Years ago, I began to notice that I was incapable of truly being in the moment when I was speaking — or even while thinking! When I’m speaking, I’m not reporting from an immediate state of knowing. Rather, I am passing on what I’ve already thought through a bit. Speech references past experience, if even only a second ago — not now. ‘Now’ is all I can truly know; the rest is only partial views and after-thoughts arising from previous ‘nows’ and tainted with my own partiality. On the other hand…
I speak and think, to know what I know
I speak to understand what I know. How does this comport with chapter 56’s, One who knows does not speak; One who speaks does not know? To paraphrase chapter 2, Knowing and speaking produce, complement, offset, harmonize, and follow each other. The knowing is that dimly visible essence we feel yet can’t nail down in words. Conversely, speaking loses the deepest knowing just as saying “Oh look what a beautiful sunset!” loses that magical ‘now’ moment.
That said, we need to speak, think, or write in order to understand what we know. By understand, I mean almost literally to ‘stand under’ in order to look up and observe what we feel we know. Certainly, much of the knowing is drowned out by the speaking, thinking, or writing, yet by giving our knowing a tangible side, we can mentally work with it. Like a carpenter sawing lumber and nailing it together, thinking what we know allows us to nail something together. Fortunately, we can safely maintain sanity and balance if we do as chapter 71 advises, To know yet to think that one does not know is best. Otherwise, Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty.