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First Question



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The first question:

Question 1


NO Sir, NOT AT ALL. Because you are not. You are an emptiness -- anatta. No sir. On the surface you may be somebody, but I am not concerned with your surface. In the deepest core you are simply a nobodiness, not even a nobody -- nobodiness. How can I know you?

And that's the beauty, because if I can know you I have defined you, I have made you limited by my knowledge. If you can be known, immediately you become an object, you are no more a consciousness. If you can be known you cannot be infinite, and you are -- infinite in your emptiness. How can I know you? Even you yourself cannot know. There exists nothing like self-knowledge. When you come to realize it, it is a NO-SELF-knowledge. When you come to settle with it, suddenly you become aware that the knower and the known have disappeared -- there is only emptiness, a vast space, with no beginning, no end -- an infinity. That's what you are -- how can it be known?

There is no possibility of knowledge. And it is good that you cannot be known, otherwise science will know you, and once known you are an object, a thing. Then the mystery is lost. That's why I say again and again that science will never be able to know the innermost core of being, because the innermost core is a non-being. You are just like an onion -- go on peeling the layers. Go on peeling the layers; a new layer comes, another new layer, another new layer, and then suddenly the whole onion is gone: emptiness in the hands. That is you.

But this emptiness is not negative, so don't misunderstand me. The very word "emptiness" looks like an absence of something. No, it is not. It is a presence of something infinite. It is not absence, it is not negative, it is not like darkness; it is a positive phenomenon. You are a no-self. This positivity has to be remembered because the word "emptiness" may give you a wrong notion about it, you may think it is simply empty. I am not saying there is an emptiness of something, I am not saying that there is absence of something -- no. It is emptiness, it is the very emptiness, it is emptiness itself. Emptiness is being used as a positive term; when it is positive it is totally different.

You have known emptiness only in a negative way. You go into the room, there is no furniture and you say the room is empty, there is nothing. You come out and if I ask you what you saw in the room you will say it is empty -- no furniture, no pictures on the walls, nothing -- just empty. You went into the room but you saw only the negative part. The room is filled with roominess that you didn't encounter. A room is emptiness, a room means space. Something can be brought in because there is room, there is emptiness. The furniture can be brought in -- there is space. You have not seen it that way. Otherwise you would have come and told me that the room is complete; there is nothing, only emptiness exists, the room is ready to receive anything -- it has space. Then you have looked at the positive emptiness.

Look at the sky. The sky is a positive emptiness when there are no clouds. If you look at the sky as an absence of clouds then you are looking at it from a negative standpoint. If you look at it as the presence of a space, a blue emptiness, and out of that blue emptiness everything has arisen, then it cannot be negative. It is the most positive thing in the world, the very ground of being. Non-being is the very ground of being. Everything has come out of it and everything by and by moves back into it. You are born out of it and you will die into it.

How can I know you? Knowledge will become a definition and you are indefinable. No, I don't know you. I don't know myself.

I would like to tell you one anecdote. It happened, and I love it, and I have told it so many times, millions of times, but whenever I remember it again it is so new and so fresh.

Bodhidharma went to China -- the man who carried Buddha's emptiness in his hands. Bodhidharma carried the essential Buddhism to China, for the greatest phenomenon to happen there. Because of Bodhidharma, Lao Tzu's whole standpoint -- the Lao Tzuan way of life -- and Buddha's realization met, and one of the most beautiful things was born. Nothing like it exists anywhere in the world -- that is Zen. Zen is a meeting, a crossing between Buddha and Lao Tzu. Bodhidharma was the midwife who carried the seed to the womb of Lao Tzu.

When he reached China he was a very famous mystic, his name was known all over the East. When he reached China the emperor himself came to receive him on the border. The Emperor asked a few questions. He asked, "I have made many Buddhist temples -- thousands. What punya, what virtue have I gained? "

If he had said the same thing to any other ordinary Buddhist monk, he would have replied, "Emperor, Lord, you have gained infinite virtue -- your heaven is absolutely certain, guaranteed." But he asked the wrong person. Bodhidharma said, "Virtue? Nothing! On the contrary, you have accumulated much sin."

The Emperor was shocked, he couldn't believe it He said, "Why? What are you saying? I have made many temples of Buddha. I have published and distributed Buddha's sayings to millions of people. Every day I feed thousands of Buddhist monks and you say I have accumulated sin? What do you mean?"

Bodhidharma said, "The very idea that you have accumulated virtue is a sin, it is very egoistic. Your hell is certain, Emperor. You will fall to the seventh hell -- the first won't do."

