Free from the similar variances - the beautiful and the good
CHAPTER 2: SUTRA 1
THE RISE OF RELATIVE OPPOSITES.
WHEN THE PEOPLE OF THE EARTH ALL KNOW BEAUTY AS BEAUTY, THERE ARISES (THE RECOGNITION OF) UGLINESS.
WHEN THE PEOPLE OF THE EARTH ALL KNOW THE GOOD AS GOOD, THERE ARISES (THE RECOGNITION OF) EVIL.
The acquaintance of beauty, the experience of beauty, is a forerunner of our familiarity with ugliness.
Good cannot be experienced without the knowledge of evil.
Lao Tzu reiterates what he has said in the first chapter but in a different dimension. He says:
"He who experiences the beautiful cannot do so without having experienced the ugly." A person can experience beauty to the same extent as he experiences ugliness. In fact, if a person has no knowledge of ugliness he has no knowledge of beauty also. He who tries to be good has very much the evil present within him. A man cannot desire to be good if he is initially not evil.
According to Lao Tzu - and what he says is very significant - "SINCE THE DAY MAN HAS KNOWN WHAT BEAUTY IS, THE NATURAL BEAUTY WHERE UGLINESS WAS ABSENT, WAS LOST AND SINCE THE DAY MAN HAS KNOWN WHAT GOOD IS, THE NATURAL STATE OF GOODNESS WAS LOST WHEN PEOPLE WERE NOT AWARE OF EVIL." Let us understand it this way.
If we look back into the ancient, the mythological state of man, when he was in the quiet, artless and natural state of being, we find no knowledge of beauty but at the same time there is no knowledge of ugliness also. There we will not find incorruptible people, for dishonesty was not possible. There it was impossible to detect a sinner for there were no virtuous people.
What Lao Tzu is trying to explain in this Sutra is that our lives have always been formed with dualities.
If a community becomes too eager to become honest it shows that its members have become very corrupt. If parents teach their children that to speak the truth is a virtue, it shows that the natural truthfulness is absent in the society and untruthfulness has become the order of the day. Lao Tzu says, "We always stress that, the opposite of which is already present." If we tell our children "Do not tell lies", it proves that untruthfulness is predominantly prevalent. If we tell them to be honest it means that dishonesty has become firmly rooted within us.
There is an account of a meeting between Lao Tzu and Confucius. Confucius was the greatest moral thinker on earth - moral thinker and not religious thinker. He is from among those who have been pre-occupied with the problems of how to make man good. When he heard that Lao Tzu was very religious man, it was but natural that he was eager to meet him. He requested Lao Tzu to advise people to be good and honest that they should not steal and they should refrain from the urge to steal, that they should shun anger and be forgiving, and how violence can be destroyed and non-violence can be established.
Seated outside his hut, Lao Tzu replied: "How can man be good unless there is evil? When there is evil, then alone can man be good. I always advise people how not to be evil, I do not worry about virtue and goodness. I visualise a state in which goodness also is not detected and it is impossible to tell who is good?"
Confucius could not understand, "Man has to be taught to be honest for he is dishonest," he repeated. Lao Tzu replied, "Dishonesty increased from the day you began talking of honesty. I look forward to the day when people no longer talk of dishonesty." Confucius still could not understand him. This sutra is difficult for any moral thinker to follow, for he thinks good and evil to be two different and opposite qualities and that one has to destroy the evil and preserve the good. Whereas Lao Tzu maintains that good and evil are the two aspects of the same thing. It is not possible to destroy one in favour of the other. If you discard one, you will have to drop the other. They both have to be dropped together. If you save one, the other is automatically preserved. If you wish to keep the good, the evil remains in the back-ground, for good cannot exist without evil. If you wish to respect the honest man, you can only do so if there are dishonest people.
This is something worth pondering upon: If there are no dishonest people in the world, would we ever think of honouring the honest person? Would there be respect for a saint if there were no sinners? This means if we want to respect the saint, the sinners should be very much present, and it is one of the mysteries of life that the saint always speaks against the sinner! He little knows that the recognition he gets is only on account of the reprobates. The saint will be lost in the absence of the sinners; his existence can only be around and on account of the sinners.
Lao Tzu says, "Religion existed in the world when there was no sign of the saint." His words are very profound. He says there was Religion on earth when virtue was unknown, when goodness was not heard about, when no sermons were given in favour of truth, when no one exhorted people against violence. When non-violence is installed as virtue and Truth is acclaimed as Religion, the opposite attributes come into being-in their full magnitude.
Lao Tzu told Confucius: "All you good people of the world relax and be peaceful. Stop all talks of goodness and you will find that if you are strong enough to let go of goodness also, evil will fall of itself. Confucius could not understand him. No moral thinker understands Lao Tzu, for he thinks this would make things worse. As it is, he feels he somehow with great effort and persuasion, manages to preserve virtue. Lao Tzu says, "When you try to save goodness, the evil is preserved automatically." These two are connected. It is impossible to keep any one of the two. Either both will remain or none.
Lao Tzu says: "The state of Religiousness is where neither exists." This state he used to call "The Simple (Unrestrained) Tao." This he used to call the realm of Religion, of Nature. If a man is completely established within his nature, there is no good and no evil. There is no valuation there, no censure, no praise, no beauty nor ugliness. There, things are as they are.
