Chapter 1: On the Absolute Tao
Lao Tzu lived in silence. He always avoided talking about the truth that he had attained and he always rejected the idea that he should write it down for the generations to come.
At the age of ninety he took leave of his disciples. He said good-bye to them, and he said, “Now I am moving towards the hills, towards the Himalayas. I am going there to get ready to die. It is good to live with people, it is good to be in the world while you are living, but when one is getting nearer to death it is good to move into total aloneness, so that you move towards the original source in your absolute purity and loneliness, uncontaminated by the world.”
The disciples felt very, very sad, but what could they do? They followed him for a few hundred miles, then by and by Lao Tzu persuaded them and they went back. Then alone he was crossing the border, and the guard on the border imprisoned him. The guard was also a disciple. And the guard said, “Unless you write a book, I am not going to allow you to move beyond the border. This much you must do for humanity. Write a book. That is the debt you have to pay, otherwise I won’t allow you to cross.” So for three days Lao Tzu was imprisoned by his own disciple.
It is beautiful. It is very loving. He was forced - and that’s how this small book, the book of Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, was born. He had to write it, because the disciple wouldn’t allow him to cross. And he was the guard and he had the authority, he could create trouble, so Lao Tzu had to write the book. In three days he finished it.
This is the first sentence of the book:
The Tao that can be told of
Is not the Absolute Tao.
This is the first thing he has to say: that whatsoever can be said cannot be true. This is the introduction for the book. It simply makes you alert: now words will be following, don’t become a victim of the words. Remember the wordless. Remember that which cannot be communicated through language, through words. The Tao can be communicated, but it can only be communicated from being to being. It can be communicated when you are with the master, just with the master, doing nothing, not even practicing anything. Just being with the master it can be communicated.