Chapter 1: Just an Empty Passage
The paradoxical statements of the mystics have a purpose. The purpose is: the scholars avoid them. The moment they come across a mystic, deep down they know this man is mad - they won’t bother about such a man. Secondly: the paradox is the only way to indicate something that is really true. Logic is always half, it never takes in the whole, it cannot take in the whole. Life consists of polarities: just as electricity consists of positive and negative poles, the whole of life consists of polarities. And polarities are only apparently opposite to each other; deep down they are not opposite to each other. Deep down, for those who understand, for those who have the intelligence to see that deeply, they are not opposites, they are complementaries.
But for that you will need a deep experience of meditation; mind only won’t help. Mind will say, “These are contradictory statements. This man is saying one thing at the beginning of the sentence and by the time he ends the sentence he has uttered just the opposite.” But the mystic knows what he is doing: he is trying to put the whole truth in it. But the whole truth can be understood only by a person who has tasted something of the whole.
Mind always splits things: it divides, it separates, it functions like a prism. When a white sunray passes through the prism it becomes divided into seven colors. That’s how a rainbow is created: it is created by very small drops of water hanging in the air; those drops of water function like prisms and the sun rays passing through them become divided into seven colors. The mind is a prism: it divides everything into many. The truth is one, but if you look through the mind everything appears to be many. And the mystic’s way of saying things is such that he wants to put all the colors of the rainbow again back together as they were in the very beginning before passing through the prism.
Because of this paradoxical way of expression scholars avoid them. People who live in the mind cannot comprehend them; it is a safeguard. That’s how such beautiful treatises have survived for centuries.
Ko Hsuan is simply writing it, remember it; he is not the creator of the treatise. He has also experienced the same truth because the truth is always the same whoever experiences it. Whenever one experiences it, it is always the same, it does not change; time makes no difference. But what he is saying has been transferred by word of mouth for centuries, maybe for thousands of years. That’s why we don’t exactly know whose words they are.
He simply says:
The Venerable Master said.
Who is this master? Nothing is said about him. Perhaps the master simply represents all the masters of the past and all the masters of the present and all the masters of the future. Maybe it simply represents the essential wisdom - not any particular person, but simply the principle.
Nothing is known about Ko Hsuan, nothing at all. Hence for at least a few centuries it had been thought that these words belonged to Lao Tzu. But Lao Tzu has a different way of speaking, a totally different way; these words can’t be coming from Lao Tzu. We have gone into the words of Lao Tzu; he is even more mad than Ko Hsuan, he is even more mystical. And it is a well known fact that he never wrote anything other than Tao Te Ching, and that too he wrote under pressure, at the last moment, when he was leaving China to die in the Himalayas.