Emptiness has its own fullness
FOR YEARS I HAVE CONTEMPLATED WHAT SEEMS TO ME TO BE THE BASIC MESSAGE FOR WELL-BEING: LOVE YOURSELF. WHEN I WAS A THERAPIST, ALL DAY HEARING, "I HATE MYSELF; I FEEL SORRY FOR MYSELF; I AM PROUD OF MYSELF; I WANT TO DESTROY MYSELF," I STARTED WONDERING -- WHO IS THIS SELF?
I LOVE WHEN YOU SAY THERE IS NO SELF. THAT SEEMS SO FREEING.
COULD YOU PLEASE SAY MORE?
The whole therapeutic movement has gone wrong on that point: Love thyself.
Socrates used to say, "Know thyself." And there have been masters, particularly Sufis, who say, "Be thyself." But there is only one person in the whole history of man, Gautam Buddha, who said, "There is no self. You are an emptiness, utter silence, a non-being."
His message was much opposed by all the traditions, because they all depended in some way or other on the idea of the self. There may have been differences on other points, but on one point they were all totally in agreement -- and that was the existence of the self.
Even people like George Gurdjieff, who used to talk about a very novel idea -- that you are not born with a self, you have to earn it: "Deserve thyself" -- finally, he also ends up with the self.
Gautam Buddha does not make any distinction between the self and the ego -- and there is none. It is just sophistry, linguistic gymnastics, to make such distinctions; then you can discard the ego and save the self. But the self is simply another name of the ego. You are only changing names, and no transformation of being is happening.
Buddha's message is tremendously significant: you are an emptiness; there is no point in you which can say "I."
Looked at from my vision, when I say to you, "Melt, dissolve into existence," I am simply saying the same thing in more positive terms.
Buddha's way of saying it was so negative that many people were stopped, because the question arose, naturally, that if there is no self, why bother? what is there to achieve?
Just to know that you are not?
A whole life of discipline, great effort for meditation, and the result is to know that you are not? The result does not seem to be worth it! At least without the meditation, without the discipline you have some sense of being. It may be wrong, but at least you are not feeling hollow and empty. Knowing that you are not, how will you live? Out of nothingness there is no possibility of any love, of any compassion -- no possibility of anything. Out of nothing comes only nothing.
So the opponents of Buddha described his method as a subtle way of spiritual suicide -- far more dangerous than ordinary suicide, because with ordinary suicide you will survive, you will take a new form, a new birth. But with Buddha you will be committing total suicide, annihilation. There will be no longer anything left of you, and you will be never heard from again, never found again.
You never were in the first place.
Buddhism died in India, and one of the basic reasons was Buddha's way of putting his philosophy. I can understand why he was so insistent on negatives, because all other philosophies were so positivistic, and all their positivism was turning into stronger and stronger egos. He moved to the other extreme, seeing that positivism is going to give you egoistic ideas -- and that is a hindrance between you and existence.
To stop this idea he became totally negative.
You cannot complain about it, because the positivistic ideologies were in a strange situation: you have to drop the ego to find yourself, you have to drop the ego to find God, you have to drop the ego to become God, you have to drop the ego to find ultimate liberation -- liberation of whom? Liberation of your self.
So there was achievement, and achievement is always of the ego.
There is a goal, and the goal is always of the ego.
Seeing all this, Buddha said, "There is no self. There is nothing to be achieved, and there is no goal to be found. You have never existed, you do not exist, you will not exist. You can only imagine, you can only dream that you are."
Chuang Tzu's story is famous. I never get tired of Chuang Tzu because his small absurd stories have so many aspects to explore, each time I can bring it in with a new light, with a new meaning, with a new perspective.
One morning he wakes up, calls all his disciples and says, "I am in great trouble, and you have to help me."
The disciples said, "We have come to be helped by you, and you want our help?" Chuang Tzu said, "It was okay, but this night everything got disturbed: I dreamt that I had become a butterfly."
They all laughed. They said, "All nonsense! Dreaming does not create any mess."
Chuang Tzu said, "It has created, because now I am thinking that perhaps I am a butterfly, thinking, dreaming that I am Chuang Tzu. Now, who am I? And I have to be certain, in order to live, whether I am Chuang Tzu or I am a butterfly."
