Chapter 3: Joy Has No Cause
Again Lieh Tzu is joking about Confucius, that’s how they are very subtle people. He is saying that the whole Confucian wrong attitude is there in the very question: Confucius thinks there are reasons for joy. There cannot be any reasons for joy. Joy simply is - unexplained, unexplainable. When it is, it is; when it is not, it is not. When it is not, you can find the reasons why it is not; but when it is, you cannot find any reasons why it is. And if you can show the reasons why it is, then your joy is cultivated, not real, not true, not authentic. It is not flowing from your innermost core; it is just that you are managing it, you are manipulating it, you are pretending it. When a joy is a pretended joy, you can find out the reason. But when the joy is truly there, it is so mysterious, it is so primal, that you cannot find any reason in it.
If you ask a Buddha “Why are you happy?” he will shrug his shoulders. If you ask Lao Tzu “Why are you blissful?” he will say, “Don’t ask it. Rather than asking why I am blissful, inquire why you are not.”
It is like a small spring in the mountains: when there is no hindrance, the spring flows; when there are rocks on the way, it cannot flow. When the rocks are removed.. You don’t create the spring - you only remove the negative, you only remove the obstacle. The spring was there, but because of the rock it was not able to flow. When you remove the rock you are not creating the spring - the spring was already there. By removing the rock you have removed the negative, the obstacle, and the spring flows. Now if somebody asks “Why does the spring flow?” - because the spring is there, that’s why it flows. If it is not flowing, then there is a cause to it. Let this sink deep in you because it is your problem too.
Never ask why you are happy, never ask why one is blissful, otherwise you have asked a wrong question. Never ask why there is a God. If you ask, you have asked a wrong question; and all the answers that can be given are bound to be wrong, because a wrong question provokes wrong answers. “Why is God?” - that is irrelevant; it is simply the case.
Confucius is asking something, and by asking that, he is showing his presuppositions: Confucius believes that everything has a cause. If everything has a cause, then only science can exist. Then there is no possibility for religion, because science is the inquiry into the cause-and-effect relationship, an inquiry into causation, an inquiry into causality. That is the whole scientific attitude: they say that if something is there, there must be a cause to it - you may know, you may not know, but the cause is bound to be there. “If we don’t know today, we will know tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, but the cause is bound to be known, because the cause must be there.” This is the scientific attitude: everything can be reduced to its cause.
And what is the religious attitude? Religion says that nothing can really be reduced to its cause. That which can be reduced is not essential. The essential simply is - it exists without any cause; it is mysterious. This is the meaning of mystery: there is no cause to it.
Confucius is asking a question according to his presuppositions, according to his philosophy,
“Master, what is the reason for your joy?”