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Chapter 27: The Contemplation of Emptiness

You can prove things are logical, even absurd things. Be alert. Your mind is all in favor of dreams, your mind is the source of dreaming, hence your mind has a duty, an obligation, to support those dreams. If you are not very alert you will be deceived and tricked and trapped by your own mind again and again, in the same stupidities that you have come across many times and you have repented for many times and you have decided many times, taken a vow, “Never again!” But the mind will come with subtle allurements. The mind is the greatest salesman. The mind is very persuasive. And because the mind is always helping your unconscious desires, the body also supports the mind.

The effort to wake up is really arduous. This is the greatest challenge that a man can encounter in life - and only a man can encounter it, a courageous man: it needs guts to accept the challenge to wake up. This is the greatest adventure there is. It is easier to go to the moon, it is easier to go to Everest, it is easier to go to the depths of the Pacific Ocean. The real problem arises when you go into your own self, the real problem arises when you start waking up. Then your whole past is against it, your whole past then hangs around your neck like mountains - it pulls you down. It does not allow you to fly into the sky, into the infinite, into eternity, into God, into nirvana.

This beautiful parable, that one master is dying and another master comes to say good-bye to him - but what a way to say good-bye! The opportunity of death is used. Yes, only very conscious people can use the opportunity that death makes available. Death looked at unconsciously is the enemy, death looked at consciously is the greatest friend. Death looked at unconsciously is just a shattering of all your dreams, of all your life patterns, of all the structures that you have been raising, of all that you have invested in - an utter collapse. But death looked at consciously is the beginning of a new life, a door to the divine.

Ninakawa is dying and Ikkyu asks, “Shall I lead you on?”

He is saying that death is a beginning, not an end. “Shall I lead you on? Do you need my help in any way? You are going to learn a new way of being, a new vision is going to arise; you are entering into a new dimension, a new plenitude - shall I lead you on? Is my help in any way needed?”

Ninakawa replied, “I came here alone and I go alone. What help could you be to me?”

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