Sigmund Freud says, “Human life is more a matter of endurance than enjoyment.” Then why endure it at all, if it is only a question of endurance? Sigmund Freud also says…and when he says something it has weight, because he is not a philosopher; his whole life he worked and searched into the deepest recesses of the unconscious of man. He is a psychologist; it has weight when he says something. It is not just a hypothesis, it is based on observation. He says there is no hope for man, and man can never attain to bliss because there is no possibility for meaning.
Down the ages, all the philosophies and all the religions have tried to supply the answer: that there is meaning, that the meaning is in God, that the meaning is in paradise, that the meaning is somewhere. They may differ about where the meaning is, but about one thing they all agree: that somewhere meaning exists. But they have all failed, all the philosophies and all the religions have failed. Meaning has not been found; man has been more and more disillusioned. He has hoped with every answer, and he has moved with every answer, and again nothing is arrived at. All answers fail.
Then man started thinking of revolutions. “If philosophies fail, if religions fail, then let us look somewhere else.” Revolutions…a political revolution, an economic revolution, a scientific revolution – now they have also failed. It seems that man is doomed to fail. This is the situation if you look into all the questions and the answers that man has asked down the ages.
The question of meaning is the most ancient question, and meaning has not been found. Many answers have been given, many philosophies propounded, but they are all consolatory; they give you consolation. Yes, you can deceive yourself for a time, but if you are intelligent enough you always come to see the futility of it all. If you are intelligent enough, those consolations won’t help. They are helpful only for the mediocre, they are helpful only for the one who has decided to deceive himself, who wants to pretend that there is meaning – meaning in money, meaning in power, meaning in respectability, meaning in virtue, in character, meaning in being a saint. But if you are intelligent enough, if you go on probing deeper and deeper, sooner or later you come to the rock bottom of meaninglessness.
Maybe because of that people don’t probe enough; they are afraid. Some unconscious feeling is there that, “If we go deep enough nothing will be found, so better not to go deep enough. Go on swimming on the surface.”
But Zen has succeeded where everybody has failed. Buddha has succeeded where everybody else has failed. And Zen is the ultimate flowering of the insight that happened to Buddha twenty-five centuries ago in Bodhgaya, sitting under a tree.
What was the insight that happened? What was Buddha’s unique experience? He didn’t experience any God, he didn’t encounter…. In fact, no spiritual experience was there. He didn’t see great light, he didn’t see kundalini arising, he didn’t see great vistas and golden paradises opening – nothing of the sort. What was his insight? And that insight is the foundation of Zen, that insight has to be understood. It is one of the most important things that has happened to human consciousness ever. What did he come to know? He came to know one thing: that if meaning is dropped, meaninglessness also disappears.