Chapter 8: The Turtle
Chuang Tzu with his bamboo pole was fishing in the Pu river.
The Prince of Chu sent two vice-chancellors with a formal
document: We hereby appoint you Prime Minister.
Chuang Tzu held his bamboo pole. Still watching the Pu river, he said, “I am told there is a sacred tortoise offered and
canonized three thousand years ago, venerated by the prince, wrapped in silk, in a precious shrine on an altar in the temple.
“What do you think? Is it better to give up one's life
and leave a sacred shell as an object of cult in a cloud of incense for three thousand years, or to live as a plain turtle dragging its tail in the mud?”
“For the turtle” said the vice-chancellor, “better to live and drag its tail in the mud!”
“Go home!” said Chuang Tzu. “Leave me here to drag my tail in the mud.”
Every child is born sane, but every man becomes insane. The whole of humanity is neurotic. Neurosis is not a problem for only a few people, the human being as such is neurotic. And this neurosis is created through such a subtle mechanism that you cannot even become aware of it. It has become an unconscious thing, it goes on influencing you: your behavior, your relationships, your whole life is colored by it. But it has gone so deep into your roots that you cannot find from where your misery, conflict, anxiety and neurosis have arisen.
A few things have to be understood; then this story will become clear, and very helpful. First, if you condemn yourself you are creating a division, and that division will be your misery and your hell. If you condemn yourself, it means you condemn nature, and there is no victory against nature; there cannot be. You are just a tiny part in a vast ocean of nature, you cannot fight it.
And all so-called religions teach you to fight it. They condemn nature and they acclaim culture. They condemn nature, and they say: “This is behaving just like animals, don’t be like animals!” Every parent is saying: “Don’t be like animals.” What is wrong with animals? Animals are beautiful! But in your mind animals are something to be condemned, something bad, something evil, something not worthy of you. You are superior, you are not an animal, you are born of angels. And animals - they are just to be used, exploited; you don’t belong to them.
That is why when Darwin first declared that man has come out of the same heritage as animals, that he belongs to the animal world, the whole of humanity was against him. From every church pulpit, from every temple, from every mosque, he was condemned as a heretic. They said that he was teaching something absolutely wrong, and if he were believed then the whole culture would be lost.
But he was right! Man is as natural as other animals, trees and birds. And trees and birds and animals are not neurotic, they never go mad - unless you put them in a zoo. In a zoo it happens: animals do go neurotic. Even to be in contact with man is dangerous. Man is infectious. Sometimes dogs go mad, but never when they are wild, only when they are domesticated.