A Man of Tao

Osho on the Man of Tao

The so-called religious person is religious only to look at you with a condemning eye so he can say that you are sinners. Go to your saints, so-called saints, and look into their eyes. You will not find the innocence that should be there. You will find a calculating mind looking at you and thinking about hell: You will be thrown in hell and I will be in heaven, because I have been praying so much, five times a day, and I have been fasting so much. As if you can purchase heaven…! These are the coins — fasting, prayer — these are the coins one is trying to bargain with. If you see condemnation in the eyes of a saint, know well that he is a newly rich man; he is not yet an aristocrat of the inner world, he has not yet become one with it. He may know it — but you know something only when it is separate from you.

One thing has to be remembered here: because of this, self-knowledge is impossible. You cannot know the SELF, because whenever you know it, it is not the SELF, it is something else, something separate from you. The SELF is always the knower, never the known, so how can you know it? You cannot reduce it to an object. I can see you. How can I see myself? Then who will be the seer and who will be the seen? No, the SELF cannot be known in the same way that other things are known.

Self-knowledge is not possible in the ordinary sense, because the knower always transcends, always goes beyond. Whatsoever it knows, it is not that. The Upanishads say: NETI NETI — not this, not that. Whatsoever you know, you are not this; whatsoever you don’t know, you are not that either. You are the one who knows, and this knower cannot be reduced to a known object. Self-knowledge is not possible. If your innocence comes out of your inner source you cannot know it. If you have imposed it from the outside you can know it; if it is just like a dress you have put on you know it, but it is not the very breath of your life. That innocence is cultivated, and a cultivated innocence is an ugly thing.

A man of Tao does not know himself to be kind and gentle. He IS gentle, but he doesn’t know; he is kind, but he doesn’t know; he is love, but he doesn’t know — because the lover and the knower are not two, the gentleness, the kindness, the compassion and the knower, are not two. No, they cannot be divided into the known and the knower. This is the inner aristocracy: when you have become so rich you are not aware of it. When you are that rich, there is no need to exhibit it.

I have heard:

It happened once that Henry Ford came to England. At the airport inquiry office he asked for the cheapest hotel in town. The clerk in the office looked — the face was famous. Henry Ford was known all over the world. Just the day before there were big pictures of him in the newspapers saying that he was coming. And here he was, asking for the cheapest hotel, wearing a coat that looked as old as he himself.
So the clerk said, “If I am not mistaken, you are Mr. Henry Ford. I remember well, I have seen your picture.”
The man said, “Yes.”
This puzzled the clerk very much, and he said, “You are asking for the cheapest hotel, wearing a coat that looks as old as you yourself. I have also seen your son coming here, and he always enquires about the best hotel, and he comes in the best of clothes.”
Henry Ford is reported to have said, “Yes, my son’s behaviour is exhibitionist, he is not yet attuned. There is no need for me to stay in a costly hotel; wherever I stay I am Henry Ford. Even in the cheapest hotel I am Henry Ford, it makes no difference. My son is still new, afraid of what people will think if he stays in a cheap hotel. And this coat, yes, this belonged to my father — but it makes no difference, I don’t need new clothes. I am Henry Ford, whatsoever the dress; even if I am standing naked, I am Henry Ford. It makes no difference at all.”

When you are really attuned, really rich in the inner world, you are not concerned with exhibition. When you first go to a temple, your prayer is a little louder than others. It has to be. You want to show off. The showmanship is part of the ego, what you show is not the problem. You show, you exhibit. Then the ego is there, the boat is not empty — and a man of Tao is an empty boat. He is gentle, not aware; he is innocent, not knowing; he is wise, that’s why he can move as a fool, not worried. Whatsoever he does makes no difference, his wisdom is intact, he can afford to be foolish. You cannot.

You are always afraid that somebody may think you a fool. You are afraid that if others think you to be a fool, you will start suspecting it. If so many people think you a fool your self-confidence will be lost. And if everybody goes on repeating that you are a fool, sooner or later you will come to believe it. Only a wise man cannot be deceived, he can appear as a fool.


Listen to complete discourse at mentioned below link.

Discourse series: The Empty Boat Chapter #2

Chapter title: The Man of Tao

11 July 1974 am in Buddha Hall



Osho has spoken extensively on ‘tao’ in His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/ discourses:

  1. The Secret of Secrets
  2. The Book of Wisdom
  3. Tao: The Golden Gate
  4. Tao: The Pathless Path
  5. Tao: The Three Treasures
  6. When the Shoe Fits


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