The highest rule can be utilised for the lowest function. The most mysterious happenings of life can sometimes be the screen to hide the lowest acts. That is what this saying you have mentioned is about. Because it is connected with Lao Tzu, it is only proper that we consider it now.
Lao Tzu would say, "Whatever happens is the right thing to happen." This is in no way a consolation.
Rather, this is Lao Tzu's point of view. He says, "How can that which is wrong ever happen?
Whatever happens cannot help but be right." This statement is not related to the happening itself but, rather, to the witness of the happening. When Lao Tzu says, "Whatever happens is what should have happened",: he means that now there is nothing in the world that is evil for him. This statement speaks of the witness within Lao Tzu himself.
Lao Tzu says, "Now there is no evil in the world for me. I stand where evil cannot touch. Now, everything is good." Now everything is good because Lao Tzu has attained that bliss which cannot be destroyed. For us everything is not all right. For us, that which gives happiness is all right, and that, which brings sorrow and pain, is not all right. As long as you suffer, things cannot be right.
A child is born to you. It is a sweet child. If this child dies, how can you say it was the right thing to happen? You love someone; but you do not win him. How can you say it was the right thing to happen? All life long you do something you consider to be good and it turns out to be bad.
How can you say this is as it should be? You cannot, because your happiness is cause-oriented.
Therefore all causes that contribute to your happiness are taken to be correct and all causes that do not contribute to your happiness are supposed to be wrong. As long as happiness and unhappiness are two different things for you, some things will be right and some things will be wrong. How can you say illness is good or death is good? As long as there is desire and longing for life, death is bound to be evil. And as long as you crave for health, illness is bound to be your enemy. When we pronounce a thing good or bad we only betray our own expectations.
When a man says, "Everything is all right," he is merely uttering a consolation. There will be no joy in his pronouncement: only disillusionment and sadness echo through his words. There is no declaration of victory, but an acceptance of defeat. He cannot do anything, so he consoles himself that things are as they should be. Contentment becomes a help to the defeated. But this is false contentment.
Real contentment is experienced by those who have conquered life. They are conquerors in the sense that now there is no way of defeating them, now defeat is no longer defeat to them. Lao Tzu has said, "You cannot defeat me because I stand defeated from the beginning. You cannot displace me because where I sit is the last place. There is no way to go further down. You cannot give me sorrow for I have annihilated the very expectation of happiness." He who is a conqueror in this manner finds contentment illuminating his life from all sides.
This statement is not for defeated people like us. We are beaten from all sides because we never get what we desire. All our hopes and aspirations crumble before our very eyes. We are losers through and through. In this state we make use of the virtue of contentment and say, "Things are as they should be." But such contentment is false, it is put on. Then Aesop's fable applies to us.
We all know this fable. The fox tried to reach the bunch of grapes but he could not jump high enough.
His ego could not accept the fact that he could not jump high enough so he turned around and said that the grapes were sour and not worth trying for.
But this fable is not complete. Before Aesop is reborn again and finishes the story, let me complete it for you. When the fox read Aesop's tale, he promptly joined a gymnasium to improve his jumping.
He took vitamins and tonics to improve his strength. Then he went once again to the vineyard. In one jump he reached the grapes. But when he brought them down and tasted them, they were actually sour. But what was he to do now? He went back and told everyone that the grapes were sweet!
Ego will fill itself by any means. If it cannot reach the grapes, they are sour; if it can reach them and they turn out to be sour, it will still say they are sweet! One thing we must keep in mind. We must watch out whether our statements come out of our defeat, our failures, because such statements have no value.
Lao Tzu does not teach us to put on the mask of contentment. He says that the relationship of contentment with life is one of harmony, of friendliness, and not of disharmony, or enmity and defeat.
Lao Tzu says that whatever happens is a vast happening and numerous and varied are the reasons for its happening. So vast is its expansion and so mysterious is its being that it would be childish to decide whether it is right or wrong. You cannot be the judge.
