Study Guide

Tao Te Ching Chapter 56

By Lao Tzu

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Chapter 56

  • Keep your mouth shut, lectures the TTC.
  • People who talk all the time don't know that much, but people who are silent know a lot.
  • We're told to shut our doors, which could mean a bunch of different things.
  • Look inward for enlightenment?
  • Avoid the desires of the outside world?
  • We're also told to make a sharp staff blunt.
  • Chances are this is a metaphor, not an actual suggestion that you go dull all your steak knives.
  • But what is it a metaphor for?
  • Could it be another suggestion that we live softly, with unattached action?
  • We're also told that we have to unravel the knots, which probably is another reference to living simply.
  • Dimming the glare is also a good idea, according to the TTC.
  • This could be the TTC once again telling us to be humble; to not live flashily.
  • Lastly, we have to mix the dust, which might be a reference to the way the sages should live out in the world and not go hide on a mountaintop somewhere.
  • If a person does all these things, they might just discover what's called "Mystic Oneness," or unity with the Tao (56.9).
  • People who have the Mystic Oneness are kind of like a less flashy version of a superhero.
  • They take part in the world, but they can't be harmed by it.
  • They aren't lured by its temptations.
  • They don't allow themselves to be flattered by people's good opinions of them, but they aren't hurt by people's negative opinions either.
  • They move forward with the Tao, and eventually they are honored by the world.
  • Hmm, a little Mystic Oneness sounds pretty good right now.

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