Nov 20

The Tao of Friday

I skipped over Chapter XX a couple of weeks ago like I skipped over XVI before that:  I like the idea of chapters corresponding to the date.  Chapter XX seems a little arrogant to me: he is greater because he is duller and different?  It seems like an ancient version of the “I don’t want to be one of the sheeple!” argument.

Stop thinking, and end your problems.
What difference between yes and no?
What difference between success and failure?
Must you value what others value,
avoid what others avoid?
How ridiculous!

Other people are excited,
as though they were at a parade.
I alone don’t care,
I alone am expressionless,
like an infant before it can smile.

Other people have what they need;
I alone possess nothing.
I alone drift about,
like someone without a home.
I am like an idiot, my mind is so empty.

Other people are bright;
I alone am dark.
Other people are sharper;
I alone am dull.
Other people have a purpose;
I alone don’t know.
I drift like a wave on the ocean,
I blow as aimless as the wind.

I am different from ordinary people.
I drink from the Great Mother’s breasts.



  1. Becki

    December 1, 2009


    Hi there,
    Just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to offer some input on this chapter from the Tao Te Ching.
    I personally don’t detect any arrogance in it. Does he actually say that he is greater than anyone? Just because he says he is different doesn’t mean he’s saying he is better. He is just saying exactly that – he is different. No more, no less.

    Additionally, Lao Tzu/the Master/a Taoist, in theory, wouldn’t believe that certain people are “better” or “greater” than anyone else, and therefore I doubt that he himself would ever think himself better:

    “Thus the Master is available to all people
    and doesn’t reject anyone.
    He is ready to use all situations
    and doesn’t waste anything.
    This is called embodying the light.

    What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher?
    What is a bad man but a good man’s job?”

    That’s my take on it. 🙂

    • sepra

      December 3, 2009


      Thanks Becki! I think it’s that I do this every Friday, so I take my initial reactions, and it really reminded me of those people who, in a desire to be different, end up being the same. Thank you for your take.