This sutra deals with the most difficult aspect of life. Lao Tzu is opposed to everything that we look upon as a great ethical doctrine. For his basic doctrine is that a profound balance is constantly being established each moment in life. If we concentrate on goodness, badness increases. If we stress morality, immorality develops in the same ratio. If we wish that people should be good, we shall only succeed in creating more bad people. If we try to understand life, we shall come to one conclusion:
that life is impossible without a balance. And this balance is everywhere, in all directions.
Scientists have, of late, developed a unique conception. This conception can fill us with anxiety but not Lao Tzu. A hundred years ago a French scientist was the first to experiment with the measuring of human intelligence. Ever since then Many techniques have been developed. Now we can measure the intelligence quotient (I.Q.) of all individual.
This has led to many new kinds of experiments and yielded fantastic results. It is now a proven fact that if one person out of one hundred is a genius, one is bound to be an idiot. If ten in the hundred are found having a sharp mind, there are bound to be dullards also. If the hundred are divided 50-50, we shall find an equal number of counteracting qualities in each division. If you wish to produce ten people of the highest genius, you shall also create ten people who are mentally retarded.
This is a confounding fact. It means that the more we try to develop intelligence in some, the more we shall be snatching away the intelligence of others. Life is balanced on all fronts. This means that if there is a certain number of healthy people, there are bound to be an equal number of unhealthy people.
Lao Tzu says, "We cannot escape this balance in life." If we produce ten good people, we shall inevitably give rise to ten bad people. Just as a coin cannot have one side only, in the same way, in the mystery of existence, a personality cannot be one-sided only. So when a sadhu is born a non sadhu is invariably born. This is a little difficult to understand, because what is common between a sadhu and a non-sadhu?
Consciousness is an extensive field. When a mountain rises up, a valley is invariably formed beside it. We cannot have mountains without valleys. If we deny the valley we have to deny the mountain.
If we seek the height of the mountain peak, we must be prepared to accept the dark depths of the valley. The mountain is one side of the coin and the valley is the other. The valley and the mountain are p;3*rts of one and the same thing. We can do without mountains and valleys only on level ground.
Just as this holds good for land, it also holds good for consciousness, says Lao Tzu. Consciousness is also like land. On the level of consciousness, when a person rises to the heights, at once another person falls to the depths and forms the valley - in order to maintain the balance. When one person becomes Rama, another invariably has to become Ravana. You cannot have Rama only and do away with Ravana. If you want to escape from Ravana, you have to give up all your fascination for Rama.
We want to escape Ravana and preserve Rama. We want there to be Rama, and Rama alone; we have no idea of the balance in existence. We forget that if there is Rama and Rama alone, everything would become dull and boring. People like Rama make the earth a dull place, it is only the Ravanas among us who prevent it from being so. They lend excitement and interest to Rama.
But Ravanas cannot exist by themselves. For a good person to be, a bad person must be; and vice versa.
All good people ale dependent on bad people; and all bad people are dependent on good people.
They are interdependent no one is independent. This dependence is hard to understand because since time immemorial, man has desired that goodness should prevail and there should be no evil, that there should be intelligent people and not dullards; that people should be moral and not immoral.
We have always desired that there be light and more light. and darkness be banished forever. We have always wanted life without death, and happiness without unhappiness.
All our efforts have been in vain says Lao Tzu, and they are bound to be. The more a man craves happiness, the more miserable he becomes. He who does not crave happiness finds unhappiness avoiding him. You can only escape unhappiness by not desiring happiness. If the craving for happiness is very strong, unhappiness increases to the same extent. Life is made up of dualism; and between the opposites, there is a particular balance.
Before proceeding with the sutra, it will be better to understand this dualism and balance. There isan opposition and a unity between the two. There is open opposition between Ravana and Rama; but on the other side, there is a connection, a joint also. There is enmity between the Kauravas and the Pandavas; this is a fact. But this enmity is very superficial. Deep within, they are interdependent.
We find that when some people become richer, some others invariably become poorer. Then we criticise and oppose the rich.
When we begin to understand the truths of life, we shall find this is not in the case with wealth alone. George Gurdjieff thought that knowledge also is limited. He was one of the wisest persons of this century. "Knowledge is also limited," he said. Therefore, when one person attains supreme consciousness, another suffers the utter poverty of consciousness. This is not because of the limitation of consciousness but because it is necessary to maintain a balance. Otherwise, all arrangements of life would go haywire.
This is why we notice a unique fact in the history of mankind. As the aspiration for goodness increases, evil also develops to the same extent.
Lao Tzu says that there is one state in nature, however, when we do not consider the opposites at all. That is the highest state. He calls it Tao. Tao is the state of one's nature when we are not aware of either good or bad. When we do not even know what it is to be good and what it is to be bad, that is the supreme tranquillity.
As soon as we know what righteousness is, it means we have knowledge of non-righteousness.
Hence a very interesting fact comes to light: the righteous man has full knowledge of unrighteousness, which is not even known to the unrighteous man. A good man knows evil in its minutest detail. If a man becomes conscious of health it means he has become ill. The more knowledge a man has of health, the more ill he is. He who is constantly conscious of health cannot be a healthy person. This is a very profound illness.
