It is odd attempting to say or write what I truly think. What I end up saying or writing is a summary hodgepodge of the waves of thought that ebb and flow through my mind. There are too many caveats to mention, too many angles to report, too many possibilities to entertain. Yet, I end up speaking and writing.
The queer nature of this connection between speaking or writing and thinking are at least partly reflected in chapter 56, One who knows does not speak; one who speaks does not know. Perhaps the main difficulty is the ‘mysterious sameness’ referred to later in that chapter. The process of nailing down thoughts, whether spoken or written, requires discerning and highlighting differences. However, focusing on differences misses the ‘big picture’ and leaves us blind, like the Blind Men and an Elephant parable. Chapter 10 also hints at this: When your discernment penetrates the four quarters, are you capable of not knowing anything?
The Tao Te Ching‘s words of warning about names, words, knowing and speaking are just that, warnings. They are not proscription on using language as such. Our troubles begin when we turn that ebb and flow mish-mash into hard and fast belief. Why? We feel an innate need for certainty. Being left hanging in the balance feels dreadful. We want solid cognitive ground on which to stand. Ironically, this attempt to nail down the indistinct and shadowy, leads us to chapter 71’s warning Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty, or more literally, Realizing I don’t’ know is better; not knowing this knowing is disease.