Mysticism is to know life
Confucius was a great scholar in Lao Tzu’s time, his contemporary. The world knows Confucius more than Lao Tzu, naturally: he was a great scholar, a well-known Wiseman. Great emperors used to visit him for advice. The emperor of China, who must have been the greatest emperor of those days – because China has always been a continent unto itself – appointed Confucius to be his prime minister, so that he was always available to him for advice.
But when Confucius went to see Lao Tzu, do you know what happened? He came back with almost a nervous breakdown. Lao Tzu was known at least to those people who were in search. And when the disciples of Confucius came to know that he was going to Lao Tzu they waited outside – Lao Tzu was living in a mountain cave.
Confucius did not want anybody else to accompany him because he knew that that man was strange, unpredictable. How he may behave, what he will do, what he will say, nobody knows. And before your own disciples… he may cut you to pieces. It is better to go alone first.
So he said to his disciples, you wait outside. Let me go.” And when he came out, he was trembling.
The disciples said, what happened?”
He said,”Just take me home. I am not myself; That man is a dragon, never go to that man.”
What had happened there inside the cave? Lao Tzu’s disciples were there, that’s why we know what happened, otherwise a great meeting would have been missed. Lao Tzu’s disciples were also very shocked even his disciples, because Confucius was older than Lao Tzu, far more well-known, respected. Who knew Lao Tzu? – Very few people.
And the way Lao Tzu behaved with Confucius was simply outrageous. But not for Lao Tzu. He was a simple man, neither arrogant nor humble, just a pure human being. And if it hit hard – his purity, his innocence, and his ordinariness – if it hit hard on Confucius, what could he do?
If you go to a mirror and the mirror shows your face to be ugly, is it the fault of the mirror? You can do one thing; you can avoid mirrors – never look in a mirror. Or you can manufacture a mirror that makes you look beautiful. That is possible. There are hundreds of types of mirrors, concave and convex, and who knows what…. You can manage to look long, and you can manage to look fat; you can manage to look small, and you can manage to look beautiful.
Perhaps the mirrors you have are deceiving you. Perhaps the manufacturers are creating mirrors to give you a consolation – that you are so beautiful. Particularly women, standing before the mirror forget everything else. It is very difficult to take a woman away from the mirror. She goes on looking in the mirror. It must be something in the mirror, otherwise people are just homely.
Lao Tzu’s disciples said,”What did you do?”
He said,”I have not done anything, I simply reflected; it was my response. That idiot thinks he knows, and he is only a scholar. Now what can I do if I made it clear to him that all scholarship is rubbish, and told him, ’You don’t know anything at all’?” And when you face a man like Lao Tzu you cannot be dishonest either, at least in front of him.
Confucius remained just like a statue, frozen, because what Lao Tzu was saying was right. Scholarship is not knowing. You are quoting others, have you anything to say on your own?” And Confucius had nothing to say on his own. He was a great scholar he could have quoted all the old ancient scriptures but on his own? He had never thought about it, that anybody was going to ask, Have you something to say of your own?
And when Lao Tzu looked at him Confucius knew that that man could not be deceived. Confucius asked him about something. Lao Tzu said, ”No, I don’t know anything.”
Then Confucius asked, ”What happens after death?”
And Lao Tzu was just like a flare, became aflame, and he said, ”Again! Are you going to drop your stupidity or not? You are alive – can you say what life is? You are alive – can you reduce your experience of life into objective knowledge and make a statement of what life is? And remember that you are alive, so you must know.
”You don’t know life while you are alive and you are bothering about death! You will have enough time in your grave. At that time you can meditate on what death is. Right now, live! And don’t live lukewarm.”
Many people go on living on dimmer switches. They go on dimming, dimming. They don’t die, they simply go on dimming; they simply fade out. Death happens to only a very few people, those who have really lived and lived hot. They know the difference between life and death because they have tasted life, and that experience of life makes them capable of tasting death too. And because they know life, they can know death. If living, you miss life; dying, you are going to miss death.
”And you are wasting your time; just go out and live!” said Lao Tzu to Confucius. ”And one day you will be dead. Don’t be worried: I have never heard of anybody living for ever, so one day you will be dead. Death takes no exceptions – that you are a great scholar or a prime minister. You will die, that much I can predict. Nothing else is predictable but that much can be predicted easily – that you will die. And in your grave, silently, meditate on what death is.”
Confucius was trembling. The king also asked him, ”You have been to Lao Tzu – what happened?”
Confucius said, ”All that I was afraid of happened. He made me look so idiotic that even after forty eight hours I am still trembling. I am still afraid of that man’s face – I had nightmares for two nights! That man is following me, and, it seems, will go on following me. And he had some eyes! They go just like swords into you.” He said, ”One thing I can say to you as your adviser: don’t ever think of meeting this man. He is a dragon, he is not a man.”
Mysticism is to know life, without knowledge standing in between you and living.
But you go on living a borrowed kind of life, as if somebody else is living. You are like a zombie, sleepwalking, a somnambulist. And this whole situation has been created by the religions.
-From Personality to Individuality, Osho