Lao Tzu says that the decline of Tao began with the decline of nature. "ON THE DECLINE OF THE GREAT TAO, THE DOCTRINES OF HUMANITY AND JUSTICE AROSE."
Says Lao Tzu: when man was no longer man, the doctrines of humanity and justice arose. We think the reverse to be the actuality. We believe that if we obey the doctrines of humanity and justice, we shall become human. Lao Tzu says, these doctrines appeared only when man was man no longer.
Then we began to exhort people to be human.
Human beings are human beings; there is no question of becoming. To become human implies that we have begun to fall from humanity. Lao Tzu says that the great doctrine of humanity and justice was born in the decline of humanity. Otherwise a man is human by nature. Talk of justice begins only when injustice begins. Let us understand this.
Knowledge comes with the opposite. When we say there should be no injustice, there should only be justice, the meaning is clear: that injustice has started. The more we cry for justice, the more injustice spreads. We say there should be knowledge, because ignorance is deep. The more we strive to increase knowledge, the deeper ignorance becomes.
Now the West has begun to understand Lao Tzu. There are many thoughtful people in the West now who feel that their sense of values should be reoriented along the lines of Lao Tzu; they should be reconstructed on the basis of Lao Tzu's teachings. All the laws that have been constructed so far for mankind are contrary to Lao Tzu's teachings. We have listened to those who said, "Good should prevail. There should be justice; there should he equality." He listened to those who preached that there should be humanity, freedom, equality." But what are the results?
Ir we look at the results, things will become clear to us. The amount of knowledge that prevails today never before existed in this world and yet man was never as ignorant before as he is today. This seems paradoxical. So much knowledge and so much ignorance at the same time! Lao Tzu would not have been surprised for he said, "The more you increase knowledge, the more ignorance will spread." This is bound to baffle us though, because we feel that the more knowledge we spread, the more ignorance will be eradicated. This is our logic: when knowledge increases, ignorance should decrease.
But history does not bear us out; it gives no proof to our theory. There is no doubt that the bulk of knowledge has increased. Five thousand new books are published each week. Five thousand new books circulate in our libraries. Our universities and our libraries keep expanding. The knowledge of each subject bears new shoots and off-shoots. Oxford University alone runs courses in 360 subjects!
All around we are increasing knowledge. Every day we have to break down a few branches from the tree of knowledge which are unable to bear the heavy burden. Today, if a person wants to know everything about a small thing like the eye, a life-time is not enough tor it even if he studies every day.
So we have to divide things now. There was a time when one doctor could treat our whole body - knowledge was so little. Then knowledge increased, and specialists took the place of the general practitioner. Now we have a different doctor for the different parts of the body. But now, the knowledge of each part is becoming so profuse that a single specialist is unable to cope with it.
Therefore, in America now, they feel that it is not safe to rely on a human doctor. Computers alone can be of help. So in the future, the state of affairs will be such that a wise man will be one who can work a computer. Then it will not be necessary for a doctor to learn medicine. All he need do would be to feed the computer and get the answer.
Knowledge is increasing with such rapidity that a single human mind is unable to hold it. So many books are written that they can no longer be kept in libraries, because then the library will fill the whole world. It is said that there are so many books in the Moscow Library that if the cupboards are kept side by side, they would go around the world once. Who is going to reach all these books?
Now they are making micro-books, micro films of each book. A book of a thousand pages will be contained in one page. These pages can be stored. Whenever a person wants to read it, he can only read it with the help of a projector. The old way of reading will be outdated.
Books are increasing; knowledge is increasing. So now western scientists are worried about how all this knowledge can be transferred to the youth? The new trend of thought is, that education should not end at the age of twenty to twenty-five. If we cannot educate people till the age of fifty, education will have no meaning after the turn of this century. But if we are to educate a person till he is fifty, when will he begin to live? There is no way for him to live.
This leads to another idea: memory transplantation. When a man dies, his memory should be conserved and transplanted into the brain of a child so that the child does not have to learn those things that his father had to learn. If the child gets the father's memory, he can proceed ahead to acquire new knowledge. Knowledge is so much!
But if we look at man, on the other hand, we see abominable ignorance, ignorance that is frightening!
We know all about the stars and the moon, but we know nothing about ourselves. We have found ways and means to reach Mars, but to reach our own self seems to be a very far away proposition that seems well nigh impossible. There is so much knowledge and man is so unassured! He has no assurance of ever knowing himself.
Our knowledge today is so much that we know how anger is formed, how the sex-impulse works and what is its bio-chemistry. Buddha did not have this knowledge to draw upon. But Buddha knew enough so that anger did not arise in him, sex did not arise in him. We know everything about angel, everything about sex, but we have no control over it whatsoever. We know so much about it but it still torments us. Never was man so tormented by sex!
Our knowledge has increased in quantity. So has our ignorance. Never has man been so fearful as he is today. He has no faith in himself; he feels so insecure. Life seems meaningless. Then it is certain that the fundamental principles on which we have based our life have been proven wrong.
