知者不言;言者不知。

1. He who knows (the Dao) does not (care to) speak (about it); he who is (ever ready to) speak about it does not know it.

塞其兑閉其門。挫其銳解其紛;和其光,同其塵。是謂玄同。

2. He (who knows it) will keep his mouth shut and close the portals (of his nostrils). He will blunt his sharp points and unravel the complications of things; he will attemper his brightness, and bring himself into agreement with the obscurity (of others). This is called 'the Mysterious Agreement.'

故不可得而親,不可得而疏;不可得而利,不可得而害;不可得而貴,不可得而賤:故為天下貴。

3. (Such an one) cannot be treated familiarly or distantly; he is beyond all consideration of profit or injury; of nobility or meanness:—he is the noblest man under heaven.

Legge's Comments

玄德, 'The Mysterious Excellence.' The chapter gives us a picture of the man of Dao, humble and retiring, oblivious of himself and of other men, the noblest man under heaven.

Par. 1 is found in Zhuangzi (XIII, 20 b), not expressly mentioned, as taken from Laozi, but at the end of a string of sentiments, ascribed to 'the Master,' some of them like the two clauses here, no doubt belonging to him, and the others, probably Zhuangzi's own.

Par. 2 is all found in chapters 4 and 52, excepting the short clause in the conclusion.