Chapter 5: The Fundamental Rule
Mr. P’ang of Ch’en had a son who was clever as a child but suffered from an abnormality when he grew up. When he heard singing he thought it was weeping; when he saw white he thought it was black; fragrant smells he thought noisome, sweet tastes he thought bitter, wrong actions he thought right. Whatever came into his mind - heaven and earth, the four cardinal points, water and fire, heat and cold - he always turned it upside down.
A certain Mr. Yang told his father: “The gentlemen of Lu have many arts and skills, perhaps they can cure him. Why not inquire among them?”
The father set out for Lu, but passing through Ch’en he came across Lao Tzu and took the opportunity to tell him about his son’s symptoms.
“How do you know that your son is abnormal?” said Lao Tzu.
“Nowadays everyone in the world is deluded about right and wrong and confused about benefit and harm. Because many people share this sickness no one perceives that it is a sickness. Besides, one man’s abnormality is not enough to overturn his family; one family’s to overturn the neighborhood: one neighborhood’s to overturn the state; one state’s to overturn the world. If the whole world were abnormal how could abnormality overturn it? Supposing the minds of everyone in the world were like your son’s, then, on the contrary, it is you who would be abnormal. Joy and sorrow, music and beauty, smells and tastes, right and wrong - who can straighten them out? I am not even sure that these words of mine are not abnormal let alone those of the gentlemen of Lu, who are the most abnormal of all. Who are they to cure other people’s abnormality? You had better go straight home instead of wasting your money.”
Tao is a unique vision. It is a vision, mind you, a darshan, it is not a philosophy. It is a clarity, a transparency, but not an ideology. It does not propose any system of thought - it does not propose anything at all. It neither proposes anything, nor supposes anything. It is not a system of thought, it is just a way of looking directly into reality, into that which is.
It does not project anything from the mind, it does not allow mind to interfere, compare, interpret - it is wu-wei, non-interference with reality. Whatsoever is, is; it cannot be altered, it cannot be changed; whatever is, is, and whatever ain’t, ain’t. Things should be left untouched, as they are. The moment man enters and tries to change or improve, confusion arises.
Tao is a great acceptance, Tao is a tremendous acceptance, Tao is an unconditional tathata. Whatsoever is, is - nothing can be done about it.
And there is no need to do anything either. The moment you start doing, you create mischief - the doers are the mischievous people. The non-doers are the real people; through non-doing, one can know what is. When you start doing something you bring your mind in, and the moment mind comes in there is confusion - all clarity is lost. Try to understand this as the basic, fundamental Tao.
Then today’s parable will be very easily understood. It is of tremendous beauty, this parable. It can open a new vista, it can open a door in your being, it can give you a vision of reality. But the fundamental rule is: do not interfere. That is real non-violence.