Secondly, in Indian symbology, “upward” is synonymous with “inward,” and “downward” is synonymous with “outward.” When we say upward we mean inward; they both mean the same. The more inward you go, the more upward; the more outward you go, the more downward. These two are different symbols. The Chinese mind has always used “downward” as synonymous with “inward,” and “upward” as synonymous with “outward.” So whenever Lao Tzu would speak he would never use upward; he would say, “Come downward,” and by down he means come within. So the within for Lao Tzu is just like an abyss: you fall in.
Indian symbology is different. We use upward for inward. For us the inward is not like an abyss, it is like a peak. Both can be used because symbols are just symbols, they indicate; more than that is meaningless. So it has always been a problem. The Upanishads always talk of upward, and the symbol is fire – fire constantly running upward. For Lao Tzu and Taoists, water is the symbol – water running downward, finding out the most downward position possible. It can rest only when the deepest abyss has been found. But fire will rest only with the sun. It will go upward, upward, to the invisible upwardness.
There is no contradiction. Really, whenever persons like Lao Tzu or Zarathustra or Jesus speak, they may use contradictory terms but they are never contradictory. They cannot be, that is impossible. So if their words are contradictory that only shows their type, their choice, their individuality, their way of saying things, nothing more. But pundits, scholars, can make much out of these apparent contradictions. Whenever we are talking about the absolute, the ultimate, one thing must be understood very clearly: you can use either of the extremes to express it, and each extreme is as valid as the other.
For example, the Upanishads use for the divine the word absolute. This is one extreme, that of positivity – the perfect, the absolute. Buddha uses for that same state and the same realization “nothingness” – the other extreme. Totally opposite as far as words go, but as far as the realization is concerned they both mean the same. But it created much confusion.
Buddha appeared to be absolutely contradictory to the Hindu mind. He was not. He was one of the purest Hindus possible, but he used a negative word. That was his liking, and it is good not to discuss likings, because one is as valid or as invalid as the other. Both can be used. Either you say “the infinite” or you say “the zero” – both are infinite. If you take it in the beginning, it is zero. If you take it in the end, it is infinite. Both mean the same thing.