May 29th, 2010

Chapter 15

In ancient times the best man of Tao was refined and deeply enlightened.
His depth can hardly be measured.
Because his depth can hardly be measured,
I will try to show a picture of him:
Prudent, as if he were wading in a cold stream in the winter;
Calm, as if he did not want to disturb his neighbors;
Respectful, as if he were a guest;
Fluid. as if he were ice melting;
Solid, as if he were an uncarved block;
Vacant, as if he were a valley;
Lacking clear discrimination, as if he were impure.
Who is able tp gradually reach purity from impurity through quiescence?
Who is able to grow lively from motion through motionlessness?
One who abides in Tao never desires to reach an extreme.
Because he never desires to reach an extreme.
He can remain in the old, yet become the new.

           Chang Chung-yuan, 1975


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.