On the first path, one has to watch that the ego does not arise. On the second path, one has to watch that lethargy is not settling. If these two pitfalls are avoided, then you can reach from either the affirmative or the negative. People have reached from both. So there is no question about reaching, the question is which is going to be easier, more in tune with your inner nature – choose that.
A few things have to be understood about the path of nothingness, because Lieh Tzu is a follower of that path – the path of via negativa, the mystic path. On the mystic path you have to be alone – no possibility of “being together.” It is a deep inactivity, so deep that the very idea of action has to be dropped and renounced. No desire, no action; one has just to be. Aloneness has to be experienced. Solitude has to be experienced.
On the path of affirmation, God is always with you, you are never alone. You can always talk to God, always pray to God, you can always hope that he is with you. He surrounds you, he holds your hand. And he is very much on the path of affirmation. His hand is almost in your hands. It is not just imagination – remember it, it is not hallucination; it is so. When you have done all that you can do suddenly he becomes available. More you cannot do: you have not been withholding, you have done all that you can do, you have put yourself totally in the work, you have come to your optimum – from that moment he takes over. But one has to do the optimum, less than that will not help. One has to boil to a hundred degrees, then suddenly – the evaporation.
On the path of the ascetic God is with you; you are never alone, you can always pray. But on the negative path prayer is not possible, prayer is not allowed – prayer is a hindrance. Remember this too: one thing may be a help on one path and may become a hindrance on another path. Prayer is a hindrance. If you ask the follower of the negative path he will say: Prayer means that you are still not capable of being alone; you are still attached to the other. You may have dropped your attachment to the wife, to the husband, to the children, to the friend, to the society, but now you have projected a God and now you keep company with him; but you cannot be alone. Prayer means that you are still afraid of being alone, so you create a bridge with the other, you seek the other. Prayer simply means that whenever you are alone, you are not alone but lonely: you miss the other. On the path of the negative, aloneness is simply the greatest splendor there is.
If you ask the mystic he will say: Being lonely is just a pause. Being alone is an ultimate condition. Being lonely or together is accidental. Being alone is essential. Being lonely implies an evolution or continuity of experience, while being alone means a radical, total, one hundred and eighty degree change, a mutation, a metanoia. Being lonely is a way back to others: whenever you feel lonely you are seeking the other in some form or other. Being lonely is a way back to others. Being alone is a way back to oneself.