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Chapter 11: Yes, I Teach You Selfishness

I have loved a very ancient Chinese story: A man falls into a well. It was at a big gathering, a festival time, and there was so much noise, and people were enjoying, dancing, singing, and all kinds of things were going on, so nobody heard him fall. And at that time in China wells were not protected by a wall surrounding them, at least four or five feet high so nobody falls in. They were without any protection, just open. You could fall in the darkness without being aware that there is a well. The man starts shouting, “Save me!”

A Buddhist monk passes by. Of course a Buddhist monk is not interested in the festival, is not supposed to be interested - I don’t know what he was doing there. Even to be there means some unconscious urge to see what is going on, how people are enjoying: “All these people will go to hell, and I am the only one here who is going to heaven.”

He passes by the well and he hears this man. He looks down. The man says, “Good that you have heard me. Everybody is so busy and there is so much noise that I was afraid I was going to die.”

The Buddhist monk says, “You are still going to die, because this is your past life’s evil act: now you are getting the punishment. Get it and be finished! It is good. In the new life you will come out clean and there will be no need to fall again into a well.”

The man says, “I don’t want any wisdom and any philosophy at this moment.” But the monk had moved on.

A Taoist, old man, stops. He is thirsty, looks in. The man is still crying for help. The Taoist says, “This is not manly. One should accept everything as it comes - that’s what the great Lao Tzu has said. So accept it! Enjoy! You are crying like a woman. Be a man!”

The man says, “I am ready to be called a woman but first please save me! I am not manly. And you can say anything that you want to say afterward - first pull me out.”

But the Taoist says, “We never interfere in anybody’s business. We believe in the individual and his freedom. It is your freedom to fall in the well, it is your freedom to die in the well. All that I can do is just suggest to you: you can die crying, weeping - that is foolish. You can die like a wise man - accept it, enjoy it, sing a song, and go. Anyway, everybody is going to die, so what is the point of saving you? I am going to die, everybody is going to die - perhaps tomorrow, perhaps the day after tomorrow - so what is the point of bothering to save you?” And he moves on.

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