Chapter 10: Wisdom and Understanding
So don’t think that you are not choosing. That’s not possible. You have to choose whatsoever you do; even if you don’t choose you will be choosing. Choice is there. One is free to choose, but one is not free not to choose. If the mind says it is gradual, it is a choice; if the mind says it is sudden, that too is a choice. When you say it is sudden it means that you would like to drop every effort, so you choose sudden enlightenment. Then there is no need to do anything - when it happens it happens, nothing can be done because it is a sudden thing. Just like lightning in the sky, whenever it happens it happens - you cannot make preparations for it. It is not like electricity in the house that you put on and off, it does not depend on you. It is a sudden phenomenon, when it happens it happens. You have to wait for it. If you are thinking about reading a telegram when the electricity happens in the sky, then you have to wait. When it happens you can read it. What can you do?
People who want to escape from effort will choose sudden enlightenment. People who want to escape from the great, total responsibility of it, that it can happen right now, will choose the philosophy of gradualness.
I don’t say anything about enlightenment - I’m saying something about you. It is for you to feel your desire: total desire - enlightenment is sudden; partial desire - enlightenment is gradual. It has nothing to do with the nature of enlightenment. Remember this.
The second question:
Do Taoists agree with the happening of sudden enlightenment or the gradual one?
They don’t bother. Lao Tzu does not bother, because he says just to be ordinary is to be enlightened. It is not something special that one has to achieve, it is not an achievement, it is not something that one has to reach. It is you - in your absolute ordinariness it flowers. To be extraordinary is the disease of the ego.
The ego always wants to be extraordinary, someone special, unique, incomparable - that is the hankering desire of the ego. If you can become a Rockefeller, good; if you can become a Hitler, good; or if you cannot become a Rockefeller or a Hitler, then renounce the world and think of becoming a Buddha. But become someone, someone special, a historic phenomenon.
Lao Tzu is not bothered about enlightenment and all that nonsense. He says just be ordinary. Eat when you feel hungry, drink when you feel thirsty and go to sleep when sleep comes. Just be as natural as the whole existence, and suddenly there is everything in all its glory. Nothing is needed.
To be ordinary is the most extraordinary state of being because the ego dissolves. The ego is subtle. You get rid of it in one direction, it comes from another. You push it out from one door, go inside the room and it is sitting on the throne - it has entered from another door. Before you even come in, it is already there.
I had a friend who had a small cat, a very beautiful cat. He asked me what name he should give to the cat. I called the cat “Ego” because the ego is very cunning and a cat of course is cunning. There is nothing like a cat for cunningness. So he named his cat “Ego.”