Twentieth Chapter: Tao-te Ching
The Way of Lao Tzu (Tao-te Ching)
Abandon Learning and there will be no sorrow.
How much difference is there between “Yes” and “ No?”
How much difference is there between “good” and “evil?”
Do not dread, what people dread.
But, alas, I fear desolation when there is abundance.
I feel darkness when light is everywhere.
In springtime, some go to the park and ascend the tower.
But I alone am drifting, not knowing where I am.
Like an infant before it has learnt to smile.
I am weary, without a home.
Multitudes have too much.
I alone seem to have lost all.
Mine is indeed the mind of an ignorant person,
Indiscriminate and simple!
People rush about to get things done, to seek fame,
I prefer to be left alone.
Indeed I seem like an idiot:
No mind, no worries.
I drift like a wave in the sea,
I blow as aimless as the wind.
Multitudes have a purpose.
I alone am stubborn and remain outside.
I alone differ from others,
But value the knowledge of taking sustenance from the Great Mother (Tao)
As I Understand It:
There is abundance and light everywhere, yet we fear.
There is a sarcastic tone in this stanza. Lao Tzu says multitudes possess too much but he has nothing; they are brilliant but he is an idiot; they have a goal but he drifts like a wave in the ocean; they rush to succeed but he prefers to be left alone. He finds himself to be an outsider — unlike most other people — a simpleton, with no aim in life. Others might judge him as unmotivated fool but he feels peace and contentment by being outside the rat race. His mind is as pure as that of a newborn who has yet to learn to smile.
The sage urges us to let go of the daily pressure to do the “right” thing. He asks us to slow down the incessant demands of our desires. Power, position and possessions are an illusion. We come to this world without anything and will leave everything behind when we leave. Each one of us is a drop in the ocean. We don’t really know where we are in this infinite universe.
Immerse in the present; accept the life as it is. Trust the power of Tao. What anchors us in this hectic, demanding, rushing world is the link with the Tao within, the Great Mother.
The Way of Lao Tzu, tr. Wing-Tsit Chan, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. 1963.
Dyer, Wayne W., Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of Tao. Hay House, Inc. 2007.