Tao The Pathless Path Vol 1 11

Eleventh 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.

Chao Hsiang Tzu went hunting in the central mountains with a party of a hundred thousand. He set fire to the forests by lighting the tall grass, and fanned the flames for a hundred miles.

A man came out from within a stone cliff, rising and falling with the smoke and ashes. The crowd thought he was a demon. When the fire passed he came out walking casually as though the fire he had passed through did not exist.

Chao Hsiang Tzu marveled and detained the man. He scrutinized him at leisure. In his shape, his color, and the seven holes in his head, he was human; in his breathing, in his voice, he was human. He asked the man how he lived in stone and went through fire.

“What are these things you call stone and fire?” said the man.
“The thing you have just come out from was stone; the thing you have just been walking through was fire.”
“I didn’t know,” said the man.

Marquis Wen of Wei heard of it and questioned Tzu Hsia, a very well-known learned man, “What sort of man was that?”

“According to what I have heard my master say, the man who is in harmony is absolutely the same as other things and no thing succeeds in wounding or obstructing him. To pass through metal and stone, and tread through water and fire are all possible.”

“Why don’t you do it yourself?” said Marquis Wen.

“I am not yet capable of cutting open my heart and throwing out the knowledge in it. However, I can tell you all you want to know about it.”

“Why doesn’t your Master do it?” asked Marquis Wen.
“My Master is one who, though able to do it, is able not to do it.”

Marquis Wen was delighted with the answer.
There is a very significant distinction to be made in the very beginning: the distinction between knowledge and knowing. Knowledge only appears to know, it knows not. Knowing may not appear to know, but it knows. Knowledge is borrowed, knowing is one’s own. Knowledge is verbal, knowing is through living. Knowledge is information gathered from here and there. Knowing is existential: you have lived it, it has come through your very experience; it is an experience. When knowing happens, a man is freed, he is liberated. Through knowledge, man becomes more of a prisoner. Knowledge binds; knowing liberates.
The paradox is that the man of knowledge claims that he knows, and the man of knowing does not even know that he knows. The man of knowing is innocent. There is a very famous mystic treatise in the West – the only one in the West. Nobody knows who wrote it, nobody knows from whom it came, but it must have come from a tremendous experience. The name of the treatise is The Cloud of Unknowing. It is from a man of knowing, but he calls it The Cloud of Unknowing. He says, “When I came to know, I forgot all knowledge; all knowledge disappeared.” There is no need for knowledge when you know. When you don’t know, you cling to knowledge because only through that knowledge can you pretend to know. When you know, you can forget knowledge. When you don’t know, how can you afford to forget it?
So only the greatest knowers have been able to forget knowledge. That is the peak, and it has to be remembered. Here, living with me, being here with me, don’t become men of knowledge; otherwise you will have missed me. Become men of knowing, become clouds of unknowing – which is the same thing in other words. Knowing is almost like unknowing because in knowing there is no knower, the ego does not exist. In knowledge there is a division: the division of the known and the knower, the division of the subject and the object. In knowing there is no division. Knowing is not divisive, it is unitive; it unites.
Science is a sort of knowledge, religion a sort of knowing or unknowing, hence their paths never cross anywhere and they will never cross. Where science ends, religion begins. Where cunning ends, innocence begins. Where the knower disappears, knowing comes in.
In the biblical story of Adam’s expulsion there is something to be understood in this context. The story is so beautiful that I come to it again and again, with different meanings, with different interpretations. God said to Adam, “You can enjoy all the fruits of this garden but there are two trees – one is called the Tree of Life; the other is called the Tree of Knowledge – please never eat from the Tree of Knowledge.” He mentions two trees: the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. He says nothing about the Tree of Life; he simply says, “Don’t eat from the Tree of Knowledge.” But Adam was too curious, hence the serpent could persuade him – otherwise the serpent would not have been persuasive, would not have succeeded. Deep down, Adam must have been curious about it, as every child is – as Adam was the first child, and God was the first father. Adam was persuaded to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. He ate, and he became knowledgeable. Immediately he felt ashamed, immediately he felt naked. Up to then he was innocent; the innocence was primordial, absolute, unconditional. He was not aware that he was naked. In fact he was not aware that he was. The ego entered: from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge ego was created. He became alert, he started judging whether he was beautiful or not, whether it was good to be naked or not; he became aware of his body. For the first time he became self-conscious; up to then he had not been self-conscious. Not that he was not conscious, he was conscious, but there was no self in it; the consciousness was pure, unobstructed. The consciousness was just a pure light, but suddenly the ego stood like a pillar in the middle of consciousness – a dark pillar, a pillar of darkness. And the story says that he was expelled.
In fact, God need not have expelled him. He had expelled himself through eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. Knowledge is expulsion. The moment you become aware of your ego you are expelled from the beauty, from the benediction, from the delight, from the joy, that life has to offer to you.
Now what happened to the other tree, the Tree of Life? Nothing is said about it. My own interpretation is that had Adam eaten first from the Tree of Life and then from the Tree of Knowledge there would have been no expulsion. If knowing had come through living, if knowing had come through experience, there would have been no expulsion. His knowledge was bogus; it had not come through his own experience, it was unearned, it was immature – hence the expulsion. It was borrowed, it was not his own. When it comes through experience it liberates, it makes you more joyous, it makes you more delighted in existence. If Adam had eaten first the fruit of the Tree of Life and then the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, there would have been no expulsion. He reversed the process: he ate from the Tree of Knowledge first. Once you eat from the Tree of Knowledge, you start losing life. You cannot eat from the Tree of Life then, so the expulsion is self-imposed.
Remember, knowledge can come in two ways. You can have it from others, from books, from people, from society, and you can claim it as yours, but then you are expelled. And remember, the expulsion is self-imposed; nobody is expelling you. Your very wrong approach toward knowing becomes a barrier. But knowing is attained through another way – that is through experience, through life. Eat the fruit of the Tree of Life first and then knowing comes silently. Without even a whisper it arises in your soul because if you go into experience, the ego is not created. The more you experience life, the less you have the self. Once life is known in its totality, you don’t think of yourself as separate from existence: you have fallen into unity, you have become one. You have become one with the whole. You are part of the organic unity of existence. And then there is knowing, a totally different kind of knowing, which liberates. Eat the fruit of the Tree of Life.
There is another parable in the Bible that when God created the world he asked Adam to name things. He brought the lion and asked Adam, “What name do you give to this animal?” He brought the elephant and asked, “What name do you give to this animal?” Adam named all things, and since then man has been doing the same. All your knowledge is nothing but labeling, naming. If you ask somebody, “Do you know this flower?” he says, “Yes, I know it is a rose.” What does he know? Just the name. What else do you know? By knowing the name rose do you know the rose? By knowing the word god do you know God? By knowing the word love do you know love? That parable is also beautiful. Adam was foolish enough. He should have said, “No, how can I name these things? I don’t know them.” But he did name them – the elephant, the rose, the lion, the tiger – and since then, that’s what man has been doing continuously down the ages: just naming things. If you know the name of a person, you think you know the person; so when you introduce people to each other you just tell them their name or their country, their race. But what are you doing? Is the person known that way? A person is so vast, so huge, how can you label him and know him by his label? But naming gives a false impression – as if you know.

