Chapter 4: Don't Compare
You must have seen pictures in children’s books - a very famous picture, almost everybody must have seen it, it exists in almost every psychology book: just a line drawing of an old woman, but if you go on looking at it, a moment comes when the gestalt changes. Suddenly the old woman disappears and there is a beautiful young woman. Those lines contain both the figures. If you go on looking at the young woman, soon again the gestalt will change and the old woman will appear, because the eyes cannot remain static; they become tired of one thing so they change the gestalt.
If you try to find the young woman while your eyes are focused on the old woman you will not be able to find the young woman, or vice versa: when you see the young woman in the picture and you try to find the old woman you cannot find her. And you have seen her, you know she is there, but you cannot find her. You cannot see both together, remember. You can try, but your failure is absolutely certain.
You cannot see both together because the same lines have to be used and those lines can either show you the old woman.if you have exhausted the lines in the old woman, then the young woman is nowhere, she has no more lines left for her. If you have exhausted the lines in the young woman then the old woman disappears. But if you go on looking you will have shifts: sometimes the young woman appears and then the old woman disappears as if she has never existed. You search for her and you will not find her.
The same is true when you look at an empty room: it is a question of gestalt. If you are focused too much on things - looking for the furniture and for the paintings and for things that are almost part of a room - then you will say, “There is nothing in it,” and your “nothing” will be Western. If you are focused on the space of the room, on the roominess of the room, you will see it is full, overflowingly full - full of itself. Then your nothingness will have an Eastern meaning.
The Eastern and the Western mind really differ in many ways; they have become focused on different gestalts. The West thinks of things; the East thinks not of things, it thinks of nothings. Its whole gestalt is different.
Your gestalt is changing from the Western to the Eastern, and it will be a little difficult for you to drop the old habit. Hence it looks as if it is empty and there is no bliss in it. This is your old habit; otherwise it will not look empty.
Nothing is as full as the empty hand: it has the whole sky in it. And nothing is as empty as a fist: it has nothing in it. The fist has “nothing” in the Western sense, and the open hand has “nothing” in the Eastern sense.
Once Ananda asked Buddha, “Bhagwan, what is your teaching, in short?”
And Buddha opened his hands and he said, “My teaching is like open hands, not like fists.”
A very significant statement: when your hands are open, in one sense you are empty, in another sense you are holding the whole world, all the stars, the whole sky. How much can you hold in a fist? - almost nothing. But to change from the Western gestalt to the Eastern is a little bit difficult.