Tao Thought: Internalizing and daodejing 73

People think they don’t have to learn,
Because there is so much information available.
But knowledge is more than possessing
Only the wise move fast enough.

The amount of information available today is unprecedented. In medieval times a few volumes could form an encyclopedia of all know facts, or a despot could control his subjects simply by isolating or destroying a library. Now information is available to us in tidal proportions.

Some people take a lethargic approach to this enormity. They feel that if there is so much at hand, they do not need t actually learn anything. they’ll go out and find it when they need it. But life moves too fast for us to rely on this laziness. Just as the flow of information has increased exponentially, so too has the pace of decision making accelerated. We can’t be passive, we have to internalize information and place ourselves precisely in the flow.

It has been stated that the average human being utilizes ten percent of his or her mental capacity. A [person with a high IQ] uses only fifteen percent. So we definately have the capacity to keep up—if we unlock our potential. This requires education, experience, and determination. One should never stop learning, never stop exploring, never stop going on adventures. Be like the explorers of old. What they acquired for themselves will always surpass those who merely read about their exploits.

365 Tao
Daily Meditations

Deng Ming-Dao

daodejing translated by current scholars

Daring to act means death
daring not to act means life

Of these two one benefits
one harms what Heaven hates
who knows the reasons

The Way of Heaven
wins easily without a fight
answers wisely without a word
comes quickly without a summons
plans ingeniously without a thought

The Net of Heaven is all-embracing
it mesh is wide but nothing escapes




Those who are courageous out of daring are killed.
Those who are courageous out of love survive.

The first is harmful, the second beneficial.
Heaven prohibits some things,
but who knows the reason?
Not even the sage knows the answer to this.

This is the way of heaven:
It doesn't contend, but easily overcomes.
It doesn't speak, but always responds.
It can't be summoned,
but comes of its own volition.
Utterly without haste,
it plans for everything.

The net of heaven is vast.
Though its meshes are wide,
nothing slips through.




The Tao is always at ease.
It overcomes without competing,
answers without speaking a word,
arrives without being summoned,
accomplishes without a plan.

Its net covers the whole universe.
And though its meshes are wide,
it doesn't let a thing slip through.



Stanford Studies on Daoism


  • The Laozi Story
  • Date and Authorship of the Laozi
  • Textual Traditions
  • Commentaries
  • Approaches to the Laozi

Approaches to the Laozi

The concept of wu is difficult and has been translated variously as “nothing,” “nothingness,” or “nonbeing.” It marks not only the mystery of Dao but also its limitlessness or inexhaustibility (e.g., ch. 4). Names serve to delimit, to set boundaries; in contrast, Dao is without limits and therefore cannot be captured fully by language. This suggests a positive dimension to transcendence, which brings into view the creative power of Dao: “All things under heaven are born of being (you); being is born of wu” (ch. 40). What does this mean?

Elsewhere in the Laozi, Dao is said to be the “beginning” of all things (chs. 1, 25). Daoist creation involves a process of differentiation from unity to multiplicity: “Dao gives birth to One; One gives birth to Two; Two gives birth to Three; Three gives birth to the ten thousand things” (ch. 42). The text does not indicate tense or spell out what the numbers refer to -- is it saying that something called “the One” produced or produces “the Two”? The “nothingness” of Dao helps impose certain constraints on interpretation. Specifically, the idea of a creator god with attributes, like the “Lord on High” (Shangdi) in ancient Chinese religion, does not seem to fit with the emphasis on transcendence.

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