A couple whose new home was completed very recently had hardly moved in before the neighbors came over to inspect it. Naturally the conversation was on the subject of the new house.
“It is very nice,” commented one visitor, “but I don’t see why you call this type of house a bungalow.”
“Well,” explained the owner, “we just don’t know what else to call it. The job was a bungle and we still owe for it so we call it bungalow.”

One has to call it something, so, “The job was a bungle and we still owe for it so we call it a bungalow.”
One has to call things something, so we go on labeling things and then we think we know. What exactly do you know? If you drop those names that have accumulated in your mind, what is left? Nothing, exactly, and that nothing has to be realized because unless you recognize that nothingness, you will never move in the right direction. The right direction is knowing, not knowledge.
What do your experts go on doing?
I have heard about a doctor…

He had just started his practice and the first patient came. He examined the patient, but could not get hold of what kind of illness he was suffering from. He didn’t want to show that he didn’t know, so he looked into the books. But still he could not find the diagnosis. He became very nervous; the patient was sitting on the bed and watching, and the doctor started perspiring. Then suddenly an idea came to him. He asked the patient, “Have you ever suffered from this illness before?”
The man said, “Yes, five years ago I suffered from it.”
And the doctor laughed and he said, “So, one thing is certain. You have it again!”

At least he could say something now. He was at ease. “You have it again!” But even if you can find a name for it, that doesn’t mean much.

“I really was worried about my son Timothy,” confessed Mrs. Malone to her bridge cronies. “He had gotten into the habit of tucking all sorts of things into his pockets: twenty-dollar bills off my dressing table, other people’s silver spoons, things like that… Then my husband suggested that I take the boy to see Dr. Thingamabob, who studied analysis with Freud in Vienna.
And do you know, girls, my husband was absolutely right. That doctor solved my Timothy’s problem after talking to him for just one hour. He told me ‘Mrs. Malone, your son is a thief.’”

Now what are you doing? It seems as if the problem is solved. It appears – by naming, by labeling – that you have solved the problem. Avoid this habit – this is one of the dangerous habits of man. Because of this habit it has become impossible to penetrate into reality. This habit has become so unconscious, so deep-rooted, so mechanical, that the moment you see something, you immediately verbalize a name. You see the tree and immediately you repeat inside, “This is a tree – a gulmohar tree or a pine tree. This is a rose; this is a marigold.” You continuously go on saying something inside whenever you are encountering anything. And if sometimes you come across something which you don’t know the name for, you feel a little uneasy: you start inquiring, “What is this thing called?” Once somebody has given you a name – any name will do – you are at ease. How do you become at ease so easily? You think it has become known just by being named.
A child is born and you give a name to the child, and the moment you give a name you have put up a barrier. Now the child will be equivalent to the name, and the name is an invention. The child was a mystery, and the name is very poor. No name can cover any person because each person is such a mystery. What name can cover a person? It is impossible. I know it is needed; names are needed for utilitarian purposes, but remember well that the name rose is not the rose. Use the name, but don’t forget that the rose is a tremendous existence.
Tennyson has said, “If I could understand a flower, root and all, then I would have understood all of existence.” Yes, a small roseflower is so vast that if you can understand one small roseflower, you will have understood all of existence because everything is so interconnected. If you want to understand the roseflower, you will have to understand the earth: it comes out of it, the earth is the source. And you will have to understand the sky because it flowers into the sky. You will have to understand the sun because without the sun it cannot exist; the color comes from the sun. If you go deeply into it, you will find that you will have to understand everything that exists in existence. Only then will your knowledge of this rose be complete and total.
Just by calling it a rose you start thinking you know it. These names give you knowledge and these names simply confuse you.

Joyce, the inquiring child, asked, “Dad, is today Wednesday?”
Answered the patient father, “No, daughter, today is Thursday.”
Joyce: “But yesterday you said, ‘Today is Wednesday’.”
Father: “Well, today was Wednesday yesterday. Yesterday Thursday was tomorrow. When today is tomorrow, today will be yesterday. Today is today now. Now do you understand?”

