Chapter 79: The Philosophy of Emptiness
So one thing is certain, you cannot desire truth. If you desire it, the very desire will become the barrier. There were masters before Buddha who were teaching, “Don’t desire, be desireless.” But they were talking about God, about the kingdom of God, heaven, paradise, moksha, the ultimate freedom and liberation - and they were saying, “Be desireless.” Buddha felt that you cannot be desireless if there is something to be attained. You may pretend that you are desireless, but this pretension, desirelessness, is also from some desire to be fulfilled. It is false. The masters say that you cannot attain to ultimate bliss with desire, and you want to attain ultimate bliss - so you start being desireless, you try to be desireless, so that you can attain the ultimate bliss. But the desire is there. You are trying to be desireless just because of the desire. So Buddha said that there is no God to be attained. Even if you desire, there is no one to be attained.so be desireless. There is no moksha somewhere, there is no goal. Life is meaningless and goal-less.
His emphasis is beautiful and wonderful - no one has tried that way. He destroyed all the goals just to help you to be desireless. If the goals are there, how can you be desireless? And if you are not desireless, you will not attain to the goal - this is the paradox. He destroyed all the goals - not that those goals are not there, they are there and they can be attained - but if you want to attain them, if you desire to attain them, it becomes impossible. The very basic condition is you must be desireless - then the ultimate happens to you. So Buddha says there is nothing to be desired, desires are futile. Drop all desires and when there is no desire you will be empty.
Just imagine, if there is no desire within you, what will you be? You are nothing but a bundle of desires. If all desires go, you simply disappear. Not that you will not exist - you will exist, but as an emptiness. You will be there, just like a vacant room: no one is there, just a shunya, a nothingness. Buddha has called this nothingness anatma, anatta, no-soulness. You will not feel any center, that “I am”; there will be just “am-ness,” no “I” to it, because “I” is nothing but accumulated desires, condensed desires, crystallized desires - many, many desires have become your “I.”
It is just as in physics. Physicists say that if you analyze matter, then matter is nothing but atoms; there is nothing to join the atoms, each atom is surrounded by vacant space. If you have a rock in your hand, there is no rock, just atoms of energy, and between two atoms, infinite space. Even a rock is spacious, porous. They say that soon we will be able to pull that space out from anything.
H.G. Wells has written a story.
In the twenty-first century, a passenger starts calling for coolies in a big station. Other passengers who are traveling in the same compartment with this passenger cannot understand, because he has no luggage, just a packet of cigarettes and a small matchbox. That is all his luggage. And he goes on calling for coolies. A big group gathers and a passenger asked, “Why? Why are you calling? You don’t have anything. You can carry this matchbox and this packet of cigarettes yourself. What are you going to do with these two dozen coolies?” The passenger laughs and he says, “Try, try that matchbox. That matchbox is not ordinary. One railway engine is condensed into it.”