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Chapter 10: Wholeness

How does the true man of Tao
walk through walls without obstruction
and stand in fire without being burned?

Not because of cunning or daring,
not because he has learned -
but because he has unlearned.

His nature sinks to its root in the one.
His vitality, his power,
hide in secret Tao.

When he is all one,
there is no flaw in him
by which a wedge can enter.

So a drunken man who falls out of a wagon
is bruised, but not destroyed.
His bones are like the bones of other men,
but his fall is different.
His spirit is entire.
He is not aware of getting into a wagon,
or falling out of one.
Life and death are nothing to him.
He knows no alarm,
he meets obstacles without thought, without care,
and takes them without knowing they are there.

If there is such security in wine,
how much more in Tao?
The wise man is hidden in Tao,
nothing can touch him.

How does the true man of Tao
walk through walls without obstruction
and stand in fire without being burned?

This is one of the most basic and secret teachings. Ordinarily we live through cunningness, cleverness and strategy; we don’t live like small children, innocent. We plan, we protect, we make all the safeguards possible - but what is the result? Ultimately, what happens? All the safeguards are broken, all cunningness proves foolishness - ultimately death takes us away.

Tao says that your cunningness will not help you, because what is your cunningness but a fight against the whole? With whom are you cunning - with nature, with Tao, with existence? Whom do you think you are deceiving - the source from where you are born and the source to which you will finally go? The wave is trying to deceive the ocean, the leaf trying to deceive the tree, a cloud trying to deceive the sky? Whom do you think you are trying to deceive? With whom are you playing?

Once it is understood, a man becomes innocent, drops his cunningness, all his strategies, and simply accepts. There is no other way than to accept nature as it is and flow with it. Then there is no resistance, then he is just like a child who is going with his father, in deep trust.

It happened once. Mulla Nasruddin’s son came home and said that to a boy he believed to be his friend he had given his toy to play with. Now he was not returning it “What should I do?” he asked.

Mulla Nasruddin looked at him and said, “Go up this ladder.” The boy trusted his father so he did so. When he was ten feet high, Nasruddin said, “Now jump into my arms.”

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