Q: Can you explain to us the difference between emptying oneself and effacing oneself?
Beloved Osho, Can you explain to us the difference between emptying oneself and effacing oneself? And what is the role of individuality in dissolution?
Divya, the process of emptying oneself and the process of effacing oneself have nothing in common. Not only are they different, they are diametrically opposite.
Emptying oneself brings individuality, more and more individuality. Emptying oneself means emptying oneself of all that is implied in personality.
Personality is a farce, personality is pseudo, personality is that which is given to you by the society. Personality is imposed on you from the outside; it is a mask. Individuality is your very being. Individuality is that which you bring into the world, individuality is God’s gift.
Personality is ugly because it is pseudo. And the more personality you have, the less is the possibility for individuality to grow. The personality starts occupying the whole of your space. It is like a cancerous growth. It goes on growing, it possesses you totally. It leaves no space for individuality to have even its own corner. The personality has to be dropped, so that the individuality can be.
Individuality is a non-egoistic phenomenon; it is pure am-ness, it has no ‘I’ in it.
Personality is nothing but ‘I’: it has no am-ness in it. Personality is aggressive, violent, dominating, political. Individuality is silent, loving, compassionate; it is religious.
Emptying oneself means emptying of all content – just as you empty a room of all the junk that has gathered there, down the years. When you have emptied the room of all the furniture and all the things, you have not destroyed the room, not at all; you have given it more roominess, more space. When all the furniture is gone, the room asserts itself, the room is.
Effacing oneself means destroying the room itself – destroying the very space of your being, destroying the very uniqueness of your existence, destroying the gift of God.
Effacing yourself means becoming a slave.
Individuality gives you mastery; it makes you very authentic, grounded, rooted. It gives you substance; you are no longer dream stuff. It gives you solidity, it gives you clarity, transparency, vision. It makes you aware of the beauty of existence, it makes you aware of the beauty of all. Effacing yourself destroys you, it is suicidal. You are not dropping your personality, you are dropping your very uniqueness. You are becoming more and more shadowy, rather than becoming more substantial. You are becoming a slave.
And the ironical thing is that if you efface yourself, the ego will remain. Now it will become a very subtle ego, so subtle that it will be almost impossible to detect it. Now it will claim humbleness, nobodiness, humility. But the claim will persist. It will say, “Look, I have effaced myself. I am no more.”
But when you say, “I am no more” you are – otherwise who is saying, “I am no more?”
A so-called saint was once asked, “Are you God?”
He said, “No” – but immediately he added, “The sun rises in the morning, but it does not declare ‘I am the sun.'” In a vicarious way he is saying, “I am God. But I am like the sun which rises every morning but does not declare ‘I am God.'” I told the man who had related the incident to me, “Go back to that so-called saint, and tell him that the sun does not say, ‘I am not the sun’ either.” The sun does not say, “I am the sun” or “I am not the sun” – not because the sun is enlightened, but simply because it cannot speak! If it could speak, it would have declared it in a thousand and one ways. In fact it is declaring in a thousand and one ways: “I am here!” It is declaring it in the flowers, in the birds; it is declaring all over: “I am here!”
Once Krishnamurti was asked, “Why do you go on talking?”
He said, “This is simply my nature, to talk.” He said, “I talk in the same way as the flower releases its fragrance.”
The flower cannot talk, it has its own language; the fragrance is its language. The sun cannot talk, but the light that radiates from it is its way of communicating the fact: “I am here, I have arrived.”
In Japan there is a saying: “Flowers don’t talk.” That saying is utterly wrong – they talk.
Of course they speak their own language. The Tibetan speaks his language; will you say that he does not talk? The Chinese speaks his own language; will you say he does not talk? Just because you cannot understand, will you say he is not talking? The Chinese has his own language, so does the sun, so do the flowers, so do the animals, the birds, the rocks. In millions of languages the whole world asserts itself.
But the humble person starts saying, “I am not. I am not an ego, I have effaced myself.”
