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"The longer you travel, the less you know."

Tao Te Ching - Chapter 47

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu.

The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained


47

Without stepping out the door,

You can know the world.

Without looking through the window,

You can see Heaven's Way.

The longer you travel, the less you know.


Therefore:

The sage knows without traveling,

Perceives without looking,

Completes without acting.



Understanding without Exploring

Immanuel Kant, who lived in the 18th century, was one of the foremost of Western philosophers. He was born in the town Königsberg, and stayed there all his life. He had profound thoughts on god, life, peace, and just about everything else. As his philosophy got known around the world, everyone was amazed that so much could come out of a man who never in his life traveled more than ten miles from his home town.

       Lao Tzu would have applauded his lifestyle. There is no need to explore every little corner of the world in order to understand how it works. There is not even a need to glare at it much. Its essence is obvious to anyone who is open to it.

       You have it in yourself, too, so why go any further? Those who insist on searching it elsewhere are most likely to get lost.

       We live in an era where science progresses by experimenting on things around us, as if our own beings and our own minds had nothing to do with it. But what is our world, without our presence in it? What does it look like through other eyes than ours?

       Truly, whatever we discover about the universe and its mechanisms, it's still bound by how we experience it. Without our experience, we would not even be aware of the world around us.

       In the time of Lao Tzu, and many centuries on, man was not removed from the world as if he were a mere observer of it. That makes sense. We are part of it, even when we observe it. So, our observations and conclusions depend on what we are, what we can see, and what we want everything to be. Science is completely objective only where its findings are of no importance to us.

       So, Lao Tzu joins with Immanuel Kant, exploring the world through his mind and admitting it. Therefore, extensive travel is uncalled for. Wherever you travel, your mind follows. Actually, it's doing the traveling, so it leads. If you forget that, you flee from it. Then, what can you ever hope to understand?

       This exploration, taking place inside instead of outside of us, is indeed another way of completing without acting. We find the truth by contemplation, not by chasing it with our instruments. Our present science will reach a point when this is again realized to be necessary.

       Some scientific paradoxes, like those in Einstein's relativity and quantum physics, suggest that we have already gotten there.

       As for Lao Tzu's use of the expression Heaven's Way instead of just the Way, see my comments on chapter 73.

© 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.



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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.


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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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