Therefore it invariably happens that when a person is filled with the feeling of beauty, ugliness torments him within to the same extent. The sense of feeling in case of both, starts at the same time. If I say: "To be such is beautiful," then everything contrary to this, becomes ugly. The slightest decision on one side results in an equal decision in the alternative. Therefore Lao Tzu says, "WHEN THE PEOPLE OF THE EARTH KNOW BEAUTY AS BEAUTY THERE ARISES THE RECOGNITION OF UGLINESS. WHEN THE PEOPLE OF EARTH KNOW THE GOOD AS GOOD THERE ARISES THE RECOGNITION OF EVIL."
This is a very difficult sutra. It means that if we wish for beauty in the world it is not proper to recognise it as such. In fact no recognition is expedient for then the worth of ugliness has got to be taken into consideration.
If someone asks you, "What is beauty?" Your answer invariably will be - "That which is not ugly."
Beauty cannot be recognised without ugliness. Similarly the sinner has got to be brought within the definition of the saint, just as much as ugliness is necessary to form the boundaries for realizing beauty.
So Lao Tzu says: "When beauty is not recognised as beauty it is very much there but is not labelled as such. When beauty exists without a name, then ugliness cannot come into being. Similarly when the good is not labelled good, when it is not venerated as good, when it is not even recognised as good, there is no way for evil to exist." There is a Good outside of duality, there is a Beauty outside of duality. But this good cannot be called by that name, nor can that beauty be known as Beauty, for there is no way of expressing these. To be silent, is the only way to express them.
Lao Tzu says to Confucius: "Go Back! Your moral thinkers are the ones who have deformed the world. You are the mischief-makers! Go and be merciful enough not to worry about the morals of man! The more you try to make him good the more evil he becomes."
When the father tells the son for the first time that to tell the truth is to be religious, in all probability, the son has no idea what is truth and what is untruth. When he tells him for the first time that to lie is a sin, he in all probability has no idea of falsehood; And the very advice of the father that 'to lie is a sin', is the cause of the son's initial attraction towards false-hood. If the son has lied before this, he has not done it knowingly. He has no acquired knowledge of false-hood that can draw a line of sin within his mind. But now the distinction starts, now he will differentiate between a truth and a lie.
As his knowledge of truth and false-hood increases, the simplicity of his consciousness is destroyed and duality is born. But we go about creating dualities all around us and think nothing about it. We think it is for our good that we do so.
Lao Tzu was a great revolutionary from this point of view. He says: "This is the evil. Whenever we give birth to evil it is with the excuse of the good." Actually, evil is never born directly. Whenever an evil is born. it is with the excuse of some good. We are always out to create the good when we create the evil.
There is the adivasi - a primeval man. He lives in the jungles. He has no knowledge of beauty as we have, nor that of ugliness. He has no distinction of any sort. He is capable of love without bringing in either beauty or ugliness. He is capable of loving that which we look upon as ugly. He is capable of loving that also, which we look upon as beautiful. His love makes no boundaries. He is able to love all. The idea of beauty and ugliness, has not developed within him. It is we, who develop these ideas. We separate the beautiful and the ugly. And then, a very interesting happening takes place. We find that we are unable even to love the beautiful, while the primitive man, without any conceptions, is capable of loving even what we call 'the ugly!' We think we will be able to love the beautiful, so we separate the grotesque from the beautiful. Then we find, we are not able to love the beautiful also! For the mind filled with dualities, is incapable of love.
The beautiful and the ugly, form a pair. What you look upon as beautiful, how long will it remain beautiful? It is a funny thing that what you call ugly, remains ugly forever but what you call beautiful does not remain beautiful after some time. Then what do you get? Have you ever thought on this?
What you have branded as ugly, remains ugly forever. What you look upon as beautiful today, loses its beauty after a few days. Ultimately the mind ridden with duality is devoid of all beauty. There is nothing but ugliness filled in it.
There is this primeval mind that draws no distinction between beauty and ugliness and who is also able to love that which we look upon as ugly. And because he is capable of loving, everything becomes beautiful for him. Remember, we love only that which is beautiful. After a few days, the beauty melts, disappears. The unfamiliar attraction of beauty, its invitation, is lost. When this happens, where will our love stand?
The primitive man loves and he imparts beauty to whatever he loves. Understand the difference:
We love the beautiful. The beauty is lost in a short time - where is the ground for our love to stand?
The primitive man loves first and whatever he loves, he finds beauty therein. The special quality of love is: that if it is self-dependent, it increases day by day and if it depends upon the other, it grows less and less.
If I have loved you because you are beautiful, this love will lesser day by day but if I have loved you for love's sake, your beauty will grow day by day. If love stands on its own feet, it blossoms; if it seeks the support of the other, it is bound to become lame and fall. Yet, this is what we keep doing. Therefore we have to make use of the term beauty and ugliness. The primeval mind has no knowledge of these words.
The primeval mind is somewhat like this: a mother has two sons. One is called beautiful, the other is not but to the mother they are equally beautiful. To her, one is not beautiful and the other ugly.
They are both her sons and therefore they are beautiful. Their beauty emerges from the fact that they are her sons. Primarily, there is the mother's love, and from this love, their beauty shines. The primeval mind that Lao Tzu talks about is the mind that lives in natural simplicity, beyond the pair of opposites and their differences.
Thus Lao Tzu says: "Evil has got to be eradicated but as long as you try to save the good, you will not be able to destroy evil." The sinner has to be destroyed but as long as you hail the saint, the sinner is bound to remain. There is an intricate net-work within this also. The saint is also interested that there be sinners in the world, The more sinners there are, the greater will be the brightness of the saint, for he can criticize them, abuse them; he can start a movement to bring a change in them, he will labour to reform them - he will have some work to do.
