Even in the empty forest he finds joy because he wants nothing.
All great values of life grow in the climate of freedom; hence freedom is the most fundamental value and also the highest pinnacle. If you want to understand Buddha you will have to taste something of the freedom he is talking about.
His freedom is not of the outside. It is not social it is not political, it is not economic. His freedom is spiritual. By “freedom” he means a state of consciousness unhindered by any desire, unchained to any desire, unimprisoned by any greed, by any lust for more. By “freedom” he means a consciousness without mind, a state of no-mind. It is utterly empty, because if there is something, that will hinder freedom; hence its utter emptiness.
This word “emptiness”—shunyata—has been very much misunderstood by people, because the word has a connotation of negativity. Whenever we hear the word “empty” we think of something negative. In Buddha’s language, emptiness is not negative; emptiness is absolutely positive, more positive than your so—called fullness, because emptiness is full of freedom; everything else has been removed. It is spacious; all boundaries have been dropped. It is rebounded—and only in an unbounded space, freedom is possible. His emptiness is not ordinary emptiness; it is not only absence of something, it is a presence of something invisible.
For example, when you empty your room. As you remove the furniture and the paintings and the things inside, the room becomes empty on the one hand, but on the other hand something invisible starts filling it. That invisibleness is “roominess,” spaciousness; the room becomes bigger. As you remove the things, the room is becoming bigger and bigger. When everything is removed, even the walls, then the room is as big as the whole sky.
That’s the whole process of meditation: removing everything; removing yourself so totally that nothing is left behind—not even you. In that utter silence is freedom. In this utter stillness grows the one-thousand-petaled lotus of freedom. And great fragrance is released: the fragrance of peace, compassion, love, bliss.