He looks absurd, but he is really bringing the absurdity of logic of being the surface. If a butterfly cannot dream of being a Chuang Tzu, then how can Chuang Tzu dream of being a butterfly? And if Chuang Tzu can dream of being a butterfly, then there is no logical objection to a butterfly falling asleep under the morning sun on a beautiful flower, and dreaming of herself being Chuang Tzu.
None of his disciples could help him. For centuries Taoists have been using that as a koan, because it is insoluble -- but to Buddha it is not so.
Chuang Tzu and Gautam Buddha were contemporaries, but far away; one was in China, one in India. They were divided by the great Himalayas, so no communication; otherwise Buddha would have solved Chuang Tzu's problem, because he says, "Both are dreams. It does not matter whether Chuang Tzu dreams of being a butterfly, or the butterfly dreams of being a Chuang Tzu -- both are dreams. You simply don't exist."
Many came to Buddha and turned away, because nobody can make nothingness be his life's achievement -- for what? So much discipline and so much great trouble in getting into meditation just to find out that you are not... strange kind of man this Gautam Buddha. We are good as we are, what is the need of digging so deep that you find there is nothing? Even if we are dreaming, at least there is something.
My own approach is just the same, but from a very different angle. I say to you that you don't have a self, because you are part of the universe; you are not nothing. Only the universe can have a self, only the universe can have a center, only the whole can have a soul. My hand cannot have a soul, my fingers cannot have a soul; only the organic unity can have a soul. And we are only parts. We are, but we are only parts; hence we cannot claim that we have a self.
So Buddha is right -- there is no self -- but he is not helping people, poor people, because they cannot figure out all the implications of the statement.
I say to you: You DON'T have a self because you are part of a great self, the whole. You cannot have any separate, private, self of your own. This takes away the negativity, and this does not give you the positive desire for becoming more and more egoistic. It avoids both the extremes and finds a new approach: The universe is, I am not. And whatever happens and appears to be in me, as me, is simply universal.
To call it "I" is to make it too small. That is what makes it untrue; it does not correspond to reality. To call it "self" makes it unreal, because the self is possible only if you are totally independent -- and you are not. Even for a single breath you are not independent.
Even for a single moment you are not independent of the sun, of the moon, of the stars.
The whole is contributing all the time. That's why you are.
To recognize it is not a loss, it is a gain; and yet it is not an egoistic gain. If you can see the subtlety of it... it is a tremendous achievement to understand that you are part of the whole, that the whole belongs to you, that you belong to the whole. And yet with such a great achievement, there is no shadow of the self.
It is one of the most beautiful understandings, that we are not separate -- not separate from the mountains, not separate from the trees, not separate from the ocean, not separate from anybody. We are all connected, interwoven into oneness. The gain is immense, but there is no sense of I, of me, of my, of mine. As far as these things are concerned, there is utter silence and emptiness. But this emptiness is not just empty.
We can empty this room -- we can take all the furniture, everything in the room out -- and anybody coming in will say, "The room is empty." That is one way of looking at it -- but not the right way.
The right way is that now the room is full of emptiness. Before, the emptiness was hindered, cut into parts, because so much furniture, and so many things were not allowing it to be one: now it is one.
Emptiness too is. It is existential; it does not mean that it is not. Somebody empty of jealousy will become full of love, somebody empty of stupidness will become full of intelligence. Each emptiness has its own fullness. And if you miss seeing the fullness that comes with emptiness, absolutely and certainly, then you are blind.
There is no self.
And that's a great relief.
You don't have to love it, you don't have to hate it, you don't have to accept it, you don't have to reject it; you don't have to do anything: it simply is not there. You can relax, and in this relaxation is the melting into the universe.
Then nothingness becomes wholeness.
Buddha was very miserly; he would never say that nothingness is wholeness. He knew it; it is impossible that a man who knows nothingness to such depths will not know the other side of the coin -- wholeness. But he was very miserly -- and for a reason, because the moment you utter "wholeness," immediately the ego feels at ease.
The ego says, "So there is no fear. You have to attain to wholeness. Nothing was a danger; wholeness gives hope." That's why he was so persistently denying something which is ultimately real. He was leading people towards it, but denying it because the moment you assert it those people start going astray.
