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Chapter 5: From Nothing to Nothing

Swetketu said, “I have learned all that was available there. I have learned history, I have learned philosophy, I have learned mathematics, I have learned the Vedas. I have learned language, I have learned art, I have learned this and that..” And he listed all the names of all the sciences of those days. But the unhappiness of the father remained the same. He said, “But have you learned that one, by learning which all is learned?”

The son was a little annoyed. He said, “Whatsoever my master could teach, I have learned. And whatsoever is written in the books, I have learned. What are you talking about? ‘That one’.! Don’t be mysterious, say it exactly. What do you mean?”

Naturally there was arrogance. He had come with the idea that now he knew all. Maybe he was thinking - as every student thinks - that now his father knows nothing. He must have come with the idea that now he had become a great knower. And there was his old father who was not happy, and he was talking about something mysterious: the one.

And the father said, “Do you see the tree yonder, over there? Go and bring a seed from that tree.” It was a nayagrod tree. The son brought a seed of the tree, and the father said, “Where does the tree arise from?”

And the son said, “From this small seed, of course.”

“This big tree.from this small seed? Break the seed and see where that tree arises from - that big tree.” And the seed was broken, but there was nothing. In the seed there was emptiness. And the father said, “Can you see that emptiness from which this big tree arises?”

And the son said, “I can infer it, but I cannot see it. How can you see nothingness?”

And the father said, “That is the one I am talking about. It is out of nothing that all comes, it is out of that creative void that all is born and one day dissolves back into. Go back and learn emptiness, go back and learn shunya. Go back, learn this void, because this is the origin of all: the source. And the source is the goal too, the beginning is the end too. Go and learn this basic, fundamental thing. All else that you have learned is rubbish! Forget about it; it is all memory, it is all mind. Learn no-mind, learn no-memory. It is all knowledge that you have learned. Learn knowing, learn awareness, learn understanding. It is objective what you have learned, but you have not penetrated to your innermost core.”

The world is thought to be a big tree. And these are the four steps in Tantra. The void is the first step - the void in the seed. The seed is nothing but a container of that creative void; it contains that creative void. When the seed breaks down into the earth, that void starts sprouting into a tree.

This nothingness - what physicists call no-matter - this nothingness, this no-thingness is the source. Out of this nothingness is born the tree. Then come flowers, fruits, and a thousand and one things. But each thing again becomes a seed and the seed falls into the earth and again becomes that voidness.

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