But if there be a community on this earth in which there is no sinner, then those whose egos are fed and nourished in the name of saintliness, will at once become useless and impotent. They will have no place to stand. This may seem contradictory, but nonetheless true that the ego of a saint flourishes only when there is a collection of sinners around him. It is just as a wealthy man delights in his riches only when there is poverty all around him. A big palace give6 pleasure only when it is surrounded on all sides by impoverished tenements. The pleasure of the palace depends not on the palace itself but on the misery and pain in the hutments surrounding it. The pleasure of the saint is not in his saintliness, but in the strength the ego finds in the stark comparison with the unsaintly.
Lao Tzu says, "Leave both. We call that Religion where there is no good and no evil". Generally what is defined as Religion is absolutely different. You will say, "Religion means the good. "Lao Tzu says, "No". You will say Religion is that which is auspicious, Religion is Truth. But Lao Tzu will still say "no"; for where there is truth, there is also untruth, where there is auspiciousness there is also inauspiciousness. So Lao Tzu says, "Where both are not, where there is no duality, where the mind is devoid of duality and established in the indivisible One where there is not an inch of separation, there is Religion." So to Lao Tzu, Religion is transcendental - where there is neither darkness nor light.
If we were to tell Lao Tzu that God is Light, he will deny it. "Then what will happen to the darkness?"
He will ask.
"Where will it go?" Then your God will forever be surrounded by darkness for light is always encircled by darkness.
Remember, light is always invested with darkness. Light cannot be without darkness. Light a small lamp and its brightness will be surrounded on all sides by an ocean of darkness. It is in the midst of darkness that light exists. Remove the darkness and the light will be gone immediately; it will be found nowhere. Lao Tzu will say, "No, God is not light. Ne is where both darkness and light are not; where dualism and duality are not."
The fundamental difference between moral thinking and religious thinking is this alone. Moral thinking splits life into two always. It scorns one and praises the other. That which it praises, it honours and encourages; that which it scorns, it insults and humbles. Have you ever considered what is the secret behind this strategy? What is the secret behind the whole of these moral scriptures? It is the Ego.
We say a thief is bad, he is low, despicable, worthy of despise. When we say this, we are telling the ego of people that if you are caught stealing you will lose your reputation, you will be insulted, you will become worthless; people will look down upon you. If you do not steal, you will be respected, people will felicitate you, garland you, respect you; you will win glory not only in this world but also in the next. If you do evil, you will rot in hell, in sin and sluggishness. What are we actually doing by this? We are hurting the bad man's ego and satisfying the good man's ego. We are teaching people that if you wish your ego to reach completion, be good. If you are bad, your ego will suffer.
The entire frame-work of Ethics stands on the ego. Now it is strange that it never occurs to us how moral scriptures can stand on the ego! What can be more immoral than the ego? But it is a fact that ego is at the base of all ethics. When Lao Tzu says this, he pulls down the entire frame-work of ethics. He says, "We do not accept good and evil, we do not accept sin and virtue. We desire that state of mind in which there is no idea of duality." But there is no existence of ego also. Religion is an ego-less state whereas ethics stand on the foundation of ego.
Our complete lives, all our preambles right from childhood to old age, revolve round the ego. We tell our children, "Stand first in your class if you do not want to be disgraced. Stand first, get good marks and you shall be honoured, otherwise you shall be rated low." Then this same play continues till old age. We tell our grown-ups that if they perform good deeds, their rating will be high and they shall attain heaven. If not, they will fall in the eyes of others and will go to hell. They shall gain no name either in this world or the next. Please note the stress is all on the name.
Ethics that are based on the Ego are therefore unable to be virtuous. As a result, immorality spreads to the very roots of the ethical establishment. Every clever person is anxious to display his virtuosity rather than be virtuous, for the real thing is to gain a name, to gain honour and pride. What will people say is all that matters.
If I am a thief but am not caught in the act, I am not called a thief. Ethics only stress that you should not be bad in the eyes of others, whether people call you evil or God calls you evil, makes no difference. If people call me bad, I feel insulted but if I steal and am not caught, then I steal and I save my ego also. Then where is the harm? So ethics ultimately prove to be a fraud only. Those who are clever and skilful, find clever ways of being immoral while making a show of virtuosity to the world. They appear what they are not.
Lao Tzu says: "we do not believe in such ethics."
When the Upanishads first reached the Western World, people were very much concerned; for the Upanishads are very near to Lao Tzu. Nowhere in them is mentioned that a man should not steal, that a man should not commit violence. The West was familiar only with the Ten Commandments which said - Do not commit adultery, do not steal, do no lie etc. Therefore when the Upanishads were translated, when Lao Tzu's TAO-TEH-KING was first rendered into English, the Western people thought the Orientalists to be immoral. Such are their sages? Not a single truth of Religion do they utter! The duty of religion is to teach men not to steal, be honest, not to deceive - which is nowhere in the teachings of these people! What kind of scriptures are these? - They wondered. At the first impact of the wisdom of the East, the West condemned it as immoral. But as they went deeper and their understanding increased, they realised it was not immoral. On the contrary, they had to coin a new category - a third category of Ethics. The three categories are; Immoral, moral and Trans- moral. Gradually they began to understand that these scriptures are neither ethical nor non-ethical, rather, they do not talk about ethics at all! They are trying to unfold a mystery that goes beyond all ethics. Now they admit that these are the real Religious scriptures.
