Duke Hwan of Khi, first in his dynasty, sat under his canopy reading his philosophy. And Phien the wheelwright was out in the yard making a wheel.
Phien laid aside hammer and chisel, climbed the steps, and said to Duke Hwan, “May I ask you, Lord, what is this you are reading?”
Said the duke: “The experts, the authorities.”
Phien asked, “Alive or dead?”
The duke said, “Dead a long time.”
“Then,” said the wheelwright, “you are reading only the
dirt they left behind.”
The duke replied, “What do you know about it? You are only a wheelwright. You had better give me a good explanation or else you must die.”
The wheelwright said, “Let us look at the affair from my point
of view. When I make wheels, if I go easy they fall apart, and if I am too rough they do not fit. But if I am neither too easy nor too violent they come out right, and the work is what I want it to be.
“You cannot put this into words, you just have to know how
it is. I cannot even tell my own son exactly how it is done, and my own son cannot learn it from me. So here I am, seventy years old, still making wheels!
“The men of old took all they really knew with them to the grave. And so, Lord, what you are reading there is only the dirt they left behind them.”
It happened that on a back-country road a motorist found that something was wrong with his engine. He stopped the car, opened the hood and looked inside.
Suddenly he heard a voice, “If you ask me I can tell you what the trouble is.”
Surprised, he looked around because he thought that there was nobody else there. Yes, there was nobody but a horse, standing in a farm just nearby. The man became afraid and scared; down the road he sped! After twenty minutes, he reached a filling-station. When he caught his breath, he told the man, the owner, what had happened: “There was nobody else but a horse, and I heard a human voice say that if I ask him, he could tell me what the trouble was.”
The owner said, “By any chance was the horse black, sway-backed, bow-legged?”
The man said, “Yes, that is right.”
Said the owner, “Don’t mind him, he is just an old philosopher, dead long ago, still haunting the place. Just because of his old habit he goes on seeking people to ask him questions. He does not know a thing about engine trouble. And he is not a horse, he is just using that poor old horse as a medium. So don’t mind him.”
But this is how it happens on all the roads of life. The old ghosts go on haunting, and they know all the answers – you have only to ask. Just for the asking they are ready to give you all the answers. And life goes on changing and they don’t know a thing about engine trouble. Life goes on changing moment to moment. You cannot find the answer in the past because nothing is the same today. You cannot find the answer in the past because the answer is not the thing, it always dies with the man who has discovered it. But ghosts go on haunting. Your Vedas, Korans, Bibles, Gitas, they are ghosts. They are not realities now, they are long dead, but they have an appeal.