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)
One of the main themes of philosophical Taoism is the practice of not-knowing. We have talked about it before, many times. But, once again, not-knowing doesn’t mean that nothing is known. What it does mean is coming to the realization that thinking you know is a problem. Lao Tzu has said before that the ancient Masters kindly taught the people to not-know. And he explained, then, what he meant. It is when they think that they know the answers that people are difficult to guide. When they know that they don’t know, then they can find their own way.
This is what today’s chapter is all about. And, it is appropriate, given that yesterday, Lao Tzu told us that our intellect was of no use in trying to understand Lao Tzu’s teaching. It is a matter of the heart. Not-knowing, or knowing that we don’t know, is true knowledge. Presuming to know, this is a disease. Thinking that we already know, that seems to be the affliction from which most of humanity regularly suffers.
Lao Tzu is wanting to guide us to true knowledge because we are afflicted with that disease. But, notice that unlike so many self-help gurus, Lao Tzu isn’t trying to manipulate us. He only seeks to make us aware that we are sick. Once we realize that, then we can move toward health. You don’t have to seek out somebody else to be your physician; you can be your own physician. You truly can find your own way; once you have been healed of all knowing. And, only you can do that healing. We said yesterday, that it is a matter of the heart. If you want to be truly whole, you need to get to the heart of the matter; and, that is deep within your own self.
That is where I encouraged you to look, just yesterday. And, that is where you will find the answers you seek.