Talks on Fragments from Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching

On The Character of Tao


We talk about the sufi meditation tradition  but we also have a few other web pages, the Sufi Meditation master and Sufis People are Sleeping or Are You Angry, Mr Sufi? OR generously, Sufi is a Feeling of the Heart explained by Osho. Or perhaps you like ZEN Zen Meditation Stories or Zen and the Stars or TAOISM KO HSUAN Stories of the Tao by Ko Hsuan and other Taoist Meditations. Or PATANJALI The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali One or The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Two or TANTRA Tantra and Tantric Meditations or even the Meditations of the Peace of the Guida Spiritual and now DON JUAN AND CARLOS CASTENADA The Teachings of Don Juan, and Don Juan, Castaneda and A Separate Reality AND  JESUS - WHEN JESUS WENT UNTO THE MOUNT OF OLIVES. AND Meditation Wisdom Jesus and the Selfish Competitive Ego AND JESUS - JESUS The Flute on Gods Lips and Meditation Jesus and The Conditioned   Mind  OR THE UPANISHADS This Direct Knowing Natchiketa with the Lord of Death, Yama From the Katha Upanishad AND The Kundalini Energy of Prana and Apana - None Can Transcend It and Lao Tsu's Tao Te Ching - Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching one, Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching two, Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching three, Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching four, Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching five, Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching six, Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching seven, Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching eight, Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching nine, Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching ten

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On The Character of Tao

















 THE WORLD OF LAO TZU is totally different from the worlds of philosophy, religion, ethics. It is not even a way of life. Lao Tzu is not teaching something -- he is that something. He is not a preacher, he is a presence. He has no doctrine for you -- he has only himself to offer and share.

 Had he been a philosopher, things would have been easy -- you could have understood him. He is a mystery because he is not a philosophy. He is not even an anti-philosophy, because both depend on logic. He is absurd. Philosophies depend on logic, anti-philosophies also depend on logic -- so the anti-philosophies are also nothing but philosophies. Nagarjuna, a great anti-philosopher, is still a philosopher. He talks, he argues, he discusses in the same way as any philosopher. He discusses against philosophy, argues against philosophy, but the argument is the same. And logic is a whore.


 There is a story; one of Lao Tzu's greatest disciples, Lieh Tzu, reports it... Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu and Lieh Tzu -- they are the three pillars of the world of Tao. Lao Tzu goes on talking in epigrams, maxims; he does not even elaborate. But Lieh Tzu and Chuang Tzu, being disciples of Lao Tzu, cannot argue. They go on telling parables, stories, analogies. This word has to be continuously remembered: Tao cannot be explained, only analogies can be given -- indications. Tao cannot be discussed, it can only be shown. So a deep sympathetic heart is needed -- it is not a question of the mind at all.


 Lieh Tzu reports a story, that in his town once it happened: the richest man of the town was crossing the river and the river was in flood. And there arose a great storm and just in midstream the boat overturned. Somehow the boatman escaped, but he couldn't save the rich man. The rich man was drowned. A great search was made.

 One fisherman found the body -- the dead body -- but he asked a fantastic price for it and would not give it up for less. The family was not willing to give so much just for a dead body so they went to a logician, a lawyer, a legal adviser, to ask what to do. Could something legally be done?

 The lawyer said, "You don't be worried. First give me my fee and then I will show you the way." So the lawyer took his fee and then said, "Hold on. He cannot sell the dead body to anybody else; he will have to yield, because nobody will purchase that body -- so you just hold on."

 Two, three days passed. The family followed the advice. The fisherman became worried because now the body was stinking, and he started feeling that it was better now to yield and accept whatsoever they gave. It had become a problem, nobody else would purchase the body -- he also felt it. So how could he bargain? But before deciding anything, he also went to the legal adviser -- the same man.

 He said, "First give me the fee and I will give you the advice." He took his fee and said, "Hold on! The family cannot purchase the body from anywhere else -- they will have to yield."


 Logic is a whore, a prostitute. It can be for, it can be against. It belongs to nobody. So logic can be for philosophy and logic can be against philosophy.

 Lao Tzu is not an anti-philosopher because he is not a logician at all. Buddha is anti-philosophic: he argues against it. Nagarjuna is anti-philosophic: he argues against it. Not Lao Tzu. He does not argue at all, he simply states. He is not after you to convince you -- no, not Lao Tzu. Everybody else seems to be in some way trying to convince you but not Lao Tzu. He simply states and does not bother whether you are convinced or not.

 But his seduction is great. He seduces. He persuades. Not trying to convince, he convinces you deep down in the heart and you cannot refute him because he gives no argument. That's the beauty and that's his power. He simply states a fact. And he is not seeking converts, and he is not ready to make you a follower -- no. Even if you are ready he will not accept you. But he seduces. His seduction is very subtle and indirect. His seduction is non-aggressive. His seduction is feminine.

 There are two types of seduction. When a man seduces a woman, he is aggressive. He tries in every way, takes the initiative, sets a trap; he makes all the efforts that he can make. A woman seduces in a totally different way. She does not take the initiative, she does not set any trap, she does not go after the man; in fact, she pretends that she is not much interested. The man can fail, but the woman never fails -- that is the feminine seduction. Her trap is very subtle. You cannot get out of it; it has no loopholes. And without chasing you, she chases you. She haunts you in your dreams -- never knocks on your door, but haunts you in your dreams; never shows any interest but becomes the deepest fantasy in your being. That is the feminine trick. And Lao Tzu is a great believer in the feminine mind. We will come across it.

