Chapter 56

Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing)
Classic of the Way and Virtue

By Lao Tzu (Laozi)

Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo, Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Center, Gushen Grove Notebooks, Red Bluff, California

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Chapter 56

Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing) by Lao Tzu



Virtuous Passivity, Virtue of the Mysterious, Circumspection in Speech, Ineffability, Blend, Soften, Doors, Sharpen, Dao,
Those Who Know Do Not Speak, Closing the Senses, Mystic Oneness, Independence, Untangle, Knots, Harmonize, Sage,
Attainment, Tao, Silence, Restraint, Mystical, Unravel the Knots, Beyond Good and Evil, Aloof, Noble, Indifferent, Gain,
Free, Ambivalent, The Way, Dignity, Loss, Enlightened, Honor, Mysterious Identity,  玄德   



"Those who know do not talk.
Those who talk do not know.
Stop up your orifices.
Close your doors.
Blunt your sharpness.
Release your tangles.
Harmonize your lights.
Make same your dust.
So doing is called the dark and mysterious identity.
Therefore [those who have attained to the mysterious identity] cannot be made to be intimate, and they cannot be alienated.
They cannot be benefited, and they cannot be injured.
They cannot be ennobled, and they cannot suffer degradation.
Therefore they are noble among all those in the world."
-  Translated by Patrick E. Moran, Chapter 56 



"He who knows does not speak.
He who speaks does not know.
He closes the mouth
And shuts the doors;
Blunts sharp edges,
Unties all tangles;
Softens the glare,
And blends with the dust.
This is called mystical union.
He who can attain this state
Is not concerned with being liked or disliked,
Benefited or harmed,
Exalted or despised.
Thus he is valued by the world."
-  Translated by Keith H. Seddon, Chapter 56 




Lieh-Tzu: A Taoist Guide to Practical Living  Translated by Eva Wong
The Daodejing of Laozi   Translated by Philip Ivahoe 
Daoism: A Beginner's Guide   By James Miller
Early Daoist Scriptures  Translated by Stephen Bokencamp
Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons
Simple Taoism: A Guide to Living in Balance  By Alexander and Annellen Simpkins
Practical Taoism  Translated by Thomas Cleary
Daoism and Chinese Culture  By Livia Kohn






"Those who know, do not speak.
Those who speak, do not know.
So shut your mouth
Guard your senses
Blunt your sharpness
Untangle your affairs
Soften your glare
Be one with All dust.
This is the mystery of union.
You cannot approach it Yet you cannot escape it.
You cannot benefit it
Yet you cannot harm it.
You cannot bestow any honor on it
Yet you cannot rob it of its dignity.
That is why the whole Universe reveres it."
-  Translated by John Mabry, Chapter 56



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"The one who speaks doesn't know,
The one who doesn't speak knows.
By closing the eyes, not hearing, not smelling,
Not touching, nor tasting, the senses are closed.
But a world of harmony it is opened in the mind.

The Wise Person is not concerned by friends,
enemies, glory or disgrace.
He reaches perfection by following the Tao Way."
-  Translated by Octavian Sarbatorare, Chapter 56 




Simple Taoism: A Guide to Living in Balance  By Alexander Simkins. 
The Tao of Daily Life: The Mysteries of the Orient Revealed  By Derek Lin. 
Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony   By Ming-Dao Deng. 
Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices
The Tao of Pooh   By Benjamin Hoff. 
Scholar Warrior: An Introduction to the Tao in Everyday Life  By Ming-Dao Deng. 
Vitality, Energy, Spirit: A Taoist Sourcebook  Translated by Thomas Cleary. 






"One who understands won't be willing to use words;
One who uses words won't be willing to understand.
Shut off your dissipation.
Seal up your door.
Harmonize with your brightness.
Adapt to the dust in your life.
Blunt your sharpness.
Untangle your disorder.
This is correctly described as the mystery of putting the pieces together.
Therefore, what can't be obtained and held closely also can't be obtained and cast off.
What can't be obtained and used for profit also can't be obtained and used for harm.
What can't be obtained and valued also can't be obtained and cheapened.
Therefore, every action in the world is precious."
-  Translated by Nina Correa, Chapter 56



Study with Mike Garofalo



"Those who know do not talk
Those who talk do not know
Close the mouth
Shut the doors
Blunt the sharpness
Unravel the knots
Dim the glare
Mix the dust
This is called mystic oneness
They cannot obtain this and be closer
They cannot obtain this and be distant
They cannot obtain this and be benefited
They cannot obtain this and be harmed
They cannot obtain this and be valued
They cannot obtain this and be degraded
Therefore, they become honored by the world."
-  Translated by Derek Lin, Chapter 56




