The ancient masters of the way
were mystics with profound, mysterious perceptions.
Their depth was beyond recognition.
Because their depth is beyond recognition,
we can only describe their appearance:
Cautious, as one crossing a winter stream,
attentive, as one aware of neighbors all around,
reserved, as one who is a guest,
yielding, as ice melting,
simple, as uncarved wood,
opaque, as muddy water,
open, as a valley.
Still the muddy water,
and gradually it clears.
Set in motion what has been still,
and gradually it comes to life.
Those who keep the way
do not wish to be full.
Desiring no wish to be full,
they can be emptied and refilled.