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Chapter 3: On the Character of Tao

Tolstoy has written a small story, not a story really. It is a fact, it happened, an incident.

Tolstoy went one day into the church, early in the morning. It was dark and he was surprised to find that the richest man of the town was praying and confessing before God and saying that he was a sinner. Of course Tolstoy became interested. And he was relating his sins: how he had deceived his wife and had been unfaithful, and how he had been in love relationships and affairs with other women, others’ wives.

Tolstoy became intrigued. He came nearer and nearer. And he was relating with much gusto, confessing to God: “I am a sinner and unless you forgive me there is no way for me. And how I have been exploiting! And how I have been robbing people! I am a sinner and I don’t know how to change myself. Unless your grace descends there is no possibility for me.” And tears were flowing.

Then suddenly he became aware that there was somebody else there. He looked. He recognized - by this time the day was dawning - and he became very angry and he said to Tolstoy: “Remember! These things I have said to God, not to you. And if you say these things to anybody I will drag you to the court for defaming me. So remember that you have never heard these things. This was a personal dialogue between me and God and I was not aware that you were here.”

A different face before God and a totally different face before the world.. Religion is a compartment - airtight. This is a trick to avoid it; this is a way to be religious without being religious at all - a deception.

Lao Tzu is not religious in that way at all. He is a simple man. He is not even aware that he is religious - how can a religious man be aware that he is religious? Religion is like breathing to him. You become aware of breathing only when something goes wrong, when it is hard to breathe, when you have asthma or some other type of breathing trouble. Otherwise you never know, never become aware that you breathe. You simply breathe, it is so natural.

Lao Tzu is naturally religious, he is not even aware of it. He is not like your saints who are practicing religion. No, he doesn’t practice: he has allowed the total to take possession. He lives it, but he does not practice it. Religion is not a discipline for him, it is a deep understanding. It is not something imposed from the outside, it is something that flows from within. There is not a bit of distance between him and religion.

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