June 28th, 2010

Chapter 45

When accomplishment reaches its utmost,
It is as if nothing is accomplished.
Its application is never exhausted.
When fullness reaches its utmost,
It is as if it is still vacant.
Its application leads to limitlessness.
Thus, the perfectly straight is as if it were bent.
The most skilled is as if it were stupid.
The greatest ability of debate is as if it were speechless.
.Hence, quiescence surpasses movement,
Coldness surpasses heat,
Tranquility sets the example for the world.

             Translated by Chang Chung-yuan, 1975.


Great accomplishment seems imperfect,
Yet it does not outlive its usefulness.
Great fullness seems empty,
Yet cannot be exhausted.

Great straightness seems twisted.
Great intelligence seems stupid.
Great eloquence seems awkward.

Movement overcomes cold.
Stillness overcomes heat.
Stillness and tranquillity set things in order in the universe.
The greatest achievements
may look like mistakes,
but you will always be able
to build upon them.

The fullest reserves may seem empty,
but you will always be able
to draw upon them.

The straightest line looks crooked.
The most skilled people
come off as clumsy.
The most eloquent people
are usually silent.

When it's cold,
you can move around to stay warm.
When it's hot,
you should keep still and stay cool.
But whatever the weather,
if you stay calm,
the world will sort itself out around you.

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