Chapter 12: This Direct Knowing
Mahavira said, “Be independent. Don’t become lazy and dependent on prayer,” and the ignorant understood, “I am all there is and I have only to trust in my own strength. I have to rely only on myself.” The ego became stronger and this ego destroyed the Jaina philosophy. Just as the concept of brahman, the universal reality, made the Hindus lazy and lethargic, so has the concept of the individual soul made the Jainas very arrogant and egoistic.
When Buddha saw that both views - the universal reality and the individual soul - caused the downfall of man, he then said that there is no universal reality and no individual soul: there is only shunya, vast emptiness. His expression was very unique. He said that there is no universal reality and no individual soul because it was necessary to cut the very roots of the mistake made in the Hindu’s way of thinking and in the Jaina’s philosophy. “You are not, there is nobody within you”.Buddha says that to attain to this nothingness is the ultimate knowing.
This is why Buddha has not used the word brahmalok, the abode of the divine; neither did he use the word moksha, ultimate liberation. He used the word nirvana, the extinguishing of the flame of an earthen lamp. When the flame of an earthen lamp is burned out we don’t ask, “Where is the flame? Where has it gone?” It simply does not exist anymore. Buddha says that it is not the earthen lamp of the awakened one which burns out but the flame of his ego which is extinguished. What remains within is the ultimate emptiness, pure silence. And to attain to that emptiness is nirvana. This was a very profound insight because with this there was no more space for man’s laziness to continue and there was no more support for the ego to survive.
But when the ignorant heard that there is neither a universal reality nor an individual soul, they interpreted that there is nothing worth attaining! - “What is the point when there is nothing? And when emptiness is already there within, why make any effort? Why practice any spiritual discipline?” Buddha’s insight seemed like atheism to the ignorant: “When there is nothing, then whatever pleasures are available in this life, we should enjoy them! When there is nothing eternal then why give up the transitory? It is better to hold on to whatever is available now because later on there will be nothing to attain; there is only the void, emptiness.” And Buddha’s vision also failed because of this teaching of emptiness.
It is very strange that whatsoever was the deepest insight of any vision became the cause of its failure. The unconscious people are strange.the enlightened ones are always defeated by them. To save themselves the ignorant always find loopholes in everything. And they even argue and say that their theory is right and the other’s is wrong.