Study Guide

Tao Te Ching Chapter 18

By Lao Tzu

Chapter 18

  • This first line throws us for a loop when it tells us, "The great Tao fades away" (18.1).
  • Whoa, we thought the Tao was eternal.
  • Could it be referencing the idea that the Tao encompasses nothingness as well things we can touch?
  • Could this mean that the concept of the named Tao can fade away?
  • It could be the second one since the next line mentions the intellectual concepts of benevolence and justice.
  • Maybe this section is telling us that in order Ā to be at one with the eternal Tao, we have to keep these concepts in the front of our minds.
  • Or it could be warning us of what happens when we let our connection with the great Tao fade from our lives because that last section gives us some dire scenarios with advice on how to deal with them.
  • Next, we're advised that if our families are falling apart, we need to focus on love and loyalty.
  • And if our nations are in chaos, we need to know that somewhere there are ministers who are loyal.

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