Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wen Tzu - Verse 98, Part II

from Verse Ninety-Eight
Knowing it is shallow, not knowing it is deep. Knowing it is external, not knowing it is internal. Knowing it is coarse, not knowing it is fine. Knowing it is not knowing, not knowing is knowing it. Who knows that knowing is not knowing and not knowing is knowing?
~ Wen-tzu: Understanding the Mysteries ~
At first glance, one would think we were reading the words of Chuang Tzu, not Lao Tzu!

What we think we know always is dwarfed by what we do not know. Those who think they know a lot, know far less than they think. Those who know they know little, know more than those who think they know. And those who know nothing, probably know just as much as the other two.

In essence, I believe Lao Tzu is trying to point out that rational knowledge is of lesser importance than intuitive knowledge. No matter how much one studies, there will always be more to study than any of us have the time or energy to undertake. Even if you or I was the most knowledgeable person on the planet, our understanding of the grand mystery would be so small as to be infinitesimal!

Besides, knowing the Way isn't really knowing at all. Knowledge is something that fills us up; to embrace the Way is to be empty.

This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.

1 comment:

  1. There is a boundary that can be reached.
    I call it the Event Horizon.
    The conscious mind cannot venture beyond this point. It can not know anything that lies beyond.
    Yet this event horizon is not a physical barrier.
    Like a traditional japanese restaurant, one must leave one's shoes at the door.
    It is the point at which one must decouple one's mind, and move on without it.
    One may still "know", but this new knowing is very different from the state we generally describe as "knowing".
    Lao Tzu calls knowing "coarse", and not-knowing, "fine".
    Nobody - in his epoch - could have said it better.
    What he calls "not-knowing" may be his way of describing what modern man might call "super-knowing".
    This super-knowing is exponentially removed from conscious knowing.
    I say these things because I have experienced them. I have experienced them because I took the time and made the effort to.
    And luck had a lot to do with it.
    Because what I discovered was - understandably - nothing like I had imagined it would be.

    Not-knowing, is a state in which knowledge itself is superfluous.
    Like the air we breathe, knowledge becomes transparent, invisible: a thing we think nothing at all about.

    The paradox is: in order to not-know, one must first know a great deal. Then: having acquired enough of this most precious knowing, one must be able to discard it completely.

    Like a Saturn Five rocket: the enormously massive and expensive booster is necessary to get the tiny payload to a point where it can perform its function.
    Having done so, the booster is dicarded: being of no more use.

    Action, and non-action.
    Knowing involves a thought-process.
    Not-knowing does not.


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