Talks on Fragments from Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching

On The Danger Of Overweening Success


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 Danger Of Overweening Success















 LOGIC MOVES to the very extreme -- life never. That's how logic misses life. Logic has a tendency to reach to a conclusion -- life is never concluding.

 Life has no conclusion. It goes on and on and on without any conclusion; it is without any beginning and without any end, it is always in the middle, it is always in the present, it is an on-going process. That's how a logical mind becomes by and by dead; that's how logic becomes its own downfall. Don't conclude. Live without conclusion. That is the only way to live because only then do you live in the middle and the middle is the balance

 Life is a balance between opposites, it never comes to an end. The balance goes on and on, it is eternal. A man of understanding never comes to any conclusions, he cannot. When life itself is non-conclusive how can a wise man be conclusive? If you ask Lao Tzu for any conclusive answer he will laugh. He will say you are foolish. He lives according to life, and the most basic note, if you live according to life, is balance. Never move to one opposite, don't cling to one polarity; then you will lose balance.

 I have heard:


 Once it happened that a great king had to decide something against his heart. Two of his ministers had committed some crime and he loved the ministers very much. Even if they had committed the crime he wanted to forgive them, his love was such for them. But that was against the law of the country, and it wouldn't have been a good precedent. So they had to be punished. And the law of the country said that for such a crime the only punishment was death. So what to do?

 It was too difficult, so he found a way out. He said, "They have to be sentenced to death, but I will give them one more chance to live. Between two hills a tightrope will be stretched. If they can walk over it and survive, then I will forgive them."

 It was almost impossible. It was impossible because they had never walked on any tightrope, let alone on one between two hills over a big valley -- death everywhere. And to walk on a tightrope is a great art, one has to learn it, it is a great discipline. They had not even dreamed in their lives that they would become tightrope-walkers.

 One of the two couldn't sleep. The whole night he prayed to God to help him. He couldn't take his tea in the morning. He came to the place where this phenomenon was to happen; the whole capital had gathered.

 The other, knowing well that he didn't know anything about tightrope-walking, that nothing could be done and it was almost certain that he was going to die, so why not sleep well? -- he slept. In the morning he took his usual tea. He walked leisurely, came to the place. The other was trembling, feverish, but he was quiet and calm knowing well that death was to happen -- and when it is certain, why bother? Die silently.

 He started walking on the rope, and wonder of wonders -- he walked!

 Nobody could believe it! Even the tightrope-walkers had come to watch -- even they could not believe it. It was difficult even for them -- the distance was too great and the danger was too much. One step wrong, a little too much leaning towards the left or towards the right... and you are gone; a little unbalance and death is waiting at every step. But the man walked and he walked so leisurely, just as leisurely as if he had gone for a morning walk. He reached the other hill.

 The first man was trembling, perspiring. He shouted from his place to the other man, "Please tell me how you walked, so I can also walk!"

 The other man shouted back: "Difficult, because I don't know the how. I know only one thing -- this is the way I have been walking my whole life. I'm not a tightrope-walker, but now I know I am, because this is the way I have been living my whole life -- balanced, never going to the extreme. Or, if I lean towards the left immediately I balance it by leaning towards the right. I have not done anything else. But this won't help you because this is not something you can learn suddenly. If you live in this way the knack of it comes to you."


 Remember the word "knack." I emphasize it. Religion is a knack, it is not a science. Otherwise it could be taught very easily, it could be explained very easily. It could be theorized, there would be no trouble about it.

 Even the greatest problem in science can be solved -- if not today then tomorrow, but it will be solved through intellect, through intellectual effort. And some day, when it is solved, it is not solved only for the one who has solved it, it is solved for all.

 Einstein solved the mystery of relativity. Now there is no need for anybody else to solve it, it is solved for all. You have just to understand it, that's all. You need not go into the vast effort of solving it. It is solved. Science is a public phenomenon: one man solves something; then it is solved for everybody; one man invents something, it is invented for all. It is a mass phenomenon.

 In religion thousands of Lao Tzus may have happened, but nothing is solved. You have to know it again and again on your own. It is not science. Science can create scriptures, theories, but religion cannot create scriptures and theories. It is a lived experience. You cannot reduce it to a theory, it is too subtle for that, too delicate for that. Theory is very rough, gross; experience is very subtle. Can any tightrope walker make a theory out of tightrope-walking and just by understanding the theory...? You can understand the theory perfectly, you can be examined and you can get a hundred per cent mark. But do you think that you will be able to walk on that tightrope just because you have understood the theoretical background of it? No, it won't help. It is not a science. And I say to you, it is not even art -- because art can be imitated; knack can never be imitated. Art is something you do outside of you: you paint a picture, you make a poem, you dance, you do something which is visible, which can be imitated. Even Picasso can be imitated.

