This has to be remembered, and even more so about these sutras because these sutras were written originally in Chinese. Chinese is a language totally different from any other language, it is the most difficult language in the world for the simple reason that it has no alphabet, it is a pictorial language. Pictorial languages are the most ancient languages; they must have come from the very dawn of human consciousness, because when man is a child he thinks in pictures, he cannot think in words, so his language is pictorial. That’s why in children’s books there are so many colored pictures; the text is not much but pictures are many. The child is not interested in the text, he is interested in the pictures. Looking at the picture of the mango, a very juicy colorful mango, he may become interested to know what it is called, how it is written, and he may read the text – only a few words about the mango. Slowly slowly the mango disappears, giving place to language. In the university books pictures disappear completely. The more scholarly a book is, the less is the possibility of pictures; all is language. In your sleep you still dream not in a linguistic way but in a pictorial way because in your sleep you again become a child.
Chinese is a dream language – and we know the difficulty with the dreams. You have dreamed something, but in the morning you cannot figure out what it means. You will need an expert to interpret it, and even experts won’t agree. The Freudian will say one thing, the Jungian will say something else, the Adlerian may say just the opposite. And now there are many more new trends, new schools of psychoanalysis, and they all have their interpretations. And whomsoever you are reading will look valid, reasonable, because they can all provide great rationalizations The dream is yours, but you don’t know what it means because a dream can mean many things; a dream is multidimensional.
And that’s the difficulty with the Chinese language: it is a dream language, a pictorial language – each picture can mean many things. Hence there are translations of Chinese scriptures, many translations, and no two translations ever agree, because a picture can be interpreted in as many ways as there are people to interpret it. The Chinese language is only symbolic; it indicates. It is very poetic, it is not like arithmetic.
If you remember this, only then will you not fall into the trap in which almost all the scholars have fallen.
These sutras were not written in an alphabetical language so whatsoever is being said in these sutras is an interpretation. And I myself don’t agree in many places; if I were to translate it, it would be a totally different translation. I will tell you where I differ and why
The Venerable Master said:
When man attains the power to transcend that which changes…Heaven and earth are united in him.
The first thing that’s absolutely wrong is the idea of attainment. Tao does not believe that you have to attain anything or that you can attain anything. You are already that which you can be: nothing more can be attained. The very idea of attainment, of achievement is alien to the Taoist approach. There is nothing to attain, nothing to achieve. The idea of attainment and achievement is rooted in our egos. The ego is always ambitious; it can’t be otherwise. Either it has to attain worldly things or it has to attain other-worldly powers, siddhis, but something has to be attained. The ego lives by attaining.
And Tao says the ego has to be dissolved, you cannot be allowed to be ambitious – to be ambitious is to go against Tao. Tao teaches non-ambitiousness. You have just to be yourself as you are. You are already perfect; you have never left your perfection for a single moment. You are already in Tao; it is just that you have started dreaming that you have lost it, that you have gone far away.