We are not something separate or different from existence, whatever is in this shell, that all is in this existence and whatever is in this existence, that all is in this shell. Existence is us, us is existence, reversible phenomenon. Having a beautiful, synchronous relationship with natural environment around us, makes a flow and hence the ecstasy and being opposite to it creates hindrance in the flow and hence the pain.
As a human mind we need to decide to choose the side, with the flow or without the flow. Yes this is our choice. And let’s choose it today, on the World Environmental Day, with nature or against nature?
Osho says Man has done so much harm to nature, that when I say that one day it can go crazy, it is not only scientific fiction, it is possible. If all these trees that we have been cutting and destroying become just a little bit united… I don’t think they know anything about trade-unions and things like that. They have not heard Karl Marx’ famous slogan: “Proletariat of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains, and you have the whole world to gain.” So just change the word proletariat: Trees of the world unite, you have nothing to lose, not even chains, and you have the whole world to gain! If these trees start attacking you, do you think you will be able to survive, even with all your nuclear weapons? Impossible. And it has happened a few times, that’s why the science fiction came into existence. In a few places it has happened. Once it happened in Africa, that a certain bird suddenly started attacking people, and it killed many people; before they could kill all those birds, a few people were killed. It happened once in Indonesia with another bird; the whole community of that species started attacking people. They simply attacked the eyes and they made hundreds of people blind before anything could be done. Because we don’t think about these things, we are not prepared. You have a fire brigade because you know fire can happen. You have the police for the criminals; you have the army if somebody attacks… but if birds start attacking your eyes, by the time you get ready to do something, much harm would have happened. And it was only one kind of bird. If all birds and all animals and all trees simply decide one day, “It is enough, now get rid of these people,” I don’t think man can survive, there is no way. All your armies will be useless, all your arms will be useless, all your nuclear weapons will be useless-and then you will understand how weak you are.
Going against nature is insane, it is just like having boxing match with a concrete wall, you cannot win in this game, but in right way you can utilize the wall for shade, support etc. Feeling of oneness with nature is what saneness.
Understand it this way:
If Aristotle is right, we shall be able to destroy death and preserve life. The more we annihilate death, the more of life will be preserved. If some day we succeed in annihilating death completely, we shall be able to preserve absolute life. The there will be life and life alone. But according to Lao Tzu, it is just the opposite. If we annihilate death, we destroy life also. If death is completely destroyed, life will be no more.
Let us examine this properly in context with the happenings of today. Now this is interesting that the more cures we have found for man’s ailment, the more ill man has become. His health has not improved by the advance of me
In the times of Lao Tzu there were not so many cures to fight the diseases, as they are today. Even today, the Adivasis in the jungles do not have so many medicines to fight diseases; but they are much more healthier than us. The proofs of their health is amazing. It is said that in the African jungles there are uncivilised people whose wounds (of any type) heal within 48 hours without any treatment! An axe falls on the foot, the wound heals up within 48 hours. Scientists say, their health is unsurpassed. They are so full of vitality and this vitality quickly fills up the wounds — without any treatment or with such cures as they know. They might tie a leaf on it, which may have no meaning medically. The Adivasi or the African jungle man is surrounded on all sides by disease. He has no means of medicine or medical research, yet his health is extraordinary!
Lao Tzu can be correct. He says, the more you try to eradicate disease, the more you will destroy health. If the universe stands on duality, if you remove the bricks from one side, the opposite bricks on the other side are bound to fall. Now the Western scientists have begun to apply their minds to Lao Tzu for they feel he may be right. There is an ancient story: It is said that an old follower of Lao Tzu, who was 90 years old, was busy pulling water from the well, together with his young son. Confucius and Lao Tzu were contemporaries. There was as much difference between them as between Aristotle and Lao Tzu. Confucius’ way of thinking is Aristotalean, therefore the West honoured Confucius very much these last 300 years. It is only now that Lao Tzu is rising in their esteem. This is because Science now finds itself in a strange predicament and is faced with great difficulty.
To continue our story: Confucius happened to pass by. He saw the old man and his young son, yoked together pulling water from the well. He was filled with compassion. He went up to the old man and said: “Do you not know, you foolish fellow, that now we harness horses or oxen to do this job? Why are vou unnecessarily tiring yourself and this young boy?”
The old man said, “Hush! Pray speak softly lest my son hears! Come after some time when my boy goes for lunch.” Confucius was perplexed. When the youth left, he asked the old man, “Why would you not let your son hear what I said?” He replied, “I am 90 years old and yet I have the strength to work side by side with a youth of 30. If I engage horses to pull the water, my son will not have the same strength at 90, that I have now. So I pray to you, do not talk of this before my son. It is a question of his health. We have heard that in towns, the horses pull water from the well. We also know that there are machines that do this job as well. But then, what will my son do? What will happen to his health, his constitution?”…
Lao Tzu says: “If you wish for rest, go the opposite way — work hard!” This is because rest and work are not opposite but associated, they are co-operators. The more you toil, the deeper you shall sleep. The opposite is also true: the sounder you sleep, the greater will be your ability to work, “Once we understand this,” says Lao Tzu, “then the question remains not of destroying the opposite but of making use of it.”