 But religion can never be imitated; it is nothing outside, it is something within. You can imitate a Picasso, a Michelangelo, but how can you imitate a Lao Tzu? You feel something is there but it is elusive. You know that he knows something but you cannot pinpoint it, you cannot figure it out. It is a knack.

 Then what is a knack? A knack comes when you do many many things on the path -- trial and error, falling and rising, going astray and coming back -- thousands of experiments in living, and then suddenly one day you have the knack of it. A knack is the essence of many errors, mistakes, of trial and error. Something grows in you, and once you know it you can forget about it, you have it always. You need not remember it. If you need to remember it, it is still not a knack, it is something in the mind. If it is a knack it goes into the blood, into the bones, into the very marrow, into the very being. Then you can forget about it.

 A Lao Tzu has not to remember how he has to walk, how he has to be. It is not a discipline. Once you know, you know. You can forget, you can simply drop it out of the mind. But you will follow it, you will follow it without thinking about it. Knack is neither science nor art, it is a lived experience. And this is the greatest art or the greatest science -- the science of life or the art of life.

 You have to walk in life -- and see how you fall; you have to watch yourself -- and observe how you go astray. And the mind will insist on going to the very extreme. Whenever you feel an imbalance immediately balance it by moving to the opposite.

 Mind is either a rightist -- it moves toward the right, then it never moves to the left; or mind is a leftist -- then it moves to the left and never moves to the right. And I have come across a very strange phenomenon: sometimes mind becomes a middlist -- remains in the middle but as fanatic about the middle as others are about right and left. This man is also not in the middle because a man who is in the middle is never fanatic; only extremists are fanatics, they cling to a certain position. And the middle is not a position, it is a constant gaining of balance.

 Try to understand. This is the most meaningful feeling that Tao can give to you. The middle is not a fixed state, it is a constantly changing movement. So you cannot be in the middle like the man who can be on the left or on the right. You cannot cling to the middle. One who wants to be in the middle will have constantly to lean towards the right and left; sometimes you will see he is a leftist, and sometimes you will see... now, look! -- he has become a rightist. He has to walk like a tightrope-walker. Only between these two extremes, balancing constantly, continuously, is the middle.

 The middle is an alive situation, it is not a fixed and dead point that you achieve forever -- no. Moment to moment you have to achieve it, again and again and again. Watch a tightrope-walker -- it is an experience.

 In my childhood, whenever I heard about a tightrope-walker -- anywhere, in my village or in the neighboring villages -- I would run and watch, because from the very beginning I felt that he knew something which was very, very significant for life.

 What is he doing? He is not statically in the middle, otherwise he will fall. He is never for a single moment static. He is dynamic, constantly changing, a flux, but the flux has a balancing center. Sometimes he moves to the left, sometimes to the right; he is very contradictory, he is not consistent. If you ask for consistency he will fall and die. If you say, "Stick to one situation, to one position. If you are a rightist, be a rightist; if you are a leftist, be a leftist; or if you have chosen the middle as your position, then be in the middle. But what are you doing? You are constantly moving" -- you will kill him. Any static position kills. To be static is to die, and die uselessly. To be static is to miss life. No, he cannot remain in the middle. To remain in the middle... he cannot remain in the middle -- to remain in the middle he has to constantly move and balance. Every moment life is changing, how can you remain fixed? Every moment everything is changing. Nothing is static.

 Says Heraclitus: You cannot step in the same river twice. By the time you come to step in the river twice, the river has changed. And not only has the river changed, you have changed. How can you step twice in the river? Neither the river remains the same nor you. Nothing remains the same. Sameness is illusion. Flux is reality. In such a changing world, in such an alive world, vibrating with life, if you cling to a position you are dead, you are seeking suicide.

 That's why all those who have reached and concluded are dead. If you have concluded that you are a Hindu you are dead. If you have concluded that you are a Mohammedan you are dead. Because sometimes a Hindu needs to lean towards the Mohammedan to gain balance, and sometimes a Mohammedan needs to be a Hindu to gain balance.

 Balance is life. If you have decided that you are a communist you are dead. To remain alive even the communist needs to lean toward the capitalist and the capitalist to lean toward the communist. Life is not as clear-cut as thinking. Thinking is very linear, life is maddening.

 I have heard one anecdote, not written by a Taoist but the anecdote is Taoist -- knowingly or unknowingly, the man has brought Taoism into it. It is a German anecdote.