 So remember... Lao Tzu's world is not of logic but analogy. Logic is apparent, direct -- either you have to be convinced or you have to convince the opponent; either you have to follow it, become a follower, or you become the enemy. You have to choose. With logic your mind has to be active. It is easy, nothing is difficult about it. Everybody argues. More or less, everybody is a logician; good or bad, everybody is a philosopher.

 If you want to understand Lao Tzu that old way won't help. You will have to put your logic aside because he is not chasing you as a logician, he is not arguing against you -- if you argue against him, it will be ridiculous because he has not argued at all. He simply gives an analogy.

 What is analogy? If I have a certain experience that you don't have, then how am I to describe it to you? The only way is an analogy: some experience that you have -- it is not exactly the same as one that I have, but some similarity exists. So I say that it is like the experience you have -- not exactly like it, not exactly the same, but a small similarity exists. That small similarity understood will become the bridge.

 That's why those who have come to the ultimate ecstasy say it is like two lovers in deep embrace, it is like two lovers in deep orgasm, it is like when the sex act comes to a peak. This is analogy. They are not saying that it is this. No. They are not saying anything like that. They are simply saying that your experience has nothing else which can become a bridge.

 Jesus says, "God is love." This is an analogy. In your life the highest is love. In God's being the lowest is love. The lowest of the divine and the highest of the human meet; that is the boundary. The highest that humanity can reach is love; it is lowest for the divine, just the feet of the divine. But from there, if the feet are found, you can find the whole God. That's why Jesus says, "Love is God." Not that love is God, but in your experience nothing else exists through which an analogy can be made.

 So don't take Lao Tzu verbally and literally; these are all analogies. If he says "The spirit of the valley," this is an analogy. He is saying something -- not exactly about the valley, because the valley you know -- through the valley he is giving you a feeling of something that you don't know. From that which you know he is bringing you to that which you don't know. Analogy means a reference to the known to explain the unknown. When he says "The spirit of the valley," he means many things.

 An analogy is always very pregnant. Logic is always narrow, analogy wide, infinite. The more you search in it, the more you can find through it. Logic is exhaustible, analogy never. That's why books like TAO TE CHING or BHAGAVAD GITA or Jesus' SERMON ON THE MOUNT you can go on reading and reading and reading -- they are inexhaustible. You can go on finding more and more because they are analogies. The more you grow the more you can see in them; the more you can see in them the more you grow; the more you grow the more you can see again. So these books are not books: they have a life of their own, they are alive phenomena. And you cannot read them once and be finished with them; no, that is not the way. A logical book can be read once and be finished, understood, you can throw it in the rubbish. But a book of analogy is poetry: it changes with your moods, it changes with your insight, it changes with your growth. It gives you different visions in your different states of mind.

 The analogy remains the same -- for example, "Love is God." A man who has never known anything except sex and who has thought that sex is love...

 In the West it is happening too much. Now for the sexual act they say "lovemaking." This "lovemaking" or "making love" is absolutely foolish -- you cannot make love, love is not an act. Sex is an act; love is not an act, it is a state of being -- you can be in it but you cannot make it. You fall in it, it is not an effort. Sex can be made, not love. A prostitute can give you sex, not love -- because how can you make love on order for money? Impossible! How can you make love for money? It comes on its own. It has its own mysterious ways. You cannot control it, you can only be controlled by it. You cannot possess it, you can only be possessed by it. Sex can be done, not love. You can make sex but you cannot make love -- you can only be in love.... So a man or a woman who has thought that sex is love and the sexual act is the act of love will think, when Jesus says, "Love is God" -- and of course there is no other way for them to think because this is their analogy -- that sex is God.

 In Sweden they are making a film now on the love life of Jesus because they think that a man who says, "Love is God" must mean that sex is God. And this film is going to be one of the most profane of acts, the unholiest possible, because in the film they are trying to depict a Jesus making love in their sense -- moving into sexual acts. Now no country is ready to allow them to make the film. But they will make it -- it is difficult now to stop them. The love life of Jesus to them means just sex life.

 You understand an analogy from your standpoint. The analogy can give you only as much as you can put into it. A man who has loved, not only sexually but totally... because sex is a local phenomenon, physical; there is nothing wrong in it, but it is not total. When it becomes total and you love a person in totality, not only sexually -- the attraction is not only physical but spiritual also -- not only bodily -- not that the body is denied in it but the attraction is greater, and bodily attraction is just a smaller circle in it -- then you will understand "love is God" in a different way. The analogy will become deeper for you.

 But if you have known love which is beyond sex, in which sex simply disappears and the whole sexual energy is transformed into ecstasy -- if you have known that love then "love is God" will have a different meaning for you.

 So analogy depends on you. And a book of analogy like Lao Tzu's has to be read again and again -- it is a life work. You cannot simply read it in a paperback and throw it away. It is a treasure to be carried; it is a lifelong work; it is a lifelong discipline to enter the analogy.

 Logic is superficial. You can understand Aristotle, there is nothing much. But when you come to Lao Tzu... for the first time you may even miss that there is something, but by and by Lao Tzu will haunt you. His attraction is feminine. By and by he will catch hold of your being -- you have only to allow him. In logic you have to fight; in analogy you have to be sympathetic, you have to allow it, only then can the analogy flower. So only in deep sympathy and reverence, in deep faith and trust, can Lao Tzu be understood. There is no other way.

