Tao-te ching Comments

He who knows others...

     He who knows other men is discerning; he who knows himself is intelligent. He who overcomes others is strong; he who overcomes himself is mighty. He who is satisfied with his lot is rich; he who goes on acting with energy has a (firm) will.

    He who does not fail in the requirements of his position, continues long; he who dies and yet does not perish, has longevity. (Ch. 33, Legge version.)


I don't think that the chapter is about self-knowledge as some commentators believe. It simply defines what is this and that. It has no value for a genuine Taoist practitioner. Maybe it is a part from a larger chapter closing with a conclusion (which is missing here). The last verse seems to refer to a Confucian ideal.

In the words of Moss Roberts: Confucius purpose is to make the (functional) knowledge dependent on the ethical (humanity), the transitory dependent on the constant. In this stanza, by constrast, knowledge is an independent faculty. (From Dao De Jing, translation and commentaries by Moss Roberts, University of California Press, 2004, p.97.)

Commentary by Jhian



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