Tao The Pathless Path Vol 1 09

Ninth Discourse from the series of 14 discourses - Tao The Pathless Path Vol 1 by Osho.
You can listen, download or read all of these discourses on oshoworld.com.

Someone asked Lieh Tzu
“Why do you value emptiness?
In emptiness there is no valuing.”

Lieh Tzu said,
“Value is not the name for it.
Best be still, best be empty.
In stillness and emptiness,
we find where to abide;
Taking and giving,
we lose the place.”
Truth is one – it cannot be otherwise because existence is a universe, it is not a “multiverse.” It is one. It is glued together. It is a togetherness. It is a cosmos. That which keeps the universe glued together is what we call truth, or Tao, or God. Tao is not a person; neither is God a person, but the unity that runs through everything, like a thread running through a garland. The universe is not a heap of things, separate, individual, like islands. No, the universe is one, together, and something keeps it together; it is not falling apart. That which keeps it together is God, Tao.
Man can approach this truth from two ways. Those two ways have to be understood. Truth is one, but the paths are two. The first path is via affirmativa, the positive path, the “yes-sayers” path. The path of the devotee. Jesus, Mohammed, Krishna, have followed the path of affirmation. The path of affirmation seems to be the path of effort, of great effort: one is trying to reach God, one has to make all the effort that is possible, one has to do the utmost, one has to put oneself to the stake. In modern times, Gurdjieff, Ramakrishna followed the path of affirmation, via affirmativa.
The other path is the via negativa, through negation, through the “no.” Lao Tzu, Buddha, Nagarjuna followed the path of negation. In modern times, Ramana Maharshi, J. Krishnamurti follow the path of the “no.”
These two paths have to be understood as clearly as possible because much will depend on it; some day or other you will have to choose. They move in different dimensions; they reach to the same goal, but they move in different directions.
The positive path is a positive approach toward God, a reaching toward God, a seeking, an inquiry. The negative path is a waiting for God, not seeking. The negative path just keeps the door open, not going, seeking; not inquiring, just being receptive, womblike. The first is yang, the second is yin. The first is the male-oriented path; the second is the female-oriented path. One has just to be in a let-go in the second: no will, but surrender. One has just to allow God to be; no reaching for him, let him reach you. You are simply silent, empty. You give space so that if he comes, you are available; you remain available.
On the path of will you have much to do; on the path of surrender you have nothing to do – exactly nothing to do, only nothing to do. These paths can be named in different ways too. The first path can be said to be the path of the ascetic. The word ascetic comes from a Greek root ascesis which means exercise. Many methods, many exercises, Yoga, techniques, are possible. The second path can be called the path of the mystic: no exercises, no methods, no technology.
On the first path, time is a must. You cannot be immediately enlightened – methods take time, exercises take time, preparation takes time, and you will have to wait for many lives. Enlightenment will be gradual, it cannot be sudden. On the negative path it can be absolutely sudden, it can happen this very moment. Time is not needed because exercise is not needed. You are not to go anywhere; you are just to sit silently, you have just to be in a let-go. One need not wait.
The path of the mystic is mysterious – cannot be explained. The path of the ascetic is explainable: it is very scientific, very logical. It can be explained step by step; it can be analyzed, divided into easy steps. The steps can be made so small that everybody can take them, even a small child – there are possible degrees. But the path of the mystic is very mysterious; hence it is called the mystic path. No degrees are possible, no small steps – but a quantum leap, a jump into the unknown, sudden, like lightning. Naturally it cannot be explained logically. The logical mind will be at a loss. It needs great understanding. Not based on logic, but based on intuition; not based on intellect, but based on intuition. It needs an illogical, adventurous mind: one who can forego all steps, one who is ready to go into the unknown, one who is courageous enough to take the jump.
On the first path you go step by step, moving upward. On the second path you simply take a jump into the abyss. It is a bottomless abyss, it is emptiness, it is absolute nothingness. You disappear.
These are the two paths, and everybody has to decide in his innermost core of being what appeals to him or to her. It is difficult to decide but it has to be decided, otherwise you can go on doing things which will not have any meaning. If you can take the jump, then there is no need to train yourself for Yoga. If you cannot take the jump, then there is no point in just sitting and waiting.
On the first path, the greatest danger is of the ego because you have much to do, and if you are too egoistic, you will become a doer, and then ego will become your barrier. One has to do, yet not strengthen the ego. On the second path, lethargy is the problem. You are not to do anything; one can become lethargic, one can become dull and dead. That is the very natural danger: sitting silently, doing nothing, by and by you relapse into dullness, into a sort of unintelligence. You lose sharpness, you lose aliveness, you become idiotic. That’s possible; one has to be very alert about this.
On the first path, one has to watch that the ego does not arise. On the second path, one has to watch that lethargy is not settling. If these two pitfalls are avoided, then you can reach realization either from the affirmative or from the negative. People have reached enlightenment from each. So there is no question about reaching enlightenment, the question is which is going to be easier, more in tune with your inner nature – choose that.
A few things have to be understood about the path of nothingness because Lieh Tzu is a follower of that path – the path of via negativa, the mystic path. On the mystic path you have to be alone – no possibility of being together. It is a deep inactivity, so deep that the very idea of action has to be dropped and renounced. No desire, no action; one has just to be. Aloneness has to be experienced. Solitude has to be experienced.
On the path of affirmation, God is always with you, you are never alone. You can always talk to God, always pray to God; you can always hope that he is with you. He surrounds you; he holds your hand. And he is very much on the path of affirmation. His hand is almost in your hands. It is not just imagination – remember, it is not hallucination; it is so. When you have done all that you can do, suddenly he becomes available. You cannot do more: you have not been withholding, you have done all that you can do, you have put yourself totally into the work, you have come to your optimum – from that moment he takes over. But one has to do the optimum, less than that will not help. One has to boil to a hundred degrees, then suddenly – the evaporation.