The universe is an enormous happening. Whatever happens in it is only a fragment of it. To judge the universe by a single happening is just as if a man gets hold of a page from a novel and, reading it, decides whether the book is moral or immoral, good or bad. We would call a man who judges a book from a single page foolish. But this is what we do with regard to the world. Every day we give opinions about the world, but there is no way to be acquainted with the whole story.
If Hitler had died when he was a child, his mother would have grieved over the death of her child because as yet, he was only a fragment of what he later turned out to be. But had his mother been alive to witness what he did, she would have wished he had died when he was born. Yet this also is just a fragment, of the whole because the repercussions of what Hitler did are still being felt. Hitler is dead, but his actions are still alive. It is possible that there will be no further world wars just because of Hitler's atrocities. Then how are we to decide whether Hitler's existence was good for the world or bad?
It is possible that there will be no future world wars on account of Hitler. Then Hitler would have done what even Buddha and Mahavira could not do. His demonical atrocities reached such a peak that now, if man still indulges in war we shall have to say that man has lost his sense of humanity and become a beast. It is quite possible that there may not be further world wars in the future. Then the credit will go entirely to Hitler. Then how can we say whether Hitler's existence was good for the world or bad?
We make decisions from the fragments whereas life is an undivided stream - eternal, infinite. It has no beginning and no end. So God alone can be the judge. And only on the day that the creation comes to an end, can we decide what was right and what was wrong.
When Lao Tzu says, "Everything is all right," he means that we are not the ones to decide. He is expressing his oneness with the vast universe. His will is one with the will of the universe. He has no separate will of his own.
Jesus was being put on the cross. In the last moment, doubt seized him. When the nails were being fixed in his hands, a sigh escaped from his mouth and he said, "Oh God, what is this you are making me undergo?" Deep within, and unknown to him, there was a seed of expectation that God would not allow him to be crucified. The thought that the cross is a bad thing, must have been in his mind.
That it could also be good must have slipped his mind. Therefore, the complaint rose from his lips.
But this means he doubted God and there was a lack of complete surrender. The cross became a bad thing and what was happening was not right.
But no sooner did he speak than he realised his mistake. He had considered himself wiser than God and disputed His will. This little sigh made an atheist of Jesus and destroyed his belief in God. His eyes filled with tears as he begged forgiveness from his Father. "Forgive me, Lord, forgive me!" he cried. "Thy will is my own. Thy will be done!"
When Lao Tzu says, "Everything is as it should be," he implies that our statements against the eternal law are foolish. The eternal law is so vast. It is bound to be; everything is born out of it. If I die tomorrow, I will say it is bad. But that which gave me birth gives me death also. The eternal law that made my entry into the world possible calls me back. If I was happy to be sent into the world. I should be happy to go back also. If the life it gave me was good, the death it gives me cannot help but be good. Everything takes birth from one source. The flower and the thorn arise from the same source. If the flowers are good, how can the thorns be bad?
Lao Tzu says, "Flowers are His, and thorns are His. Therefore everything is good." This statement tells us of the harmonious rapport that developed between the self of Lao Tzu and the eternal. It is no consolation, because consolation means that things are not all right, only we are trying to console ourselves that they are. But if there is true knowledge of this fact that things are as they should be, then it is not a consolation.
The lowest form of religion is consolation; and the highest form of religion is music: the music between the individual and the universe. The struggle between the individual and the universe - the defeat of the individual and the consolation that man seeks for himself in this defeat - is the lowest form of religion It depends entirely on the individual whether he wants to create music with the eternal law or indulge in consolation; whether he prefers to cover the wounds of his defeat with a bandage or he prefers to encourage the possibility of creating eternal music. It depends entirely on the individual, entirely on you.
Mostly people live by consolation, Therefore man seeks religion when he is unhappy because it is in unhappiness that we seek consolation. An unhappy man's feet lead to the temple. So Marx is right when he says, "Religion is the sigh of the sufferer and the opium of the masses." This is religion in its lowest form. But this is the biggest type of religion because ninety-nine out of a hundred people are religious in this way. It is no wonder that Marx did not meet the hundredth man. It is not easy to find him.