Games of words: games, and nothing else. All your philosophy and all your theology are nothing but games with words, playing with words. One can play endlessly. One word can lead to another and so on and so forth. Existence is, and existence is not a word. Existence is, and existence is not a philosophy. Existence is, and existence is not a dogma, theory, scripture. If you want to move into existence, then you have to drop all words, all verbalizing habits; you have to drop language. Language is the barrier.
Once language disappears, who are you? Are you then a knower? You are not then a knower. Then do you know anything? You don’t. You are not a knower, and you don’t know anything, and exactly in that moment of emptiness knowing arises. That’s what Zen people call satori. If language is dropped, satori happens, and the whole effort on the path of Zen is how to drop language. They give paradoxes to solve which cannot be solved. Solving these paradoxes, by and by one gets fed up with language itself. Out of sheer exhaustion a moment comes – language drops, and consciousness is freed – satori has happened.
Zen masters say to their disciples, “Go and meditate on the sound of one hand clapping.” Now, one hand cannot clap; to clap at least two hands are needed. One hand cannot create any sound; for sound to be created something needs to clash. Sound comes from conflict. Clash! One hand cannot create sound. Now this is absurd, but the disciple has to meditate over it. He meditates. Sometimes it takes one year, sometimes two years and sometimes twenty years – it depends. The disciple goes on meditating morning, afternoon, evening, night. He hardly sleeps for five hours and again, by three o’clock in the morning, he is sitting again at that absurd game – thinking, meditating – “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” He knows well, and in his mind says, “What nonsense are you saying? This is not possible. You will never find it. But the master says you have to find it.”
He has to go every day to the master and report whether he has found it or not. And the master insults and sometimes hits him, and sometimes he throws him out of the room and he says, “You have not found it. You are just a fool. Try harder. Try harder.” And he tries – harder and harder – one year, two years, three years, or twenty years. What will happen? One goes on becoming tense and tense and tense, and there is no possibility to solve it; so the tension cannot be relaxed. That is the secret of the koan. If there is an answer, then the tension can be relaxed, but there is no answer. An answer as such is not possible – it has been prohibited from the very beginning.
A koan is a puzzle which cannot be solved. If it can be solved, it is not a koan. If the mind can solve it, then the mind can continue. But the mind cannot solve it, cannot solve it; again and again the mind is proved impotent, again and again to be impotent. Again and again, frustration. Again and again, the mind feels, “I cannot do anything. I cannot do anything.” This tension goes on, goes on, and becomes a climax: thunderous, roaring, like a storm; a madness arises out of it. The disciple goes on thinking “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” He goes on asking the mind.
First the mind tries to supply answers: linguistic, verbal, borrowed, and the master goes on denying all of them. Even if the disciple enters the room and does not say anything to the master, he enters, and the master says, “No, this is not the answer.” Because, in fact, there is no answer, so the master knows no answer can be brought. Then, one day – out of sheer exhaustion, out of sheer tiredness, total tiredness – the mind flops, language disappears.
With language disappearing, with mind disappearing, the question disappears. Who is there to ask? And if there is no language, how can you formulate the question, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” With the mind dropping, the question disappears. There is tremendous peace, silence: a state of no-language.
Sometimes the disciple may not go to the master. Who bothers to go to the master now? But then the master comes or sometimes the disciple may go, and even before he has said anything, the master will say, “So you have come home, so you have arrived, so you have crossed the barrier of language, so you have become silent.” From that silence knowing grows.
All that you know, all that you think of as knowledge is rubbish. Know it as rubbish and drop it. All that is borrowed, all that is learned from others – and all that you know that is learned from others – has to be dropped. It is humiliating: to carry it and to declare that it is knowledge is humiliating.

Two comics met in Lindy’s. One of them was furious.
“I saw you at the Palace,” he roared. “You told every joke that I told on my broadcast. They were my jokes.”
“Look, wise guy,” answered the accused. “Anything that comes out of my radio is mine. I have paid for it, haven’t I? Anything that comes out of my radio is mine. I have paid for it.”

Is anything that comes out of your Bible yours because you have purchased the Bible? Is anything that comes out of the Koran yours because you are a Mohammedan? Is anything that comes out of the Vedas yours because, accidentally, you were born into a Hindu family? All that you know – pile it up and burn it forever. It will be difficult because your whole ego is involved in it.
To recognize the fact that you don’t know is the most difficult thing a man can do, but, in fact, a very manly thing. When you do it you have become for the first time a real man. Before it you were just pseudo, phony. And this knowledge gives you a false sense of knowing, but it never transforms your life. It never really gives anything to you. You know what is good, but you do what is not good. You know anger is bad, but you go on being angry. You know, but what is the use of this knowledge? It never becomes in any way part of your being, and it cannot become part of your being.
Many people come to me and they say, “We know; we know exactly what is right and what is wrong, but we are weak and we cannot do the right, and we go on becoming victims of the wrong.” That is not the right thing. They are not weak. Nobody is weak. God never creates weaklings – it is impossible. Then where does the problem come from? The problem arises because knowledge is not a transforming force. So what if you know? It never transforms you. It gives you a feeling that you are weak; it makes you feel impotent. Look at it. Your knowledge, rather than helping you, destroys your self-confidence. It is better to be angry and not to know that anger is bad. To think that anger is bad and then be angry is very dangerous: you are becoming split. A part of your mind goes on saying, “It is wrong,” and a part of your mind goes on doing it all the same. You are becoming schizophrenic. Your knowledge makes you schizophrenic.
Knowledge is impotent; hence it makes you feel impotent. Drop out of the company of knowledge and then, if you really know that anger is bad out of your own experience, that very knowing transforms you. Then you will never be angry again. How can you be? Once you know that fire burns, how can you put your hand into it? It is impossible – unless you want to burn your hand, then it is totally different. When you know you cannot get out through the wall and you will get hurt in the head if you try, you don’t try – unless you want to break your head.
Knowing is always in tune with your being. Knowledge is always out of tune.

The Police Chief was angry. “You have been on the force now for two years and never made an arrest,” he shouted at Patrolman Pat. “I’m gonna give you one more chance. Someone is stealing Squire Davis’s apples. Go up there and catch the thief.”
So Pat goes up there and around midnight he pounces on a masked man in the orchard trying to sneak away with a pack on his back. He opens the bag and finds it contains valuable silver, so he returns it to the masked man. “Sorry, my mistake,” Pat says. “You can thank your stars it was not apples.”

That’s how it happens. Knowledge never gives you insight; rather, it makes you blind. Knowledge is blinding; knowing is an insight, a clarity, a transparency. Knowledge is old; knowing is always fresh, young, it arises out of the now. Knowledge is very ancient. Religions go on establishing their oldness. Hindus say that they are the oldest religion in the world, so say the Jews, so say the Jainas. Most ancient – but why? Why this constant effort to prove that we are the oldest? Because knowledge is valuable if it is old. Knowledge is like wine: the older it is the more valuable. And knowledge is intoxicating. Yes, it is like wine, it is a drug: it dulls you, it makes you insensitive, it makes you unconscious. Knowing is fresh. A man of knowing arrives at his knowing each moment again and again. He never carries the old. He lives in the moment; he is responsive, sensitive, alert, aware.

