Is the witness a presence or simply an absence – The absence of identification with body and mind?
Maneesha, it is a difficult question – difficult only because your mind never accepts contradictions, and existence absolutely is in favor of contradictions. In fact, existence is made of contradictions.
So these two words, presence and absence, are both right.
In the witness there is absence, certainly, of your personality, of your mind, of your thoughts, feelings – anything that you are carrying within your mind is absent. If you look from this side, it appears that no-mind is empty mind.
But the moment all these things are emptied out, the potential of your being starts growing – a new presence which was hindered from growing by all the furniture that you have been carrying in the mind. Now that all that furniture and all those stones are thrown and the soil is ready, there comes a new presence.
So both are there as far as your mind is concerned. Meditation is an effort of creating absence. But when the mind is really absent, in that silence, in that unlimited space, your potential starts glowing, radiating, flowering. Suddenly you are full of cherry blossoms, a new presence, a new fragrance.
So absence and presence are both together in your meditation. On the one hand you are emptying; on the other hand the empty space is being filled with your potential. Before there was no space for it to blossom.
Meditation is simply creating a space for your potential to come to flower. A man of meditation has such a presence that you can feel it.
In my dining room I have got a small statue of Buddha. It is only a statue, but when Jayesh came for the first time and saw it, he said, “This statue has a great presence.” I have loved that statue and carried it from India to America, from America to India, because it has a presence. It is only a statue, but a statue of a meditating Buddha. Something of meditation in that very posture radiates a very alive aura.
I have brought another statue for your Buddha Auditorium, to be placed just at the gate, so you can see that even a statue, because it is in a meditative posture, radiates something. Just sitting by the side of the statue you will find something flowing from the statue towards you. It is not a worship, it is just being silently close and watching the posture. Because the posture is of meditation, something of meditativeness radiates even from the stone.
So when you are meditating, you are doing both the things: on one hand you are throwing away all that is garbage, and on the other hand you are helping roses to blossom. You will have an absence and you will have a great presence, together: absence of all that was ugly in you, and presence of all that is beautiful.
From Rinzai: Master of the Irrational, Chapter Six
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