Hassan came upon Rabiya one day when she was sitting among a number of contemplators, and said, “I have the capacity of walking on water. Come, let us both go onto that water yonder, and sitting upon it, carry out a spiritual discussion.”
Rabiya said, “If you wish to separate yourself from this august company, why do you not come with me so that we may fly into the air and sit there talking?”
Hassan said, “I cannot do that, for the power that you mention is not one which I possess.”
Rabiya said, “Your power of remaining still in the water is one which is possessed by fish. My capacity of flying in the air can be done by a fly. These abilities are no part of real truth – they may become the foundation of self-esteem and competitiveness, not spirituality.”
The games of the ego are very subtle, and if one is trying to drop the ego they become more and more subtle. And if one has really decided to drop it anyhow, the ultimate strategy that the ego can use to protect itself is to become egolessness; is to pretend humility, humbleness; is to show, “Now there is no need to fight with me, I am not at all.”
The ego is one of the most fundamental problems man has to face. The ways of the ego have to be understood rightly, otherwise you will never be able to get rid of it. And until you get rid of the ego there is no possibility of meeting God. It is the ego that functions as a barrier between you and reality.
The ego functions as a barrier because it is one of the most unreal things possible. The ego is a fiction, it is not a fact. It is maintained by conditioning, hypnosis; it is maintained by a thousand and one props. It is a fiction – because existence is one. It can have only one center, it cannot have millions of centers.
What is the ego? The ego is the idea that “I am the center of the universe.” That is what ego is – reduced to the basic – the idea that “I am the center of the universe.” “I” cannot be the center of the universe, but everybody has the idea that “I am the center of the universe.”
And the second part of the ego is: it is separative, it is a fiction that separates you from the totality. It gives you the idea that you are independent, that you are an island – and you are not. Existence is a vast infinite continent, there are no islands. You are not separate and you are not independent.
Remember, when I say you are not independent, I don’t mean that you are dependent – because the very idea of dependence will again presuppose the ego. There is nobody to be independent and there is nobody to be dependent. We live in interdependence, in mutual existence, in mutuality. We are parts of each other, members of one another. The trees are penetrating you and the rocks are penetrating you and the rivers are penetrating you – and you are penetrating the rivers and the trees and the rocks. The furthest star is connected with you. And when you blink your eyes you change the quality of the total existence. All is infinitely interconnected, interwoven. Nobody is separate.
So nobody can be independent and nobody can be dependent. Independence and dependence are both aspects of the same coin called ego. A real person is neither. A real person simply does not exist as a person, he has no boundaries. He exists as God, not as a person.