But I would like tell you the whole thing.
One day Buddha is passing through a forest. It is fall, and the whole forest is full of dry and dead leaves, and the wind is taking those dry and dead leaves from here and there and making beautiful music; and just to walk on those leaves is a joy.
Ananda asked Buddha, "Can I ask you... there is nobody around, and I rarely get a chance to be alone with you. Although I am twenty-four hours a day with you, somebody is always there, and of course he has preference to ask, to talk, because it is an opportunity for him; I am always with you. But today there is nobody. Can I ask you one thing: Have you said everything that you know? Or have you been keeping a few things back and not revealing them to people?"
Buddha stooped down and filled one of his fists with dead leaves. Ananda said, "What are you doing?"
He said, "I am trying to answer your question. What do you see in my hand?"
And Anand said, "I see a few leaves."
Buddha said, "What do you see all over the forest?"
He said, "Millions and millions of dead leaves."
Buddha said, "What I have said is just this much, and what I have not said is equal to the leaves that are in the whole forest. But my whole desire is to take you to the forest, to leave you to listen to the music of the whole, to walk and run on dry leaves, just like children. I don't want to give you a few leaves in my fist. No, I want to give you the whole.
"And this is my understanding: you may trust me or not, but I trust you. You may change, you may even become an enemy to me, but my trust will remain the same in you.
Because my trust is not something conditional upon you, it does not depend on you. My trust is my joy, and I want to give the whole."
Nothingness is half of the truth -- immensely relieving, but yet it leaves something like a wound, something unfulfilled. You will be relieved, relaxed, but you will be still looking for something, because emptiness cannot become the end.
The other side, wholeness, has to be made available to you.
Then your emptiness is full -- full of wholeness.
Then your nothingness is all. It is not just nothing, but all. These are the moments when contradictory terms are transcended, and whenever you transcend any contradictory terms you become enlightened. Whatever the contradiction may be, all contradictions transcended bring enlightenment to you. And this is one of the fundamental contradictions: emptiness and wholeness.
The transcendence needs nothing but just a silent understanding.
SINCE BEING WITH YOU, I HAVE NOTICED THAT WHEN A PERSON BECOMES CLOSELY RELATED TO YOU THEY SOMETIMES GET A FIXED IDEA ABOUT WHO YOU ARE. IT SEEMS LIKE THEY FORGET WHO YOU REALLY ARE AND EVEN WHY THEY HAVE COME TO YOU.
THIS SITUATION PUZZLES ME, EVEN SCARES ME A LITTLE. WOULD YOU PLEASE COMMENT?
The mind has a natural tendency to quickly get fixed ideas. It is very much afraid of change, because change means rearrangement. Each time you change something, you have to rearrange your whole inner being.
Mind wants to live with fixed ideas, so when a person comes to me -- and it has been happening for thirty-five years continuously -- he starts loving me. He comes closer, becomes intimate, and then gets a fixed idea. And that's where he misses, because now his fixed idea is going to create trouble.
I am not an idea and I am not fixed. I am changing. I am in absolute agreement with Heraclitus that you cannot step twice in the same river. Translated, it means you cannot meet the same person again. I not only agree with him, I go a little further: I say you cannot step in the same river even once. Again translated to the human world, it means you cannot meet the same person even once, because even while you are meeting him he is changing, you are changing, the whole world is changing.
But once you get a fixed idea you cling to it, and I am constantly going to change.
Tomorrow you will find yourself in a conflict.
So many have come, so many have gone, and this has been one of the basic reasons: they became so much fascinated with their own idea of me that I became secondary. Their idea of me became primary -- and that too, old, dated. I am with them, fresh and young, but I became secondary. And if there was any conflict between their idea and my reality, they went with their idea -- even to the point of becoming enemies to me, telling people that I am no longer the same, I am no longer the person I used to be; they have worshipped a great saint, but I am no longer the same person. They will keep their memory of me deep in their heart, but it is simply a photograph. Photographs don't change.
Once it happened... one of my friends was collecting photographs of me from my childhood -- from wherever he could get them. He had made a big album, and he was showing me. He had done a great deal of work; he had gone to many places, to many people. Wherever he heard that somebody had a picture of me he went there, either to get the original or a copy of it. But while he was showing them to me he felt I was not interested. He stopped and said to me, "You don't seem to be interested."
