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Chapter 5: On the Danger of Overweening Success

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.

To be proud with wealth and honor
Is to sow the seeds of one’s own downfall.
Retire when your work is done.
Such is heaven’s way.