Daodejing 41


The person having
most excellence who
hears DAO practices

The person having
average excellence
who hears DAO only
practices on occasion.

The person having
least excellence
who hears DAO
laughs at it.

Yet, if DAO were not
laughable, it would not be DAO.

Thus, the old saying
goes this way:

Brilliant DAO seems opaque.
Progressive DAO seems regressive.
Smooth DAO seems rough.

Magnificent excellence like a valley.
Abundant excellence like emptiness.
Vigorous excellence like idleness.

Simplicity and purity like turbulence.

Infinite whitness like black.
Infinite squareness without corners.

Magnificent minds mature slowly.
Infinite sound like silence.
Infinite image wthout shape.

DAO: concealed and nameless.

Only DAO can help
Achieve fulfillment.

*Translation by LU Wenlong & Keith Wayne Brown, ©2013.


  1. Very good! (I do not practice, though). Contradictions are only apparent, or actually reinforcing subjacent meaning, though seemingly contrary to it. No attribute or description of Dao is possible, language being inadequate. (I am probably wrong on all counts)

    1. I have enjoyed greatly your elucidation of the feminine principle through a study of Tristan and Isolde. I am not sure that any can practice Dao… but being aware of this, we let-go our doing and allow Dao to do. Yin and Yang flow, as you say, reinforcing subjacent meaning. I would go even farther: we are both probably wrong on all counts. Yet our awareness of that is the provocation to never stop philosophizing. 🙂

      1. It has been said, ‘to philosophize is not to live, and to live is not to philosophize’. Yet, man is a thinker by nature, and right thinking is not possible without right philosophizing. In order to get rid of philosophy (and of the tyranny of mind) one must go to the limits of both, philosophy and mind. A sage of our times, Francis Lucille, has said:”Certainty cannot exist as a concept, only as an experience of Truth, which resides beyond the mind”.

  2. Yes, I think that when philosophizing is taken up as a way of life, we are moving toward a transcendence where the kind of philosophy that does not live but merely speculates becomes unnecessary and is seen for the over dependent thinking that it is.

    Lucille appears to be intimating what Karl Jaspers calls our “possible Existenz” which singularly experiences Transcendence beyond everyday consciousness.

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