I really, really love this book. It goes against all conventional wisdom for how to live one's life, but is directly in line with the teachings of Taoism, as well as the feelings that have forever dwelled within my own heart. In a world that constantly pounds into our heads the need to be somebody, Osho teaches us of the importance of being nobody. In a world that constantly tells us we need to accomplish things, Osho teaches us that accomplishing things is worthless. In a world that encourages us to be proud of our achievements, Osho teaches that our achievements don't mean anything.
Instead, Osho informs us that it is our essence that matters. Who we are at core is what matters, not what we do. When doing comes out of being, there is no conflict. There is no need to seek reward because the reward is in the action itself. Instead of moving toward goals and planning out our lives in such a way that can lead to "success," Osho says that the real joy of living comes through being spontaneous, and through having no expectations. "All that is great, all that is beautiful, all that is true and real," he says, "is always spontaneous. You cannot plan it.... Do the trees plan how to grow, how to mature, how to come to flower? They simply grow without even being conscious of the growth" (80-81).
To be an empty boat means to be free of ego, free of the need to prove oneself, free of the need to be somebody, free of the fear of being nobody, free of the need to win, free of the fear of losing. It means being free to put everything you are into what you do without any attachment to results.
What I like about Osho is that he is uncompromising. He doesn't let you feel good about yourself. He gives you no choice but to look within yourself and to be honest about what you see. Reading this book, you'll realize that all problems in the external world are rooted in the internal world of each one of us, and that we cannot effectively address any injustices in society without being introspective. "A seeker of truth," he says, "carries no theories with him. He is always open, vulnerable. He can listen" (144).
This quality of listening is what opens us up to the reality that lies beneath the surface of our chattering minds. When we listen to others, instead of competing with them to prove we are right, rigidly holding onto our opinions, conversations have a musical quality, a rhythm, a flow, and friendships are formed where rivalries once reigned. This quality of listening is also what enables us to see that this moment, right here right now, is a joyous moment, even if it doesn't lead to anything tangible, even if nothing is happening. Osho teaches us to view each moment as a celebration, so that we don't wish our lives away, waiting for someday to come, or wishing that the good old days would come back. "A man of wisdom is always concerned with the being," he says, whereas "a man of ignorance is always concerned with questions of doing" ( 223).
So, the "Nothingness" in the title is the Tao, the emptiness within, the pure, virgin Self, prior to the intrusion of the thinking, logical mind. Osho urges us to return to that pure state, so that we are awake to what every moment brings us.