This blog is an interpretation of the Tao te Ching "Tao Virtue Book" which is attributed to Laozi "Lao Tze" a Chinese philosopher who lived circa 600 b.c.

Please remember always that this is the description of the Tao and not the experience of the living Tao. Hopefully, this blog will not serve as analysis or commentary but as a window into the Tao. You are encouraged to disagree with this interpretation, involve yourself in self-study, and ultimately leave all concepts behind and so experience the living Tao.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Chapter 56: Restraining The Self

For this Chapter we will use Susuki's translation

One who knows does not talk. One who talks does not know. Therefore the sage keeps his mouth shut and his sense-gates closed.

"He will blunt his own sharpness, His own tangles adjust; He will dim his own radiance, And be one with his dust." This is called profound identification.

Thus he is inaccessible to love and also inaccessible to enmity. He is inaccessible to profit and inaccessible to loss. He is also inaccessible to favor and inaccessible to disgrace. Thus he becomes world-honored.

Taoism explained
Tao Te Ching Chapter 56


This chapter can be seen to reiterate a theme common in religion.  Those of knowledge, as part of the process of living in peace or for some other reason often choose to stay silent.  This chapter can be seen as similar to Proverbs 17:27 in the Christian Bible.  It reads, "He that hath knowledge spareth his words, and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit."

Sri Ramakrishna, the 19th Century Hindu mystic explained it this way.  "The nearer you approach to God, the less you reason and argue.  When you attain Him, then all sounds-all reasoning and disputing-come to an end.  The you go into samadhi-sleep, into communion with God in silence."

So it can be said that this chapter is one whose lesson is most widely agreed upon world wide.

The first stanza simply states that those who understand the Tao are those most likely not to speak of it.

The second stanza repeats an often repeated message in Taoism that the wise tend to live simple lives.  By extrapolation, though you may not hear a wise person speak, you can know them by their simplicity.

The third stanza repeats earlier chapters that remind us that attachments are the source of problems.  Those who remain unattached live without difficulty.