But what is wrong in this? After all, a doctor also gives you a drug to make you forget your physical pain. With pain, we can do two things. One is that we try to remove the pain. This is the highest possibility of religion. The second is that we try to forget it. This is the lowest possibility of religion.
When an unhappy person goes towards religion, he seeks consolation. When a happy person proceeds towards religion, he seeks the eternal music.
Therefore, I say, turn towards religion when you are filled with happiness. It is very difficult, very difficult. It is easy to turn towards God in sorrow. But a poor, needy, miserable society can never be religious. For them, religion is a drug. Only a prosperous, happy society can become religious.
When all comforts and luxuries no longer appear meaningful, all concepts of good and bad fall.
When happiness itself has no meaning, then what is right and what is wrong?
As long as unhappiness appears to be wrong, at the most we can seek consolation. It is entirely up to the individual whether he makes a drug out of his religion by seeking consolation. Nietzsche has said that the West has two intoxicants: alcohol and Christianity. And he is right.
Most people use religion like alcohol. Those who find consolation in alcohol do not worry about religion. Those who are afraid to take alcohol turn to religion. Therefore, the so-called religious man is against alcohol. It is a competition. The so-called moralist knows that if alcohol is more prevalent, his religion will not work.
A genuine religious person can have no objection to alcohol. It is on the contrary, better for a man to forget himself in alcohol rather than in religion because the latter is very dangerous. He who drinks religion in order to forget makes a misuse of religion. He who drinks alcohol in order to forget makes the right use of alcohol. The highest quality of alcohol is that it makes a person forget, but this is the lowest quality in religion. So one who uses religion to forget not only misuses religion but harms the religion also. It is better that such a person takes alcohol. At least then he is not deceiving himself.
But most people use religion to forget themselves. It is because of this that the world cannot become religious.
Total acceptability is the highest theism. There is no sting in total acceptability. It is not that because of some hitch, some trouble we accept everything. Rather, now it has come to our understanding that if the wave does not accept the ocean, it will find itself in unnecessary trouble. The being of a wave is in the being of the ocean; it is the very existence of the ocean that lives in the waves. If the wave asserts its will, it will be unhappy; but if it gives itself up entirely to the ocean, it has nothing to worry about.
Our worry is that, being waves, we think ourselves to be oceans. Being waves, we stand up against the ocean. Then non-acceptance arises and we become the judges of what is right and what is wrong. Lao Tzu says only this: what decision can a wave take? Where is the wave? It has no separate existence; it is only a part of the ocean. It is born of the ocean and it dies in the ocean.
Death should be accepted with as much grace as birth, for both are the gift of the ocean.
Unhappiness should be accepted as well as happiness. Both are granted to us by existence. This way, total acceptability is supreme transformation. No transformation is greater than this, for the drop of the individual is lost and only the ocean remains.
Now, let us take the sutra.
To Lao Tzu, inaction is the ultimate truth. But it is not inactivity that bears no results. Lao Tzu says, "Inaction gives ultimate results." Happenings take place because of inactivity.
If a serene person - within whom there is not a single current, within whom there is no movement, who is like a silent lake - if such a person passes you on the way, you will feel as if a soothing breeze has passed by you. He does nothing. He just stands beside you and you feel as if peace is raining on you. Perhaps you are not aware that it is because of this person, much less is the person himself aware of it. His non-action, his emptiness, is so fruitful. Lao Tzu says: the best results come from emptiness. In emptiness, there is no violence. If my tranquillity touches you and you become serene, it is not I who has changed you. You have changed.
If I have to make an effort to change you, to make you tranquil, then no matter how good my intentions I still shall be committing violence. When one person decides to change another, violence begins. Therefore, sadhus and mahatmas are violent in a very subtle manner. They fail to accept you as you are. They try to change you, to make you good. They will sift the dross out of you and fill you with gold.
