Many came to Buddha and turned away, because no one can make nothingness 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. 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. 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.