 If you come to Lao Tzu through your mind you will never come to him. You will go round and round and round -- you will never touch his being. Come to him through the heart. Analogy is for the heart; logic is for the mind.

 Lao Tzu is more a poet. Remember that. You don't argue with a poet -- you listen to the poetry, you absorb the poetry, you chew it, you let it move inside your being, you let it become a part of your blood and bones, you digest it. You forget the words, you forget the poetry completely, but the fragrance becomes part of you. You may not remember what that poet was singing but the song has been retained: the flavor of it, the fragrance, the significance has entered you. You have become pregnant.

 Lao Tzu can be understood only if you become pregnant with him. Allow him. Open the doors. He will not even knock, because he is not aggressive. He will not try to argue because he does not believe in argument. He is not a mind-being at all, he is absolutely a heart-being. He is simple, his analogies are that of a villager -- but alive, radiant, vital. If you allow him, suddenly you will be transformed -- just an understanding, a heart-understanding, and you will be transformed by him.

 The second thing to remember is that Lao Tzu is not a religious man in the ordinary sense. He is not a theologian. He is not a religious man at all in the way you understand the word. He has never gone to the temple, never worshiped, because he found that the whole existence is the temple and the whole life is the worship. He is not a fragmentary being. He does not divide life, he lives it as an undivided river.

 You divide: one hour for the temple, every week you go to church. Sunday is the religious day and religion becomes by and by a Sunday affair -- the six working days are not touched by it. You are very cunning! -- Sunday the holiday, Sunday the religious day, when you are not working. You can be honest easily when you are not working; you can be honest easily when you are not in the shop; you can be honest easily when you are resting in the sun; you can be honest easily when you are listening to the sermon in the church. That is nothing, no problem. The six working days, they create the real problem -- you cannot be religious then. So this is a trick. This Sunday is a trick to avoid religion. You have made airtight compartments in your life. Religion has its own place on Sunday, and then, then you are free for six days to be as irreligious as possible.

 Hindus have their own ways, Mohammedans their own, Christians their own: how to avoid religion. And these people you call religious! They are the avoiders. They go to the temple and they pray. When they pray look at them, at their faces. They look so beautiful. But when they come out of the church or the temple they are no more the same. They are different.

 Tolstoy has written a small story, not a story really. It is a fact, it happened, an incident.


 Tolstoy went one day into the church, early in the morning. It was dark and he was surprised to find that the richest man of the town was praying and confessing before God and saying that he was a sinner. Of course Tolstoy became interested. And he was relating his sins: how he had deceived his wife and had been unfaithful, and how he had been in love relationships and affairs with other women, others' wives.

 Tolstoy became intrigued. He came nearer and nearer. And he was relating with much gusto, confessing to God: "I am a sinner and unless you forgive me there is no way for me. And how I have been exploiting! And how I have been robbing people! I am a sinner and I don't know how to change myself. Unless your grace descends there is no possibility for me." And tears were flowing.

 Then suddenly he became aware that there was somebody else there. He looked. He recognized -- by this time the day was dawning -- and he became very angry and he said to Tolstoy: "Remember! These things I have said to God, not to you. And if you say these things to anybody I will drag you to the court for defaming me. So remember that you have never heard these things. This was a personal dialogue between me and God and I was not aware that you were here."


 A different face before God and a totally different face before the world.... Religion is a compartment -- airtight. This is a trick to avoid it; this is a way to be religious without being religious at all -- a deception.

 Lao Tzu is not religious in that way at all. He is a simple man. He is not even aware that he is religious -- how can a religious man be aware that he is religious? Religion is like breathing to him. You become aware of breathing only when something goes wrong, when it is hard to breathe, when you have asthma or some other type of breathing trouble. Otherwise you never know, never become aware that you breathe. You simply breathe, it is so natural.

 Lao Tzu is naturally religious, he is not even aware of it. He is not like your saints who are practicing religion. No, he doesn't practice: he has allowed the total to take possession. He lives it, but he does not practice it. Religion is not a discipline for him, it is a deep understanding. It is not something imposed from the outside, it is something that flows from within. There is not a bit of distance between him and religion.

 He is not religious in the sense that you understand. He is not a saint because he has never practiced saintliness. He has not forced it; it is not his character. A real religious man has no religious character -- cannot have it because character is a device of the irreligious. Try to understand it: you develop a character because you are afraid of your being; you develop morality because you are afraid of inner immorality; you force yourself into a certain way of life because you know that if you live spontaneously and naturally you will become a sinner, not a saint. You are afraid of your being; you impose a character all around you. Character is an armor; it protects you from others and it protects you from yourself. It is a citadel; you move in it. You speak truth not because you have come to know the bliss of it; you speak truth because you have been taught that if you don't, you will be thrown into hell.

 Your theologians have tried to picture your God as the greatest sadist possible -- throwing people into hell, into burning fire, into boiling oil. This God seems to be a sadist. He needs a great psychological treatment -- he seems to be the greatest torturer.

 You are afraid of hell and you are ambitious for heaven -- the carrot of heaven is hanging in front of you continuously. And your character is just a device between heaven and hell -- a protection against hell and an effort to achieve the ambition: heaven. How can you be religious if you are so afraid and so ambitious?

 A religious man is not ambitious at all. Ambition is the first thing that drops from a religious man, because ambition means to be in the future and a religious man is always here and now. He exists in the present, he has no future to bother about. And he is not in any way afraid. He lives so totally, how can he be afraid? The fear comes because you live fragmentarily. You have not lived at all, that's why the fear.