Their intentions are very good, but the idea of changing another is the idea of destroying him. To bring about even an iota of change in another person means we are not prepared to accept the independence of others. None of us can put up with the freedom of others. The father is busy trying to mould his sons, little thinking whether he has moulded his own self. Every father commits violence on his son. Then the son in turn is violent with his son, and so it goes on. It is difficult to find a wife who is not busy trying to change her husband or a husband who is not engaged in changing his wife. Even the wife of Socrates tried to improve her husband - to make him good. The intentions are always pious.
The fact is that when you set out to improve someone, you can very safely and skilfully become violent. Since the wickedness is hidden behind goodness, it cannot be opposed. Only a foolish villain is openly bad. A cunning rogue is wicked in the name of goodness. That is why we feel uneasy in the company of the so-called good men.
I shall give you a maxim: Only a man in whose company you are relaxed is a good man. If you feel any anxiety or restlessness, be sure that some violence is flowing from him to you. Therefore it is easy to have the darshan of a mahatma, but very difficult to live with him. For twenty-four hours his eyes are on you: watching whether you have eaten the right food, drunk the right drink, sat in the right place and slept in the right manner. He stands guard over you day and night. You are not acceptable to him as you are.
Is it not strange that God accepts you as you are? God has up to now never complained about even the worst of men, never exhorted him to change even a little. But there is nothing but complaints about man from our mahatmas: It looks as if there is a fundamental enmity between God's business and that of the mahatmas. Everything is acceptable to God. This sutra of Lao Tzu's indicates this.
"Who is the best ruler?" asks Lao Tzu. "He whom the people do not know exists." Even to make your presence felt is violence. If the son is aware of the father's presence, some violence or the other still is coming from the father. If the husband is aware of the presence of his wife in the house, if he has to straighten his tie first and make an entry, know that there is violence. If the wife is not the same as she was before her husband came, know that there is violence.
Presence should not be felt at all. The supreme manifestation of love is that the lover is not obtrusive.
His presence does not disrupt anything. Remember, you only become aware of a thing when it strikes you.
There is a very valuable word in Sanskrit: vedana. This word has two meanings: "hurt" and "knowledge". Ved means knowledge. From this evolved vid, which goes to form vidwan - which means a knowledgeable person. And from this very word, "vid", vedana is formed, which means pain, suffering. The same word has two very strange and different meanings. If vedana means suffering and vedana means knowledge, what is the connection between suffering and knowledge?
If there was joy in place of suffering we could have understood that there is some connection.
But there is a connection. We have knowledge only of pain. We have no knowledge of joy. Therefore, your moments of happiness are the moments you are not at all aware of. Pain can be felt. When a thorn pricks vou, you become aware of your foot, not otherwise. When you have a headache, you become aware of your head and not otherwise. So a man who is conscious of his head is a man who has some illness of the head. If a man is conscious of his body, it is certain that he is suffering from some illness, some disease. There is only one definition of health - the state when you are not aware of the body. A healthy man is so to speak, bodiless. Only a sick man has a body; a healthy man is not aware of his body. A sick man's body is as big as his illness. The greater the illness, the greater the consciousness of the body.
Pain and knowledge are one and the same thing. You are aware of the presence of only that which gives you pain. Only that whose presence you are unaware of gives you pleasure. Two lovers sitting in a room are not two different entities for there is no feeling of 'two' there. There is only one consciousness.
Lao Tzu says: the best ruler is he whose presence is not felt by his subjects. Perhaps there is no such ruler, except God. God is the one of whom we are least aware. Even when we set out to seek Him, we do not find Him anywhere. Think over this.
Wherever we go, we want people to know that we are there. And what trouble we take to make our presence felt! If you come here and no one knows you are here, you will be very unhappy.
When Ouspensky went to Gurdjieff for the first time, there were about twenty people already there.
Ouspensky was a world-renowned figure; he was a great mathematician, a great intellectual and a scientific thinker. Gurdjieff was not even heard of in the outside world. Deep within his unconscious mind, Ouspensky felt that Gurdjieff would rise to receive him and people would be surprised and astonished that such a world-renowned figure had come to call on an unknown person like Gurdjieff.
