. To be nobody needs much courage. To be a nothingness needs infinite daring. Only a Buddha or a Jesus - rare human beings - come to realize that emptiness. And through that emptiness is realized the fullness of life.

(Osho - Come Follow to You, vol. 4 #8)