Those who know, Chapter 56 Tao Te Ching

Those who know do not talk

Chapter 56.


When I read the first two lines of this chapter I am reminded of some people who seem to talk endlessly about a subject about which they know nothing. At the same time there are people who have a lot of knowledge about a subject and don’t talk about it.

 “Those who know do not talk
Those who talk do not know”(1)

  This is the most often quoted verse therefore people have ascribed many meaning to it. I think this verse is about knowing the Tao . That Is when we know the Tao we do not have to say anything, we just act within the Tao. There is no need to tell everyone that we know Tao. Bragging about knowing Tao is actually not following the Taoist way. When I write a blog about Tao does that mean I do not know Tao? I am not writing about my personal relationship to Tao, but I am writing about the Tao in general. This is to say when the verse says those who talk do not know to me it is saying those who talk about the experience of knowing the Tao or bragging about their relationship to Tao do not really know the Tao. Knowing the Tao is a personal experience.

Find the Tao

 “Close the mouth
Shut the doors
Blunt the sharpness
Unravel the knots
Dim the glare
Mix the dust

This is called Mystic Oneness (1)

Chapter 52 also tells us close the mouth and shut the doors and we will live without toil. The Mystic Oneness comes about when we follow the steps outlined here. We are seeking to be one with people around us. We create separation with others when we talk too much. If I talk too much I may say something that upsets others. In chapter 52 shut the doors to the things that upset us. To be in this oneness, we should blunt the sharpness of our remarks; unravel knots of misunderstanding, and don’t let our words and actions be excessive.

Oneness is being cooperative with others to create closeness not distance between ourselves and others.   We keep our true self without harshness which will result in closeness and oneness.

Know The Tao

If you know Tao we can do a few things., we 

They cannot obtain this and be closer
They cannot obtain this and be distant
They cannot obtain this and be benefited
They cannot obtain this and be harmed
They cannot obtain this and be valued
They cannot obtain this and be degraded
Therefore, they become honored by the world(1)

“They cannot obtain this” is saying we cannot be in oneness or in Tao if we are in a state of attachment or detached in the distance. We know Tao when we are not motivated by attachment or in disengagement.   We cannot obtain oneness when we are concerned about what we have gained (benefited) or lost (harmed). We cannot obtain oneness when we are living by our reputation (valued or degraded).   All of these things cause separation from others in our mind.

The way to harmony is to know the Tao is an individual thing, with telling others. Do those things that create cooperation, and do no be concerned with extremes.

(1) and Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths in 2006


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