January 25th, 2013

  • trevoke


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.

Chapter 15

15.1 Skilled warriors of old were subtle, mysteriously powerful, so deep they were unknowable.
15.2 Just because they are unknowable, I will try to describe them. Their wariness was as that of one crossing a river in winter, their caution was as that of one in fear of all around; their gravity was as that of a guest,
15.3 their relaxation was as that of ice at the melting point. Simple as uncarved wood, open as valleys, they were as inscrutable as murky water.
15.4 Who can, in turbidity, use the gradual clarification of stillness? Who can, long at rest, use the gradual enlivening of movement?
15.5 Those who preserve this Way do not want fullness. Just because of not wanting fullness, it is possible to use to the full and not make anew.

Tao Teh Ching - Cleary Translation