The first question:
Why do I take myself and everything so seriously?
The ego can exist only if you take yourself and everything seriously. Nothing kills the ego like playfulness, like laughter. When you start taking life as fun, the ego has to die, it cannot exist anymore. Ego is illness; it needs an atmosphere of sadness to exist. Seriousness creates the sadness in you. Sadness is a necessary soil for the ego. Hence your saints are so serious, for the simple reason that they are the most egoistic people on the earth. They may be trying to be humble, but they are very proud of their humbleness. They take their humbleness very seriously.
The real saint cannot be serious. The really religious person has to be a celebrant. Just look around…look at the trees – are they serious? Look at the birds, listen to them – are they serious? Look at the stars, the moon, the sun – are they serious? Existence is utterly nonserious; it goes on dancing. It is an eternal celebration, it is a festivity.
Only man is serious, because only man has been trying to create a separation between himself and existence. He doesn’t want to be part of the whole, because then he disappears. He wants his own identity, his own name, his own form, his definition. Even if it creates misery it is okay, even if he has to live in hell he is ready for it.
Once George Bernard Shaw was asked where he would like to go after he dies – to hell or to heaven. He said, “Wherever I can be the first, I don’t want to be the second” – and in heaven there is no chance to be the first, because so many saints have already reached there: Jesus and Zarathustra and Mahavira and Buddha. Who will take note of poor George Bernard Shaw? He is willing to go to hell if he can be the first there.
Ego wants to be the first, ego wants to put everybody below itself; hence it takes itself seriously. Hence it is perfectionist: it demands perfection, which is impossible. Nobody is perfect; nobody can exist for a single moment if he is perfect. Imperfection is the way of life, because it is possible to grow only if you are imperfect. If you are perfect there is no more growth, no more evolution. If you are perfect you are stuck. Perfection means death; imperfection means flow, growth, movement, dynamism.