The emperor of China orders Lao Tzu to write the Tao Te Ching

1001 Tales told by the Master

“The presence of the master, his charisma, his energy is missing in the written word,” states Osho.

Lao Tzu

Why have the awakened people always been against scriptures? This is a great misunderstanding all around the world. The people who have awakened are against the scriptures for a totally different reason than people understand. People think they are against scriptures because scriptures are wrong; they are against scriptures because if you get lost in the words of scriptures you will never come to know your own truth. The scriptures may be right, that is not the point. Perhaps they are right – but they are not right for you; they were right only for those people who had experienced and have expressed something out of their experience.

But to you they are just dead words, and if you become too much interested in collecting dead corpses around yourself you will soon be drowned in the dead words. That’s what happens to all the scholars: their great effort simply becomes a suicide. They work hard, but their gain is nothing.

Scriptures may have come from people who were awakened, but the moment somebody says… It is no more the same as his own experience. And when it is written it goes even further away. That’s why no enlightened person in the whole world has written anything by his own hand; they have spoken – because the spoken word and the written word have qualitative differences.

The spoken word has a warmth; the written word is absolutely cold, ice cold. The spoken word has the heartbeat of the master. The spoken word is not just a word – it is still breathing when it reaches you, it has still some flavor. It is coming from a source of immense joy and light; it is bound to carry something of that fragrance, some radiation from that light, some vibe which may not be visible but will stir your being.

To listen to a master is one thing, and to read just the same words is totally different, because the living presence of the master is no more behind the words. You can’t see those eyes, you can’t see those gestures, you can’t see in those words the same authority… you can’t feel those same silent gaps.

The presence of the master, his charisma, his energy is missing in the written word. The written word is absolutely dead.

No master has ever written except Lao Tzu – and that too under imperial pressure.

His whole life he refused to write, and in the end he was going to leave China and go towards the Himalayas for his ultimate rest.

The emperor of China ordered the armies on the boundary, “If Lao Tzu passes through that area” – because that was the only gate towards the Himalayas, he was bound to pass by there – “imprison him. Take good care of him, but make it clear to him he cannot go out of China unless he writes his experiences. This is an order from the emperor.”

Poor Lao Tzu was not aware what was going on. He simply went to the place where it was easiest to move out of China. There was an army waiting, and he was caught immediately. Respectfully, with great honor, they told him, “This is the imperial order. Forgive us, we don’t want to hinder you, but just to fulfill the order – otherwise we will not be able to allow you to go out of China. And we have made a special guesthouse for you with every comfort, luxury, according to the orders from the emperor. You stay and you write whatever you have experienced, what the truth is that you have realized which has attracted so many people.”

Because he wanted to reach quickly to the Himalayas – his death was coming closer and he wanted to die in the Himalayas… The Himalayas have an eternal silence, a peace that you cannot find anywhere else. Under such circumstances he wrote Tao Te Ching, a small booklet.

That is the only exception in the whole history when an enlightened man has written anything. But the beginning of the book says, “Truth cannot be written. So remember, whatever I am writing is not truth. I will try my best to be as close to truth as possible, but approximate truth is not truth.” So he has begun his book with the statement, “Whatever is written goes far away from the living experience.”

That is the reason why all the awakened people have been against scriptures.

Osho, The Great Zen Master Ta Hui, Ch 16 (excerpt)

Series compiled by Shanti
All excerpts of this series can be found in: 1001 Tales

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