Our Problem With Not-Knowing

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.

-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 71, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Our Problem With Not-Knowing

In today’s chapter, Lao Tzu continues on with his theme from yesterday: We have a real problem with not-knowing, when it comes to putting his teachings into practice in our lives. Today, he calls presuming we know, a disease; and, something of which, we need to be healed. We need to be at a place where we know we don’t know, because only the practice of not-knowing is true knowledge. But, if we are going to move toward health, we must first realize we are sick.

That is a real bugaboo for us, since Lao Tzu seems to offer us little practical advice on how to realize we are sick. Why is that? I suppose it is because “realizing” isn’t something we can grasp with our intellect. As I suggested in yesterday’s chapter, it is something which arises from inside us. It is both intuitive and spontaneous. How can I help you realize you are sick? Especially, being as this sickness isn’t some physical ailment, with physical symptoms. All I can offer, in the way of advice, is for you to constantly ask yourself, “How do I know this thing I think I know is true? Am I only presuming it is?”

The wise are able to be their own physician. They constantly rely on their intuition, and act on it spontaneously. This is how to heal yourself of all knowing, and be truly whole.

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