Aristotle says, “Nature causes illnesses, so fight nature.” Therefore all of the Western Science is based on fighting nature. Its whole language is of conflict.
Bertrand Russell has written a book: “Conquest of nature”, it is all in the language of war.
Lao Tzu would laugh! He would say, “You have no idea you are a part of nature. How will you win?” What will happen if my hand sets out to conquer me; if my leg wishes to defeat me? It would be rank foolishness. Lao Tzu says, “Nature cannot be conquered because you yourself are nature.” He who sets out to fight nature is an integral part of nature himself and so he only succeeds in creating tensions and turmoils within his own self. Live in Nature, do not try to conquer it. Do not fight nature in order to know her secrets. Love her, be absorbed in her and she will reveal all her mysteries.
If the structure of Science is based on Lao Tzu, it will be a different Science altogether. Its language will be one of co-operation, then only can we think in a different dimension. He who thinks in terms of conflict, his logic is always that A is A and B is B and if you want to attain A, you must destroy B, A increases only if B is diminished. So according to him, if you want to be healthy, fight the diseases. Eradicate illness to promote better health…Lao Tzu says, “That which we consider to be inverse and contrary, is not actually so.” If you wish to enjoy the cold, you cannot do so without enjoying the sun. This may seem contrary but I say, Lao Tzu is correct. The cold cannot be enjoyed without the heat and he who has not enjoyed the pleasures of perspiration, is not capable of enjoying the cold weather, for then it will become an illness for him. He who has had the pleasure of the sweat streaking down his face, he alone can enjoy the coolness of the cold. Actually, he who does not know it is to be hot, cannot know what coolness is. This is not opposed to each other, this is conjoined, it is the alliance of both that forms the melody of life…
The Aristotalean concept that has been imbued within our minds since childhood has to be wiped out if we are to understand Lao Tzu. Our gestalt of observing things is always in the opposite. Whenever we see a thing, we at once weigh it in terms of the opposite. Wherever you find a man criticizing you, you at once look upon him as your enemy…One of our methods of viewing life is that we stand in opposition to the whole world. Illness is our enemy, death is our enemy, old age is our enemy. All the world and even God seem to be arraigned against us. We find ourselves all alone in this world, we have to struggle alone in the face of all this! This is one attitude, one gestalt of looking at life. Another way, another gestalt is, that everything that is: the moon, the stars, the sky and the earth, the birds and the animals, the trees and the plants, the illnesses and the enemies and even death everything is — my comrade, my friend — the very part of my life; I cannot be alive without them. This is another way of looking at life.
For certain the first attitude will cause anxiety. If we have to fight with all the world all the twenty-four hours of the day, life cannot be joyful. And ultimately, the struggle leads to death. Each day, we have to lose: for who has ever won against life? Death comes invariably, old age comes, illness and disease do not spare us, more so when we fight against life. Death will keep coming and we will keep fighting till ultimately we find ourselves completely spent. Then nothing remains of our existence except anxiety. The science of the West has reached man to almost this condition. Everything has to be fought, everything has got to be suspected and feared…What is the gestalt of our vision? If we view our life in the language of struggle and conflict, then gradually, these enter into each fold of our existence and in each one of our relationships. Then the person finds himself alone and the whole world stands as one against him. Is it not natural then, when a person stands in conflict against the whole world, that he should be weighed down by a mountain of anxieties?
Lao Tzu based his foundation on a completely different gestalt. Would that his concept came within the understanding of man! Then we would create an entirely new world! He says, “You are not a separate entity. Then where is the question of enmity?”
You are not an individual. You appear so only because you have no idea of the Aggregate. The fact is, wherever there is the individual, he is connected to the Aggregate Whole. The individual cannot exist without the Total Aggregate. You are because everything else is.
The tree at your gate is also a part of the reason for your existence. I heard a story about Lao Tzu: One day one of his disciples was sent by someone to break a few leaves from a tree. He broke a full branch and was taking it when Lao Tzu stopped him. “Don’t you know you fool,” He told the disciple, “If any part of this tree is destroyed, you too become less to that extent? When this tree stood before us, full and green, we too in a manner, were also full and green. Today, its wound has caused a scar within us also. We are not apart, we are one.”
But even with full knowledge, we have cut off so many trees! Lao Tzu objected to a single branch being broken from the tree but we have destroyed full jungles! Now we realise it was a terrible mistake. We had cut off the jungles because we thought them to be our foes. Man was afraid of the wild life they harboured and so destroyed them and built townships. He did not realise that all the rains that poured on his land, all the breeze that blew and cooled the land cannot be without the jungles! If we cut down the jungles our towns will be no more. All over Europe now, there is a stir against the cutting of trees. It is a crime to break a single leaf for man will fall with the extinction of trees. Lao Tzu said 2,500 years ago that when a tree is denied of a single branch, we too are lessened somewhat, within ourselves. The tree is very much a part of us, a part of existence. It is just as if we were to remove a part of a painting from the main work. It would not then be the same. One single stroke of the brush can change a whole picture. A slight digression changes the total from and hence, all the following connections.
