Tao Te Ching: Verse 16

I wanted to share today’s verse because it contains some very powerful messages about the nature of life and the universe. I think that everyone, no matter where they’re from or what they believe, would benefit from knowing/remembering these insightful truths.


Verse 16 [original]

Become totally empty.
Let your heart be at peace.
Amidst the rush of worldly comings and goings,
observe how endings become beginnings.

Things flourish, each by each,
only to return to the Source . . .
to what is and what is to be.

To return to the root is to find peace.
To find peace is to fulfill one’s destiny.
To fulfill one’s destiny is to be constant.
To know the constant is called insight.
Not knowing this cycle
leads to eternal disaster.

Knowing the constant gives perspective.
The perspective is impartial.
Impartiality is the highest nobility;
the highest nobility is Divine.

Being Divine, you will be at one with the Tao.
Being at one with the Tao is eternal.
This way is everlasting,
not endangered by physical death. 


Verse 16 [my interpretation]

As life rushes around about you,
let yourself become empty and at peace.

Know that it is the nature of all things to “flourish” for a while,
only to diminish and return to the Source soon after.
This has always happened, will always happen, and is always happening.

Know that your nature is to find peace;
find peace to fulfill your nature.
Be part of the cycle of yin and yang,
constantly changing, to fulfill your destiny.
To be constant means to stay the same,
and to change means to be different.
Paradoxically, the world’s only constant is that it is forever changing.

Being aware of the cyclical nature of life is insight.
Not being aware of it is suffering.

Having gained insight,
the wise man is aware of his divinity,
and his role in the eternal cycle.
Knowing his immortal self,
he is impartial to the world of 10 000 things.


I realise that my interpretations are still vague and cryptic, but as it says in the first verse of the Tao Te Ching, the Tao that can be explained is not the real Tao. Sometimes there is no clearer word for “the Source” or “his immortal self”. We are what we are, and the world is what the world is. Knowing this is peace. Have a great day everyone!

PS: My veganity no longer seems to be causing me ill-health effects. I’ve regained much of the weight I’ve lost and my energy levels are quite fine. Particularly sprightly at the moment, actually, from the amazing circus conditioning class I went to this morning. It’s strange, but despite the loss of sleep, getting up super early and working up a sweat to some great music and with excellent company fills me with energy for most of the day. If anyone wants to try it, I urge them to; it really transforms your mornings into something amazing.


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