On the path of the ascetic, God is with you; you are never alone, you can always pray. But on the negative path, prayer is not possible, prayer is not allowed – prayer is a hindrance. Remember this too: something may be a help on one path and may become a hindrance on another path. Prayer is a hindrance. If you ask the follower of the negative path, he will say: “Prayer means that you are still not capable of being alone; you are still attached to the other.” You may have dropped your attachment to your wife, to your husband, to your children, to your friend, to the society. Now you have projected a God and now you keep company with him; but you cannot be alone. Prayer means that you are still afraid of being alone, so you create a bridge with the other, you seek the other. Prayer simply means that whenever you are alone, you are not alone but lonely: you miss the other. On the path of the negative, aloneness is simply the greatest splendor there is.
If you ask the mystic, he will say: “Being lonely is just a pause.” Being alone is an ultimate condition. Being lonely or together is accidental. Being alone is essential. Being lonely implies an evolution or continuity of experience, while being alone means a radical, total, one hundred and eighty degree change, a mutation, a metanoia. Being lonely is a way back to others: whenever you feel lonely you are seeking the other in some form or other. Being lonely is a way back to others. Being alone is a way back to oneself.
This has to be remembered. That’s why on the negative path meditation is more significant than prayer. Meditation is a help, prayer is a hindrance. On the path of affirmation, prayer is a help, meditation is not talked about at all. That’s why in Christianity, in Islam, in Judaism, in Hinduism, meditation has not been developed. Meditation has been developed utterly by the Buddhists and the Taoists – that is their secret key.
You can divide all the religions into two: Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity are all on the path of via affirmativa. Buddhism and Tao are basically negative, on the path of via negativa. Hinduism and Islam have flowered to their utmost in Sufism. That is the meeting of the Hindu and the Mohammedan and a really beautiful flower has come out of the meeting – it is a crossbreeding – Sufism. It is higher than anything that is in Hinduism and higher than anything that is in Mohammedanism; it is higher than both, it has transcended both the parents. The child is more beautiful than the mother and the father – has to be because both mother and father have been dissolved into it. So Sufism is the peak of the affirmative. And Buddhism and Taoism met and gave birth to Zen: that is the optimum on the path of meditation. Again more beautiful than Buddhism and Taoism, better than both the parents: again a crossbreeding.
The meeting of Islam and Hinduism happened in India. Islam came to India, met with Hinduism and a beautiful child was born. The meeting of Taoism and Buddhism happened in China. Buddhism went to China, met with Taoism and a beautiful child, Zen, was born. If everything disappears from the world and only two things can be retained, Sufism and Zen, nothing will be lost. They are the highest crescendos, but of two different paths. Sufism is nothing but pure prayer, zikr, remembrance of God, and Zen is nothing but meditation.
The word Zen comes from the Sanskrit root dhyana. First the word dhyana became jhana because Buddha used to speak Pali – dhyana is jhana in Pali. Then from jhana it became ch’an in China. Then it became Zen when it reached to Japan. But it is dhyana, it is the essential dhyana: just to be alone, absolutely alone, not even a thought to keep company with. In that aloneness all disappears. One is just spacious; one is just a space, pure, transparent. In that purity which one achieves, God comes in. When you are ready to be so empty, God enters. The Sufi seeks God. The Zen disciple waits, God comes.
Now this beautiful parable:
Someone asked Lieh Tzu
“Why do you value emptiness?
In emptiness there is no valuing.”
Naturally, what value can emptiness have? It is condemned all over the world. Except for the Taoists and the Buddhists, nobody understands what emptiness is – it is condemned. In the West you say, “The empty mind is the Devil’s workshop.” Now what more condemnation can there be? Devil’s workshop? The empty mind? The Taoists and the Buddhists say that the empty mind is the goal.
When you are totally empty, godliness comes in. The Devil can exist only with an active mind, never with an inactive mind. The Devil can exist only with an occupied mind, not an unoccupied mind. The Devil can ride only on thoughts, he uses thoughts and desires. How can he use emptiness? It seems to be true. Hitler is not empty, neither is Genghis Khan, neither is Tamerlane; they are very active people. The Devil has entered through them into the world. Bodhidharma is empty; Lieh Tzu is empty; Nagarjuna is empty – the Devil has not even come close to them. Nothing wrong has ever come out of these empty people, only good; and only good has flowered. Great has been their fragrance. Centuries have gone by, but their fragrance is as fresh as ever.
Ordinarily, emptiness has never been thought of as a value, so the questioner seems to be right. He says:“Why do you value emptiness? In emptiness there is no valuing.”
What type of value? What can you do with emptiness? Value comes with use. Try to understand it: value comes when something is useful. How can you value something which is not? Not only is it not useful, it is not – how can you value it? But that is the approach of the negative.
Lao Tzu says that the room is valuable not because of the walls, but the emptiness within. You use the room not the walls. Of course, when you make the house you make the walls, not the emptiness; nobody can make the emptiness. Emptiness is eternal, it is of God; it is not man-made. Houses are made by man, not emptiness. But what do you use? Do you use the walls or do you use the space inside? The word room is good: room means space. You use the room, the space, the roominess. What do you pass through in the wall to come in and out? The door. The door is empty. Door means the emptiness, that which is not – hence you can come in and out. You use the door, you don’t use the wall. You use the room; you don’t use the wall. What do you use when you use an earthen pot? The earthen sides, or the emptiness within? When you go to the well to draw water, and you bring water home, what do you use? The emptiness of the earthen pot. That emptiness is valuable and that emptiness is not created by you.
Taoists say: that which is not created by man is valuable. That which is created may have a relative value, a market value, but really it is not valuable – it has no value. A man-made thing is a commodity. Of course if you go into the marketplace, and you start selling emptiness, nobody will purchase it. There is no value in it and people will laugh.