I said, "I don't seem to be interested because none of these photographs represent me; they only represent that which is dead. The photograph can only represent that which is dead. A photograph is always of the dead; you cannot find a photograph which is of the living."
In Picasso's home there used to be a portrait, a self-portrait of Picasso. He never sold it, at any price, that was the only picture he insisted on not selling. And the more he insisted on not selling, the more and more people were coming, with bigger and bigger offers for the picture. It became a challenge for art collectors.
One beautiful woman had come with the same idea, to purchase the picture. Whatever the price she was ready to pay; she was rich enough. She said to Picasso, "I am willing to pay you as much as you want for your portrait."
Picasso said, "People are mad. For a dead thing they go on harassing me. You can have it without any price, but remember, it is not me."
The woman looked puzzled. She said, "It is not you? What do you mean?"
He said, "If it were me it would have kissed you by now! It does not speak, it does not love, it does not sing, it does not dance. Such a beautiful woman is standing before it and the idiot is not even kissing. You just can take it. It is dead. Remove it from here -- it is not me!"
People get fixed ideas -- and very soon. Ordinarily it goes perfectly well, because you meet only dead people who are not changing, who go on saying the same thing their whole life just like a parrot. They are consistent people; they have all your respect.
I seem to you self-contradictory, inconsistent, for the simple reason that I have decided not to die before I die. I am going to live to the very last breath, so you cannot be certain about me till my last breath. After that you can make any image of me and be satisfied with it. But remember, it will not be me.
To be with me needs courage, and the greatest courage is being capable of seeing the change and moving with it. It may be difficult; it is easy to have one idea once and then be finished.
A Sufi story... Mulla Nasruddin is appointed as the prime minister of a king because he was known to be very wise; somewhat weird was his wisdom, but still, wisdom is wisdom. The first day when they went to have their dinner together, a certain vegetable called bindhi was made by the cook, stuffed with Eastern spices. It is a delicacy.
The king appreciated the cook, and after that Mulla said, in appreciation of the bindhi, "This is the most precious vegetable in the world. It gives you long life, it keeps you healthy, it gives you resistance against diseases," and so on and so forth.
The king said, "I never knew that you know so much about vegetables."
The cook heard about it, so he thought if bindhi is such a thing that our king can live long and healthy and young... Next day again bindhi was made, and again Mulla praised it, going even higher than the first day. The third day bindhi was made and Mulla went still higher. The fourth day bindhi was made and Mulla was going higher and higher. The fifth day Mulla even said that bindhi is a divine food -- God eats only bindhi.
But the king was bored. He threw the plate of bindhi and told Mulla Nasruddin, "You are an idiot. Bindhi... and God eats bindhi every day? You will drive me mad!"
Mulla said, "Lord, you are getting unnecessarily hot. I am your servant; you said bindhi was good, I simply followed you, and when I do something I do it perfectly. I am not a servant to bindhi, I am your servant. The truth is that bindhi is the worst thing in the world -- even devils don't eat it. You did well that you threw it."
He threw his plate farther away than the king. He said, "You should always remember that I am your servant, and you are always right. And I am a consistent man; I will remain consistently your servant, whatever happens."
There are people -- almost the whole world -- who live in a certain consistency. It is easier. But when you come close to a man like me, you are going to be in difficulty; either you will have to drop your idea of consistency or you will have to drop me. And people are so infatuated with their own ideas that they can drop me, but they cannot drop their ideas.
My first book was published in 1960. I was staying in someone's home, and the housewife of the home told me, "My father is a monk, a Jaina monk; he is old, ninety years old. He has been told by the Jaina order that he need not go begging, he is too old, so he remains outside the town in a hut, and we take his food there. But he wants to come to see you -- he insists. We've told him, `We can bring the person you want to see...'" In fact I used to go on that road every morning. She said, "It is very easy for you to go to meet the old man, but he insists, `No, that will not be respectful.' He reads your books; he has stopped reading all other books. And he says, `If it was in my power I would declare this man as our twenty-fifth TIRTHANKARA.'" They have twenty-four tirthankaras in one cycle of existence; in Jainism there are cycles of existence. It is a very mathematical philosophy. Everything moves in the world in cycles -- existence also has a cycle: it begins, it ends, it begins again, it ends again... it is a long, long way. In fact, India has the biggest terms for counting; no other language has such big terms for counting. And it has to use its biggest terms to count how long it takes one cycle to complete.