The tree that stood between the hut and the space outside is hewn down. Now the sky and the hut stand bare and naked. We cut down trees unscrupulously in order to clear a good place for man’s dwelling. We have destroyed completely many species of animals also. This new movement in Europe, is called Ecology, which believes in the interrelationship of organisms with their environment. They say, that man has to suffer because of the things he has destroyed. The birds that sing in the jungles are equally a part of us. When birds stop singing in the jungles, we shall have created a hindrance in the music that is in nature and then our minds will never know the peace and joy that came with their singing. We are not aware of this for man is a small creature who spends all his life in a corner of his house. He knows not of the vast world outside. He is totally unaware of the clouds that glide in the skies, he does not see the flowers blooming on the trees, nor does he hear the song of birds in the spring.
Three years ago, a book was published in England called “The Silent Spring”. A sudden drastic change had taken place. Thousands of birds suddenly fell down from trees and died. Thousand other lay dead in the streets of the towns. All spring was suddenly hushed into silence. Due to some fault in the atomic energy research experiments, this catastrophe took place. England lost a major part of her singing birds which will be hard to replace. The spring in England can never be the same. And we think — what difference will the change in spring make in our lives? Will our roads or our market-places be affected if the birds stop singing in the trees? Would that life were so aloof and apart! But it is not so. There, everything is joined and inter-connected. If a star becomes extinct, it affects the earth, even if it be millions of light years away. If the moon is no more there will be enormous changes on earth. There will no longer be waves in the Oceans; the menstrual cycle of women would become erratic. It will not move in a cycle of 28 days, as it does now. Then everything will change. A slight difference — and everything changes.
Lao Tzu says, “Let things be as they are.” Accept them, they are your companions.
Do not segregate the opposite. That which seems hostile and unfriendly, let even that be where it is, for the pattern of nature is deep and profound and full of mystery. Everything is joined within. You do not know, what problems you create when you set apart a single thing in Nature.
Now as the science of Ecology has begun to spread and man has begun to understand, we have begun to realize how difficult it is to tell in how many ways we are inter-connected…All the twenty-four hours of the day, you take in Oxygen and throw out Carbon-di-Oxide. The trees take in this Carbon-di-Oxide and take out Oxygen. If the trees of the World are destroyed, how will you escape the poison of Carbon-di-Oxide that you yourself produce? Then the quantity of Oxygen will grow less and less day by day. Ultimately, all life will come to a stop for the trees that give us the life-giving Oxygen, are no more. Now Lao Tzu had no knowledge of Oxygen. He did not also know what part the trees played in our lives and yet he said — “All things are connected. There is one integrated Existence. The moment you effect the slightest change in the order of things, you effect an equal change within your own selves.”
There is One Integrated Existence and the Non-Existence is very much a part of it. Everything is connected within this existence — death, illness: everything!
And Lao Tzu says, “If there is the attitude of friendship, of companionship, between the various parts of Existence, if there is the feeling of one-ness with each other, instead of over-powering each other, a wonderful music is created in life.” This very music Lao Tzu calls Tao; that very music is Religion; that very music is ‘Rit’. It is now becoming more and more clear that as the understanding of Ecology expands, our understanding of Lao Tzu, will also become more profound. The more we begin to understand the unity within the diversity, the less we shall be in a hurry to change the order of things…
Lao Tzu was against change of any kind. He used to say: “Accept life as it is. Accept the Opposite also, for there is a secret to it also. Embrace death when it comes. It too, has its secret. Do not fight with life; yield to it. Fall at the feet of Existence — Surrender. Do not enter into any struggle with it. And it is Lao Tzu’s contention that if you surrender whole-heartedly, there will not be trace of anxiety in your life. What worry can surrendered mind have? What anxiety is left for one, who has no enmity with nature? Why should he be afraid to lose when he is not out to conquer? His victory is certain for his defeat is his victory. Lao Tzu’s aphorisms all tend towards surrender.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Way of Tao, Volume 1
Chapter title: The music of opposing notes
24 June 1971 pm in Immortal Study Circle
Osho has spoken on ‘nature, ecology, environment, interdependence, life’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- The Book of Wisdom
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 9
- The Last Testament, Vol 2
- From Death to Deathlessness
- From Unconciousness to Consciousness
- Hari Om Tat Sat
- Just Like That
- Tao: The Three Treasures, Vol 1
- Unio Mystica, Vol 1
- Guida Spirituale
- Om Mani Padme Hum
- Come Follow To You, Vol 3
- The Golden Future