 Just try to understand the point. A man is afraid of death -- why? Do you know that death is bad? How can you know unless you die? Do you know that death is going to be worse than life? How can you know? It may be better than life. Why are you afraid of death without knowing? How can one be afraid of the unknown? It seems to be impossible. You can be afraid only of the known. How can you be afraid of the unknown, the unfamiliar that you don't know at all? No, you are not afraid of death. You have wrongly placed your fear in death. You are really afraid of death because you have not been able to live -- the fear is concerned with the unlived life. You are afraid that you have not been able to live, love, and death is coming near, which will finish everything. You will be no more, and you have not been able to love.

 You are like a tree which has not flowered and the woodcutter is coming. The tree feels afraid, not knowing what is going to happen. The fear is not coming from death, the fear is coming from something which has not happened. The tree knows well that the fruits have not come, the flowers have not come, it has not bloomed. The tree has not known the spring yet; it has not danced with the winds, it has not loved, it has not lived. This unlived life creates fear... and the woodcutter is coming. And the woodcutter will come and there will be no future. Death means no future. Past is gone, and no future -- and the present is so narrow. Fear takes over, you tremble.

 Fear is always of the unlived. If you live totally you are unafraid of anything. If death comes to me right now I am ready. I have lived. Everything is complete, nothing is incomplete. Death cannot destroy. If something were incomplete then I would like death to wait a little, but everything is complete. I have taken my bath this morning, I have talked to you, whatsoever was to happen has happened. I am completely ready. If death comes I am ready, I will not even look back once because there is nothing to look at, everything is complete. Whenever anything is complete you are free of it. A life really lived -- one becomes free of it. A life not lived -- you can never be free of it. You can go to the caves, to the Himalayas, to Tibet -- you can move anywhere, but you will never be free, and fear will always be there.

 Fear and freedom cannot exist together. When freedom comes -- and freedom comes only when you have lived, bloomed, everything complete and finished -- then for what do you hanker to live longer? Not even a single moment is needed. Then fear disappears.

Your religion is based on fear. It is not in fact religion. It is pseudo, it is false, it is just a deception. Lao Tzu is not religious in the sense that you are religious or you feel other people are religious. Lao Tzu is religious in a totally different way. His quality is different. He is simple, he lives innocently moment to moment. He also does not talk about God -- because what is the use? God is not a word. How can you talk about him? He lives him, he does not talk about him. He enjoys him, he celebrates him, it is not a cerebral phenomenon. He dances. He drinks him. He lives him. So what is the point of talking about him?

 This is my observation: that people always talk about things which they don't know.

 There is a Sufi story:


 A great king used to come to a fakir, a mystic beggar. But he was surprised because whenever he came the mystic would talk about money, kingdom, politics, and he was there to talk about God, meditation, religion.

 So one day he said, "Forgive me, but this I cannot understand. I come here to talk about God, religion, meditation, SAMADHI And this is ridiculous -- that I, a man of the world, come to talk about samadhi, enlightenment, and you, a religious man -- supposedly religious, because now I have become suspicious -- you always, whenever I come, talk about the kingdom and politics and money and thousands of things, but always of the world. How do you explain it?"

 The fakir laughed. He said, "There is nothing to explain. It is simple. You talk about things you don't know. I talk about things I don't know. It is simple. Why should I talk about God? I know. Why should you talk about kingdom? You are a king. You know."


 Lao Tzu doesn't talk about God, doesn't even mention him, not even once. Has he forgotten him? Is he against him? No. He lives him so totally that even to remember would be a sacrilege. To talk about God would be talking about such a deep phenomenon, it would be a betrayal.

 It would be a betrayal, I say to you, to talk about God. It is such an intimate phenomenon; it is between him and the whole. It is just like lovers don't like to talk about their love. And people who talk about their love -- you can be certain they have no love life. Love is such an intimate phenomenon nobody wants to talk about it. Poets talk about it because they don't know. They go on writing poems, that is their fantasy -- but they have not known. Lovers keep quiet. Lovers don't talk about love at all. There is nothing to talk about -- they know it. And by knowing it they know also that it cannot be talked about; it would be a betrayal.

 Lao Tzu is religious in a totally different way.

 Now, try to enter this sutra with me:






 HOLLOWNESS IS ONE OF THE KEY WORDS in Lao Tzu. He talks about hollowness again and again. Hollowness means space; hollowness means vastness; hollowness means inexhaustibleness.

 You live in a house, but your concept of the house is the walls. Lao Tzu's concept of the house is the space within, not the walls. He says: Walls are not the house. How can you live in the walls? You live in the emptiness, not in the walls. The hollowness -- that is the real house. But when you think about the house you think about the structure that is around the hollowness. That's why a palace and a hut look different to you. Not for Lao Tzu -- because the hollowness is the same. If you look at the walls then of course a hut is a hut and a palace is a palace. But if you look at the innermost hollowness, which is the real house -- because only hollowness can house you, not the walls -- then there is no difference between a hut and palace. There is no rich hollowness and no poor hollowness: all hollownesses are the same, they are equal. But there are rich walls and poor walls.

 Once you understand this, then many things will become possible because this is an analogy with infinite potentiality and meaning. When you look at a person do you look at the body? Then you are looking at the walls. That is not the real man -- the real man is the inner hollowness. A body can be beautiful, ugly, ill, healthy, young, old, but the inner hollowness is always the same. Then you don't look at the bodies, then you look at the hollowness within.

