Without opening your door,
you can open your heart to the world.
Without looking out your window,
you can see the essence of the Tao.
The more you know,
the less you understand.
The Master arrives without leaving,
sees the light without looking,
achieves without doing a thing.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 47, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
At first glance, today’s chapter seems to really be anti-knowledge. “The more you know, the less you understand.” But, I really invite you to look at it from a completely different perspective than that. What Lao Tzu is really doing in this chapter is not so much nay saying knowledge, as affirming what you already know. You don’t have to open your door to open your heart to the world. You can do that from right where you are, right now. You don’t have to look out the window to see the essence of the Tao. I know I like to spend a lot of time outside looking around at nature and seeing the essence of the Tao all around me. But, you don’t have to do that. And, neither do I. We have the very essence of the Tao inside of us. It resides in each of us. In our hearts.
So, we aren’t nay saying knowledge. But we are affirming that you already have all the knowledge you need. You already have everything you need. We have to learn to be content with what we already have. Instead of looking for it outside of ourselves. We look elsewhere; and the more knowledge we acquire, the less we understand. Why is that? Because it isn’t increased knowledge that we are lacking. It is, and always has been, too little reliance on the Tao inside of each one of us. That is what we fail to understand. And adding to our knowledge isn’t going to increase our understanding. It only serves to take us further away from where it is that the Tao resides.
That is why Lao Tzu says that the Master arrives without leaving. Where are you going? Do you even know? The Master has already arrived because the Master understands that he or she needs look no further than inside the heart. Home is, after all, where the heart is. That is why the Master is able to see the light without looking for it. The light, my friends, is inside of you. Be your own light. That is how the Master achieves without doing a thing. This is that effortless action, the not-doing doing, that we have been talking about so much. Be content with the way things are. Be content with what you already have. Go with the flow of the Tao inside of you. And, your every action will be effortless.