Lao Tzu was passing through a forest, and the forest was being cut down. Thousands and thousands of carpenters were cutting down the trees. Then he came to a big tree – a very big tree, one thousand bullock carts could have rested underneath it – and it was so green and so beautiful. He sent his disciples to inquire of the carpenters why this tree had not been cut down yet.
They said, “It is useless. You cannot make anything out of it: furniture cannot be made from that wood; it cannot be used as fuel – it makes too much smoke. It is of no use, that’s why we have not cut it down.”
And Lao Tzu said to his disciples, “Learn from this tree. Become as useless as this tree then nobody will cut you down.”
Uselessness has great value.
He said: “Look, and notice this tree. Learn something from this tree. This tree is great. Look! All the trees are gone. They were useful, hence they are gone. Some tree was very straight, that’s why it is gone. It must have been very egoistic, straight, proud of being somebody – it is gone. This tree is not straight, not a single branch is straight. It is not proud at all. Hence it exists.”
Lao Tzu said to his disciples: “If you want to live long, become useless.” However, his meaning of the word useless is this: don’t become a commodity, don’t become a thing. If you become a thing, you will be sold and purchased in the market and you will become a slave. If you are not a thing, who can purchase you, and who can sell you?
Remain God’s creation. Don’t become a human commodity and nobody will be able to use you. If nobody is able to use you, you will have a beautiful life of your own, independent, free, joyful. If nobody can use you, nobody can reduce you to a means. You will never be insulted because in this life there is no greater insult than to become a means that somebody or other is going to use – your body, your mind, your being.
Lao Tzu said, become a nonentity so that nobody looks at you and you can live your life as you want to live it. Nobody comes to interfere with you.

It happened that Lao Tzu’s disciple, Chuang Tzu, became very famous and the emperor sent his ministers to invite Chuang Tzu to become his prime minister.
Lao Tzu was very angry. He said, “You must have done something wrong, otherwise why should the emperor become interested in you? You must have proved yourself of some use. You must have missed my teaching, otherwise how is it that the emperor has become interested in you? Now you will never be at rest.”

Be a nonentity so nobody comes even to think that you can be of any use. There is a uselessness which is of tremendous use. Lao Tzu calls it “the use of uselessness.” But certainly there is no value in it, no market value at least. Ordinarily, you want to become of some value – a doctor, an engineer, a painter, a poet, a mahatma – you want to become somebody who is valuable, who becomes indispensable to the world. You feel very happy if people come and say, “When you are gone we will never be able to replace you.” You feel tremendously happy, but what are they saying? They are saying, “You are a thing we are using.”
The more indispensable you become, the more you are reduced to being a thing, the more your freedom is lost. If you can die as if nothing had happened, if you disappear from the world and not even a trace is left, then…

It happened that a great Taoist died and Lieh Tzu went to show his respects, but thousands of people had gathered there. He was puzzled, and without paying his respects to the dead man and his dead body, he came back. A few people followed him, and they asked, “Why? You had come to pay your respects – why are you going back?”
He said, “This man cannot have been a man of Tao. So many people are crying and weeping, somehow he must have become indispensable to their lives. Look at their insight: he must have become indispensable to their lives. He must have proved of some use, otherwise why are these people crying and weeping as if their father had died or their mother had died or their son had died? Why are these people crying and weeping? He must not have been utterly useless. Some use must have been there – that’s why I am going back. He has not followed the master rightly.”

