A wealthy old man went to the master and said, “I only have a few more years to live. I would like to give my children and their children some wise words that they can live by for many years to come. Please, can I ask you to write some words on this parchment that I may frame it to serve as a reminder for them?”
The master took the paper and wrote, “Grandfather dies. Father dies. Son dies.” He handed the paper back to the old man.
The old man read the words and was livid. “What is the meaning of this? I wanted you to write something to enlighten us, not to insult us!”
The master explained, “My good sir, that is not an insult. Should your son die before you, you will be very sad. Should his son, your grandson, die before the two of you, then two of you will be mad with grief. But if you pass away in the order that I have written, then you will only have followed the natural order of things and you should consider yourselves fortunate and happy.”
One day, Subhuti sat under a tree and went into a state of total emptiness. Flowers from the tree began to shower upon him. He heard a whisper, as from the gods, saying “We thank you for your discourse on emptiness.”
“But I have not said anything about emptiness,” said Subhuti.
“That is true,” came the reply. “You have not spoken about emptiness. We have not heard about emptiness. That is true emptiness.”