When Ouspensky was taken inside he was surprised to see the room so full. And not one of the twenty or so people so much as raised their eyes towards him. They all sat as if they were unaware of his entry - including Gurdjieff.
Ouspensky kept standing in the room. This was a strange way of getting acquainted! No one asked, "How have you gotten here?" Or "Who are you?" No one even told him to sit down. It was a cold night - Ouspensky writes - but he began to perspire, "Where have I come?" he thought to himself.
No one asked him to sit down; no one even looked at him. A minute passed, then two, then three.
For the first time, he says, he experienced time, and how heavy it can be. It seemed as if mountains were passing over his head and not minutes. What would be the outcome, he wondered. The man who showed him in had gone away and shut the door behind him. He wondered if he would have to pass the whole night like this. It was a veritable hell. And these people - they were sitting so silently, like statues, that it would have been rude to break the silence. Ouspensky writes that for the first time he felt himself to be a nobody.
This state of affairs continued for fifteen minutes. Then Gurdjieff looked up and said, "Wipe the perspiration off. The night is cold. And sit down. We did this on purpose, just to know what sort of a person you were. You want people to feel your presence? This is violence. You could not bear to go unnoticed for fifteen minutes: For fifteen minutes you could not stay as if you were not. Had you been able to do this, I would have had nothing more to teach you. But you could not. Hence, I have a lot to teach you. You are violent by nature."
We commit violence in a number of ways, in a number of forms. A person dresses in such a way that you have to look at him. Every man tries to draw attention towards himself by making noise, no matter how quietly he moves; or by pushing, no matter how much he takes care not to be pushed himself. Every man brings the tidings: I have arrived: Only Paramatman (God) gives no such tidings.
Atheists say, "If we can see Him, we shall believe." By this they mean that God should give an indication of His presence, like they do. They do not know that the very quality of the being of God, which is a profound quality of His existence, is this quality of not-being. He is found nowhere. The day He is found, He will no longer be God. The day He makes himself visible, He shall no longer be God.
The very meaning of the word "Paramatman" is one in whose presence or absence there is not an iota of difference. For Him, absence or presence are both synonymous, they have the same meaning. His mode of being present is being absent.
Lao Tzu says, "The best ruler is one whose existence is not known to his subjects." There is no such ruler except God. If a ruler reached anywhere near this state, then alone did he become a ruler. Therefore, in the days of Lao Tzu, and even two thousand years before him, the king was looked upon by his subjects as the incarnation of God. Nowadays it seems as if that was just as ruse, a subterfuge. Now, for the last two or three hundred years, We have been told that this was a conspiracy of the kings and their ministers. This is true to a great extent, but not entirely true.
There have been kings once in a while that people did not know of. Such kings Lao Tzu describes as godly. They were not known or hardly known. People just knew they existed, nothing beyond that.
Lao Tzu says: if such a ruler becomes absent within himself, his presence becomes very auspicious for his kingdom.
This has become very difficult to understand because today, only a man who is restless to make his presence known seeks power. He wants people to know that he exists; he is someone. To reach this stage, he is ready to fall at the feet of anyone. People are shocked when a man who, only yesterday, was falling at their feet in order to get them to give him their vote, refuses even to recognise them when he comes into power. Then he does not consider their heads worthy enough for his feet. The public becomes restless, troubled.
They need not be, for the mathematics is simple. He puts his head on your feet today so that he can place his feet on your head tomorrow. This is straight and simple, and the result predetermined.
Since you enjoyed his touching your feet, now let him enjoy the same pleasure. It is a matter of give and take. Today, each person knows that he can only make his presence felt from a seat of authority.
So it is difficult to understand a person like Lao Tzu. But there have been times when this was an authentic fact: that there were kings whose presence was hardly felt by his subjects. Lao Tzu maintains that this quality pertains only to a king. One is a king who has eliminated the ego within him in such a way that he has become empty - shunya. If emptiness is seated on the throne, the kingdom is bound to be proper. This is how Lao Tzu thinks.
But we find today that the ego, in its most condensed form, occupies the seat of authority. When such is the case, prosperity is impossible. Lao Tzu maintains that only he is worthy of wielding power whose 'I' is completely extinct, who no longer is. The bond between ego and power is poisonous.
It is fatal. Power should rest only in the hands of an egoless person. Power should flow towards egolessness.
Therefore, in this country, a very precious method was evolved. The Brahmin was placed above the Kshatriya king. This was a unique experiment in the history of mankind. But the experiment failed.
The greater the effort, the more possibilities there are of failure. The smaller the attempt the lesser are the chances of failure. Communism will succeed because it is the lowest effort in the history of mankind. The experiment we made failed because we put a Brahmin, who is a pauper by birth, over a king. We placed one who possessed nothing over a king who possessed everything!
Buddha was approaching a village. The King of that village called his ministers and asked whether it would be in keeping with his dignity to receive Buddha at the entrance of his kingdom. The Prime minister promptly handed him his resignation.
"What has happened?" the king asked in surprise.
The Prime minister said, "The very question is unbecoming of you. I can no longer work under you."
"But I have not refused to go and see him;" the king pleaded. "I only wanted your opinion as to whether it was befitting for a king to welcome a beggar."
The old minister replied, "That is the splendour of a king. And remember, Oh king, that he who enters your town now as a beggar was a king once upon a time. He left his kingdom to become a beggar; you still hold onto your kingdom. You are not of his caliber. He is a beggar who is worthy to be a king; you are a king who is worthy only to be a beggar."
He who becomes as nothing, nobody, is worthy of being the topmost. He who is nothing is everything. Therefore, Lao Tzu says, "OF THE BEST RULERS, THE PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW THAT THEY EXIST. OF LESS SUPERLATIVE RULERS, THEIR SUBJECTS LOVE AND PRAISE THEM." If we think over this we shall be perplexed. People should love and respect the superlative king, but Lao Tzu says it is the second category of kings who gets love and respect from his subjects.
This is because he has to do something in order to earn the love and acknowledgment of the people.
And the people love and respect him for this very reason. They are not even conscious of the king who is empty, who is void within himself, for he does nothing. A lot takes place through him, but that is not felt by the people.
In his last sutra Lao Tzu goes on to say more about the shunya person - the egoless king. "BUT (OF THE BEST) WHEN THEIR TASK IS ACCOMPLISHED, THEIR WORK DONE, THE PEOPLE ALL REMARK;, "WE HAVE DONE IT OURSELVES'." The superlative man never claims credit for what he does. He does not even declare that he is doing it. No one knows the doer behind the action.
Then, when nothing is known of the doer, every man comes forward and declares he was the doer.
The less superior receives love, respect and praise. If you wish for all these, you have to make your presence known. And that also in avery nice manner - in such a manner that people should praise you, love you. But a man who wants this has to climb down from the plane of inaction to the plane of action. He now has involved himself in action, even if it be love.
Generally we are not aware of love. How do you know that someone loves you? The person must declare his love verbally or make a present to his beloved. He has to perform some act to express his feelings. If a person loves you but shows no outward expression of any kind, you will never know of his love.
Love can only be known when it is aggressive. The more aggressive a person, the more love he can express. The quiet lover goes unnoticed because in order to experience serene love, your consciousness must also rise to that level to receive the message of love. We can only grasp violent love. Hence, the more aggressive a person, the more ardent the lover.
It is always the second category of kings who be acclaimed by the people, for then only can people be aware of them. Love is also a happening that is lower than emptiness. There is one love that is within the void also, but then it cannot be felt.
Have you ever experienced God's love? The fact is, but for His love, you cannot take a single breath.
Without His love. no flower can bloom, without his love, nothing is possible. His love alone is the fountainhead of all possibilities. But He is not found anywhere. Therefore we cannot make a love out of God whereas we can make a lesser human being our lover because his love is aggressive.
One can even pretend to be in love. All you have to do is to let the other know. You call me a lover without being in love, if you can put on an act.
It is possible also that there is love but no sign of it - if you do not allow it to show in your actions.
