Chapter 1: Voluntary Death
As the navel shows something about the past, a parable shows something about the future. It shows that there is a possibility of growing, of being connected with existence. Right now that is only a possibility, it is not actual. If you just dissect the parable it becomes an ordinary story. If you don’t dissect it but just drink the meaning of it, the poetry of it, the music of it - forget the story and just carry the significance of it - soon you will see that it indicates towards a future, towards something which can be but is not yet. It is transcendental.
In the West, except for Jesus’ parables, nothing like Lieh Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Buddha.nothing like these people’s parables exist, only Jesus. And even Jesus’ parables seem to be such that he must have carried them from the East. There are Aesop’s parables, but they are also reflections of the greatest book of parables of the East, Panchatantra. The parable is an Eastern invention, and of tremendous import.
So the first thing to be understood about Lieh Tzu: he is not a theoretician, he will not give you any theory; he will simply give you parables.
A theory can be dissected - its meaning is in it, it has no transcendence, the meaning is immanent. A parable cannot be dissected; dissect, and it will die. The meaning is transcendental it is not in it, it is somewhere else - it has to be. You have to live a parable, then you will come to its meaning. It has to become your heart, your breathing; it has to become your inner rhythm. So these parables are tremendously artistic but not mere art: great religion is contained in them.
Lieh Tzu is not a theologian either; he does not talk about God. He talks god, but he does not talk about God. Whatsoever he says comes from the source, but he does not talk about the source - let it be very clear to you. There are two types of people: one who talks about God, he is the theologian; one who talks God, he is the mystic. Lieh Tzu is a mystic. The man who talks about God has not known God. otherwise why should he “talk about”? The “about” shows his ignorance. When a man talks God he has experienced. Then God is not a theory to be proved, disproved - no; then God is his very life: to be lived.
To understand a man like Lieh Tzu you will have to live an authentic life. Only then, through your own experience, will you be able to feel what he means by his parables. It is not that you can learn the theories and become informed; the information will not help. Unless you know, nothing is going to help. So if these parables create a thirst in you to know, a great desire to know, a great hunger to know; if these parables lead you on an unknown journey, on a pilgrimage - then only, only by treading the path, will you become acquainted with the path.