It is an interesting fact that an atheist can also be a moralist. More often than not, he is more of a moralist than atheist. The morals of atheist are his bargaining platform. He hopes to achieve heaven, a better birth, with his virtues. He knows that by undergoing a few hardships here, he will gain more happiness later. An atheist's morality is pure morality. There is no bargaining, for he does not believe in life after death.
The atheist knows that he whose deeds are virtuous dies and returns to dust and he who is evil, meets the same fate also. There are no rewards and reprisals. If even then, an atheist is virtuous, his atheism is worth more than any theism; and his morality is more genuine for there is no bargaining, no expectations behind it. He expects no rewards for good acts for there is no God to reward him; for him there are no rules of actions that are self-rewarding, there is no fortune, no new birth. To him this life is final. If I tell the truth or I tell a lie, I shall one day turn to dust all the same. If an atheist becomes virtuous his morality is much deeper than that of the theist. And this is possible for it is not difficult for an atheist to be ethical but he cannot be religious.
A theist who is only a moralist, is a more fallen man than the atheist. If a theist is religious, then only is his theism of value; otherwise his theism is lower than the ethics of an atheist. He is doing something to attain something. If a theist comes to know that there is no God, that there is no after birth, his ethics will falter and fall. If he is told that the laws are reversed and that he who tells the truth goes to hell and those who lie, go to heaven, he will promptly begin to tell lies.
But to an atheist, it will make no difference whether your God is or is not or whether heaven and hell change for he does not depend on them. He is not virtuous on account of them. If he is righteous, he is, because he is happy to be so. His reasoning tells him to be righteous and so he is - there is no other motive behind it. He finds himself more serene and peaceful by being virtuous - and so he is virtuous. A theist is a theist only if he is religious and not by being virtuous. A righteous man may become an atheist and yet be better than a theist.
Lao Tzu is propounding the most fundamental sutra of theism. He says, "Do not divide existence into the opposites. Be beyond them." Our minds that are bound by ethics will be caught with fear, and then surely we shall become immoral! The first thought that comes to mind on hearing Lao Tzu is: If we are to go beyond both then why not steal? We feel, if we leave both, the world will become evil, for we know we are good only on the surface. Our insides are filled with evil. If we relax even the slightest bit, the superficial goodness will break and the evil within will spread outside. This is an actual fear within all of us.
But Lao Tzu says: "He who is ready to go beyond the good will never be ready to fall into evil." He who is even ready to forgo the good, how will you throw him into evil? In truth, ego is the cause for man's falling into evil. We have made our ego the stepping stone into the good and this is the very cause of our falling into evil.
Lao Tzu says: "He who is not even eager to rise up to the good, will not be prepared to go even into evil. And he who is eager to rise up into the good can always be lured into evil." If he feels that evil is more fruitful than goodness, that his ego could be more satisfied by it, he will promptly go into evil, for it is the result he is after and not the ethics. If he embraces the good it is to satisfy his ego; if he embraces the evil it is only for his ego. Lao Tzu says: "He who goes beyond both good and bad, for him there is no contrivance to rise and no means to fall." He climbs no heights and falls into no abyss. He lives on the smooth and straight plane of existence. This straight level of existence is called the 'RIT' or 'TAO', where he goes not an inch up or down. This plane level of existence is called Religion.
So Lao Tzu in this priceless sutra says: "I do not say unto you, shun evil; I do not say unto you hold on to the good. What I say is, understand that good and evil are two names of the same thing.
Recognise that they are both incorporate happenings. When you recognise them as such, you will go beyond them."
Let us try to understand this is another way.
You are standing beside a flower. Is it necessary to say it is beautiful? Is it necessary to say it is ugly? And will your statement bring about a change in the flower? The flower is not at all affected by your remarks. When you say the flower is beautiful it is your own behaviour towards the flower that changes. If you call it ugly, it is again your own behaviour towards it that changes. Your remark brings about a change not in the flower but in you.
What is the criterion of beauty? What scales do we employ to measure the beauty of the flower? It is a difficult question to answer. At the very depth of your statement lies the reason for calling the flower beautiful and that is - because you think so. But is your preference a rule of beauty? What is the basis behind calling a thing ugly? It is, that you think so. But is your dislike a rule set by nature, that a thing is ugly because you dislike it? What does your like and dislike show? It indicates all about you and not4ing about the flower; for standing near the same flower, I can make my own likes and dislikes known. The flower remains the same, whether someone calls it beautiful or ugly; or whether no comment is made, the flower remains the flower. Let a thousand people make a thousand comments, the flower remains the same.
Then what do these remarks tell us about - the flower or the one who makes these remarks?
If we understand well, we shall know that all statements tell us about the speaker. Now take for instance this statement "This flower is beautiful". What I really mean to convey is that I am such a person who finds this flower beautiful. Now it is not imperative that this flower will still look beautiful to me in the evening. It may seem ugly to me by evening. Then I will have to say, "Now I have become such a person who finds this flower ugly." Are these feeling of beauty or ugliness, objective or subjective? Are they our own intrinsic feelings or the actual form of the objects? What are they?
They are our mental feelings and reflections.
It is not fair to impose your mental images on the flower. Who are you to do so? What right have you? None whatsoever. But everyone of us, impose ourselves. Stand beside a flower one day.
Stand still and quiet. Mind your old habit of qualifying things. Halt your judgement - the flower on one side, you on the other - let there be no judgement on the flower's beauty or ugliness.
