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Freedom Founts

Source Materials About Freedom


1. My words are very easy to know, and very easy to practise; but there is no one in the world who is able to know and able to practise them.


2. There is an originating and all-comprehending (principle) in my words, and an authoritative law for the things (which I enforce). It is because they do not know these, that men do not know me.


3. They who know me are few, and I am on that account (the more) to be prized. It is thus that the sage wears (a poor garb of) hair cloth, while he carries his (signet of) jade in his bosom.

Legge's Comments

知難, 'The Difficulty of being (rightly) Known.' The Dào comprehends and rules all Lǎozǐ's teaching, as members of a clan were all in the loins of their first father (), and continue to look up to him; and the people of a state are all under the direction of their ruler; yet the philosopher had to complain of not being known. Lǎozǐ's principle and rule or ruler was the Dào. His utterance here is very important. Compare the words of Confucius in the Analects, XIV, ch. 37, et al.

Par. 2 is twice quoted by Huáinán, though his text is not quite the same in both cases.