Tao Te Ching IV – “The way is empty”

Blunt the sharpness;

Untangle the knots;

Soften the glare;

Let your wheels move only along old ruts.

A rut is an empty way. Nowadays we rather talk of getting stuck in a rut (still). That is odd, because a rut speeds and softens the way. Where do we think we will end up, beating a new way?

The metaphysical questions: Is a rut there? Does a hole exist etc.? Darkly visible, it only seems as if it were there.

And such is the way; it isn’t a thing, so we can’t place or name it. Can we help but try to name or place it? In talking about a way we are talking about a movement (in thought and action), a smooth and speedy movement. Is a way or a movement, a thing? Or a going from one thing to the other? Or an unfolding? And where does a movement begin? Where does the “wake up chi” truly begin?

This way is like the ancestor of the myriad creatures. It is also the way of creation – in its own way a creation ex nihilo.

Can we sensibly imagine a way or movement which is prior to being? The way is “preexistent” – I know not whose son it is. It images the forefather of God. Prior to being? Can we think emptiness, which only seems as if it were there?

Only following the way makes sense: blunting sharpness, untangling knots and softening the glare. Letting your wheels move along old ruts.


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