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Chapter 4: The Cataract at Luliang

Confucius was looking at the cataract at Luliang.
It falls from a height of two hundred feet,
and its foam reaches fifteen miles away.
No scaly finny creature could survive therein.

Yet Confucius saw an old man go in.
Thinking the old man was suffering from some trouble

and was therefore desirous of ending his life,
Confucius bade a disciple run along the bank
to try to save him.

The old man emerged about a hundred paces off,
and with flowing hair, he went caroling along the bank.

Confucius followed him, and when he caught up with him he said:
I had thought, sir, you were a spirit,
but now I see you are a man. Kindly tell me,
is there any way to deal thus with the water?

No, replied the man, I have no way;
plunging in with the whirl, I come out with the swirl.
I accommodate myself to the water, not the water to me.
And so I am able to deal with it after this fashion.

You have a thousand and one problems, and you try to solve them. But not even a single problem is solved. It cannot be solved, because in the first place there are not a thousand and one problems, there is only one; and if you see a thousand and one problems, you will not be able to see the one that really is. You go on seeing things which are not, and, because of that, you miss seeing that which is.

So the first thing to be understood is the basic, the only problem. It is perennial, it doesn’t belong in particular to you, or to me or to somebody else. It belongs to man as such. It is born with you and, unfortunately, as is the situation with millions of people, the problem will die with you. If the problem can die before you die you have become enlightened. And the whole effort of religion is to help you to dissolve the problem before it has killed you completely.

There is a possibility of a man without any problems, and that is the religious man. He has no problems, because he has solved the basic problem. He has cut the root.

That’s why Tilopa says: Cut the root of the mind. Don’t go on cutting the leaves and the branches. There are millions, and, by cutting them, you will not be able to cut the root, and the tree will go on growing. It will become even denser and thicker and bigger if you go on pruning the leaves. Simply forget about the leaves. They are not the problems. The problem is somewhere in the root. Cut the root, and the tree by and by disappears, withers away.

So where is the root problem of the mind? It is neither yours, nor anybody else’s; it belongs to man as such. It comes into existence the moment you are born, but it can dissolve before you die. A child is born.

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