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Chapter 7: On the Utility of Not-Being

Scientists say that stars are also born and die. They live millions of years, but that is not the question. They are born - from where do they come? Right now many stars are being born. Just as many children are being born in maternity wards, many stars are being born. They are coming out of nothingness. No matter existed before; it was a vast space, then suddenly a nebula comes into being - smoke arises out of nothingness. The smoke starts gathering, condensing, starts becoming more and more solid. It takes millions of years. Just as it takes nine months for a child to be born, it takes millions of years for nothingness to become condensed and become a star. Then for millions of years the star remains alive, then it dies. Then again it disperses by and by, becomes less and less solid, becomes vapor, smoke. For millions of years it remains on its deathbed and then one day the star has disappeared. The place where the star once was now will be a black hole; it has become non-existential. Now, if you come across this black hole you will be simply absorbed. When the black hole absorbs a whole star.such a vast phenomenon!

Our sun is a mediocre star. It is thousands of times bigger than the earth. If our sun, thousands of times bigger than the earth, dies.. It will die one day. Scientists say that it seems nearabout four billion years more that it can be alive. It is already old, ill, has to be hospitalized - but there exists no hospital for stars. It is dying. Four billion years it will take, then one day it will be no more. First the light will disappear, then the matter will disappear, and then it will become a black hole. The space where once the sun was and now is no more will be a tremendous whirlpool of nothingness. If the earth is caught into it - finished. In a single moment it will crush you - nothingness to nothingness.

And there are bigger stars, our star is a mediocre one. Millions of big suns exist in existence, many of them have died already. In space travel, to go to the moon is nothing - but once we get out of the solar system, then there will be trouble, because then your spaceship can come across any hole and you cannot know beforehand. Your ship can be simply absorbed and nothing will be heard of it ever again. These black holes are the other part of existence: they are nonexistence. And it has to be so, because existence has to be balanced by nonexistence.

Lao Tzu believes in nonexistence tremendously. He is the first to bring the utility of nonexistence to its ultimate glory. Of course he didn’t know about black holes, otherwise he would have talked about them. He was a simple man, living in a village, living the simple life of a peasant - raw, simple, not very cultivated and civilized. He was against civilization, he was for nature. He has only simple similes: the wheel. He says the nave of the wheel, the hub of the wheel is empty, but the whole wheel depends on it.

It is called the nave of the wheel - why? Because it is just like the nave that exists in man. Just near your navel, the Japanese say there exists a point called hara. The hara is the black hole in your body. Japan has discovered, following Lao Tzu’s idea, that somewhere in the body death must have a home. Death doesn’t come from the outside, it is not an accident as people think. People say death is coming. No, death is not coming, death is growing within you; it is not that somewhere on life’s path you meet death suddenly. If it were so, then methods could have been devised to avoid death, to deceive it or not to go to that point where death waits for you, to bypass it or to send somebody else instead of you. There would be such a possibility if death were an outward phenomenon, happening to you from the outside. But death is carried within you like a seed. It comes into existence when you come into existence, in fact it existed even before you. You have come out of it.

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