Osho says: The ego is just the opposite of your real self. The ego is not you.
Recently, on a particular website, I came across a beautiful statement by Wayne Dyer: “You can be a host to God or a hostage to your ego. It’s your choice.”
Being hostage to the ego is the case with most people — and as a matter of fact, they seem to have no choice. This is something that everybody believes to be unavoidable — they have to live with it. It is the way the whole society functions — and everybody is expected to function this way only.
It begins very early in life. The schools and the other educational institutions teach us to be competitive, and a stupid mantra is taught that to succeed in the world is to defeat others. This feeling of defeating others gives pleasure to the person who succeeds and misery to the one who cannot defeat others. In this race of ambition, everybody becomes trapped in a false sense of the self — an artificially created something that feels like the self. It is a hallucination — it is maya — about which all the enlightened sages have been warning us. And none of us has paid any heed to their warning. This unreal “self” has been created by the whole social conditioning — very unconsciously. We all have become imprisoned inside its thick concrete walls — even God cannot penetrate into such walls, forget about hosting God.
In one of the talks compiled in the Book of Life, J. Krishnamurti explains it beautifully: You know what I mean by the self? By that, I mean the idea, the memory, the conclusion, the experience, the various forms of nameable and unnameable intentions, the conscious endeavour to be or not to be, the accumulated memory of the unconscious, the racial, the group, the individual, the clan, and the whole of it all, whether it is projected outwardly in action, or projected spiritually as virtue; the striving after all this is the self. In it is included the competition, the desire to be. The whole process of that, is the self; and we know actually when we are faced with it, that it is an evil thing. I am using the word evil intentionally because the self is dividing; the self is self-enclosing; its activities, however noble, are separated and isolated. We know all this. We also know that extraordinary are the moments when the self is not there, in which there is no sense of endeavour, of effort, and which happens when there is love.
Call it love or meditation — only this can set us free. This realisation itself is the freedom from being hostage to our ego and realises the true self. Osho says: The ego is just the opposite of your real self. The ego is not you. The ego is the deception created by the society so that you can continue playing with the toy and never ask about the real thing. That’s why my insistence that unless you drop the ego, you will never come to know yourself.