Chapter 5: The Fire Test
The manifest is no longer there. You have become unmanifest. In this state you are neither man nor woman. In this state you are neither happy nor unhappy because those are all parts of the dual world: happy/unhappy, man/woman, beautiful/ugly, good/bad - that is all gone. You are neither good nor bad. There is no Devil now, and no God - that is part of duality, the same duality. And in duality there is always tension, in duality there is always conflict. In duality there is always the other.
And the Zen people will agree with Jean-Paul Sartre when he says, “The other is hell.” The Zen people will also say, “Yes, the other is hell, the other has to disappear. But the other can disappear only if you also disappear.” I and thou exist as two aspects of the same coin. If thou disappears I disappears, if I disappears thou disappears. They cannot exist separately; they are part of one phenomenon. So there is neither I nor thou.
That’s why Buddha wouldn’t say anything about the soul or God. His is the purest path of meditation. And this has been a very confusing thing to others who don’t understand the path of purity. Buddha called it vishuddhi marga. That has exactly the meaning of via purgativa, the path of purity.
Christians, Hindus and Mohammedans cannot understand what Buddha is trying to say. No God, no soul - then what is religion? And Buddha says this state of no God, no soul is religion. Christians or Mohammedans or Hindus cannot conceive of what kind of religion he is talking about because we think of religion as something centered on the idea of God. Without God how can there be a religion?
But there is a religion, Jainism; it is without God. Jainas agree so far with Buddha that there is no God. But when Buddha says there is no soul, even Jainas don’t agree. They say, “Without a soul how can there be a religion?” Christians, Hindus Mohammedans say, “Without God and the soul there can be no religion; those two are essential.” And Buddha says, “Unless those two are dropped, you don’t enter into the world of religion. Those two are the barriers.”
Jainas say, “God can be dropped, it is an unnecessary hypothesis. Just purify yourself, that’s all. There is no need for God, there is no need for prayer, only meditation will do. You go on purifying.” They agree with Buddha halfway and they also agree with Hindus and Mohammedans and Christians halfway.
That’s why in India, Buddhism and Jainism were born together, but Hindus destroyed Buddhism completely. They didn’t destroy Jainism. They allowed it to exist side by side because Jainism seems to be agreeing at least to one basic ingredient - the soul.
Buddha goes too far in Hindu eyes, in that he denies both. But he has a point there, if God is not, then the soul cannot be. I and thou can only be part of a pair. They exist as a couple, they cannot be divorced. What will the word I mean if there is no thou? It won’t mean anything. It will be meaningless; the meaning is given only through the other. What will light mean if there is no darkness? And what will life mean if there is no death?