Revealing the Tao Te Ching: In-Depth Commentaries on an Ancient Classic  By Hu Xuzehi
Tao Te Ching  Annotated translation by Victor Mair  
Reading Lao Tzu: A Companion to the Tao Te Ching with a New Translation  By Ha Poong Kim
The Philosophy of the Daodejing  By Hans-Georg Moeller  

Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices   By Mike Garofalo

Dao De Jing: A Philosophical Translation  By Roger T. Ames and David T. Hall
Tao Te Ching on The Art of Harmony   By Chad Hansen. 
The Way and Its Power: Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching and Its Place in Chinese Thought   By Arthur Waley

Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons






"To know does not mean to speak
To speak does not mean to know
Close the passages
Secure the gates
Blunt the sharpness
Resolve the tangles
Shade the glare
Be one with the world
This may be called “mystic union”
Such as may not be gained by affection
May not be gained by detachment
May not be gained by favor
May not be gained by suffering
May not be gained by esteem
May not be gained by humility
And so becomes precious to all under heaven"
-  Translated by Bradford Hatcher, Chapter 56 



"He who knows the truth does not brag,
He who brags does not know the truth.
Closing the apertures, Shutting the doors,
Blunting the sharpness, Resolving inner conflicts,
Softening brightness, and
Harmonizing with the dusty world,
He is then in profound harmony with Tao.
Thus he is no longer:
Affected by being close to, or
Bothered by being distant from others;
Touched by gains, or
Influenced by losses
Tempted by nobleness, or
Shamed by lowliness.
Therefore he is respected by the world."
-  Translated by Cheng, Chapter 56 




The Complete Works of Lao Tzu: Tao Teh Ching & Hua Hu Ching   Translation and elucidation by Hua Ching Ni
The Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu   Translated by Brian Walker
Tao Te Ching  Translated by Arthur Waley
Tao - The Way   Translated by Lionel and and Herbert Giles
Taoism: An Essential Guide   By Eva Wong






"Those who know do not say; those who say do not know.
Close the senses, shut the doors; blunt the sharpness, resolve the complications; harmonize the light, assimilate to the world. This is called the mysterious sameness.
It cannot be made familiar, yet cannot be estranged; it cannot be profited, yet cannot be harmed; it cannot be valued, yet cannot be demeaned.
Therefore it is precious for the world."
-  Translated by Thomas Cleary, 1991, Chapter 56



"The one who knows does not speak; the one who speaks does not know.
The wise man shuts his mouth and closes his gates.
He softens his sharpness, unravels his tangles, dims his brilliancy, and reckons himself with the mysterious.
He is inaccessible to favor or hate; he cannot be reached by profit or injury; he cannot be honored or humiliated.
Thereby he is honored by all."
-  Translated by Dwight Goddard, 1919, Chapter 56 




Tao Te Ching  Translated by Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo  

Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching  Translated by John C. Wu

Lao-Tzu and the Tao-Te-Ching  Translated by Livia Kohn

Dao De Jing: The Book of the Way Translated by Moss Roberts






"One who knows does not speak,
One who speaks does not know.
Stop the apertures,
Close the door;
Blunt the sharp,
Untie the entangled;
Harmonize the bright,
Make identical the dust.
This is called the mystical identity (hsüan t'ung).
Therefore with this person you cannot get intimate (ch'in),
Cannot get distant,
Cannot benefit,
Cannot harm,
Cannot exalt,
Cannot humiliate.
Therefore such person is the exalted of the world."
-  Translated by Ellen M. Chen, Chapter 56



"Blunt all that is sharp;
Cut all that is divisible;
Blur all that which is brilliant;
Mix with all that is humble as dust;
This is called absolute equality.
Therefore it cannot be made intimate;
Nor can it be alienated.
It cannot be benefited;
Nor can it be harmed.
It cannot be exalted;
Nor can it be debased.
Therefore it is the most valuable thing in the world."
-  Translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao, 1904, Chapter 56 




Walking the Way: 81 Zen Encounters with the Tao Te Ching by Robert Meikyo Rosenbaum

The Tao of Zen by Ray Grigg

Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons

Tao Te Ching: Zen Teachings on the Taoist Classic by Takuan Soho 

Buddhism and Taoism Face to Face: Scripture, Ritual, and Iconographic Exchange in Medieval China by Christine Mollier  

Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices






"He who knows, speaks not;
He who speaks, knows not.
He closes the mouth,
He shuts the doors of the senses.
He rounds off angles;
He unravels all difficulties.
he harmonizes Light.
He brings men into Unity.
This is called wonderful Unity.
Favour and disgrace do not touch him,
profit and loss do not affect him,
Honour and shame are alike to him,
Therefore he is held in high esteem by all men."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 56




Further Teachings of Lao-Tzu: Understanding the Mysteries (Wen Tzu)   Translated by Thomas Cleary

The Lunar Tao: Meditations in Harmony with the Seasons   By Deng Ming-Dao

Awakening to the Tao   By Lui I-Ming (1780) and translated by Thomas Cleary

Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices   By Mike Garofalo

Zhuangzi: The Essential Writings with Selections from Traditional Commentaries   Translation and commentary by Brook Ziporyn

The Inner Chapters of Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi)   Translated by A. C. Graham






"They who know speak not,
And they who speak know not;
To close the mouth and shut the gates,
To blunt the point which lacerates,
To simplify what complicates;
To temper brightness in its glare,
The shadows of the dust to share,
The Deep' s identity declare.

