The ego is a kind of absence. Because you don’t know yourself, hence the ego. The moment you know yourself, no ego is found.
A famous incident…. One of the kings, Bimbisara, came to Buddha. That day a rare thing had happened. A poor man, a shoemaker, Sudas was his name…. sudas means a good slave, a nice slave, a slave who has no ideas of rebellion, of revolt or anything, who is absolutely contented with his slavery. He had a small hut and a small pond behind the hut.
That day, in his pond a lotus flower blossomed out of season. Once in awhile things like that happen in nature. It’s nothing to brag about, nothing to make a miracle out of Sudas asked his wife, ”I should take this to the richest man in the town because he goes every day to Gautam the Buddha, and he will be delighted. And at least he is going to give me one rupee as a reward.”
The wife said, ”Go, be quick – he may be leaving.”
He went out on the road and found that the chariot of the richest man was coming, going towards the mango grove where Buddha was staying. He stopped the rich man and said, ”Out of season a rare lotus flower has blossomed in my pond, and I thought it would be good if you could present it to your Master, Gautam the Buddha.”
The rich man was really happy. He said, ”Of course, because even my Master will be surprised to see it. This is not the season for lotuses. I will give you one thousand rupees as a reward.”
The poor Sudas could not believe it – one thousand rupees! In those days rupees were solid gold. In fact the word ”rupee” comes from the Sanskrit word rup, which means gold, pure gold. The coins were pure gold –one thousand gold coins! The poor man said, ”Please say it again, I cannot believe my ears.”
The rich man thought that perhaps he was not willing to sell for one thousand rupees. He said, ”Don’t be worried: I will give you ten thousand, or you can ask and whatever you ask I will give you, because I would love to put this rare flower at Buddha’s feet; perhaps nobody has ever presented such a thing to him.”
Sudas was so shocked, he lost his voice. He could not say, ”Yes, ten thousand is enough.” And the rich man said, ”Why are you silent? Are you not willing?”
While this negotiation was going on another chariot, the chariot of King Bimbisara, came by. Seeing the lotus flower, the king stopped and said to Sudas, ”Sudas, whatsoever the rich man is going to give to you, I will give you ve times more. Whatever he is offering, you just come to the palace and collect five times more.”
Sudas was almost on the verge of falling dead. Ten thousand the rich man was offering, and he was willing to give even more. And now comes the king who says, ”Five times more, whatever!” – he is not even enquiring. Kings are kings, they should not enquire the prices of things. And of course in front of the king the rich man could not say anything. He knew well that whatsoever he says, the king will give five times more. He had lost it.
The king asked Sudas… Sudas opened his mouth and said, ”Forgive me, but if this flower gives you so much pleasure, just presenting it to Buddha – then I am going to present it myself. You can keep your money.
The king could not believe it. The rich man could not believe it. They both said, ”What are you saying?”
He said, ”I am a poor man, but I manage to live. What am I going to do with all your money? But this chance that you think is so precious, I am not going to miss. I am going to put this flower at Buddha’s feet myself.”
But king’s cannot be denied. The king said, ”Then you should be aware that you will never reach Buddha; your head will be cut off. I will give you ten times.”
Seeing the situation, the poor man had to give the lotus to the king. The king was already going with a very precious diamond to present to Buddha. That diamond that Bimbisara had was the biggest diamond known in those days. Now he had two presents. When he went to Buddha, both hands were full; in one a very precious diamond, in the other a very rare flower. Which to present first? – of course he thought of the diamond.
As he was going to place the diamond, Buddha said, ”Drop it!” He did not give him the chance to put it at his feet, he said, ”Drop it.” And when Buddha says drop it, he has to drop it… unwillingly, reluctantly, because such a precious diamond…. In the whole country, all the kings were jealous of the diamond – he was the owner of a rare piece – and Buddha says, ”Drop it!” He is not even giving him the chance to put it at his feet.
Then he raised the other hand with the flower, and Buddha said, ”Drop it!” So he dropped both and stood there empty -handed.
Buddha said, ”Drop it!”
Bimbisara said, ”Either you are mad or I am mad. Both my hands are empty – now what can I drop?”
Sariputta, one of Buddha’s disciples, said, ”You have not understood Buddha. He is not interested in your diamond or in your lotus; you can take them away. Drop the real thing.”
”What real thing?” he said. ”I have only brought two things.”
Buddha said, ”Drop yourself!”
”But,” Bimbisara said, ”myself? I don’t know who I am.”
Buddha said, ”That was the point. Go home, find out, and when you find out who you are, then come back.”
It was very insulting in a way. In front of ten thousand steps – the, Bimbisara is told to go back and look into himself and find out who he is. But he was a man of tremendous courage, intelligence, integrity. He told the palace, ”Nobody should disturb me. Whatsoever time it takes, I am going to find what this man says.”
For three days he remained in isolation. The fourth day he came out, radiant, and went to Buddha. And when Buddha saw him, Buddha said, ”Now there is no need to drop anything because what you have found cannot be dropped. I can see it on your face, in your eyes. I was telling you to drop that which you were not.” But you cannot drop it unless you find who you are. And the moment you find who you are there is no need to drop it, it simply drops of its own accord.
Excerpted From Ignorance To Innocence CH: 30
Because of ego you have forgotten your authentic being. Don’t be concerned with the ego, be concerned with searching for your authentic being. The moment you find your real being, the ego will disappear.