I have told you a story that I love.... A Japanese king went to see Master Lin Chi. He touched the feet of the master and before he could say anything, Lin Chi said, "You idiot! You don't know even manners."
The king completely forgot for what he had come. He pulled out his sword, and Lin Chi laughed. He said, "You have forgotten your question. Now I remind you" -- because the king had sent his prime minister before him to inform Lin Chi that he is coming and his question is, "What is hell and what is heaven?" Now, when the sword was just about to fall on his neck, Lin Chi said, "Wait a minute! This is the door of hell."
The king was shocked. His hand stopped. He put back the sword in the sheath, and Lin Chi said, "That is the door of heaven. You had forgotten your question, but your prime minister told me. It was good that he told me before, otherwise you would have killed a poor man unnecessarily, and you would have suffered hell -- because hell is not anywhere else but in your ego. When I said, `You idiot!' what was the trouble? Why did you become so angry? Who was hurt? It is your ego that was hurt."
If you don't have any ego, it doesn't matter whether somebody says you are an idiot or somebody says you are a genius. It does not matter... they are their opinions. You know who you are -- you don't depend on other people's opinions. Your ego depends. Your ego keeps you a slave of the society in which you live. Ordinarily people think that their ego is something very precious. It is nothing but their slavery.
A man becomes independent and free and individual only when he has dropped his ego, when he is just a silent being, without any idea of "I" -- just a pure silence... THIS silence. And if in this silence you look inward, you will not find any "I," any ego, any self, but just a pure space.
This pure space is your spirituality. This pure space is your enlightenment. This pure space is your ultimate ecstasy.
The ego is preventing everything. Ego is making you a beggar, while you are an emperor of a great empire. Of course, that empire does not belong to the outside world; it is in your own being, but its vastness is as big as the universe itself. Your ego is keeping you encaged, imprisoned. Don't nourish it... and I am saying it because I know it is everybody's possibility not to nourish the ego and to get out into the open sky. Nivedano, learn to laugh at your own ego. The moment you are gripped by your ego, relax and have a good laugh.
And don't be worried... and I know you are crazy, you will not be worried what people think about you. But if you can laugh at your ego, that is the best way to kill it. Don't be serious about your ego, because that is very nourishing food for the ego. That's why all egoists are serious people.
The people who can laugh and enjoy and be playful are never egoists. It is on this particular point that I disagree with all the religions of the world. They have made people's egos very strong by teaching them to be serious about life.
My effort is to erase the tremendous impact of millions of years of religious training. On the one hand they say, "Drop the ego," and on the other hand they don't allow the childlike playfulness.... On the one hand they go on insisting, "Drop the ego," and on the other hand they don't have any sense of humor.
No religion in the world has accepted a sense of humor as one of the fundamental religious qualities. I accept it, and I want that no religion can possibly exist in the future unless it has as a fundamental quality the sense of humor. A religion without laughter... a God who cannot laugh and dance and sing is not worthy of being God. Send him to hell!