Chapter 18: Intelligence Is Our Only Treasure
“This man was forced to steal. His mother is dying. He could not find a doctor who would come without asking for money; he could not get medicine without money. He is knocking on every door to get employment, and there is no employment. What do you want this man to do? He is ready to work, but work is not available. He has begged the doctors, but nobody is ready to listen. They say, ‘Every day thousands of poor people are coming. How can we manage?’ And from where can he get those costly medicines? It was as a last resort. This man is not a thief. Stealing was a last resort to save his dying mother.
“And to steal from your house is certainly not a crime. You have committed the basic crime of accumulating the wealth. And this thief, this so-called thief, is a man with a very fair mind: he has taken only half of the treasure. He could have taken the whole of it. He has left half of your treasure in your safe; he has simply divided it - half and half.
“He is not a thief. Circumstances forced him to be a thief. But you are a born thief. Your father was exploiting these people, your father’s father was exploiting these people; you are doing the same. Because of you, the whole place is poor and dying and starving.
“Now what do you want me to judge? If I send you both to jail for six months, I am being unfair to the thief, because he has done a very small thing, while you are a born criminal and you are stealing the whole day from the poor in different ways. And he has done only one act.”
The rich man was certainly annoyed. He was not accustomed to listening to such things - he could have purchased these supreme court judges. He said, “You wait. First I would like to see the emperor.” Even the emperor owed him money. When there was the need he had given money to the emperor for invading other countries or for defense.
He went to the emperor and said, “What kind of a man have you put as your supreme court chief justice? He is throwing me into jail for six months - with the thief! And he says he is being unfair to the thief because he has done only one act of stealing, and we have been doing the same thing in different names for generations; our whole life consists of exploitation. Remember, if I am going to jail, tomorrow your number is going to be up, because from where have you gathered all this money, all this empire? According to that man you are a bigger thief than me. So if you want to save yourself, throw that man out.”
Lao Tzu was relieved immediately. He said, “I told you before that I will not be suitable, because I don’t function through the mind. To function through the mind is judgmental. I function through silence. I simply see the reality as it is - without any prejudice, without any opinion, without any conclusion reached before.”
One of the courts in America had a case against me and the judge was choosing the jurors. Eleven jurors were needed, and he had to interview at least sixty persons, eminent persons of the area. He simply asked, “Can you be unprejudiced toward this man?” And they said they cannot; they had an opinion about him. They were rejected. They could not find eleven jurors who could say, under oath, that they will not be prejudiced. Finally the judge had to take the case into his own hands. But what is the guarantee that the judge is not judgmental?