A French portrait painter sat in his favorite cafe sipping his wine. His first small bottle finished, he was about to order a second, when his eyes fell on the headline of a paper, “Hard Times Coming,” so instead of ordering his usual second bottle, he called for his check.
“Is there anything wrong with the wine?” asked the landlord.
“The wine is good, but I didn’t order a second bottle because hard times are coming and we must economize,” explained the artist.
“Hard times?” said the landlord. “Then my wife must not order that silk dress we planned but must take one of cotton.”
“Hard times?” repeated the dressmaker when the order was canceled. “This is no time to expand. I must stop the improvement I had planned in this place.”
“Hard times, eh?” said the builder, when the dressmaker canceled the plans. “Then I cannot have my wife’s portrait painted.”
So he wrote to the artist and canceled the order.
After receiving the letter, the artist went again to his favorite cafe and ordered a small bottle of wine to soothe himself. On a nearby chair was the paper in which he had read of hard times a few days before. He picked it up to read more closely and found that it was ten years old.

Knowledge circulates. It goes on from one hand to another and it affects people tremendously. They start living out of it – at least they try to. It cripples them. You have all become cripples. You are not centered because your knowledge has forced you out of your centering. A child is centered. The moment he starts growing and starts knowing things, he becomes more and more uncentered; he goes astray. An old man completely forgets where his center is.

This parable, and I call it a parable; it is metaphorical. Try to understand it. It is of great beauty.
Chao Hsiang Tzu went hunting in the central mountains with a party of a hundred thousand. He set fire to the forests by lighting the tall grass, and fanned the flames for a hundred miles.

A man came out from within a stone cliff, rising and falling with the smoke and ashes. The crowd thought he was a demon. When the fire passed he came out walking casually as though the fire he had passed through did not exist.

Chao Hsiang Tzu marveled and detained the man. He scrutinized him at leisure. In his shape, his color, and the seven holes in his head, he was human; in his breathing, in his voice, he was human. He asked the man by what way he lived in stone and went through fire.

“What are these things you call stone and fire?” said the man.
“The thing you have just come out from was stone; the thing you have just been walking through was fire.”
“I didn’t know,” said the man.

Marquis Wen of Wei heard of it and questioned Tzu Hsia, a very well-known learned man, “What sort of man was that?”

“According to what I have heard my master say, the man who is in harmony is absolutely the same as other things and no thing succeeds in wounding or obstructing him. To pass through metal and stone, and tread through water and fire are all possible.”

“Why don’t you do it yourself?” said Marquis Wen.

“I am not yet capable of cutting open my heart and throwing out the knowledge in it. However, I can tell you all you want to know about it.”

“Why doesn’t your master do it?” asked Marquis Wen.
“My master is one who, though able to do it, is able not to do it.”

