Life is a river, a flow, a continuum, with no beginning and no end. It is not going somewhere, it is always here. It is not going from somewhere to somewhere else, it is always coming from here to here. The only time for life is now, and the only place is here.
There is no struggle to reach, there is nothing to reach. There is no struggle to conquer, there is nothing to conquer. There is no effort to protect, because there is nothing to be protected from. Only life exists, alone, absolutely alone, beautiful in its aloneness, majestic in its aloneness.
You can live life in two ways: you can flow with it - then you are also majestic, you have a grace, grace of non-violence, no conflict, no struggle, then you have a beauty, childlike, flower-like, soft, delicate, uncorrupted. If you flow with life you are religious. That's what religion means to Lao Tzu - or to me.
Ordinarily religion means a fight with Life - for God. Ordinarily it means: God is the goal, life has to be denied - and fought; life has to be sacrificed and God has to be achieved. This ordinary religion is no religion. This ordinary religion is just part of the ordinary violent aggressive mind.
There is no God beyond life; life is God. If you deny life you deny God, if you sacrifice life you sacrifice God. In all the sacrifices, only God is sacrificed.
Gurdjieff used to say - it looks paradoxical but it is true - that all religions are against God.
If life is God, then to deny, to renounce, to sacrifice, is to go against God.
But it seems Gurdjieff did not know much about Lao Tzu. Or even if he had known about Lao Tzu he would have said the same thing, because Lao Tzu does not seem to be ordinarily religious. He is more like a poet, a musician, an artist, a creator, rather than like a theologian, a priest, a preacher, philosopher He is so ordinary that you cannot think that he is religious. But really to be religious is to be so extraordinarily ordinary in life that the part is not against the whole, but the part is flowing with the whole.
To be religious is not to be separate from the flow. To be irreligious is to have your own mind, in an effort to win, to conquer, to reach somewhere. If you have a goal you are irreligious. If you are thinking of the tomorrow you have already missed religion. Religion has no tomorrow to it. That's why Jesus says: Think not of the morrow; look at the lilies in the field, they are blossoming NOW.
Everything that is, is NOW, everything that is alive is NOW alive. Now is the only time, the only eternity.
Two possibilities are there. You can fight with life, you can have your private goals against life - and all goals are private, all goals are personal, you are trying to impose a pattern on life, something of your own; you are trying to drag the life to follow you, and you are just a tiny part, infinitesimal, so small, so atomic, and you are trying to drag the whole universe with you. Of course you are bound to be defeated. You are bound to lose your grace, you are bound to become hard.
Fighting creates hardness. Just think of fight, and a subtle hardness comes around you; just think of resisting, and a crust arises around you which covers you like a cocoon.
The very idea that you have a certain goal makes you an island, you are no more part of the vast continent of life. And when you are separated from life you are like a tree which is separated from the earth. It may live a little on the past nourishment, but really it is dying. The tree needs roots, the tree needs to be in the earth, joined together, part of it.
You need to be joined with the continent of life. part of it, rooted in it. When you are rooted in life you are soft - because you are not afraid.
Fear creates hardness. Fear creates the idea of security, fear creates the idea to Protect yourself.
And nothing kills like fear because in the very idea of fear you are separated from the earth, uprooted.
Then you live on the past - that is why you think so much of the past. It is not coincidental. The mind continuously thinks either of past or of the future. Why think so much of the past? The gone is gone! It cannot be recovered. The past is dead! Why do you go on thinking about the past which is no more and about which nothing can be done? You cannot live it, You cannot be in it. But it can destroy your present moment.
But there must be some deeprooted cause for it - the deeprooted cause is that you are fighting the whole. Fighting the whole, fighting the river of life, you are uprooted. You have become tiny, a capsule-like phenomenon, closed in yourself. You have become an individual, you are no more part of the BRAHMA, the expanding universe, the vast. No, you are no more part of it, you have to live like a miser on your past nourishment, that's why mind goes on thinking about the past.
And you have to pull yourself somehow to be ready to fight - that's why you go on thinking about the future: future gives you hope, past gives you nourishment, and just between the two is eternity, the very life, which you are missing. Between the past and the future you are dying, not living.
There is another way to be - really, the only way to be because this way is not the way to be, the way of fight is not to be the way to be.
