Maybe I took this too literally. Maybe I misunderstood it. Maybe Lao Tzu didn't understand the process of neurological development and it's impact on one's ability to master much of anything. The Diamond Sutra uses some similar language in reference to bodhisattvas, though Buddhism often incorporates the metaphor of the raft required to cross a river. Dharmas are fundamentally empty of meaning like any phenomena, predicated entirely on circumstance and conditions, yet needed to navigate circumstances from which they've arisen.
Such navigation being the product of brain function, cognitive development honed by practice. Upaya-kaushalya. A practice of emptiness, mindfulness of impermanence, conditions - and a practice of learning, studying, processing, utilizing, and incorporating new information, lest the mind fall to dysfunction and atrophy. There may be such paths to advanced cognitive states, but I'm skeptical of the value therein, absent a robust adaptive understanding of the world, and our myriad experiences of it.
I've often touched on thoughts and feelings of pointlessness, on what it really represents and how much sense it makes, in my effort to understand why this question pervades my thinking. These days, I've been feeling that I've finally answered that question in a way that satisfies me, and this answer strikes me as wholly antithetical to this concept I've been holding so close for decades. This ideal of an empty mind, letting go, letting life happen. Like water. Doing nothing, stagnating.
If I read a book, the book is not the point. When I create something, the creation is not the point. If I get an education, the education is not the point. In all things, the point is the same as when I meditate. Failures and difficulties are not setbacks. The point is the practice. At least for the moment.
What matters is that I stop doing nothing. Getting an education is probably the most serious way of going about it. I'm also hoping that in the process, I get a better understanding how life is supposed to work, because I'm still confused.