Lao Tzu was one of the most consistent men; it is rare to find a buddha so consistent as Lao Tzu. His whole life he never wrote. All the teaching that he gave to his disciples was not a teaching at all; his whole method was via negativa. The disciple would come to him with all his knowledge, and Lao Tzu would start dismantling his knowledge, destroying his knowledge; that was his whole and sole purpose. He would go on taking away your knowledge brick by brick. A moment comes when the whole building of your knowledge collapses; then you are left in a vacuum. That is the moment Lao Tzu would say, “Now you can sit by my side – just sit in this vacuum.” And of course in a vacuum you cannot ask any question, you cannot expect any answer. If you can ask, if you can expect, it is not a true vacuum yet. A true vacuum means no answer, no question; nothing is left, all has disappeared. The very earth beneath your feet has been taken away; you are falling into a bottomless abyss.
These were the people Lao Tzu had gathered around himself. They would sit with him, they would walk with him, they would move from one village to another village. But he was not like Buddha or Mahavira, who were teaching, who were trying to convey something of the unconveyable.
His whole life he was asked again and again by the kings, by the emperors, by the rich people, “Please write something about your experience for the coming generations. Don’t take it away with you. We know you know, whether you say it or not. We know, because your very presence is so pregnant it is almost tangible. We can touch it, we feel it, we become flooded with it. We know you know! Please write something, just a few words for the future generations to know that a man like Lao Tzu has been in existence.” But he was very reluctant. He would simply laugh, he would not even say no.
Once a disciple asked, “At least just to be polite you can say no!”
And Lao Tzu said, “To say no means you are on the way to saying yes! If they can get a no out of me, sooner or later they will get a yes too, because yes and no are two sides of the same coin.”
And he is right, he is absolutely right. If somebody says no to you, that means there is hope – yes is possible. There is a possibility; however far away it may be, there is a possibility. The no can turn into yes because yes can turn into no; they go on changing into each other. And you know that your no in the morning becomes yes in the evening, your yes in the evening becomes no in the morning; they are interchangeable. They are not so contradictory as they appear. Somewhere deep down they are joined.
Lao Tzu would not even say no, he would only laugh. Now, what to make of this laugh? You cannot make anything out of it. He is neither saying yes nor saying no; he is not falling from his high state. But at the last moment he was forced to write – this is the only document in the whole history of humanity which has been written under compulsion, which has been coerced – because he wanted to go to the Himalayas. The Himalayas divide China and India; in one sense they divide, in another sense they join. You can see – yes and no are not very different!
He wanted to go to the Himalayas. His disciples asked, “Why?” He had become very old. He must have been very old for the simple reason that…. The story is beautiful; true or not, that is not the point. I am a lover of beauty; I don’t bother whether it is true or not!
Beauty is something higher than truth. Truth is logical, beauty is aesthetic. Truth is of the head, beauty is something deeper – of the heart.