Lao Tzu and His Friend
Legend has it that Lao Tzu lived to be more than one hundred sixty years old. Neighbors and friends came to pay their condolences. Everyone was overcome with grief as they remembered Lao Tzu for his natural, non-combative, kind, and merciful personality.
Chin Shih came and cried out loud without kneeling and worshipping. He simply used his hand to salute; then he came out.
People stopped him and asked: “Are you not the Master’s friend?”
He replied: “Yes.”
“But is it not disrespectful for you to mourn him like that?”
He replied: “Yes.”
People were angry and questioned him, “What is your reason for acting so indifferent?”
He replied: “Lao Tzu told us that birth is not happy, and death is not sad. His birth is simply none becoming existence and following the flow of nature, so there is no reason to be happy. Whereas his death illustrates the beingness become nothingness again, so similarly there is no reason to be sad.”
He continued, “When I see those mourners, I see that there are the elderly who cry for him as if he was their son and younger people who cry for him as if he was their father. When they gather together like this, there must be those who don’t want to come but come anyhow and those who don’t want to cry but cry anyway. This is going against one’s feelings and forgetting one’s given nature. The ancients would call this the punishment for denying the true nature.
When it was suitable to come into the world, the Master came at the right time. When it was suitable to depart the world, the Master left naturally. If one can calmly wait for the right moment and go with the natural flow, sadness and joy cannot enter the heart. The ancients would call that being released by the Emperor from hanging upside down.”
After listening to his words, the neighbors seemed to understand more, and then asked: “Since you are not sad, why did you cry out three times?” He laughed: “I cry three times, not because of sadness, but instead to bid a farewell to my friend Lao Tzu. The first cry was to tell him his birth suited the natural time and the second cry is also telling him that his death is in line with the natural reason. The third is because he taught the natural inaction of the truth is also in line with the nature of the other.”
After listening to him, the neighbors and friends all agreed that he was a true friend of Lao Tzu, so they wanted him to in charge the burial.
Here is the eulogy he wrote:
“Lao Tze-a distinguish sage, practice Tao for heaven, focus on great harmony, his works is imperishable.”