perfect book ends in the Tao Te Ching

I following two verses of the Tao Te Ching book end Lao Tzu’s wisdom and after reading the whole thing through, once again I am amazed at the coordinated wisdom of this book, especially so in these two verses. The First sets one firmly on the path, the ending verse summarizes the perspective of one who seeks to move with Tao. The two verses below are from the Red Pine Translation, which has become my favorite.

Verse 1

The way that becomes a way

is not the Immortal Way

the name that becomes a name

is not the Immortal Name

no-name is the maiden on Heaven and Earth

name is the mother of all things

thus in innocence we see the beginning

in passion we see the end

two different names

for one and the same

The one we call dark

The dark beyond dark

the door to all beginings

Verse 81

True words aren’t beautiful

beautiful words aren’t true

the good aren’t eloquent

the eloquent aren’t good

the wise aren’t learned

the learned aren’t wise

sages accumulate nothing

but the more they do for others

the greater their existence

the more they give to others

the greater their abundance

the Way of Heaven

is to help without harming

the Way of the Sage

is to act without struggling

For me, I hear that the Tao, that which underlies everything, is the source of all things yet is outside of our naming, of our definition, and is pervasive to all that is. So don’t seek to control or understand but move with the reality that is. Then the other verse summarizes in its last few lines reminds that things are as they present, and that the way of living by the Tao is help without harming and acting through harmony, not striving or struggling to make things a certain way, but move with things as they are. That’s wisdom!


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