Chapter 1: That Realm of Nirvana
Hakuin is right: “From the very beginning, all beings are buddhas.” That emptiness is there. You have accumulated junk so that emptiness is not visible. It is just like in your house you can go on accumulating things; then you stop seeing any space, then there is no more space. A day comes when even to move in the house becomes difficult; to live becomes difficult because there is no space. But space has not gone anywhere. Think of it, meditate over it. The space has not gone anywhere; you have accumulated too much furniture and the TV and the radio and the radiogram and the piano and everything - but the space has not gone anywhere. Remove the furniture and the space is there; it has always been there. It was hidden by the furniture but it was not destroyed. It has not left the room, not for a single moment. So is your inner emptiness, your nirvana, your nothingness.
Buddha does not give you nirvana as an ideal. Buddha liberates instead of coercing. Buddha teaches you how to live - not for any goal, not to achieve anything, but to be blissful herenow - how to live in awareness. Not that awareness is going to give you something - awareness is not a means to anything, it is the end in itself, the means and the end both. Its value is intrinsic.
Buddha does not teach you otherworldliness. This has to be understood. People are worldly; the priests go on teaching the other world. The other world is also not very otherworldly, it cannot be, because it is just an improved model of the same world. From where can you create the other world? You know only this world. You can improve, you can decorate the other world better, you can remove a few things that are ugly here and you can replace them with a few things which you think will be beautiful, but it is going to be a creation out of the experience of this world. So your other world is not very different, cannot be. It is a continuity. It comes out of your mind; it is a game of imagination.
You will have beautiful women there - of course more beautiful than you have here. You will have the same kinds of pleasures there - maybe more permanent, stable, but they will be the same kinds of pleasures. You will have better food, more tasty - but you will have food. You will have houses, maybe made of gold - but they will be houses. You will repeat the whole thing again.
Just go into the scriptures and see how they depict the heaven and you will find the same world improved upon. A few touches here and a few touches there, but it is not in any way otherworldly. That’s why I say the otherworldliness of other religions is not very otherworldly; it is this world projected into the future. It is born out of the experience of this world. There will not be misery and poverty and illness and paralysis and blindness and deafness. Things that you don’t like here will not be there, and things that you like will be there and in abundance, but it is not going to be anything new.
Mind cannot conceive of anything new. Mind is incapable of conceiving the new. Mind lives in the old, mind is the old. The new never happens through the mind. The new happens only when mind is not functioning, when mind is not controlling you, when mind has been put aside. The new happens only when the mind is not interfering.
But all your scriptures talk about the heaven - and the heaven or the paradise or firdaus or swarga, is nothing but the same story. It may be printed on a better art paper, with better ink, on a more improved press, with more colorful illustrations, but the story is the same; it cannot be otherwise.