81 – Words of Truth


Truthful words are not beautiful.
Beautiful words are not sincere.

Good women don’t argue.
Women who argue well aren’t good.

The wise person does not have book knowledge.
The person with book knowledge is not wise.

The sage does not collect things
and so she gives to others.

Since she gives to the people,
she has tremendous abundance.

The way of Tao is sharp
but never harms.

The way of the sage is to serve
and not compete.


  1. Why does this chapter say ‘she’ all the time, where the Tao Te Ching states ‘he’??

  2. Hi Jorisje,

    I am writing this version of the Tao Te Ching in the female voice. No reason. Just wanted to have one for the ladies. Thanks for asking!

  3. My favorite line is: “Since she gives to the people she has tremendous abundance.” 2012 was a year of generosity for me. My goal was to be more generous, with my love, with my presence, with my money. It has brought tremendous abundance into my life to be more aware of generosity from others as well as myself. For 2013 I have decided to focus on TRUST and to become more aware of when I am not “trusting” and when I am “trusting.”

    I’d be curious as to what the Tao says about trust?

    On a side note… after hearing so much about the Tao and then reading some of your translations I made an intention to the universe to get the book and read it when much to my surprise an acquaintance gave me “Change Your thoughts ~ Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao” Wayne Dyer’s translation. So cool!!!
    Julie Geigle recently posted…BlogMy Profile

    • That is great, Julie! His book was what inspired this blog and my challenge to myself to study the Tao over a year’s time! There is a link at the top of my blog that says “List of All Verses” – after each verse, I list the date that it was posted and I tried to post them all just a few days apart so someone could do the same thing and go through the year and study it. I fudged the date on some of them throughout the year, so that they would be timed exact for someone who wanted to do this. In a few weeks, I will have the essays completed so people will be able to read my comments on each chapter as well.

      As for trust, I can tell you what I think. I don’t recall it being brought up in the Tao very much but when I hear the word trust, I immediately am suspect of what is not trusted. If trust is present, there is no need to mention it. It is when it is in question that the word comes about. That is my take on it. I love that you are using an entire year to explore that concept. I think a year working on trust would be very good if you are challenged by it. I am challenged by trusting the Universe at times, but it has definitely been greatly improved by studying this work! I think with people that I am often OVER-trusting. My default is trust and it has gotten me into trouble occasionally, but probably more often than not it has kept me out of trouble if that makes any sense. When you trust people, they tend to want to be trustworthy. That has always been my experience. I know not one single person in my life who enjoys doing awful things to other people. Most people are kind and warm and loving if you can get past their fear. That is my understanding.

      This year, my word is connection. I want to re-ignite those dear relationships in my life that have gotten lost over the years and to make an effort to connect more with new people. Have a great new year, Julie!

  4. I really LOATHE the line (no matter what gender) that says “wo/men who argue well aren’t good.” REALLY? lol Let’s debate. ๐Ÿ˜€
    Arwen recently posted…Trees, Danglies & CountingMy Profile

    • I had trouble with that one too! I am a very good debater! Lol… I think the key word there is argue. If you are arguing with someone, no matter how RIGHT you are, you are using your energy to prove someone else wrong and I think that he is just saying that there is a better way to go about things. I know you were joking, but I seriously had trouble with that line myself. I love your spunky style of arguing with the world. Anger, the stem of arguing, is about making things right. I don’t think that Lao Tzu would say that we need to stop fighting to make things right.

      My sister went down to the Yucatan Peninsula for the solstice, to be where the Mayans celebrated their solstice for centuries. It was a really cool event and one of the things that she came back with was a little taste of the culture in that area. In their culture, they don’t say negative things about each other and about other things. In our reality, that sounds a bit unbelievable, but it just isn’t part of their culture or their language. I thought that was remarkable, and when she said it I felt a bit sad that I have missed that opportunity to live that way. It makes me want to learn more about their culture. There are other ways to live. I think that we all would like a more peaceful existence, wouldn’t we?

  5. I like the line “The way of Tao is sharp but never harms”. That’s such a powerful image for me – as though balanced on a razor’s edge. If you walk it balanced there is no way to get cut because the forces are all equal. But the Tao does seem sharp – very clear about what is a deviation from balance. That of course is the piece I (and I suppose we all) struggle with. I find it easier to consider the path “the Middle Way” as then the edges don’t seem so metaphorically sharp. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And BTW, congratulations on working your way through the study of all 81 teachings! What a beautiful undertaking and I’m sure it’s impacted you in ways you couldn’t have guessed when you began.
    Deborah Weber recently posted…2012 RevealMy Profile

    • Thanks, Deborah. I love the sharp precision of the Tao. Your analogy is interesting. I suppose at times it may feel like a razor’s edge, perhaps cutting away those things that are not part of who we really are.

