Chapter 1: On the Absolute Tao
Lao Tzu says on the Absolute Tao:
The Tao that can be told of
Is not the Absolute Tao.
And on the rise of relative opposites, he says:
When the people of the Earth all know beauty as beauty,
There arises (the recognition of) ugliness.
When the people of the Earth all know good as good,
There arises (the recognition of) evil.
Being and non-being interdepend in growth;
Difficult and easy interdepend in completion;
Long and short interdepend in contrast;
High and low interdepend in position;
Tones and voice interdepend in harmony;
Front and behind interdepend in company.
Therefore the sage:
Manages affairs without action;
Preaches the doctrine without words.
All things take their rise,
But he does not turn away from them;
He gives them life, but does not take possession of them;
He acts, but does not appropriate;
Accomplishes, but claims no credit.
It is because he lays claim to no credit
That the credit cannot be taken away from him.
I speak on Mahavira as a part of my duty - my heart is never with him. He is too mathematical. He is not a mystic, he has no poetry of being. He is great, enlightened, but like a vast desert; you cannot come across a single oasis in him. But because I was born a Jaina I have to pay some debts. I speak on him as my duty but my heart is not there; I speak only from the mind. When I speak on Mahavira I speak as an outsider. He is not inside me and I am not inside him.
The same is true about Moses and Mohammed. I don’t feel like speaking on them; I have not spoken on them. If I had not been born a Jaina I would never have spoken on Mahavira either. Many times my Mohammedan disciples or my Jewish disciples come to me and say, “Why don’t you speak on Mohammed or Moses?” It is difficult to explain to them. Many times, just looking at their faces, I decide that I will speak; many times I look again and again into the words of Moses and Mohammed, then I again postpone it. No bell rings in my heart. It would not be alive - if I spoke it would be a dead thing. I don’t even feel a duty towards them as I feel towards Mahavira.
They all belong to the same category: they are too calculative, extremist; they miss the opposite extreme. They are single notes, not harmonies, not symphonies. A single note has its beauty - an austere beauty - but it is monotonous. Once in a while it is okay, but if it continues you feel bored; you would like to stop it. The personalities of Mahavira, Moses and Mohammed are like single notes - simple, austere, beautiful even, once in a while. But if I meet Mahavira, Moses or Mohammed on the road I will pay my respects and escape.