Tao Te Ching – Chapter 70

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Paraphrase

The words of Lao Tzu are meant to be easy to understand and easy to apply in everyday situations. Unfortunately, most people have a lot of trouble understanding and applying them.

The teachings of Lao Tzu are based on reality, not philosophical speculations. He required himself to be consistent in words and actions, so he lived his life in accordance to the principles of the Tao. Thus, people who did not take the time to learn the principles would not understand the actions based on them, nor the words expressing or explaining them. Such people had no understanding of Lao Tzu at all.

Those who do understand Lao Tzu are relatively few in number. This makes them, and the teachings of Lao Tzu, all the more valuable. The Tao they have is like a piece of priceless jade. They hold it deep within, while appearing quite ordinary. This difference between essence and appearance — is what makes them all the more extraordinary.

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Translation Notes

One popular translation of the Tao Te Ching says the following about Lao Tzu’s teachings:

Your intellect will never grap them,
and if you try to practice them, you’ll fail.

This is badly distorted, because the original actually says most people cannot grasp the teachings, but the few who learn the principles and put them into practice will understand — so, the real meaning is pretty much the opposite of the mistranslation.

Derek Lin

Derek Lin is an award-winning, bestselling author in the Tao genre. He was born in Taiwan and grew up with native fluency in both Chinese and English. His background lets him convey Eastern teachings to Western readers in a way that is clear, simple and authentic.

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