The other way is to flow with the river, flow so together with it that you don't feel even the separation - that you are separate and flowing with it. No you become part, not only part, you are immersed in it, you have become the river, there exists no separation. When you are not fighting, you become life. When you are not fighting you have become the vast, the infinite. When you are not fighting, that state in the East has been known as surrender; trust, what we have called SHRADDHA; trusting life, not trusting your individual mind, but trusting the whole. Not trusting the part, but the whole. Not trusting the mind, but trusting existence.
Surrendered, suddenly you become soft, because then there is no need to be hard, you are not fighting, there is no enmity, there is no need to protect, there is no urge to be secure, you are already merged with life.
And life is secure, only individual egos are insecure, they need protection, they need safety, they need armours around them; afraid, continuously trembling. Then how can you live? You live in anguish and anxiety. You don't live. You lose all delight, the sheer joy of being here - and it is a sheer joy. It has no cause to it. It simply arises because you are. It simply bubbles up within you just because you are. Once you are open, flowing with life, you are bubbling with joy continuously. For no reason at all! You simply start feeling that to BE is to be happy.
That's why Hindus have called the ultimate: SATCHITANANDA. That means to be is to be blissful.
To be true is to be blissful. There is no other way of being. If you are miserable that only shows that you have lost contact with being. To be miserable means somehow you are uprooted from the earth, you have become separate from the river, you have become a frozen block, an ice cube, floating in the river, but not with it; fighting, even trying to go upstream - the ego always wants to go upstream, because wherever there is challenge the ego feels good. The ego is always in search of fight. If you cannot find anybody to fight you will feel very miserable. Somebody is needed to fight. In fighting you feel good, you ARE.
But that is a very in way to be. A pathological way, a neurotic way to be. Neurosis is fighting with the river. If you fight, you become hard. If you fight, you surround yourself with a dead wall. Of course, your own being is dead. You lose softness, lucidity, grace, gentleness. Then you are just dragging, not alive.
Lao Tzu is for surrender. He says: Surrender to life. Allow life to lead you, don't try to lead life. Don't try to manipulate and control life, let life manipulate and control you. Let life possess you. You simply surrender! You simply say: I am not. You give total power to life, and be with it. Difficult, because the ego says: Then what am I? Surrendered, I am no more.
But when the ego is not, in fact for the first time you are. For the first time you are not the finite, you are the infinite. For the first time you are not the body, the embodied, you are the unembodied, the vast, which goes on expanding; beginningless, endless.
But the ego does not know about it. The ego is afraid. It says: What are you doing, losing yourself?
Then you will be lost, you will be a nobody. If you listen to the ego, the ego will put you again and again on a neurotic path, the path of Being Somebody. And the more you become somebody the more life has disappeared from you.
Look at people who have succeeded in the world, who have become somebody, whose names are found in Who's Who? Look at them, watch them, you will find that they are living a fake life! They are only masks, nothing inside, hollow men, stuffed maybe, but not alive. Empty.
Watch people who have become successful in the world, and have become somebodies: presidents, prime ministers, rich people, the very rich, who have attained all that can be attained in the world.
Watch them, touch them, look at them; you will feel death. You will not find throbbing hearts there.
Maybe the heart is still beating but the beat is mechanical. The beat has lost the poetry. They look at you, but their eyes are dull. The lustre of being alive is not there. They will shake hands with you but in their hands you will not feel anything flowing, you will not feel any exchange of energy, you will not see warmth welcoming you. A dead hand. Weight you will find there, love you will not find.
Look around them: they live in hell. They have succeeded, they have become somebodies, and now only hell surrounds them. You are on the same way if you are trying to be somebody.
Lao Tzu says: Be a nobody, and then you will have infinite life flowing in you.
For the flow of life, to be a somebody becomes a block; to be a nobody - vast emptiness; it allows all. Clouds can move, stars can move in it. And nothing disturbs it. And you have nothing to lose, because all that can be lost you have surrendered already.
In such a state of being one is ever young. The body of course will become old, but the innermost core of your being remains young, fresh. It never becomes old, it is never dead.
And Lao Tzu says: This is the way to be really religious. Float with Tao, move with Tao, don't create any private goals and ends, the whole knows better, you be simply with it. The whole has created you, the whole breathes within you, the whole lives in you, why do YOU bother? Let the responsibility be with the whole. You simply go wherever it leads.
