Emptiness Has Its Own Fullness – Osho

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 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.


From Beyond Psychology, Discourse #16

Beyond Psychology

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com  or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from Amazon.com and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from Amazon.in and Oshoworld.com.

The Explosion Within Your Being – Osho

What is the relationship between enlightenment and the spring of life? Is enlightenment the spring of life?

One basic thing has always to be remembered: not to get involved in questions of intellect. They are pseudo questions; they don’t belong to your experience. Mind is tremendously capable of creating questions out of words.

But any question that is created by the mind, out of words, not out of experience, is an exercise in utter futility. You don’t know what enlightenment is as an experience, you don’t know what the spring of life is as an experience. The question is purely intellectual. It can lead to a great philosophical discussion, but it will not lead to any understanding or any transformation.

Intellect is one of the barriers to reach to the sources of existence. It does not allow you to ask the authentic question. It goes on giving you questions which only appear as questions, but they are not your quest. Of course in a dictionary, enlightenment will mean one thing and spring of life will mean something else.

But here we are not discussing linguistics. And the people who have been writing dictionaries, analyzing language and grammar, are not the people of the path. So the first thing: always remember whether the question is arising from some experiential source or not. If it is not arising from experience, then it is not worth discussing.

Carol, a newlywed, brags that her Romeo is a model husband. We looked up the word ‘model’ in the dictionary, and found it means “a small imitation of the real thing.”

It has been heard that the pope died but was allowed to return to earth to speak to the cardinals. They gathered around him eagerly.

“What is he like?” they clamored. ”Is he very old, with a long, white beard, like in all the paintings? Tell us, describe him.”

“Well,” said the pope, “to start with, she is black.”

Knowing is one thing; knowing directly and knowing through books are so different. Sometimes they may appear to be similar, but they are not similar.

I cannot answer your question in terms of intellect, but I can answer it in terms of existential experience. The spring of life and enlightenment are not the same, although they are deeply related. The spring of life, when it becomes aware of itself, brings you to the experience of enlightenment. In other words, spring of life plus awareness is equal to enlightenment.

The spring of life is available to everybody; otherwise how can you live? Your life is continuously being nourished by the spring of life. The trees are nourished by the spring of life, the flowers blossom… but the juice comes from the spring of life. The whole existence is nothing but a manifestation of the springs of life.

But trees cannot become enlightened – neither can mountains or oceans; neither can animals or birds. They all have the same source of life that you have. But man has a prerogative, a privilege, that he can become aware of his spring of life. This awareness is not possible in any other form in existence. It is man’s grandeur, it is his dignity. Existence has given him the most precious opportunity. If he can create awareness, consciousness, more alertness, then his spring of life explodes into a new dimension. The dimension of life becomes the dimension of light, of knowing – knowing the deepest roots of our being in eternity. And the moment we know our roots are eternal; we know our flowers are also going to be eternal.

Enlightenment is a flowering.

The springs of life are seeds; enlightenment is a flower. The seed has come to its ultimate expression – there is no further to go. Springs of life are the lowest rung of the ladder, and enlightenment is the highest rung of the ladder, although the ladder is the same.

The change comes slowly, as you become more aware of who you are, of what life is – not intellectually, not by reading through scriptures, but by reading the only holy scripture: your own being, and bringing your potential to its realization. So that which was hidden in the seed becomes an explosion in the flower, in the fragrance. That fragrance is enlightenment. It comes from the sources of life, but it is not synonymous with it.

The seed is not synonymous with the flower, although the flower comes from the seed. The seed is the womb, but the flower – although connected with the seed, with the womb – is a totally new experience.

Awareness ordinarily is objective. You know others, you know the world, you know the faraway stars. The moment awareness turns inwards and starts knowing itself – in other words, the moment awareness is the object of its own knowing – enlightenment blossoms with all its beauty, with all its immortal glory.

Life is accepted by the scientist, but he is not yet capable of accepting the possibility of enlightenment. Life is accepted by the atheist, but he is also not capable of comprehending the ultimate explosion. Just as for millennia we had no idea that matter is made of small atoms, which are not visible to the eyes … they are so small that if you put one atom upon another atom, and then go on putting one on top of another, you will need one hundred thousand atoms, and then they will be as thick as a human hair. Such a small atom, one hundred thousand times thinner than a human hair, when it explodes, releases so much energy that a city like Hiroshima or Nagasaki disappears within seconds – evaporates.

