Socrates goes on saying, “Know thyself.” The Upanishads go on shouting, “Go within! Withinwards is the journey.” Buddhas go on persuading you to go in, and you continuously go out. You don’t bother what buddhas say. Even if you listen, you listen only with half your ear – you listen one moment, you forget next moment. Because deep down you know that to look withinwards is to look into nothingness. There is nothing. And that is scary, that frightens.
At the very core there is nothingness. The wheel of all moves on that axle of nothingness. So, afraid of the inner nothingness, we go on rushing into the world. The fear of one’s own non-being takes you on a thousand and one journeys. That’s what Zen people call “the world of a thousand and one things.” You go on rushing into this direction, into that. You have to rush, because if you don’t rush you will stumble upon your nothingness…and there is fear. You are frightened of that – you don’t want to see that you are not.
Your being is non-being: you are not ready to look into it, to accept it. You are death living. Death is there, and at the very core of your being there is just emptiness – what Buddha calls anatta. There is no self, there is no being, there is no “I.” And somehow everybody knows it – hence nobody goes inwards, everybody goes outwards. Outwards you can befool yourself, you can deceive yourself. You can create a thousand and one games, you can play with those games – they are not going to help, but still you can pass your time with those games. You can become so engrossed in them that for those engrossed moments you can forget your inner nothingness.
But this inner nothingness is not like an accident. It is not accidental, it is your very being. So you cannot escape from it, do whatsoever you want to do. Nobody has been able to escape from it. You can go on postponing, you can go on delaying that experience, but one day or other, that experience has to be gone through.
And that day is the day of great blessing, when you come to know your inner non-being. Because with that experience all fear disappears. When you know you are not, how can you be afraid – of what? For what? And who can be afraid? When you know you are not, where can desire exist? With whom? For whom? From whom? Tanha disappears, becoming disappears.
When you are not, how can you become somebody? Knowing one’s non-being, there is great rest. The seeker has disappeared, the desirer is no more, the becomer has not been found. So the foundation has disappeared – and the whole palace made of playing-cards simply shatters to the ground.
Unless you come to know this inner non-being – anatta, non-existence, or death…. Zen people call it “the great death.” It is no ordinary death. Ordinary death does not make much difference – here you die, there you are born immediately. You leave one body – you have not even left it, and already you are entering into another womb. It does not make much difference.
The real death is when you come face to face with your inner non-being, the abyss. One gets frightened, one wants to go away from it. One wants to keep it at the back, one wants to fill it. That’s what people go on doing.