Marquis Wen was delighted with the answer.
Now, go slowly into this parable step by step. First:
A man came out from within a stone cliff; rising and falling, with the smoke and ashes.
This is a Taoist attitude that if you move, flow with life without any resistance, without any effort, without any direction of your own; if you follow life wherever it leads like a dry leaf in the wind… The wind goes to the south, and the leaf also goes to the south; the wind takes the leaf up, and the leaf goes into the clouds; and the wind drops it back, and the leaf sleeps silently under the tree on the earth. The leaf has no desire, and the leaf has no direction of its own. The leaf has no ego. Desire and direction are by-products of the ego. You want to be somebody; you want to reach somewhere; you want to prove something. You want to do something; you want to swim against the current; then you are not a man of Tao. Don’t swim at all. There is no question of going against the current, but just going with the river wherever it leads. Not pushing, not pulling, not trying to manipulate life, but just rising and falling with it, then you are dissolved. Then how can anything harm you?
Have you noticed? Taoists go on telling these stories again and again. You may have noticed it happening many times – a drunkard falls down on the road, but is not hurt; you fall and you break a few bones. What happened? Why has the drunkard not been wounded by the road’? He falls every night, and every night he has to be brought home. Somebody carries him. And again in the morning he is going to the office smiling and happy.
I used to live with a drunkard. He was my neighbor for a few years, a very beautiful man. Sometimes his wife would come to me and she would say, “My husband has not returned. He may be lying somewhere in the gutter and it is dark and I cannot go. Will you help me a little? Can you go and find him?” And I would go and find him. Many times I would go and find him lying in some gutter or on some road or just leaning against a post and I would bring him home. But he was never hurt! And in the morning he was as fresh as ever again rushing to the office, and in the evening again the same story.
Watching him, one thing became absolutely certain: Taoists are right because when he fell he was un-self-conscious. When he fell, he simply fell; he was not resisting. When you fall, you don’t simply fall, you try to protect yourself, you become hard, you resist. In that very resistance is danger. When you are hard your bones are bound to break. Not because the earth is going to hurt you, but your own resistance hurts you.
Out of this Taoist attitude have arisen many arts in the Far East: aikido, jujitsu, and others. The approach is to be relaxed. Even if the enemy hurts you, you absorb it rather than fighting with it, and you will not be hurt – difficult, a great art. To persuade yourself not to become hard when somebody is striking you is difficult because we have been trained for centuries to protect, to fight, to struggle, to make an effort to survive.
The Taoist attitude is to go with life, to go all the way, to go without any conditions. Wherever it leads, go with it. Trust life so tremendously that you don’t fear, that you don’t have any fear of life. You come from life; you are part of life, so how is there any possibility that life will harm you? There is no need to be afraid, to have fear.
…rising and falling with the smoke and ashes… the man came out of the stone cliff – walked through fire.
The crowd thought he was a demon. When the fire had passed, he came out walking casually as though the fire he had passed through did not exist.
It looks like a miracle, but this miracle can happen to you. I am not saying, “Go and walk through fire.” This is just a parable – a beautiful story to say something of great significance. Try it in your life: become un-self-conscious. Don’t carry this self and a constant struggle with life. Sometimes relax, sometimes let things be and see what happens, and you will be surprised. Once you let things be, once you start living in a let-go, or living as let-go, then you will see that life is not your enemy, it is tremendously friendly. It has to be – it is your mother, it is your father, it is your source and it is your goal. You come out of it, and one day you will disappear into it. Why fear?
Out of fear comes fight. Out of fight you become a separate individual. Naturally, when you become a separate individual, you are in trouble. Then you take this vast existence as the enemy. That is the Western approach: all of nature is your enemy; it has to be conquered. “Conquest of nature” – that’s what science has been doing for two, three centuries and it has destroyed all the beauty of life. It has polluted the whole atmosphere. The whole ecology of the earth is disturbed because of these people who have been trying to conquer nature. It is foolish. It is as if my one hand tries to conquer my whole body – it is as foolish as that. Man trying to conquer the earth, man trying to conquer the sky, man trying to conquer nature is just absurd. Once you try to conquer nature, naturally one day or other you will try to conquer your innermost nature also. That is a corollary to it, a natural corollary to it. First you try to conquer the outer nature, then you start trying to conquer the inner nature, but then you are always in conflict, friction. You become a very sharp ego, and of course tremendously miserable, terribly miserable, infinitely miserable.
Misery is to fall out of step with existence. Happiness is to fall in step with existence. And to fall in step with existence is so simple because it is so natural.
…rising and falling with the smoke… The man walked out casually as though the fire he had passed through did not exist.…
In his shape, his color, and the seven holes in his head he was human; in his breathing, in his voice, he was human. He asked the man by what way he lived in stone and went through fire.
Of course Chao Hsiang Tzu was very surprised, intrigued, by the phenomenon. He could not believe his own eyes – how could this man be human? We have lost all meaning of real humanity. This man looked like a demon, something not of the human race – either something evil or something godly, but not human.
Then Chao Hsiang Tzu looked at the man: In his shape, his color, and the seven holes in his head, he was human; in his breathing, in his voice, he was human.
Remember, the human is the abode of the superhuman. Man is not an end, man has infinite possibilities; man has great potential. Man is not only the past, but the future also. Man has an infinite destiny in front of him. He has to grow – and he can grow to superhuman heights, but the growth does not come from effort. The growth comes in cooperation with nature. The growth comes through harmony, through harmonious cooperation. The growth comes not as a conquest, but as a surrender.
That’s the difference between other religions and the Taoists. The other religions emphasize the will too much and Taoists say will is really the calamity. Surrender. One should become as will-less as possible. The moment you are will-less, then there is no problem: all blocks are removed, and deep inside you the superhuman rises to its optimum height.
Yes, he looked like a man. Buddha also looked like a man, so looked Lao Tzu, so looked Krishna, so looked Christ. They were all men, but still something of the beyond had penetrated them. Because of that beyond we have given different names: Jesus is called Christ, “the only begotten son of God.” These are just metaphorical ways of saying one thing, and only one thing, that something of the beyond has happened in Jesus. He is no longer just the son of Joseph and Mary. Something of the beyond, something of the infinite has entered his being – he is the son of God. Hindus call Krishna, Avatar. Avatar means that God has descended; God has come to the earth.
Names differ, metaphors differ, but one thing is certain: that whenever some human being has really fallen in tune with nature, something so superb happens in his life, we cannot just call him a man. We have to call him by a new name to indicate that he has gone beyond humanity. But remember, he has gone beyond humanity because it is human to go beyond humanity. It is part of being human to go beyond humanity and unless you have gone beyond you have not fulfilled your destiny, then you are not fully human. Then you are just a man.
That’s the difference I make between man and human: man is a stasis, human is a process. Man is a static concept; being human is a growth concept, a growing concept, a movement. A human being is one who is constantly changing into superhuman; and a man is one who has become dormant, is not moving anywhere, is simply drying and dying.
Start moving! Man is like frozen ice. A human is like a river flowing – the ice has melted. And when the river flows it is bound to reach the ocean. The river is meant to reach the ocean – it will arrive – and there is no need for any map. The rivers don’t carry any map. There is no need even of a guide. There is no need of milestones. The river simply flows, not knowing where it is going, and one day it arrives. So it happens in consciousness, the stream of consciousness. Just float naturally, in a relaxed way, not in a hurry, not in impatience. Cool, collected, in deep cooperation with nature, flowing, and one day you will arrive. Just by allowing the flow to happen, you reach the ocean.
Chao Hsiang Tzu …asked the man by what way he lived in stone and went through fire.
That’s natural. We always ask: “By what way?” “How did you achieve this?” What is the method, the technology? Buddha is asked again and again, “By what way have you achieved this?” And Buddha says, “The moment you ask this question, you create trouble for me because I achieved it only when I dropped all the ways: the pathless path. When I was on the way, I could not achieve it. For six years I was struggling hard. I was doing the utmost that I could do, and I failed. I failed utterly. Then one day there was nothing left to be done. I had done all that could be humanly done. Nothing to do, I relaxed. And that very moment I attained. So when you ask me by what way, you create trouble for me because I attained it only when I had dropped all the ways.”
That is one of the greatest insights ever, and that is one of the very fundamental things of the Taoist approach toward life. Never ask, “By what way?” If you ask that, you’ve ask the wrong question. There is the possibility that some foolish person may answer. Fools are all around. If you ask a foolish question, you are bound to get a foolish answer. Once a question is asked, you will get an answer. People are very ready to supply advice and answers, but if the question is wrong, the answer is bound to be wrong because only a wrong answer can fit a wrong question. If you ask a wrong question and I supply you with a right answer, you will think I am irrelevant. You had asked something and I am talking about something else. This happens again and again.
In darshan I watch people. If they ask a wrong question, and I give them a right answer, they look a little puzzled, they look uneasy. They feel as if they had asked one thing and I have answered something else: it does not fit – it is not an answer to their question. And they are right too. It is not an answer to their question because their question was so wrong that only a wrong answer could fit in with it.
Remember not to ask a wrong question, otherwise there are priests and pundits who will supply you with answers. They have been cheating humanity because humanity, out of foolishness, asks wrong questions. Then they supply wrong answers, and those wrong answers fit perfectly well with your wrong questions – and then they cheat you.
I have heard…