The Emperor could not believe it. He felt a little anger also. And he said, "I have a question to ask. What is inside me? What is it that I am?" -- the same question you have asked: "Do you know who I am?"

Bodhidharma said, "A vast emptiness, a nothingness. "

Now the Emperor was really angry. In anger he asked Bodhidharma, "Then who are you? Who is standing before me?"

Bodhidharma said, "I don't know sir."

I don't know. How can you know emptiness? You can be it, but you cannot know it. Knowing means you are separate from it, knowing needs distance. How can you know yourself? If you know then you are divided in two, the knower and the known. And of course the known can never be you, only the knower, so whatsoever you know can never be yourself, the knower. And the knower is irreducible, it cannot be made known. How can you put yourself in front of yourself? You cannot, that is impossible. And if you can then it is something else which is in front of you, not you. You are always behind -- the knower. Always the knower. Always the knower, never the known.

I don't know myself... and this is self-knowledge. It looks contradictory, paradoxical, but this is how it is. Nothing can be done about it, this is the nature of things. That's why a man of self-knowledge will never claim that he knows. Because who will claim? He becomes like an ignorant man. He says, "I know only that I don't know."

Move inwards. One day you will come to this emptiness, the hub of the wheel. The hub is empty but it holds the whole wheel in it; the hub is empty but without the hub the wheel will disappear, it will fall into pieces. You have known only the wheel -- that is your personality up to now, your NAMA-RUPA, your name and form; your wheel you have known. The deeper you move within you, you will come one day to the hub: that is anatta, no-self, emptiness. But remember again: it is not negative, it is not emptiness in the sense of being empty of something. It is emptiness itself. It is the most positive thing in existence. It is existence itself. Hindus have called it satchitanand: SAT -- it is; CHIT -- it is aware; ANAND -- it is bliss. Remember, it is not blissful; otherwise it would not be empty. It is bliss, not blissful. You will not be filled with bliss, you will suddenly find you are bliss.

Emptiness has the nature of bliss, has the nature of existence, has the nature of consciousness. Not that consciousness fills it: it is not like a lamp burning in a room so the light is filling the room. You can put the lamp off and the light goes; you cannot put off consciousness. It is the very nature of that inner emptiness -- it is not that it is filling it. You cannot destroy it. How can you destroy emptiness? You can destroy everything in the world; you cannot destroy emptiness. That's why you cannot be murdered, you cannot be killed. There is no possibility, because you are not. The sword can kill the wheel, but the hub? -- the hub will remain intact. It cannot be destroyed; it was not there in the first place.

Is-ness is the nature of the inner emptiness; consciousness is the nature of the inner emptiness; bliss is the nature of the inner emptiness. That's the fear people feel when they move into meditation. When they move into meditation they become afraid, they start trembling. A deep inner trembling arises. A deep anxiety and anguish arises. Why should it be so? You are coming nearer to a blissful state, nearer to an alert, aware consciousness, nearer to existence. Why are you scared of death? You are scared because you don't know how to be empty. You know only how to be filled, you don't know how to be empty. You don't know how to die, how to die to the personality, how to remain in the inner emptiness. You don't know. When you come inwards and thoughts start moving away from you, suddenly fear takes possession. Where are you going? You feel like you are disappearing, you feel like you are dying. A sort of non-existence grips you -- as if you are standing at an abyss and you are looking down and it is bottomless. And you start trembling and perspiration pours from every pore of your body. Death is encountered.

If you escape from this point you will never be able to meditate. Hence a Master is needed. When you start getting afraid he can persuade you not to be afraid, he can help you: "Look at me. I have passed through this and yet I am. I have become empty and yet I am. And I am more than you, more than the whole existence put together." Somebody is needed to whom you can look, into whose eyes you can glimpse the same emptiness that you are coming to within yourself. And yet you can see that he is, and he is totally and absolutely. So don't be afraid. His being gives you courage, his presence gives you courage. A Master does nothing in fact. He is a catalytic agent, just his presence is enough. Once you fall into that emptiness you will start laughing and you will say, "There is no death. I was unnecessarily afraid, baselessly afraid." Passing through death you become deathless.

This much I can say to you: you are a no-self. Become a no-self. And no-self is not empty in any negative sense, it is the greatest positivity.


Next: Chapter 4, Emptiness, Second Question


Energy Enhancement          Enlightened Texts          Taoism          Tao: The three treasures



Chapter 4






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