In a few days you will find that the day when there is no conditioning, no judgement between you and the flower, you will experience an entirely new beauty of the flower, which is beyond beauty and ugliness. There will be a completely new unfoldment of the flower before you. That day there will be no mental imagery or likes and dislikes between you and the flower. Only the flower will he - blossomed in its perfection.
And when a flower blossoms thus in its absolute perfection and without the interference of your mental images, then it has a beauty all its own, which transcends both beauty and ugliness.
Remember, I say, it has a beauty all its own that is beyond our conception.
Lao Tzu says: "That alone we call beauty where ugliness has no existence." But then there is no sign of the beauty we know of. You are going along a road and the branch of a tree falls on you. You do not say the tree has done wrong, that the tree is bad, it has committed violence; that it meant to harm you and you will pay it back! No, you say no such thing. In fact you make no decisions for or against the tree. You pass no judgement against it. And this incident does not disturb your sleep at night, nor do you pass days and months thinking of ways to take revenge. And all this because you have made no decisions whether the tree acted well or otherwise. Nay, you have not even thought that the tree has done anything to you. It was a matter of coincidence that the branch fell as you passed under the tree. You do not blame the tree.
But if a man hits you with a stick or - that is still excusable for the stick causes a hurt - if a man abuses you, the mind at once makes a decision for or against the person. How can mere words wound a person? But he at once resolves to take revenge and the thought catches hold of the mind.
Now there will be images formed around the vituperations and this may go on for months and years, nay even for a life-time! But where did it all start? Did it start with the man's abuse or did it start from your decisions - that is to be understood.
If you had made no decision and said that it was a matter of coincidence that you were passing and the abuse happened to slip from the man's lips, just as you happened to pass and the branch of the tree fell? If in truth we make no decisions and take it to be just a coincidence, would the anxiety have formed within us? Then could this abuse have become a wound within us? Then would we have to waste our precious time inventing fresh abuses for retaliation? No, this matter would have ended there and then. We made no decision of the right or wrong. It was a fact, we knew it as such and moved on! Lao Tzu says this is according to him - the good.
Now remember, there are very subtle differences. Now Jesus says, "If a person slaps you on the right cheek, offer him your left." Lao Tzu says, "Do not do that." For according to Lao Tzu, when you offer the left check, you will have made a decision and you have reacted! Agreed that you did not abuse but you did hit back by offering the other cheek! Jesus says, "Love your enemies." Lao Tzu says, "Don't." For when you manifest love towards your enemy, you accept him as an enemy.
Lao Tzu's exposition is very, very transcendental. Lao Tzu says, "To love the enemy, is to know him as enemy." Then whether you abused or showed hatred or professed love, these are secondary things. One thing becomes clear by this act that the enemy remains the enemy.
There is an incident in Nasruddin's life that one day he slapped his younger brother. His father rebuked him saying, "Nasruddin, it was only yesterday that you were reading 'One should love even one's enemy!'" Nasruddin replied, "That is true father, but he is no enemy, he is my brother."
"Accept the enemy" Lao Tzu says, "And the decision is made." Then he says, "You agree that this man has done wrong and therefore he is to be answered not by evil but by goodness."
Jesus says, "Return goodness for evil." But the fact remains that you have decided the quality of the act as bad. Then if we react to this with goodness, it will be a righteous act but not a religious one.
Lao Tzu says, "No answer! for you make no decisions about the happening." The matter ends there.
You refuse to think beyond this. You do not allow any thought of this incident to rise within you. A man slapped you, the matter finished there, the happening ended. You do not start anything within yourself with this incident. You do not think whether he did wrong or right, whether he was friend or foe. Who is he, what should you do, what you should not do - you start no reflections within your mind. The incident finished, the door is closed, the chapter is over. You call it the end, you do not draw it further in your mind. "Then," Lao Tzu says, "You are religious." If you even say this much, "This should not have happened, now what shall I do?" Then you will have missed. To differentiate is to fall from Religion. Decision brings the fall in Religion.
Lao Tzu's whole endeavour is to awaken you to the deep-seated habit of the mind of breaking things into two. You should be wide awake before the mind breaks a thing into two; for once it succeeds in breaking a thing, it is difficult for you to step out of the circle. So wake up and do not let the mind catch you napping!
This is why Lao Tzu raises the question of Beauty and the Good. These two alone, are the fundamental differences. On the differences of Beauty stands all our sense of the Aesthetic. On the differences of the good and the evil stand our entire principles of ethics. Lao Tzu says, "Religion is within neither of these, Religion is beyond both of these - lovable-unlovable, desirable-undesirable, beautiful-ugly, good-evil, auspicious-inauspicious - beyond all these differences is Religion."
Lao Tzu will never say, "To forgive is divine." He will say, "You forgave, so you admitted the rising of anger." No, when anger or forgiveness arises within you, be alert and observe that now the contradictory part of the duality is rising within you. Therefore, we cannot call Lao Tzu forgiving.
If we ask Lao Tzu "You forgive everybody?" He will reply "I have never been angry with anyone." If someone abuses Lao Tzu, he will say nothing and just go his way. We might think he has forgiven the man but we are mistaken. Lao Tzu is not angry with the man so the question of forgiveness does not arise. Forgiveness is possible only when anger comes and once anger comes, where is the forgiveness? That is a mere cover, a dressing to hide the wound. Lao Tzu says, "I did not get angry in the first instance, so I did not have to undergo the trouble of forgiving. That is the second step I would have had to take if I had been angry."
