Tag Archives: lao tzu

Words on words

Knowing about is not knowing. I can be an expert on honey without having tasted it.  Thus: “Those who know do not speak.” “What do you read, my lord,” asked Polonius. “Words, words, words,” replied Hamlet, meaning nothing of value. Warhol dug into this with his famous rendering of a can of Campbell’s tomato soup. Krishnamurti: “The day you teach the child the name of the bird, the child will never see that bird again.” Overheard: “The guy’s a jerk.”

Beneath the chaos

To borrow from a Trappist monk, the wisdom of Lao Tzu—conceived as his mother traced the arc of a falling star, carried in her womb for 62 years, delivered while she leaned against a plum tree—sleeps in China’s paper flesh like dynamite. “When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.” In a related development, it’s been 50 years since the Beatles released their paean of praise, Let It Be.

Effortless action

It requires real effort to sustain a falsehood, live a lie, deceive and steal. Some of our most diligent criminals—drug tunnellers, for example—exhibit a tremendous work ethic. (They’re like middle-of-the-pack politicians in this respect.) Imagine Lao Tzu sitting these guys down and saying, “Today we practice wu wei.”