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  • In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu wrote, “To know that you do not know is highest.

  • To not know but think you know is flawed.

  • Only when one recognizes the fault as a fault can one be without fault.

  • The sages are without fault.

  • Because they recognize the fault as a fault.

  • That is why they are without fault.”

  • So if I understood that correctly, wisdom lies in seeing our own faults, or in other

  • words, our own foolishness.

  • But how do we see our own foolishness?

  • As usual, I'm gonna explore this idea through a dialogue.

  • ---

  • The following is a conversation between a monk (M) and his student (S).

  • S: Teacher, how do I become wise?

  • M: Wisdom lies in seeing your own foolishness.

  • When you see your own foolishness as foolishness, you stop being a fool.

  • S: Then how do I see my own foolishness?

  • M: In the same way you see anything: by looking at it.

  • S: Well, it can't be that easy.

  • I feel like I'm not seeing it.

  • Why am I not seeing it?

  • M: Do you know what foolishness looks like?

  • S: What do you mean?

  • M: If you don't know what foolishness looks like, how will you see it?

  • S: If I were to make a guess, I'd say a fool is someone who makes a lot of errors.

  • M: Can you go through life without making a lot of errors?

  • S: Probably not.

  • M: So that definition is probably not very useful.

  • It's normal to make lots of errors.

  • But if you see your errors as errors, you become less likely to repeat them, and by

  • doing so, you become more knowledgable over time.

  • Do you agree?

  • S: I agree.

  • M: So how about we say this: foolishness is being blind to your own errorsleading you

  • to repeat them and preventing you from becoming more knowledgeable?

  • S: I like that.

  • So you're saying I'm blind to my own errors.

  • That's the source of my foolishness, right?

  • M: Right.

  • S: Why can I not see my errors?

  • M: Try this.

  • Take one of your index fingers and hold it in front of your eyes.

  • Count the lines on your finger.

  • Now, bring it closer to your face and really focus on one of the lines.

  • Do you notice how everything but the finger blurs?

  • Do you notice how everything else becomes unclear?

  • Do you notice how you become less able to see anything but the finger?

  • And if you were in a busy place, things might happen in the periphery of your vision that

  • you do not notice because you are so fixated on your finger.

  • S: Yeah, I see all of that.

  • So what are you trying to say?

  • M: Desire, ambition, and obsession: these things lead to a partial blindness.

  • The more you fixate on your finger, the less attentive you become to everything else.

  • You visually ignore things so you can bring your finger into focus.

  • Everything else becomes distorted with respect to your fixation.

  • Tell me, while looking closely at your finger, can you see the rest of the world clearly?

  • S: Of course not.

  • M: Now drop your finger.

  • What has happened?

  • S: I see the world more clearly as a whole.

  • M: So you see, when desire, ambition, or obsession drop away, your perception opens up.

  • You are able to see the things you were previously blind to.

  • S: So are you saying my own desires will blind me to my errors?

  • M: Yes.

  • For example, if you really want to believe there is no such thing as green apples, you

  • will ignore any evidence that proves otherwise.

  • You will always have an excuse or a justification that allows you to dismiss the evidence.

  • So yes, your own desires will blind you to your errors.

  • But when desire drops away, you are able to see the things you were previously blind to.

  • When desire drops away, it's like seeing a birds-eye view of an entire city.

  • You can see the entire flow of traffic, the different districts, the troubled areas, and

  • so on.

  • You can see the bigger picture.

  • S: But I lose the details, don't I?

  • M: You do.

  • But from this higher point of view, you can properly decide where to re-direct your attention

  • and desire.

  • You can decide where to look more closely.

  • ---

  • In the Tao te Ching, Lao Tzu wrote, “The sages are without fault.

  • Because they recognize the fault as a fault,” and I explored this idea more fully through

  • a dialogue.

  • What prevents us from seeing our own foolishness?

  • I believe it's strong desire, ambition, obsession, or fixation.

  • For example, when we look really closely at our hand, we become more blind to everything

  • else, to the bigger picture.

  • A strong desire, ambition, or fixation leads to a partial blindness.

  • For example, if we really want to believe there is no such thing as oranges, we'll

  • ignore any evidence that proves otherwise.

  • We'll always have an excuse or a justification that allows us to dismiss the evidence.

  • So desire blinds us to our errors.

  • But when desire drops away, our perception opens up, and we're able to see the things

  • we were previously blind to.

  • We get a birds-eye view of our world, and from this view, we can see more clearly where

  • we would like to redirect our focus.

  • As always, this is just my opinion and understanding of Lao Tzu's words, not advice.

  • Feel free to use this information however you like, and if you have a different take

  • on Lao Tzu's words, I'd love to hear

  • your perspective in

  • the comments.

In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu wrote, “To know that you do not know is highest.

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Lao Tzu - See Your Foolishness, Become Wise

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    Summer posted on 2021/10/08
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