“I have heard a beautiful story … In paradise one afternoon, in its most famous cafe, Lao Tzu, Confucius, and Buddha are sitting and chatting. The waiter comes with a tray that holds three glasses of the juice called “Life,” and offers them. Buddha immediately closes his eyes and refuses; he says, “Life is misery.”
Confucius closes his eyes halfway – he is a middlist, he used to preach the golden mean – and asks the waiter to give him the glass. He would like to have a sip – but just a sip, because without tasting how can one say whether life is misery or not? Confucius had a scientific mind; he was not much of a mystic, he had a very pragmatic, earthbound mind. He was the first behaviorist the world has known, very logical. And it seems perfectly right – he says, “First I will have a sip, and then I will say what I think.” He takes a sip and he says, “Buddha is right – life is misery.”
Lao Tzu takes all the three glasses and he says, “Unless one drinks totally, how can one say anything?” And Lao Tzu says, ” He drinks all the three glasses and starts dancing!
Buddha and Confucius ask him, “Are you not going to say anything?” And Lao Tzu says, “This is what I am saying – my dance and my song are speaking for me.” Unless you taste totally, you cannot say. And when you taste totally, you still cannot say because what you know is such that no words are adequate.
Buddha is on one extreme, Confucius is in the middle. Lao Tzu has drunk all the three glasses – the one that was brought for Buddha, the one that was brought for Confucius, and the one that was brought for him. He has drunk them all; he has lived life in its three-dimensionality.
Nicholas Roerich, Command of Rigden Djapo, 1927
My own approach is that of Lao Tzu. Live life in all possible ways; don’t choose one thing against the other, and don’t try to be in the middle. Don’t try to balance yourself – balance is not something that can be cultivated. Balance is something that comes out of experiencing all the dimensions o flife. Balance is something that happens; it is not something that can be brought about through your efforts. If you bring it through your efforts it will be false, forced. And you will remain tense, you will not be relaxed, because how can a person who is trying to remain balanced in the middle be relaxed? You will always be afraid that if you relax you may start moving to the left or to the right. You are bound to remain uptight, and to be uptight is to miss the whole opportunity, the whole gift of life.
Don’t be uptight. Don’t live life according to principles. Live life in its totality, drink life in its totality! Yes, sometimes it tastes bitter – so what? That taste of bitterness will make you capable of tasting its sweetness. You will be able to appreciate the sweetness only if you have tasted its bitterness. One who knows not how to cry will not know how to laugh, either. One who cannot enjoy a deep laughter, a belly laugh, that person’s tears will be crocodile tears. They cannot be true, they cannot be authentic.
I don’t teach the middle way, I teach the total way. Then a balance comes of its own accord, and then that balance has tremendous beauty and grace. You have not forced it, it has simply come. By moving gracefully to the left, to the right, in the middle, slowly a balance comes to you because you remain so unidentified. When sadness comes, you know it will pass, and when happiness comes you know that will pass, too. Nothing remains; everything passes by. The only thing that always abides is your witnessing. That witnessing brings balance. That witnessing is balance. ”
Excerpt from “The Book of Understanding” by OSHO.