Study Guide

Tao Te Ching Chapter 26

By Lao Tzu

Chapter 26

  • Now, it's time to talk about how important it is to be grounded.
  • This chapter starts by telling us that "Heaviness is the root of lightness" (26.1), which might be saying that in order to have the looseness needed to be with the Tao, you also have a grounded kind of personality.
  • Next, the chapter goes into a metaphor about the sages traveling for a whole day without leaving behind heavy supplies.
  • This metaphor could represent the way we sometimes have to carry around serious thoughts and understandings as we go through our lives.
  • Chapter 26 takes us deeper into metaphor land when it asks "How can the lords of ten thousand chariots / Apply themselves lightly to the world?" (26.7-8).
  • Our best guess is that the lords of thousand chariots are people with a lot of power and responsibility.
  • So this question is pointing out how people like this have to be rooted in a serious sense of responsibility.

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