Archive for September, 2005

Tao Te Ching

September 26, 2005

All in the world know the beauty of the beautiful, and in doing this they have (the idea of) what ugliness is; they all know the skill of the skilful, and in doing this they have (the idea of) what the want of skill is.
So it is that existence and non-existence give birth the one to(the idea of) the other; that difficulty and ease produce the one (the idea of) the other; that length and shortness fashion out the one the figure of the other; that (the ideas of) height and lowness arise from the contrast of the one with the other; that the musical notes and tones become harmonious through the relation of one with another; and
that being before and behind give the idea of one following another.
Therefore the sage manages affairs without doing anything, and
conveys his instructions without the use of speech.
All things spring up, and there is not one which declines to show itself; they grow, and there is no claim made for their ownership; they go through their processes, and there is no expectation (of a reward for the results).
The work is accomplished, and there is no resting in it (as an achievement).
The work is done, but how no one can see;
‘Tis this that makes the power not cease to be.
When the way of the Tao is forgotten, kindness and ethics need to be taught; men learn to pretend to be wise and good.
All too often in the lives of men, filial piety and devotion
arise only after conflict and strife, just as loyal ministers all too often appear, when the people are suppressed.

Taoism

September 25, 2005

Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that illness is caused by blockages or lack of balance in the body’s “chi” (intrinsic energy). Tai Chi is believed to balance this energy flow.
Taoist Texts include:
Tao-te-Ching (“The Way of Power,” or “The Book of the Way”) is believed to have been written by Lao-Tse. It describes the nature of life, the way to peace and how a ruler should lead his life.
Chuang-tzu (named after its author) contains additional teachings.
“Be still like a mountain and flow like a great river.” Lao Tse
Different Chinese philosophers, writing probably in 5-4 centuries B.C., presented some major ideas and a way of life that are nowadays known under the name of Taoism, the way of correspondence between man and the tendency or the course of natural world.
Tao (pronounced “Dow”) can be roughly translated into English as path, or the way. It is basically indefinable. It has to be experienced. It refers to a power which envelops, surrounds and flows through all things, living and non-living. The Tao regulates natural processes and nourishes balance in the Universe. It embodies the harmony of opposites (i.e. there would be no love without hate, no light without dark, no male without female.)
The founder of Taoism is believed by many to be Lao-Tse (604-531 BCE), a contemporary of Confucius. (Alternate spellings: Lao Tze, Lao Tsu, Lao Tzu, Laozi, Laotze, etc.). He was searching for a way that would avoid the constant feudal warfare and other conflicts that disrupted society during his lifetime. The result was his book: Tao-te-Ching (a.k.a. Daodejing). Others believe that he is a mythical character.
Taoism started as a combination of psychology and philosophy but evolved into a religious faith in 440 CE when it was adopted as a state religion. At that time Lao-Tse became popularly venerated as a deity. Taoism, along with Buddhism and Confucianism, became one of the three great religions of China. With the end of the Ch’ing Dynasty in 1911, state support for Taoism ended. Much of the Taoist heritage was destroyed during the next period of warlordism. After the Communist victory in 1949, religious freedom was severely restricted. The new government put monks to manual labor, confiscated temples, and plundered treasures. Several million monks were reduced to fewer than 50,000 by 1960. During the cultural revolution in China from 1966 to 1976, much of the remaining Taoist heritage was destroyed. Some religious tolerance has been restored under Deng Xiao-ping from 1982 to the present time.

Taoism is not against God

September 24, 2005

If one says there is no God you naturally start inferring that he is against God, but you have not thought of a simple thing — that if there is no God, how can he be against Him? The people who are for God may turn against Him. But you can depend on taoism: Taoism cannot turn against Him because to be against taoism would have to invent Him first.
Friedrich Nietzsche says, “God is dead.” Taoism cannot even say that. He thinks he is saying something tremendously anti-God, anti-religion, anti-Christianity, antiChrist. This is not so. To say that God is dead implies that He was there, alive. You have accepted the existence of God — if not in the present, then in the past — and it is going to be very difficult to prove how the existent God died. Nietzsche never argued further and the theists are not capable of raising significant questions.
The whole of western Christianity was shocked by the statement that God is dead. They were angry, they would have liked to kill Friedrich Nietzsche. But nobody asked him, „You have accepted the primary existence of God, now you have to explain how He died And if He was God, how could He die?” And particularly to ask Nietzsche… because Nietzsche believes in the recurrence of life, that life continues. He is the only Western philosopher who believes in the Eastern idea of reincarnation.
If God is dead, He must be born again. That is a simple corollary of his own philosophy. If man dies and is born then why be so unfavorable to God? At least give Him as much as you give to ordinary human beings, to animals, to birds — to all life.
Either God has never been there or will always be there. Life can change its forms but can never become death. That, Nietzsche accepted. And no Christian bothered him, raised the question, argued with him.
Taoism cannot say God is dead. Nietzsche is not really against God. He is against the priesthood, against Christianity particularly, against Jesus. But God is the foundation of all these, so he has to hit God to demolish the whole edifice of the only begotten son, the messiah, the pope, the church, and the whole ugly history of Christianity. Without God it all becomes absurd. That is the reason he says God is dead, but deep down he knows God is.
Taoistic situation is totally different.
Taoism is not against God.

