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To go beyond yourself, come close to yourself || Acharya Prashant, on Lao Tzu (2015)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
7 min
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“If you want to become whole, let yourself be partial.

If you want to become straight, let yourself be crooked.

If you want to become full, let yourself be empty.

If you want to be reborn, let yourself die.

If you want to be given everything, give everything up”

Tao Te Ching (Chapter – 22)

Speaker: Lao Tzu says, “If you want of become whole, let yourself be partial”. The partial hates to call itself partial. The partial has a great belief, that it is the whole. The fragment survives on the belief, that it is total. The individual exists on the assumption, that it is separate. The partial will always call itself a unit, an independent complete and separate unit. And the more partial it is, the more unitary it will feel.

For the partial to humbly accept, that it is but partial; it must have a connection to wholeness. That is also the foundation of Bhakti . When you are in touch of the absolute then you come to know of your smallness. When you are in the touch with the innocent then you come to know about your crookedness. These two go together. Only in touch with the absolute, can you know your limitation. That is why humility and grandeur always go together. Only in touch of immensity, can there be humility.

When the heart is in touch with immensity, the mind will have humility.

Lao Tzu says, “If you want to become whole, let yourself be partial”. “Let yourself be partial” means realize and acknowledge how little, small and broken you are. And that realization, I repeat, cannot be a realization of the partial itself. That realization can only come from the whole, from the blessings of the whole, from the touch of the whole.

Lao Tzu then says, “If you want to become straight, let yourself be crooked”. You know that you are crooked and this is a straight statement. And you can be nothing but crooked. The world is a crooked place. You will have to be zig-zag, tangential; that is the nature of the world. That has nothing to do with your short coming. That is the nature of everything in the world. You do not see straight lines in the world. Do you? Look around; do you see straight line anywhere? Straight lines do not exist.

Yes, straight lines can be an ideal, an ideal in your mind. Straight lines can be a deception, hypocrisy. But there are no straight lines. There are only convolutions; there are only curves and arches. And you realize this. And this realization is the only straight thing that can be there.

Realization of crookedness is the only straight thing possible.

Remember, with this realization, the crookedness will not go away because crooked is the nature of the world. It is just that the ideal of straightness will go away. Now, you can be fully and freely crooked. Now, you do not need to wear a mask of being straight. Because you cannot be straight, the one sitting in your heart can be straight. You will have to be crooked, such is your destiny.

To be born is to be born into crookedness.

But once you know that the straight One, the simple One, the innocent One, is sitting in your heart; then you no more feel the need to display a fake straightness.

Then you say, “I have straightness at the most important place”.

Now, outside I can be crooked; outside I can be fully crooked. I do not need to prove a point. There is nobody to prove a point to. The real thing is sitting here, so outside the game of the unreal can be. Just enjoy it.

Do you understand how important it is to free yourself of unnecessary burdens?

What the Self is; the body cannot be.

What the Self is; the mind cannot be.

The Self is unlimited and immortal. The body and mind cannot be immortal.

But because you are not in touch with the immortality of the Self, so you put the burden of immortality upon the body and the mind.

Now, that is the great and unbearable burden. The body and the mind have no capacity to be immortal but you place this burden upon them, you place this ideal upon them.

Why do you place this ideal? Because you forget, that the real immortal One is somewhere else, in some other dimension; but very close to you, within your heart. When you are convinced of your immortality then you can let the body die. In fact, you can let the body die only when you know that you are immortal.

Similarly, when you know that spirituality, deep spirituality is sitting in your heart; then you do not feel the burden to carry morality. Now you can get rid of all morality. And morality is such a burden. You now know that there is no need to act good because the really good One is already sitting in your heart. So, there is no need to adhere to codes of goodness in your conduct and behavior. Now, what is the need to act good? That which is good is sitting here, right at my Centre. There is no need now, I can be fully crooked. Crooked also means a rascal.

It is not a co-incidence that the dancer God that India has loved so much, Krishna; has been displayed as actually crooked in some ways. He did act in manipulative ways on a few occasions. He violated the social codes of morality and decency on many occasions. And he could do that sportingly and with impunity. Because he knew that the real straight One is sitting in his heart. Because he knew that the heart is innocent. So, outside you can be manipulative. It is okay.

With an innocent heart when you manipulate, then it is not shrewdness. It is just a method. It is just your love. You are not doing this to harm anybody. Whatever you are doing, is coming out of your love and compassion or just enjoyment. So you can be now crooked: shamelessly, concernlessly, unabashedly. Because you are fundamentally straight. So it is okay.

But when you are not fundamentally straight then you have to wear a mask of being straight. Then you need to act pious.

When you are not really pure, then you need to act pious, then you need to display piety.

And that is just hypocrisy.

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