The Pathless Path of Tao

From Osho's "Tao, The Pathless Path."

Lung shu said to the physician Wen Chih: 

'Your craft is subtle. I have an illness, can you cure it?' 

'You have only to command. Tell me the symptoms of your illness.' 

'I do not think it an honour if the whole district praises me nor a disgrace if the whole state reviles me; i have no joy when i win, no anxiety when i lose; I look in the same way at life and death, riches and poverty, other men and pigs, myself and other men; i dwell in my own house as though lodging in an inn, and look at my own neighbourhood as though it were a foreign and barbarous country. 

'Having all these ailments, titles and rewards cannot induce me, punishments and fines cannot awe me, prosperity and decline, benefit and harm cannot change me, joy and sorrow cannot influence me. 

Consequently it is impossible for me to serve my prince, have dealings with my kindred and friends, manage my wife and children, control my servants. What illness is this? What art can cure it?' 

Wen Chih ordered lung shu to stand with his back to the light. He himself stepped back and examined Lung Shu from a distance facing the light. Then he said: 'hmmm. I see your heart. The place an inch square is empty - you are almost a sage. Six of the holes in your heart run into each other but one is stopped up. Can this be the reason why you now think the wisdom of a sage is an illness? My shallow craft can do nothing to cure it.' 

There is a beautiful Buddhist story in China.

In a certain town a very beautiful young lady suddenly arrived out of the blue. Nobody knew from where she came; her whereabouts were completely unknown. But she was so beautiful, so enchantingly beautiful, that nobody even thought about where she had come from. People gathered together, the whole town gathered -- and all the young men almost three hundred young men, wanted to get married to the woman.

The woman said, 'Look, I am one and you are three hundred. I can be married only to one, so you do one thing. I will come again tomorrow; I give you twenty-four hours. If one of you can repeat Buddha's Lotus Sutra, I will marry him.

All the young men rushed to their homes; they didn't eat, they didn't sleep, they recited the sutra the whole night, they tried to cram it in. Ten succeeded. The next morning the woman came and those ten people offered to recite. The woman listened. They had succeeded.

She said, 'Right, but I am one. How can I marry ten? I will give you twenty-four hours again. The one who can also explain the meaning of the Lotus Sutra I will marry. So you try to understand, because reciting is a simple thing, you are mechanically repeating something and you don't understand its meaning.'

There was no time at all, only one night, and the Lotus Sutra is a long sutra. But when you are infatuated you can do anything. They rushed back, they tried hard. The next day three persons appeared. They had understood the meaning.

And the woman said, 'Again the trouble remains. The number is reduced, but the trouble remains. From three hundred to three is a great improvement, but again I cannot marry three persons, I can marry only one. So, twenty-four hours more. The one who has not only understood it but tasted it too, that person I will marry. So in twenty-four hours try to taste the meaning of it. You are explaining, but this explanation is intellectual. Good, better than yesterday's, you have some comprehension, but the comprehension is intellectual. I would like to see some meditative taste, some fragrance. I would like to see that the lotus has entered into your presence, that you have become something of the lotus. I would like to smell the fragrance of it. So tomorrow I come again.'

Only one person came, and certainly he had achieved. The woman took him to her house outside the town. The man had never seen the house; it was very beautiful, almost a dreamland. And the parents of the woman were standing at the gate. They received the young man and said, 'We are very happy.'

The woman went in and he chit-chatted a little with the parents. Then the parents said, 'You go. She must be waiting for you. This is her room.' They showed him. He went, he opened the door, but there was nobody there. It was an empty room. But there was a door entering into the garden. So he looked -- maybe she has gone into the garden. Yes, she must have gone because on the path there were footprints. So he followed the footprints. He walked almost a mile. The garden ended and now he was standing on the bank of a beautiful river but the woman was not there. The footprints also disappeared. There were only two shoes, golden shoes, belonging to the woman.

Now he was puzzled. What has happened? He looked back. There was no garden, no house, no parents, nothing. All had disappeared. He looked again. The shoes were gone, the river was gone. All that there was emptiness, and a great laughter.

And he laughed too. He got married.