Man has followed the logic of Aristotle. He has said that when knowledge increases ignorance will vanish. This is simple mathematics. Lao Tzu's calculations seem topsy-turvy. He says that if knowledge increases, ignorance also increases. No one paid heed to Lao Tzu. What he said seemed illogical, and hence not worthy of notice. It is only natural that our mind should understand such a simple thing that when knowledge increases, ignorance should decrease. Therefore, Aristotle became the centre for all humanity. The West has developed its science entirely on the basis of Aristotle.
But now, when things have developed more it seems that perhaps Lao Tzu was correct. In the last fifty years, the intellectual people of the West have been experiencing life to be meaningless. There seems to be no reason why we live, why we toil, why the worries and anxieties. Why do we live at all? There seems to be no reason. Sartre has said, "We have to live against our will. We are born against our will and one day we are taken away without our consent. Only one thing is in our hands:
suicide. There is nowhere else that we can exercise our will. Life is a nightmare."
God knows how many intellectuals have committed suicide in the last fifty years. People have killed themselves before but they were non-intellectuals. This is a qualitative difference. Now things have reached such a pass in the West that if an intellectual does not commit suicide, his intelligence is doubted. If life is meaningless, suicide is the only way out. Then why should one take the trouble to live?
Nijinsky wrote a letter before committing suicide in which he said, "I am committing suicide but do not take me to be a coward. It is the other way about. You are cowards because you cannot take your life. Therefore you live. I am not a coward. Therefore I am freeing myself from the meaningless hustle and bustle of what you call life."
What Nijinsky says is not entirely wrong. If we ask ourselves the question why we live on, perhaps it is because of cowardice. We do not have the courage to die and therefore we drag on through life.
This idea of dragging on through life has caught on only in the last fifty years. With the increase in knowledge of the outside world, self-ignorance has increased. The balance is complete.
Lao Tzu says, "Self knowledge cannot increase unless we rid ourselves of outside knowledge."
If we examine the course of human thinking in the last 300 years, we find a steep increase in doctrines of humanity and justice. But never, in all the history of the world, has mankind indulged in such terrible warfares or committed such heinous atrocities. On one hand we have evolved great doctrines on humanity, and on the other hand we have thrown atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On one side we clamour for justice and humanity and on the other side we involve a weaker country in endless wars. It is those who talk loudest about humanity who wage those wars.
If we have become so conscious of humanity, wars should have stopped long ago. But this is not so.
We are so conscious of justice, and there is no end to injustice anywhere Whenever we make new changes in order to ensure greater justice, a new arrangement of injustice is created, - with the result that there is no change for the better. Our whole revolution in the field of medicine does not destroy disease; it only help new diseases to be created. All the improvements we bring about merely increase our hopes, without bearing results.
Rather, we find the results to be the contrary of our expectations. We think that if we increase our laws and the number of courts, we shall be able to bring down the incidence of crime. But the figures of crime tell a different story: the number of criminals has increased equally. If we look at the history of crime over the last two thousand years, we shall find that crime has increased in the same ratio as the institutions of law. When crime increases, the government feels there are not enough laws.
So they add more laws.
Man's mind revolves around some illusory logic. When crime increases we bring in more laws. This seems to prove a deep relationship between the judge and the criminal. The thief and the policeman seem to be two sides of the same coin. They are not two separate things; rather, they are interlocked somewhere within. When one increases, the other also increases. When the growth of one implies the growth of another, the root must be the same. Therefore the same sap that feeds one feeds the other, the same energy flows through one as the other.
Lao Tzu's viewpoint is entirely different. He says that it is the evil within you that is the root of all your moral codes and moral concepts. Humanity and justice emerged only on the decline of Tao.
"WHEN KNOWLEDGE AND CLEVERNESS CAME INTO BEING, GREAT HYPOCRISY FOLLOWED IN ITS WAKE."
Do you realise it is very difficult to save an educated man from being dishonest? We may think the fault lies in our type of education, if we have the right type of education, this would not be. But we err again. Says Lao Tzu: "It is impossible to save an educated person from dishonesty." This is because education makes a person clever, and cleverness leads to cunning.
Education gives the power to understand. It does not bring about a change of heart. The heart is the same, only the understanding changes. What the heart did when the person was uneducated it does now with double strength. Before, man was restricted to the sword. Today, man is the same but we have put the atom bomb at his disposal. Where before he could kill a few people, today he can wipe out a whole city. The wrath within him is just the same. If he has a stone in his hand, he will throw a stone. If he holds a bomb in his hand, he will throw that too.
On one side, knowledge is increasing; and on the other side, dishonesty.
The belief of Emerson, and other like thinkers, that there will be no evil once the entire world is educated, is basically wrong. More and more people are becoming educated nowadays. In America everyone is literate, but we find that all its ills are born out of its education. When good people believe wrong logic and follow it, it leads to disaster.
A friend came to see me. He has spent all his life educating the tribals. He is very satisfied with his achievement and very conscious of his renunciation. He basks in his self-acquired martyrdom.
