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Chapter 4: Emptiness

Now the emperor was really angry. In anger he asked Bodhidharma, “Then who are you? Who is standing before me?”

Bodhidharma said, “I don’t know sir.”

I don’t know. How can you know emptiness? You can be it, but you cannot know it. Knowing means you are separate from it, knowing needs distance. How can you know yourself? If you know then you are divided in two, the knower and the known. And of course the known can never be you, only the knower, so whatsoever you know can never be yourself, the knower. And the knower is irreducible, it cannot be made known. How can you put yourself in front of yourself? You cannot, that is impossible. And if you can then it is something else which is in front of you, not you. You are always behind - the knower. Always the knower. Always the knower, never the known.

I don’t know myself.and this is self-knowledge. It looks contradictory, paradoxical, but this is how it is. Nothing can be done about it, this is the nature of things. That’s why a man of self-knowledge will never claim that he knows. Because who will claim? He becomes like an ignorant man. He says, “I know only that I don’t know.”

Move inwards. One day you will come to this emptiness, the hub of the wheel. The hub is empty but it holds the whole wheel in it; the hub is empty but without the hub the wheel will disappear, it will fall into pieces. You have known only the wheel - that is your personality up to now, your nama-rupa, your name and form; your wheel you have known. The deeper you move within you, you will come one day to the hub: that is anatta, no-self, emptiness. But remember again it is not negative, it is not emptiness in the sense of being empty of something. It is emptiness itself. It is the most positive thing in existence. It is existence itself. Hindus have called it satchitanand: sat - it is; chit - it is aware; anand - it is bliss. Remember, it is not blissful; otherwise it would not be empty. It is bliss, not blissful. You will not be filled with bliss, you will suddenly find you are bliss.

Emptiness has the nature of bliss, has the nature of existence, has the nature of consciousness. Not that consciousness fills it. It is not like a lamp burning in a room so the light is filling the room. You can put the lamp off and the light goes; you cannot put off consciousness. It is the very nature of that inner emptiness - it is not that it is filling it. You cannot destroy it. How can you destroy emptiness? You can destroy everything in the world; you cannot destroy emptiness. That’s why you cannot be murdered, you cannot be killed. There is no possibility, because you are not. The sword can kill the wheel, but the hub? - the hub will remain intact. It cannot be destroyed; it was not there in the first place.

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