Chapter 3: Where Buddha Ends Krishna Begins, Question 2



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Question 2


A few things have to be understood in this connection. As I was saying earlier, Buddha attained to emptiness, so emptiness is his achievement. And the emptiness that is achieved has to be necessarily one-dimensional, and it becomes dependent on the one who achieves it.

Try to understand it in another way. If I empty out my inside, if I negate something in me, it will cease to be, and I will achieve a kind of emptiness. But this emptiness will be just the absence of something that I have negated. But there is a different kind of emptiness which is not of our making: this emptiness is born out of our awareness of our being. We are empty; we are emptiness itself, so we don't have to become it. Emptiness is our very nature; we are it. And when we come to it, it is not the result of some sadhana, some discipline or effort. And this emptiness is multidimensional. We have not emptied out something to become empty, we have only recollected that we are empty, void; we are emptiness itself.

The emptiness of Buddha, which is seen by us, is one that has been achieved. And only that emptiness which has been achieved can be seen. We never see any emptiness in Krishna; on the contrary, one can say that he is fulfilled, that he is occupied and active. Krishna's presence is felt, not his absence. We can know that there is something tangible in Krishna, but we cannot know that he is empty. We can, however, know that Buddha is empty. The reason is that we are all filled with something that Buddha has negated. We are full of anger, and Buddha has thrown out his anger. We are full of violence, and Buddha has dropped his violence. We are full of clinging and attachments, and Buddha has given them up. We are full of illusions, and Buddha has renounced his illusions. Buddha has emptied him self of all the crap we are stuffed with, and so we can recognize his emptiness. There is no difficulty to it.

But we cannot know Krishna's emptiness. He is free of greed, and yet he can gamble. He is free of anger, and yet he takes up arms and steps onto a battlefield. He is non-violent, and yet he incites Arjuna to fight and kill his enemies. He is without attachments, and yet he loves. We find in Krishna all that we find in ourselves, and so his emptiness is beyond our grasp.

Buddha's emptiness is really the absence of something we all have, and so we come to know it. Buddha is empty of all that we know as man's maladies. As far as human ailments are concerned, he is free of them. None of our weaknesses and diseases afflict him. And we can see Buddha's emptiness to this extent. But he takes another jump from that space, yet we cannot see it. From the emptiness that we can see, he leaps into the supreme emptiness which we cannot see.

Buddha is on his deathbed and, even in this moment of departure, his disciples ask him, "Where will you go after death? Where will you be? Will you be in moksha or nirvana or where? And how will you be there?"

Buddha says, "I will be nowhere. In fact, I will not be." This the disciples fail to grasp, because they think one who has renounced everything like greed and attachment should be somewhere in heaven, in moksha; he has to be somewhere. Buddha again says, "l will be nowhere; I will disappear like a line drawn on the surface of water. Can you say where a line drawn on the water's surface goes after it ceases to be? Where does it live forever after? It lives nowhere; it is nowhere; it is not. In the same way I will be nowhere, I will not be." His disciples still fail to understand what Buddha means to say.

Krishna lives all his life like a line drawn on the surface of water, and so he does not find a disciple and is beyond anyone's grasp.

Buddha and Mahavira, in their last moments, make that great forward leap -- from one-dimensional emptiness to the supreme emptiness -- but we cannot see it, we cannot grasp it. It is beyond understanding and beyond words. Our difficulty with Krishna is greater because he lives in that supreme emptiness, he lives that emptiness. It is not that Krishna's lines on water take time to disappear, he draws them every moment and every moment they disappear. Not only does he draw those lines that live and die in the moment, he also draws their contrary lines on the same water. There are lines and lines all over, simultaneously appearing and disappearing all at once.

One fine morning Buddha attains to emptiness; Krishna is emptiness itself. Because of this, Krishna's emptiness is beyond comprehension.

The day Buddha becomes empty, the consciousness, the being that lay imprisoned inside him becomes free, becomes one with the immense, the infinite. And the same day Buddha too ceases to be; he now has nothing to do with Gautam Siddhartha who once was born and who died under the bodhi tree. What was emptiness of being inside him, is now released to become one with the immense, the infinite. That is why there is no story whatsoever which can say anything about that emptiness, about that becoming one with the immense existence.

But the way Krishna lives his whole life from pole to pole makes for a story of that emptiness, and we have that story to tell us how it would be if Buddha continued to live on this earth after attaining to supreme emptiness. This does not happen, and we don't have the opportunity to witness it. That rarest of opportunities comes our way with Krishna.

Where Buddha's attainment of absolute emptiness and his end happen together, Krishna's absolute emptiness and his being walk together. If Buddha returns from his total nirvana or mahaparinirvana, as it is called, he will be very much like Krishna. Then he will not choose, he will not say this is bad and that is good. Then he will not choose this and discard that. Then he will do nothing, he will only live and live totally. Krishna always lives that way. What is Buddha's supreme achievement is just the natural lifestyle of Krishna, his ordinary way of life. There fore, about himself he puts us into great difficulty. Those who attain to the supreme emptiness soon disappear from this earth. They disappear in the very process of attainment, and so they don't trouble us in the way Krishna does. As long as they live, our ideas of morality and ethics seem to derive support from them. But Krishna is living emptiness. He does not seem to support any of our moral beliefs. On the contrary, he disturbs and disarranges the whole thing. This man leaves us in utter confusion, where we don't know what to do and what not to do.

From Buddha and Mahavira comes the law of action; from Krishna the law of being. We learn from Buddha and Mahavira the way of action, from Krishna the way of being. Krishna is just is-ness.

