HOW FULL - EMPTINESS
There are four possible ways to explain the unexplainable. Unconsciously, man has made philosophies out of those four ways.
Man is a crossroads, where four ways meet. The first way is that of matter. The atheist takes that road, the scientist takes that road: "Man is nothing but matter." From the days of the charvakas to the days of Bertrand Russell, there have been great, eminent thinkers who have chosen that path. And almost half of the world today is on that path, because communism does not believe in anything else but matter - mind is only an epiphenomenon. Epiphenomenon means just a shadow: when the man disappears, the shadow disappears. There is nothing beyond death, and there is nothing before birth. You are complete between birth and death; that's all you have.
The second road defines man as a duality between matter and mind. Most of the philosophers of the world have chosen that definition because it seems completely rational. All that we know about man is that his body consists of matter, and we know that he has thoughts which are not material. These things can be observed from outside. Hence, man is basically matter with an addition of a shadow that is his mind. As the body dies, mind also dies. On this path also, life extends only between birth and death.
The third possibility, which has been accepted by all religions, is that man is not just matter or just mind; he is also a soul. Matter is his outer expression, soul is his inner expression, and mind functions as a bridge between the two. On the third path there is a possibility of a life beyond death. The people who have accepted it have created on this foundation the idea of reincarnation: birth after birth, one changes houses but the essential soul remains.
Zen has a fourth standpoint. Man is not matter, although he is covered with matter. He is not mind, although he is covered with mind. Nor is he an individual soul. He is a pure nothingness. Man, from this fourth standpoint, which is the standpoint of Zen, is almost like an onion. You go on peeling it, one layer after another layer, hoping that you are going to find something. Finally, when you have peeled all the layers off, your hands are full of emptiness; nothing is left. The onion was only layers and layers and layers and layers. Behind those layers was emptiness, nothingness, which will not be visible to the eyes, which will not be tangible to the hands.
Zen has taken the ultimate standpoint about man, you cannot go beyond that. Here ends the whole journey, the pilgrimage of the seeker.
Zen wants you not to stop at matter. Respect it, it serves you; care for it, it cares for you. You are not the mind - don't make it a master. It is a good servant - use it. Use it so that you can reach beyond it. It is a ladder to go beyond, but don't get caught up with it.
The "soul" is simply a consolation to people, because if you say to them that meditation will end up in nothingness... In a million, perhaps one person will become interested in meditation. And if you tell them, "All your effort will come to a vast nothingness," you will frighten them. You will create a question in their minds: "Then what is the purpose? We are - at least, we are. Doing meditation, we will not be." It is going to be the ultimate death. Yes.
Gautam Buddha was continually asked, "Why do people go on coming to you when you offer nothing but nothingness?"
And Buddha said many times, "Nothingness is not just no-thing-ness. It has its own universality. It is becoming as vast as the whole universe, unlimited. Your personality is too small."
The people who are afraid of nothingness, of dissolving not only their personality but their individuality too, remain with the third standpoint.
The third is very consoling. At least it gives you something to hang on to. Zen does not give you anything; it simply takes away all the layers of the onion and then says to you, "Look, this is you - just pure nothingness."
But the purity of it is so overwhelming that you are not, but your laughter is. You are not, but your joy is. It has become cosmic. You are not, but your ecstasy is, and now it is not confined to a small area of your personality or individuality; now the whole of existence is ecstatic. The birds flying and the flowers opening and the clouds showering - everything is happening in the deep nothingness of your realization of the cosmic emptiness as the source of all things.
Perhaps Zen alone has given a very scientific answer to the question. "From where do things come, and to where do they go back?" Even science shrugs its shoulders the moment you start asking them questions about the origin. All that has been said about the origin by the religions, by the scientific people, is simply guesswork. Nobody was a witness, obviously. How can there be a witness when existence has not started yet? You will come later on; you cannot come before. And, in fact, if there was a creator, existence was already there; otherwise how can the creator exist?
But people don't go to such depths. They don't bother about that, believing in a God who created the world. Why don't you ask who created God? When did he start to be? His family, his nationality, his race - any trace? Suddenly he comes and starts creating the world. Such a stupid idea, and millions have believed in it, and still believe in it.
Zen is very clean and clear, saying that there has been no beginning at all; hence the question of creation does not arise. And there is not going to be any end; hence the question of anybody destroying it, God or Devil, does not arise. It is always here, it has always been here, and it will always be here. It just goes on playing in many forms. It is a tremendous drama.
If you understand the fourth - that everything comes from nothingness...
If you can return to nothingness consciously
you have found the source.
That's what I call meditation:
returning consciously to the very source
not only of your being
but of the very cosmos.
There you find an eternal flame.
Things come, things go.
Waves arise, and waves disappear.
But everything remains,
rooted in nothingness.
This nothingness is very miraculous because one would think that things should be rooted in something. But if you ask the Zen masters if things should be rooted in something, they will simply laugh and ask, "In what will your something be rooted?"
You cannot ask the same question about nothingness. Nothingness simply means nothingness, there is no question of any roots. It neither comes nor goes. Nothing happens to it; it simply remains, utterly silent.
You touch this nothingness when you are deep in your being, because that being is already rooted in this nothingness. You are driving your life, moment to moment, from that nothingness.
The flowers may not understand from where they have come. The branches may not know from where they have come. The trunk of a tree may not know from where it has come, because the roots are hidden underground. The roots are hidden for security purposes, otherwise you could be harmed very badly.
You cannot take even your very intimate friend into your nothingness; you cannot invite anybody there - no party! You have to go alone. It is such a sacred place.
In the old Jewish tradition... It is significant to understand, because Jews, their rabbis, will not be able to give the explanation. Zen can give an explanation for many things in other religions also, because it has gone to the very root, it has traveled the whole path. It has not chosen one path, it has accepted all paths, and still it has gone beyond all paths. So it knows more than anybody else and yet it is absolutely innocent because it knows nothing.
In the great temple of Jerusalem there used to be a festival once a year. The temple had an inner sanctum, a small room, and only the chief rabbi was allowed to enter into it. He would enter, close the doors, and in that silent, small chamber he was allowed to whisper the word `God'. It has a beauty of its own, why it was done in such a way. To use the word `God' as a mundane word makes it also like a thing. Jews have avoided it... you can only whisper in silence. Perhaps you don't even have to whisper; you can simply feel the presence of nothingness.
Judaism is the only religion which does not write the whole word `God'. They leave the "o" out: "G-d." The "o" in between is left out, they don't write it. It is sacrilegious to pronounce the name of God; something of it is bound to remain beyond words. In fact, the most important part - the middle part - is missing. You have touched only one side or another side, but you have not touched the heart of it. In the word also, you are making it clear that unless you touch the heart of God... and the only way is to touch your own heart. You don't know your own heart. Your heart has roots in the universal heart from where it gets its life. And as the universal heart withdraws man dies, but the life that was is not finished. It may move into a new ripple, into a new flower, into a new cuckoo... millions are the ways. Or it may remain silent in the ocean of the cosmos.
Because it has chosen the fourth, Zen's standpoint is the most superior, the most delicate, and the most intimate one.
From: Osho, The Miracle
- one volume from the Zen set- Zen All Colours of the Rainbow