The painting was so alive, so three-dimensional, that the emperor forgot completely that it was a painting and asked the painter, “Where does this footpath lead to?”
The painter said, “I have never gone on it, but we can go and have a look at where it goes.”
The story is that the painter and the emperor both walked on the path, entered the forest, and have not returned since then. The painting is still preserved; it shows the footprints of two persons on the footpath. It seems to be absolutely unbelievable, but the meaning is of tremendous importance.
The painter is saying that unless you can be lost in a painting, it is not a painting. Unless you can become part of the scene, something is dividing you; you are not allowing yourself, totally, to be one with it, whether it is a sunrise or a sunset….
A meditator has to learn in different ways, from different sides of life, to be lost. Those are the moments when you are no more, but just a pure silence, an abyss, a sky, a silent lake without any ripples on it. You have become one with it. And all that is needed is – don’t be just a passer-by, don’t be a tourist, don’t be in a hurry. Sit down and relax. Gaze into the silence, into the depth, and allow that depth to enter into your eyes, so that it can reach to your very being.
A moment comes when the gazer and the gazed become one, the observer and the observed become one. That is the moment of meditation – and there are no more golden experiences in existence. These golden moments can be yours…just a little art, or rather a little knack, of losing yourself into something vast, something so big that you cannot contain it. But it can contain you! And you can experience it only if you allow it to contain you.
Friedrich Nietzsche is right; he must have said what he had experienced himself. It was unfortunate that he was born in the West. In the East he would have been in the same category as Gautam Buddha or Mahavira or Bodhidharma or Lao Tzu. In the West he had to be forced into a madhouse.
He himself could not figure it out. It was too much: on the one hand his great philosophical rationality, on the other hand his insights into poetry, and those sudden glimpses of mystic experiences…it was too much. He could not manage and started falling apart. They were all so different from each other, so diametrically opposite…he tried hard somehow to keep them together, but the very effort of trying to keep them together became a nervous breakdown.