Neither Ego, Nor Egolessness
Birthday of Indian mystic Swami Ram Teertha
22nd October is the birthday of the Indian mystic Swami Ram Teerth (often spelled as Rama Tirtha) also known as Ram Soami. Born in a Brahmin family in Punjab (part of which is now in Pakistan) in 1873, he became a professor of Mathematics at Lahore University. After meeting Swami Vivekananda in Lahore, he was inspired to become a sannyasin and he left his family and profession in 1899. He toured the United States and lectured on Hinduism and Advaita Vedanta. He famously traveled around the world without any luggage or touching money! He is also known for always referring to himself in the third person, a spiritual disciple to help detach oneself from the ego.
Swami Ram is known to have made a significant prediction – “After Japan, China will rise and gain prosperity and strength. After China, the sun of prosperity and learning will again smile at India.” The first part of his prediction has come true. The second part has begun to look very promising lately!
Osho has spoken on Swami Ram Teerth in His discourses. Osho says, “’I’ is not existential, ‘I’ is a social entity; it has to be created. It is just like language: it is needed because if people go on speaking like babies or like Ram Teerth, if like Ram Teerth people go on saying their names, it will be very difficult to say whether they are talking about themselves or about somebody else. It will create confusion. If you say, “I am hungry,” immediately it is meant that you are hungry. If you say, “Ram is hungry,” if people know that you are Ram then it’s okay; otherwise they will think somebody else is hungry, not you. And if everybody uses it, it will create confusion. It is a social convenience to use the ‘I’; but this social convenience becomes truth, it becomes the center of your being, a false thing. The ‘I’ never existed, can never exist. But just because of social utility the child is trained, the consciousness becomes fixed around a center which is just utilitarian, not existential — and then you live in an illusion. And the whole life of a person who has not come to know that there is no ego will be false, because it is based on a false foundation.
To be a witness means to drop the ‘I’. The moment you can drop the ‘I’, immediately you become the witness. Then there is nothing else to do, you can only be the witness. This ‘I’ creates the problem. Hence the emphasis of all religions to become egoless, to be egoless, to be humble, not to be proud, not to be conceited about it. Even if you have to use it, use it as a symbol. You have to use it, but use it knowingly — knowing that this is just a social convenience.”
BOTH TRUTH AND UNTRUTH, BOTH EGOISM AND EGOLESSNESS, AND ALL SORTS OF MENTATIONS CEASE TO EXIST IN THIS STATE, AND ROOTED IN PURE NONDUALITY, THE SEEKER IS FREE FROM FEAR.
Remember, in the fifth untruth disappears, truth remains. In the sixth even truth disappears. In the fifth clouds disappear, the sky remains. In the sixth the sky also disappears — because you cannot continue to remember the sky without the clouds. And when there is no untruth how can you remember the truth? The duality is needed. When there is no black how can you remember the white? Think, if the whole earth was populated by white men and there were no colored people, nobody would have been called white. Because of black people, colored people, a few people are white. Or think, if the whole earth was populated by Negroes, Negroid people, black, nobody would have been black. The contrast is needed. Only in contrast can the thing continue to be remembered. When untruth has disappeared how can you carry truth any more? How can you remember that it is truth? It has to be dropped, it will drop automatically. But first untruth drops, then truth is forgotten, it ceases. And when truth also drops you have reached something, not before it.
The sixth is the door, the real door, to the infinity. The sixth is the door, the real door, to the ultimate. Lao Tzu says — and whatsoever he says belongs to the sixth and seventh — he says, “If you are good you are still bad. If you feel that you are a saint you are still a sinner. If you look in the mirror and feel you are beautiful you have ugliness in you”… because when a person is really beautiful he cannot remember that he is beautiful, only ugliness can remember. When a person is really good he cannot feel he is good, because first the bad disappears, then the good also. No divisions.
IN THE SIXTH… TRUTH AND UNTRUTH, BOTH EGOISM AND EGOLESSNESS, AND ALL SORTS OF MENTATIONS CEASE.
Ego disappears in the fifth, because ego is a cloud, it is part of the world of the clouds. It is just like a rainbow in the clouds — false, dreamlike. When you become aware of the soul you are not an egoist; you become egoless, you become humble. But Lao Tzu says that if you are still humble the ego exists somewhere; otherwise, how can you feel that you are a humble person? Go to somebody who is humble, watch him, and you will feel that his ego is very subtle, that’s all. He goes on saying, “I am a humble person.” He insists that he is humble. His humbleness has now become his ego and pride, and if you say, “No, you are not,” he will be angry. If you say, “I have seen a more humble person in your town,” he will say, “This is impossible. I am the most humble, the humblest.” But “I am” remains. Now the ‘I’ claims humbleness, before it was claiming something else.
I have heard: Once it happened that a great king went to a mosque to pray. It was a religious day for the Mohammedans so he was praying. It was dark, just in the morning when there was no one there, and he was saying to God, “Allah, O my God, I am nobody, just dust on your feet.”
When he was saying this, suddenly he became alert that somebody else was also in the dark mosque, in another corner, and was saying the same thing: “Allah, my God, I am nobody, just dust on your feet.”
The king was irritated. He said, “Who is saying in front of me that he is nobody? When I am saying I am nobody, who else is claiming here that he is nobody?” Even nobodiness….
