Study Guide

Tao Te Ching Chapter 81

By Lao Tzu

Chapter 81

  • Our final chapter begins by pointing out that sometimes beautiful words aren't true and that true words sometimes aren't beautiful.
  • You could interpret this as noting how people can hide lies in flowery speeches, while the truth is much easier to find in simple, straightforward statements like the Tao masters use.
  • Next, we're reminded that there's not much good in debating; it's just a waste of energy, really.
  • The sages would watch a debate and say it was all a bunch of flowery words without a lot truth in them.
  • Now we're told that people who know a little about a lot of things don't really know too much, but people who know a lot about a couple things know a ton.
  • Like the Tao, the true sage doesn't fight with the world, he or she gives without expecting anything in return.

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