"I have given my whole life to this cause. I could have earned lakhs. I went to jail - I could have taken my seat in the cabinet. But I gave up everything and dedicated my whole life to educate the backward tribals."
I said to him, "You are educating them, but have you also examined what it has given to the tribal children? You will die thinking you are doing a great thing, but give a thought to this also - what has education done to these children?"
America is the most educated country in the world today. We look upon it as the custodian of man's future. If all countries are thus educated, they will become like America. But what has been the outcome of all this education? Crime has not decreased, it has increased. Dishonesty is rampant.
All this has increased in the same ratio as education. What does this mean? This means we cannot wipe out the opposite. By increasing the one, we cannot decrease the other, much less destroy it.
We can only increase it. Let us see this from different aspects.
Today we have innumerable cures for all kinds of illnesses - but illnesses have not lessened. Rather, they have increased. The fact is that many new illnesses have come into being which were never there before. Not only have we invented new medicines; we have also invented new diseases. What is the reason behind this? If medicines have increased, diseases should be less - this is simple logic. But cures have increased and so have illnesses! What is this! What law is working?
Actually, as cures increase; your ability to fall ill also increases. You no longer have faith in yourself; you have faith in the medicine. You do not have to fight the illness; that work is now taken over by the medicine. You are now out of it. When the medicine fights the disease, your resistance, your body's ability to fight the illness, goes down. As you depend more and more on medicines, your resistance gets less and less and vou get weaker and weaker.
And as you get weaker and weaker, you need more and more medicines. This shows how weak your body has become. Then you find yourself confronted by a very major illness. And this goes on - the fight between illnesses and medicines. You are not even a part of it. You are merely the battleground, the Kurukshetra where the Pandavas and the Kauravas fight. The germs of the medicines fight the germs of the disease. You get knocked around in the process. The medicines, however, keep you sufficiently alive so that the fight ,*oes on. There is all interconnection between the cure and the illness somewhere.
If we question Lao Tzu on this, he will say that illness will end the day medicines are no more. This *howeve,, is beyond our understanding. His logic is this: when there is no medicine, you yourself will have to fight the illness. Your strength of resistance can only develop then. To rely on medicines is not to rely on oneself. We can see for ourselves how we have filled ourselves with medicines.
But there is no way out because our whole logic is based on this kind of thinking. It is like this: The more we try to protect ourselves, the more insecure we become. The more insecure we become, the more means for security we contrive. What is the meaning of this riddle? It means that the more we are protected the weaker we become.
You are sitting in an air-conditioned room. You watch a worker walking in the burning sun and you say to yourself. "Poor man, to walk in all this heat!" But you do not know that this man may be totally oblivious to the heat. This thought of the burning sun is yours. But it is true that if you were to step outside to walk with him, the heat would be overbearing for you.
The heat is not the same for every person on the road. Each person experiences it differently. The heat does not depend entirely on the sun; it also depends on you. When you walk on the road and sweat profusely, you think, "The poor worker!" but the worker is almost unaware of it, because in order to experience the heat of the sun, air-conditioning is absolutely necessary.
The more air-conditioning there is, the greater will be the heat. The more we try to cool the world, the hotter it will become. This seems contrary, but there is a deep-seated connection. The more you remain in an air-conditioned room, the less will become your power to fight the heat.
It is only natural that that energy which we do not put to use should get less and less. The air- conditioner does for you what normally your body should be doing - fighting the heat. Therefore, when you suddenly stand in the sun, your body becomes totally unprotected. It will not be able to bear the heat and you will feel very very uncomfortable. This discomfort did not exist before air-conditioning was discovered.
Now Russia is thinking of air-conditioning the whole continent. But when people are born and die in air-conditioned places all mankind will have to go underground. There are stories about cultures reaching to the peak. But those that reached the ultimate height eventually had to go underground.
There is a lake named Titicaca in South America. It is a unique lake. It has puzzled scientists, because a river falls into this lake. Millions of gallons of water fall daily into this lake and there is no way for it to flow out of the lake. Yet not an inch of water rises in the lake. Scientists are confounded.
Where does all this water go? The lake has been observed for hundreds of years. It is said that beneath the lake there are the ruins of the ancient civilisation of the Incas. This lake is supposed to have been its reservoir. The Incas are no more, but their arrangement for collecting water still remains. Scientists now think that this was the water supply of a people who lived beneath the lake.
A lot of research is going on to discover this lost civilisation.
The more developed a society becomes, the more it goes underground. In Mohenjodaro and Harappa, there are seven tiers of townships. This cannot be because of earthquakes or any other calamity. The greater possibility is that the civilisation had moved underground. Scientists and archaeologists have maintained up to now that Mohenjodaro was built seven times and destroyed seven times by earthquakes. This does not seem plausible: that seven cultures could disappear in the same place, one after the other. It seems more plausible that the culture must have reached such a peak where it became absolutely necessary to go more and more underground. Man must have lost all his power to bear the conditions above the ground.