And then the morning dawned and the king looked; the man who was claiming was a beggar. So the king said, “Remember, when a king is saying that he is nobody, nobody else can claim that — and you being just a beggar!” So even nobodiness can become part of the ego.
In the sixth stage ego disappears, egolessness also. Then there will be problems. If egolessness disappears then you will have difficulty in interpreting.
A real sage is without the ego and without humility. If humility is there the sage is not real, not yet real. He has not reached the sixth stage, he has not reached the door. But then you will be in a difficulty, because you always think that humility is the quality. If you go to a buddha you will not see any humility in him. You will not see any ego either, but you will not see any humility also. And this disappearance of humility may make it seem to you that he is not humble. Buddha says, “The Vedas are of no use, scriptures are to be thrown.” If you go to him it will look as if he is not humble. He is saying that scriptures are of no use, the Vedas are to be thrown — he looks very egoistic. He is not, but he is not humble either. So whatsoever he is saying is neither related to ego nor related to egolessness. That will be the problem.
Look at Jesus, he was not a humble person at all. He was not an egoist, but not humble either. That created the problem, that led him to the cross. He was not humble at all. And now many psychologists say that he was neurotic, and they have a point. Many psychologists say that he was an egomaniac; they have a point. If psychologists study Buddha and Mahavira they will conclude the same things — but they have not studied them. They should have been studied very minutely. So they say he was an egomaniac. Why? You can find reasons — because he was not humble. He used to say, “I am God,” or “I am the son of God. I and my father in heaven are one.” To the egoist mind this will appear like ego. And nobody can say that this man is humble who claims that he and God are one, or who claims that he is the son of God. It looks like a claim to us; to Jesus this was a simple fact.
And he was not claiming that you are not the son of God: claiming that he is the son of God, he claimed for you all. It is Christianity which claimed the wrong thing; Christianity started to claim that he is the only son of God. That is absurd, that is egomania. But Jesus was saying a simple fact: if the whole creation is out of God, the whole creation is the son, God is the father. He was saying a simple fact with no ego in it, but this disturbed people. They thought a sage must be humble. He used to say, “I am the king of the Jews.” This has been said many times, but to people who were more wise than Jews. Jews were offended that this man who was just a beggar on the street, no more — just a vagabond, just an old hippie — that this man claimed, “I am the king of the Jews.” But he was not claiming anything, he was in a state of mind where there is no ego. Kingship comes into being, but that is not ego. And that kingship doesn’t belong to any worldly affairs, it is not a claim to rule anybody. That kingship is just felt as an inner nature.
Ram Teerth, an Indian mystic of this century, used to call himself Emperor Ram. He was a beggar, but nobody took offense in India because we have known so many beggars saying that, and we know that that happens: a moment comes when a person becomes an emperor without any kingdom. Really, a person becomes an emperor only when there is no kingdom.
He went to America, and the American president invited him to visit. The American president felt uncomfortable because Ram Teerth always used to say “Emperor Ram.” Even while talking he would say, “Emperor Ram says this.” So the president humbly asked, “I cannot understand this. You don’t seem to have any kingdom, why do you claim that you are an emperor?”
Ram Teerth said, “That’s why I claim — because I have nothing to lose, nobody can defeat me. My kingdom is of the eternal, you cannot take it from me. Your kingdom can be taken, your presidency can be destroyed. Nobody can destroy me, I have nothing to lose. I am an emperor because I have no desires.”
If you have desires you are a beggar. So there are two types of beggars, poor beggars and rich beggars. When Jesus said, “I am the king of the Jews,” he was saying this. But people got offended. They said, “This is too much. This man cannot be tolerated — he must be crucified, he must be killed.” But Jesus was a humble man, humble in this sense, that even humbleness was not there — egoless, egolessness was not there — truly humble. But then one starts saying facts. And you live in a world of ego, you interpret because of your egos. So people thought, “This man is claiming something — that he is the son of God, he is the king of the Jews — and he is nothing, just a beggar, a vagabond!”
In India nobody would have taken any offense. India has seen so many Jesuses, nobody would have taken offense.
In India every Sannyasin is called swami; swami means the master, the king. We call a man swami; swami means the lord. When he leaves everything, when he doesn’t claim anything, when he has nothing, then he becomes swami, then he becomes the lord. Jesus was claiming something Indian in a country which was not India; that became the problem.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Mt. Abu, Rajasthan, India.
Discourse series: Vedanta: Seven Steps to Samadhi
Chapter titles: The Motionless Flame of a Lamp
16 January 1974 am in Mt. Abu, Rajasthan, India
Osho has also spoken spoken on Mystics like Dadu, Farid, Gurdjieff, J. Krishnamurti, Kabir, Nanak, Patanjali, Swami Ram Teerth, Rumi, Sahajo, Sai Baba, Saraha, Socrates, Tilopa, Zarathustra and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Sermons in Stones
- Come Come Yet Again Come
- The Hidden Splendour
- Beyond Enlightenment
- The New Dawn
- The Sword and The Lotus
- The Fish in the Sea is Not Thirsty
- Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Years
- Yoga: The Alpha and The Omega, Vol 1
- The Path of Love
- The Book of Wisdom