Gautam Buddha was the first man to use the word emptiness in the sense of spaciousness, infinite space. Everything is just a form and the thing that is creating the form is invisible. Only the form is visible, but the energy that makes it is invisible.
The Zen disciple meditates continuously on the emptiness of existence, on the spaciousness of existence. All forms are empty, no form has a self. Only existence has a self. All others are only dreams lasting for a few years – and in the eternity of time, a few years are not much to brag about, they don’t matter at all. The meditator continually goes on and on realizing the nature and the flavor of nothingness.
The day he understands that everything phenomenal that appears will disappear…today it is, tomorrow it may be gone – it is nothing eternal. And unless something is eternal, it is not real.
Getting deep into this meditation will change your whole life. Anger comes and you know that it is just an energy form; you don’t pay attention to the person against whom you are angry. The meditator pays his whole attention to anger itself. The form disappears, and the energy contained in the form is absorbed by the meditator.
As things go on disappearing – sadness, tensions, unhappiness, misery – you go on becoming more and more powerful, because everything is falling back into the form of energy. In this state, try to understand the first anecdote.
Yen Yang asked Chao Chou, “What is it like when not bringing a single thing?”
It is just customary. Both are adepts – one has already become enlightened, the other is just on the verge – and it is respectful to bring something as a present to the master.
But Yen Yang asked, “What is it like when not bringing a single thing?”
He has not brought any present to the master, and he is asking the master himself, “What is it like, how does it feel, when you come to the master without a single thing as a present?”
Chou said, “Put it down.”
Logically it is an absolutely absurd answer. When you have not brought anything, what is there to put down? But there is something, and it is not absurd. Yen Yang has asked, “What is it like,” how does it feel, “when not bringing a single thing?” And when Chou says “Put it down,” he is saying to put down whatsoever it feels like. He is not saying to put anything down; that much is understood between the two of them. How can you put down something which you have not brought? But you are feeling something – put that feeling down, get rid of it.