Tao Te Ching

Verse Twenty Eight – 28

Know the strength of a man,
But keep a woman’s care!
Be the stream of the universe!
Being the stream of the universe,
Ever true and unswerving,
Become as a little child once more.

Know the white,
But keep the black!
Be an example to the world!
Being an example to the world,
Ever true and unwavering,
Return to the infinite.

Know honor,
Yet keep humility.
Be the valley of the universe!
Being the valley of the universe,
Ever true and resourceful,
Return to the state of the uncarved block.

When the block is carved, it becomes useful.
When the sage uses it, he becomes the ruler.
Thus, “A great tailor does little cutting.”

In this verse, Lao Tzu encourages the balance and integration of seemingly opposing qualities. He highlights the importance of knowing and maintaining the strengths of both masculine and feminine aspects, as well as the balance between light (white) and darkness (black).

He also emphasizes the need to recognize honor while retaining humility, likening this balance to being the valley of the universe. In this state, one is true and resourceful, ultimately returning to the state of the uncarved block – a metaphor for one’s original, pure nature.

The verse concludes with the idea that when the block is carved, it becomes useful, and when the sage uses it, they become a ruler. The final statement, “A great tailor does little cutting,” implies that a wise person works with the natural order, making minimal alterations while still achieving their goals.



Next Step on Your Path

Become a Member and get links from our YouTube Membership Community
Join Now

Next Verse 29


Join the Tao Study Program

Guided Study Program to dive deep into the Tao Te Ching – Optional Daily email links and reminders to help you consistently flow through the Tao – Join Our YouTube Membership to get access to the lessons as they become available.