Gautam Buddha was the most cultured and the most educated, the most sophisticated person ever to become a mystic. There is no comparison in the whole of history. He could see where the innocent mystics had unknowingly given chances for cunning minds to take advantage. He decided not to use any positive term for the ultimate goal, to destroy your ego and any possibility of your ego taking any advantage. He called the ultimate, nothingness, emptiness, shunyata, zero. Now, how can the ego make zero the goal? God can be made the goal, but not zero. Who wants to become zero? That is the fear; everybody is avoiding all possibilities of becoming zero, and Buddha made it an expression for the ultimate.
His word is nirvana. He chose a tremendously beautiful word, but he shocked all the thinkers and philosophers by choosing the word nirvana as the most significant expression for the ultimate experience. Nirvana means blowing out the candle.
The other mystics have said that you are filled with enormous light, as if thousands of suns together have suddenly risen inside you, as if the whole sky full of stars has descended within your heart. These ideas appeal to the ego. The ego would like to have all the stars, if not inside the chest then at least hanging on the coat outside the chest. Enormous light…the ego is very willing.
To cut the very roots, Buddha said the experience is as if you were to blow out a candle. There was a small flame on the candle giving a small light – even that has gone, and you are surrounded with absolute darkness, abysmal darkness.
People used to come to ask him, “If you go on teaching such things, nobody is going to follow you. Who wants darkness, enormous darkness? You are crazy. You say that the ultimate experience is ultimate death. People want eternal life, and you are talking about ultimate death.” But he was a very consistent man, and you can see that for forty-two years he hammered on the genius of the East without ever compromising with the ego.
He also knew that what he called darkness was too much light; that’s why it looked like darkness. If one thousand suns rise in you, what do you think, that you will feel enormous light? You will feel immense darkness; it will be too dazzling. Just look at one sun for a few seconds and you will feel your eyes are going blind. If one thousand suns are within you, inside the mind, the experience will be of darkness, not of light. It will take a long time for you to get accustomed, for your eyes to become strong enough to see: slowly, slowly darkness turning into light, death turning into life, emptiness turning into fullness.
But he never talked about those things. He never said that darkness would ever turn into light. And he never said that death would become a resurrection at some later point, because he knew how cunning your ego is. If that is said, the ego will say, “Then there is no problem. Our aim remains the same; it is just that we will have to pass through a little dark night of the soul. But finally, we will have enormous light, thousands of suns.”
Gautam Buddha had to deny that God existed – not that he was against God, a man like Gautam Buddha could not be against God. And if Gautam Buddha was against God, then it was of no use for anybody to be in favor of God. His decision was decisive for the whole of humanity, he represents our very soul. But he was not against God. He was against your ego, and he was constantly careful not to give your ego any support to remain. If God can become a support, then there is no God.