Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – Chapter 20


Give up learning, and put an end to your troubles.
Is there a difference between yes and no?
Is there a difference between good and evil?
Must I fear what others fear? What nonsense!
Other people are contented, enjoying the sacrificial feast of the ox.
In spring some go to the park, and climb the terrace,
But I alone am drifting, not knowing where I am.
Like a newborn babe before it learns to smile,
I am alone, without a place to go.

Others have more than they need, but I alone have nothing.
I am a fool. Oh, yes! I am confused.
Others are clear and bright,
But I alone am dim and weak.
Others are sharp and clever,
But I alone am dull and stupid.
Oh, I drift like the waves of the sea,
Without direction, like the restless wind.

Everyone else is busy,
But I alone am aimless and depressed.
I am different.
I am nourished by the great mother.

(Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English )

When I first studied this chapter, I was somewhat confused. So I put it down and tried to reread it, then I skipped from this section to the next. After I finished Chapter 21, I had no choice but to come back to this one. Well, I told myself that I had better take a different angle to read this content. Sure enough, I understood it better and was able to write down my insight for this chapter.

Lao Tzu wanted us to take individual steps to be the student in Tao.
First, we need to rid of what we put in us. The education, the knowledge is the first to go, then we should know that there is no good or bad; no yes or no; and moreover that we need not fear as others do because everything will take its natural course.

The people seem to be happy pursuing fame, power, glory, and wealth. I am not even as a child but a baby who cannot yet smile and is indifferent to all these, like a homeless wanderer.

From the secular perspective, everyone is abundant, talented, intelligent but I am weak, dull, and foolish. Unlike the people of the world who have aim, goal, and purpose, I have none of them.

My heart is a wave of a sea which can accept all rivers, and I am like a soft wind drifting above the sea aimlessly but freely. I know that I am indeed different from the people. However, I cherish the nourishment from the Mother to cultivate and improve myself and to be in the Dao.

Previous Lao Tzu and His Friend
Next Tao Te Ching and I