“According to Lao Tzu, good and evil is like night and day, and since god has made man independent, he can do good or evil as he chooses. But why is it that nature does evil? The floods come and innocent people get drowned, or a fire rages and people are burnt to death. There are so many natural catastrophes.”
One difficulty is that we cannot accept the evil, although it is inevitably there for some good. When there are no floods crores of wheat sway on the banks of the same river, what then? When fire burns a house we say, “Why does nature do evil?” But you do not know that if nature bids fire not to burn, the good that occurs from the heat of the fire will also stop. And if nature stops the waters in the river, then that’s that. There will be no good; there will be no evil.
Our difficulty is that we place ourselves in the centre of the universe and consider that to be good which is in our favour and that to be evil which is not in our favour. But we do not think that that which is the cause of benefit to us is a cause for injury also. If the cause is to be removed, then both the evil and good that occur through it will stop.
If the rivers do not carry water, there shall be no floods; and if fire becomes cold, no house will burn. But then do you not realise that together with this, all life will get cold? Both things happen together. Therefore, when we accept one thing, we have to accept the unfavourable side of it also. He who does not is unwise, childish.
When I fall in love with someone I should know that this love can end some day. It is bound to end because that which joins, separates also. That which is formed also disintegrates. When I celebrate the birth of a son, I should also be ready for a funeral, because that is bound to follow. That which is born shall surely die. But he who has celebrated the birth of his son, and not kept the funeral pyre in mind, is bound to beat his breast and wail when the time comes, and cry at the injustice of death. “Why, oh why, must man die?” he asks. He never asks why man is born. We accept birth readily but look at death as tragedy and pain.
Why does it seem evil that the floods come and innocent people die? If the guilty died, you would not mind. But who is guilty — the one who did not give you his vote, or the one who does not frequent your mosque or temple, or he who does not read the Gita? Who is guilty? Or is he who takes alcohol, guilty? And who are you to decide which person shall take what? Who is to decide that if a sinner is swept away by the floods it is all right? If we take a survey of an ordinary town to find out the number of sinners, we shall find that almost everyone is a sinner, provided we take the opinion of as many people as possible. If we ask all the people in the town, not a single person will go free, because some will call some people sinners, while others will call others sinners. One fact is certain, the whole town will be judged to be full of sinners.
Who is guilty, and who is not? What criteria, what standard of measurement have you? Granted you find a criterion to judge, even then how can you look upon death as evil? All evil seems to be possible during life, but there is no evil in death. Have you seen a dead man committing a sin? If there is any evil, it is in life. In death, there is no evil.
We look upon
death as evil.
But our attachment to life is very great. Therefore we consider death a bad happening. In so doing, we only express our attachment to life. It proves that we want to live. Life is such an obsession with us that we wish to live and never to die. Even if the body is rotting, putrefying, we want to live, but we will never accept death. Why? Because we look upon death as evil.
What is evil in death? How does death trouble you? All your woes and troubles pertain to life. There is no illness, no law-suits, no riots, no robberies in death. These are the waves of life. Death is supreme tranquillity. Then why do we fear death so much? And how do we know that those who die stand to lose? Do the dead come back to tell us in what difficulties they are? Perhaps they think that it was the innocents who were swept away by the flood and they wonder how they were picked out to deserve such a fate!
It is just our way of looking at things. It is purely and simply a question of our vision. He who implants his viewpoint on existence is an ignorant person, because existence does not care about your viewpoint. When you set about making decisions about the ocean in which you are but a small wave, you are being foolish. A wise person is he who makes no decisions about existence. He lives without resolutions, without decisions, without any attitudes. When there is death, he looks at death; when there is life, he looks at life. He knows death is a mystery and so is life and nothing is decisive.
And because nothing is decisive, existence is a mystery. What is good? What is bad? It is not as easy as we think and say. When we give our decisions, we only betray our ignorance. Even in small things we at once pass our judgment: this is good, this is bad. What is good and what is bad has never been decided and it never will be. This does not mean that you should do as and how it pleases you. It does not mean that you should go and kill a few people because it is undecided whether this act is good or bad. This I do not mean at all.
If this understanding goes deep within you and you develop the attitude that “I am no judge,” it is impossible for you to commit a crime. Killing is only possible if we decide that a certain person is bad and is not fit to live. Therefore, the more evil we take a person to be, the easier it becomes to kill him. This is why the courts find it very easy to pass a death sentence. The courts gather all the evidence for and against a person and take a decision.
No killer kills as easily as a magistrate. It is now clear to the magistrate that this man must die, though God the creator was still keeping him alive, as yet he has taken no decision regarding him. The magistrate wears a black cloak and gathers a few ignorant people like him around himself and they get together and pass a sentence against this man. What was his crime? Perhaps he has killed a man. Now this is great! This man has killed someone, so he is a bad man. And therefore, we decide to kill him! Courts pass death-sentences very easily, because the law has great power in its hand. The magistrate passes the order, goes home and sleeps leisurely. He in no way considers himself responsible for the death of this man.
the greatest disaster.
In the absence of responsibility man tends to be irresponsible. And irresponsibility is the greatest disaster. A magistrate is an absolutely irresponsible person. He refers to his books, he hears statements, he examines the witnesses and arrives at his judgment: this man must die! He keeps himself absolutely aloof from the whole happening. He considers himself only the medium of justice and law — the law is all written down in books. So he is free to go home and enjoy his evening. He will tune in his radio, or play cards, or call friends to dinner, and sleep happily with his wife. He is in no way concerned about this man’s life and in no way holds himself responsible for his death.
Voltaire says: “When a man commits a sin with the firm intention of doing good, it is the biggest sin he can commit.” So if you want to do evil, you just have to get hold of some concrete moral reason to do so and then you can indulge in your act without any qualms of conscience. All battles in life are fought on this principle; all politics in this world works on this formula. You first have to prove that what you are going to do is not bad, is not wrong. Then it is easy to start the battle. Once you start, the opponent also feels it is his moral duty to kill you.
But I tell you that a religious man never makes a decision. He says, “We are helpless; we are steeped in ignorance. The world is so gigantic, so vast, how can we decide what is good and what is bad?” He never, never makes a decision. Such a man attains to a profoundly deep sainthood. Such a man never condemns, never praises.
“Such a person,” Lao Tzu says, “becomes a veritable child, as sweet as he is tender. He becomes artless, like a child.”
Osho, The Way of Tao Vol 2, Ch 7, Q 5