Chapter 9: Only Forgotten
This has to be remembered. That’s why on the negative path meditation is more significant than prayer. Meditation is a help, prayer is a hindrance. On the path of affirmation, prayer is a help, meditation is not talked about at all. That’s why in Christianity, in Islam, in Judaism, in Hinduism, meditation has not been developed. Meditation has been developed utterly by the Buddhists and the Taoists - that is their secret key.
You can divide all the religions into two: Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity - all are on the path of via affirmativa. Buddhism and Tao - they are basically negative, on the path of via negativa. Hinduism and Islam have flowered to their utmost in Sufism. That is the meeting of the Hindu and the Mohammedan and a really beautiful flower has come out of the meeting - it is a cross-breeding - Sufism. It is higher than anything that is in Hinduism and higher than anything that is in Mohammedanism; it is higher than both, it has transcended both the parents. The child is more beautiful than the mother and the father - has to be, because both mother and father have dissolved into it. So Sufism is the peak of the affirmative. And Buddhism and Taoism met and gave birth to Zen: that is the optimum on the path of meditation. Again more beautiful than Buddhism and Taoism, better than both the parents: again a crossbreeding.
The meeting of Islam and Hinduism happened in India. Islam came to India, met with Hinduism and a beautiful child was born. The meeting of Taoism and Buddhism happened in China. Buddhism went to China, met with Taoism and a beautiful child, Zen, was born. If everything disappears from the world and only two things can be retained, Sufism and Zen, nothing will be lost. They are the highest crescendos, but of two different paths. Sufism is nothing but pure prayer, zikr, remembrance of God, and Zen is nothing but meditation.
The word Zen comes from the Sanskrit root dhyana. First the word dhyana became jhana, because Buddha used to talk in Pali - dhyana is jhana in Pali. Then from jhana it became ch’an in China. Then it became Zen when it reached to Japan. But it is dhyana, it is the essential dhyana: just to be alone, absolutely alone, not even a thought to keep company with. In that aloneness all disappears. One is just spacious, one is just a space, pure, transparent. In that purity one achieves, God comes in. When you are ready to be so empty, God enters in. The Sufi seeks God. The Zen disciple waits, God comes.
Now this beautiful parable:
Someone asked Lieh Tzu
“Why do you value emptiness?
In emptiness there is no valuing.”
Naturally, what value can emptiness have? It is condemned all over the world. Except for the Taoists and the Buddhists, nobody understands what emptiness is - it is condemned. In the West you say “The empty mind is the devil’s workshop.” Now what more of a condemnation can there be? Devil’s workshop? - the empty mind? And the Taoists and the Buddhists say that the empty mind is the goal.