If air-conditioning is spread all over the world, man will have to go underground within the next two hundred years. Then, to step outside in the light of the sun may become fatal. A child born and brought up in an air-conditioned place will not be able to bear sunlight. Up till now the sun has been the source of life; tomorrow, it may be the cause of death.
The more we increase our means of protection, the more vulnerable we become. The more we arrange to protect ourselves, the more we expose ourselves to danger.
Lao Tzu says: When knowledge is born, hypocrisy is born. So also dishonesty and deceit. People become frauds and cheats. It is very difficult for a literate person to be honest.
In this context, the Biblical story of Adam and Eve is worthy of note. This is the most valuable story in the Bible.
God turned Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden because they ate the forbidden fruit. He had told them that they could enjoy the fruits of all trees except that of one, the tree of knowledge.
Perhaps it was this forbiddance that made Adam and Eve more eager to taste this fruit. Perhaps it was because of this that Satan succeeded in persuading Eve to taste it. He explained to her that this fruit was forbidden because whoever partook of it became like God. Knowledge makes a god out of man. Therefore God has forbidden this fruit.
Eve was convinced of the authenticity of this story. Ignorance is death and knowledge the highest excellence. If God forbade this fruit, it was clear that he did not want them to become like Him.
If you want to convince a man the safest way is to convince his wife. If she is convinced, he is bound to agree. So Satan convinced Eve by awakening her jealousy - it is easy to make a woman jealous.
Adam tried his best to deter Eve, but in vain. She had made up her mind to taste the fruit. When it became a choice between God and his wife, poor Adam had to bow to Eve's will. The more he tried to dissuade her the more adamant she became because the attraction increased. Ultimately the fruit was tasted No sooner had they tasted it than they were thrown out of the Garden.
Knowledge became the cause of man's fall - according to the Bible. This is confounding, but it tallies with Lao Tzu's statement. He too says that ever since man has acquired knowledge he has gone astray. He cannot return to the Garden of Eden till he breaks himself away completely from knowledge. Then only will the doors of heaven open for him.
It is interesting to note that when knowledge disappears, ignorance disappears also. The fact is, ignorance is experienced only on account of knowledge. Therefore, as knowledge increases, we become more and more aware of ignorance.
If you are the only person on this earth, what would you be - wise or ignorant? You will only be, there will be no comparison. How will you gauge whether you are moral, or immoral, whether you are good or bad? There will be no criterion to go by.
Lao Tzu says: the state of Tao is a simple state - it is as if each man is the only man in the world.
There is no way to measure. There is no good nor bad; no one is wise and no one is ignorant, there is no sadhu or non-sadhu. There is just being.
There is another interesting incident in this Biblical story. As soon as Eve tasted the fruit she broke some leaves to cover herself. Before that she was naked, but with knowledge came the awareness of sin. Knowledge disrupted the full acceptance of the body - something in it became non-acceptable.
Till then Adam and Eve were as innocent as children. With knowledge came sin.
Lao Tzu says: "Innocence cannot be achieved till all knowledge is eradicated." Therefore, only one who is capable of renouncing all knowledge attains Supreme knowledge. Then he becomes simple, innocent. Jesus has said, "Only those who become innocent like children can enter my kingdom."
It is not known whether children are really innocent. According to Freud, they are not. He believes that all defects and shortcomings are already there; they only bide time until they become manifest.
The child needs your help initially, he needs your care to educate him, to make him strong in body.
As soon as he is fit to be on his own, all the ills within begin to manifest in him. But Jesus means otherwise. He says where there is not awareness but non-awareness - that very ignorance is innocence.
So as soon as Adam and Eve became conscious of themselves, they covered their bodies; they were filled with shame towards themselves. To be ashamed of something is to be conscious of its blemishes, its flaws. The sense of shame is considered a virtue in women but neither shame nor shyness is a virtue because both convey the meaning that the person has become aware of her defects. She feels something is wrong somewhere and how is this feeling possible without some prior experience? Somehow, the sense of wrong has entered within her.
In an innocent personality, there is no shyness, no shame. There is also no shamelessness, for this requires an initial knowledge of shame. Shamelessness is a by-product. When a person becomes conscious of shame and then throws shame to the winds, he becomes shameless.
Lao Tzu says that there is a state of existence in which the knowledge of the opposites (the duality) is absent; where there is no distinction between black and white, light and darkness. And it is this state that is the supreme religion. All that comes below this state is a decline of religion.
Confucius came to meet Lao Tzu. He was the very opposite of Lao Tzu. He was equal to Aristotle, he was like us. He constructed rules and regulations for everything in life. Every inch of life he tried to direct: how one should sit, how one should stand, how one should speak, how one should live and how one should die. There has not been a bigger lover of rules than he.
When Confucius lay dying, one of his disciples came to see him. He had not come for a long time, and what Confucius was eager to know from him was only this: whether he got off the bullock-cart when he entered the village! When the disciple assured him he had got off the cart and walked the distance, Confucius said, "Now I can die in peace." Such a disciplinarian was Confucius.