You don't try to force and plan, and you don't ask for any certain goals because then there will be frustration, and you will become hard, and you will miss an opportunity of being alive. And this is the point - that if you allow life, more life happens, then if you allow yourself to be alive still more life happens.
Jesus goes on saying: Come to me, and I will show you the way of infinite life. Life abundant. Life overflowing, flooding.
But we live like beggars, we could have been like emperors. Nobody else is responsible. Your cleverness to be yourself, to be clinging to the ego, is the whole cause of your misery.
Now the sutras.
WHEN MAN IS BORN, HE IS TENDER AND WEAK; Watch a small baby, just born. He has no crust around him: vulnerable, open, soft. Life in its purity. It will not be so for long, soon personalities will start growing around him, he will be encaged, imprisoned by the society, parents, schools, universities; soon the life will become a distant phenomenon. He will be more like a prisoner. Life will go on beating somewhere deep inside him, but even he will not be able to hear the beat of it.
But when a child is born - watch it. Again and again the miracle happens. Again and again life goes on showing you the way, how to be, again and again life goes on saying that life is renewed every day.
Old men die. New small babes are born. What is the POINT in it? It is very clear that life does not believe in oldness. In fact, if life was run by economists, this would seem to be very uneconomical, a wastage. An old man trained, experienced in the ways of life and world, then when he is ready and when he thinks he has become wise, death takes over - and replaces the old man with a small baby with no knowledge, no wisdom at all, absolutely fresh, a tabula rasa - everything has to be written again. If you ask the economists they will say: This is foolish! God must consult economists first - what is he doing? Wastage, sheer wastage! A trained man of eighty dies and an untrained babe is replacing him this should be just the otherwise, then it will be more economical.
But life does not believe in economics - and it is good that it doesn't believe, otherwise the whole world would have become a big cemetery. It believes in life, not in economics. It goes on replacing old people by new, dead people by young, hard people by soft - the indication is clear: life loves softness. Because through a soft being life can flow easily.
WHEN MAN IS BORN HE IS TENDER AND WEAK; And Lao Tzu insists on the second point also; that life does not believe in strength. Weakness has a beauty in it, because it is tender and soft. A storm comes, big trees will fall - strong; and small plants - they will simply bend; and then the storm goes by and they are again smiling and flowering.
In fact the storm has made them just fresh, it has taken their dust, that's all. They are more alive, younger, fresher, and, the storm has given them a good bath. And the old trees - very strong, they have fallen, because they resisted, they would not-bend, they were very egoistic.
Lao Tzu says: Life loves the weak. And that is the meaning of Jesus' sayings: Blessed are the meek, because they shall inherit the earth; Blessed are the poor, the poor-in spirit; Blessed are those who weep, because they shall be comforted.
Christianity goes on missing the meaning of Jesus' sayings, because those sayings are Lao Tzuan.
Unless they are related to Lao Tzu they cannot be interpreted rightly. The whole teaching of Jesus is: Be alive and be weak. That's why he says if somebody hits you on the face give him the other side also. If somebody takes your coat, give him your shirt also. And if somebody forces you to walk with him for one mile, go for two miles. He is saying be weak - Blessed are the meek.
What is there in weakness which is blessed? Because ordinarily the so-called leaders of the world, teachers of the world, they go on saying: Be strong. And this Lao Tzu and Jesus, they say: Be weak.
Weakness has something in it - because it is not hard. To be strong one needs to be hard. To be hard one needs to flow against life. If you want to be strong, you will have to fight the flow, only then will you become strong, there is no other way to become strong. If you want to become strong move upcurrent. The more the river forces you against it the more you become stronger.
To be weak, flow with the river; wherever it is going, go with it. To flow with the river... if the river says go with me for one mile, go for two miles, if the river takes your coat give your shirt also, and if the river slaps you on one cheek, give the other.
Weakness has a certain beauty in it. That beauty is that of grace, the beauty is that of non-violence, AHIMSA, that beauty is that of love, forgiveness, the beauty is that of no conflict. And unless Lao Tzu is understood well, and humanity starts feeling for Lao Tzu, humanity cannot live in peace.
If you are taught to be strong you are bound to fight, wars will continue. All political leaders in the world go on saying that they love peace - and they all prepare for war. They say they stand for peace - and they all go on accumulating armaments. They talk about peace - and they prepare for war. And they all say they have to prepare for war because they are afraid of the other; and the other says the same thing. The whole thing looks so foolish and stupid.
