Chapter 5: When We Attain Reality
This is a great insight - the greatest. If meaning is dropped, then meaninglessness automatically disappears. It has to be so, because how can you say life is meaningless if there is no meaning? If there is no meaning, then meaninglessness cannot be possible. To make meaninglessness possible, meaning will be needed. If you say that your statement is meaningless, that means statements are possible which will be meaningful. If all statements are meaningless then you cannot call any statement meaningless - how will you compare? What will be the criterion? Buddha’s insight that early morning was such that he dropped all search for meaning. He had searched long enough - for many lives - and for six years he had been looking in this life also. He had tried all the answers, he had looked into all the available answers, and found them lacking.
That early morning, when the last star was disappearing into the sky, something disappeared into his inner sky also. He came to a profound insight, he saw that, “Life looks meaningless because I am searching for meaning. Life is not meaningless; it becomes meaningless, it looks meaningless, because of my longing for meaning. The problem is my longing for meaning, not the meaninglessness of life. If I don’t long for meaning, then what is meaningless? Then great joy is released.”
Existentialism in the West has missed, and has missed while the insight was very close by, just one more step.. Courageous people; Martin Heidegger or Jean-Paul Sartre or Albert Camus, Berdyaev, courageous people; but one more step and buddhas would have bloomed in the West. They remain clinging to the idea of meaning, and then despair arises.
You want some meaning in life. For example, you go to the garden and you see a roseflower, and you ask what is the meaning of it. By asking, you destroy the whole beauty of it. Now you cannot see the grace of the flower, now you cannot look into the beauty of it, you cannot see the joy of the flower, you cannot see its dance in the sun, in the rains. You cannot see what is confronting you - a tremendously significant blooming of existence. Now you are searching for meaning, you ask, “What is the meaning of this roseflower?” Naturally, there is no meaning; you cannot reduce the flower to a meaning. And when you cannot reduce the flower to a meaning, great despair arises. “There is no meaning in the flower? Life is all meaningless, futile. Man is a useless passion.” You have fallen into a dark night.
One more step - meaning being dropped - and you have transformed the whole world. When you drop meaning, let meaninglessness also be dropped with it. How can you carry meaninglessness? How can you say, “Man is a useless passion,” if there is no use? If all is useless, utterly useless, the very word useless loses meaning.
This was the insight that happened to Buddha, that has developed slowly, slowly and culminated in Zen. If you understand this, you will be able to understand Zen, otherwise you will miss the whole point. Then Zen poetry will be of no meaning to you, and Zen painting will not be of any meaning to you, and these immensely beautiful sutras of Yoka will look like nonsense. If you understand this insight, then great significance arises. Meaning disappears, meaninglessness disappears, but significance arises. And that majestic significance, that magic of life and existence, is what godliness is all about.
Godliness is the simultaneous majesty of experience, the simultaneity of the magic that is happening. These raindrops, the sound of it, this silent morning.. This simultaneous majesty, this is godliness.