Buddha and Jesus, two ways

September 20, 2005

There is a story about Gautam Buddha: a woman’s only son died — her husband had died already, she was a widow. And in India, to be a widow is to be really in hell. In the West the widow again becomes Miss. In India it is not possible; once you have missed, you have missed, you cannot become Miss again. So that child was her only hope, she was living for him; and the child died. She went mad: she was carrying the dead child all over the town asking, “Help me! Somehow bring my child back to life!” A man on the way suggested, “We are ordinary people, we cannot do such miracles. But Buddha is in the town, why don’t you go there?” The suggestion was perfectly right. The woman rushed. She placed the dead child at Buddha’s feet, and she said, “I am a widow and this child was my only hope. You are a great saint. Your blessing will be enough to bring him to life.” Buddha said, “I will do it, but only on one condition.” Jesus never asked such a thing — condition …? “I will do it only on one condition.” The woman said, “I am ready to accept any condition. You do it.” He said, “First fulfill the condition. It is not a very big condition. Go around the town and bring from some house a few mustard seeds.” The woman said, “That is not a problem at all. I have mustard seeds in my house, I can bring them right now.” Buddha said, “You have not heard the whole thing. You have to bring them from a house where nobody has ever died. Only then am I going to bring your child back to life.” The woman in despair rushed from one home to another asking for a few mustard seeds. They said, “A few mustard seeds? — we can bring bullock carts full, but they won’t be of any use because the condition is impossible to fulfill. So many people have died in our family … and you are not going to find a house where nobody has ever died. This is just impossible. Wherever life is, death has happened — they go together.” By the evening the woman came back. She was no longer in despair, the tears had disappeared from her eyes. She was no longer concerned about the child. She fell at Buddha’s feet and asked him to initiate her on his path. Buddha said, “What about the child?” She said, “Everybody dies sooner or later, it doesn’t matter. Now I want to know something of that which never dies.”
Now this is a totally different way of working than that of Jesus. Jesus cures; the stories are that he raises the dead back to life. Perhaps that is his way, that’s his uniqueness. In that way he wants people to understand that life is not just eat, drink and be merry. “There is something more to it, more mysteries. Don’t waste it in just mundane things. I can show you the way of eternal life.” That is his way. But who can decide that Buddha’s way is wrong? Perhaps it is more sophisticated, perhaps for more cultured people. Jesus’ way may be for the uneducated, illiterate, who will believe in a miracle first; only then can they be interested in the mysterious. Buddha’s audience seems to be different

The strength of truth

September 8, 2005

It is one of the fundamental laws of life that everything that is higher is very vulnerable. The roots of a tree are very strong, but not the flowers. The flowers are very vulnerable — just a strong breeze and the flower may be destroyed.
The same is true about human consciousness. Hate is very strong, but love is not. Love is just like a flower — easily crushed by any stone, destroyed by any animal. And as you reach higher into consciousness, the ultimate blossoming which we call enlightenment is the most vulnerable thing in the whole of existence.
The flower dancing in the wind does not look weak. In the sun, in the rain, it looks immensely strong. So these two sides which seem contradictory to each other are not contradictory to each other. The strength comes to the flower because it has roots in the earth, its own roots. The strength comes to the flower because the juice that is flowing in it is its own juice. The flower has not borrowed it from anybody, it is authentically itself.
And it can dance in the wind, in the rain, in the sun; but on the other hand, because the flower is the highest expression of the tree, it is vulnerable. Even with all its strength, you can destroy it very easily.
Just imagine Socrates speaking to the people of Athens. His strength behind each word is tremendous: a man alone against the whole world. But there is no weakness. He is not afraid. Even the judges are affected by the strength, because anybody who is speaking a borrowed truth cannot have such authority.
To the chief judge Socrates says, “You can kill me, but remember one thing: your name will be remembered in history for just one thing — that you decided to kill Socrates; otherwise you have nothing to contribute. And all these judges and all these people who are going to decide about me will be forgotten as if they had never existed. You can kill me, but you cannot kill my spirit.”
They decided to kill him, but they were certainly impressed because they could not give any counter-argument; and whatever he said was so clear, so truthful, there was no way to put him in the wrong — he remained always in the right in court. Still, it was a democracy — truth was being decided by a majority. And the idiots who made the majority may not have even understood what Socrates was saying; it may have gone above their heads.
Perhaps because of that reason itself, they decided that he should be killed by giving poison, as was the custom in Greece. They could not tolerate such a man, who was so far above them and so much higher than themselves. His beauty, his truth, his sincerity — all were making them feel inferior. He was stronger than the whole crowd that was going to decide his fate.

