No talking while walking with Lao Tzu

1001 Tales told by the Master Discourses

Osho states, “When you are seeing a sunset and you are overwhelmed by its beauty, in that moment there is knowing.”


For example, when you are seeing a sunset and you are overwhelmed by its beauty, in that moment there is knowing. You don’t even say to yourself, “How beautiful!” – because even the words “how beautiful” will be a disturbance, will take you away from the present. If you simply stand before the setting sun, with all the colors spread over the horizon, shadows, reflections in the ocean, it is so enchanting that you almost stop breathing. You are in a state of awe. Those few moments are knowing. Tomorrow you will tell somebody what a beautiful sunset you have seen the day before – that will be knowledge. Now it is only words.

I have told you the story of Lao Tzu.

He used to go for a morning walk in the mountains. An old friend used to follow him, and one day the friend told him, “I have a guest in my house, and he also wants to come for the morning walk.”

Lao Tzu said, “I have no objection, just make sure that he does not start talking. Knowing should remain knowing, it should not be converted into dead knowledge.”

The friend said, “I will take care of it.” He convinced his guest that it is a great opportunity to be for two hours in the morning with Lao Tzu. “It is rare and invaluable, but the condition is that you should not speak.”

The guest said, “That is not a problem. I will keep completely silent.” And then they started. It was still dark and when they reached the peak of the mountain, the sun was rising. The birds started chirping, the trees started coming out of their sleep… flowers all around, wild flowers opened their petals and their fragrance. The man forgot that he was not supposed to speak – and he did not think that this was much speech. He simply said, “How beautiful.”

Lao Tzu looked at his old colleague and friend with such stern eyes… When they were back home he told his friend, “Please don’t bring your guest again tomorrow because he is too talkative” – and in two hours he had said only two words, “How beautiful”!

Lao Tzu said to his friend, “I was present, he was present, you were present, the sun was present, the songs of the birds were present, the fragrance of flowers was present – there is no need to say anything. I was also aware… I am not saying that it was not beautiful; I am saying that by saying it is beautiful, you have reduced its multidimensional beauty into two ordinary words. You have made knowing into knowledge.”

The difference is very subtle. Knowing is a living, flowing experience, still vibrating in your heart. Knowledge is of the past – it may be just one minute past. Knowledge is part of the memory; knowing is part of awareness.

Osho, The Great Zen Master Ta Hui, Ch 21 (excerpt)

Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash

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

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