The first question:
You said the ego can be dropped this very moment. Can the ego also be dropped progressively?
The dropping always happens in the moment and always in this moment. There is no progressive, gradual process for it. There cannot be. The happening is momentary. You can’t get ready for it, you can’t prepare for it, because whatsoever you do – and I say whatsoever – will strengthen the ego. Any gradual process will be an effort, something done on your part. So you will be strengthened more and more through it. You will become stronger. Everything gradual helps the ego. Only something absolutely non-gradual, something like a jump, not like a process, something discontinuous with the past, not in continuity with it – only then the ego drops.
The problem arises because we cannot understand what this ego is. The ego is the past, the continuity, all that you have done, all that you have accumulated, all the karmas, all the conditionings, all the desires, all the dreams of the past. That whole past is the ego. And if you think in terms of gradual process you bring the past in. The dropping is non-gradual, sudden; it is a discontinuity. The past is no more, the future is no more. You are left alone here and now. Then the ego cannot exist.
The ego can exist only through the memory: who you are, from where you come, to whom you belong, the country, the race, the religion, the family, the tradition, and all the hurts, wounds, pleasures – all that has happened in the past. All that has happened is the ego. And you are that to whom all this has happened. This distinction has to be understood: you are that to whom all has happened, and the ego is that which has happened. The ego is around you; you are in the center, egoless.
A child is born absolutely fresh and young – no past, no ego. That’s why children are so beautiful. They don’t have any past, they are young and fresh. They cannot say I, because from where will they bring the I? The I has to develop gradually. They will get educated, they will get awards, punishments, they will be appreciated, condemned – then the I will gather.
A child is beautiful because the ego is not there. An old man becomes ugly, not because of old age but because of too much past, too much of the ego. An old man can also become again beautiful, even more beautiful than a child, if he can drop the ego – then a second childhood, then a rebirth.