People believe that they need confidence to do something. But if you do things with confidence, you may do stupid things. You do not need confidence to do activity; you just need sense to do activity. Just go and explore; if you can do it, you will do it; if you cannot do it, you will not do it. Just function according to your capabilities, neither confident nor diffident.
Only an ego can feel diffident or confident. What is it that you call as ‘ego’ first of all? ‘Ego’ is not something that you got because you did something well, not because you became rich, not because you became beautiful, not because you grew muscles on your body. When you started kicking in your mother’s womb, the ego was born. The very first mistake of getting identified with your physical body means the ego was born.
The ego is a defense mechanism. You got identified with this little body. This little organism has to survive in this vast existence of which you have no perception to even know where it begins and where it ends. Just to survive, you have to project yourself like a big man, so the ego is born. It is a false reality. What you are referring to as confidence is a false identity that you created just for the sake of survival. The ego is like your shadow. The moment you have a physical body, you have a shadow. The shadow itself is neither good nor bad. If the sun is up there, you have a little shadow; if the sun is down there, you have a mile-long shadow. So whichever way the outside situation demands, that is the kind of shadow you have. That is also the kind of ego that you should have.
To handle different kinds of situations in our lives, we need different kinds of identities. If you are fluid about it, if you can change from one to another gracefully, then you can play your role to the hilt and still have no problem with it. But right now the problem is you get so identified with it, you start believing you are that. Once you believe ‘I am the shadow’, what would you do? You would naturally crawl upon the earth. If you crawl upon the earth, how will life be? If we carpet the floor, you will crawl in comfort, not in joy. Suppose stones and rocks and thorns came? Then you will cry. That is how your life is going on right now. If the outside situation is carpeted, you will crawl in comfort. If little thorns come, you will cry because you are crawling upon the earth.
Right now your whole experience of life is limited to the physical. Everything that you know through your five sense perceptions is physical, and the physical has no purpose of its own, it is there only as a peel to the fruit. Only as a protective layer to the fruit the peel means something. This body is important because there is something else inside. You have never experienced that something else. If that something else goes away tomorrow morning, nobody would want to touch this body which has become a corpse. So today when it is there, we have to take care of it; it is everything.
If we do not transcend the limitations of the physical, if we do not transcend the limited existence of the physical, then life will only be like this, struggle—confidence and diffidence. If situations go well, you are very confident. If situations do not go well, you are diffident. And you always know, whatever situations are going well, any moment, things can go wrong. It is not even question of wrong; life can just take any course any moment. Things can happen in a way that you do not like, any moment.
If everything in the world is going dead wrong for you, and you can still go through this life untouched, peacefully, joyfully within yourself, then you know life the way it is. Otherwise you are just a slave of the physical.
The writer is a world-renowned spiritual leader.