So, whenever a disciple comes to a Zen master very happy with his attainment and says, “I have attained emptiness,” the master says, “Go and throw this emptiness away. Don’t bring it to me again. If you are really empty then there is also no thought of emptiness.”
This is what happened in the famous story of Subhuti. He was sitting under a tree with no thought, not even the thought of no-thought. Suddenly, flowers showered. He was amazed – “What is happening?” He looked all around: flowers and flowers from the sky.
Seeing that he was amazed, the gods told him, “Don’t be amazed. We have heard the greatest sermon on emptiness today. You have delivered it. We are celebrating, and we are throwing these flowers on you as a symbol, appreciating and celebrating your sermon on emptiness.”
Subhuti must have shrugged his shoulders and said, “But I have not spoken.”
The gods said, “Yes, you have not spoken, neither have we heard – that is the greatest sermon on emptiness.”
If you speak, if you say “I am empty,” you have missed the point. Up to the thought of no-thought, it is nirvichara samadhi, “with no contemplation.” But still the last part… The elephant has passed; the tail has remained – the last part – and sometimes the tail proves bigger than the elephant because it is so subtle. To throw away thoughts is easy. How to throw emptiness? How to throw away no-thought? It is very, very subtle; how to grasp it? That’s what happened when the Zen master said to the disciple, “Go and throw this emptiness away!” The disciple asked, “But how do you throw away emptiness?” Then the master said, “Then carry it away; go throw it away, but don’t stand in front of me with emptiness in your head. Do something!”
It is very subtle. One can cling to it, but then the mind has deceived you at the last point. Ninety-nine point nine you had reached; just the last step, and a hundred degrees would have been complete and you would have evaporated.
Up to this point Patanjali says it is “samadhi without contemplation” – nirvichara samadhi. If you attain to this samadhi you will become very, very happy, silent, serene. You will always be collected inside, together. You will have a crystallization; you will not be an ordinary man. You will look almost superhuman, but you will have to come back again and again. You will be born, you will die.
The wheel of reincarnation will not stop because the no-thought is just like a subtle seed; many lives will come out of it. The seed is very subtle. The tree is big, but the whole tree is hidden in the seed. The seed may be as a mustard seed, so small, but it carries it within it. It is loaded, it has a blueprint; it can bring the whole tree again and again and again. And from one seed, millions of seeds can come. One small mustard seed can fill the whole earth with vegetation.