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Chapter 3: On the Character of Tao


Lao Tzu says on the character of Tao:

Tao is a hollow vessel,
And its use is inexhaustible,

And on the spirit of the valley, he says:

The Spirit of the Valley never dies.
It is called the Mystic Female.
The door of the Mystic Female
Is the root of Heaven and Earth.

Continuously, continuously,
It seems to remain.
Draw upon it
And it serves you with ease.

The world of Lao Tzu is totally different from the worlds of philosophy, religion, ethics. It is not even a way of life. Lao Tzu is not teaching something - he is that something. He is not a preacher, he is a presence. He has no doctrine for you - he has only himself to offer and share.

Had he been a philosopher, things would have been easy - you could have understood him. He is a mystery because he is not a philosophy. He is not even an anti-philosophy, because both depend on logic. He is absurd. Philosophies depend on logic, anti-philosophies also depend on logic - so the anti-philosophies are also nothing but philosophies. Nagarjuna, a great anti-philosopher, is still a philosopher. He talks, he argues, he discusses in the same way as any philosopher. He discusses against philosophy, argues against philosophy, but the argument is the same. And logic is a whore.

There is a story; one of Lao Tzu’s greatest disciples, Lieh Tzu, reports it. Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu and Lieh Tzu - they are the three pillars of the world of Tao. Lao Tzu goes on talking in epigrams, maxims; he does not even elaborate. But Lieh Tzu and Chuang Tzu, being disciples of Lao Tzu, cannot argue. They go on telling parables, stories, analogies. This word has to be continuously remembered: Tao cannot be explained, only analogies can be given - indications. Tao cannot be discussed, it can only be shown. So a deep sympathetic heart is needed - it is not a question of the mind at all.

Lieh Tzu reports a story, that in his town once it happened: The richest man of the town was crossing the river and the river was in flood. And there arose a great storm and just in midstream the boat overturned. Somehow the boatman escaped, but he couldn’t save the rich man. The rich man was drowned. A great search was made.

One fisherman found the body - the dead body - but he asked a fantastic price for it and would not give it up for less. The family was not willing to give so much just for a dead body so they went to a logician, a lawyer, a legal adviser, to ask what to do. Could something legally be done?

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