THE VOICE WITHIN
O sho once recounted a story of the great sage Uddalak from the Chhandogya Upanishad.
“Fetch me a fruit of the Nyagrodh tree,” asked sage Uddalak to his son.
“Here is one, Father,” said Svetaketu.
“It is broken.”
“What do you see inside?”
“Seeds and seeds, almost infinitesimal.”
“Choose a seed and break it open.”
“I have broken one.”
“What do you see now?”
“Nothing, Father! Absolutely nothing.”
Svatekatu was bewildered. The Nyagrodh tree is a large tree. It had flowered, and was now bearing fruit. Yet having broken the fruit, and then a seed, he was left with nothing in hand.
And sage Uddalak taught: “Out of this nothingness comes the seed. Out of the seed comes the tree. Out of the tree comes the fruit. But the basis is nothingness, the silence, the formless, the unmanifest, the space, the beyond, the transcendental.”
“My son, that subtle essence which you do not perceive there, of that very essence this great Nyagrodh tree exists. This is the subtle essence making up all things which exist. This is the truth. It is the self. And that, Svetaketu, art thou.”
Life is nothing but an expression of silence. Out of silence we emerge, and into silence we dissolve again. Silence, space, nothingness, non-being, is the innermost core, the hub of the wheel. Unless the seeker comes to that silence, to that space where nothing else remains except pure being, liberation is not attained.
Birth and death, the cycles of a sound wave, the return of water to the ocean all tell the story of excursion to and from nothingness. It is nothingness that is the connecting point for everything.