Lao Tzu became very famous, a wise man, and he was without doubt one of the wisest men ever. The emperor of China asked him very humbly to become his chief of the supreme court, because nobody could guide the country’s laws better than he could. He tried to persuade the emperor, “I am not the right man,” but the emperor was insistent.
Lao Tzu said, “If you don’t listen to me… just one day in the court and you will be convinced that I am not the right man, because the system is wrong. Out of humbleness I was not saying the truth to you. Either I can exist or your law and order and your society can exist. So… let us try it.”
The first day a thief who had stolen almost half the treasures of the richest man in the capital was brought into the court. Lao Tzu listened to the case and then he said that the thief and the richest man should both go to jail for six months.
The rich man said, “What are you saying? I have been stolen from, I have been robbed — what kind of justice is this, that you are sending me to jail for the same amount of time as the thief?”
Lao Tzu said, “I am certainly being unfair to the thief. Your need to be in jail is greater, because you have collected so much money to yourself, deprived so many people of money… thousands of people are downtrodden and you are collecting and collecting money. For what? Your very greed is creating these thieves. You are responsible.
The first crime is yours.”