In a country village there was a laborer who killed his hog; and it was the custom in such cases to send pieces of meat; sausages, black puddings and liver to all the neighbors. This farmer, who had already received innumerable presents of this kind, found that if he adhered to this custom he should have nothing left for himself. Confiding in one of his neighbors, he said, “I have killed my hog, and if I should send a piece to all from whom I have received, there will be none left for myself. Now, I pray you, advise me what is to be done?”
To which his neighbor replied, “If I were you, I would hang up my hog at my open window for the greater part of the night, and the next day I would tell everybody it was stolen. By this means, I should be excused from making presents.”
The laborer, much pleased with his friend’s advice, returned home and put it in practice. The giver of this friendly advice, not failing to profit by the darkness of the night, seized the hog and carried it home. How astonished was the farmer when early in the morning he found nothing of his hog! He raved at his neighbor’s invention, which he had so much approved of the evening before. He sallied out to give the alarm, and the first person he met was his friendly adviser to whom he related the whole affair, saying, “Oh neighbor, what do you think? They have stolen my hog!”
“There, there,” said his neighbor, “that’s right, stand to it. Tell the same story to everybody you meet, and I’ve no doubt they will all believe you.”
The farmer began to swear, and to protest most solemnly that it was no joke – that his hog was absolutely gone. But the stronger he was in his expressions of grief and vexation, the more his neighbor exclaimed, “That’s right, that’s right, my friend. Stand to it well and they’ll all excuse your lack of presents.”

The priests have been exploiting humanity because man, out of his stupidity, has been asking the wrong questions. Of course you get wrong answers, and you have to pay for those wrong answers. They don’t come cheap, they don’t come free; you have to pay dearly for them.
This man, Chao Hsiang Tzu asked: “…by what way?” The question seems logical, relevant, meaningful. It is not because a way means a will. You know the proverb: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Let me say to you: “Where there’s a way, there’s a will.” The way comes out of the will. The way is nothing but will translated practically into life. Tao has no way because Tao has no will. Will means struggle, will means fight. All ways are ways of struggle. Tao is a pathless path – no way – things are good as they are. There is nowhere to go, so what is the point of any way? One has simply to relax and be herenow. And remember: relaxation is not a way that you have to follow. If you make it a way, there will not be relaxation, there will come will.
I have read a book – American, of course. The title of the book: You Must Relax. Now, “must” is very American, and naturally very tense. You must relax! Even relaxation has to be a must? Then how will you relax? It is something to do and you have to do – it is almost like a commandment. You have to follow the commandment. If you don’t relax, it will almost look as if you are committing a sin – you must relax! And what will you do when you will be relaxing? You will do something, and whatsoever you do will be wrong because relaxation comes only when you are not doing anything at all. If you are doing something, counting sheep, or just going from one to a hundred and then coming back from a hundred, ninety-nine, ninety-eight, back to one. Whatsoever you are doing, or just trying to relax the whole body: relax the legs and then relax the stomach, and relax the hands – you are doing it. All doing is a tension. Relaxation is not something that you have to do. When you don’t do anything, it is there. When you are not doing, it is there. It is in your non-doing. If you do something, that will be your undoing.
This is absolutely wrong, to say to somebody, “You must relax!” It is almost as if you go to an insane person and you say, “You must be sane!” Now what will he do? He is insane. He can make great efforts to become sane – he will become more insane. He is insane because he is tense. Now you are giving him another goal to become more tense, even more. There is no way.
Tao says to drop all ways. All ways are mind inventions. All ways are man-fabricated. Tao is when there is no way, no will. When you are not going anywhere – no goal to achieve, nothing to become, nowhere to go – then what will you do? You will simply plop, you will relax into existence. In that very moment you have crossed to humanity: you have become superhuman.
He asked the man by what way he lived in stone and went through fire.

