Knowledge said to the Yellow Emperor, "You and I know, but those other two that I asked didn't know. Which of us is right, I wonder?""Those who know do not speak; those who speak do not know." We find much the same line in the Tao Te Ching. It points to the fact that a genuine understanding of the Grand Mystery is beyond words. I'm not suggesting that there is anyone who truly understands, but, if they did, how could a person explain it to others so that it could be understood?
The Yellow Emperor said, "Do-Nothing-Say-Nothing - he's the one who is truly right. Wild-and-Witless appears to be so. But you and I in the end are nowhere near it. Those who know do not speak; those who speak do not know. Therefore the sage practices the teaching that has no words. The Way cannot be brought to light; its virtue cannot be forced to come. But benevolence - you can put that into practice; you can discourse on righteousness, you can dupe one another with rites. So it is said, When the Way was lost, then there was virtue; when virtue was lost, then there was benevolence; when benevolence was lost, then there was righteousness; when righteousness was lost, then there were rites. Rites are the frills of the Way and the forerunners of disorder. So it is said, He who practices the Way does less every day, does less and goes on doing less, until he reaches the point where he does nothing, does nothing and yet there is nothing that is not done.'' Now that we've already become `things,' if we want to return again to the Root, I'm afraid we'll have a hard time of it! The Great Man - he's the only one who might find it easy.
"Life is the companion of death, death is the beginning of life. Who understands their workings? Man's life is a coming-together of breath. If it comes together, there is life; if it scatters, there is death. And if life and death are companions to each other, then what is there for us to be anxious about?
"The ten thousand things are really one. We look on some as beautiful because they are rare or unearthly; we look on others as ugly because they are foul and rotten. But the foul and rotten may turn into the rare and unearthly, and the rare and unearthly may turn into the foul and rotten. So it is said, You have only to comprehend the one breath that is the world. The sage never ceases to value oneness."
~ Burton Watson translation ~
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