Dao Du Jour: Day 56

Chapter 56

“Those who know don’t talk.

Those who talk don’t know.

Close your mouth,

block off your senses,

blunt your sharpness,

untie your knots,

soften your glare,

settle your dust.

This is the primal identity.”

~ Stephen Mitchell (trans.), Tao Te Ching: A New English Version (New York: Harper Perennial), 2006.

We all know the adage that actions speak louder than words, but Daoism goes further: non-action (wuwei) speaks louder than actions. Or, as the American Buddhist saying goes, “Don’t just do something, sit there!” In this chapter, we find the closest thing to explicit meditation instructions there is in the text.

Our attempts to escape the labyrinth of our everyday problems—our words, thoughts, and actions—often tie us up in knots, kick up dust, and create echo chambers, compounding the problems. How much of our speech and movement floats on a cloud of fallacy and fear? Our way out is not to try another string, move in a different direction, or find the magic words to find, approach, and unlock the exit.

The thread of Ariadne is already at our feet. We just need to stop, sit, and let our eyes adjust to the darkness. The flaw was not in the labyrinth itself, but in the the manner and premise of our search. That flaw, that hairline fracture, that crack that emerges into consciousness—that is the thread.

New to the Dao Du Jour? Check out “Day 0.”