 It happened once: a small chicken was sitting in the henhouse, absolutely Buddha-like, not a single worry in the world. Then suddenly appeared a man. She became afraid; she ran away. When she came back the man had gone but there was some corn just before the henhouse. She started brooding, thinking. A scientific curiosity came to her mind. From where had this corn come?

 Then again the next day the man appeared. She again ran away, came back. The man had gone, but again the corn was there. Certainly there was some relationship between the man and the corn. But it was too early for a scientific thinker to come to a conclusion. She didn't want to commit to a theory so soon, in such a haste. So she waited -- she must have been really a scientist. She waited and waited and waited and every day it happened.

 Then by and by the theory became materialized in her small mind that there was a cause-and-effect relationship: whenever the man appeared the corn appeared. Nine hundred and ninety-nine times she watched. Now it was absolutely certain -- there was a cause-effect relationship. When the man appeared, the corn appeared. The man was the cause, the corn was the effect.

 Nine hundred and ninety-nine times was enough. She concluded now that there was a necessary relationship. And enough she had waited and experimented, watched and observed -- now she could say that without exception it happened. So it must be a law. She was very happy and waited for the man. He appeared for the thousandth time.

 The chicken went to the man to thank him for his kindness -- and had her head wrung.


 Life is like that. It has no cause-effect relationship. Even if something appears for nine hundred ninety-nine times don't conclude; the thousandth time may be the exception.

 And this is not only a story. Now in scientific circles a philosophy of uncertainty is arising and gaining hold. After Heisenberg, science is not as certain as it used to be before. Now they say everything is uncertain, and certainty is just approximately certain -- not absolutely certain. Nine hundred and ninety-nine times, okay -- but then comes the exception. Even science is shaken. It has to be shaken because it also deals with life. Life cannot be reduced to a scientific cause-and-effect relationship. Life remains mysterious.

 To remain in the middle, if you stick to the middle you will miss. This is the mystery of life. To remain in the middle you have to be constantly moving towards left and right. Only then can you remain, because the middle is not a fixed point. The middle in fact is nothing outside you. The middle is something inside you: a balance, a music, a harmony.

 Lao Tzu says: Beware of the extreme. Don't go to the extreme, otherwise you will fall. Everything on the extreme changes to its opposite.

 If you are in love and twenty-four hours a day you are after your lover, and you move to the extreme, as lovers do, everything will be destroyed. You will destroy love yourself, because it is too much. It becomes unbearable.

 You cannot love for twenty-four hours a day. Loving for twenty-four hours a day is like a man eating for twenty-four hours a day. Love is food. You should not move to the extreme, otherwise food can become poison. That is how things turn to their opposite. Food nourishes, but eat too much and food becomes poison, it kills. That which was a nourishment becomes a poison and a killer. Love is a nourishment; do it too much, overdo it, and it kills. And only hatred is left. Do anything too much and you will find the opposite of it has happened.

 Be after money too much and in the end you will find you are a beggar, empty. You have missed a whole life and the very point of it. You missed all the enrichments that life could have given to you because you were too much after riches. Be after happiness and move to the extreme and you will be the most unhappy man in the world. To be happy one need not go after happiness too much. Sometimes one has to forget about it; sometimes one has even to enjoy unhappiness. To be happy, I am saying sometimes one has to enjoy unhappiness also. That too is part of life -- and beautiful. This is how the balance is maintained. If you are laughing twenty-four hours a day, your laughter will become neurotic. It will no more be a laughter -- you will go mad. To keep laughter alive and sane, tears are also needed. You cannot laugh twenty-four hours a day.

 Watch children, because they are pure beings and they reflect things absolutely clearly; they are mirrorlike. In the villages, if a child laughs too much mothers say, "Don't laugh too much, otherwise you will weep." There is some wisdom in it. If a child laughs too much he is bound to weep. You can see -- he is laughing, he is laughing, he is laughing... and suddenly he has started crying. The laughter came to the extreme and became crying.

 You cannot be happy twenty-four hours a day; unhappiness is a relaxation. You cannot be unhappy for twenty-four hours; happiness is a relaxation. It is tightrope-walking -- and man is foolish because man is too logical.

 You live in the world as a grihastha, as a householder. Then for twenty-four hours a day you live in the world; not for even one hour in twenty-four are you out of it -- in meditation, in prayer, in isolation, alone, enjoying just yourself, not bothering about the world and worldly things -- no. Then one day you get fed up with it. It is bound to be so, it is going to happen: if you remain a householder twenty-four hours a day, one day you will get fed up, to the extreme you have come. Then you renounce and run away to the Himalayas.