Their approach is that there is a value, an ultimate value, in being nobody, in being empty, in being of no use. When you are of no use to humanity, you become of tremendous use to God. Then he starts flowing through you: then you become a vehicle – because you are so empty he can flow through you. You become a hollow bamboo; he can sing his song through you. When you allow human lips to sing a song through you, God is denied.
“In emptiness there is no valuing,” said the man, “Why do you value emptiness?”
Lieh Tzu said,
“Value is not the name for it.”
It is invaluable. It is so valuable that you can only call it invaluable. Value is not the name for it: value means commodity, value means that which can be defined in terms of human use, that which can become a means and is not an end. The end cannot be valuable in the ordinary sense of the term. For example, if somebody asks you, “You love, but what is the value of love?” what would you say? You would say, “Value is not the name for it.” Love is not a value in the same sense that a car has value, a house has value. Money has value; health has value, but love? Love is the ultimate, the end. You love for love’s own sake. It is not a means to anything else; it is its own end. Its value is intrinsic, its value is in itself; it is not outgoing.
If somebody asks, “What is the value of life?” Certainly you will say, “Value is not the name for it.”
“Why are you living?” You will say, “Because I enjoy being alive.”
“But what is the value?” “Value? There is none.”
All that is ultimate is valueless in the ordinary sense of the word, but because of the ultimate, everything else is valuable. So value is not the name for it, although all values exist because of it.
You go to the office, you work, it is valuable: you will get one thousand rupees per month. And then you come and give one thousand rupees to your wife because you love the woman. You work for her, you work for your children – you love them. Love has no value. Your work has value, but finally all that has value comes at the feet of that which is valueless, or invaluable.
Remember, the goal cannot have any value. That’s why Taoists say that life has no purpose. It shocks people.

One day a man came to me and he asked, “What is the purpose of life”?
And I said, “There is no purpose. Life simply is.”
He was not satisfied. He said, “I have come from very far.” He had come from Nepal, and he said, “I am an old man, a retired professor. Don’t send me away empty-handed. I have come to ask only one thing: What is the purpose of life?”
And I said, “If I can send you away empty-handed, then your journey has been purposeful because to be empty-handed is the goal.”
He said, “Don’t talk in puzzles. Just tell me, in clear-cut language, what is the purpose of life?”

Now he could not understand that he was asking an absurd question. Life cannot have any purpose because if life has any purpose then something will become more valuable than life, and again the question will arise: “What is the purpose of that?” If we say that life is to attain truth, then truth becomes the real purpose. But then what is the purpose of truth? If we say that life is to seek God, then the question arises: “What is the purpose of God, or of achieving God, or of realizing God?” In the end you have to drop the word purpose, finally you just have to drop it.
Yes, value is not the name for it; purpose is not the name for it; and if you understand this insight, great light will arise in you. Life has no purpose and no value. Love has no purpose and no value. God has no purpose and no value. Truth has no purpose and no value. That means that God, life, truth, love, are just four names for the same thing. They are not different because there can be only one thing which has no purpose – everything else has purpose because of it. It is the topmost, the very peak.

Just the other night, a woman said, “It is very difficult for me to understand what you mean when you say God because I don’t believe in God. I have never believed in God. I would like to understand, but the moment you use the word God something goes wrong in my head – I become closed.”
I said to her, “Do a simple thing: whenever I say God, hear it as life – that will do. Whenever I say God, hear it as life – immediately translate it into life.” She was happy.

How we are fixed in words! If I say God, it creates negativity in somebody; if I say life, it will create negativity in somebody else. I am only changing the name. “A rose is a rose is a rose,” by whatsoever name it is called. You can call it jasmine – the rose remains the rose. You can call it by any name you choose, but the rose remains the rose.
There is only one which is the ultimate. Different people have given different names to it. That one is valueless because it is the ultimate value. Beyond it nothing exists, so it cannot be valuable for something else. You cannot use it as a stepping-stone because there is nothing beyond it; it is the beyond.
Lieh Tzu said
“Value is not the name for it.
Best be still, best be empty.
In stillness and emptiness,
we find where to abide;
Taking and giving,
we lose the place.”
“Best be still…” Now, rather than answering what a value is or why emptiness is a value, Lieh Tzu insists on experience. The Taoist approach is basically existential. They don’t believe in abstract speculations and concepts. They say: “If you can experience it, why borrow secondhand knowledge?” In fact, godliness can never be secondhand; it has to be experienced firsthand. You cannot borrow my God – my God is my God. You will have to come to your own God. Of course when you have come to your God, you will find that my God and your God are the same, but you will have to come to it on your own; it has to bloom in your own being.
There is a Taoist story:

Duke Huan, seated above in his hall was once reading a book, and the wheelwright P’ien was making a wheel below it. Laying aside his hammer and chisel, P’ien went up the steps and said, “I venture to ask Your Grace what words you are reading?”
The duke said, “The words of the sages.”
“Are those sages alive?” P’ien continued.
“They are dead,” was the reply.
“Then,” said P’ien, “what you, my ruler, are reading are only the dregs and sediments of those old men.”
The duke said, “How should you, a wheelwright, have anything to say about the book I am reading? If you can explain yourself, very well; if you cannot, you will have to die. I will kill you.” He was very angry. This is too much! A wheelwright coming to the prince and saying, “Whatsoever you are reading is nothing but the dregs and sediments of those old dead men!”
The wheelwright said, “Your servant will look at the thing from the point of view of his own art. In making a wheel, if I proceed gently, that is pleasant enough but the workmanship is not strong; if I proceed violently, that is toilsome and the joinings do not fit. If the movements of my hand are neither too gentle nor too violent, the idea in my mind is realized. But I cannot tell how to do this by word of mouth.”
Neither too violent, nor too gentle – just in the middle, balanced…
And the wheelwright said, “But I cannot tell how to do this by word of mouth, how to attain this absolute midpoint between effort and effortlessness, between doing and non-doing. I cannot say how to do this by word of mouth; there is a knack to it, but still I cannot say it. I know it, still I cannot say it. I cannot teach the knack to my son, even to my son – nor can my son learn it from me. There is no way to teach it, and there is no way to learn it. Learning and teaching, teaching and learning, can be only of the outer things – it is an inner feel. Thus it is that I am in my seventieth year, and am still making wheels in my old age. But these ancients, and whatever it was not possible for them to convey, are dead and gone. So then what you, my ruler, are reading is but their dregs and sediments!”

