Without stepping outside one’s doors,
One can know what is happening in the world,
Without looking out of one’s windows,
One can see the Tao of heaven.
The farther one pursues knowledge,
The less one knows.
Therefore the Sage knows without running about,
Understands without seeing,
Accomplishes without doing.
(Translation by Lin Yutang )
The image is from Thomas Chen’s Collection
“Don’t go out, know the world,” in Lao Tzu’s time, was not an easy thing to say whereas in today’s information age, staying at home and knowing the world is easy to do. As long as you turn on the TV, the Internet, the telephone, you know what is going on in the whole world. Here, Lao Tzu means that the Tao practitioners do not search in the material world for the spiritual enlightenment, they can only find it by looking within.
Without looking out of one’s windows, one can see the Tao of heaven. It implies that even if you open the window, you still can’t see heaven because heaven is in the person’s heart. How can you see heaven by looking outside the window? To see the way of heaven is to look inward.
Therefore, to know heaven and earth, go out every day the farther you go, the less you know. Because the Toa is limitless and not confined to a particular place.
Lao Tzu said: a man of wisdom can do this: Thus the sage knows without traveling; He sees without looking; He works without doing.