Chapter 1: When the Shoe Fits
So the first thing to understand about Chuang Tzu before we enter his sutras is: Be natural. Everything unnatural has to be avoided. Don’t do anything that is unnatural. Nature is enough, you cannot improve upon it, but the ego says, no, you can improve upon nature; that is how all culture exists. Any effort to improve upon nature is culture, and all culture is like a disease - the more a man is cultured the more dangerous he is.
I have heard that a hunter, a European hunter, was lost in a forest in Africa. Suddenly he came upon a few huts. He had never heard that a village existed in that thick forest; it was not on any map. So he approached the chief of the village, and said, “It is a pity that you are lost to civilization.”
The chief said, “No, it is not a pity. We are always afraid of being discovered - once civilization comes in we are lost.”
Nature is lost once you make an effort to improve upon it - that means you are trying to improve upon God. All religions are trying to do that - to improve upon God. Chuang Tzu is not in favor of that. He says nature is ultimate, and that ultimate nature he calls Tao. Tao means that nature is ultimate and cannot be improved upon. If you try to improve upon it you will cripple it - that is how we cripple every child.
Every child is born in Tao, then we cripple him with society, civilization, culture, morality, religion.. We cripple him from every side. Then he lives, but he is not alive.
I have heard that a small girl was going to a party, a friend’s birthday party. She was very small, just four years old. She asked her mother, “Were there such parties and dances when you were alive?”
The more cultured and civilized, the more dead. If you want to see perfectly dead men and yet still alive go to the monks in the monasteries, go to the priests in the churches, go to the Pope in the Vatican. They are not alive: they are so afraid of life, so afraid of nature, that they have suppressed it everywhere. They are already in their graves. You can paint the grave, you can even make a marble grave, very valuable - but the man inside is dead.
A drunkard was passing through a graveyard and he saw a beautiful grave made of pure white marble. He looked at the grave, looked at the name on it. The grave was that of the famous Rothschild. He laughed and said, “These Rothschilds, they know how to live!”
Culture kills you, culture is a murderer, culture is a slow poison - it is a suicide. Chuang Tzu and his old master, Lao Tzu, are against culture. They are for nature, pure nature. Trees are in a better position than you.even birds, fishes in the river, are in a better position because they are more alive, they dance more to the rhythm of nature. You have completely forgotten what nature is. You have condemned it to the very root.