The old man laughed. He said, “Have you not heard the ancient saying? Nobody has the power to take two steps together; you can take only one step at a time. The powerful, the weak, the young, the old – it doesn’t matter. And the saying goes, ‘Just one step by one step, a man can go ten thousand miles’ – and this is only a hundred miles! You seem to be stupid. And who is saying to you that you should go continuously? You can take time; after ten miles you can rest a day or two days, enjoy. This is one of the most beautiful valleys and the most beautiful mountains and the trees are so full of fruits, fruits that you may not have even tasted. Anyway, I am going; you can come along with me. I have been on this path thousands of times, and I am at least four times your age. Stand up!”
The man was so authoritative: when he said “Stand up!” the young man simply stood. And he said, “Give your things to me. You are young, inexperienced; I will carry your things. You just follow me, and we will take as many rests as you want.”
And what the old man had said was true – as they entered deeper into the forest and the mountains, it became more and more beautiful. And wild, juicy fruits…and they were resting; whenever he wanted, the old man was ready. He was surprised that the old man himself never said it was time to rest. But whenever the young man said it was time to rest, he was always willing to rest with him a day or two, and then they would start the journey again.
Those one hundred miles just came and went by, and they reached one of the most beautiful statues of one of the greatest men who has ever walked on the earth. Even his statue had something – it was not just a piece of art, it was created by Taoist artists to represent the spirit of Tao.
Tao believes in the philosophy of let-go. It believes you are not to swim, but just to flow with the river, allow the river to take you wherever it is going – because every river ultimately reaches to the ocean. So don’t be worried, you will reach the ocean. There is no need to be tense.
The statue was standing in that lonely spot, and there was a waterfall just by the side – because Tao is called the watercourse way. Just as the water goes on and on flowing with no guidebooks, with no maps, with no rules, no discipline…but strangely enough in a very humble way, because it is always seeking the lower position everywhere. It never goes uphill. It always goes downhill, but it reaches to the ocean, to its very source. The whole atmosphere there was representative of the Taoist idea of let-go.
The old man said, “Now begins the journey.”
The young man said, “What? I was thinking one hundred miles and the journey is finished.”
The old man said, “That is just the way the masters have been talking to people. But the reality is, now from this point, from this atmosphere, a journey of one thousand and one miles begins. And I will not deceive you, because after one thousand and one miles you will meet another old man – perhaps me – who will say, ‘This is just a stopover, go on.’ Go on is the message.”