Friday, September 25, 2009

Verse 71: Knowing Not Knowing

Verse Seventy-One
Knowing you don't know is wholeness.
Thinking you know is a disease.
Only by recognizing that you have an illness
can you move to seek a cure.

The Master is whole because
she sees her illnesses and treats them,
and thus is able to remain whole.

~ John McDonald translation ~
If you've never visited the Dao Is Open website, you're missing out on a real treasure!! Operated by Nina Correa, it provides a myriad of insights and things to ponder from a Taoist perspective. In fact, her analysis of today's verse is, in my opinion, so spot on, that I'm going to step out of the way completely!!
This is one of the shortest chapters of the Dao De Jing, yet it's filled with insights.

I don't think Laozi is talking about Knowledge in the sense of knowing the musical scale or how to build shelves. He's talking about a deeper Knowledge which forms a basis for beliefs and how we choose to approach the Road of Life.

It's so easy to determine we've found a Knowledge that can't be disproved, no matter what we've base our opinions on. It can be like a raft on the ocean that offers a sense of security. No matter how many things might happen that show us our Knowledge might be flawed, we have a hard time admitting that we might be wrong. We might be wrong about so many things, and that mis-Knowledge can make us both emotionally and physically ill. It sure takes a lot of energy trying to convince ourselves and others of how "right" we are.

Just think of how emancipating it would feel if there was no need to cling to anything as being The Truth. All of a sudden, it's like a great weight has been lifted. You no longer have to cling to that life raft for dear life - the ocean just naturally buoys you and carries you along ..... To what? Maybe to realizing that what you thought was keeping you floating was actually like an anchor around your neck.

Those who think they Know will always have to prove their theories. Those who accept the fact that there are always things they can't Know become uplifted by all the incredibly fascinating and diverse aspects of life. Pretending you don't Know doesn't get at it, if you still hold onto the idea that something out there will eventually give you the ability to Know. It's only when you let go of the idea of Knowing anything that your spirit can soar.
This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.

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