“What are these things you call stone and fire?” said the man.
That is innocence. He does not know what stone is and what fire is; he must be a very childlike man. This is the idea, the Taoist idea, that a man should be so innocent – “the cloud of unknowing.”
“What are these things you call stone and fire?” said the man.
“The thing you have just come out from was stone; the thing you have just been walking through was fire.”
“I didn’t know,” said the man.
In his not-knowing was his knowing: because he was in a state of not-knowing there was no barrier. How can fire burn you, if you don’t know that it is fire and that it burns? This has to be understood.
If you want to understand it exactly, you will have to ask the hypnotists. You can ask our Santosh what it means exactly. He can, some day, do an experiment in deep hypnosis before you. In deep hypnosis you can put an ordinary pebble on the hand of the hypnotized person and you can tell the person who is in deep unconsciousness, “This is a burning coal, burning hot, and you will be burned.” It is just an ordinary pebble, cold. But when you put the pebble on his hand, the man will be burned, and his hand will show that there has been a burning coal on it. What happened? And you can also do the opposite. You can put a burning coal into his hand; you can say that it is just a cold stone, and he will not be burned. Now, these are proved scientific facts. What happens exactly? When you put a burning coal on the hand of the man, why is he not being burned? If fire burns, then he should be burned. What does it matter whether he is conscious or unconscious, hypnotized or not hypnotized? What does it matter if you say it is a cold stone? By your speaking it, how do things change?
Hypnosis is a very revealing force. It has been condemned too much in the West, particularly because of the wrong attitudes of Christianity. Otherwise hypnosis is a door to inner reality. And it has to become a door in the coming days. By and by, more and more people are getting interested in it and more and more scientific research is being done. It reveals a tremendous phenomenon. One of the phenomena which is relevant to this parable is that you create your reality by believing in it. This is a tremendous discovery.
You create your reality by believing in it. The reality is as you believe it. Your belief becomes your reality. If your belief changes, your reality changes. Man lives in a very unreal reality. That is the meaning of the Hindu word maya. Maya means magic, maya means that which appears to be so, but is not. We live in maya; we live in a very illusory world. We create our own world.
You can go to deep forests in India where primitive societies still live. They have their belief systems; you will be surprised that they work. Somebody can kill a person far away, miles away, by doing a certain ritual. If he wants to kill somebody who does not belong to the primitive society, he will not be able to, but he can kill people who belong to his society because their belief system is the same. Once a person comes to know that a certain ritual has been done which has always killed people, he will immediately die. He will simply lapse into death.
In America, in 1952, they made a law, the Anti-hypnosis Act because in a certain university a few students, just out of curiosity, were doing some experiments. Four students were doing an experiment in their room: one was lying on the bed and three were hypnotizing him. The boy who was being hypnotized must have been of a tremendous capacity, he must have been a mediumistic person: he fell into a really deep hypnosis, which rarely happens. Ordinarily, thirty-three per cent of people are hypnotizable, and out of that thirty-three per cent not more than three per cent are deeply hypnotizable. So out of one hundred persons, only three are good subjects who can be put into a deep trance. Otherwise, others go into a trance, but they remain on the periphery: they will do something which they agree to do. If you tell them to do something to which they don’t agree, they will immediately come out of their hypnosis. But that boy must have been one of those rare, three per cent of people. The three were hypnotizing him, and they were playing – just like a joke – they had read a book and they were trying something from it. It was just coincidental that the boy was very hypnotizable, suggestible. They said many things and he did many things, and then suddenly the idea came to one and he said, “Now you are dead.” And the boy died. They tried to bring him back, but once a person is gone, he is gone; then hypnosis cannot work.
Hypnosis reveals one thing: that if you believe in something very deeply, it starts functioning in your mind, in your being – it becomes reality. Reality is not always real. Ordinarily, whatsoever you think is real is ninety per cent imaginary, but it works as reality. Buddha defined reality as “that which works,” and that definition is really meaningful. Whatsoever works is real. If somebody, in a deep hypnotic trance, is burned because you put a cold stone in his hand, then it is fire for him. It works, and he will carry the wound for many days. The body believed it, the consciousness believed it, and it functioned.
The man said, “I didn’t know,” You must have heard about firewalkers. They walk through the fire because of a great trust: they believe that the fire is not going to burn them; they move in a deep, hypnotic trance. In India, there are many firewalkers. In Ceylon, the best group of firewalkers are Buddhist monks. Every year, once a year, they gather around the temple of Kandy and they walk on fire. The belief is that Buddha protects, and certainly the belief works. Not that Buddha protects, but if you think that Buddha protects then the belief works – your belief protects.
It happened that a Christian missionary went to see the firewalkers, and of course it was a challenge to him – Buddhist monks walking on fire and Buddha protecting? Somebody challenged him and said, “You believe in Christ. What about you? Why don’t you walk on the fire?”
Now the challenge was such that he could not say no. He was a missionary and he was teaching people that Buddha is nothing, Christ is all. So they said, “Now then, let us see what happens.”
He may not have been burned if he had really believed, but no missionary ever believes. He became suspicious, he was afraid. He walked out of his ego not out of his trust; he walked saying, “If these thirty people are not burned, why should I be?” Not only did he remember Christ, he even remembered Buddha too, inside – “It is okay, protect me too if you are protecting these thirty people.” But he had a doubtful mind. He was burned, terribly burned.
The same group was invited to Oxford in 1960 and they walked there. Thousands of people watched, and a professor of philosophy, a simple man, just looking at this whole phenomenon became so enchanted that without saying anything to anybody he jumped into the fire, and he walked and was not burned. What happened? Neither Buddha nor Christ – simply seeing that if thirty human beings could walk, “Then why not? I am also a human being. It is humanly possible.” The very idea that it was humanly possible became a trust. There was no doubt in it. He jumped in without hesitation, and he could walk on fire.
I am not saying that you should go and walk on fire, but if you watch your life you will see many things happen only because you believe them; many things cannot happen to you because you disbelieve them. Many things are not possible because there is doubt; many things become possible because there is trust. You create your reality. Look at the splendor of human consciousness – you create your reality, you are the center of your world. You create your world, you hold your world. If you are miserable, remember, it is you who are creating it. If you are happy, know well it is you who are creating it. It is your world: you can create a happy world; you can create an unhappy world. Hell is your habit of creating unhappy worlds around you. Heaven is another habit of creating happy worlds around you. And nirvana is to know that all which mind creates is useless. Why not move into that which is uncreated by mind? That is the ultimate. Then there is no misery and no happiness: no good, no bad, no heaven, no hell.
“I didn’t know,” said the man. He walked into fire but was not burned. Fire burns only because the idea is in you that it burns. The idea burns really, not the fire. You can see it in small things.
When Western people come to India they start suffering from many diseases: dysentery, diarrhea, hepatitis. They are very afraid of the unhygienic conditions here. The water is not clean, not scientifically clean, but Indians have lived on that water for centuries and there has never been any problem. But when you come with the idea that the water is unhygienic and you drink it, you are drinking your idea; it is dangerous, more dangerous than the unhygienic water. The water may be unhygienic, but it is not as dangerous as the idea that you are drinking with it: “It is unhygienic.” Now you are taking a dangerous step. It is a suggestion. Each time you drink water the suggestion goes in: you are creating an autohypnosis. How long will you be able to stand? You will fall; you will have hepatitis. And when you have hepatitis, of course, your old idea is strengthened even more: “I was right. The water was not hygienic.” No Indian suffers from this. You should go to Indian villages. In the same small pond the buffaloes, the bullocks, the cows are enjoying doing their thing, and man is also doing his thing, and everything goes on and nobody is worried. Nobody has any idea. Everything is good.
If you go to a Hindu sacred place, you will not find any idea, any concept, of hygiene. People think that it is a sacred place and that the water is holy; you will not even be able to get into that water; there are so many people there – and they are enjoying. They have waited their whole lives to come to this holy water and to take a dip. They are drinking it, and they will carry the water, in bottles and flasks, to their homes: it is holy water. But if you take it to the scientist he will say, “It is the unholiest water! Throw it away! Don’t bring it here. Never touch it and never go close to it.” What is happening? An idea is becoming a reality.
I was once for a few months in a primitive community in Bastar. The women go to the field – they work there – or in the forest, and suddenly they have a birth contraction and they give birth to a child. Nobody looks after them, no hospitalization, no nurses, no doctors, no other human being. The woman may be working alone in the field – she will place the child under the tree and start working again. No pain, nothing whatsoever: they have not heard about the pain that every civilized woman suffers, and because they have not heard of it, they don’t suffer it. Civilized women suffer very much: the more civilized a country, the more is the suffering. In fact, a Western woman thinks continuously for nine months, “The day is coming, the day is coming, doomsday is coming.” And she goes on hypnotizing and hypnotizing and hypnotizing herself. Then, of course, it comes. You create it. Nine months is a long hypnosis, and by and by the energy builds up and then the pain, then the tremendous pain.
You may not have heard, but in the Amazon there exists a tribe in which not only the woman suffers from the birth pain, but the husband suffers it also. “The husband?” you will say. Yes, for centuries in that tribe the idea has remained prevalent. It seems very logical too, and very socialistic. I think the women’s lib women will agree to it. Why should only women suffer? Why shouldn’t there be equality? So when a child is born, the woman lies on one cot and the husband lies on another cot, and they both suffer! Of course when a man suffers, he suffers more. He is more vigorous and screams more and shouts more and swears more. He defeats the woman! You might think that he is simply pretending – but you would be wrong; he is not pretending; it really happens. Doctors have gone there to observe, and they have examined the bodies – real cramps and pain in the man’s body; it really happens. Because for centuries they have been living with the idea that the child belongs to both, so naturally both have to suffer.
When people started coming from outside to that tribe and telling them, “Now, this is foolish; in our societies husbands have never suffered!” They could not believe it. They said, “How can it be possible? It cannot be!” It looked as absurd to them as they look absurd to us. If you go to Bastar, and you tell them “Our women suffer very much,” they would laugh. They say, “This is foolish. There is no pain at all.”
In a few Western countries, particularly in France, painless birth is being rediscovered. A few doctors are working, and thousands of children have been given birth without any pain. But again the hypnosis, the idea has to be put deep into the woman that there is going to be no pain. Once the idea settles there, there is no pain. You live in your self-created world.
Marquis Wen of Wei heard of it and questioned Tzu Hsia, a well-known, very well-known, learned man. “What sort of man was that?”