Lao Tzu was just his opposite. He laid down no rules, no regulations, for all discipline to him is the cause of downfall. When a law is introduced, it means the illness has set in: and now we have to bind ourselves to regulations to somehow save ourselves, somehow go on.
Confucius asked Lao Tzu. "I wish to make men good. Please advise me as to what I should do."
Lao Tzu replied, "Do not try to make men good. You will only succeed in making them bad. Your contribution to mankind should be only this: that you do not endeavour to make them good."
Confucius was confused because this was not his say of thinking. "How can this be?" He questioned.
"Then there will be nothing but chaos and anarchy!"
Lao Tzu replied, "Disorder comes with the effort to bring in order."
Confucius said, "People will become irresponsible."
Lao Tzu replied, "When there are no regulations where is the lawlessness? People will be natural in their behaviour." Laws bring in lawlessness because all laws are opposed to the naturalness of man. Therefore they urge men to become lawless. Naturalness is a flow; laws are like a dam.
When I was small, a teacher in my school died. We children used to tease him and call him 'Bhole Shankar'. He was a very guileless person, and because of his simplicity and alertlessness everyone troubled him. All the children gathered to bid him a last farewell. We all loved him, more so because we could trouble him.
I stood nearest to his body, when suddenly his wife ran out of the house and fell on him crying, "Oh, my Bhole Shankar!" I burst into laughter for that is how we teased him. I did not expect his wife to address like this. The solemnity of the occasion was shattered. All the children began to laugh, for everyone knew the joke.
But this was the limit. We were badly scolded, not only by the teachers but also by our parents who told us they were ashamed of such disbehaviour. We had no sense of propriety. When we explained the reason for our mirth they understood, but even then we should have controlled ourselves, considering the occasion. But the actual reason of the outburst was the very effort to suppress the laughter. It became such an impossible task that the outburst was explosive. The poor wife also stopped crying and was greatly confused and worried.
Laws always give strength to the opposite. Here it was plain that laughter was out of the question, but life obeys no laws. The laughter welled up within and it was very natural; there was no malice. But propriety obstructed it. Decorum creates embankments. Propriety built an embankment on what was a natural flow. When the embankment breaks, anarchy ensues. When dams break terrible destruction follows.
But those who view life through the language of regulation - like Confucius - will maintain that without laws everything will be in chaos. Nobody will listen to anybody, the subjects will not listen to the king, the son will not listen to the father, wives will not listen to husbands, nor servants their masters.
Lao Tzu says: "the more you try to make sons listen to their fathers, the more they will go against their fathers". And Lao Tzu has proved correct. In the last five thousand years, man has tried to make the son obedient to the father and the result is an increasing abyss between the two. The same is the case between the servant and the master, and the king and his people. The servant does not consider the master his superior but his equal partner. The people have turned around on their kinds and the institution of monarchy is now extinct.
This is a shocking state of affairs. For five thousand years kings have tried to subdue their subjects.
The result is that there are no more kings. If they still exist in a few cases, they are the servants of their people. Today, the status of the Queen of England is no more than a servant, for it is the Parliament that decides even her stipend. It is up to the Parliament to increase or decrease it or stop it altogether. What is the reason?
The reason is Confucius. Lao Tzu had told Confucius that very day when he came to see him, "You will ruin the world with your philosophy. You will clamp laws on, and lawlessness will prevail. If you try to give direction, society will go headlong towards directionlessness. Stop trying to do good to the world and the world will stop becoming bad."
This however, is very difficult, very hard. It is impossible to believe that a patient should not be given medicines and he will recover.
Many hospitals in the West, however, have started experimenting in this direction. Lao Tzu is proving right from very many angles. Give an allopathic treatment to one patient, a homeopathic treatment to another with the same illness, a naturopathic treatment to a third with the same complaints and to a fourth gives the ashes from a Baba (soothsayer). The results attained, percentage-wise, are the same. Seventy per cent of the people regain their health in all cases, whether it be through allopathy, homeopathy, chemotherapy, naturopathy or even the soothsayer's ashes.
Then it was assumed that perhaps all these branches of medicine have healing powers. So they carried out a new experiment. Out of ten patients, five were given treatment and five were given plain water. In both cases, recovery was equal. Water cured as much as any medicine. Now they say that if you catch a cold, take medicine for seven days and you shall be all right: do not take medicine for seven days and you will be all right. Nothing is clear about what really cures a man.
Lao Tzu says: Nature cures herself. Leave everything to nature. Do not interfere with nature, you are the cause of all confusion. Leave it to nature and she will find the remedy. That which gave you birth, which gave you life, because of which you breathe, due to which you are conscious, that energy is infinite, gigantic. It will wash your ills away. You be one with this flow of energy; do not go against it. Let this current take you anywhere, let it make you do anything. If illness comes welcome it, be prepared to live with it. Leave everything to nature; let her do what she pleases.
If we understand it in this way, Lao Tzu is the only naturopath. His is pure naturopathy. If you put a bandage on the stomach, apply mud on the stomach or take an enema - that is not naturopathy.
Leave it entirely to nature. Let nature take its course and be one with it.