He is saying, “I am alive, I know the knack of it, still I cannot convey it; I cannot transfer my knowledge. And I am alive and I know, and I love my son and I would like… And I am so old, in my seventieth year, and still I have to work. If I could teach my son, I would retire. But if while alive I cannot convey it, how can these old sages who are dead convey something that can only be experienced? It cannot be conveyed when the sage is alive, so how can it be conveyed when the sage has been gone for centuries? You are just wasting your time, sir,” he said. “This is all rubbish.”

This old man is a man of Tao. Taoists have beautiful parables like these: an ordinary man, a poor man, a wheelwright – nobody knows about him, but he has an insight. The whole approach of Taoism is that only experience can give you the clue. Questions can be asked, questions can be answered, but they are of no ultimate value. You have to eat to know the taste; you have to love to know what love is. There is no way to convey it, that’s why, rather than answering, Lieh Tzu said: “Best be still…”
Yes, value is not the name for it. Be still. What does he mean by “…be still…”? You are continuously wavering; you are never still. Even when you sit like a statue you are wavering. Your mind is continuously running in all directions; your inner flame is never unwavering. It is continuously going from this side to that side; through one desire or another, you are being pulled and pushed. When there is no desire, then one is still, without even the desire to achieve God. When all desires are negated, that is the meaning of via negativa. When all desires are negated, suddenly you are still. Nowhere to go, nowhere to move to. No wind is blowing. Desire is the wind that goes on blowing inside you and keeps your inner flame wavering, that’s why you are not still. Even in your sleep you are not still. Even while you are sitting in meditation, silently, you are not still.
Just the other day somebody was saying, “In meditation thoughts don’t stop; they continue – in fact, they come more.” When you are engaged in your ordinary, day-to-day life they don’t come so much – you are engaged, involved. But when you are sitting, doing nothing, then your whole energy moves into thoughts. Then a great storm arises in your being: thoughts and thoughts, and sometimes you cannot even believe what type of thoughts! Memories of the past: thirty years before, something had happened, suddenly it bubbles up. Or thoughts of the future: your wife may not even be pregnant and you start thinking, “When the child is born, what college do we have to send him to?” Impossible things go on pulling you, pushing you, and you know that it is nonsense. Many times you recognize it, and you want to drop it, but you simply feel impotent.
Thoughts cannot be stopped directly – let it be very deeply understood. Let it sink into your being: Thoughts cannot be stopped directly because thoughts are nothing but the servants of desires. When desire is there, you cannot stop thoughts. The master is there, the servants are bound to follow.
You want to stop this thought. This is foolish, silly: your wife is not even pregnant, and you are thinking about the child who will become a grown-up and will be going to the university – which university to send him to – Cambridge or Oxford? You are so puzzled – where to send him? Which will be the best thing? And suddenly you recognize: “What nonsense! This is silly.” Then why is it arising?
It is not a question of the thought itself. You have a desire, you have ambition; many things have remained unfulfilled in you – you would like to fulfill them through your son. The son is nothing but a personification of your ambition. You wanted to go to Oxford, and you could not; you would like to go in the form of your son – that’s why the idea has arisen, the thought has arisen. Thirty years have passed and something suddenly surfaces. Nothing is sudden; nothing is uncaused in the mind. If it arises, that means that something is there in it; you cannot simply call it stupid and drop it. Thirty years ago somebody insulted you and it is still green; the wound still hurts. Sitting silently, the hurt comes to the surface. Occupied with the thousand and one things of the world you forget about it. But when you are unoccupied, the wound opens; the wound starts giving you messages: “Do something about me. I am still green. I have not yet healed. Do something about me!” How many times has the wound revealed itself to you, and how many times have you decided to take revenge or do something? Again and again it comes, and still you have a desire to take revenge on the enemy who has insulted you.
It is not a question of the thought; it is a question of the desire. Just analyze your thoughts and you will always find that thoughts are the servants, and hidden somewhere is the master, protected by the servants.
Thoughts never stop on their own. They stop only when the desiring mind disappears. That is the meaning of “Best be still…” That is the Taoist way of saying: “Be desireless.” Hence they say that even the desire to know God, to reach God, is a barrier. Just be still, with no desire, as if nothing has to be done, as if nothing is going to happen. Be absolutely hopeless because hope is nothing but a new name for desire. Hope is a beautiful name for desire. Desire is an ugly, little name; desire is a little naked, nude. Hope is dressed up desire. Be hopeless. Nothing is going to happen. Nothing ever happens. There is no future, so drop all ambition. Only this moment exists, so don’t rush hither and thither; it is pointless, it is neurotic, it is mad. Just relax in this moment; just be. That is the meaning of “Best be still…”
The difference has to be understood. If you go to a Yoga master, he will tell you how to be still. He will tell you what posture will help you to be still, how to breathe, in what rhythm stillness will be easier, whether to close the eyes completely or just to look at the tip of your nose. He will give you indications, hints, he will supply you with a map.
Taoists don’t have any maps. They say that if you try a particular posture and you look at your nose and you breathe in a certain way, you will impose a certain stillness which is not true. It is cultivated, it is a practiced thing; it is false. The true stillness has nothing to do with any practice. The true stillness does not come out of exercise. The true stillness comes out of understanding that desire is futile.
Try to understand this. In Tao there are no exercises. They don’t have anything like Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. They don’t have the “eight limbs of Yoga.” They don’t tell you what posture, what discipline, what type of morality to live – what to eat, what not to eat, when to go to bed and when to get up in the morning. They don’t tell you anything because they say that all these things can give you a false experience of stillness; they can force it. This has to be understood. When you sit in a certain posture you can help the mind to become a little more still. If the body is completely still, the mind becomes a little still because mind and body are not two things; the division is not clear-cut. Mind and body are joined together. Rather than say that you are mind and body, say that you are mindbody – one word. The “and” is not right – drop it: mindbody, psychosomatic. The mind is your innermost body, and the body your outermost mind. So when the body is still, naturally some vibrations of stillness reach to the innermost mind: it creates a physical base and you feel a little still.
Try in another way. When you are angry, what do you do? You clench your teeth; you clench your fists. Why? Can’t you be angry without clenching your teeth and your fists? Try one day: just be angry without clenching your fist, without clenching your teeth. Remain relaxed in the body and try to be angry and you will find it is impossible. How can you be angry if you don’t use the help of the body? Another day try, without any anger, clench your fist and your teeth – just show the gesture of anger, and suddenly you will see some sort of anger arises in you. You can become angry just by creating the actions – that’s what actors do. The actor has to act in moments when he may not be feeling angry and he has to be angry. What is he supposed to do? He will do the bodily part, and the mind part lingers with it. He is not feeling happy, but he has to do the bodily part; he shows happiness, and a sort of happiness follows after it.
Body and mind go together. Taoists say this has to be understood; otherwise you will create a false stillness. The stillness that is created by body posture is not the real stillness; it is a trick. It is almost as chemical as when you take a tranquilizer; it is a drug.