In one cycle there are twenty-four tirthankaras, just as in one day there are twenty-four hours. For each hour in the cycle of existence there is one master. This old Jaina monk had said something almost sacrilegious: that if it was in his power he would declare me the twenty-fifth tirthankara. He was so infatuated with the book that he said that he had never understood things which the book had made him understand, and he was happy that he had found it before his death.
He came to see me; it must have been nearabout six in the evening when he came. The daughter of the woman I was staying with came and told me, "You should take your bath because your supper is ready."
I said, "Wait, this old man has come from so far." And the old man had already said -- just within the few minutes he had been there -- "You are the twenty-fifth tirthankara.
Perhaps if it is not possible according to existence, then you will be the first tirthankara in the new cycle. Your book has given me so much; all the books that I have read in my whole life -- all the scriptures -- have proved useless."
He had touched my feet. I told him, "It is not good. You are ninety years old, and a Jaina monk is not supposed to touch anybody's feet."
He said, "I don't care. I consider you as my master." But when he heard the girl asking me to get ready, he was shocked -- because the sun had set, and Jainas don't eat after the sun has set. Immediately everything changed.
He said, "Do you eat after the sunset?"
I said, "Ordinarily, no. But you have come from so far, an old man, and I wanted to be with you. It doesn't matter if it is a little late. I can take my supper a little late."
He said, "Then forgive me. Whatever I have said to you, I want to take it back. You are not even a Jaina, how can you become a Jaina tirthankara? First you should learn how to discipline your life."
He started teaching me. Just a moment before I was the master, and I was going to be the first tirthankara of the new cycle; now I was not even a disciple! And there was absolute condemnation in his mind. The book that he had brought with him -- my book -- he simply left there. He didn't take it with him.
I asked him, "What happened? That book... I may have fallen from your mind, but that book does not eat supper. You can take the book."
He said, "I cannot even touch it. You have written it and you don't know even simple things, that after sunset one cannot eat. If one eats after sunset, one can never know what reality is."
It was really hilarious to see the whole thing; the whole family gathered to see. The husband of the woman was a rare man. He said to me, "Except me, everybody in my family is going to betray you. Only I will remain in the end with you, because I am not a religious person; they all are against me. I don't go to the temple, I don't read their scriptures, I don't follow the discipline of a Jaina -- not eating in the night, not eating before sunrise, and other things. I will be the last one to still be with you, because whatever you do will not hurt me; I don't make any image, I simply see it.
"Each time you come to my home you are different, and all these people get into difficulty. They are puzzled -- last time you said something and this time you have been saying something which goes against it. Only to me it does not seem puzzling simply because last time was last time! The water in the Ganges has gone down so much. This time is this time, and to me you are each time beautiful."
And he was right. By and by all the people in his family started getting stuck with some image of me. Only he remained to the very last. He is dead now. Just before dying he said, "Convey to Osho, `Only you are in my mind right now, when I am leaving my body.'" He was a man who really had guts to go along with me through all the seasons of the year, all the changes of life.
If you really want to be with me you have to stop making images. What is the need to make an image? The need is to cling.
Remain without an image so that your eyes are not cluttered with old images and you are available to me directly, each moment.
This direct immediacy is the true relationship between me and you.
Anything less than that is worthless.
THE OTHER DAY I HEARD YOU SAYING, "JUST LISTENING TO ME CAN BE ENOUGH TO BE TRANSFORMED." I FELT SO GRATEFUL TO YOU AND RELAXED FOR A MOMENT. BUT A PART OF ME WAS DOUBTFULLY ASKING, "IS IT REALLY THAT EASY?
CAN I REALLY RELAX AND LET EXISTENCE TAKE OVER?" MY CHATTERING MIND WANTS TO DO SOMETHING. HOW CAN I BE MORE PATIENT AND REALLY TRUST?
Just for a moment you had the glimpse.
Now make yourself available more and more... that glimpse comes again and again, becomes deepened. And don't be bothered by your chattering mind.
Use that chattering mind to make new questions.