 I have watched: people who run away to the Himalayas are perfect householders. Perfect, I say. They did too much, they overdid it. And when you overdo, the other extreme is bound to be born. It takes revenge. A man who was too much in the world, just accumulating riches, money, a bank balance, suddenly feels frustrated. He laughed too much, now tears are flowing. He escapes. He renounces, he becomes a sannyasin, goes to the Himalayas, moves to the caves. What has happened to this man? -- you think a revolution? It is nothing like that. It is just a natural phenomenon -- he was too much in the world, now he has to become just the opposite. And now twenty-four hours a day he will try to be a sannyasin -- now again the same foolishness. One day he is bound to come to the marketplace again. Twenty-four hours a day he tried to be a house-holder -- he could not be; now he is doing the same stupid thing again, for twenty-four hours a day he is trying to be a sannyasin.

 Life is a rhythm. You breathe in, you breathe out. You cannot only go on breathing in, breathing in, breathing in -- you will die. You have to breathe in and breathe out, and you have to keep a balance. The same amount of breath going in has to come out -- then you are healthy. The life of the world is in-breathing and the life of a sannyasin is out-breathing. They both have to be together.

 People come to me and they ask, "What type of sannyasins are you creating? We have never heard of this. What type of sannyas is this? People are living in their houses, they are doing their business, they go to the office, work in the factory, they have wives and children. What type of sannyas is this? We have never heard about it." Yes you have never heard about it. But this is the only sannyas that is right, this is the only sannyas that is balanced. This is the only sannyas which has a harmony of in-breathing and out-breathing.

 And the greatest possibility of attaining peaks of bliss is possible only when in-breathing and out-breathing are completely balanced. You are not leaning to any side too much -- suddenly you are beyond both.

 Lao Tzu says:





 BECAUSE THE BOW will break. Stretch a bow to the full -- it could have served you for long if you had been a little alert. Never stretch a bow to the full because fullness is always death. Life doesn't want anything perfect because with perfection evolution stops.

 Perfection is death; imperfection is life. Life loves imperfection. Become perfect and you are useless -- life will throw you into the rubbish heap, you are no more needed. Remain imperfect, and you will be alive and life will support you from everywhere. That's why perfection is not the goal for Lao Tzu or for me -- but totality.

 You can be total without being perfect and you can be perfect without being total. In fact, you can only be perfect if you are not total, because perfection will choose either the right or the left; then you become a perfect rightist or you become a perfect leftist -- or you become a perfect middler. But perfection means you are fixed; perfection means no change moves within you; perfection means now you are frozen, not flowing. And perfection is always partial.

 The greatest of men have never been perfect, they have been total. Total means they have everything in them, but they are not just the sum total of everything. They are more than that sum total. They have everything in them, and then a harmony arises which is beyond, beyond everything that they have. They are not just an arithmetical total, they are an artistic total. A poem is more than all the words in it -- it has to be, otherwise it would be simply words. A painting is more than all the colors in it -- it has to be, otherwise what type of painting is it?


 It happened once: an American wanted to have a portrait painted by Picasso. He knew that Picasso would ask a fantastic price but he could give it, he had enough. So they didn't decide the price first. He asked and Picasso did the portrait. When it was ready Picasso really asked a fantastic price. Even the American could not believe that for such a small portrait, just a small piece of canvas with a few colors on it -- ten thousand dollars?

 The American said, "It seems a little too much, even for me. What is there in it worth ten thousand dollars?"

 Picasso said, "What do you see?" He said, "I see a piece of canvas and a few colors."

 Picasso said, "Okay. Bring ten thousand dollars or whatsoever you want."

 He said, "I will give you five thousand dollars."

 When he brought five thousand dollars, Picasso gave him not the portrait but a piece of canvas and a few tubes of colors. And he said, "You take it. This is all you wanted."


 A portrait is more than a piece of canvas, more than a few colors -- because it is a harmony. And when Picasso paints something it is a great harmony. The price is not for the color and the canvas, the price is for the harmony that he has brought to the colors and the canvas -- something that transcends.

 When a man is total he has all -- left, right, middle -- and all other positions in between. He has all, the whole range. He is a rainbow. The whole range of colors are in him, but he is more than that range -- he is a harmony of them. That harmony is a constantly changing phenomenon; you have to attain it again and again and again. And that is the beauty of it because then it is never old, never boring, never flat, never stale. Each moment it arises out of nothingness; each moment it is fresh like the morning dew. It is ever-fresh.

 A Lao Tzu lives in an ever-freshness, an ever-greenness. If he had attained something, attained it forever, guaranteed -- then it would become stale. Then dust would gather on it, then the past would gather on it and sooner or later one would be feeling bored with it and one would like to throw it away. Even enlightenment, if you are not gaining it again and again, will become a boring phenomenon -- the same. You will feel fed up with it.