“According to what I have heard my master say, the man who is in harmony is absolutely the same as other things and no thing succeeds in wounding or obstructing him.”
This man, Tzu Hsia, is a scholar, a pundit. He has heard – he says, “I have heard my master say that when a man is in deep harmony with nature, nothing obstructs him, nothing harms him, nothing wounds him. Harmony is protection.”
“To pass through metal and stone, and tread through water and fire are all possible.”

“Why don’t you do it yourself?” asked Marquis Wen.
Naturally, when you know, why don’t you do it yourself?
“I am not yet capable of cutting open my heart and throwing away the knowledge in it.”
That’s the only barrier. The man was a pundit, but must have been a sincere and honest man. He didn’t defend his knowledge, he accepted his ignorance. He said, “I am not a man of knowing – just a man of knowledge. I have heard people say it; I have been close to people who know, but I don’t know myself. I only know about these things.”
“However, I can tell you all you want to know about it.”
“But I don’t know exactly what it is. I know about it – I have all the information possible, I have gathered all the information – but as far as I am concerned, I have not yet been able to throw away the knowledge in my heart, hence I am not in harmony.”
Knowledge is disharmony with existence. To know about, is to miss knowing. To be burdened with knowledge is to be far away from reality. “I am not yet capable of cutting open my heart…”
The other day somebody asked, “Why is my heart empty?” The heart is empty because your head is too full. Make the head empty; your heart will become full; it is the same energy. If it gets involved with the head, the heart remains empty. If it is not involved with the head, it falls into the heart. And only when your heart is full, are you full. Only when your heart is full do you flower, you bloom.
“Why doesn’t your master do it?” asked Marquis Wen.
“My master is one who, though able to do it, is able not to do it.”
That is the pinnacle of a miraculous man. To do a miracle is great, but not great enough. To do a miracle is still to be in the world of the ego. The very idea of doing it means that you are still separate from reality. A real greatness is so ordinary that it claims nothing; it is so ordinary that it never tries to prove anything.
“My master is one who, though able to do it, is able not to do it.” This is the Taoist concept of the real master: real masters have never done miracles.
In the West, Christians go on trying to prove that Jesus did miracles. If you ask Taoists, Buddhists, they will laugh. They will say these people are insulting Jesus. If it is true that he did miracles, it simply proves that he was not a real master – Buddha never did any miracles. Are they simply fantasizing, creating lies around Jesus? No, sometimes miracles happen around a master, that is possible but he never does them. Miracles may have happened around Jesus, that is possible, but he has not done them. He goes on repeating that again and again.
A woman came. She touched the garment of Jesus and she was healed. He looked back and the woman was very thankful and she said, “I am very grateful. You healed me.” And he said, “Don’t say such a thing. Your faith has healed you.” He’s tremendously true. It is not the garment of Jesus that has healed, “It is your faith.” It is not that Jesus has done anything, it is your own faith that has done something to you.
No, in the East we have never claimed miracles. And if somebody in the East claims that he is doing miracles, that simply shows that the East is losing its Easternness, its great heights; it is coming to the marketplace, to the very ordinary, to the businesslike world where claims are significant.
“My master is one who, though able to do it, is able not to do it.”

Marquis Wen was delighted with the answer.
The answer was beautiful – he was delighted. Of course to be delighted is not to be enlightened. It was just a scholarly answer from a man who himself did not know anything, who only “knew about.” Yes, the answer delighted, but if it had come from a man of knowing it would have made him enlightened.
Delight is just entertainment. It is good to listen to great truths, but there is nothing of value. Just listening to great truths is not of much value unless you listen so tremendously, so totally, that it becomes a transformation, that you become enlightened through it.
It depends on two things. First: there should be a man who has, himself, known through experience. Then there should be somebody who is ready to receive it with an open heart. Wherever this rare opportunity arises – that a man is there who knows, who really knows, not through knowledge, but through his experience, and there is a disciple, a receiving open heart – wherever this rare opportunity arises, there is great lightening, enlightenment.
Enough for today.

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