In meditation, when the ‘I’ drops temporarily and an emptiness is created within, after it a frustration is felt when that emptiness is not filled by the entry of the unknown. How can one learn to live with that emptiness?
Emptiness is the unknown. Don’t wait and don’t hope that something is going to fill the emptiness. If you are waiting, hoping, desiring, you are not empty. If you are waiting that something, some unknown force, will descend upon you, you are not empty – this hope is there, this desire is there, this longing is there. So don’t desire for something to fill you. Simply be empty. Don’t even wait. Emptiness is the unknown. When you are really empty the unknown has descended upon you. It is not that first you become empty and then the unknown enters. You are empty, and the unknown has entered. There is not a single moment’s gap. The emptiness and the unknown are one.
In the beginning it appears to you as emptiness; that is only appearance, because you have always been filled by the ego. Really, you are feeling the absence of the ego; that’s why you feel empty. First the ego disappears – but the feeling that the ego is no more creates the feeling of emptiness. Just the absence… something was there, and now it is not there. The ego has gone, but the absence of the ego is felt. First the ego will disappear, and then the absence of the ego will disappear. Only then will you be really empty. And to be really empty is to be really filled.
That inner space which is created by the absence of the ego is the divine. The divine is not to come from somewhere else; you are already that. Because you are filled with the ego you cannot realize it, you cannot see it, you cannot touch it. A filmy barrier of the ego prevents you.
When the ego has dropped, the barrier has dropped. The curtain is no more there. Nothing is to come; whatsoever is to come is already there. Remember this: that nothing new is going to come to you. Whatsoever is possible is already there, actual. So the question is not of achieving; the question is only of discovering. The treasure is there, just covered – you uncover it. When he became a realized man, Buddha was asked so many times, ‘What have you gained? What have you achieved?’
Buddha is reported to have said, ‘I have not achieved anything. Rather, on the contrary, I have lost myself. And that which I have achieved was already there, so I cannot say I have achieved it. I was unaware of it. Now I have become aware. But I cannot say I have achieved it. Rather, on the contrary, now I wonder how it was possible that I didn’t know it before. And it was always there just by the corner – just a turning was needed.’
The divinity is not a future. Your divinity is the present. It is here and now. This very moment you are that – unaware, not looking in the right direction, or not tuned to it, that’s all. A radio is there: the waves are passing right now, but if the radio is not tuned to a particular wave, the wave is unmanifest. You tune the radio and the wave becomes manifest. A tuning is needed.
Meditation is a tuning. When you are tuned, that which is unmanifest becomes manifest. But remember, don’t desire, because the desire will not allow you to be empty. And if you are not empty nothing is possible, because the space is not there, so your own unmanifest nature cannot be revealed. It needs space to be revealed. And don’t ask how to live with emptiness. That is not the real question. Just be empty. You are not yet empty.
If once you know what emptiness is, you will love it. It is ecstatic. It is the most beautiful experience possible to mind, to man, to consciousness. You will not ask how to live with emptiness. You are asking that as if emptiness is something like a misery. It appears so to the ego. The ego is always afraid of emptiness, so you ask how to live with it as if it is some enemy. Emptiness is your innermost center. All the activity is on the periphery; the innermost center is just a zero. All the manifest is on the periphery; the deepest core of your being is the unmanifest vacuum.
Buddha has given it a name – shunyata. It means nothingness or emptiness. That’s your nature, that’s your being, and out of that nothingness everything comes, and everything goes back to it. That emptiness is the source. Don’t ask to fill it, because whenever you ask to fill it you will create more and more ego – ego is the effort to fill the emptiness. And even this desire that now something must descend upon you – a god, a divinity, a divine power, some unknown energy – this is again a thought. Whatsoever you can think about God is not going to be God; it is simply going to be a thought.
When you say the unknown, you have made it the known. What do you know about the unknown? Even to say that it is the unknown, you have known some quality about it – the quality of its being unknown. The mind cannot conceive the unknown. Even the unknown becomes known, and whatsoever the mind says is going to be just a verbalization, a thought process. God is not the word ‘God’. The thought of God is not God. Ans when there is no thought, only then will you come to feel and realize what it is. Nothing else can be said about it. It can only be indicated. And all indications are erroneous because they are all indirect.