 Everywhere Lao Tzu finds the analogy. You go to the market to purchase an earthen pot or a golden pot. The golden pot differs from the earthen pot -- just the walls differ -- but the inner hollowness is the same. And when a poor man goes to the well and a rich man goes to the well -- the rich man with a golden pot and the poor man with an earthen pot -- they go with the same hollownesses. They carry the same water and when they fill their pots, not the walls are used but the inner hollowness, the inner emptiness.

 Lao Tzu says: Look at the inner, don't look at the outer. And the inner hollowness is your being; the inner hollowness, the inner emptiness is your being. That means your being is a non-being, because the word "being" gives you a feeling that something is there inside. No, there is nobody inside -- all somebodiness is on the outside, inside is nobodiness, hollow. All ego is just on the surface, inside is egolessness. Who is there inside? Once you know you will laugh, you will say that the question is irrelevant.

 There is nobody, exactly nothingness -- that's why you are vast, that's why you are of the quality of Brahma. That's why you cannot find God anywhere -- because he is the hollowness of the whole and you go on looking for the body. Somebody is looking for Krishna, somebody is seeking Christ, somebody is seeking Mahavir -- all looking for bodies. Nobody is in search of the hollowness; otherwise where do you need to go? The space surrounds you from everywhere. This is God -- the space: the space in which you are born, the space in which you live, the space in which you will dissolve.

 A fish is born in the sea, the fish lives in the sea, the fish dies and dissolves in the sea. The fish is nothing but seawater. You are exactly the same. The hollowness is all around and the same hollowness is within. How can there be two types of hollownesses? Impossible. Emptiness is always the same. In a sinner exists the same hollowness as in a saint. The sinner has a label on the outside of being a sinner, and the saint has a label on the outside of being a saint. You are too attached to the walls; you don't see that walls are not meaningful.

 Why do you call a man a saint? -- because he does something which you call good. Why do you call a man a sinner? -- because he does something you call bad. But all doing is on the outside, all actions are on the outside, they are just paintings on the walls. But the inner hollowness -- can the inner hollowness become impure by your acts? Can you make emptiness impure? Can you make emptiness pure? Emptiness is simply emptiness. How can you make it pure or impure? Emptiness remains untouched. If you cut me with a sword, you cut my body but not me, because "me" means the inner emptiness. If I do something I do it with the walls, but the inner emptiness is a nondoer. Remember this analogy. It is a key word in Lao Tzu.






 If Tao or God were not empty then their use could not be inexhaustible, then some day they would be exhausted. And what God can be called God who is exhaustible? One day that God will be dead, it will be exhausted. But in your minds the concept of God has been created as a person sitting somewhere in the skies and controlling. He is not controlling. He is not a person. In fact he is not a he, and he is not a she also.

 All our words are irrelevant because Tao is a vast hollowness, a vast space, emptiness. Your logic will immediately arise in the mind: then how are things there? Ask the physicists; now they have come to the same understanding as Lao Tzu. Now they say that as we enter deeper and deeper into matter, matter disappears. Finally it disappears completely. Now we don't know. Inside, it is a hollowness. They were searching for the substance of matter; they searched hard but now it has escaped completely, out of vision -- they cannot see where it has gone. They searched for it first in the molecules, then they went deeper into the atoms, then they divided the atom and went deeper into electrons. Now matter has completely disappeared -- nothingness. Matter is hollow. Even these walls of stone are hollow. That's why Hindus call the world of matter illusion: it looks very solid and substantial and inside everything is hollow.

 Whenever you are silent, sitting with closed eyes watching inside, you will feel a hollowness. Don't get scared. Physicists were chasing matter and they came to hollowness, and the people who have been really seekers of a spiritual dimension have also come to the hollowness. Then you become scared. If matter is hollow it doesn't matter, but if you are also hollow, a hollow bamboo, inside nothing but emptiness, you become afraid. If you become afraid you will cling to the wall, and in the final analysis the wall is also hollow. This existence is a vast emptiness, and that's the beauty of it.

 In the night you go to sleep -- dreams arise out of nothing: beautiful dreams, ugly dreams, nightmares which scare you to death. Dreams arise out of nothing and they look so real. They look so authentically real, but when your eyes open in the morning you cannot find them anywhere. From where did they come? From where did they arise? And now where have they gone? You never think about the phenomenon of the dream. If it can happen in the night, why not in the day?


 One of the disciples of Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, one night dreamed that he had become a butterfly, fluttering, flying amidst flowers. And the next morning when he awoke he was very sad.

 His disciples asked, "What is the matter, Master? We have never seen you so sad. What has happened? "

 He said, "I am in such a quandary. I am in such a dilemma that it seems now it cannot be solved."

 The disciples said, "We have never seen any problem that you cannot solve. Just say, what is the problem?"

 Chuang Tzu said, "Last night I dreamed that I had become a butterfly, flying in the garden, moving from one flower to another flower."

 The disciples laughed. They said, "This is a dream, Master! "

 Chuang Tzu said, "Wait, let me tell you the whole story. Now I am awake and I am puzzled. A doubt has arisen. If Chuang Tzu can dream that he can become a butterfly, why not the otherwise? A butterfly could dream that she had become a Chuang Tzu. Now who is who? Am I a butterfly dreaming that I have become a Chuang Tzu?"


 Because if it can happen that you can become a butterfly in a dream, then what is the problem? A butterfly sleeping there this morning, resting, may be dreaming that she is you. And how do you know who you are? If Chuang Tzu can become a butterfly, why can't a butterfly become a Chuang Tzu? There seems to be no impossibility about it.