I have seen a picture sent by a friend from Japan … just looking at the picture, one feels so sad about humanity, so hopeless. The picture is of a small girl, maybe nine years old. She is going from the ground floor to the first story with her bag and books – perhaps to do her homework before she goes to sleep. She is just in the middle of the staircase when the atom bomb falls on Hiroshima. Just a small atom exploding creates so much energy … you can use it for destruction or you can use it for some creative purpose. Right now the scientists say we have come so far from Hiroshima and Nagasaki – our new nuclear weapons are so great in their energy – that the atom bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima look like children’s toys.

If matter, in its smallest particle, contains so much energy, can you conceive how much energy may be available in the living cell of human beings?

Enlightenment is the explosion of a living cell. Certainly it is not destructive at all, but it transforms the whole man. In that way, it is destructive. It destroys the old man, it destroys the night, it destroys all that was constituting your personality: your jealousy, your anger, your hate, your lust, your greed – all that is simply finished in a single moment. And the same energy that was involved in jealousy, hate, greed, ambition, and a thousand and one desires, is changed into totally new forms of energy: love, silence, peace, compassion, wisdom – all that is the basic search of life itself.

Life in itself is dormant, it is fast asleep. Enlightenment is absolutely awake. But it is the same energy that was asleep that becomes awake. So they are not synonymous, but they are two extremes of the same energy.

But this, if taken as an intellectual understanding, is not going to help you in any way. It has to become your own experience.

You have to see that light.

You have to see that explosion within your own being.

You have to see the darkness disappearing. You have to see the new dawn of a new life – a life of grace and gratitude, a life of beauty and blessings.

Chandaram, you have to remember, it is very easy to ask questions as mind gymnastics. I am not interested in mind gymnastics because it leads you nowhere; you remain stuck where you are. You only become more burdened with knowledge – knowledge which is meaningless because it is not part of your own experience.

Rabbi Bierstein was asking his congregation to donate money to help build a new synagogue.

Suddenly, the town prostitute stood and shouted, “Praise the Lord. I repent. I will give two thousand dollars right now.”

“Well, as much as we need funds, I am afraid I cannot accept tainted money,” said Bierstein.

“Take it, Rabbi,” shouted a man from the back, “after all, it is our money anyway!”

Now, what are these guys doing in a synagogue? Just a formality. They are visiting prostitutes. The prostitute is more authentic. Perhaps the money also belongs to the Rabbi; that’s why the man is saying, “It is our money anyway.”

Mind has been befooling man for centuries.

After holding mass in Warsaw Cathedral, the pope was giving words of encouragement to a group of devout Poles. One of them asked, “Your Holiness, Poles are such devout Catholics, why was Christ not born in Poland?”

“Don’t you understand,” said the pope, “that for such a birth, there had to be three wise men and a virgin?”

And where can you find three wise men and a virgin in Poland? You must know the story of Jesus, that he is born out of a virgin, and three wise men come from the East to pay him respect. They are the first to recognize in the small child the possibility of a future enlightened being. They recognized in the seed, the flower.

I recognize in you the seed and the potential of the flower. But if you go on thinking intellectually, you will become a philosopher, a theologian; you will never become a mystic. And unless you become a mystic, you have wasted your life. Such a great opportunity, where you can grow to your greatest height of consciousness, is being wasted in unconscious trivia.

Even if you think about something great, it is only a thought, it never becomes an actual reality in your being.

I would like you to be more existential. I am not an existentialist because that is again falling into the same trap. Existentialist philosophers are not enlightened people. Neither Jean-Paul Sartre is enlightened nor Jaspers, nor Martin Heidegger, nor Marcel, nor Soren Kierkegaard; they are philosophers of existence, they think about existence.

I want you not to be existentialist thinkers; I want you to be existential experiencers. That difference is so great, and makes all the difference – because Jean-Paul Sartre, or Jaspers or other existentialist philosophers live in anguish, in anxiety, in boredom, in despair. They even think that perhaps suicide is the only way out of this mess. These people are not to be categorized with Gautam Buddha or Chuang Tzu or Baal Shem. These people are thinking about existence, just as old philosophers were thinking about God; only the object of thinking has changed, but thinking continues, and thinking can only lead you into a desert.

It is only the experience which leads your life river towards the ultimate merger with the ocean, with the universe, with the life of full awareness. You come back home. You had left the home unconscious, you come back home with consciousness. The circle is complete. Your life has come to fulfillment and contentment. This is the only benediction and this is the only authentic religious path.


From The New Dawn, Discourse #16

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com  or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from Amazon.com and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from Amazon.in and Oshoworld.com.

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