Question – How can i distinguish between Enlightened Self-Love and Egomania?
Osho – The distinction is subtle but very clear, not difficult; subtle, but not difficult. If you have egomania, it will create more and more misery for you. Misery will indicate that you are ill. Egomania is a disease, a cancer of the soul. Egomania will make you more and more tense, will make you more and more up-tight, will not allow you to relax at all. It will drive you towards insanity.
Self-love is just the opposite of egomania. In self-love there is no self, only love. In egomania there is no love, only self. In self-love you will start becoming more and more relaxed. A person who loves himself is totally relaxed.
To love somebody else may create a little tension, because the other need not be always in tune with you. The other may have his or her own ideas. The other is a different world; there is every possibility of collision, clash. There is every possibility of storm and thunder because the other is a different world. There is always a subtle struggle going on. But when you love yourself, there is nobody else. There is no conflict — it is pure silence, it is tremendous delight. You are alone; nobody disturbs you. The other is not needed at all. And to me, a person who has become capable of such deep love towards himself becomes capable of loving others. If you cannot love yourself, how can you love others? It must first happen at close quarters, it must first happen within you, to spread towards others.
People try to love others, not being at all aware that they have not even loved themselves. How can you love others? That which you don’t have you cannot share. You can give to others only that which you have already with you. So the first and the most basic step towards love is love of oneself; but it has no self in it.
Let me explain it to you. The ‘I’ arises only as a contrast to the ‘thou’. ‘I’ and ‘thou’ exist together. The ‘I’ can exist in two dimensions. One dimension is ‘I-it’: you — your house, you — your car, you — your money; ‘I-it’. When there is this ‘I’, this ‘I’ of ‘I-it’, your ‘I’ is almost like a thing. It is not consciousness; it is fast asleep, snoring. Your consciousness is not there. You are just like things, a thing amidst things: part of your house, part of your furniture, part of your money.
Have you watched it? A man who is too greedy about money, by and by starts having the qualities of money. He becomes just money. He loses spirituality, he is no more a spirit. He is reduced to a thing. If you love money, you will become like money. If you love your house, by and by you will become material. Whatsoever you love, you become. Love is alchemical. Never love the wrong thing, because it will transform you. Nothing is so transforming as love. Love something which can raise you higher, to higher altitudes. Love something beyond you.
That is the whole effect of religion: to give you a love-object like God so that there is no way to fall down. One has to rise. One sort of ‘I’ exists as ‘I-it’; another sort of ‘I’ exists as ‘I-thou’. When you love a person, another type of ‘I’ arises in you: ‘I thou’. You love a person, you become a person.
But what about self-love?. — there is no ‘it’ and there is no ‘thou’. ‘I’ disappears because ‘I’ can exist only in two contexts: ‘it’ and ‘thou’. ‘I’ is the figure, ‘it’ and ‘thou’ function as the field. When the field disappears the ‘I’ disappears. When you are left alone, you are, but you don’t have an ‘I’, you don’t feel any ‘I’. You are simply a deep AMNESS. Ordinarily we say ‘I am’. In that state, when you are deep in love with yourself, ‘I’ disappears. Only amness, pure existence, pure being remains. It will fill you with tremendous bliss. It will make you a celebration, a rejoicing. There will be no problem in distinguishing between them.
If you are getting more and more miserable, then you are on the trip of being an egomaniac. If you are becoming more and more tranquil, silent, happy, together, then you are on another trip — the trip of self-love. If you are on the trip of ego you will become destructive to others — because the ego tries to destroy the ‘thou’. If you are moving towards self-love, the ego will disappear. And when the ego disappears, you allow the other to be himself or herself; you give total freedom. If you don’t have any ego you cannot create an imprisonment for the other you love; you cannot create a cage. You allow the other to be an eagle in the high heavens. You allow the other to be himself or herself; you give total freedom. Love gives total freedom. Love IS freedom — freedom for you and freedom for the object of your love. Ego is bondage — bondage for you and bondage for your victim. But ego can play very deep tricks with you. It is very cunning, and subtle are its ways: it can pretend to be self-love.
Let me tell you one anecdote. Mulla Nasrudin’s face lit up as he recognized the man who was walking ahead of him down the subway stairs. He slapped the man so heartily on the back that the man nearly collapsed, and cried, “Goldberg, I hardly recognized you! Why, you have gained thirty pounds since I saw you last. And you have had your nose fixed, and I swear you are about two feet taller.”
The man looked at him angrily. “I beg your pardon,” he said in icy tones, “but I do not happen to be Goldberg.”
“Aha!” said Mulla Nasrudin, “so you have even changed your name?”
The ego is very cunning and very self-justifying, very self-rationalizing. If you are not very alert it can start hiding itself behind self-love. The very word ‘self’ will become a protection for it. It can say, “I am your self.” It can change its weight, it can change its height, it can change its name. And because it is just an idea, there is no problem about it: it can become small, it can become big. It is just your fantasy. Be very careful. If you really want to grow in love, much carefulness will be needed. Each step has to be taken in deep alertness so ego cannot find any loophole to hide behind.
Your real self is neither I nor thou; it is neither you nor the other. Your real self is altogether transcendental. What you call ‘I’ is not your real self. ‘I’ is imposed on reality. When you call somebody ‘you’, you are not addressing the real self of the other. Again you have imposed a label on it. When all the labels are taken away, the real self remains — and the real self is as much yours as it is others. The real self is one.
That’s why we go on saying that we participate in each other’s beings, we are members of each other. Our real reality is God. We may be like icebergs floating in the ocean — they appear to be separate — but once we melt, nothing will be left. Definition will disappear, limitation will disappear, and the iceberg will not be there. It will become part of the ocean. The ego is an iceberg. Melt it. Melt it in deep love, so it disappears and you become part of the ocean.
I have heard…. The Judge looked very severe. “Mulla,” he said, “your wife says you hit her over the head with a baseball bat and threw her down a flight of stairs. What have you got to say for yourself?”
Mulla Nasrudin rubbed the side of his nose with his hand, and meditated. Finally he said, “Your Honor, I guess there are three sides to this case: my wife’s story, my story, and the truth.”
Yes, he is perfectly right.
“You have heard about two sides of a truth,” he said, “but there are three sides” — and he is exactly right. There is your story, my story, and the truth; I and you and the truth.
The truth is neither I nor you. I and you is an imposition on the vastness of the truth. ‘I’ is false, ‘you’ is false; utilitarian, useful in the world. It will be difficult to manage the world without ‘I’ and ‘you’. Good — use them, but they are just devices of the world. In reality, there is neither ‘you’ nor ‘I’. Something, someone, some energy exists with no limitations, with no boundaries. Out of it we come, and into it we disappear again.
Source – Osho Book “The Beloved, Vol 1″