 Night dreams come out of nothingness and they look real; in the day, dreams come out of nothingness and they look real. The only difference between the night and the day is: the night dream is private and the day dream is public. That is the only difference. In the night dream you cannot invite your friends to be there -- it is private. In the day dream you can invite friends -- it is public. The house in which you live in the day is public. If there is a possibility of private dreaming there is a possibility of public dreaming. We are here. If we all go to sleep there will be as many dreams as there are people here: private. Nobody's dream will enter into anybody else's dream. They will not clash with anybody, and everybody will forget about everybody else; he will live in his dream and in his own dream-reality. Then you are awake. You look at me and I am talking to you. This is a public dream, you are all dreaming together. That is the only difference.

 There is a possibility of a greater awakening -- when you awake out of the public dream also. That is what enlightenment is. Then suddenly the whole world is maya. This is what Lao Tzu is saying.






 It is a vast emptiness and everything arises out of it and goes back to it, falls back into it. And it is inexhaustible because it has no limits.

 You may not be aware that the concept of zero was invented, discovered in India, because India became aware that everything comes out of nothingness, zero, and everything falls back into nothingness, to zero. The whole journey is from zero to zero. So India coined the concept of zero, shunyam. And that is the basis of all mathematics -- zero is the basis of all mathematics. If zero is taken away the whole structure of mathematics falls down. With zero the whole game starts -- you add one zero to the figure one, then the value of the zero is nine because immediately one becomes ten, nine is born out of zero immediately. You add two zeroes to one, the value is ninety-nine, immediately one has become a hundred -- out of zero the whole structure builds up. Without zero, mathematics disappears, and without mathematics the whole science disappears.

 So if you ask me, zero is the root of all mathematics and of all science; you cannot conceive of an Einstein without the concept of a zero. No, it is not possible. All computers would stop immediately if you drop the concept of zero, because without the zero they cannot work. Zero seems to be the most substantial thing in the world. And what is a zero? A zero is simply zero, nothing -- it is inexhaustible. You can take as many things out of it as you want. Nine it can become, ninety-nine it can become, nine hundred and ninety-nine it can become. Go on and on and it can become anything you like; it is bottomless, fathomless. You cannot fathom it. One is limited. It has a limitation, it has a fixed value to it. Two is limited -- all the nine digits are limited, only the zero is an unlimited phenomenon. In fact the nine digits cannot work without it. They come out of it, they grow out of it. This whole existence comes out of zero, a hollowness.

 Why this emphasis on hollowness? It is not a philosophical doctrine, remember, it is simply an analogy -- Lao Tzu is trying to show you something. He is trying to show you that unless you become hollow you will suffer, because hollowness is your reality. With unreality you will suffer.

 And that is the meaning of meditation: to become hollow, to be empty inside. Not even a thought flutters -- no content, just space. Suddenly all misery has disappeared, because misery exists in thoughts; death has disappeared because death exists in thoughts; the past has disappeared because the whole burden is carried through thoughts; ambition disappears because how can you be ambitious without thoughts? How can you be mad without thoughts? Have you ever seen a madman who has no thoughts? In fact, a madman is a madman because he has too many thoughts and he cannot hold them together: a whole crowd... too much to bear. A madman is a great thinker. That is his trouble: he thinks too much, and he thinks in many dimensions together. In his cart, in all directions, horses are harnessed and he goes on in all directions, and he cannot stop because he is not. He is so divided, so fragmentary, that he is not.

 Only a hollowness can be undivided. Can you divide a hollowness? Everything can be divided -- anything that is substantial can be divided. Self can be divided, only no-self cannot be divided. That's why when Buddha reached to his ultimate enlightenment he coined a word that was his invention: the word anatta. It never existed before him. anatta means no-self. anatta means anatma. anatta means you are not. anatta means not is, you are not. anatta means nothingness, hollowness.

 The analogy is to indicate certain things: become hollow, be hollow. But the whole teaching, the conditioning of society is against it. In the West they say that if you are empty you will become a devil's workshop. An empty mind is a devil's workshop. This is foolishness, extreme foolishness, because an empty mind can never be a devil's workshop. If it is really empty, suddenly only God is there and nothing else, because God is hollow. The devil is full of thoughts, he is never empty. The devil has a mind; God has no mind. You can become a devil's workshop -- the more you think the more you can become one! If you don't think at all how can you become a devil's workshop? The devil cannot enter a hollowness, he will be afraid of death -- because to enter into emptiness is to die. He can enter you only if there are many thoughts -- then he can hide in the crowd, then he can also become a thought in you.

 An empty mind is God's mind -- it is no-mind. Become hollow, sit as a hollow bamboo. Move as a hollowness, live as a hollowness, do whatsoever you have to do but do it as if you are hollow inside. Then karmas will not touch you at all; then your actions will not become a burden to you; then you will not be entangled because a hollowness cannot be entangled.




 THE SPIRIT OF THE VALLEY is the spirit of hollow-ness. What is a valley? -- it is a hollow thing. Go to the hills, you will find two things: peaks -- full of rocks, filled, and valleys -- empty. The spirit of the valley is the spirit of emptiness. Peaks come and go; valleys remain -- you cannot destroy nothingness. Something can always be destroyed. If you are something you will have to be born and die again and again. If you are nothing then how can you be destroyed? How can you be created? You simply disappear out of the world of forms to the formless; a valley means the world of the formless.