  6. Amy,
    congratulations on your accomplishment this year. It has been a pleasure reading your posts and beginning to learn some of the teaching of Tao. In some respects it reminds me of getting back to the basics.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    Sue recently posted…Comment on Experimenting with my new toys by JanetMy Profile

    • Thanks, Sue. My goal with writing this blog is to expose people to the Tao Te Ching who may never have seen it before. I am not a scholar, but I love the work of Lao Tzu. I believe that these words have such value for our current lives, so it is a pleasure to bring them out for more discussion!

  7. Amy first and foremost a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS on committing a whole year to study and work with the Tao. WOW. You are such an inspiration. There’s no doubt in 2013 the journey that I need to undertake I will be thinking of you OFTEN to inspire me to not give up.

    These next words are what spoke to me the most…

    “The wise person does not have book knowledge.
    The person with book knowledge is not wise.

    It is the direction I wish to go… to become a wiser person by letting go of what I think I know, that I have acquired through book knowledge. It is so true that the wise person does not have book knowledge.

    Blessings! xo
    Suzanne McRae recently posted…2013 New Year – The Journey InwardMy Profile

    • Thanks, Suzanne! When I read your comment, it made me feel so good because I have always thought of myself as someone who doesn’t follow through. So for you to say that I inspired you in that area is huge for me. Thanks for always being there. I would say that you have the pattern of consistency in you as well because you are always there saying wonderful things to me throughout the entire year. You helped me to achieve my goal.

  8. Hi Amy,
    Congratulations on your past year of study. It took me three years to do what you did. In the beginning there was much to teach, much to learn and much to do. By 81, there was nothing to teach, nothing to learn and nothing to do.
    If you breathe the Tao everyday before the thought of breathing occurs, life is lived…and the ride is amazing.
    Best wishes,
    Scott Ross

  9. I really LOVE how you changed it to she this time. There was even more of a resonance for me, although I’ve really loved everything you’ve done in this project ๐Ÿ™‚
    Michele Bergh recently posted…10 Questions: What Makes You Tick?My Profile

  10. Have you considered using “Good people don’t argue well / People who argue well aren’t good” instead of “women”? Otherwise it seems kind of gender specific, like it’s actually about women when it’s intended to be gender neutral. This is different from he/she which doesn’t have a gender neutral version but women/men/people does have a gender neutral version.

    • LOL.. Thanks for your suggestion, Dobes. I always love it when people bring that up. I actually did ALL of the chapters in the feminine voice. It was just for fun, really, not as some Amazonian Goddess thing but as a way to kinda shake things up and help people to realize that leaving things all male default in the normal world isn’t always fun for us women. It is purely lighthearted and fun. I really appreciate your bringing it up and I do agree with you. It felt wrong in some way to do it like that. I had committed to it in the beginning, so I stuck to it, but it just felt more and more wrong as I went along. When I publish, I think that I will be more fair and make the odd ones female and the even ones male.

  11. Truthful words are not beautiful.
    Beautiful words are not sincere.

    Good women donโ€™t argue.
    Women who argue well arenโ€™t good.

    This is a bit worrisome for me .. I think there is beauty in truth . It could be the how , when and why they are shared ? But I think too that beautiful words can be sincere . Just my thoughts . And as always the intention of the words is most important.

    The second verse is disquieting with the gender identification as commented on previously. ” women who argue aren’t good ” ? Maybe it’s the argue word … Rereading your thread above brings me to another level of understanding of what the intention is. Gendre identification is so interesting . I’ll say too that this goes both ways for me . I don’t like the connotation of oppressional words for men either .
    ” All humanity struggles to find equilibrium as one life form ”

    • Ha. I so agree, Sandy. That bit about women arguing seems to raise some shackles for me as well. We are so used to defending ourselves in that regard. It would have said “Good men don’t argue.” How would it have settled on you then? Totally differently, I suppose.

      My gender thing was an experiment. I am not sure what I expected from the experiment except to make myself and others think about the role that simple words like she and he have in our writing. After this, I am totally cool with settling on he and be done with it. It raised so much attention, in my own mind and in the minds of many of my readers, that it was too distracting for its purpose. Thank you, Sandy. You have helped me decide something that has been unsettled for a long time. I have just now decided to write my Tao Te Ching book in mixed form. ๐Ÿ™‚
      amy recently posted…Tao Tuesdays: Chapter 80My Profile

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