But who is saying these things? The person who has emptied himself will not say such things. He will say, “I am, and I am for the first time. But now in my I-am-ness ‘I’ is only linguistic, a way of saying it. Existentially, there is only am-ness.”
And let this be the criterion for whether you are emptying yourself or effacing yourself. If you are
emptying yourself you will become more and more blissful, because you will become more and more spacious. You will become more and more available to God and to God’s celebration. You will become open to existence and all its joys and all its blessings.
But if you are effacing yourself you will become more and more sad and heavy, you will become more and more dull and dead – because effacing oneself is nothing but a slow suicide. Beware of it. And you have to be aware, very aware, because they both look alike.
The real danger in spiritual growth is from things which are diametrically opposite but look very alike. The real problem does not arise from things which are apparently opposite; the real problem arises with things which are not so apparently opposite, and yet they are opposite.
The real opposite of hate is not love, the real opposite of love is not hate – it is so apparent, who can be deceived by it? The real opposite of love is pseudo-love: love that pretends to be love, and is not. One has to be watchful there.
The real opposite of compassion is not anger. The real opposite of compassion is cultivated compassion: compassion that is not within you but is only in your character, compassion that you have painted on your circumference.
The real opposite of your smiles are not tears, but smiles which are painted, smiles which don’t go any deeper than the lips, which are nothing but exercises of the lips. No heart collaborates with them, no feeling stands behind them. There is nobody behind the smile, the smile is just a learned trick. Tears are not opposite to smiles, they are only complementaries. But the false smile is the real opposite.
Remember it always, the false is the enemy of the true. If your smile is true and your tears are true, they are friends, they will help each other because they both will strengthen the truth of your being. If your tears are false and your smiles are false, then too, they are friends; they will strengthen your falsity, your personality, your mask.
The conflict is between the real and the unreal or pretended. Emptying oneself is of tremendous value, but effacing yourself is dangerous. Effacing yourself is a subtle way of the ego – the ego coming from the back door.
And naturally it will make you more and more serious. That’s why your so-called saints look so serious. Their seriousness has a reason in it. The reason is, they are maintaining humbleness which is not really there. And to maintain something which is not really there is arduous, hard. One has to be continuously on guard. Just a little slip here and there, and the reality will assert, and it will destroy all that you have maintained for so long. It will destroy your respectability.
Anything that has to be maintained will keep you serious and sad, deep down afraid of being caught red-handed, of being caught in your falsity. You will escape from people if you are carrying something false in you. You will not allow anybody to be friendly, to be intimate with you, because in intimacy the danger is that the other may be able to see something which strangers cannot see. You will keep people at a distance; you will run and rush away from people. You will have only formal relationships, but you will not really relate, because to really relate means to expose yourself.
Hence your so-called saints escaped into the monasteries. It was out of fear. If they were in the marketplace they would be caught; it would be discovered that they are cheating, that they are deceiving, that they are hypocrites. In the monasteries they can maintain their hypocrisy and nobody will ever be able to detect it. And moreover, there are other hypocrites there; they can all maintain their conspiracy together more easily than each single hypocrite can maintain his alone.
Monasteries came into existence for escapists. But you can live even in the world in a monastic way, keeping people always at a distance, never allowing anybody access to your inner being, never opening up, never allowing anybody to have a peek into you to see who you are, never looking into people’s eyes, avoiding people’s eyes, looking sideways. And always in a hurry, so that everybody knows you are so occupied, you don’t have any time to say hello, to hold somebody’s hand, to sit with somebody informally.
You are so busy, you are always on the go.
You will not even allow intimacy with those who are close to you – husbands, wives, children – with them also you will have a formal relationship, an institutional relationship.
Hence marriage has become an institution. It is really ugly to see something so tremendously beautiful becoming an institution. And if people look so miserable it is natural. If you live in institutions you will be miserable.
Divya, you ask me: “Can you explain to us the difference between emptying oneself and effacing oneself?”
Effacing oneself is the way of the ego, emptying oneself is the way of understanding. In emptying yourself you simply understand the ways of the ego – and in that understanding, the ego disappears of its own accord. You don’t drop it, you don’t have to drop it. You don’t fight with it. It is not found.
