here was a man of Wei, Tung-Men Wu, who did not grieve when his son died.
His wife said to him:” No one in the world loved his son as much as you did, why do you not grieve now he’s dead?”
He answered: “I had no son, and when I had no son I did not grieve. Now that he is dead it is the same as it was before, when I had no son. Why should I grieve over him?”
A very simple parable, but tremendously significant, very meaningful. Enter it layer by layer: There was a man Wei, Tung-Men Wu, who did not grieve when his son died. It is very difficult not to grieve when somebody you love so much has died. It is possible only if you have known something of the essential. It is possible only if you have tasted something of the deathless. It is possible only if you have transcended the accidental. He did not grieve, he was not sad. He was not weeping or crying, he was not broken. He remained just the same as he was.
The wife was disturbed. She said: “No one in the world loved his son as much as you did, why do you not grieve now he is dead?” Ordinarily, this is our logic, that if you love a person too much you will grieve too much when he’s gone. The logic is fallacious; the logic has a very deep flaw in it. In fact, if you have loved a person really, when he is gone he is gone; you will not grieve much. If you have not love the person deeply, then you will grieve very much. Try to understand this.
Your father dies, or your mother dies. If you have loved your father totally while he was alive, you will be able to say goodbye to him without any grief – because you loved him. The experience of love was total and fulfilling. Nothing is left undone, nothing is hanging over your head. Whatever was possible has happened; now you can accept it. What more was possible? Even if he had been alive, what more would have been possible? The experience is complete.
Whenever an experience is complete, you are ready to say goodbye very easily. But if you have not loved your father as you always wanted to, you have not been respectful toward him as you always wanted to, you will feel guilty. Now your father is gone. Now there is no way to fulfill your desire; now there is no way to show your respect, your love. Now there is no way. You will feel yourself hanging in the middle, in midair, in limbo. You will not be at ease; you cannot say goodbye. You will cry and weep and you will be broken, and you will say that you are broken because your father is dead, but the real thing is something else.
You are broken because now the possibility to love him, to respect him, is gone. Now there is no possibility – the doors are closed and you have missed an opportunity. The son will cry more if he has not really loved his father. If he has loved his father, he will be able to accept the fact. Love is very accepting and very understanding.
Once an experience is complete, you can get out of it very easily – you can just slip out of it as the snake slips out of his old skin. If you love a woman you have been constantly quarreling with her, and it never became a deep satisfaction, and she dies… Now she will haunt; her ghost will haunt you for your whole life. You could not do something that was possible, but now it is no longer possible. Now something incomplete will always be there in the heart, hurting; it will become a wound.
This is the understanding of all the sages, that while you are loving a person, if you love him totally there is going to be no misery. If you love him totally, if you enjoy and delight in him totally, and the person is gone… Of course, one feels a little sad, but it is not grief; one misses a little, but one is capable of remaining centered, one is not distracted.
If you are in love, love totally – so nothing remains hanging. Otherwise, that hanging, incomplete experience, that unlived experience, will haunt you. These unlived experiences go on piling up and they become heavy burdens.
And the problem is that now there is no way – what to do with them? You cannot complete them because the person has disappeared. You cannot drop them because incomplete experiences cannot be dropped. It is just like a ripe fruit drops of its own accord. When it is ripe, it drops; when it is not ripe, it is difficult to drop. Whenever an experience is complete, it is a ripe fruit – it drops of its own accord. It leaves no scar behind, no wound.
The wife says: “No one in the world loved his son as much as you did, why do you not grieve now he is dead?” She is giving the argument of the accidental mind. That is the argument of the accidental mind. That is the argument of the accidental man: Why don’t you grieve? In fact, the accidental man was not really happy while the person was alive, but he becomes very unhappy when the person is gone.
If you love a person totally and the experience is complete, has enriched you, you can say goodbye. Of course, there will be sadness, but there will be no grief. And sadness is natural. It will disappear in time; it is nothing to be worried about. You will miss the person a little while – natural – but you will not be grief.
The accidental man says if you don’t cry when a person is dead, that means you never loved him. That’s what the wife of Tung-Men Wu was trying to point out: “You loved him so much. At least you pretended to love him so much, as if nobody has ever loved his son so much. Now what has happened? There is no grief! What type of love is this?” If you ask me, I say it is because he really loved the child. Now that he is gone, he is gone.
Love is understanding. And love is so understanding that not only does it understand life, it understands death also.
He answered: “I had no son, and when I had no son I did not grieve.” This is the logic of the essential man. He says: “There was a moment in my life when the son was not there, and I was happy without him. I had known no grief then. Then the son came and I was happy with him. Now that he is gone, I am again in the same situation as before, before he was born. And I was not in grief then, so why should I be in grief now? Again I am in the same situation: the son is not there; I am not a father again. Once I used to be not a father, then I became a father. I am again not a father. Something has happened, disappeared… I am left in the same way as I was before.”