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Chapter 2: Throw It Out!

Joshu was a master who started to study Zen
when he was sixty.
When he was eighty he found enlightenment.
They say he taught for forty years after his enlightenment.
Once a student asked old Joshu,
“You teach that we should empty our minds.
I have nothing in my mind - now what should I do?”
“Throw it out!” said Joshu.
“But I have nothing - how can I throw it out?”
Joshu said, “If you can’t throw it out, carry it out,
drive it out, empty it out - but don’t stand there in front
of me with nothing in your mind!”

What is Joshu’s single note? This is the single note - emptiness. This is the lotus flower that Buddha transmitted to Mahakashyapa. And this is what all the buddhas have been teaching through the ages: be empty. The ego wants to be all. The all happens, but it happens through emptiness, and therein lies the difficulty, the impossibility of it. You can become perfect, but if perfection is the ideal then you will miss it. You can become perfect through being totally empty. That seems inconceivable for the mind, because the mind says that to be perfect one has to make much effort, to be perfect one has to create an ideal in the future, and one has to make effort to reach that goal.

The goal happens. Perfection comes to man, man need not go there. The goal comes to you. Nobody has ever gone to the goal. It has always been otherwise: the goal comes to you when you are empty. And to be empty is just the opposite, just the opposite of all efforts towards perfection, because perfection means you would like to be God himself. Perfection means you would like yourself eternally, infinitely, spread all over. Emptiness is just the opposite: you have to destroy yourself utterly. Not even a trace should be left behind. When your house is empty the guest comes. When you are no more, the goal has been attained.

So don’t make perfection your goal, the goal happens indirectly. Be empty and you have created the situation for it to come. Because nature abhors emptiness, nothing can remain empty. If you empty yourself completely you will be filled by the unknown. Suddenly, from all directions, the divine rushes towards you. You have created the situation; it has to be filled. When you are not, God is.

So remember, there cannot be any meeting between you and God. There has never been and there will never be. When you are not, God is; when you are, God is not. They cannot both be together. Here you disappear, and suddenly the total, the perfect, the whole appears. It has always been there, but you were filled by yourself so much that there was no space for it to come in. It was all around, but you were not empty.

You are just like a house without doors - just walls and walls and layers and layers of walls. And remember, a house is in fact not the walls but the doors. Lao Tzu says: What is a door? - a door is nothing, it is an emptiness, and from the door you enter. The wall is something, the door is nothing. And have you observed that the house is not the walls but the emptiness within? The very word room means emptiness, space. You don’t live in the walls, you live in the space, in the emptiness. All that exists, exists in emptiness. All that lives, lives in emptiness.

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