A man like that cannot be got
And loved, and then discarded be,
Cannot be got by profit's bribe,
Cannot be got for injury,
Cannot be got by honor's gift,
Nor got for cheap humility,
And so becomes, throughout the world,
The type of high nobility."
-  Translated by Isaac Winter Heysinger, 1903, Chapter 56 




"Those who know do not tell,
Those who tell do not know.
Not to set the tongue loose
But to curb it,
Not to have edges that catch
But to remain untangled,
Is to find balance,
And he who holds balance beyond sway of love or hate,
Beyond reach of profit or loss,
Beyond care of praise or blame,
Has attained the highest post in the world."
-  Translated by Witter Bynner, 1944, Chapter 56




Tao Te Ching: An Illustrated Journey   Translated by Stephen Mitchell

Tao Te Ching   Translated by David Hinton

The Book of Tao: Tao Te Ching - The Tao and Its Characteristics   Translated by James Legge

Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices

Taoism: Growth of a Religion   By Isabelle Robinet

Zhuangzi (Chuang Tsu), Daoist Scripture: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotations, Notes

Zhuangzi: Basic Writings   Translated by Burton Watson

Zhuangzi Speaks: The Music of Nature   An illustrated comic by Chih-chung Ts'ai

Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons






"He who knows the Tao does not discuss it, and those who babble about it do not know it.
To keep the lips closed, to shut the doors of sight and sound, to smooth off the corners,
to temper the glare, and to be on a level with the dust of the earth, this is the mysterious virtue.
Whoever observes this will regard alike both frankness and reserve, kindness and injury, honour and degradation.
For this reason he will be held in great esteem of all men."
-  Translated by Walter Gorn Old, 1904, Chapter 56 







Next Chapter of the Tao Te Ching #57

Previous Chapter of the Tao Te Ching #55

Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching 







Tao Te Ching
Commentary, Interpretations, Research Tools, Resources
Chapter 56


Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition  By Jonathan Star.  Translation, commentary and research tools.  New York, Jeremy P. Tarcher, Penguin, 2001.  Concordance, tables, appendices, 349 pages.  A new rendition of the Tao Te Ching is provided, then a verbatim translation with extensive notes.  Detailed tables for each verse provide line number, all the Chinese characters, Wade-Giles romanization, and a list of meanings for each character.  An excellent reference tool! 

Yellow Bridge Dao De Jing Comparison Table, Chapter 56   Provides side by side comparisons of translations of the Tao Te Ching by James Legge, D. T. Suzuki, and Dwight Goddard.  Chinese characters for each paragraph in the Chapter are on the left; place your cursor over the Chinese characters to see the Pinyin romanization of the Chinese character and a list of meanings. 

Center Tao.  Includes a commentary on each Chapter. 

The Complete Works of Lao Tzu: Tao Teh Ching & Hua Hu Ching  Translation and elucidation by Hua Ching Ni.

Tao Te Ching Commentaries - Google Search 

Translators' Index, Tao Te Ching Translators Sorted Alphabetically by Translator, Links to Books and Online Versions

Tao Te Ching: A Bibliography and Index of Translations on the Web

Chapter 56 in the Rambling Taoist Commentaries by Trey Smith.  The Rambling Taoists are Trey Smith and Scott Bradley. 

The Philosophy of the Daodejing  By Hans-Georg Moeller.  Columbia University Press, 2006, 176 pages.  

Valley Spirit, Gu Shen, Concept, Chapter 6 

Das Tao Te King von Lao Tse  The largest collection of very nicely formatted complete versions of the Tao Te Ching.  The collection includes 209 complete versions in 27 languages, plus 28 Chinese versions.  There are 112 English language versions of the Tao Te Ching available at this website.  A variety of search methods and comparison methods are provided, as well a a detailed index.  Offline as of 25 May 2013. 

Tao Te Ching English Translations from Terebess Asia Online.  Over 30 translations. 

Lao-tzu's Taoteching
 Translated by Red Pine (Bill Porter).  Includes many brief selected commentaries for each Chapter draw from commentaries in the past 2,000 years.  Provides a verbatim translation and shows the text in Chinese characters.  San Francisco, Mercury House, 1996, Second Edition, 184 pages.  An invaluable resource for commentaries.   