 Don't stretch a bow to the very full. If you are laughing, it is better to smile than to laugh because a smile never brings tears, only laughter. Or if you laugh, keep balance. Don't go to the very extreme. Remain on plain ground, otherwise sooner or later you will be thrown to the other extreme and then you will suffer. When you are happy, keep control; don't be too happy. There is no need. Smile in happiness, don't laugh; keep quiet about it, then happiness can stay for a long time. If you know the knack of it, it can stay forever.

 A smile can stay forever -- not laughter. So you can find a Buddha smiling but not laughing. He knows the art of how to keep balance. Love, be nourished by it, nourish the other by it, feel ecstatic, but don't go mad. Otherwise sooner or later you will finish everything. Sooner or later everything will turn into hatred. Lovers can become enemies very easily; in fact, how can you make an enemy unless first you make him a friend? And the deeper the friendship the deeper will be the enmity if it ever comes. You cannot create an enemy without creating friendship first. Friendship seems to be the first requirement.

 If you move in too much, if you come too close, you will create enmity. Never go too close. Always keep a little distance. Kahlil Gibran in his wonderful book THE PROPHET says lovers should be like pillars of a temple -- supporting the same roof, but not too close to each other. Like pillars.... If they come too close, the whole temple will fall; if they go too far away, then too the whole temple will fall. They cannot come too close; they cannot go too far. They should be like pillars of a temple, supporting the same roof.

 This is the art, the knack. If you want your love to be eternal, don't come too close, because if you come too close then the need to go far away arises. If you come too close then you trespass on each other's freedom -- and everybody needs a space of his own. Love is beautiful when it co-exists with your space; if it starts trespassing on your space then it becomes poisonous. And lovers always behave foolishly and stupidly. When they are in love they don't listen to anything; they try to come too close and then they destroy their love. Had they been a little wiser, they would not have come too close and then they would have remained close forever.

 Bernard Shaw has said somewhere that by the time a man becomes wise in love, his life has gone. Very old people become wise in love, but then the possibility of love is gone. Bernard Shaw says: I always wonder why God wastes youth on young people. It should be given to old people, who are wiser, who have lived, known and attained a balance -- but God goes on wasting youth on young people.

 In everything this should be the golden rule: always keep balance. An imbalanced being cannot exist in life; life does not allow imbalance. The more balanced you are the more life gives to you; the less balanced you are -- you become a beggar on your own accord. Life cannot give to you.





 Just a few days ago I was reading a German poet. In his introduction he writes: Had Hitler known this sentence of Lao Tzu...





 Hitler was successful but he did not know Lao Tzu. People like Hitler never do.




 Now Indira has stretched the bow too much. Don't succeed too much, otherwise you will fail. You have heard the proverb, that nothing fails like failure; that is not true. I will tell you the right proverb: Nothing fails like success.

 If you go on succeeding you are bound to fail. There is a limit to everything. If you go on succeeding, a moment comes suddenly -- flop -- and everything goes beyond your control. Take everything in measure. If you are succeeding don't be in a hurry and don't move to the very end, because after success nothing is left, only failure.

 Always take everything in homeopathic doses. Allopathy is good, but allopathic doses are not good. And be alert: are you moving to the very limit of a thing? If you are moving to the very limit you are moving to the opposite in fact.





 ... because you will break it.





 Only balance lasts, nothing else, and balance is the most difficult thing in existence, in life, because balance needs tremendous wisdom.


 It happened: Lao Tzu's disciple, Chuang Tzu, lived in a town for many years. Then one day, suddenly, he told his disciples, "We are leaving."

 They said, "But what has happened that you are leaving? We don't see any point. Why should we go to another town? Everything is good, everything settled, comfortable. In fact, now we have been able to make everything comfortable and you are moving again. What has happened?"

 Chuang Tzu said, "Now people have started to know me, my fame is spreading. And when there is fame one should be alert, because soon these same people will defame me. Before they start defaming me I should leave this town."


 A moment comes when fame becomes defame, when success becomes failure. Remember always to remain in the middle. A constant alertness is needed, otherwise the tendency of the mind is to think that when you are succeeding why not succeed a little more? The mind says: When you are succeeding why not try a little more? And you see that the road is clear and nobody is barring the way -- why not try a little more? The mind goes on; mind is obsessive. Whatsoever it gets, it becomes obsessive about it. If it is success-mad, has success mania, then it goes obsessively after success -- until it fails. Unless it fails it will not take a rest. It goes on and on and on.


