A young man asked an old rabbi, “In the past, in the old, golden days, we have heard that people used to see God with their own eyes, people used to encounter God. God used to walk on earth, God used to call people by their name. God was very close. What has happened now? Why is God not so close? Why can we not see him directly? Why is he hiding? Where has he gone? Why has he forgotten the earth? Why does he not walk any more on the earth? Why does he not hold the hands of people stumbling in darkness? He used to do that before.”
The old rabbi looked at the disciple and said, “My son, he is still there where he used to be, but man has forgotten how to stoop down low enough to see him.”
To stoop down…. Man has forgotten how to stoop, man is standing very haughtily, man is standing very proudly, man is standing very erect, man is standing separate from God, man has become an island, man is no longer part of the universal, part of the whole. God is exactly where he used to be – he is still trying to hold your hand but you are not willing. He is still confronting you but you look sideways. He is still there, calling you by your own name, but you are full of your own noise, the inner talk, the continuous chattering – you have become a chatterbox.
Man has forgotten to stoop, to bow down.
In the East, bowing down has been always a very significant gesture. The disciple goes to the master, bows down, lies down flat on the earth. That is a gesture of surrender. He says, “I am no more.” He says, “I will not exist any more as myself. Now I will be a vehicle, I will be passive. You pour and I will be a womb, you pour and I will be a receptacle. I will not fight. I surrender.” In that surrender something of tremendous value happens.
With the master you start learning the ABC of surrender – then one day, when you have learned what surrender is, you try it with God. The master is just a kindergarten, just a beginning, the beginning of surrender. When you have learned the joy of it, the beauty of it, the benediction of it, then you want to go on to deeper seas. You have learned swimming near the banks, now you would like to go to the farthest point. Then God is available. But if you exist as you, if you exist as a self, then it is impossible. Then you exist as an ego.
This ego is what this parable means by memory. These Taoist parables are very subtle.
Now let us go into it.
In the middle age, Hua tzu of Yang-li in Sung lost his memory.
That is a way of saying that he became a meditator.
That is a Taoist expression – lost his memory. It means: became a non-individual. It means: became a non-ego. It means: became loose from the grip of the mind, dropped the weight of the past. It is not something condemning, remember, it is a great appreciation.