The Prime Minister of the Tang Dynasty was a national hero for his success as both a statesman and military leader. But despite his fame, power, and wealth, he considered himself a humble and devout Buddhist.

Often he visited his favorite Zen master to study under him, and they seemed to get along very well. The fact that he was prime minister apparently had no effect on their relationship, which seemed to be simply one of a revered master and respectful student.

One day, during his usual visit, the Prime Minister asked the master, “Your Reverence, what is egotism according to Buddhism?”

The master’s face turned red, and in a very condescending and insulting tone of

voice, he shot back, “What kind of stupid question is that!?”

This unexpected response so shocked the Prime Minister that he became sullen and angry. The Zen master then smiled and said, “THIS, Your Excellency, is egotism.”

Drop Identity

Zen master cannot answer the question asked by the Prime Minister. But definitely he can show him What Is Egotism. Our identification is ego. To make the Prime Minister realize that – This Identification is Ego – Master has created a situation.

Sarvasar Upanishad says:

The Self or soul is both God and Living Being.

But the body, which is not the soul,

gets infected with a sense of ego,

and that is what is called living being’s bondage.

The cessation of this ego is what is called freedom.

That which gives rise to the ego is called avidya (false learning).

And that which leads to the cessation of the ego is called vidya (right learning).

To be identified with something which you are not, is the formation of the ego. Ego means to be identified with something you are not.

Whatsoever one needs no identification.

You need not be identified with it: You are already it.

So whenever there is any identification, it means with something else – that you are not. One can be identified with the body, with the mind. But the moment one is identified, one is lost to oneself. This is what ego means. This is how ego is formed and becomes crystallized.

Whenever you assert “I,” there is identification with something – with some name, with some form, with somebody, with some past; with mind, with thoughts, with memories. There is some deep identification: only then you can assert “I.” If you are not identified with anything else and can remain with yourself, then you cannot say “I”; the “I” just drops.

“I” means identity.

Identity is the basis of all slavery: Be identified and you will be in a prison.

The very identity will become your prison. Be non-identified, remain totally yourself, and then there is freedom. So this is what bondage is: Ego is the bondage, and egolessness is freedom. And this ego is nothing but to be identified with something that you are not. For example, everyone is identified with his name; and everyone is born without any name. Then the name becomes so significant that one can die for his name’s sake.

Read the story again. You will find that Zen Master had freedom in his actions. While the Prime Minister didn’t. He was a slave of his Identity.

Learning from the story What Is Egotism: Drop Identity

Experience Learning

There are no questions which are really of any significance, because questions are asked by the mind. And the mind cannot find any answer.

The answer is in the death of the mind.

All questions are in the mind and the answer is beyond it; hence, if you are intelligent, you will find it very difficult to write a question. People who go on writing questions are not really alert to the fact that these questions cannot be answered. Yes, you can be shown a way where you can find an answer, but nobody else can answer your question; just like nobody else can breathe for you, and nobody else can drink for you, and nobody else can eat for you. You will have to do these things yourself.

It is good that you felt it was impossible to write questions. It is impossible because the mind cannot even have any idea of the right question, because to know the right question is to know the right answer. If you can recognize the right question, it is not so far away to recognize the right answer. A mind that can recognize the right question is certainly capable of recognizing the right answer. But all your questions are wrong.

There are millions of questions and there is only one answer. Questions are very complex and the answer is very simple. The questions have created so many great philosophies in the world, so many great systems of thought, systems of belief, great traditions of religion. But none of them have come to the answer that fulfills, to the answer that dispels all the questions, because the answer is your being, very being.

The answer is not to be found in any scripture, nor can it be given by any teacher. Those who know never answer your question; they simply destroy your question. They make you aware of a quest, not of a question. Their invitation is for a quest, not for a question, because only a quest can lead you finally to the space where you find not a verbal answer, but an existential answer – yourself.

Remember Fetridge’s Law: Important things that are supposed to happen do not happen, especially when people are looking for them.

When you are not looking for anything, a certain silence descends on you. And in that silence things start happening that were never happening before when you were looking for them.

It is a very mysterious life.

It does not follow your ordinary arithmetic.

When you are running too much after silence, and peace, and meditation and enlightenment you simply get tired, bored, exasperated. It is never found that way. You cannot find anything of value while you are running. And naturally, your mind says: Run a little faster, you are not running fast enough. And the faster you run, the more tense you are, the more your eyes are blurred, the more dust you gather. You don’t know where you are running because you don’t know which direction the truth is.

It is not running after it, it is sitting silently. And while you are perfectly a pool of peace, truth arises within you. You never reach truth; it is always truth that reaches you. But you must be at your home, and mostly you are never at your home.

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