 These are all analogies. A woman is a valley, a man is a peak. A man enters the woman, the woman simply allows. A man is an aggression, a woman is a receptivity. A man tries to do, a woman simply waits for things to happen.




 These words have to be understood -- the mystic female -- because for Lao Tzu that is the ultimate. Lao Tzu feels that the nature of existence is more like a woman than like a man, because man comes out of woman, woman comes out of woman. Man can even be discarded but woman cannot be discarded. Woman seems to be a basic element. Man is a growth out of it. Woman seems to be more elemental, more natural; man has something unnatural about him. If you ask the biologists they say that man has a deep imbalance in his biology; woman is symmetrical, balanced. That's why she looks more beautiful and round. Man has corners, woman has no corners. A woman is a more balanced phenomenon, that's why she never tries to invent something, to create something, to do something, to be on the go -- no, she is never on the go. Man is always on the go. He has to do something to prove that he is; he cannot simply accept himself. He cannot simply be and enjoy. He has to go to the moon, and he has to go to the top of Everest, and he has to do something. A deep imbalance is there, he cannot simply sit and be. He becomes an adventurer, a scientist. A woman simply enjoys being, she is happy with small things, she does not hanker for the moon. And every woman thinks what foolishness it is: Why are you going to the moon? You ask the wives of the astronauts, they simply cannot believe it. Why? Why move in danger and death unnecessarily? What is wrong in being here?

 Man is a vagabond, a gypsy. If the world were left to man there would be no houses, only tents at the most. And he would be moving and moving from one place to another. He cannot stay in one place, something deep inside him forces him to move. He is not balanced; this imbalance is his madness. Look at a woman. She is balanced. Her needs are small: somebody to love, somebody to be loved by, food, shelter, a little warmth around, a home -- finished. Then she is not worried about anything. No woman has created any science, no woman has founded any religion. People come to me and ask why all religions were created by man. Because man is tense, he has to do something or other. If he becomes frustrated with this world he starts doing something with the other world, but he has to do. He is never here and now, he cannot be here and now.

 Lao Tzu has this analogy that the nature of existence is more feminine, it is more balanced. Look at the trees, look at the birds singing, look at the rivers flowing, look all around and watch -- you will find more feminineness everywhere. Everything seems to be perfect at this moment. The trees are not worried about the future, the birds are not worried about the future, the rivers are simply moving so lazily, so silently -- as if they are not moving at all. Nothing seems to be in a hurry.

 That's why it happens every day: the man is honking the horn on the street and the woman goes on saying from the window, "I'm coming. Just wait a minute." Women have no time sense. They have watches, but they are ornamental -- they are not watches really. They don't have any time sense because they are not in a hurry. Time sense arises out of hurry and haste -- everything is trembling and everything is at stake, as if one minute late and everything will be lost. And if you ask the man, "Where are you going?" he will shrug his shoulders -- just to the pictures, but honking the horn as if something great, a life experience was going to be missed. And the woman goes on saying....

 I have even heard one woman once. I was sitting with the husband in the car, and really we were getting late and the husband was very worried. In fact he need not have worried, he should not have worried, because it was my appointment not his. I was getting late. But he was honking, and he was very worried and perspiring and swearing at his wife. And the wife -- two or three times she said, "I am coming" -- but her makeup was not complete. It is never complete. She always comes somehow but it is incomplete, much could have been done. She is so at ease with the mirror, with herself -- she is so at ease. That is her world. Then the wife got angry, and she looked down from the window and said, "I have told you one thousand times that I am coming in a minute!" One thousand times! You cannot even say "I am coming" one thousand times in one minute.


 No time sense... the world moves without any time sense. Clocks and watches don't exist with trees and rivers and mountains -- it is a timeless world.

 Man exists with time, with a worry. Deep down the worry seems to be sexual: the worry about achieving a sexual orgasm. Whenever a man is making love to a woman he is worried whether he will be able to make it or not, worried whether he will be able to satisfy the woman or not, worried whether he will be able to prove that he is a man or not. The worry: an inner trembling, in a hurry somehow to prove, and that's why he misses. Ejaculation is there but orgasm -- no. Orgasm is a different phenomenon: it happens only when you are not worried, it happens only when you are not an achiever, it happens only when you are not reaching for something, it happens in a deep relaxation, it happens only when you are not in control -- but nature takes control. Then your whole body throbs with an unknown bliss. Then every cell of your body celebrates in a total ecstasy; then it is divine.

 But man is worried, and that sexual worry is the root cause of all worries. Then everywhere he is trying to prove himself.

 There is no need to prove yourself. You are. You are perfect. No woman is worried about proving; she takes it for granted that she is perfect. She lives in a very relaxed way. Many husbands come to me and always their complaint is that their wives are lazy. They are not lazy; they are enjoying! Whatsoever is the case, they are not in a hurry. But comparatively they look lazy.

 Lao Tzu says the nature of the existence is more like the female, more feminine. And the analogy is beautiful. He is not saying that existence is female -- remember this. This is not logic, he is not trying to prove that existence is female. He is not for the lib movement -- no. He is simply giving an analogy.

 A man can also be feminine. A Buddha is feminine, a Lao Tzu is feminine, a Jesus is feminine. Then he lives, he lives in the moment, unhurried; he enjoys the moment unhurried.

 Jesus says to his disciples: Look at the lilies in the field. How beautiful they are! Even Solomon in all his glory was not so beautiful. But what is the secret of the lilies? -- they are just flowering here and now. What will happen the next moment is not a worry; the next moment has not entered into their consciousness yet.

