Which incident made you realize the difference between self-respect and ego?
I don’t think that there is any difference between self respect and ego. Self respect is only a means of self preservation, which is the ego.
When one is interested in self respect, one is preserving something, defending something. And when one is defending something one is bound by hurt and anger. The whole question of self respect raises the question of having a self image. How is self image constructed? Why does one nee to construct self image?
A self image is actually not even constructed consciously. It is constructed unconsciously by one’s family, school and society. Since each one receives a different conditioning, the conditioning of one individual clashes with the conditioning of another individual. In this clash of conditioning of two individuals, one asserts one’s self respect to preserve one’s conditioning.
Whenever the self image created by conditioning is threatened, we resort to defense and violence. Don’t we see this everywhere in society? When it comes to our caste, class or nationality we are ready to go to any extent, including killing people for this sake.
I would ask a different question. What’s the difference between a sane mind and an immature mind? A sane mind is one which has discovered that each one of us is conditioned, conditioned not only by our present society but also historically and biologically. So a sane mind is not interested in asserting one’s self respect and individuality. An immature mind, on the other hand, is unconscious of it’s conditioning and is in an everlasting conflict and struggle to maintain it’s self image, which is constantly being attacked. An immature mind is an insecure mind.
This does not mean that a sane mind is not an individual, accepting everybody and everything people say. A sane mind is one who is ready to question all concepts that condition human beings. A sane mind is one which is questioning the conflict caused by different divisions man has invented like caste, class, nationality and religions.
A sane mind is one which is not interested in self respect because he/she has seen self respect to be something that divides people. A sane mind is not defending anything, any self image but is constantly questioning. And it requires immense maturity to question all that which society holds sacred.