 Try to understand the nature of the mind: it is obsession. If you do something the mind goes on doing it twenty-four hours a day, it won't give you rest. It is like a demon -- it will not allow you rest. And rest is needed.

 Do, but don't do too much, otherwise the same energy will become the undoing.







 When everything is too much, it is bound to be taken away.


 It happened once: a follower of Lao Tzu was made a judge. The first case that came before him in the court was about a thief. The thief had confessed that he had stolen. The case was clear -- the thief had confessed, the things had been found -- but the follower of Lao Tzu took a very very strange approach and attitude to the case. He jailed the thief for six months and he also jailed the man from whom he had stolen the things.

 Of course the rich man could not believe it. What nonsense! His things had been stolen and he was being sentenced -- for what?

 The disciple of Lao Tzu said, "Because you have gathered too much. Now if I go to the very root of the problem you have provoked this man to steal. In the whole village people are poor, almost starving, and you go on piling up riches. There is a limit to everything. So if I look: who is the real criminal? -- then you are the real criminal. You started the whole thing first. This thief is just a victim. I know that he couldn't control himself, that is his fault. But you accumulated too much, and when riches accumulate too much with one man the society cannot remain moral, cannot remain moral. Thieves will bubble up, robberies will happen, murders will happen. All sorts of immoralities will happen -- they are bound to happen."

 Nobody listened. The judge was removed from his post. The emperor said, "This is too much. This man is dangerous. Someday he will catch me -- because if he goes to even deeper roots, he will find me. This man has to be removed."


 But Lao Tzu has to be heard. He touches the very nerve of the whole disease: if you gather too much it will be stolen, it will be unsafe.

 Remain in the limits, remain balanced. Too much poverty is bad, too much richness is bad -- too much is bad. In fact for Lao Tzu too much is the only sin. Don't do too much, don't overdo, and then life is a flow. And life is moral.





 It happens every day but you are blind so you cannot see. It happens every day, everywhere. Every day you see your politicians in this country -- in every country -- they are too egoistic, too filled with their own ego. Then reactions start. Then somebody throws a shoe and somebody throws a stone and then people start to disrespect them.

 A balance has to be created. If you feel that your ego is supreme, then somebody is bound to come from somewhere to pull you down to your right size. Somebody else is needed -- because you could not remain in control by yourself. And life always creates balance, because imbalance is an ill state of affairs. If in a country politicians are too egoistic and they ask for too much respect, soon disrespect will come in. Soon there will be rebellion, soon there will be revolution, soon everything will be destroyed. All codes of morality, respect, manner will be destroyed.

 Politicians should not ask too much respect; they should come a little lower, within the limits. Then nobody, nobody bothers to throw stones at them. Why? There is no question. In the old days rich men never showed their riches, they lived as ordinarily as everybody else. Even kings and emperors used to come to beggars like Buddha and Mahavir to pay their respects. They were always honored. There was a balance. Now the balance is completely lost. No politician bothers to pay respect to anybody. He becomes supreme when he is in power. He trespasses the limit, then his leg has to be pulled down. Then somebody, somewhere else, arises. That is simply a balance.

 Always remember: life is never unjust. If it looks unjust then you must have done something wrong. Somewhere you must have gone beyond the balance; then life seems to be unjust. Otherwise life is never unjust. And whenever you feel the unjustice it is better to look at yourself; you have done something wrong and you have been punished. In fact, people have been thinking for millennia that sins are punished, but I say to you that sins are not punished. Sins are the punishment. When you say sins are punished you have time to wait. Maybe they will be punished in the next life -- who bothers? We will see in the next life. You can postpone. But I say to you that sins are the punishment; they are not punished somewhere in the future.

 Sins carry their punishment in themselves. Punishment is intrinsic to every sin. It is not a result somewhere in the future. It is not that you sow today and you reap tomorrow -- no. There is no time gap. You sin and immediately you are punished, immediately the punishment has started. Here you sin and here immediately the punishment starts -- you feel ugly and you feel sad and you feel guilty, and a turmoil and a chaos arise inside and you are unhappy and in hell. Hell is not somewhere in the future, neither is heaven. Each act carries its own heaven or hell.

 Remain balanced and you are in heaven; become unbalanced and a hell is created -- nobody else is creating it for you.

 Lao Tzu has no God, no personal God, to punish anybody. It is simply Tao. Tao is just a law, a universal law. If you move according to it you are happy, if you move against it you become unhappy. In fact, unhappiness is a symptom, just as happiness is a symptom -- a symptom of how you are moving: according to Tao or against Tao.

 When you are moving according to Tao you are happy, blissful, celebrating. Every moment is a joy, a delight. Life seems like poetry. Every moment you see something flowering, growing; every moment you see a thousand things to be grateful for. You are blessed.