Perhaps it is not possible to know a genuine lover for he does not commit even that much aggression of saying that he loves you. But then he is beyond our limitations. Such a ruler, such a lover, is always beyond the circumference of our understanding.
The ruler of the third category is one of whom the people are afraid. Generally we love the person we are afraid of. Tulsidas has said, "Love is not possible without fear." This is the third category to which we all belong.
When we fear, we love. Even our love for God is born out of fear. The more we are made to fear God - that He will throw us into hell, burn us in its fire, etcetera, the more we are filled with love towards Him and lift our hands in prayer to Him. We understand fear. How can we understand the void when we fail to understand even love?
Therefore, he who frightens us the most appears to be the greatest ruler. If we go through our history, we shall find the names of those rulers who have tormented people most as the great rulers.
Whether he is Alexander, Napoleon or Genghis Khan, they all belong to the same category. Our whole history is comprised of people who frightened others and people who could be frightened.
The greater the tyrant, the greater the ruler he appears to be. Why? We are not aware of love if it does not become aggressive. But real love never wishes to be aggressive. We are aware of fear, for fear is pure aggression. Fear means someone has made your very being tremble. Understand this a little.
The best ruler is he whose presence is not known. The lowest kind of ruler is one who puts your very being into jeopardy. The best ruler is he who does not even look towards you. The lowest ruler is he whose one glance sends a chill down your spine. Fear changes our very state of being. When Genghis Khan attacked a village he would have all the children's heads severed from their bodies and mounted on spears. He burnt villages in order to light the path of his army. Mankind will never forget him.
Tamerlane once attacked Mulla Nasruddin's village because he was told that a wise man lived there.
The Mulla was captured and brought before him. Tamerlane said to him, "I have been told you are a mystic. I want proof of your mysticism, or else this sword is here. I want proof, no mere talk."
Nasruddin closed his eyes and appeared to be filled with joy. He opened his eyes, looked towards the skies and said, "Look, the gods are in the skies." Then he looked down and said, "This is the seventh hell. I can see everything."
Tamerlane asked, "What is the method by which you can see heaven and hell?"
Nasruddin replied, "There is no method. Only fear. Because of your sword, I see all this. I am no mystic; I am only afraid. What else can I do?"
Fear makes a man see everything. The angels in heaven, the fires of hell, the concept of God are all born out of fear. An old man is more religious for he is more afraid. It is more difficult to make a young man religious, and more difficult to prevent an old man from becoming religious. When a youth is told that it is not yet time for him to become religious, it only means he should let his fears grow enough and hell and heaven will become apparent to him. The closer a man is to death, the more religious he becomes - in the same ratio. What is the reason? Fear develops: the fear of death. Hands begin to tremble and he feels restless, afraid. But that of which we are afraid is not God. It is an extension of our fear.
Lao Tzu says: "People are afraid of the third category of rulers." If we examine the governments of the whole world, we shall find rulers belonging to the third category, for all governments are based on fear, on law and law courts.
People criticise the lowest type of ruler. This is the fourth category, in which things come to such a pass that people speak ill of their rulers. But there is a very interesting fact. G. K. Chesterton has said, "If you cannot praise me, at least revile me, for then I shall be satisfied that at least you know I am somebody."
Remember, there is no disease greater than expectation in this world, not even slander. When people censure you, even then they admit you are somebody. If people do not slander you and do not praise you, if they simply disregard you, then your ego has no place to stand.
The fourth type of ruler lives by criticism. He puts you in a position where you have to criticise him constantly. But then, too, your attention is focused on him. It doesn't matter if you are scorned or abused. If your path is strewn with flowers, good. If your path is strewn with stones, that too will do.
But if there is simply nothing awaiting you, no one looks at you, then it is unbearable. The ego wants attention. The ego wishes to attract people in any way.
Psychologists say that the motivation behind becoming a criminal is the same as the motivation is behind becoming a sadhu. He who can attain praise by being a good man becomes a sadhu; he who cannot do this becomes a criminal and attains censure. Both gain prominence in newspapers.
