Chapter 15: The Vastness of This
All that has been said about truth is only a reflection in the mirror.
Lao Tzu did not say anything. He did not write anything. And when he was eighty years old, he left toward the Himalayas to rest in eternity; in the deepest silence of the eternal snow of Himalayan peaks.
The emperor of China ordered all the guards around the country to block all the roads: “Lao Tzu should not be allowed to go out unless he writes down his experience for future generations.”
He was caught hold of before he crossed the borders. Respectfully the guard said, “I am not in any way being disrespectful to you, I am simply following orders. The orders are that you have to remain in my cottage - there is no other place here - and write down your essential experience. Unless you do it, I cannot allow you out of the country, I cannot allow you to cross the borders.”
The emperor himself was a disciple of Lao Tzu. Under such circumstances Lao Tzu wrote a small booklet, but the first sentence is all that he really has been not saying all his long life - for eighty years. The first sentence was, “Truth is, but the moment you say anything about it, it is no more. So please read what I am writing with the consciousness that no word can contain it - including my words.”
Such sincerity, such purity, such truthfulness is very rare, and has become more and more rare.
Other Zen masters expressed the essence of Zen like this.
Lichen-crusted frogs croak
at moonlit mountaintops.
Awaken, mind’s clear at last.
Refreshing pine winds
Of the Book of Songs
Can’t match this.
The Book of Songs is an ancient Chinese treatise, one of the most beautiful books. It can be compared only to the Old Testament’s Song of Solomon. But even The Book of Songs can’t match this.
This is the only poetry, the only song, the only dance, the only answer - here, now, in your very breathing, in your very heartbeat.
All patriarchs are above our understanding,
And they don’t last forever.
Oh my disciples, examine, examine.
What? Why this. This only.
And if you can understand this, nothing else is needed - you have come home. You have long gone astray, you have wandered through lives in many forms on many paths; this brings you suddenly back to your essential self. And your essential self is the universal self. There is no distinction between the individual and the universal. Once the dewdrop falls into the ocean, all distinctions disappear. The dewdrop becomes the ocean.