DiscoverThe Tao Te Ching for Everyday LivingTao Te Ching Verse 71: Working Toward Conscious Awareness
Tao Te Ching Verse 71: Working Toward Conscious Awareness

Tao Te Ching Verse 71: Working Toward Conscious Awareness

Update: 2021-01-29
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Tao Te Ching Verse 71

translated by Hua-Ching Ni

One who regards one’s intellectual knowledge as ignorance has deep insight.
One who overrates one’s intellectual achievement as definite truth is deeply sick.
Only when one is sick of this sickness can one cease to be sick.
One who returns one’s mind to the simplicity of the subtle truth is not sick.
One knows to break through conceptual knowledge in order to directly reach the subtle
truth of the universe.
This is the foundation of one’s health!

Photo by Harry Cunningham on Unsplash

Break On Through to the Other Side

Jim Morrison’s song lyrics aren’t all that far off from this second part of the verse.  He starts out talking about the day destroying the night and night dividing the day.  Hmm, sounds kind of Yin and Yang to me.  Then there are the last couple verses in the song that talk about there being a side of life that is there and different from our immediate perceptions.

In this Tao Te Ching Verse, Lao Tzu says that because we recognize that our minds can’t think us into blissful enlightenment, just that recognition alone is what allows us to look in a different direction that unlocks the door to connection with the Tao.  

To me, this is clear only after I have taken some time to reflect how the Tao isn’t a concept; rather, it’s a thing we call that universal truth that we are always experiencing.  Some folks call it God, some call it the universe, some call it Allah, some call it the Buddha, nirvana, Shiva, Kali - while there are subtle differences in each of those personifications, the list of ways we refer to that universal truth are pretty much the same.  It is the spiritual energy that moves around and through us, of which we very much are a part.  

You can’t start a gasoline-engine car by getting in and willing it to turn on.  We can’t access the Tao just by enhancing our knowledge of it.  The car needs a key, a human to turn the key, and a bunch of other parts to work together.  We must open ourselves to the Tao, be willing to be vulnerable with it, allow it to show us things and do things for us.  We must feel the Tao to access it.

So not gonna lie, this seemed impossible for me in the beginning.  Mostly because I had no idea what I was supposed to do.  But, with a little patience and by practicing some of the other verses in this book, I was able to catch a clue, and as long as I continue to practice, I find that truth after truth is revealed as I progress. 


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Tao Te Ching Verse 71: Working Toward Conscious Awareness

Tao Te Ching Verse 71: Working Toward Conscious Awareness

Dan Casas-Murray