The hermit is asking: Speak to us of Pleasure. The word pleasure is without any meaning for the hermit; he has heard only condemnation of it. He may have himself been condemning it, but he has never tasted it.
I would like to tell you a beautiful story. One day in paradise, in one of the Zorba the Buddha restaurants, Gautam Buddha, Confucius, and Lao Tzu were sitting and chit-chatting. A beautiful naked woman came with a big jug and asked the three, “Would you like to have some juice of life?”
Buddha immediately closed his eyes. He said, “Be ashamed of yourself! You are trying to degrade us. With great effort and arduous austerities, somehow we have reached here, and you have brought the juice of life. Get lost!” And he said all these things with closed eyes.
But Confucius kept his eyes half open, half closed. That’s his whole philosophy: the golden mean – neither this extreme nor that extreme. He said, “I would like to have a little taste, because without tasting it I cannot say anything about it.” She poured some juice of life into a cup. Confucius just sipped it, gave it back to her, and said, “It is very bitter.”
Lao Tzu said, “Give me the whole jug.” The woman said, “The whole jug? Are you going to drink from the jug?” He said, “That’s my approach to life: unless you have drunk it in its totality you cannot say anything about it. It may be bitter in the beginning, it may be sweet in the end – who knows?”
Before the woman could say anything he took the jug away and just drank, in one single breath, the whole juice of life. He said, “Confucius, you are wrong. Everything needs a certain training in taste. It was bitter because it was unknown to you; it was bitter because you were already prejudiced against it. Your whole talk about the golden mean is empty philosophy. I can say that the more I drank of it, the sweeter it became. First it was only pleasant; in the end it became ecstatic.”
Buddha could not stand this praise of life. He simply stood up and moved out of the Zorba the Buddha restaurant. Lao Tzu said, “What happened to this fellow? He has been sitting with closed eyes. In the first place, there is no need to close your eyes, the woman is so beautiful. If there was something ugly you can close your eyes, it is understandable, but to close your eyes to such a beautiful woman is to show insensitivity, is to show humiliation, condemnation, is to show some deep-rooted fear. Perhaps that fellow is very repressed, and he is afraid his repression may surface.”
Confucius was not ready to listen to Lao Tzu because he was going too far from the golden mean, so he left. And Lao Tzu started dancing. I have heard he is still dancing…