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Chapter 4: Apologies

If a man steps on a stranger’s foot
in the marketplace,
he makes a polite apology
and offers an explanation:
“This place is so crowded.”

If an elder brother
steps on his younger brother’s foot
he says, “Sorry,”
and that is that.

If a parent
treads on his child’s foot
nothing is said at all.

The greatest politeness
is free of all formality.
Perfect conduct is free of concern.
Perfect wisdom is unplanned.
Perfect love is without demonstrations.
Perfect sincerity offers no guarantee.

All that is great, all that is beautiful, all that is true and real, is always spontaneous. You cannot plan it. The moment you plan it, everything goes wrong. The moment planning enters, everything becomes unreal.

But this has happened to humanity. Your love, your sincerity, your truth, everything has gone wrong because you have planned it, because you have been taught not to be spontaneous. You have been taught to manipulate yourself, to control, to manage, and not to be a natural flow. You have become rigid, frozen, dead.

Life knows no planning. It is itself enough. Do the trees plan how to grow, how to mature, how to come to flower? They simply grow without even being conscious of the growth. There is no self-consciousness, there is no separation.

Whenever you start planning you have divided yourself, you have become two - the one who is controlling and the one who is controlled. A conflict has arisen, now you will never be at peace. You may succeed in controlling but there will be no peace, or you may not succeed in controlling, then too there will be no peace. Whether you succeed or fail, ultimately you will come to realize that you have failed. Your failure will be a failure, your success will also be a failure. Whatsoever you do, your life will be miserable.

This division creates ugliness, you are not one, and beauty belongs to oneness, beauty belongs to a harmonious whole. All culture, all civilization, all societies, make you ugly. All morality makes you ugly because it is based on division, on control.

I have heard.

Once Baal Shem was traveling in a beautiful coach with three horses. But he was wondering continuously. For three days he had been traveling, but not even once had any of the horses neighed. What had happened to the horses? Then suddenly on the fourth day, a passing peasant shouted at him to relax control. He relaxed, and suddenly all three horses started neighing, they came alive. For three days continuously they had been dead, dying.

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