Study Guide

Tao Te Ching Chapter 2

By Lao Tzu

Chapter 2

  • This chapter drops some wisdom about dualities.
  • Once we know beauty, we know ugliness.
  • Once we know good, we know evil.
  • High and low, long and short—all these opposites support each other and can't exist without one another.
  • The sages, the super-wise Tao dudes, use this knowledge of dualities to live their lives with the Tao.
  • For one, they live with the wu wei, or unattached action.
  • Context Alert! Wu wei (also known as unattached action, effortless action, or the action of no action) is a big-deal concept in Taoism. It's slippery to define, but mostly it's about living in the moment, being relaxed, and not obsessing over outcomes.
  • Anyway, the sages also do other cool stuff like teach the power of silence and live life without valuing material things.
  • This chapter ends by giving us the secret to the sages' success: they don't dwell on success, so it never goes away.
  • How very wu wei of them.

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