Study Guide

Tao Te Ching Chapter 36

By Lao Tzu

Chapter 36

  • Now, we're greeted with a list of statements that might seem contradictory at first.
  • If we want to shrink something, we have to expand it first.
  • If we want to weaken something, we have to strengthen it first.
  • If we want to get rid of something, we have to encourage it first.
  • If we want to seize something, we have to give that thing first.
  • All of these truths give us "subtle clarity" (36.9).
  • So maybe this all means that even though these things are contrary to how we might normally think, once we truly understand them we'll have really found the wisdom of the Tao.
  • Next, we're told that the weak eventually overcome the strong, which goes along with the idea that constantly fighting is not the way to truly be strong.

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