When wise students hear of the Tao

41

When wise students hear of the Tao,
they apply themselves diligently.
When average students hear of the Tao,
sometimes they keep it and sometimes lose it.
When foolish students hear of the Tao,
they laugh at it loudly.
If they did not laugh,
it would not be considered the Tao.

Therefore, it is said:
The bright way seems dim.
The path forward seems backward.
The level way seems rough.

True power seems like a valley.
Pure white seems soiled.
Ample power seems insufficient.
Steadfast power seems unsteady.
Real substance seems mutable.

The great square has no corners.
The great vessel is never completed.
The great note is hard to hear.
The great form has no shape.
The Tao is hidden and nameless.

The Tao alone is good at beginning
and good at completing.

These in the past attained wholeness

39

These in the past attained wholeness:

The heavens attained wholeness and became clear.
The Earth attained wholeness and became firm.
The spirit attained wholeness and became strong.
The valley attained wholeness and became full.
The ten thousand things are whole and growing.
Lords and kings attained wholeness
and put right their countries.

Without clarity, the heavens would split apart.
Without firmness, the Earth would quake.
Without strength, the spirit would dissipate.
Without fullness, the valley would dry up.
Without growth, the ten thousand things would die out.
Without leadership, the lords would fall.

Therefore, humility is the root of nobility.
The low is the base of the high.

This is why the lords and kings call themselves
“the orphaned, widowed, and without worth.”

Striving for praise, one is not praised.

Desire not the rarity of jade,
nor the multitude of stone gravel.

/ / /

I forgot to post this yesterday.

A person of true power

38

A person of true power
does not proclaim his power,
and is therefore powerful.
A person of superficial power
tries to claim his power,
and is therefore not powerful.

A person of true power does nothing,
yet leaves nothing undone.
A person of superficial power is always doing,
yet leaves much to be done.
A kind person takes action,
but has no intentions.
A just person takes action,
but has intentions.
A person of propriety takes action,
but others do not respond,
so he rolls up his sleeves
and tries to coerce them.

When the Tao is lost,
there is power.
When power is lost,
there is kindness.
When kindness is lost,
there is justice.
When justice is lost,
there is propriety.

Propriety is the veneer
of faith and loyalty,
and the beginning of disorder.
Knowledge of the future
is just a flower of the Tao,
and the beginning of foolishness.

Therefore, the master dwells in wholeness,
and not on the surface,
dwells on the fruit,
and not the flower.

Reject the one and accept the other.

The Tao abides in not-doing

37

The Tao abides in not-doing,
yet nothing is left undone.
If lords and kings would abide by this,
the ten thousand things would transform by themselves.

If they still desire to act,
I will restrain them using the uncarved block.
Using the uncarved block,
there is no desire.
Without desire, there is tranquility,
and the whole world settles itself.

When you want to contract something

36

When you want to contract something,
you must first let it expand.
When you want to weaken something,
you must first strengthen it.
When you want to tear something down,
you must first raise it up.
When you want to take something,
you must first give.
This is called the subtle light.

The soft and weak
overcome the hard and strong.
Fish cannot live out of water.
The nation’s sharp weapons
should not be displayed.

Hold on to the great image

35

Hold on to the great image
and the world will come to you.
They will come and suffer no harm.

Resting in safety and peace,
music and good food – for these
passing travelers will stop.

Therefore, when we speak of Tao:
“It is bland. It is without flavor.”

When you look at it,
there is not enough to be seen.
When you listen to it,
there is not enough to be heard.
Yet, when you use it,
it cannot be exhausted.

The Tao is pervasive

34

The Tao is pervasive,
flowing to the left and right.

It accomplishes its tasks, completes its affairs,
but makes no claim on them.
The ten thousand things return to it,
but it does not act as their master.
It is eternally without desire,
so it may be named among the small.
The ten thousand things return to it,
but it does not act as their master,
so it may be named among the great.

The master accomplishes greatness.
Because he does not act great,
he is able to accomplish the great.