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"What has no substance can penetrate what has no opening."

Tao Te Ching - Chapter 43

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu.

The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained


43

The softest in the world

Surpasses the hardest in the world.

What has no substance

Can penetrate what has no opening.


Thereby I know the value of non-action.


The value of teaching without words

And accomplishing without action

Is understood by few in the world.



Non-Action

The principle of non-action, wu-wei, is frequently propagated in the Tao Te Ching. Often, the best solution is not to act at all, and when action is needed, to do as little as possible. Most things in the world correct themselves, given time. When impatience makes us hurry to solve them, we may make things worse.

       The passivity Lao Tzu speaks of is no surrender, but the patience to wait for the outcome. One should show trust in Tao, the Way, and how it governs the universe towards harmony. In many cases, what we perceive as problems demanding our attention are merely phases on the way to a good outcome, in no need of our meddling. How can we be sure of contributing, when we don't even know what will happen by itself?

       Certainly, there can be situations when we do need to take action, and quickly, for example to save lives or to avoid disaster. Lao Tzu doesn't deny it, but he doubts that such occasions should excuse our interference when not necessary or called for.

       We human beings have a tendency to regard ourselves as motors of the world, as if nothing would happen – at least nothing good – without our initiative. It's a kind of hubris of our species. The other creatures on the planet do what is in their nature, fulfilling their natural needs, and leave it at that. We repeatedly take on the roles of the gods we believe in, imagining that we can do their job or correct it. That's not likely to end well.

       As for words, when we express in words what should be taught from one generation to the next, we might be like the priest imploring his congregation to live as he speaks, not as he lives. Words are necessary when action is flawed. We teach what our own behavior doesn't display. If we could act correctly, we would not need words to transmit it.

       Because we act incorrectly, and far too much, we need words to convey what we should have done or refrained from doing.

       That which is the softest in the world is Tao, and it surpasses everything, no matter how hard. Also that, which has no substance and therefore penetrates all things, is Tao. Tao is everywhere, and behind everything, since before the dawn of time and beyond its final hour.

       Those who follow Tao live in accordance with the world, so they make sure to be soft. In addition, although they are unable to lose substance, they put little value to it. They know that what is truly important is what seems not to exist at all.

© Stefan Stenudd.

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Tao Te Ching Explained


Preface


Introduction


Literature


The 81 Chapters of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
translated and explained by Stefan Stenudd.
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Tao Te Ching Explained


James Legge's Tao Te Ching


Aleister Crowley's Tao Te Ching


The 1st Chapter of Tao Te Ching in 76 Versions


Lao Tzu - Legendary Author of Tao Te Ching





My Taoism Books:


Tao Te Ching - The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Te Ching

The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. The great Taoist philosophy classic by Lao Tzu translated, and each of the 81 chapters extensively commented. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.


Tao Quotes - the Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Quotes

The Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. 389 quotes from the foremost Taoist classic, divided into 51 prominent topics. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.



My Other Websites:


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Life Energy

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Creation Myths

Creation stories from around the world, and the ancient cosmology they reveal.


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Other Books by Stefan Stenudd:


Cosmos of the Ancients. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Cosmos of the Ancients

The Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


QI - increase your life energy. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Qi - Increase Your Life Energy

The life energy qi (also chi or ki) explained, with exercises on how to awaken, increase and use it. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Aikido Principles. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Aikido Principles

Basic Concepts of the Peaceful Martial Art
Aikido principles, philosophy, and basic ideas. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Sunday Brunch with the World Maker. Novel by Stefan Stenudd. Sunday Brunch with the World Maker

Fiction. A brunch conversation slips into the mysterious, soon to burst beyond the realm of possibility. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Stefan Stenudd, Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction. Stefan Stenudd


About me

I'm a Swedish author and aikido instructor. In addition to fiction, I've written books about Taoism and other East Asian traditions. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching ancient thought and mythology. Click the image to get to my personal website.

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