Tao Te Ching §56: One with the Way

by Peter Saint-Andre


Following up on my previous renderings of chapter 1 and chapter 11 of the Tao Te Ching, here is my initial attempt at chapter 56:

Those who know don't say
Those who say don't know

Close the mouth
Shut the door
Blunt the edge
Loose the knot
Dim the glare
Join the dust
Be one with the Way

Reach this and you'll be
Neither far nor near
Neither helped nor harmed
Neither praised nor blamed
Yet prized by all the world

The first section echoes the initial line of chapter 1: "the way that we can say is not the ageless Way." I read the middle section as recommending the Taoist practices of silence, moderation, humility, curiosity, simplicity, and naturalness. Cultivating these practices can help you become one with the ageless Way. As a result, you will be neither too distant nor too familiar with other people; you will not be influenced too positively or negatively by other people's opinions; and you won't attach too much significance to praise or blame. Paradoxically, your excellence of character will lead you to be prized by all the world.

(Cross-posted at philosopher.coach.)


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