This much can be said – that when you are not…. And you are not, only when there is no desire, because you exist with desire. Desire is the food through which you exist. Desire is the fuel. When there is no desire, no longing, no future, and when you are not, that emptiness is the fullness of existence. In that emptiness the whole existence is revealed to you. You become it.
So, don’t ask how to live with emptiness. First be empty. There is no need to ask how to live with it. It is so blissful – the deepest bliss it is. When you ask how to live with emptiness, you are really asking how to live with oneself. But you have not known yourself. Enter more and more into it.
In meditation sometimes you feel a sort of emptiness; that is not really emptiness. I call it just a sort of emptiness. When you are meditating, for certain moments, for a few seconds you will feel as if the thought process has stopped. In the beginning these gaps will come. But because you are feeling as if the thought process has stopped, this is again a thought process, a very subtle thought process. What are you doing? You are saying inside, ‘The thought process has stopped.’ But what is this? This is a secondary thought process which has started. And you say, ‘This is emptiness.’ You say, ‘Now something is going to happen.’ What is this? Again a new thought process has started. Whenever this happens again, don’t become a victim of it. When you feel a certain silence is descending, don’t start verbalizing it, because you are destroying it. Wait – not for something – simply wait. Don’t do anything. Don’t say, ‘This is emptiness.’ The moment you have said, you have destroyed it. Just look at it, penetrate into it, encounter it, but wait – don’t verbalize it. What is the hurry? Through verbalization the mind has again entered from a different route, and you are deceived. Be alert about this trick of the mind.
In the beginning it is bound to happen, so whenever this happens again, just wait. Don’t fall in the trap. Don’t say anything – remain silent. Then you will enter, and then it will not be temporary, because once you have known the real emptiness you cannot lose it. The real cannot be lost; that is its quality.
Once you have known the inner treasure, once you have come in contact with your deepest core, then you can move in activity, then you can do whatsoever you like, then you can live an ordinary worldly life, but the emptiness will remain with you. You cannot forget it. It will go on inside. The music of it will be heard. Whatsoever you are doing, the doing will be only on the periphery; inside you will remain empty.
And if you can remain empty inside, doing only on the periphery, whatsoever you do becomes divine, whatsoever you do takes on the quality of the divine because now it is not coming from you. Now it is coming directly from the original emptiness, the original nothingness. If then you speak, those words are not yours. That’s what Mohammed means when he says, ‘This Koran is not said by me. It has come to me as if someone else has spoken through me.’ It has come out of the inner emptiness. That’s what Hindus mean when they say, ‘The Vedas are not written by man, they are not human documents, but the divine, the God himself has spoken.’
These are symbolic ways of saying something which is very mysterious. And this is the mystery: when you are deeply empty, whatsoever you do or speak is not from you – because you are no more. It comes from the emptiness. It comes from the deepest source of existence. It comes from the same source from which this whole existence has come. Then you have entered the womb, the very womb of existence. Then your words are not yours, then your acts are not yours. It is as if you are just an instrument – an instrument of the whole.
If emptiness is felt only momentarily, and then it comes and goes like a flash, it is not real. And if you start thinking about it, even the unreal is lost. Not to think in that moment takes great courage.
It is the greatest control I know. When the mind becomes silent and when you are falling empty, it takes the greatest courage not to think, because the whole past of the mind will assert. The whole mechanism will say, ‘Now think!’
In subtle ways, indirect ways, your past memories will force you to think – and if you think, you have come back. If you can remain silent in that moment, if you are not tempted by the mechanism of your memory and mind…. This is the real Satan – your own mind which tempts you. Whenever you are falling empty, the mind tempts you and creates something to think about – and if you start thinking, you are back.
It is said that when one of the great masters, Bodhidharma, went to China, many disciples gathered around him. He was the first Zen master. One disciple, who was to become his chief disciple, came to him and said, ‘Now I have become totally empty.’
Bodhidharma slapped him immediately and said, ‘Now go and throw this emptiness also! Now you are filled with emptiness – throw this also. Only then will you be really empty.
You understand? You can be filled by the idea of emptiness. Then it will hover on you, it will become a cloud. He said, ‘Throw this emptiness also, and then come to me.’ If you say you are empty, you are not empty. Now this word ‘empty’ has become meaningful and you are filled with it. The same I say to you – throw this emptiness also.
From The Book of Secrets, Discourse #56, Q1
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