Hence Buddha never gives you any object to desire; he takes away all objects. This can be done only via negativa. And he leaves you in an emptiness – but that emptiness is not real emptiness. Just the contrary: it is fullness, it is plenitude, it is overflowing with bliss, with godliness, with love. But Buddha will never say that, about that he is very conscious because for centuries the affirmative has been a distraction for people.
Millions of people in the East have become desirous of the other world, the other shore, so much so that the very desire for the other shore became their hindrance. To destroy that hindrance, to remove that obstacle, Buddha uses the negative way.
But man is such a fool! The masters move very cautiously, they take every step very cautiously, because man is such a fool. They take every precaution not to even use a word which can be misinterpreted – but all words can be misinterpreted! Man is so unconscious that to expect that he will understand rightly is to expect too much from him. He is bound to misunderstand; in unconsciousness, misunderstanding is the only possibility.
The Upanishads were right, but they were misunderstood because of their affirmative approach. People became very indulgent: “If life is God, then indulge in God as much as possible!” This is a logical conclusion: “If existence is God, then eat, drink and be merry! If to be is to be divine, then enjoy life, then let your life be a merry-go-round. All is divine. The Upanishads say: Sarvam khalvidam brahma – all is God. If all is God, then why not accumulate as much money as you can? – because money is God!”
You see how our unconscious mind goes on distorting: “If all is God, then why not have more power, more prestige? Then why not go on great ego trips? If all is God, then ego too is God!” The Upanishads say: Aham brahmasmi – I am God. And when it is heard in deep unconsciousness, we understand the Upanishads are saying the ego is God, because to us “I” and “ego” are synonymous. The Upanishads are misunderstood because of their affirmation, their total affirmation.
And Buddha is misunderstood because of his negation, total negation. He moved the pendulum to the other extreme, just to avoid the pitfalls that he had seen on the path of affirmation – he moved to the other extreme. He used only negative expressions. Do not live in the world in distraction and false dreams, outside the law. He could have said, in a more positive way: live in the world, without distractions, without dreams. Live in the world, in accordance with the ultimate law. Aes dhammo sanantano – live in accordance with the eternal law. But that is not his choice. He had seen the affirmative becoming an imprisonment and it was a necessity to destroy the affirmative. You can destroy the affirmative, and for the time being, while the master is alive, people will understand his negative approach because he is there to explain it to you. But when he is gone, then? The negative becomes your imprisonment.
Hindu sannyasins are caught in the affirmative and Buddhist bhikkhus are caught in the negative.