Chapter 56’s, One who speaks does not know has intrigued me for a long time. I came across this D.C. Lao translation in Vietnam in the early 60’s. I’ve referred to it often over the decades in various ways, and it launches the overview of CenterTao.org. (See What are the roots of thought?, p.602.)
My insight into this deepened recently when I realized that we only really understand what we already intuitively know. Thought leapfrogs reality, and so it can’t intuitively grasp subtler aspects. Only years of life experience can, and even that intuitive knowing is often beyond thought’s horizon — subliminal. Essentially, this suggests that we can only find genuine answers to life’s puzzles by looking within. Chapter 47 says as much, Without going out the door, we can know all under heaven, Without looking out the window, we can see nature’s way.
Our fervent biases and preferences drown out intuitive knowing. Emotions — needs and fears — are the power broker behind our thoughts. Accordingly, only in moments of deep emotional equanimity are we balanced and impartial. Only then are we able to know what we know without biases skewing our understanding.
I imagine the suggestion that we only understand what we already know sounds peculiar. Indeed, it took me a few years to swallow this truth. This fact also implies that we can only truly learn from others what we already intuitively know. That means much of learning is actually a ‘human see—human do’ form of mimicry awaiting the arrival of intuitive knowing later in life. This ‘older and wiser’ fact of life sheds light on chapter 65’s Of old those who excelled in the pursuit of the way did not use it to enlighten the people but to hoodwink them. (See, Those Who Speak Do Not Know. So, Why Speak?, p.1; I understand, but do I know?, p.70; Learning What You Know, p.112, and You Know, p.203.)