A man of immense understanding – he trusts Joshu that he will understand: “In this moment, don’t ask unnecessary questions. I have not got even tea or salt or any cash. You are a great master, you have thousands of followers. I am a poor master, I don’t have any followers. Nobody else is responsible for that; I am responsible. I behave in a way that they cannot understand. But I cannot change myself. I have to remain myself; I have to retain my integrity. Whether any disciple remains with me or not does not matter; I am alone enough.
“But in this moment you must be carrying some cash – you have traveled so far from your monastery. So give me some tea – you must be carrying tea and salt; you have been on a long journey. And a little cash won’t do any harm.”
Showing his poverty – that was his fame, that he is the poorest man yet one of the greatest masters. By showing his poverty he is saying, “You can see for yourself that Tosu is standing before you, asking for cash. Even the poorest have salt, but I don’t even have salt.”
Joshu went back to the hermitage and that evening he saw Tosu coming back with some oil. He had remained in Tosu’s hermitage the whole day, waiting for him to come. But he had disappeared somewhere. In the evening Joshu saw him coming back with some oil. He was so poor, there was no oil even for a lamp in the night. So he must have gone to the nearby village to ask for some oil, and he was coming with a bottle of oil.
Joshu said to him, “I heard much of Tosu, but all I find is an old man selling oil.”
Tosu said, “You see the old oil-seller, but you don’t know Tosu.
You are looking only at the outside, you are not looking in my eyes. You are not looking into my very being.”
Joshu said, “Well, how about Tosu?”
Tosu held up the bottle and said, “Oil! Oil!”
In this moment there is no Tosu but only a bottle of oil. As far as Tosu is concerned he is an absence. He is just an emptiness, a nothingness. In this moment at least he has something: “In the morning when you came I had nothing, so I asked you for some tea, some salt and a little cash. For the night, I don’t have any oil. I am not a oil-seller; I have begged this oil from the town. And in this moment, in my emptiness, there is no other thought than simply ‘Oil! Oil!’ and nothing else.”
It is easier to understand Nijinsky when he says, “I disappear in my dance. The dance becomes so intense that I am no more.” Out of such experiences Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, a Sufi mystic, simply made whirling his only method. His followers are called whirling dervishes. They whirl for hours – it is not easy. Jalaluddin Rumi himself whirled for thirty-six hours continuously, and in the whirling he became enlightened because in the whirling he got lost; only whirling remained. There was no one inside. There was utter emptiness and silence.