Lao Tzu says, "Do not swim. Float." Leave it to the river to take you where it will. Ask not where your destination is. Wherever you reach is your goal. Says Lao Tzu: "In such an arrangement only, do the flowers of religion open."
"When knowledge and intelligence were born, hypocrisy became activated in its full form. When peace became impossible in relationships, the glorification of kind parents and obedient sons began to prevail."
When we say that so-and-so has an obedient son, we mean that he is an exception.
Lao Tzu says: "To be a son is to be obedient." An obedient son is a repetition. If we say a certain mother is very kind, it means kindness is a qualification, apart from the mother. A mother may be kind or may not be kind. Therefore, to say so-and-so's mother is kind goes to show that mothers are no longer kind. She is an exception if she is kind. Therefore we praise it. When we praise these things we imply that sons are no longer obedient, fathers are no longer kind and mothers are bereft of selfless affection.
Lao Tzu says: these are signs of decadence. When a mother has to be praised for her motherly love, when a father has to be extolled for his benevolent affection and when a son has to be praised for his obedience, then know that the illness has reached the last stage.
This Lao Tzu looks like a topsy-turvy man. But it is quite possible that we are topsy-turvy and only he is standing correct: What he says seems to be true. What is there to talk about in a mother's love? The very being of a mother means love. To call a mother loving is senseless. To be a mother means to be loving Similarly to be a son means to be obedient. There cannot be an "obedient son."
It is a useless repetition. To be a son is to be an extension of the father and the mother. He is their limbs, their future, so the question of obedience or non-obedience should not arise.
I do not say that my hand is obedient. But if some day. hands are praised or denounced for their obedience, know that people have started becoming paralysed. What would be the state of affairs if some day the newspapers carry the news of an obedient hand that lifts a glass of water when it is made to and obeys all orders from the brain? It will only mean that paralysis has become a part of life Now even the hand does not do our bidding.
The world we live in is a paralysed world. No father is confident that his sons will obey him. If some do, they are usually blockheaded fools who give no satisfaction. They sit when they are told to and do not rise until bidden. Those sons who seem a little intelligent refuse to listen. They are, on the contrary, busy trying to make their fathers into obedient fathers.
Fifty years ago - so say American psychologists - sons and daughters tip-toed into their houses.
Now it is the other way around. Now parents enter the house stealthily for fear of confronting the children. Fifty years ago the children were oppressed; now the parents are oppressed. The parents are now so afraid lest they create a complex in the children. They are afraid the psychologists might say they have damaged the child's psyche and harmed him.
The world is in the grip of paralysis today because it has not heeded Lao Tzu. It is Lao Tzu's contention that one should not try to chain the naturalness of life because then it is bound to break.
Do not demand obedience lest it turns into contempt. Give no commands for the other has his ego too, which is bound to react.
When the father says he will make the son obey, the son says: let's see how he does it. The father's ego gives life to the son's ego. When the father has no inclination to demand obedience, the son has no reason to disobey because there is no opposition created within him.
Understand this a little. When the father is mindful of his demand, the son also becomes alert. If ever there is a battle between father and son, it is the son who is ultimately victorious. The father is the fading energy; the son is the rising energy. The son will win; the father will lose. It is happening all over the world that fathers are rapidly losing ground with their children.
It is very strange that there should be conflict between father and son. Turgenev has written a book, FATHERS AND SONS. It is a valuable book, a story of the strife between fathers and sons. Every father is fighting with his son, and every son is fighting with his father. Lao Tzu would say, "What greater state of madness and disease can there be than when fathers and sons fight?"
Then what is the remedy? We see this battle taking place in every house, in every family, and at each step both are eager to win. The father is the loser and the reason behind his defeat is the working of a profound law of which we are not aware. Lao Tzu reminds us of this very rule. He says that when the father insists that he should be obeyed, when the guru demands that he should be obeyed, the echo of there vibrations is disrespect. When the guru (or the father) is such that he is not even aware that he should be given respect, he gets respect.
I was attending a meeting of professors in the university. The topic under discussion was the lack of discipline of the students. Each person stated that the honour of the teachers was in danger. This is an old story now, respect has long been dead. Still, they were trying somehow to retrieve it from the grave. And the more they try to retrieve it, the more chaos follows. Every school, college and university is filled with indiscipline, but no one has bothered to find out who is responsible for it.
I told them that their concern over the lack of discipline of the students was very dangerous and there could be only one outcome of this: more disrespect from the students. Whoever said the guru must be respected? The definition of a guru, according to ancient culture is one who is given respect. This does not mean a guru must be respected. That is not the question at all. One who is respected is a guru; one who is not, is not a guru. If the students do not respect you, you are no gurus. Then why do you cling to this useless desire?
A father is one who is obeyed. If the son does not obey you are not what a father should be. To become a father, is a biological happening and is not of much importance. This task is fulfilled artificially these days. To be a father is a spiritual undertaking. It is a different matter altogether.
Children are produced by anyone but only once in a while does a man become a father. To reproduce is no qualification. Flies and mosquitoes are greater adepts at this. It is beyond my understanding when I hear that it is a duty to bear progeny. But to be a father is a great thing, even greater than being a mother because to be a mother is a natural happening. Fatherhood is an achievement.
Therefore, when some person becomes a father in the true sense, the mother's status pales before it.
There is no arrangement by nature for the father's role. Animals are completely oblivious of fatherhood. If you are aware of the institution of fatherhood, do you realise how many precautions have to be taken to produce this effect? The institution of marriage has to be created, laws have to be promulgated and still the father cannot be totally sure that he is the father of his son - he cannot be.
To be convinced of his fatherhood, man has created many precepts and moral codes like sati, and the one-husband vow of chastity. These are all measures he has taken to be assured of his parenthood. All these measures, this anxiety, this fear, institutionalize life - all to ensure that the heir to your wealth and property is really and truly your son. How much strife, how many hardships and torments man undergoes for this!
Fatherhood is not a natural outcome. If the government makes arrangement to look after children, the institution of fatherhood will vanish. Besides, the concept of fatherhood is a recent concept. To be a mother is natural, but to be a father is a spiritual achievement. To become a father means only this: that the son honours your bidding. There is no effort involved in this; it is because of the father's dignity.
There was an ancient code that when the son married, the father became a celibate. And that is how it should be. If a father keeps producing children while his son does he cannot expect respect.
As most there can be a sort of friendliness. Where the father still indulges in the same foolishness in which the son indulges, he forfeits his right to reverence and respect.
We arranged our lives in the olden days so that sons returned from the ashram when they were twenty five, at which time when they would be married. By then, the parents would be fifty. The day the son returns home, the parents enter the stage of Van-Prastha (facing the jungle). Now, the body and its pleasure are no longer for them. They must go beyond them. After another twenty-five years, when their grandchildren return from the brahmacharya ashram, they would be seventy-five. Then they become sannyasins. The mundane world is no longer for them. Then, there was reverence towards the father.
Now, these seventy-five year old people, who are not aged because of their physical age alone but also bear the fruits of knowledge and experience that they gathered in their long journey through existence would go to ashrams, gurukuls, and act as teachers. Those who have successfully passed through the first three stages of life - brahmacharya, through which they passed during the first twenty-five years of their lives; then for another twenty-five years they lived and experienced the householder's world; then for another twenty-five years they mastered the art of remaining within the world and yet out of it - they were worthy of being gurus.
If such a guru receives spontaneous respect from his pupils, it is no wonder. When little children from the village come to sit at his feet, he will look like the high peak of the Himalayas to them.
To touch him seems impossible. If they can only touch his feet they feel blessed. There is such a distance between the guru and the pupil that the pupil cannot imagine ever reaching up to those heights. Such gurus received reverence as a matter of course. They were gurus.
Before becoming a guru, one was a father; and before that, one was a celibate. This was a long process but a very natural one.
Lao Tzu says, "If life flows in its normal natural flow, the flowers of religion are bound to bloom in it."
If we restrict the flow, obstruct it with decorum and propriety, then it will be a great feat if we succeed in placing even a few artificial flowers of morality. The flowers of religion are far away from people who do not allow life to flow in a natural way.
"WHEN A COUNTRY FELL INTO CHAOS AND MISRULE, THERE WAS PRAISE OF LOYAL MINISTERS." It is the same thing, said from a different aspect. To shun naturalness is to be irreligious. To be good is not to be religious according to Lao Tzu: to be natural is to be religious according to him. To be good is not to be religious for to be good one has got to be against evil, which is the opposite of goodness. Naturalness, spontaneity has no opposite. If a sinner lives naturally, he too stands a chance of becoming, good. If a good man lives unnaturally, he is a hidden sinner within. A spontaneous life is a religious life. Flowers bloom, birds sing, the sun rises. When man also becomes spontaneous, without any hypocrisy, the sun of religion will rise in the firmament.
This seems difficult because if we have nothing to cover ourselves with, to hide our actual being, if all masks are removed from us, what will happen? Just think for a moment; if there is no check on you, no laws to control you, what would you do? Someone will run away with someone's wife, another will look the bank; yet another will kill someone he hates. Just ponder a while. What would you do if Lao Tzu's doctrine prevailed?
In order to improve the quality of the work of his sluggish staff in the office, it is said that a manager, on the advice of a psychologist, put up a notice which read: "Life is short. Do today what you would do tomorrow. Do now what you have to do today." The very next day the office had to close down because the clerk ran away with the secretary, the cashier decamped with the cash and the office boy beat up the manager with shoe. This is what each wanted to do but were postponing. The notice inspired them to carry out their desires.
If you wish to follow Lao Tzu, think less and meditate more. This will make no difference to Lao Tzu, but it will tell you a great deal about yourself. If there is no check on you, what would you do?
That is your actual serf, your real character. What you do within regulations is just play-acting. It is not your real self. It is a necessity. If you want to know yourself, Lao Tzu will help you in your self-observation. Imagine for a day that no rules and regulations bind you. You will only do that which happens spontaneously. Just think about this; do not put it in action. Then you will realise how mutilated humanity has become because of all rules and regulations.