Tao Te Ching

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A dime a dozen
Icon scriptures.svg
Divine scribblings
He who speaks doesn't know. He who knows doesn't speak
—Tao Te Ching, verse 56

The Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing in pinyin) is a Chinese philosophical work, compiled between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE. The author is unknown, but it is popularly ascribed to Lao Tzu (also romanized as Lao Zi) 老子. It postures its self as being comprised of teachings.

Its 81 chapters are short, and are written in an aphoristic style (e.g.: "those who think they know never learn") This particular aphorism was probably chiding contemporary/insufferable Confucian teachings, a prominent religion at the time of the Taq Te Ching's creation. Confucians knew a whole lot of stuff, the stifling bureaucracy dejure. The work attempts to describe the Tao 道 ("the Way") and the wisdom, specifically the unfoolishness of virtue.

As a religious work, it has some advantages and disadvantages:

  1. It doesn't mention God.
  2. It's short.
  3. It is confusing.
  4. It is esoteric, especially for people who are not familiar with Chinese mythology.


Many esoteric themes pervade the Tao Te Ching. One of these themes is the benefit of nothingness, stillness, or emptiness and noncontentiousness. Our modern day linguistic indication that there is something of value here might be our epithet "Well isn't he full of himself !" The work offers adroit aphoristic models, such as, the true usefulness of a jar is the empty volume inside the jar. Take note that, almost surely, all these aphorisms are about human interaction, "reminders" of how things work among us humans.

Another theme is that everything depends on its opposite to exist as an important conceptual framework, or worldview. For example, the term "light" has no meaning without the existence of the term "dark." This "seems" like a description of the physical world, here, it is not.

No, the Tao Te Ching was not written as an owners manual for rational wiki, but wonderfully, a lot of the sayings are seemingly attempts to "pull the reader away" from buying in to eternally ubiquitous bullshit (EUB), so, in a way, this wiki topic really belongs here.

  • The book tells it like it is, pointing out that our anthropomorphized mother nature does not give a flying f___ about you, your firstborn son, your neighbor, or trees, or animals, or mosquitoes. She is utterly indifferent.
  • The book encourages certain values but is not moralistic, for example, consider not killing people, not because killing people is wrong, but because it's stupid and likely to get you hurt, and generosity is pretty nice, consider cherishing it.
  • The work makes no bones about cruelty and war, and uncharacteristically gives advice on the matter "Use tricks to wage war and don't be pissed off, it won't help"
  • It has humorous aphorism if you are end up being adviser to the emperor...Ruling a great country is like cooking a little fish (i.e., It's better if you pay lots of attention to the task AND gentleness is an absolute requirement)
  • The Tao Te Ching alerts its students to the importance of a certain skillset, sensing the nature of change.the two flavors are
    • catastrophic (a balloon popping)
    • graceful (night to day through dawn)

It takes time to comprehend this seminal teaching and there are many references to this in the work.

  • The work is likely the first time the fractal nature of the humanity was put forth. As a man is, so is his family, so is his neighborhood, so is his city, so is his country, so is his world.

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