Chapter 5: On the Danger of Overweening Success
The middle is an alive situation, it is not a fixed and dead point that you achieve forever - no. Moment to moment you have to achieve it, again and again and again. Watch a tightrope walker - it is an experience.
In my childhood, whenever I heard about a tightrope walker anywhere, in my village or in the neighboring villages, I would run and watch, because from the very beginning I felt that he knew something which was very, very significant for life.
What is he doing? He is not statically in the middle, otherwise he will fall. He is never for a single moment static. He is dynamic, constantly changing, a flux, but the flux has a balancing center. Sometimes he moves to the left, sometimes to the right; he is very contradictory, he is not consistent. If you ask for consistency he will fall and die. If you say, “Stick to one situation, to one position. If you are a rightist, be a rightist; if you are a leftist, be a leftist; or if you have chosen the middle as your position, then be in the middle. But what are you doing? You are constantly moving” - you will kill him. Any static position kills. To be static is to die, and die uselessly. To be static is to miss life. No, he cannot remain in the middle. To remain in the middle - he cannot remain in the middle - to remain in the middle he has to constantly move and balance. Every moment life is changing, how can you remain fixed? Every moment everything is changing. Nothing is static.
Says Heraclitus: You cannot step in the same river twice. By the time you come to step in the river twice, the river has changed. And not only has the river changed, you have changed. How can you step twice in the river? Neither the river remains the same nor you. Nothing remains the same. Sameness is illusion. Flux is reality. In such a changing world, in such an alive world, vibrating with life, if you cling to a position you are dead, you are seeking suicide.
That’s why all those who have reached and concluded are dead. If you have concluded that you are a Hindu you are dead. If you have concluded that you are a Mohammedan you are dead. Because sometimes a Hindu needs to lean toward the Mohammedan to gain balance, and sometimes a Mohammedan needs to be a Hindu to gain balance.
Balance is life. If you have decided that you are a communist you are dead. To remain alive even the communist needs to lean toward the capitalist and the capitalist to lean toward the communist. Life is not as clear-cut as thinking. Thinking is very linear, life is maddening.
I have heard one anecdote, not written by a Taoist but the anecdote is Taoist - knowingly or unknowingly, the man has brought Taoism into it. It is a German anecdote.
It happened once: