Chapter 1: Empty Your Cup
Whether you ask me or not, I know what the question is. So many of you are here but I know the question, because deep down the question is one: the anxiety, the anguish, the meaninglessness, the futility of this whole life - not knowing who you are. But you are filled. Allow me to break this cup. This camp is going to be a destruction, a death. If you are ready to be destroyed something new will come out of it. Every destruction can become a creative birth. If you are ready to die you can have a new life, you can be reborn.
I am here just to be a midwife. That’s what Socrates used to say - that a master is just a midwife. I can help, I can protect, I can guide, that’s all. The actual phenomenon, the transformation, is going to happen to you. Suffering will be there, because no birth is possible without suffering. Much anguish will come up, because you have accumulated it and it has to be thrown. A deep cleansing and catharsis will be needed.
Birth is just like death, but the suffering is worth taking. Out of the darkness of suffering a new morning arises, a new sun arises. And the dawn is not very far off when you feel darkness too much. When suffering is unbearable, bliss is very near. So don’t try to escape from suffering - that is the point where you can miss. Don’t try to avoid it, pass through it. Don’t try to find some way which goes round about - no, that won’t do. Pass through it. Suffering will burn you, destroy you, but really you cannot be destroyed. All that can be destroyed is just the rubbish that you have gathered. All that can be destroyed is something that is not you. When it is all destroyed, then you will feel that you are indestructible, you are deathless. Passing through death, consciously passing through death, one becomes aware of life eternal.
These few days you will be here with me many things are possible, but the first step to remember is to pass through suffering. Many times I create suffering for you; many times I create the situation in which all that is suppressed within you comes up. Don’t push it down, don’t repress it. Allow it, free it. If you can free your suffering, your suppressed suffering, you will become free of it. And you can come to the state of bliss only when all suffering has been passed through, thrown, completely dropped.
And I can see through you: the flame of bliss is just near the corner. Once a glimpse and that flame becomes yours. I will push you in many ways to have a glimpse of it. If you miss you will be responsible, no one else. The river is flowing, but if you cannot bow down, if you cannot come down from your egoistic state of mind, you may go back thirsty. Don’t blame the river. The river was there but you were paralyzed by your ego.
That’s what Nan-in says: Empty the cup. That means empty the mind. Ego is there, overflowing, and when ego is overflowing nothing can be done. The whole existence is around you but nothing can be done. All around the divine.surrounded.but nothing can be done. From no-where can the divine penetrate you, you have created such a citadel. Empty the cup. Rather, throw the cup completely. When I say throw the cup completely I mean be so empty that you don’t have even the feeling that “I am empty.”
Once it happened, a disciple came to Bodhidharma and said, “Master, you told me to be empty. Now I have become empty. Now what else do you say?”