“Tao Teh Ching: Chapter 56” by Lao Tzu

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He who knows does not speak.
He who speaks does not know.

Block all the passages!
Shut all the doors!
Blunt all edges!
Untie all tangles!
Harmonize all lights!
Unite the world into one whole!
This is called the Mystical Whole,
Which you cannot court after nor shun,
Benefit nor harm, honour nor humble.

Therefore, it is the Highest of the world.

In Buddhist thought, there is a concept called maya, which roughly means illusion, that basically what we perceive is a construct of our mind. If one accepts this tenet, it stands to reason that reality is something that exists beyond the limited grasp of our senses. It appears that Lao Tzu is expressing a similar idea in regard to the Tao, that it is the “Mystical Whole” that lies beyond the scope of our normal consciousness.

In the opening couplet, Lao Tzu warns against those who profess to know the Tao. To speak of the Tao is to attempt to use words to convey the ineffable. It does not work. All that one can do is provide guidance as to how one may glimpse the unseen reality of existence, and this is what Lao Tzu does in the second stanza.

By blocking passages and shutting doors, we are essentially turning off the stories that our minds tell us about what is real. Our brains are a tangled knot of information that dictates how we perceive everything. But as we begin to silence the noise of our minds, our focus shifts and we can glimpse the harmony and connection of the world around us, as well as our connections to this world.

As we all grapple with our rapidly changing world, it would serve us well to pause and reflect. By silencing our overwhelmed minds, we may be able to get a clearer perspective on what is really happening in these times of uncertainty.

Pause, and breathe.



Filed under Literature, Non-fiction, Spiritual

6 responses to ““Tao Teh Ching: Chapter 56” by Lao Tzu

  1. Well said. Pause and Breath. There is none of that currently going on in the world now.
    More like Fear Mongering.
    Great stuff as always Jeff.
    Stay safe to you and yours.

    • OMG, so true. And the media and social networks have much to do with this. I read an article today, big headline about how stocks opened lower despite fed actions, blah blah, talking about how each index opened lower. The last sentence: that the indexes rebounded shortly after. WTF! Why did they even post that to stoke people’s fears, other than as click bait and to keep individuals tuned in out of fear and desperation. Anyway, now that I have vented my frustration I can return to a state of relative calm. Cheers.

  2. Thank you, Jeff. I need the reminder. Can’t look at the news online for long because it creates a panic. I agree with your previous comment. Deep breaths. Okay, I’m good now!

    • Hi Barb. Yeah, the news and social media are just exploding with fear-based sensationalist posts. Our course as humans is changing, and we have a choice: go with the flow and see where it guides us, or struggle against the current. I for one prefer the path of least resistance. Anyway, hope you and your family are safe and healthy. Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. Many blessings!