Reading Lao Tzu: A Companion to the Tao Te Ching with a New Translation  By Ha Poong Kim.  Xlibris, 2003, 198 pages. 

Chapter 56, Line by Line Comparisons of 27 Translations of the Tao Te Ching Compiled by the St. Xenophon Wayist Seminary 

Dao De Jing: A Philosophical Translation  By Roger T. Ames and David T. Hall.  Ballantine, 2003, 256 pages. 

Thematic Index to the 81 Chapters of the Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu: Te-Tao Ching - A New Translation Based on the Recently Discovered Ma-wang-tui Texts (Classics of Ancient China) Translated with and introduction and detailed exposition and commentary by Professor Robert G. Henricks.  New York, Ballantine Books, 1992.  Includes Chinese characters for each chapter.  Bibliography, detailed notes, 282 pages. 

Lieh-Tzu: A Taoist Guide to Practical Living.  Translated by Eva Wong.  Lieh-Tzu was writing around 450 BCE.  Boston, Shambhala, 2001.  Introduction, 246 pages. 

Revealing the Tao Te Ching: In-depth Commentaries on an Ancient Classic.  By Hu Huezhi.  Edited by Jesse Lee Parker.  Seven Star Communications, 2006.  240 pages. 

Cloud Hands Blog   Mike Garofalo writes about Taoism, Gardening, Taijiquan, Walking, Mysticism, Qigong, and the Eight Ways.

Tao Te Ching: A New Translation and Commentary.  By Ellen Chen.  Paragon House, 1998.  Detailed glossary, index, bibliography, notes, 274 pages. 

The Tao and Method: A Reasoned Approach to the Tao Te Ching.  By Michael Lafargue.  New York, SUNY Press, 1994.  640 pages.  Detailed index, bibliography, notes, and tables.  An essential research tool. 

The Whole Heart of Tao: The Complete Teachings From the Oral Tradition of Lao Tzu.
By John Bright-Fey.  Crane Hill Publishers, 2006.  376 pages.


Commentary on Chapter 56


"The truly wise understand the Tao, so they know that actions speak louder than words. Rather than to talk endlessly about what they should do or how they should be, they put their time and effort into the actual doing and being.
On the other hand, those who prattle on and on only demonstrate that they know little about the Tao. They spend so much time talking about what they think they know that they end up not putting any of it into actual practice. Without real-life applications, the Tao means nothing.
Tao cultivators close openings and doors - the passages that lead to, or allow in, the many temptations and distractions of the material world. They realize that the sensory thrills of such distractions are short-lived and ultimately illusory, so they prefer to stick to the real and practical.
When interacting with others, they are gentle and compassionate, because caustic and abrasive words can form a sharp edge that hurts people. Their gentle approach unravels the complexities of personal interactions, so they can enjoy a simple, direct connection with fellow human beings that is mutually enriching.
They are also humble and full of self-effacing humor, because those who like to show off their mental brilliance end up alienating people with the blinding glare of their arrogance.
True Tao cultivators do not try to set themselves apart from the rest of humanity. They do not go into hermitage far away from civilization. Instead, they are fully immersed in the dust of the material world where they can really put their spiritual cultivation to the test.
All of the above are aspects of what we call "Mystic Oneness." It is a crucial element in any spiritual path.
Those who achieve true understanding of Mystic Oneness (whether they call it by that name or not) are the ones who can be fully involved with life in the material world... and yet transcend beyond it. One cannot influence them by getting close to them or treating them in a cold and distant manner. They are unmoved by the promise of benefits or threats of injury. It is equally useless to flatter them, feed their ego, or attempt to pummel them into submission by degrading or condemning them.
Such people are truly exceptional, and that is why they will invariably become honored by the entire world."
-   Comments by Derek Lin, Chapter 56


"The study of nature does not create men who are fond of boasting and clamoring or who show off the education that impresses the many, but rather men who are strong and self-sufficient, and who take pride in their own personal qualities not in those that depend on external circumstances."
Epicurus, #45, Vatican Sayings  













Laozi, Dao De Jing


Gushen Grove Notebooks for the Tao Te Ching

Research by
Michael P. Garofalo

Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Center, Gushen Grove Notebooks, Red Bluff, California

This webpage was last modified or updated on October 23, 2013.  
This webpage was first distributed online on July 14, 2012.


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Ripening Peaches: Daoist Studies and Practices

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One Old Druid's Final Journey: Notebooks of the Librarian of Gushen Grove

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Index to Cloud Hands and Valley Spirit Websites


Gushen Grove Notebooks for the Tao Te Ching 



Index to Translators of the Tao Te Ching

Thematic Index 1-81  

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