If you go on a fast, you will feel very quiet because the chemistry of the body changes: the body has less work to do, is more relaxed. The stomach has nothing to do, is more relaxed. And when the stomach has nothing to do, more energy is released from the stomach toward the head. You know this. When you eat too much, you start feeling sleepy because the stomach uses all the energy possible to digest the food. The head is not very important – it is a luxury – so when the stomach needs the energy, the energy goes to the stomach and immediately has to leave the head. That’s why you start feeling sleepy, and your eyes start closing and you start yawning: that simply says that the energy has been taken from the head to the stomach. You fall asleep. Have you noticed? When you have not eaten well, sleep becomes difficult because when the stomach has nothing to work on, the energy is released. Immediately the energy goes to the head and there it starts working and fantasizing and thinking.
So when a person is on a fast, after the third or fourth day he feels very quiet. But this is chemical change; it is not a real quietness. Give him food and it will disappear. So what type of change is this? If a person goes on fasting for many days, he will feel a certain non-sexuality arising in him, brahmacharya. That is false because food is needed to supply sex energy. If food is not given to the body, sex energy is not created, sex energy disappears. After three weeks of fasting, a man will not be interested in women and a woman will not be interested in men. That’s what has deceived many religious people. Then they think they have attained brahmacharya. This is not brahmacharya – it is a sort of impotence. They have lost vigor, they have lost vitality. And when they become afraid of food, then they cannot eat well because the moment they eat well, immediately the energy is supplied to the sex organs and again sexuality arises.
Tao is a totally different approach. It does not say to cultivate, it says to understand. “Best be still…” Through understanding. Through awareness.
“…best be empty. In stillness and emptiness, we find where to abide…” In emptiness and stillness… What is emptiness? Emptiness means you are not. Ordinarily the idea that you are, is nothing more than an accumulation of all your actions. You have done this, you have done that, you have won a prize, you have become successful in business, you have a big bank balance, you are famous, you have authored so many books; you have done many things. Those things together make you somebody. Emptiness means: drop all that you have done, forget all that you have done. Forget the past, it is because of the past that you feel that you are somebody. Just think. If your past can simply be washed away this very moment, who will you be? If this very moment, by some miracle, your past can be dropped, who will you be? You will not know who you are. So whatsoever you are is your past. And by emptiness Taoists mean: drop the past. That’s what I mean when I give you sannyas.
You ask me, “What is sannyas?” It has a thousand and one meanings. One of the most important meanings is dropping out of the past, getting out of your own past as the snake slips out of the old skin. Forgetting the past, starting anew, being reborn – hence the new name because with the old name the past is associated; hence the new color because with the old clothes the past is associated. Have you not noticed? When you dress in a certain way, you behave in a certain way; when you wear certain clothes you walk in a certain way.
No country has yet allowed its soldiers to use loose clothes because to have loose clothes and fight is contradictory. Only sannyasins, fakirs, have used loose clothes because they are not going to fight. The soldier has to be in tight clothes, so tight that he wants to jump out of it, so tight that he becomes so angry that he would like to crush somebody’s head; so tight that he cannot be at ease – restless. It creates violence.
Pune has a military camp – you can go see them. They don’t allow their soldiers to come here; they have an order: Never go to see the Osho Ashram. A few people have come – they came like thieves. And I understand. They were right because when you come here you will not be a soldier; you will become a sannyasin and these are contradictions. They are right, the people who have given the order from Delhi are right because this is a totally different world. I am teaching you to be loose, and they are teaching you to be tight. The more uptight you are, the better soldier you will be – more dangerous, of course because you are ready to explode any moment. You can go to the military campus; you can see how they are dressed in uncomfortable clothes. That is needed. If they were comfortable, they would relax and go to sleep. They have to be kept in tension, and their inner tension brings such a state of turmoil that they would like to throw it onto anybody.
Changing your clothes, changing your name, is just a gesture that you are being disconnected from your past. Once you are disconnected from your past, you are empty. Then you don’t know who you are because all ideas that you have about yourself come from the past and are past-created. Just meditate on this fact. If the past is not there, who are you?
Shree Ramana used to tell his disciples to meditate only on one thing: “Who am I?” If you go on meditating on this simple mantra: “Who am I?” sooner or later you will understand that you are nobody. You are not the body, nor are you the mind; nor the son of somebody, nor the father of somebody; nor rich, nor poor. You are just nobody.
The day you become a nothingness you come to know who you are. You are that nothingness.
“…best be empty. In stillness and emptiness, we find where to abide…” In emptiness is your home. You become a temple, a shrine. In that emptiness burns the flame of your consciousness, and that flame is that of God, of Tao. This is via negativa.
“Taking and giving, we lose the place.” The moment you start taking and giving – do this, don’t do that, relate, connect with people – you lose your place, you lose your inner flame, you lose your inner contact. This is only so in the beginning. Lieh Tzu is talking to a new inquirer when he says this. In the beginning it will happen. Whenever you are alone, still, quiet, silent, suddenly you will be centered, grounded; you will feel the tremendous joy of nonbeing, of being nobody. Your nothingness will be luminous; it will be full of light, fragrance, benediction and beatitude.
In the beginning it will happen again and again that the moment you relate to somebody it will be lost; you will lose your inner space. The danger is that you may become afraid of relating. In the beginning it is right to be afraid, but if it becomes a habit and the fear becomes ingrained, then it is dangerous. That danger has happened in the past in the East. Many people became afraid of relating: Buddhists escaped from life, Taoists escaped to the Himalayas or to the mountains so as not to be in contact because: “Taking and giving, we lose the place.”
But that is not the meaning of Lieh Tzu. He says: “Yes, taking and giving, when we come to the marketplace, the meditation is lost.” So, first attain to meditation, then go again and again and become more and more alert, so that you can become capable one day of relating and remaining alone together; of being in the marketplace and yet not being there; of being in the crowd and yet being alone. That is the highest. It cannot be said to a disciple. That happens only when one has become a master.
For the disciple, Lieh Tzu says: “Then you will know who you are, and then suddenly you will see that taking and giving you lose again and again the sense you gained in meditation.” You gain, then the moment you connect, relate – in relationship with the wife, with the husband, with the children, the market, the customer, the boss – you lose it. Again and again gain it; whenever you find time, again reconnect yourself with yourself. By and by, by and by, slowly, one day you will see you can stand in the marketplace and you remain as alone and silent as anywhere else. Then you have become a lotus: you are in the water and the water touches you not.
First develop, evolve, the shunyata – the zero, the emptiness and then bring it to the world. Again and again you will lose it, that’s true, but don’t try to escape from the world because of that; don’t become an escapist. It is a challenge. The highest peak is attained only when nobody can disturb your inner space – nobody, no situation, can disturb it. Then for the first time you have become the possessor of it. Then you are a possessor and you are possessed by it. Then it is yours, really yours. But if something can take it away, then it is still not totally yours. You have touched it, but you have not yet been a possessor.
I would like to tell you one anecdote:

In a far country, there lived an ingenious inventor who had gone slightly cuckoo tinkering with television. In the course of his experiments he worked out a sort of mind mirror, which he called a psychoscope, by means of which a person could see his mental self as clearly as he could see his physical body in a looking-glass.
After the instrument was perfected, a company was organized to manufacture it, and the country was flooded with advertisements about it. The factory was soon swamped with orders. Wives bought them for their husbands – mind you, wives bought them for their husbands, and husbands bought them for their wives and their in-laws. Parents bought them for their children, and children even bought them for their parents. Employers ordered them in quantities for their employees. It is known, or maybe it is just a rumor, that only one very conscientious individual in the whole country, so it is said, confessed to buying one for his own use. The elated inventor saw himself rolling in wealth; millions of those devices were sold.
Then, with almost equal suddenness, sales slumped, and presently dropped to zero. Investigators who were sent out to scour the country reported that pawnshops were glutted with psychoscopes, while thousands had been accidentally broken, or had mysteriously found their way into trash bins.
In desperation the inventor set himself to a new task. He reversed the principle of the instrument in such a manner that it would idealize the reflected self. In it the individual saw himself not as he was, but as he wished to appear, his faults gilded and rose-tinted, and their ugliness glossed over with innocence. At the end of the year, so it is said, the company declared a fifty per cent dividend.