Lao Tzu's complete stress is on alertness towards the pairs of opposites. One should be alert and watchful before they arise so that one remains care-free and impartial. Do not enter into the turmoil of the dualities.
QUESTION: BHAGWAN SRI, JUST AS YOU EXPLAINED THE PROCESS OF ANNIHILATION OF ANGER YESTERDAY, ARE THERE METHODS OF ANNIHILATING, SEX, GREED, DELUSION AND EGO ALSO? KINDLY ENUMERATE THESE TOO.
Bhagwan Sri: Sex, anger, greed, delusion, ego! It seems man is surrounded by many ailments! This is not true. These are not so many maladies. The illness is only one. The same energy manifests in all these. If you suppress sex it turns into anger. We all have suppressed sex therefore there is anger within all of us more or less. . Now if you want to escape anger, you will have to give it another form or else it will not let you live. So if you can transform your anger into greed, you will become a less tempered person, for your anger will now flow in greed. You will not now directly strangle a person but you will now throttle him indirectly through money.
One fact must be remembered - that there is only one energy in man. We can put it to use in many ways. If we become mentally ill, this energy flows in a thousand directions and if you try to fight with each of these directions, you will become insane. You will then be fighting with the branches but the roots will remain unaffected. So the first thing is to understand that the fundamental energy is one only. If any transformation is to be brought about, it is, necessary to establish a direct contact with it instead of grappling with its manifestations.
The easiest method is to begin with the strongest of these maladies. If you think that anger is your biggest trouble then that is your chief characteristic. When anyone went to Gurdjieff, he first tried to find out his chief ailment his chief characteristic.
Every man has a chief characteristic. It is greed in some and anger in others; it is sex in some and fear in others, while for yet others it is pride. So catch hold of the overriding trait, for it is the strongest current flowing from the fundamental energy. If it is anger then take hold of your anger; if it is sex begin to tackle your sex. Begin by practising this method of vigilance on your particular trait and also of catharsis as I told you yesterday about anger. I told you how a friend, is carrying out catharsis of anger by beating up a pillow and how effective it has proved.
You have to do two things to the special trait within you. The first thing to be done is to become completely aware of it for the difficulty always is, that we try our best to hide our short-comings.
A wrathful person is always preoccupied in hiding his wrath lest it leaks out from somewhere. He invents a thousand lies to cover his anger so that others may not know of it - much less himself.
Now if a thing is not known, it cannot be changed. Remove all the screens, all the layers and know your trait in its complete nakedness.
The second thing to do is, to be absolutely alert as you observe your distinctive trait. For instance when anger comes, we at once think of the person who made us angry and never about the one who gets angry. If you are the cause of my anger, I at once begin to think about you and forget myself completely, whereas the actual party is me, who has become angry. The one who caused anger was only a cause, an excuse. He no longer matters. He threw a match-stick and blew up the gunpowder within me. His spark would have been useless if there were no ammunition within me.
What I see is not the heap of ammunition within me but the spark of the adversary. Then I feel that it is he who has caused all the burning within me. The truth is, he only threw a single match, it is the explosives within me that flared up. And it is also possible the man may not have thrown the match knowingly. He may not even be aware of the conflagration within you!
You put complete blame for this fiasco on the other man. Therefore, many a time the poor man cannot understand why such a small thing has upset you so much! This is always the difficulty. The matter in question is always too negligible but the anger inflamed is colossal. So the one who causes anger is always at a loss to understand how a single ordinary statement can bring about such wrath!
You yourself must have wondered at times when your statement angered another person. But this is a natural fallacy. All the fire that burns within me. I feel you have created. You throw the spark and the powder within me explodes. How much it spreads, it is difficult to tell.
Whenever anger seizes us, our attention is focussed on the man who has caused it. In that case, it is difficult to step out of anger. When anyone brings about anger in you, forget him immediately and concentrate on him to whom anger is happening. Remember, no amount of concentration brings any change in the adversary. If any change is to be brought about, it can only be in the one who is angry.
Whenever anger or greed or sex or anything takes hold of you, drop the object of their happening immediately. A man or woman causes the mind to become sexual. Remember, he or she has merely thrown the match - perhaps unknowingly. In the matter of anger, there is some attempt from the other, in the matter of sex there is almost no attempt from the other side. A woman is crossing the road. You look at her and your sex is stimulated. Then also, your attention is entirely on her. You do not throw a glance within to see what this energy in which is inflamed by sex. This is how we fail to observe ourselves and without self-observation no transformation takes place life. So when sex overpowers you, forget the object, forget that which catches hold of your sex, which catches hold of your anger, your greed etc.
And begin to look within - what is happening within! Do not suppress. Allow full freedom to whatever is happening. Close yourself in a room, and plunge whole-heartedly in the happening.
It is better to see what is happening as clearly as possible.
If anger rages within, shout, cry, jump, talk, babble, do whatever you please. Close the doors and observe your own madness in its entirety, for others have witnessed it many times. It is only you who have not seen it; others have watched the fun at your expense. You become aware of it only when everything is over; when the fire has gone and only the ashes remain.
Remember, the ashes give no news of the fire. No matter how high the heap, it gives no inkling of even a spark. And if a man has never seen fire, he can draw no conclusion from the ashes. No logic can lead from ash to fire. No inference can be drawn about the nature and form of fire from the ash.
