Monday, April 29, 2013

The Difference of a Decade

There is a saying from the Tao Te Ching:

The farther you go, the less you know.

When I first read that line, I thought it meant that all you needed to know was at home. The most important truths are right here; they require no adventure or education to appreciate. Love and inner peace are the best goals of all, so we should stay close to home and value what we have.

But as I spent a decade in multiple states, getting my degree and seeing the world, I encountered new things and, being open-minded, new ideas. I realized how finite I am, how difficult it is for a little creature like me to know everything.

And so the line changed. It meant that travel throws you into chaos and uncertainty, demonstrating that you can't know anything at all; knowledge itself is an illusion. We should seek out new experiences in order to challenge ourselves. Uncertainty is the price of wisdom.

I've never read any critical analysis on this line and in a way, I don't want to. I suspect that Lao Tzu, wily old rascal that he was, would just smile if I asked for clarification.

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