This is a beautiful Buddhist story. He got married to emptiness, got married to nothingness. This is the marriage for which all the great saints have been searching. This is the moment when you become a bride of Christ or a gopi of Krishna.

But everything disappears, the path, the garden, the house, the woman, even the footprints. Everything disappears. There is just a laughter, a laughter that arises from the very belly of the universe.

But when it happens for the first time, if you have not been led slowly, slowly, you will go mad.

This Buddhist story says that he was led slowly, slowly. The woman was the Master. The woman is symbolic of the Master. She led him slowly, slowly. First, recite the sutra; second, understand intellectually; third, give a sign that you have lived it. These are the three stages. Then she led him into nothingness.

The Master leads you slowly, slowly; makes you by and by ready.

This man was not fortunate enough to have a Master. He has come to the emptiness, to the ultimate emptiness but he thinks it is an illness.

.... What art can cure it? 

Wen chi ordered lung shu to stand with his back to the light. He himself stepped back and examined lung shu from a distance facing the light. 

Then he said 'hmm. I see your heart. The place an inch square is empty. You are almost a sage. Six of the holes in your heart run into each other but one is stopped up. Can this be the reason why you now think the wisdom of a sage is an illness? My shallow craft can do nothing to cure it. 

This is the difference between modern and ancient medicine. The ancient Chinese medicine, acupuncture, is not as gross as modern medicine; neither is the ancient Indian medicine, ayurveda, as gross as modern medicine. Modern medicine is concerned only with the physical, it knows nothing of the beyond. Ancient Eastern medicine is more concerned with the metaphysical, with the para-physical. Now a few insights in the West are gaining strength slowly; radionics, kirlian photography, acupuncture and ayurveda are entering the Western consciousness.

But ancient Eastern medicine was not just medicine, not just a cure for the body, but a cure for the soul. The East says that the body only shows the symptoms, the symptoms are not the real illness. And the symptoms should not be treated directly. The illness should be treated directly then the symptoms will disappear. The allopathic approach is to treat the symptom and to think that the illness will disappear. That is not possible; that is going from the outer to the inner, which is not possible. What happens? It becomes a sort of repression .

Maybe the whole Christian tradition of repression is the cause. The whole Western mind is repressive. So wherever a symptom is found, repress it. The symptom is repressed and the illness is not treated at all. The illness remains within so it finds another way to come out. So you treat one illness and another illness is born; you treat that, and a third one is born.

In the East we have never been very interested in the symptoms. The symptoms are not to be treated, the person is to be treated. And, one thing more, the East knows that illnesses are not always illnesses -- there are a few illnesses which are blessings. When a person moves beyond the body, the body will never be healthy in the same way it was before, it cannot be -- because a distance arises between the innermost being and the body. The bridges are broken. That's why an enlightened person will never be born again -- he cannot enter into the body again because the bridges are broken. So the enlightened person, once enlightened, can never come back. Then he is gone forever -- GATE GATE PARA GATE; gone, gone, gone forever -- gone to the beyond from where there is no coming back, gone to the point of no return.

But the thing starts happening in this life. If you become enlightened you loosen your connection with your body. The body can never be as healthy as it was before, cannot be healthy in the same way that it was before. But those illnesses are not really illnesses, they are simply symptoms that your inner being is being transformed. Something of tremendous revolution is happening within you, a radical change is happening within you. So the body will have many changes.

This man, this physician, Wen Chih, must not only have been a physician, he must have been a man of great insight. What does he say? He says, 'I SEE YOUR HEART. THE PLACE AN INCH SQUARE IS EMPTY.' This is the beginning of enlightenment. The man is one step below. He is just one step below. One step more and his whole heart will become an empty space; for the first time he will have what is called 'heart-space'. Ordinarily your heart is cluttered, cluttered with a thousand and one thing: useless; useful, essential non-essential, discarded rubbish. Your heart is cluttered it has no space.

And unless the heart has a space, God cannot enter you. He comes only when the space is ready, when you have the room ready for him -- your heart is the room.

