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"Become one with the dust."

Tao Te Ching - Chapter 56

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu.

The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained


56

Those who know it do not speak about it.

Those who speak about it do not know it.


Seal the openings.

Shut the doors.

Dull the sharpness.

Untie the knots.

Dim the light.

Become one with the dust.

This is called the profound union.


Those who obtain it

Can neither be seduced nor abandoned.

Those who obtain it

Can neither be favored nor neglected.

Those who obtain it

Can neither be honored nor humiliated.

Therefore, they are the most esteemed in the world.



Integrity

This chapter connects to two others. Sealing the openings and shutting the doors is also mentioned in chapter 52, as how to avoid exhausting yourself in life.

       Dulled sharpness, untied knots, dimmed light, and becoming one with the dust, are stated in chapter 4 as qualities of Tao, the Way. Since it's the manner of Tao, we should try to obtain it.

       The profound union is that with Tao and the world of its design. Thereby one becomes united with nature and the natural Way of things.

       Those who obtain this union can't be seduced, since nothing that they should avoid would tempt them. Nor are they abandoned, since they are not dependent on anyone or anything out of their own reach. This independence makes them indifferent to favors and unafraid of neglect. They seek no honor and wave it off if it's still bestowed on them. That makes them impossible to humiliate as well.

       Ambition is the will for more than what is at one's immediate grasp. Without ambition there is little that one might find missing, and disappointment is unlikely. Few privileges would overtrump that. The most esteemed persons are those that didn't seek esteem.

       Those qualities can be summarized into one: integrity. By sealing the openings and shutting the doors, integrity is reached. The humble course follows naturally. You feel no need to make noise and receive recognition, no need for sharpness or shine. You are pleased with what you are and what you have, because you are sure to be it and have it.

       Integrity makes you immune to seduction as well as abandonment. You need no favors and are not upset by neglect. Being honored by others doesn't flatter you and you're not embarrassed by efforts to humiliate you. You may be worthy of the most esteem in the world, but you don't care.

       Integrity begins by recognizing one's own identity, and remains by not wishing to change it.

       The first two lines are also signs of integrity. What you really know, you don't need to brag about, so you make no speeches. Those who do, need to pretend to know what they are unsure about. They never stop talking.

       In several versions of the Tao Te Ching, the first two lines lack the indication of a certain subject, so they read: "Those who know don't speak, those who speak don't know." But the oldest manuscripts found, the one from Guodian and the two from Mawangdui, include an "it" that is most certainly Tao, the Way.

       That's the fundamental knowledge, which can only be obtained by someone who thereby is not eager to proclaim it. Also, since it's so fundamental, others can't refrain from claiming to know, with so many words, although they are far from certain.

© Stefan Stenudd.

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Tao Te Ching Explained


Preface


Introduction


Literature


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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





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