Chapter 5: Just a Little Knack of Losing Yourself
Nietzsche is right. “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”
The second part of the statement is actually the very essence of meditation: it is gazing into emptiness, nothingness, into an abyss. And when you gaze into an abyss it is not one-sided; the abyss is also gazing into your eyes.
When I am looking at you, it is not only that I am looking at you; you are also looking at me. The abyss has its own ways of gazing into you. The empty sky also gazes into you, the faraway star also looks into you. And if the abyss is allowed to gaze into you, soon you will find a great harmony between yourself and the silence of the abyss, you will also become part of the abyss. The abyss will be outside you and also inside you.
What he is saying is immensely beautiful and truthful. The meditator has to learn to gaze into things which he wants to become himself. Look into the silent sky, unclouded. Look long enough, and you will come to a point when small clouds of thoughts within you disappear, and the two skies become one. There is no outer, there is no inner: there is simply one expanse.
For thousands of years meditators have been gazing at the early sun in the morning, because later it becomes too difficult to gaze into it. But the early sun, just rising above the horizon, can be looked into without any danger to the eyes. And if you allow, then the light and the color that is spread all over the horizon starts spreading within you - you become part of the horizon. You are no longer just a gazer; you have become part of the scenery.
An ancient parable in China is that an emperor who was very interested in paintings, and had a great collection of paintings, announced a great prize for the best painting. All the great painters of the country arrived in the capital and started working.
One painter said, “It will take at least three years for me.”
The emperor said, “But I’m too old.”
The painter said, “You need not be worried. You can give me the award right now. If you are not certain of your life, I am certain about my painting. But I’m not asking either. I am just saying that I am going to do a job that has never been done. I want to show you what a painting should really be; so forget about your death and forget about the award. You allow me three years and a separate place in the palace. Nobody can come while I’m working; for three years I have to be left alone.”
Each day was such an excitement for the emperor. The man was a well-known painter, and not only a painter - he was a Zen master too. Finally those three years passed, and the painter invited the emperor.he took him into the room. On the whole wall he had painted a beautiful forest with mountains, with waterfalls, and a small footpath going round about and then getting lost into the trees behind the mountains.