“Tao Teh Ching: Chapter 43” by Lao Tzu

The softest of all things
Overrides the hardest of all things.
Only Nothing can enter into no-space.
Hence I know the advantages of Non-Ado.

Few things under heaven are as instructive as the lessons of Silence,
Or as beneficial as the fruits of Non-Ado.

This passage is very short, yet brimming with wisdom. The first two lines are simple enough to understand. Consider how water over a long period of time, steadily flowing, wears down the rock. But the other four lines require a little more work to comprehend.

In order to fully grasp the meaning of the passage, one must have a basic understanding of the concept of Wu wei. Wu wei (translated as Non-Ado) is essentially not striving, an “attitude of genuine non-action, motivated by a lack of desire to participate in human affairs.” In other words, “the sage does not occupy himself with the affairs of the world.” (Source: Wikipedia)

So what Lau Tzu is saying here, is that the path to wisdom is discovered by quieting the mind, and turning away from the distraction of worldly affairs. This silence becomes the softness that eventually overrides the hardness of the mental noise generated by the obsession with all things temporal. This is truly sage advice in an age where we are constantly bombarded with distraction and stimulation-overload from media of various sorts.

This past weekend, I took a long hike in the woods, just myself and my dog, and enjoyed the quiet and solitude. When I emerged back into the world of noise and traffic, I brought with me some of the calmness which I gained on my hike. Quiet time is important. I encourage you all to take some time each day to get quiet and centered. Your life will improve as a result.


Filed under Literature, Spiritual

10 responses to ““Tao Teh Ching: Chapter 43” by Lao Tzu

  1. Funny how being alone with mother nature takes us home to ourselves. I always feel refreshed by your posts on the Tao. Many thanks.

  2. Without those wu-wei moments, those of us who do engage with the affairs of the world (activism) could end up angry and ineffective.

  3. Other ways of looking at the water and the stone

    – Go around obstacles
    – See “failure” as an opportunity for growth

    Although I’m no mover and shaker in this world, I do think most of us are called to enter into it from time to time so for me the ideal is not complete withdrawal. Instead, my ideal is to keep a perspective even when in the midst of a busy scene.

    Also believe we’re called into retreat to replenish and refresh.

    Nice, thought-provoking post. Glad to see you’re taking your time with Lao-Tzu. 🙂

    • Great comment, as always. I agree, there must be a balance of detachment and passionate engagement in order to be successful in navigating our current world.

  4. so appropriate for these times – lovely offering and lovely comments. thank you, jeff.

  5. One of my favorite themes and experiments … the Wu Wei. 🙂 Thank you for the reminder, and the additional insight in your musing.