Friday, 24 February 2012

Verse 81


True words are not eloquent;
eloquent words are not true.
Wise men do not need to debate;
men who need to debate are not wise.
Wise men are not scholars;
scholars are not wise.

The Master desires no possessions.
The more he does for others,
the happier he is.
The more he gives to others,
the wealthier he is.

The Tao nourishes by not forcing.
The Master imitates this,
acting for the good of all
and opposing himself to no one.

One of the insights in this final verse of the Tao Te Ching appears to echo the opening words of the first verse: namely that truth cannot be expressed or contained in words, however eloquent or beautiful they might be.

Truth is beyond words. Therefore there is no need to debate it and even less need to try and seek it through acquired knowledge. Truth is nothing, and yet everything. It is the Tao; the great expanse of emptiness, the unmanifest, the well-spring of pure potentiality from which everything emerges. But don’t get hung up on the words. As Lao Tzu stated in verse one, the moment you try to label it and express it with words, you’ve lost it, for the Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao.

Much of the Tao Te Ching is comprised of Lao Tzu’s portrait of the Master: he or she who has fully realised the Tao and who effortlessly embodies it in daily life. Being deeply rooted in the Tao, the Master has no need to fixate on the outward forms of life, the world of the 10,000 things. Why fixate on something (some thing) when you know your true essence to be nothing (no thing)?

Things are just taken care of. There is nothing to strive for and nothing to achieve. The Master’s nature is to give, in much the same way as the sun’s nature is to shine and water’s nature is to nourish. This isn’t a manufactured or calculated giving; it is simply a natural propensity not to old back and contract, but to expand, reach outward and share. What does the Master give? He gives whatever the situation requires and whatever his heart prompts him to give.

The final pearl of wisdom in this timeless treasure of a text, is to refrain from forcing things. The Tao, operating through nature, has no need to force. Any attempts to force invariably end in calamity. Flowers and trees bud and blossom at exactly the right time, just as day follows night and Spring follows Winter at exactly the right time.

There is no need to force anything. Letting go, we can see the perfection inherent around and within us and life becomes an exquisite exercise in allowing. When we remove the obstructions created by our grasping minds, things naturally come into balance. There’s nothing we need to do, but allow the Tao to flow through us, directing our words and actions. Surrendering to this inherent power within us, we come into alignment with the truth of what we are and become an instrument of harmony in this world.


Thank you for joining me in my Tao journey, I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have. It's been great revisiting this and revising my commentary. I love the message of the Tao and believe it is as deeply relevant today as it was 2,500 years ago, if not more so. 

I have compiled the content of this blog into a small book, originally conceived as a gift for friends and family who might be interested but not especially 'blog people', and I intend to make it available on my website if I'm happy with it, and perhaps even Kindle too. I'm also thinking of somehow translating this blog to YouTube. Stay tuned, I will post it here too :)

In the meantime, I intend to get back to my other blogs Lucid Exposition and Dreamlight Fugitive! See you there I hope. 


  1. Awww...
    Only 81 verses. What're we gonna do now?
    All things being circular, this 81st. verse brings us back, once more, to the beginning, which is, itself, only an illusory thing...

    The Tao, defined,
    is not the eternal Tao.
    The name that can be named
    is nothing but a name.

    I wonder what the tao will have to say, the next time around?
    Bearing in mind, of course, that it will have nothing to say, at all.
    Only what we, ourselves, make of it.

    Thank you, Rory.
    In the words of "Blade Runner": one of my all-time favourite lines:
    "You've done a Man's job, Sir!"

  2. Later that same day...

    "The master has no possessions.
    The more he does for others,
    the happier he is.
    The more he gives to others,
    the wealthier he is."

    No possessions, I take to mean being unattached to what is possessed. As opposed to actually not having any.
    The more he does for others: manifesting the wisdom he has come by.
    The more he gives: of himself, not stuff.
    Goodwill, attention, openness, brotherhood.

    Modern usage of "giving" is mostly applied to the external:
    Money, food, shelter, tax-breaks, medical care...

    I may be in error, but this makes far more sense to me, than the usual, Western interpretation.

    Just sayin' :)

  3. Thanks for reading (again!) and your comments. Ha, I love Blade Runner, dig the quote.

    Agree re possessions. And 'giving' can mean many different things and no doubt depends on the needs of the situation and those involved. Those who have less than we do and are among the many in poverty and suffering obviously require the 'tangibles' for basic survival. Those that already have enough but lack the inner treasures of wisdom and self-knowledge, require the 'intangibles'...those may be greatest gifts that can be bestowed.

    Thanks for your comments and insights :)