The Invisible Unity – Dao De Jing Chapter 56

Chapter 56 follows the principles of equality. We asked Master Yuan Xiu Gang about the deeper meaning:

Chapter 56

知者不言 言者不知

塞其兑 閉其門 挫其銳 解其紛 和其光 同其塵 是謂玄同

故不可得而親 不可得而疏 不可得而利 不可得而害 不可得而貴 不可得而賤 故為天下貴

The one who knows 1 does not speak (it) 2, one that speaks (it) does not know.

Block the channels, close the door 3, blunt the sharpness 4, resolve the confusions, soften the brightness 5, be together with the dust 6, (it) is called the invisible unity 7.

Hence cannot take (one) 8 to be acquainted, cannot take (one) to be distant, cannot take (one) to be profit, cannot take (one) to be harm, cannot take (one) to be noble, cannot take (one) to be lowly. Therefore is respected by all 9.


1.知 (Zhī), to know. In ancient Chinese, it can also be read as (Zhì), and in such case is synonyms to 智 (Zhì), wisdom, or wise.

2.In the Chinese text, there is no subject after the verb. The Chinese sentence reads “The knowing does not speak, the speaking does not know.”

3.兌 (Duì), here refers to the openings of senses, eyes, ears, nose, mouth. The sentence means to block the paths through which temptation disturbs one’s mind.

4.銳 (Ruì). Sharpness can refer to the strength of a person, or it can refer to pride or an impetuous attitude. At the same time, sharpness is something that is easy to get damaged, or it also means the part of a person’s attitude that is easy to incur conflicts.

5.光 (Guāng), light, or brightness. Here it refers to strengths or excellence.

6.塵 (Chén), dust, refers to the common or the mundane.

7.玄同 (Xuán Tóng). 同, being the same or being together.

8.All six sentences in the text from here have the same structure. The sentences state that (the person, or the Dao) does not consider someone to be close or distant, beneficial or harmful, noble or lowly. This means that if one reaches the virtue of 玄同, one has no prejudice, or does not differentiate.

9.貴 (Guì), to consider something valuable. 為天下貴, to be valued by (all) under heaven, means to be respected by everyone.

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