 A man can live a feminine existence -- then he becomes a mystic. That is the only way. So all mystics become in a certain way feminine. And they are the real religious men, not the founders of religion.

 Remember, this is a difference.... Buddha is not the founder of Buddhism -- no. His disciples are the founders. Jesus is not the founder of Christianity -- no. His apostles, they are the founders. Mahavir is not the founder of Jainism. Gautam, his disciple, who was a scholar and great pundit, was. These are the men.

 Jesus himself is feminine. To show this, in India we have never painted avataras, teerthankaras, Buddhas, with beards and mustaches -- no -- just to show this that they are feminine. Have you ever seen Ram with a mustache? Krishna with a beard? It is not that they were somehow lacking in hormones. They were not the third sex. They were men; beards existed. But this is just an analogy. We have dropped the beards to show that they have become feminine: the feminine mystic has come into being. They existed without any hurry, they existed not as a tense man but as a non-tense woman, and you can feel around them the feminine warmth, the roundness of a Buddha.










 And if you can find the key to open the door of the mystic female you have opened the door of existence. Everybody has to enter that door non-tense, balanced, satisfied, content -- that's the secret of feminine being.

 When I say this there are two possibilities of misunderstanding: women can misunderstand and think that they have nothing to do; men can misunderstand and think that this Lao Tzu is not for them. No, it is for you both. But remember... women are not pure women, they have lost the feminine mystique themselves. They have to gain it again. It will be easier for them of course to gain it than men, because man has gone farther away. And don't think that if you are a man Lao Tzu is not for you -- he is particularly for you, otherwise you will go farther and farther away from existence and life's ecstasy. Everybody has to come back to the mother; that is the feminine mystique.

 You are born out of the mother's womb, and you have to find the womb again in existence. If you can find the womb again in existence, the same warmth, the same life, the same love, the same care in existence -- then existence becomes your home, your mother.

 Hindus are better when they call their god "mother" -- mother Kali -- than Christians and Mohammedans and Jews, who go on calling their god "father." Those three religions are man-oriented, that's why they have been so violent. Mohammedans and Christians have killed so many, they have been a catastrophe on the earth. They have been murderers. In the name of religion they have been only killing and doing nothing else. This is man-oriented religion.

 Buddhism has not killed, Jainism has not killed, Hinduism has not killed, because they are more and more inclined towards the feminine mystique. And you cannot complain against Lao Tzu at all, with him there exists no organized religion. Once a religion becomes organized, violence enters into it. Organization is going to be violent, it has to fight its way, it is bound to become male. Organization is male; religion is female.


 I have heard an anecdote that a few disciples of the Devil came very worried and said and told him, "Why are you sitting here? Our whole business is at stake. A man has again become a Buddha, enlightened. We have to do something, otherwise he will transform people -- and our world will be deserted, and who will come to hell? Do something immediately! No time should be lost. A man has again become a Buddha!"

 The Devil said, "You don't worry. I work through the disciples. I have sent some already, the disciples are on the way. They will surround him. They will create an organization. And no need to worry: the organization will do everything that we cannot do, and they always do it better. I have learned it through history. I will create a church... and I will not be involved in it at all. In fact, they do it on their own. I just simply encourage and help."


 Once the pope is there, Christ is forgotten; once the church is there, the Buddha is killed and murdered. It is always on the corpse of a Buddha that a religion stands.

 These are analogies. Women can attain to their feminine mystique easily; that is the reason more women become attracted towards religion. They don't create religion -- but more women, almost four times more than men, become interested in religion. Among Mahavir's disciples, forty thousand were women and ten thousand men; and the proportion was the same with Buddha's disciples. Go to any church and any temple and just count -- you will always find four women to one man, and that one may have come just because the wife has come; he may not be really there.

 Women can become more easily attuned; they are mothers, they are nearer nature. Man will find it a little difficult to come back; he has involvements, commitments, investments in his anxiety and tension. Even if he comes he will create an anxiety around religion.

 This is my everyday observation: women come to me -- if they surrender, they surrender totally. If they meditate at all, they meditate totally. Then simply they start growing.

 Men come to me -- if they surrender they cannot surrender totally, a part they always save. And when you surrender half-heartedly it is not a surrender at all. Then they meditate, but then meditation becomes an anxiety. And they come and they say, "Now this meditation is creating anxiety. I cannot sleep. I am constantly thinking about it -- how it is going to happen, how I am to manage it."

 It is not a management. You cannot manage it. You have to be in a let-go, a great let-go. It is difficult for man; he is so disciplined for anxiety, so trained to be tense. From the very childhood, the society forces men to become MEN -- aggressive, violent, always reaching for something, trying to achieve something, ambitious. If they start playing with dolls the parents say, "Why? What are you doing? Are you being a sissy? This is for girls, not for boys. Home is for girls; to play with dolls is for girls, not for boys. They have to go out, and fight their way into life. They have to struggle -- that is for them."

 If home is for girls then at-homeness will also be for girls. Then you are never at home; and at-homeness is meditation.







 The feminine mystique, the valley spirit, the hollowness --




 -- it is always there-





 And it makes you total, it fills you with ease, at-homeness. Relaxation comes to you.

 Look at existence not as a struggle; but as an enjoyment; look at existence not as a war, conflict, but as a celebration -- and infinite is the celebration, infinite is the possibility of bliss -- bliss upon bliss.








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