China is afraid of India, India is afraid of China. Why can't you see the point! Russia is afraid of America, America is afraid of Russia. They both talk about peace and they both go on preparing for war. And of course, that which you prepare for happens.
Your talk about peace looks just rubbish. Your talk about peace is nothing but cold war. In fact politicians need time to prepare: in that time they talk about peace so that they can have enough time to prepare. Humanity for centuries has lived in only two periods: the war, the period of war, and the period of preparation for war - these are the only two periods; the whole history seems to be just neurotic.
But this is going to be so because strength is praised, ego praised. If two persons are fighting on the road, one is stronger, another is weak, the weaker has fallen and the stronger is sitting on his chest, whom do you appreciate? You appreciate the one who has become a conqueror? Then you are violent. Then you are for war. Then you are a war-monger. Then you are very dangerous and neurotic. Or do you appreciate the one who is weak?
But nobody appreciates the weak, nobody wants to be ASSOCIATED with the weak, because deep down you would also like to be strong. When you appreciate the strong you say: Yes, this is my ideal, I would also like to be like him. If strength is praised, then violence is praised. If strength is praised, then death is praised, because all strength kills - kills the other and kills you also. Strength is murderous and suicidal both.
Weakness, the very word seems to be condemnatory. But what is weakness? A flower is weak. A rock by the side of the flower is very strong. Would you like to be like a rock? Or would you like to be like a flower? A flower is weak, remember, very weak. Just a small strong wind, and the flower will be gone. The petals will fall to the earth. A flower is a miracle; it is a miracle how the flower exists - so weak, so soft! Seems to be impossible. How is it possible? Rocks seem to be okay, they exist, they have their arithmetic to exist, but the flower? It seems to be completely unsupported, but still a flower exists. That's the miracle.
Would you like to be like a flower? If you ask deep down your ego will say: Be like a rock. And even if you insist, because a rock looks ugly, then the ego will say even if you want to be a flower be a plastic flower. Be at least strong! Winds won't disturb you, rains won't destroy you, and you can remain for ever and ever.
A real flower comes in the morning, laughs for a moment, spreads its fragrance - and is gone. An unreal flower, a plastic flower, can remain for ever and ever.
But it is unreal, and it is strong because it is unreal. Reality is soft and weak. And the higher the reality is, the softer.
You cannot understand God because your minds understand the logic of rocks. You don't understand the logic of a flower. Your mind can understand mathematics, you don't have that aesthetic sense to feel for flowers.
Only a poetic mind can understand the possibility of God, because God is the WEAKEST, the SOFTEST. That's why it is the highest. It is the ultimate flower. It flowers, but it flowers only in a split-second. That split-second is known as THE PRESENT.
If you miss that moment - and it is such a small moment that you need to be very intensely attentive, only then will you be able to see it, otherwise you will miss it. It is always flowering every moment it flowers, but you cannot see, your mind is cluttered with the past and the future - and the present is such a narrow phenomenon. just a flicker of the eyelids and it is gone.
In that narrow moment God flowers - it is the highest, the ultimate.
But very weak, very soft, it has to be. It is the pinnacle, the last crescendo, beyond which nothing exists.
You will be able to understand God only when you understand the logic of softness and weakness. If you are trying to be strong: conquerors, fighters, warriors, then you will live in the world surrounded by rocks, not by flowers, and God will be a faraway phenomenon. It will not be possible for you to detect God anywhere in life.
WHEN MAN IS BORN HE IS TENDER AND WEAK;. AT DEATH, HE IS HARD AND STIFF.
So this should become your part of life: remain soft, tender and weak, don't try to be hard and stiff because that is how you are bringing your own death closer and closer.
Death will come some day - that is not the point. Death is not the fear, death is not the problem, but if you are alive in a deathlike personality - that is the problem. Death in itself is very soft, softer than life, very tender; you can hear the sounds of life, but you cannot hear the sounds of death. When death comes it is so soft, you cannot know even a second before that it is coming. And it is so weak, so tender. That death is not the problem. The death that you are living right now, that is the problem.
