Give up learning and you will be free
from all your cares.
What is the difference between yes and no?
What is the difference between good and evil?
Must I fear what others fear?
Should I fear desolation
when there is abundance?
Should I fear darkness
when that light is shining everywhere?
In spring, some go to the park and climb the terrace,
but I alone am drifting, not knowing where I am.
Like a newborn babe before it learns to smile,
I am alone, without a place to go.
Most people have too much;
I alone seem to be missing something.
Mine is indeed the mind of an ignoramus
in its unadulterated simplicity.
I am but a guest in this world.
While others rush about to get things done,
I accept what is offered.
I alone seem foolish,
earning little, spending less.
Other people strive for fame;
I avoid the limelight,
preferring to be left alone.
Indeed, I seem like an idiot:
no mind, no worries.
I drift like a wave on the ocean.
I blow as aimless as the wind.
All men settle down in their grooves;
I alone am stubborn and remain outside.
But wherein I am most different from others is
in knowing to take sustenance from the great Mother!
At first glance this verse appears to mean to just sit back and not do anything in your life. To instead just let things happen. However, I think that, much like the 3rd verse, Lao-Tzu is referring again to not forcing things that are not meant to be. Instead to focus on being one with the Universe/God and listening to your calling. I.e. Being instead of doing.
He says “I drift like a wave on the ocean”, meaning that he is not tied to any outcome, but instead is open to what life presents him with. “I blow aimless as the wind”, meaning he takes direction from the Universe/God and is not walking down a chosen path with the blinders on.
This verse also speaks of gratitude. He seems to be referring to being grateful for what you have instead of scurrying around for what you don’t have. “I accept what is offered” meaning that he accepts what the Universe/God presents him with and does not take more than he needs.
The last stanza stands out to me and really resonates with my life. First of all he says that “All men settle down into their groove”. To me this refers to how most people settle into a way of life and they stick with that way, never daring to venture out of their comfort zone and explore life. He continues by saying “I alone am stubborn and remain outside”. This is what resonates with me because I really have never been able to just settle into a groove. I am always looking for what else is in store. I believe that life is meant to be lived and not stuck inside a box to be stuffed away life some forgotten heirloom. The world is meant to be explored and we are all meant for so much more than becoming machines that eke out a living in order to buy more stuff that has no meaning.
Finally in the last sentence he refers to “knowing to take sustenance from the great Mother!”. According to Dictionary.com, sustenance is defined as “means of sustaining life”. If you get your meaning and direction in life from the Universe/God instead of living out of greed and selfishness, you are living at one with the Tao (or the way).