One day one of Lao Tzu's disciples was sent by someone to pluck a few leaves from a tree. He broke a full branch and was taking it when Lao Tzu stopped him. "Don't you know you fool," he told the disciple, "if any part of this tree is destroyed, you, too, become less to that extent? When this tree stood before us, full and green, we, too, in a manner, were also full and green. Today, its wound has caused a scar within us also. We are not apart, we are one."
The tree that stood between the hut and the space outside is hewn down. Now the sky and the hut stand bare and naked. We cut down trees unscrupulously in order to clear a good place for dwelling. We have destroyed completely many species of animals also.
This new movement in they call ecology, is belief in the interrelationship of organisms and environment. They say we have to suffer because of the things we have destroyed. The birds that sing in jungles are equally a part of us. When birds stop singing, we shall have created a hindrance in music that is in nature; our minds will never know the peace and joy that came with their singing. We are not aware of this for we know not of the vast world outside. He is totally unaware of the clouds that glide in the skies; he does not see flowers blooming on trees, nor does he hear the song of birds in the spring.
Rachel Carson in 'The Silent Spring' spoke of a sudden, drastic change that had taken place. Thousands of birds suddenly fell from trees and died. Thousand others lay dead in streets of towns. Spring was suddenly hushed into silence. Due to some fault in the atomic energy research experiments, this catastrophe took place. The spring in England has never be the same.
And we think -- what difference will the change in spring make in our lives? Will our roads or our market-places be affected if the birds stop singing? Would that life were so aloof and apart! But it is not so. Everything is interconnected. If a star becomes extinct, it affects the earth, even if it be millions of light years away.
If the moon is no more there will be enormous changes on earth. There will no longer be waves in the oceans; the menstrual cycle of women would become erratic. A slight difference -- and everything changes.
Lao Tzu says, "Let things be as they are." Accept them, they are your companions. Do not segregate the opposite. That which seems hostile and unfriendly, let even that be where it is, for the pattern of nature is deep and profound and full of mystery. Everything is joined within.
Lao Tzu says, "If there is the attitude of friendship, of companionship, between various parts of Existence, if there is the feeling of oneness with each other, instead of overpowering each other, a wonderful music is created in life." This very music Lao Tzu calls Tao; that very music is Religion; that very music is 'Rit'.
It is now becoming more and more clear that as the understanding of ecology expands, our understanding of Lao Tzu will also become more profound. The more we begin to understand unity within diversity, the less we shall be in a hurry to change the order of things.