Whenever you look at your own anger, it is like looking at the ashes - when all is gone. Then you sit moaning over the heap of ashes - and it is no use. Watch when the fire burns in full force.
It will be easier to observe if it is allowed freedom of expression. Remember, when you exhibit on others, it is not in its full form. If you are angry on your husband or wife or son or daughter, the anger is not complete. There are limitations of displeasure. For no wife or husband is such that all the anger can be expressed. So I will display some anger and keep the rest within myself. No one ever gives complete vent to his anger. When a father gets angry with a small child, even then he is not completely angry though the child is so helpless he could even wring his neck! A hundred limitations bar the way. Anger is expressed to some extent only, lending no pleasure in the act. Nor is the pain complete. Therefore we indulge in it time and again.
If you want to observe anger in its entirety, you will have to observe it alone, in the privacy of your room. Then alone can you see it in its fullness, for then there are no limitations. This is why I advise the pillow meditation to certain people, so that they can observe their anger fully.
Today I have come to know, through the partner of the friend who was carrying out the pillow- meditation lately, that he had taken out a knife and torn the pillow into pieces! I had not told him to do this! It sounds funny - such madness! But we do not laugh when a living person is stabbed in anger though the passion gratified is the same as when ripping open a pillow! Whether it is a pillow or a human being - that is immaterial. More pleasure is derived from stabbing the pillow however, for there are no limitations.
Close yourself in your room and when your overriding trait catches hold of you, allow it to manifest itself to the full. Consider it as meditation. Give it complete expression. Allow it to come out of every pore of your body. Then reflect on it - you will laugh! You will even be surprised at what all you can do! Your mind will also wonder how you could ever do all that - and that too when you are alone! If there was someone present, then it was excusable!
You will feel restless the first or second time. The third time you will be in full form. And when you indulge in it whole-heartedly, you will get a strange experience. You will find that outwardly you are doing all this but within, a consciousness stands and watches. This is impossible when the other is concerned but by yourself, it becomes easy. All around the flames of anger will surround you, you will stand in the centre - alone and apart. And once a person observes his anger apart from himself, once someone observes his sex or his greed or his fear thus, a ray of knowledge begins to emit in his life.
He has attained an experience.
He has recognised one of his powers and now it is impossible for him to be deceived through this particular energy. We become the masters of that power which we recognize. The energy that we clearly perceive, no longer enslaves us; whereas the power we do not recognize, keeps us enslaved.
So you can take the pillow to be your beloved or you can take it to be the Kohinoor diamond. You can look upon it as your enemy before whom you tremble. It makes no difference who you are or what you are. It is not difficult for you to recognize your particular trait for it is after you all the twenty-four hours. You know very well what your main characteristic is.
Each person has only one main characteristic. Everything else is joined on to this. If sex is the fundamental trait, anger, greed will be secondary. If such a man is greedy, it is only to satisfy his sex. If he is angry, it will be on account of his sex. If he is fearful it will only be for fear of some hindrance in sex. The primary weakness will be for sex. All other weaknesses are secondary.
If anger is your primary characteristic, you will love only if you can take your anger out on your beloved. Your sex will be secondary. Such a man is only capable of loving those on whom he can be wrathful. His basic weakness is anger. Then if he amasses wealth it will only be to have the strength of money to vent his anger. He may be conscious of this fact or not but it is true that as this man's wealth increases his capacity to be angry increases in the same proportion. All those whom he has under his thumb with the power of his wealth will be crushed completely. If such a man aspires to attain a high position, it will only be to satisfy his wrath. Many a time, it is impossible to trace the presence of anger, the camouflage is so complete.
Winston Churchill's daughter, married a youth he did not like. He was against this marriage and was filled with anger at the prospect of having him as his son-in-law. He had to gulp his anger.
The wedding took place. He never told the youth what he felt about him and so he knew nothing of Churchill's feelings towards him. He would address him as 'Papa' but whenever he called him 'Papa', Churchill used to burn with rage within. He just could not bear the idea of his addressing him so. But he never told him anything about this.
Soon after the 2nd World War, one day the youth called on Churchill. He asked him, "Whom do you consider the greatest politician of today Papa?" The word 'Papa' again disturbed Churchill. He at once replied, "Mussolini". His son-in-law was very surprised. How could he call his enemy and that too, Mussolini, the greatest politician? There were other greatness - Roosevelt, Stalin and even Hitler. Besides, Churchill was in no way less than these! He was definitely much greater than Mussolini!
The youth asked him what made him consider Mussolini the greatest. Churchill tried to evade him but the youth persisted. "If you must know, I consider him the greatest politician because he had the guts to shoot his son-in-law. When you address me as 'Papa'. I feel like doing the same, only, I have not the guts to do it."
There are many folds within our brain. We hide them, suppress them, yet they come up on the surface at times. They come up and reveal themselves. Sometimes we manage to hide them for a life-time! Therefore it happens that a man thinks there is that within him, which is not there at all!
and what is within him, he is not conscious of. Try to find out what is within you in greater measure keep a diary and write in it faithfully, what you do the most everyday.
Try to know three things: Which tendency is more? Greed, or, sex or fear or anger - what? Then try and find out, which tendency is repeated the greatest number of times? Then also try to recognise whether this repetition gives the greatest amount of interest and pleasure. Also note that the savour can be of two kinds: There may be enjoyment in it or remorse. In both the cases, the relish will be there. The third thing to observe is, that if this particular tendency is taken away from you completely will your personality remain the same or will it change? If the chief trait of your character is removed, your personality becomes completely different. You cannot imagine yourself without this chief characteristic.