According to the Taoist mapping of inner consciousness there are seven holes. That is exactly the same as seven chakras. Each Taoist hole is concerned with one chakra of yoga. There are seven chakras listed here: Muladhar, svadhisthan, manipura, anahat, vishuddhi, ajna, sahasrar. These seven chakras of yoga are concerned with each hole in the heart. When you pass through one chakra then one hole opens in the heart; when you pass through the second chakra, the second hole opens in the heart; when you pass through the third chakra, the third hole opens in the heart. In yoga they have not talked about those seven holes because that will make it very confusing and complex. There is no need. One map is enough.

The Taoists have not talked about the chakras because there is no need -- their map is also enough. When one hole opens you have passed through one chakra, when another hole opens you have passed through another chakra.

This man has six holes, only one is still blocked. That means in yoga mapping he has reached to the ajna chakra, the third eye -- that's why he has become one-eyed. He has passed beyond duality, he has transcended. He is just below the seventh. If he passes to the seventh his seventh hole will be opened. When all seven holes are open in the heart you disappear, because you are nothing but the furniture which is cluttering the heart. Once all blocks disappear then those seven holes are not seven because there is nothing to divide them. They become one hole. The heart space is created.

This is what Buddha calls emptiness, ANATTA non-being. This is what Buddha calls SHUNYAM, zero experience. And when your heart has become a zero then nothing is missing, your seventh chakra has opened, you have become a lotus flower. All one thousand petals have opened, your fragrance is released. You have become a Buddha.

The physician was really a rare man and has a rare insight into Tao. In fact, in the ancient days, a Hindu physician, an ayurvedic physician, had to go through yoga. You will be surprised, you will not see what the relevance is. Not only did he have to go through yoga, he had to go through much poetry. In the old days the Hindu physician was called KAVIRAJ the poet. This is nonsense! Why should a VAIDYA a physician, be called KAVIRAJ a great poet? What has poetry got to do with illness? What has poetry got to do with treatment?

It has something to do with it. Man is not just physical, man is not just prose. He has poetry inside. Man is not just that which appears to the eyes, man has an invisible realm of poetry, song, dance, celebration. The Hindu ayurvedic doctor had to understand the subtle layers of the poetry of life, the song of life, the rhythmic flow of the inner being. And he had to be a great knower of yoga too

The same was the case with Taoist physicians. They had to go through deep meditation, because in those old days many people were searching. The world was not as poor spiritually as it is now. It is materially very rich today, it has never been so rich -- but it is spiritually very poor, it has never been so poor. The world was spiritually very rich and millions of people were searching and millions of people were coming close to the innermost reality. And naturally they had to go to the physician when things like this happened.

It was an everyday thing, it was not rare. The physician had to come again and again to such people who were not really ill but who had moved within themselves so much that their body was suffering, their mind was suffering -- or at least it looked like suffering. So the physician had to tell them that this was not a physical illness.


Remember, he says 'almost a sage' -- just on the brink of it, almost a sage, not very far, the goal is just around the comer, very close by, within reach, one step more and the journey will become complete.


Just one. He is still holding on to something of his individuality, still holding onto something of the ego -- the last remnant, the last shadow, the last mark of the ego.

'Maybe that's why you think that the wisdom of a sage is an illness. You have come upon a treasure, the greatest there is, you are blessed, but you think that you have an illness. That may be the cause,' the physician said. 'One hole is still closed -- because of that you may be holding this wrong notion that you are ill.'

This man needed a Master. For this man a Master was the only physician there could be. Buddha says again and again, 'I am not a philosopher, I am a physician.' So says Nanak, 'I am not a philosopher, I am a physician.' The great sages have been physicians -- better to call them metaphysicians because they treat not the physic but the metaphysic, the beyond. Or call them paraphysicians -- they treat not the body, they treat the soul; they treat not the form but the innermost emptiness that is covered by the form. Your body and mind are just forms. You are empty.

But if you are close to a Master or chant the sacred mantra Om Namah Shivaya you will never feel it as emptiness. To wear a rudraksha is also good. It helps with karma. The moment it happens the Master will help you to understand it and it will start looking like fullness. It is fullness, it is not emptiness, but it is so new that you feel it as emptiness -- because all that you have known is no longer there. So you feel as if all that you have known has gone and everything is empty.

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