Lao Tzu says:
When man is born, he is tender and weak;
at death, he is hard and stiff.
When things and plants are alive, they are soft and supple;
when they are dead, they are brittle and dry.
Therefore hardness and stiffness are the companions of death,
and softness and gentleness are the companions of life.
Therefore when an army is headstrong, it will lose in battle.
When a tree is hard, it will be cut down.
The big and strong belong underneath.
The gentle and weak belong at the top.
Life is a river, a flow, a continuum, with no beginning and no end. It is not going somewhere, it is always here. It is not going from somewhere to somewhere else, it is always coming from here to here. The only time for life is now, and the only place is here.
There is no struggle to reach, there is nothing to reach. There is no struggle to conquer, there is nothing to conquer. There is no effort to protect, because there is nothing to be protected from. Only life exists, alone, absolutely alone, beautiful in its aloneness, majestic in its aloneness.
You can live life in two ways: you can flow with it – then you are also majestic, you have a grace, grace of non-violence, no conflict, no struggle, then you have a beauty, childlike, flower-like, soft, delicate, uncorrupted. If you flow with life you are religious. That’s what religion means to Lao Tzu – or to me.
Ordinarily religion means a fight with Life – for God. Ordinarily it means: God is the goal, life has to be denied – and fought; life has to be sacrificed and God has to be achieved. This ordinary religion is no religion. This ordinary religion is just part of the ordinary violent aggressive mind.
There is no God beyond life; life is God. If you deny life you deny God, if you sacrifice life you sacrifice God. In all the sacrifices, only God is sacrificed.
Gurdjieff used to say – it looks paradoxical but it is true – that all religions are against God.
If life is God, then to deny, to renounce, to sacrifice, is to go against God.
But it seems Gurdjieff did not know much about Lao Tzu. Or even if he had known about Lao Tzu he would have said the same thing, because Lao Tzu does not seem to be ordinarily religious. He is more like a poet, a musician, an artist, a creator, rather than like a theologian, a priest, a preacher, philosopher He is so ordinary that you cannot think that he is religious. But really to be religious is to be so extraordinarily ordinary in life that the part is not against the whole, but the part is flowing with the whole.