My teachings are very easy to understand
and very easy to practice.
But no one can understand them and
no one can practice them.
In my words there is a principle.
In the affairs of men there is a system.
Because they know not these,
They also know me not.
Since there are few that know me,
Therefore I am distinguished.
Therefore the Sage wears a coarse cloth on top
And carries jade within his bosom.
(Translation by Yu Tang Lin)
In previous chapters, Lao Tzu talked about his political ideal and political doctrine, such as static, soft, frugal, merciful, inaction, indisputable, and so on, all of which are in line with nature and are based on nature. In social life, it should be easy to be understood and easily implemented by people.
However, people are stuck in fame and fortune, eager to be impetuous and violate the principle of inaction. Lao Tzu tried to explore people’s thoughts and behaviors and make fundamental understandings and annotations on everything. He narrated profound truths in plain language just as he is dressed in bold clothes and embraced with jade. However, it can not be understood or even practiced by people, so he exclaimed: “They who know me are few.”
Therefore, our understanding is that Lao Tzu was abandoned by his time, and his political ideas cannot be carried out. But he was recognized by the people of later generations, his ideology, his political opinions, some of whom were accepted and implemented by the rulers, and some of them were pushed to the highest place, and they were deified as the classic of Taoism.