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OSHO Online Library   »   The Books   »   Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol. 1
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Chapter 9: Symbols of the Tiredness of Man

On his way he passed many temples and many teachers - people who had arrived, people who thought they had arrived. And they all said and claimed that this was the end of the world. Where was he going? And he would also believe in them and he would stay with them for a time being but sooner or later he would become disillusioned. They had not come to the very end themselves, these teachers. And these temples were just again symbols of the tiredness of man, of limitations, of human limitations - limitations of mind and reason and feeling. But the end was not here. And he had to start his pilgrimage again.

And it is said that after many, many lives - after millions and millions of lives really - he finally came to a place that looked like the end. And this time he was not tired and this time he was not exhausted either and this time he was not in any way deceiving himself. Moreover there was no temple and no teacher, he was absolutely alone. And the horizon had suddenly disappeared. There was no further goal. Even if he had wanted to continue the journey there was nowhere to go. He encountered infinite emptiness.

Of course there was a sign saying: “This is the end of the world.” Someone who had been there before must have put it there out of compassion for those who might dare to come.

The man was standing on the very edge of the world - a great cliff beyond which there was nothing but chaos, nothing but nothingness, a tremendous emptiness, a zero. Of course he became very frightened. He had not been thinking about this chaos - that if you come to the end, or, for that matter, to the beginning, you will come to chaos. He had not been thinking of that; it was so unexpected. There was no God, there was no Buddha, there was no nirvana, there was no paradise - just chaos, utter chaos, emptiness. You can imagine him standing there on the last cliff, trembling, shaking like a leaf in a strong wind.

He could not take another step. He became so frightened that he escaped back to the world and into the world. He didn’t even look at the other side of the sign. The sign board had some other message on the other side. On one side it was written: “This is the end of the world,” and on the other side was written: “This is the beginning of the other.”

But he got so frightened he forgot that there might be a message on the other side of the board. He escaped, he escaped immediately. He didn’t look back. He came back to the world and into the world and lost himself into worldly affairs so that he no longer remembered, so that that dangerous cliff came into his dreams no more.

You may be that person yourself. This is exactly my feeling about everybody. You have lived here down the ages for eternity. It is impossible that sometime or other you may not have come across this emptiness. It is impossible not to have come to the end of the world in some moments. But you have escaped. It was so fearful, it was so frightening, so scary. One step more and you would have become the enlightened one - one step more, just a single step more.

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