Chapter 1: Man Is a Becoming
The first question:
Why is it that only humans repress, manipulate, kill, try to conquer the natural flow in nature, the Tao? Why are we so stupid?
Man is not a being, man is a becoming. This is one of the most fundamental things to be understood. The trees, the animals, they are all beings. Man is different: he is a becoming, he is a process. And with the process the problem arises: you can fall below the animals, you can rise above the gods. No dog can fall below doghood, neither he can become a buddha; both are impossible. He is neither stupid nor a genius; he has no growth. He is born the way he is born; he will live, he will die the same - between his birth and death there is going to happen no evolution.
Man is different. That is man’s privilege, his prerogative, but there lies also great danger. Man is not born fully complete; he is not born entire - birth is only a beginning of a process. Now, the process can take any form: it can become deformed, it can take a wrong route, it can go astray. Man begins his life as freedom but freedom has its price; you can’t have it free. No other animal has any freedom except man.
Hence for centuries the mystics have said that man is a bridge between two eternities: the eternity of the unconscious and the eternity of the conscious, and man is always moving between these two polarities. He is like a tightrope walker. Each moment is full of danger, but full of possibilities too. No possibility comes alone; it has its own danger. You can miss - you can fall from the rope into the abyss.
Man has been called by the mystics a ladder. Now, the ladder can do two things: you can use it to go upwards, and the same ladder can be used to go downwards. You use the same ladder for both the purposes, just your direction changes. When you are moving upwards your direction is different; when you are moving downwards your direction is just the opposite of it. But the ladder is the same, the result will be totally different. Man is a ladder between heaven and hell.
That’s why, it is only human beings who repress, who manipulate, who kill, who try to conquer the natural flow in nature, who are stupid - because they can be buddhas. Because man has intelligence, that’s why he can be stupid. Stupidity simply means you have not used your intelligence; it does not mean absence of intelligence. If there is no presence of intelligence you cannot call man stupid. You cannot call a rock stupid; a rock is a rock - no question of stupidity.