Not-knowing is true knowledge.
Presuming to know is a disease.
First realize that you are sick;
then you can move toward health.
The Master is her own physician.
She has healed herself of all knowing.
Thus she is truly whole.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 71, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Yesterday, Lao Tzu asserted that his teachings are both easy to understand and easy to put into practice. But, when we try to grasp them with our intellect, and try to practice them, we will surely fail. I said this addresses a twin problem we have. We both think we know without truly knowing, and try to do leaving many things undone. Lao Tzu said the antidote was to look inside your own heart.
Today, we will explain what this introspection entails.
Lao Tzu begins by making sure we understand the diagnosis. Presuming that we know is a disease. It is knowing that we don’t know which is true knowledge. And, if we want to move toward health, we must know that we don’t know, we must realize we are sick. Otherwise, we wouldn’t seek out a physician, and we couldn’t move toward health.
Here is where a wise and virtuous leader is our best example. Lao Tzu has already said of the ancient Masters that they didn’t try to educate the people; instead, they kindly taught them to not-know. That was back in chapter 65, where Lao Tzu said, “People are difficult to guide when they think they know the answers. But, people can find their own way when they know that they don’t know.”
The Master is an example for us, in today’s chapter, by being their own physician. What they have done is heal themselves of all knowing.
Every time my mind butts in with “I know, I know”, I pause, and take a step back. What I am doing, here, is acknowledging that I am sick. This presumption is a disease. My constant practice is laughing at my presumptive mind. I have erred, in the past, by taking my mind far too seriously. Now, I do a whole lot of laughing. By not taking the thoughts in my head so seriously, I find my mind empties, and the core of my being fills.
That works for me. Perhaps it will work for you. We really do take ourselves too seriously. Dwelling on our thoughts, making them our reality, when they are only phantoms, an illusion. I let them come, and I let them go; and, my only interaction with them is a bit of laughter. My friends probably think I am a bit strange. I know I grin a lot. And, I chuckle to myself. No, I am not laughing at you, I am laughing at myself. Or, maybe I am laughing at you, and I wish you would join in with laughing at your own self. Heal yourself of all knowing, until you are truly whole.