Dao de Jing: The Book of the Way

By Laozi; Moss Roberts | Go to book overview

STANZA 56
1. Those who know it do not say it;
2. Those who say it do not know it.
3. Those who know bar interaction,
4. Shut and seal the gates and doors;
5. They dull their keen edge and
6. Resolve their differences,
7. Reconcile the points of view
8. And blend with the lowly dust.
9. This we call sublime at-oneness.
10. Favor affects them not,
11. Nor disfavor,
12. Neither advantage
13. Nor injury,
14. Neither honor
15. Nor dishonor.
16. Thus those who know are honored in the world.

COMMENT The word yan, “say, in line 1 is mainly used to refer to organized speech, the statement of a position. The sage avoids exposing his advocacy; he takes no side and thus does not become one of a pair of opposites. Lines 3–7 describe the ways of interdicting conflict and disputation so that the ruler can keep his subjects free of knowledge and desire, hence free of conflicts. 1

Gu Li thinks this stanza is addressed to a weakening nobility. “From the beginning of the Spring and Autumnera, conflicts among the slave-holding nobles… have led to many a bloody incident. Laozi was particularly concerned by this, and his goal was to mod

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