 Life is a benediction if you follow, move, according to the law. And the law is of balance. If you move against it, if you go contrary to the law, suddenly you lose balance. Happiness disappears; you become unhappy, you become sad, miserable. A hell is created. Hell is just a symptom. Don't try to fight with it. Just try to understand where you have moved against the law, that's all -- and then move back, gain balance. Whenever you are sad don't try to change sadness. Don't try to do anything with it; sadness is symptomatic. It simply shows that somewhere you have gone against the law. Find the balance again. Maybe you need a turning. Maybe you need to lean a little more towards left or right so the balance is gained again. And this has to be done continuously.

 People come to me and they say, "If we meditate and if we succeed will silence and peace remain forever and forever?" They are asking a stupid question. Then meditation would be a dead thing -- like a stone, not like a flower. And meditation is not like a stone, not even like a plastic flower. It is a real lotus. It blooms. It changes. With the sun it opens, in the night it closes. There is a continuous balance, and you have to find the balance every moment. Meditation is not something you do once and you are done with. It is something that is like breathing, like blood circulating. It is not that once the blood has circulated it is finished, once you breathe there is no more need of it. No, you have to breathe and you have to go on meditating; every moment you will need it.

 By and by it will become natural, that is right. By and by you will go less and less against the law. When the knack is found, the very moment your step is going against the law you will see the hell and you will move back. You will come back to the path, you will not go astray.


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 WHEN YOU SEE that a work has given you balance, that you have attained happiness, don't ask for more; when you feel good don't ask for more; when you are surrounded by a well-being don't ask for more. Retire, enjoy it. Revel in it. Dance with it. Don't ask for more. The mind is always asking for more.

 The mind says, "Okay, this is good, that I am feeling a certain well-being, but more is possible. So first I should attain the more." Then you miss that which was possible; that which had already become actual, you miss. And if you listen to this mind, which goes on for more and for more and for more, it will lead you to the end, to the extreme. And suddenly you fall into hell, and you are miserable, unhappy.

 Whatsoever you gain, make it a criterion: if you are feeling good, if you are feeling well, if you are feeling blissful, silent, peaceful, a certain delight around you, life has become a song for this moment -- then sing it! Don't ask for more! Chew it, absorb it. Don't ask for more. Retire... that is the meaning of retire. Now stop further efforts -- enough! You have gained -- now let it be, enjoy it. Live it! And then you will see: a different dimension comes to your being.

 There are two dimensions. One is horizontal... more, more, more -- that is the horizontal dimension. You move in a line. You are on the point A; you want to be on the point B. When you are on the point B, you want to be on the point C. Soon you will reach to XYZ. And from Z is hell. Z is the door of hell. But you cannot stop, the mind goes on. The mind says, "Look, you are on C, and D is possible. So why waste time on C, go to D. Then E becomes possible, so go to E." No moment to enjoy, no moment to celebrate, no moment to retire and be. Doing, doing -- never being... because being means that C is enough, now enjoy it. You have earned the bread for today -- now retire. But the mind says, "What about the safe in the bank? It is still half-filled. You have to fill it completely...."

 In India they call it the vicious circle of the ninety-nine. They have a story.


 A poor barber was very happy, tremendously happy, as sometimes only poor people can be. He had nothing to worry about. He was the barber to the royal king; he used to massage him, to trim his hair, to serve him every day.

 Even the king was jealous and he always asked him, "What is the secret of your happiness? You are always bubbling. You seem not to be walking on the earth, you are simply moving on the wing. What secret is there?"

 The poor barber said, "I don't know. In fact I have never heard the word `secret' before. What do you mean? I am simply happy. I earn my bread and that's all... and then I retire."


 He must have been a Lao-Tzuan.


 Then the king asked his vizier, his prime minister -- and he was a man of knowledge, a very very knowledgeable man. He asked him, "You must know the secret of this barber. I am a great king. I am not so happy, but this poor man, having nothing, is so happy."

 The prime minister said, "He does not know anything about the vicious circle of ninety-nine."

 The king said, "What is this?" The vizier laughed and said, "You are in it but you don't know it. We will do one thing. Tonight we will throw a bag containing ninety-nine rupee coins into the barber's house, and then see what happens."

 They threw a bag containing ninety-nine rupees into the house.