This is an ugly story

September 2, 2005

Ekalavya was born a sudra. But he wanted to become an archer, and he started learning archery on his own. He knew perfectly well — his elders told him, “No teacher is going to accept you.” He said, “Before I go to any teacher, I will learn so much that it will be almost impossible for him to reject me.” And he disciplined himself, and when he thought that now he knew enough, he went to the greatest archer of those days, Dronacharya. Dronacharya was amazed, seeing that the young man had learned on his own tremendously well. But still, Dronacharya was a brahmin, the highest Hindu caste, and it was impossible to accept Ekalavya as a disciple. He rejected him. But Ekalavya was made of a different kind of mettle than ordinary human beings are made of. He went into the forest and made a statue of Dronacharya. And just in front of the statue, he continued learning on his own. Soon the word started spreading all over the country that Ekalavya had become a master archer, just by the side of the statue of Dronacharya. Dronacharya had an ambition, and that ambition was that one prince who was his disciple, Arjuna — and he was a great archer — should become the greatest archer in the history of man. But this Ekalavya was disturbing everything, he was becoming more famous. Dronacharya went into the forest…. He had been rejected by Dronacharya. Any ordinary human being would have felt insulted, humiliated. But on the contrary, he made a statue of Dronacharya — because he has chosen him as his master. It does not matter whether Dronacharya accepts him as his disciple or not — he will have to accept him. What matters is how deep his acceptance is of Dronacharya as his master. And when Dronacharya came, he fell at his feet. And Dronacharya saw what he had learned. Certainly he was far ahead of Arjuna, and Arjuna was not going to be the greatest archer, which was the deep ambition of Dronacharya. This man had rejected Ekalavya, and now he said to him, “You have been learning here in front of my statue. You have accepted me as your master.” Ekalavya said, “I have always thought of you as my master, even when you rejected me. I have not taken any note of your rejection.” Dronacharya said, “I accept you as my disciple, but then you will have to pay the fee. Every disciple has to pay the fee to the master — and you have not given even the entrance fee, and you have already become such a great archer.” Poor Ekalavya said, “Whatever you ask, if I have it I will give it to you. I can give my life. You are my master, you just say it. But I am a poor man, so just ask for that which I have.” Dronacharya said, “Yes, I will ask only that which you have. I want your right-hand thumb. You cut it, and give it to me.” This is an ugly story. The strategy is that once his right-hand thumb is cut, his archery would be finished, he would no longer be a competitor to Arjuna. Dronacharya accepted him as his disciple just to get his thumb. And Ekalavya, without saying a word, simply took his sword and cut his thumb. He gave it to the master and said, “If you want anything more, you just tell me.” This man Dronacharya has behaved in the most inhuman way possible. First, he was rejecting a poor young man because he is condemned by the society as an untouchable. Secondly, when he achieved on his own, he was willing to accept him as your disciple — in the forest, where nobody knows what is happening. And that too for a certain reason, so that he could cripple his right hand to destroy his archery, so that his ambition of making Arjuna the greatest archer in the world can be fulfilled.

any idiotic thing has an appeal

September 1, 2005

In America, any idiotic thing has an appeal, and the more you have to pay for it, the more appeal it has. In other countries you pay more if the thing is more valuable. In America, it is just the reverse: if you have to pay more then the thing becomes more valuable. An american woman who claims to be possessed by a thirty-five-thousand-year-old being from Atlantis called Ramtha dispenses mystical messages from Ramtha via satellite tv, in concert halls, and on thousands of audio tapes. People pay up to four hundred dollars a seat to hear the thirty-five-thousand-year-old outpourings which, just by coincidence, seem to be based on a fair amount of modern, self-help therapy. That woman not only says that she is a thirty-five-thousand-year old ancient being from the lost continents of Lemuria and Atlantis, she also says that she is the reincarnation of the Hindu god Rama. In fact, she has concocted the name Ramtha from Rama. And whatever she is saying there is nothing new in it. And in America it has been now a long tradition. There are always people who are from Atlantis, Lemuria, Tibet — saying things which are written in ordinary literature. You have just to go to a library and look and you will find every sentence that they are saying is stolen; it is not from Lemuria, it is from the public library of the town. But people don’t read. They listen to all this garbage and they pay for it. And there is psychology in it; if you pay four hundred and fifty dollars just to sit in audience, when she goes in a trance and starts talking…. And not only that, if you are listening to her and seeing her on your television in your home, you have to pay two hundred dollars…. When people pay that much money, they themselves are caught in a difficulty. If they say it is all nonsense then they have been an idiot to pay. They have to go home and say, “It is just far out. Four hundred and fifty dollars is nothing. Any amount of money is nothing. What she is saying is so valuable.” This was the case with EST. Werner Erhardt was charging people two hundred and fifty dollars — and insulting them, not allowing them to go to the bathroom. The whole day the session was continuing, they were not allowed to eat, and they were in every way humiliated — and they had paid two hundred dollars for it. They could not leave in the middle of the session because they had paid two hundred dollars. They wanted to see the whole thing — perhaps in the end something comes out — and something came out: many of the people will piss sitting there in the hall! And if you have been holding your bladder for the whole day and then you cannot hold it any longer — in spite of you it starts coming out — it is such a great relief that one has a taste of let-go! And people loved it because it was an experience. It was an experience! And they will tell their friends, “It is miraculous. I felt so relieved, all tension gone. Every fiber of my being relaxed.” And just word of mouth — Werner Erhardt was not advertising at all — just word of mouth.