Keep a diary for fifteen days. Keep an account of all the twenty-four hours of the day and then draw the conclusion. You will be then able to detect the primary trait within you. Then become aware of this fundamental trait. Then whenever this tendency arises within, go into seclusion and witness its manifestations. Be a witness. Catharsis will take place and you will also be well acquainted with it.
Then you will begin to feel more a master of yourself.
If you remember what Lao Tzu says when you are passing through this process, it will become easier and simpler for you. If you want to know anger only to be rid of it, it is very difficult, for the attitude of being rid of anger creates a distinction. Then you have started with the assumption that anger is bad, 'No-anger', is good; that sex is bad and 'Non-sexuality' is good; that greed is bad and 'no-greed' is good. If you raise such distinctions, you will find a lot of difficulty to know the traits in actuality. Then even if you transcend them, it will only be repression.
If in this connection, we remember Lao Tzu's words, there is no need to connect anger with 'no- anger'. It is not at all necessary to think that anger is bad. Initially, we do not even know what anger is. Then how can we decide it is bad? This is a borrowed decision. You have heard others saying that anger is bad, so you say, anger is bad but you keep on being angry! Drop your judgements and strive to know what is anger! Do not be hasty in your judgement. Who knows whether it is good or bad? Be absolutely impartial. Only then will anger open all its hidden unfolds before you. If you start with the assumption that anger is bad, the deep-seated layers will remain hidden and unknown.
For a total revelation of the entire tendency, an absolutely unbiased mind is required. All the suppression is on account of the fact that that tendency has been branded as bad. So if you still consider it to be bad, you will still be suppressing it. It is on account of this that a most unfortunate happening takes place: The more a man tries to be rid of anger, the more wrathful he becomes. To escape a thing, it has to be subdued.
It is necessary to know a thing if we want to be liberated from it. It is impossible for a suppressed mind to know. Go forth without any bias. As the lightning flashes across the sky and we do not think whether it is good or bad, as the clouds pass - and they are neither good nor bad, so the flash of anger, the currents of greed, the energy of passion, pass within us. This is true. These are energies, observe them with an impartial mind-without any malice and without any foregone conclusions. A foregone conclusion will prevent your coming to the actual conclusion. Let the conclusion be in the end.
Or else, you will be in the same state as a school going child, who turns the pages and sees the answer first! Once the answer is known, the problem is difficult to solve. There is no need to worry about the answer. You have to concentrate on the process. The answer will come by itself. If the answer is known beforehand, there remains no interest in the process, in the eagerness of our reaching to conclusion. We are all well invested with the answers. Our forefathers have handed down their books to us, opened at the wrong end. First we know the answers then we come to the text. So we are not acquainted with the method of all for it is but natural to think, what use is the method when the answer is known? We know anger is bad, we know sexuality is bad.
It was only eight days ago that a friend came and told me: "I heard you speak on the Gita. I liked it very much, therefore I have come. I heard you speak on sex and I was very much pained - so much, I stopped coming to your discourses. But I heard Gita from you and am so pleased that I have come to meet you." "What is your trouble now?" I asked. He said: "My trouble is sex. It torments me so." So I told him, "I shall not talk to you about sex, for you will be pained again. You read the Gita and find out your path." What strange people! I told him to go away and not to come to ask me anything about sex. If he had anything to ask about Gita he was welcome for you should ask only that which you like! Sex is the problem and you are afraid to know anything and he who offers to help you in this problem, appears your enemy! Nothing is gained or lost by Gita, it does not touch your problems of life. So hear it away merrily for you have nothing to do with it!
We stand outside, the stream of Gita flows away - away and apart! I asked him, "What sort of a man are you?" And this is not the case of one man alone. I know many who have the same problem but who are afraid to admit it as their problem. They always insist on a private interview to discuss it with me and request that their problems may not be made public. I say to them that this is as much a personal problem of others as theirs. Now everyone hears the Gita in public but about sex, each one wants a private audience. How is that possible? Besides, you are afraid even to raise the question of your actual problem, whereas you delight in hearing that which is not your problem at all!
Thus thousands of years pass and man is still the same. Catch hold of your problem, do not be certain about the answer from first. What should be the assumption to begin with is - "I do not know, I know not whether anger is good or bad, beautiful or ugly. Let me know it in its thoroughness." And wonder of wonders - He who knows it in its entirety finds himself liberated from it! And he who tries to be liberated from it, never knows it in its fulness. Understand this difficulty. He who wants tc. be liberated has presumed at the outset that it is bad so he does not raise the question of the process.
He says "I know it is bad. there is no need to find out. All I need to know now is how to be rid of it." There is only one method for liberation - complete knowledge. But this man says he 'knows' it is bad! Then he cannot go through the full process of knowing. I request you to go through the process, attain the complete knowledge and not depend on borrowed conclusions.
Whether it is the Buddha, Christ or me - it makes no difference. It is your own conclusion that matters. Step within yourself without any prejudice, without any assumptions and see what is anger.
Let your anger reveal to you what anger is. Do not impose your presumptions on it. And the very day you discover anger in its complete nakedness, in its complete hideousness, in its burning fire, in its murderous venom, you will suddenly discover that you have stepped out of it. Anger has vanished!
Any tendency can be treated this way - which tendency, does not matter. The process is the same, for the illness is the same, only the names are different.
Enough for today. We shall talk again tomorrow.