 The next day the barber was in hell. He came very sad and worried; in fact, he didn't sleep the whole night. He counted the rupees in the bag again and again -- ninety-nine. And he was so excited -- how to sleep when you are excited? The heart was throbbing, the blood was circulating; there must have been a high blood pressure, an excitement. And he tossed and turned, and he could not sleep. He would get up again, touch those golden rupees, count again... he had never had the experience of counting rupees and ninety-nine was the trouble -- because when you have ninety-nine you want them to be a hundred. So he was planning what to do the next day to get one rupee.

 One golden rupee was a difficult thing to get. He was getting only a few paisa, and they were enough in those days. How to get one rupee? -- because one rupee, one golden rupee meant almost one month's earning. What to do? He planned many ways -- a poor man, not knowing much about money, he got into trouble. He could think of only one thing: that he would fast for one day and eat for one day. This way, by and by, he could accumulate one rupee. And a hundred rupees would be good...

 Mind has a stupidity: to complete things. Mind is a perfectionist. Ninety-nine? The obsession is created: they must be a hundred.


 He was sad. Next day he came -- he was not flying in the sky, he was deeply on the earth... not only deeply on the earth, but a great burden, a stone-like thing hanging around his neck.

 The king asked, "What is the matter with you? You look too worried."

 He said nothing, because he didn't want to talk about the bag. But every day the situation grew worse and worse. He could not massage well -- he had no energy, fasting.

 So the king said, "What are you doing? Now you don't seem to have any energy. And you look so sad and miserable. What has happened?"

 So one day he had to tell the king; the king insisted: "You tell me, I can be of help. You just tell me what is the matter." He said, "I am now a victim of the vicious circle of ninety-nine."


 When you have ninety-nine there is a vicious circle -- you want them to be a hundred. This is the horizontal line. And don't think that when they are a hundred, things will stop. Things never stop. Mind does not know where to stop. It knows no stopping. That's why it falls. It goes without stopping anywhere, from A to B, from B to C, and goes on and on until at Z it falls into hell.

 Then there is another way of life; the vertical -- not horizontal. You don't move from A to B, from B to C -- no. You don't move in a line, on the same plane, on the same level -- no. You move from A to Al to A2 to A3 in a vertical line, in depth. You move into the depth of the A. Whatsoever is in the moment you move deep into it -- not from this moment to the next, but in this very moment you move as deeply as possible. And then even one moment becomes eternity. And your happiness grows, knows no bounds. Your bliss grows, knows no bounds. And there is never an imbalance. You are always balanced. A vertical mind is always balanced because a vertical mind is no more a mind.

 The whole effort of meditation is to give you a vertical mind. A vertical mind virtually means no-mind. Then you move from A to Al, A2, A3 in depth, or in height vertically. When B comes, again you move from Bl to B2, B3. You never fall from anywhere because you always go into the depth. This is what retirement is. You have earned the bread today, now retire.

 But you don't know how to retire; you go on earning the bread in your dreams also. You lie down and you plan for tomorrow, and nobody knows whether the tomorrow is going to come or not. In fact it never comes. It is always today. You are planning for the future, not knowing that death will destroy all future. Remain in the moment -- be wise. Live it as totally as possible and then you will know no death. Because a man who is not worried about tomorrow knows no death -- he becomes deathless. Because death is tomorrow -- life is today.

 Death is in the future, life is always in the present -- this is the meaning of retire. If you want me to translate this word "retire" I will call it sannyas. You have to retire not in the end of life; retire every day, retire every moment. When you have enjoyed a moment it is retirement, it is through retirement, it is sannyas.

 When you come back from the office to your house, leave the office in the office. Don't carry it in your head, otherwise the head will have a headache -- bound to have! Such a big thing, the office, you carry in your head! It is heavy! The whole market in your head -- it is heavy! Falibhai goes to the share-market. He knows. You can carry the share-market in your head; then it is madness. But he never carries it; he has learned how to retire in it.

 Retirement every day, retirement every moment.... The very word "retirement" does not look good to us; it gives the feeling of old age, inability. Somewhere beyond sixty-five, when death comes near, then one retires. No, the word "retire" is very beautiful. It is the meaning of sannyas. Retire means rest: the work is done, now retire, enjoy it. Don't postpone enjoyment, that is the meaning of the word "retire." Enjoy here and now.





 That is Tao. Never go to the extreme, the work is always done within the limits. Remain in the limits, enclosed in the limits. That is the discipline, the discipline of a sannyasin -- always remaining in the middle, always remaining within limits, always remaining satisfied, not hankering after more and more and more.

 Drop the horizontal line; move into the vertical. Retire. And you will be fulfilled; you will know the greatest fulfillment that life can give you. That is a deep moment of total balance, tranquility. We have called it enlightenment, liberation, moksha, nirvana -- or you name it.





Osho Tao: The Three Treasures, Vol 1 Chapter 5

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