A man visited a Zen Master and said he wanted to learn meditation. The Master said, "You just watch me and learn meditation if you can."

The man was puzzled, because the Master was busy digging a hole in the garden. He watched him a little while and then said, "I have seen enough digging, and I have done quite a lot of digging myself. I am here to learn meditation."

The Master said, "If you cannot learn meditation watching me, how else can you learn it? I am meditation itself. Whatever I do here is meditation. Observe rightly how I dig."

Then the visitor said, "Those who told me to come to you said you are a man of great knowledge, but it seems I have come to the wrong person. If I had to watch digging I could have done it anywhere." The Master then asked him to stay with him a few days. And the man stayed on at the Zen monastery.

In the meantime the Master went his own way. He bathed himself in the morning, dug holes in the garden and watered the plants, ate his meals and went to bed at night. In two days' time the visitor was annoyed and again he said, "I am here to learn meditation. I have nothing to do with what you do from morning to night."

The Master smiled and said, "I don't teach doing, I teach being. If you see me digging holes, then know it is how meditation digs. When you see me eating, then know it is how meditation eats. I don't do meditation, I am meditation itself."

Now the visitor became worried and said, "It seems I came to a madman. I was always told that meditation is doing, I had never heard someone can be meditation itself."

To this the Master simply said, "It is difficult to decide who is mad, you or me. But we cannot settle it between ourselves."

All of us have loved, but no one has ever been love itself. Now if someone comes along who is love itself, he will certainly nonplus us. Because love always comes to us as an act of behavior, we never know it as being. We love this person and that person; we sometimes love and sometimes don't; it is always a form of activity for us. So someone who is love itself will be an enigma to us. His very being is love: what soever he does is love, and whatsoever he does not do, that too is love. If he hugs someone it is love, and it is love when he fights with someone. It is really difficult to understand such a person; he baffles us. If we say to him, "My good man, why don't you love us?" he will say, "How can I love? I am love. Love is not an act for me, it is an act for those who are not love."

This is our difficulty with Krishna. Krishna's whole existence is empty, void. It is not that he has become empty, or that he has emptied some space by removing its contents. He accepts that which is, and his emptiness stems from this total acceptance. There is a difference between this emptiness and the emptiness of Buddha or Mahavira, and this difference continues to be there until they make their last leap into the space of supreme emptiness. Until then, something of Buddha and Mahavira remains; they become nothing only after the last jump has been taken. But Krishna is that nothingness, all his life, and his emptiness is the living nothingness Buddha and Mahavira lack until they make the ultimate leap. To the last moment of their lives they are filled with the kind of emptiness we can know, because it has been created by removing contents. When they take the last jump they reach the emptiness that is Krishna's emptiness, his nothingness.

It is for this reason both Buddha and Mahavira assert that this supreme emptiness is the point of no return, that one cannot come back from there again. But Krishna says to Radha, "We have been here and danced together many times in the past and we are going to be here and dance together many more times in the future." For Buddha and Mahavira, the emptiness that comes with death is the ultimate death where one is lost forever and ever. There is no return from that void, from that beyond. This is absolute cessation of the chain of births and deaths, of arrivals and departures. But Krishna can say he is not afraid of the chain of births and deaths, because he is already empty -- he does not expect anything more in moksha or ultimate freedom. He says wherever he is, he is in moksha, and he has no difficulty whatsoever in coming-here again and again.

Krishna makes an extraordinary statement on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, one no other man of enlightenment has ever made. He tells Arjuna, "I will continue to come whenever the world is in trouble. I will continue to come whenever religion declines and disintegrates."

Buddha and Mahavira cannot say this. There is no statement of theirs on record that they will come back again when the earth is beset by darkness and disease, by irreligion and profanity. Rather, they will say, "How can we come again? We are now liberated, we have attained to mahanirvana." But Krishna says, "Don't worry, I can come back whenever this earth is in distress."

When Krishna says he can come again he only means he has no difficulty whatsoever in coming and going. It makes no difference for him. His emptiness is so total that nothing can affect it.

There is a difference between emptiness and emptiness.

Mahavira and Buddha can take emptiness only in the sense of release, of liberation, moksha, because they have longed for and labored all their lives for this liberation. So when they come to this emptiness they feel free and relaxed. It is the point of no return for them; the question of going back does not arise. For them, going back will mean going back to the same old world of greed and anger, of craving and attachment, of hate and hostility, of sorrow and suffering. Why go back to the rotten world of senseless strife and war and misery? Therefore when they come to emptiness they just become dissolved into it, they just disappear into the infinite. They will not talk of returning to the same corruption and horror they have left behind.

But going back to the world does not make any difference to Krishna: he can easily go back if it becomes necessary. He will remain himself in every situation -- in love and attachment, in anger and hostility. Nothing will disturb his emptiness, his calm. He will find no difficulty whatsoever is coming and going. His emptiness is positive and complete, alive and dynamic.

But so far as experiencing it is concerned, it is the same whether you come to Buddha's emptiness or Krishna's. Both will take you into bliss. But where Buddha's emptiness will bring you relaxation and rest, maybe Krishna's emptiness will lead you to immense action. If we can coin a phrase like "active void", it will appropriately describe Krishna's emptiness. And the emptiness of Buddha and Mahavira should be called "passive void". Bliss is common to both but with one difference: the bliss of the active void will be creative and the other kind of bliss will dissolve itself in the great void.

You can ask one more question, after which we will sit for meditation.


Next: Chapter 3: Where Buddha Ends Krishna Begins, Question 3


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