We cannot eradicate bad men from this earth as long as we keep reviling them. This is a little difficult to understand. It is reverse mathematics.
Jesus has said, "Resist not evil." By resisting evil, we lend respect to it. By resisting evil, you show that you are attentive towards it. You thus give life to evil. Do not criticise the bad man for he gets pleasure out of your censure.
Do not think that hierarchy exists only in politics. It also exists in jails. There, you will find the number one jailbird, the number two and so on. When a man enters a jail he is questioned whether it is the first time. In other words, whether he is an amateur. There are gurus among criminals who are masters in their art. Here, each one is respected according to the crimes he has committed, according to the number of times he has been in jail. Just as a man is revered according to his donation to a temple, another is respected for the fear he creates among people. The ego fulfils itself in many subtle ways.
Says Lao Tzu, "The fourth type is the lowest category of ruler. People speak ill of him, but he thrives on their ill-will."
When people lose confidence in their ruler, he resorts to oaths and vows. There is a Christian order by the name of Quakers. They refuse to take an oath, even in a court of law, for they consider it a sin to take an oath They had to undergo a lot of difficulty on this account A court cannot proceed unless the witness swears by the Bible that he will say the truth. The Quaker says that if he is to tell a lie, of what use is his oath? And if he is relied upon to tell the truth, where is the need for an oath?
To take an oath is to admit that I can lie also. Therefore only that person takes an oath who is prone to lie. One should beware of such people who resort to oaths readily. They are dangerous people.
They try to beguile you into thinking that they are good people.
When a king has no other means, he resorts to oaths and vows to gain the confidence of his people.
If he can inspire confidence, where is the need of oaths and vows?
A person came to me and said, "I am in difficulty. I feel that what you say is right. I wish to come to you, but the trouble is that I have already been accepted by a guru and he has taken a vow from me that I should never accept another as my guru."
I told him that his guru must have been doubtful of his own gurudom. Therefore he made him take an oath. If he had confidence in his own ability, he would not have extracted a promise from his disciple. He knew that if not today, then tomorrow, you will seek another guru and desert him. I told him, "One should beat a hasty retreat when a guru insists on vows. For sooner or later, you are bound to run. And this guru knows it. He has no conviction that he can stop you."
Faith does not ask for oaths; it awakens possibilities. Oaths are born in the absence of faith. In courts as well as temples, we take vows. A husband and wife swear to be each other's. That very vow spoils everything. The vow shows that this will not be. It is like a divorce before the marriage.
What do marriage vows show? They show that you may want to separate sometime in the future. If there is love between two people, the thought of taking vows never arises. This is only an indication of the absence of love. People do not marry out of love; they marry out of fear. If there is love on this earth, marriage will become redundant. When love is not, marriage is a must. We make arrangements for that which we cannot do. We make rules for that which we are not sure of.
Says Lao Tzu, "WHEN THEY DO NOT COMMAND THE PEOPLE'S FAITH, SOME WILL LOSE FAITH IN THEM AND THEN THEY WILL RESORT TO OATHS!" Any ruler - whether it is a king, a president or a guru... Whomsoever we get discipline from, whomsoever we get direction in life from, is a ruler. Whether it is our parents, our teachers, or our elders, if they cannot inculcate faith in us, they resort to oaths.
"BUT (OF THE BEST), WHEN THEIR TASK IS ACCOMPLISHED, THEIR WORK DONE, THE PEOPLE ALL REMARK, 'WE HAVE DONE IT OURSELVES'."
When the work of the best guru is over, the disciple thinks he has attained himself. When the best parents' work is over, the son considers it his own achievement.
The guru's joy lies in this only: that the disciple knows one day that whatever he has known, he alone has known. This means that the superlative guru does not cause even this much obstruction in the path of his disciple: that it may occur to him that the guru has done something for him. Guru is also of four types, just like a ruler.
Lao Tzu looks upon non-action as the best. As activity increases things begin to become more and more mediocre Emptiness (SHUNYATA) is the best. The more we step out of the void and enter the whirlwind of activity, the more mediocre we become.