Home Discussion Forum What's your thoughts of this quote by Lao Tzu?

What's your thoughts of this quote by Lao Tzu?

“The bright path seems dim, the forward path seems backwards”


  1. I don’t agree with it, but I would change it for this one:
    “”The bright path FEELS dim, the forward path FEELS backwards”
    I think of it as a description of the problem of reason versus feelings. The feelings say one thing, and your reason another one. This is because your reason didn’t have enough time to convince your feelings.

  2. In pursuit of distant goals, perception is often clouded; consistent adherence to principles and dedication to task is required for success.

  3. Often life is paradoxical. Lao Tzu expresses this many times in the Tao by saying such things
    as Great Elegance seems awkward. Or Kings describing themselves as worthless.
    Dylan said it as the “Loser now will be later to win” and I believe the Bible says “the first will be last”.
    All in all it implies to look beyond the apparent and see what is real. Often the right move will at first seem like exactly the wrong thing.

  4. It sounds more like a paradoxical Zen koan than a Taoist saying. Are you sue Lao Tzu said this?
    Anyway be that as it may I think the point is That the eyes of wisdom see things one way and the eyes of the foolish see them another. So wisdom sees one bright path towards happiness through avoiding striving for material things, through avoiding boosting ones ego, through what Taoists call doing by not doing (wu wei). To the foolish the path to happiness is by striving and struggling and being passionate so the foolish are never happy and whenever they glimpse the bright path or hear of the way forward they do not see it clearly or realise its true direction because their eyes are dimmed by passionate desires.

  5. it is absolutely true and obvious i can’t believe some doubted he said this, every line in his book has much the same meaning

  6. Your quote is from the 41st chapter of the Tao te Ching. There are other dualities included there that seem superficially to be paradoxical. My favorite is ‘the greatest wisdom seems childish’. If you have the book handy, read the beginning of the 41st chapter in light of the replies you have received here. The oldest wisdom is new every day. As for my thoughts on the quote, I think Lao Tzu prefaced those words in the preceding chapter when he wrote:
    Return is the movement of the Tao.
    Yielding is the way of the Tao.
    When we allow out preferences and desires to dictate our perspective then we will be confronted with contradictions everywhere we look. Then we can continue to laugh, or pause to wonder, or begin to embody the great mystery.


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