Death before death is the problem, living a dead life, that is the problem. Hard. Closed. Leibnitz has a term for it, he calls it MONAD. Monad means: closed in such a prison, in such a capsule, that there are no windows even to look out of, or for the outside to look in. A monad is an absolutely closed windowless cell.
MONAD comes from the same root as monopoly, monastery, monk and monogamy; it means to be totally alone. A monk is one who lives alone. A monastery is a place where people live alone.
When you are completely closed, in a dead cell, you are in a monastery. You live in a cave by yourself, you cannot reach others, others cannot reach you. You are completely closed. This is the death which is stiff.
And then you are miserable, and then you try to find ways and means of how not to be miserable.
You go on creating misery by being stiff, hard, and then you go on seeking methods of how not fo be miserable.
In fact if you understand the phenomenon of how you have become miserable, you can drop it immediately. Just be soft, flowing. Be like a child, and always retain the purity and the softness of childhood. Don't lose contact with it and you will be surprised one day when you discover that the child that you had been fifty years before is still alive within you.
If you know how to make contacts with it, suddenly you are again a child; the child is never lost because THAT IS YOUR LIFE. It remains there; it is not that the child dies and then you become young, and then the youth dies, then you become old, no! Layers upon layers accumulate but the innermost core remains the same, the babe that you were born is still there within you; many layers have accumulated around it - if you penetrate those layers, suddenly the child explodes in you; this explosion I have called ecstasy.
Jesus says: Unless you become like children you will not enter the kingdom of God. This is what he MEANS: this is all of what I am talking about. If you penetrate your hard shell, the hard cote, the walls around you, the many layers, suddenly the child will explode within you, again you will look at the world with those innocent eyes of a child. Then there is God.
God is not a very philosophical concept: it is this world looked at through the eyes of a child. The same world - these flowers, these trees, this sky - and you, the same world suddenly takes a new quality of being divine when you look at it through the eyes of a child. Only a pure soft tender heart is needed. God is not missing, YOU are missing. God is not absent, YOU are absent.
WHEN MAN IS BORN HE IS FENDER AND WEAK: AT DEATH, HE IS HARD AND STIFF. WHEN THINGS AND PLANTS ARE ALIVE, THEY ARE SOFT AND SUPPLE; WHEN THEY ARE DEAD, THEY ARE BRITTLE AND DRY.
Learn. Life is teaching through many ways. Life is indicating the path how one should be.
THEREFORE HARDNESS AND STIFFNESS ARE THE COMPANIONS OF DEATH, AND SOFTNESS AND GENTLENESS ARE THE COMPANIONS OF LIFE.
If you want to be more alive, abundantly alive, then seek companions of life: gentleness, softness.
All that clutters you makes you hard. Live in such a way that each moment you are free from the past moment.
Your situation right now is like this: you have a big house with many rooms; in all the rooms there are jigsaw puzzles, the whole house is filled with jigsaw puzzles - on the tables, on the chairs, on the beds, on the floors, hanging from the ceilings - everywhere, jigsaw puzzles; and you have not been able to solve any. You try to solve one; feeling that to solve it is difficult you move to another puzzle; but the first one is hanging on your head; not only that, a few parts of it you carry with you to work on later on. Then you try to solve another puzzle, but you cannot solve it because you are yourself puzzled. Then you move to another room, and this way you go on and on and on - in circles. You are cluttered with unsolved puzzles, and by and by you are completely neurotic. not a single point of life solved and thousands of puzzles hanging around you. They take their toll, they kill you.
Never carry things on from the past - it is gone! Every moment be rid of it! Solved or not solved.
Now nothing can be done about it. Drop it. And don't carry parts because those parts won't allow you to solve new problems which Live this moment, live this moment as totally as possible, and suddenly you will come to realize if you live it totally it is solved. There is no need to solve it. Life is not a problem, it is a mystery to be lived.
If you live it totally it is solved, and you come out of it beautiful, enrichet, with new treasures of your being opened, but nothing hanging around you. Then you move in another moment with that freshness, with this totalness, intensity, so that another moment is lived - and solved.
Never go on accumulating unlived moments around you, otherwise you will become hard.
You can remain soft only if you don't carry anything from the past. Why are children soft? They don't carry. Their way is the way of the sage, If a child is angry he is angry. In that moment he does not bother what Buddha says about anger, he does not bother what Mahavir has taught about anger:
Don't be angry - he becomes really angry. He is so intensely angry that the very intensity becomes beautiful. Look at a child when he is really angry: the whole body - such a small body, so soft, so tender - throbbing with such anger, eyes red, face red, jumping, screaming, as if he will destroy the whole world. An explosion of energy.
