Chapter 3: Emptiness and the Monk’s Nose
Sufis are lovers, great lovers. In fact, in the whole history of human consciousness, more daring lovers than Sufis have never existed, because they are the only ones who have turned God into their beloved. The God is the woman and they are the lovers. Soon I will balance.
Zen insists on emptiness, that’s why in Buddhism there is no concept of God, it is not needed. People in the West cannot understand how a religion exists without the concept of a God. Buddhism has no concept of any God - there is no need, because Buddhism insists on simply being empty, then everything follows. But who bothers? Once you are empty, things will take their own course. A religion exists without God. This is simply a miracle. In the West, people who write about religion and the philosophy of religion, are always in trouble about how to define religion. They can define Hinduism, Mohammedanism, Christianity, easily, but Buddhism creates trouble. They can define God as being the center of all religion, but then Buddhism becomes a problem. They can define prayer as the essence of religion, but again Buddhism creates trouble, because there is no God and no prayer, no mantra, nothing. You have only to be empty. The concept of God will not allow you to be empty; prayer will be a disturbance; canting will not allow you to be empty. Simply being empty, everything happens. Emptiness is the secret key of Buddhism. You be in such a way that you are not.
Let me explain a little more about emptiness to you, then it will be possible to go into this Zen anecdote.
Physics have been working for three hundred years to find the base, the substance of matter, and the deeper they reached, the more they were puzzled. Because the deeper they groped, the less and less substantial matter was; the less and less material matter was. And when they really stumbled upon the source of matter, they simply couldn’t believe it, because it was against all their conceptions. It was not matter at all: it was simply energy. Energy is non-substantial. It has no weight. You cannot see it. You can only see the effects of it, you can never see it directly.