Chapter 7: A Tree Grows
The third thing: when religion comes you are naturally moral but the vice versa is not the case - you may be moral but you may not be religious. When you are religious you are naturally moral; morality comes like a shadow.
A disciple came to Lieh Tzu and asked Lieh Tzu, “What should I do, master, to become enlightened?” And Lieh Tzu said, “You stand in the sun, walk, and watch your shadow.”
The man went out, stood in the sun, walked and watched his shadow, came back, bowed down, thanked the master and said, “You have shown me the way.”
The other disciples were very much puzzled. What had transpired between the master and this new man? They asked Lieh Tzu and he laughed. He said, “It is so simple. I told him to go into the sun and walk and watch his shadow. And he understood the point. If the body walks the shadow follows. The shadow cannot walk on its own. And even if you can arrange for the shadow to walk on its own, the body will not follow, there is no necessity.”
Morality is like the shadow, religion is the real figure. When religion is there, morality comes on its own - it has to come, there is no other possibility. But if morality is there, there is no necessity for religion to be there. You can become a moral person without becoming religious at all. You can have good qualities. You can be honest, sincere, true, non-violent, but that doesn’t make you religious. If you are religious all moral qualities simply follow you.
When you are moral you have to manage those good qualities continuously they have to be maintained otherwise they will disappear. A moral man has to manage his honesty continuously because every moment there is a fear that he may function dishonestly. The dishonesty has not disappeared, it has been repressed. It is there, it is waiting in the basement of his being for its opportunity, and once the opportunity is there it will assert itself with vengeance. It is there and the moral person knows it well. He may be trying to be loving but he knows that the hatred is there boiling within him. He may be smiling but he knows that his eyes are full of tears. He may not be showing his anger but he knows that his heart is burning, and he wants to kill. He may be praying but really he wants to curse. He knows it. There is no way not to know.
You can deceive others but how can you deceive yourself? Even if you try to deceive yourself, reality will assert itself again and again and you will have to encounter it again and again. And you know that although you can pretend that you are a very good man, deep down you know how bad you are. That hangs like a stone around your neck, like a rock and keeps you pulled down.