Most of us do not want to see ourselves as we are, nor want to take a second look into a mind mirror. But he who will confirm us in our pet delusions we cherish about ourselves, can have just about anything we’ve got.
Remember, to be empty is to move into a space where you will see yourself as you are. That’s why people are afraid: they don’t want to go into that inner space. They have their ideal images, their self-images, beautiful, decorated. They are afraid that if they go into themselves, those images will fall down. They are bound to fall and disappear because they are false and they cannot be a reality. Hence nobody goes inward. All the masters of the world, whether on the path of via affirmativa or on the path of via negativa, all the masters have insisted on one thing: that you have to come to your reality as you are. But nobody listens to them. Even when people want to know who they are, they are really hoping that they will be the same self that they project. Once they start their work it becomes difficult – ugliness arises; nastiness, horrible anger, hatred, jealousy, is felt. All hell breaks loose and one becomes afraid, and one rushes out and again clings to an ideal self. That is cheap.
Remember, one has to know oneself as one is. Drop all your ideals. They are beautiful, but they are poisonous; they are delusions. Unless you drop your ideals about yourself, the images that you have created out of your impotence, to hide, to mask, your reality… Drop those masks, be still, be empty, and look into your being – whatsoever it is. In the beginning it will be almost an experience of hell, but that is the price we have to pay. If you are courageous enough and if you can persevere, soon the hell disappears, the clouds are gone, and the sun shines in a cloudless sky. Then you have come to your inner paradise.
Hell and heaven are both within. Hell is just your circumference; heaven is your very center. You are the center of the cyclone. Tao says that nothing really has to be done. One has just to penetrate into one’s own being.

I have come across a very beautiful parable. The parable is by Ken Reed. Listen to it very attentively and meditate over it.

Once there lived a very wise and venerable sage. From one end of the land to the other, learned men began to hear of the old sage and soon many sought the visage of his wisdom. But the sage remained silent to all who came with questions. Instead, with his bamboo staff he wrote these words upon the ground: “One who has contentment in his heart finds good everywhere and at all times.”
Or sometimes he would write: “Where discontentment exists, all effort is in vain.”
Or sometimes: “Be silent, be still and you will know.”
But those who visited did not seem satisfied with these answers. They were too cryptic and there was no guidance given – no map delivered. And they could not understand why the sage refused to answer them directly. Why? Surely he knew the answers, but why did he choose to scratch in the sand such babblings? The other sages gave advice and prescribed paths, and talked of austerities to be observed, why not this one? The sermon he gave could not be heard by the ear, or for that matter seen by the eye.
He was a real mystic. He was not an ascetic; he had no exercise to give you, but only understanding – a silent understanding, a transmission beyond scriptures.
Yet it is written that during the feast of the Christ a young man appeared. He bore no staff, nor scrolls of wisdom, nor were there questions on his tongue. In his eyes there was only purpose and great passion. He strode straight up to the sage. Neither sitting, stopping, nor prostrating himself as others had done, he gazed upon that ancient and tranquil face without word. And soon, to the amazement of the others he took the staff from the hand of the sage and drew upon the dusty earth these words: “How does thy brightness dispel the darkness?”
Patiently the sage took back his staff and scratched beneath the young man’s ply: “What darkness? Are you lost in the darkness?”
To which the young pilgrim countered: “Is getting lost losing the way? Is getting lost really getting lost?”
The silent sage contemplated the face of the young pilgrim for some time and then he drew upon the ground these words: “Only forgotten.”
A roar of laughter went up from those who had gathered, and the sage erased what he had written and wrote again: “What desire brings you here?”
Eager eyes watched the staff change hands: “Desires? I have none,” the young man wrote.
Observing the pilgrim closely, the sage took the staff, rose to his feet, extended his right foot, tapped it three times, then became as still as the breath of those who watched. Whereupon the young visitor broke his silence and asked “Why did you do that?”
The sage quickly scratched: “Curiosity is a form of desire.”
Back and forth the staff continued until the frustrated pilgrim cried back with the point of the staff: “It has been said that there is a sacred mantra one may recite that will join him to the universe in oneness.”
The sage quickly scratched again: “Have you ever been apart from the universe?”
And, with that, the old sage swiftly raised his staff and thrust it down upon the head of the seeker, sending him into a deeply blissful trance. Days passed. And in those days the young pilgrim truly began to savor the sweetness of the great sage, as he sat surrendered before him. Not once did he question in the presence, and a fathomless love grew between them. On the third day, the sage broke his long years of silence. “So you have come at last!” the hoarse voice came.
The young man replied not, but looked deeply into the sage’s eyes for some time, then taking once again the staff from the old bony hands, wrote:
“Only remembered.”

Nothing else is to be done. You have forgotten who you are. The only thing that has to be done is that you have to remember who you are. Forgetfulness is the world, remembrance is God. To forget is to be lost. To remember is to be back home.
Enough for today.

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