When you look within with attention, with the light of awareness, you cannot find any ego there. So the question does not arise of why or how one should efface oneself. There is nothing to efface! That which is, is, and cannot be effaced. And that which is not, is not, and there is no need to efface it.
Emptying oneself simply means seeing oneself. And then many things start dropping, because you were unnecessarily carrying them. In the first place, they don’t exist. They are ghosts, nightmares; they disperse themselves when the light is brought in. Emptying oneself is a meditative process. Just looking in, deeply, with no prejudice, with no prefabricated ideology, neither for nor against, just looking in, and emptying starts happening.
And when you have emptied all content – thoughts, desires, memories, projections, hopes – when all is gone, for the first time you find yourself, because you are nothing but that pure space, that virgin space within you. Unburdened by anything, that contentless consciousness, that’s what you are! Seeing it, realizing it, one is free. One is freedom, one is joy, one is bliss.
But effacing oneself is dangerous. It means you have accepted already that the ego is there and it has to be effaced. You have accepted an illusion, and now you want to destroy it. You have missed the first point. You have accepted that the rope is a snake, and now you are trying to kill the snake. You will be in great trouble. You will never be able to kill the snake, because in the first place there is none. You can go on beating the rope, but what about the snake? The snake will remain there.
The snake exists in your illusion; the snake does not exist outside, otherwise you could have killed it. But how can you kill a snake which is not? You are fighting with a shadow, and you are bound to be defeated.
Let this fundamental be remembered always: if you fight with anything false, you will be defeated. The false cannot be defeated, because it is false. How can you defeat something which is nonexistential? There is no way. The only way is, bring light and see.
Ihi passiko, come and see! In that very seeing, the snake is not found. The rope is there, the snake has disappeared. Now there is no need to efface yourself, no need to fight.
There are millions of people who try to become humble, but their whole effort is nonsense, sheer stupidity.
Once a man asked me, “Are you an egoist or a humble person?”
I said. “Neither. neti neti, neither this nor that. I cannot be either.”
He said, “What are you talking about? One has to be either an egoist or a humble person.”
I said, “You don’t understand. You know nothing; you have never gone within yourself. If you are humble, you are an egoist standing on his head. Humbleness is an expression of the ego. I am neither. I am simply whatsoever I am, neither humble nor egoistic, because I have seen that there is no ego. How can there be humbleness then?”
Humbleness is diluted ego. But if there is no ego, how can you dilute it? If there is no snake, how can you take the poisonous teeth of the snake away? That’s what humbleness is. The poisonous teeth have been removed from the snake; now the snake cannot hurt, now the snake cannot bite, now the snake cannot do any harm – but the snake is there.
Those teeth were false, because the snake itself is false.
Buddha is neither egoistic nor humble. Both are impossible for the man of understanding.
The ignorant person can be egoistic, can be humble – both are aspects of ignorance. And the ignorant person can try to efface the ego, because it is so respectable not to have the ego. One becomes a saint by effacing the ego, one attains great prestige and power by effacing the ego. But it is the same game; the game has not changed.
My message to you is, please don’t efface yourself. Be yourself, look within yourself, and in that very seeing, the ego disappears. Even to say “disappears” is not right: the ego is not found, it has never been there. Its existence depended on your not looking within yourself. Seen, it is no longer there – it has never been there.
And then you are individuality, uniqueness, a unique expression of the divine. And then there is great rejoicing. You start blooming, the spring has come. You start dancing, you start singing. Great gratitude arises in you that God has made you a unique individual.
There has never been a person like you before, there is nobody else like you right now in the whole world, and there will never be anybody like you. Just see how much respect God has paid to you. You are a masterpiece – unrepeatable, incomparable, utterly unique. Even the hardest heart, the rocklike heart, will start melting in gratitude. Tears will start flowing, tears of bliss and joy, tears which laugh.
But please remember, empty yourself, don’t efface yourself.
Osho, The Book of Wisdom, Ch 6, Q 1