September 28th, 2009

Chapter fifteen: People of Power

Once upon a time
people who knew the Way
were subtle, spiritual, mysterious, penetrating,
unfathomable.

Since they're inexplicable
I can only say what they seemed like:
Cautious, oh yes, as if walking through a winter river.
Alert, as if afraid of the neighbors.
Polite and quiet, like houseguests,
Elusive, like melting ice.
Blank, like uncut wood.
Empty, like valleys.
Mysterious, oh yes, they were like troubled water.

Who can by stillness, little by little
make what is troubled grow clear?
Who can by movement, little by little
make what is still grow quick?

To follow the Way
is not to need fulfillment.
Unfulfilled, one may live on
needing no renewal.

Ursula Le Guin. 1998    
goban
  • trevoke

15

The ancient masters were subtle, mysterious, profound, responsive.
The depth of their knowledge is unfathomable.
Because it is unfathomable,
All we can do is describe their appearance.
Watchful, like men crossing a winter stream.
Alert, like men aware of danger.
Courteous, like visiting guests.
Yielding like ice about to melt.
Simple, like uncarved blocks of wood.
Hollow, like caves.
Opaque, like muddy pools.

Who can wait quietly while the mud settles?
Who can remain still until the moment of action?
Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfillment.
Not seeking fulfillment, they are not swayed by desire for change.
-
-
The ancient Masters
were damn impressive.
They were deep. Real deep.
Words can't even begin to describe
how deep they were.
You can only talk
about how they acted.

They were careful,
like a man walking on thin ice.
They were cautious,
like a soldier behind enemy lines.
They were polite,
like a guest at a party.
They moved quickly, like melting ice.
They were as plain as a block of wood.
Their minds were as wide as a valley,
and their hearts as clear
as spring water.

Can you wait
for that kind of openness and clarity
before you try to understand the world?

Can you hold still
until events have unfolded
before you do the right thing?

When you act without expectations,
you can accomplish great things.
-

The first version is from the Fortune files. The second version is the Beatrice Tao.