And the next moment the anger is gone, and he is playing, and look at his face - you cannot believe that this face was angry a moment before. All smiles! So beautiful, so happy.
This is the way to live. One moment be in it, but be in it so totally that nothing is left to be in another moment. The child lives the moment of anger, then he moves. When better education will be possible in the world we will not teach children NOT to be angry, we will teach them to be angry, but TOTALLY angry, and not to carry it. Anger in itself is not bad, to carry it, to accumulate it, is dangerous.
Flashes of anger are beautiful, in fact necessary, they give a tone to life. They make life more salty.
Otherwise you will feel more flaccid, you won't have a tone. It is good exercise in itself, and if one can be in it totally and come out of it totally, unscratched, nothing is wrong in it. And a person who can be angry totally can be happy totally, can be loving totally, because it is not a question of whether you are angry or happy or loving; the one thing you learn from all experiences is being total.
If you are not allowed to be angry you become incomplete. You live the moment partially, the other parts hang on the mind. Then you are smiling but your smile is not pure, it is corrupted, because that anger is hanging in it. Your lips are smiling but they are poisonous, the anger has not left, the past has not gone, you are not completely free to be here and now, the past has a shadow on you.
And this goes on and on. You become puzzled. The whole life becomes a hangover. Then you cannot live anything: you cannot love, you cannot pray, you cannot meditate. People come to me and they say: When we meditate suddenly millions of thoughts arise; ordinarily those thoughts are not arising, but when we meditate then they arise.
Why does it happen? Incomplete experiences; when you meditate you are unoccupied; they all jump upon you: You are unoccupied - at least solve us! complete us! fulfil us! You are not doing anything, meditation is not doing anything, just sitting here. Do something! This anger is there fulfil it! This love is there - fulfil it! This desire is there - do something!
When you are occupied, you are so much occupied that they all surround you but never become the focus of your attention. But when you are meditating they all try to attract your attention: WE ARE INCOMPLETE. They are ghosts of your past.
Live every moment totally. And live with awareness so that the past is not carried: And this is easy, just a little awareness is needed. Nothing else is needed. Don't live in sleep, robot-like. Be a little more conscious, and you will be able to see.
And then you will become soft like a child, supple like a new sprouting plant, and this quality can be carried to the very moment of to the last moment of death you remain supple. If you remain supple, young, fresh - death happens, but it does not happen to you. Because you carry life in you, death cannot happen. Only people who have been already dead, die People who have remained alive, they watch death happening; the body dies, the mind dies, but not they, they remain out of it, transcendental.
THEREFORE WHEN AN ARMY IS HEADSTRONG, IT WILL LOSE IN BATTLE.
Lao Tzu looks absurd. He says when an army is headstrong it will lose in battle, and you think whenever you are headstrong you will win.
WHEN A TREE IS HARD, IT WILL BE CUT DOWN. THE BIG AND STRONG BELONG UNDERNEATH. THE GENTLE AND WEAK BELONG AT THE TOP.
The roots are hard, they belong underneath. The flowers are soft, they belong at the top.
And this will be the right structure of society - if the people who are strong belong to the roots and the people who are soft belong to the top. Poets and painters should belong to the top. Saints and sages should belong to the highest peak. Soldiers, politicians, businessmen should belong underneath, they should not belong to the top. The whole world is topsy-turvy, because hard people are trying to be on the top.
It is as if roots have become politicians and they are trying to come to the top of the tree and they are trying to force the flowers to go to the roots, to the underground.
When the world was more in equilibrium - for example in India Brahmins belonged to the top. We had placed them at the top - Brahmins means sages: those who have known the Brahma. It is not a caste. It has nothing to do with birth, it has something to do with the inner resurrection. Those who have known the ultimate, they are the Brahmins, they belong to the top, they were the flowers.
Even kings, very strong emperors, had to come and bow down at their feet. That was the right way!
A king, howsoever strong, and howsoever great, is still a king. A man of the world is still neurotic, is still after ambition and ego - he has to bow down.
It happened that Buddha was coming to a town, and the king of the town was a little hesitant to go and receive him.
The prime minister of the king told him: You have to go. The prime minister was a very old wise man. The king said: This looks unnecessary. He is a beggar. Let him come! What is the point in me going to the boundary of my kingdom to receive him? I am a king, and he is a beggar.
The old prime minister of the king wrote his resignation immediately. He said: Take my resignation, because if you have fallen so low then I cannot remain here. You must remember that you are and he has renounced kingdoms. He has nothing. You have a great empire, AND HE HAS ONLY NOTHING. He belongs to the top. And you have to go and bow down, otherwise take my resignation.
I cannot be here in this palace with you. That is impossible for me. The king had to go.
When he bowed down to Buddha, Buddha is reported to have said to him: There was no need. I have heard that you were reluctant to come - there was no need, because when one is reluctant, even if one comes, one does not come. And respect cannot be forced. Either you understand or you don't understand. There was no need! I was coming myself and I am a beggar. And you are an emperor.
But now the king started crying and weeping. He understood the point.
In the East, Brahmins were on the top. That should be the right way to structure a society. Now all over the world politicians have reached to the top. Hence the misery, and the chaos it has to be so. The top has become too heavy. Only flowers should be on the top: sages, poets, mystics, not politicians.
THE BIG AND STRONG BELONG UNDERNEATH. THE GENTLE AND WEAK BELONG AT THE TOP.
Lao Tzu is saying that if you want to belong to the top be gentle and weak. Be so weak and gentle, so soft, like the grass, not strong like big trees.
Lao Tzu has a deep interest in all that is useless. He says to be useless is to be protected. To be useful is dangerous, because if you are useful then somebody is going to use you, you will be exploited. If you are strong then you will be forced into the army.
Lao Tzu was moving from a village, passing through a village with his disciples. He saw a man with a hunchback. He told his disciples: Go to that hunchback and ask how he is feeling, because I have heard the town has been in trouble. The king has forced all young men and strong men into the army.
They went to the hunchback and they asked him. The hunchback said: I am happy! Because of my back they didn't force me. I am useless. That's how I am saved. They reported back. Lao Tzu said to them: Now remember. Be useless. Otherwise you will become fodder in the war.
Once passing through a forest they came under a big tree: one thousand bullock carts could have rested underneath it. The whole forest was being cut down, thousands of carpenters were working there. Lao Tzu said: Enquire what has happened. Why have they not cut this big tree?
The disciples went, they enquired; the carpenter said: That tree is absolutely useless. The branches are not straight, you cannot make furniture out of them; and when you bum it, so much smoke comes out of it that it cannot be used as a fuel. And the leaves are so bitter that not even animals are ready to eat them. So it is useless. That is why we have not cut it down.
It is said Lao Tzu started laughing and said to his disciples: Be like that tree, useless. Then nobody will cut you down. And look at this tree, how big it has become, just by being useless!
Life can be looked at in two ways. Either you look at it as utilitarian - one thing has to be used for something else; life then becomes a means, and some end has to be fulfilled. Or life can be taken as enjoyment, not as a utility. Then this moment is all, there is no goal, no purpose.
I was reading a poem just the other day. One line of it struck me deeply. One line in that poem says:
A POEM SHOULD NOT MEAN, BUT BE.
I loved it. Life should not mean, life should be. An end in itself. Going nowhere. Enjoying here and now. Celebrating. Only then you can be soft. If you are trying to be of use, you will become hard. If you are trying to achieve something, you will become hard. If you are trying to fight you will becomes hard. Surrender. Be soft and tender. And allow the flow of life to take you wherever it takes you. Let the goal of the whole be your goal. Don't seek any private goal. You just be a part, and an infinite beauty and grace happens.
Try to feel it - what I am saying; it is not a question of understanding, it is not a question of intellectual capacity. Feel it, what I am saying. Imbibe it, what I am saying. Let it be there with you. Allow it to settle deep in your being: Life should not mean, life should be.
And then suddenly you are soft. All hardness goes, disappears, melts. The baby is rediscovered, you have again become a child, those transparent eyes of childhood are available again.
You can look and then this greenery is totally different, and the songs of the birds are totally different.
Then the whole has a totally different significance. It has no meaning, it has significance. Meaning is concerned with utility, significance with delight.
Delight in it and you will be soft. Flow with the river. Become the river.