Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Excerpts from the Illustrated Tao Te Ching

In ancient times, the leaders were as subtle as sorcerers.

No one knew what they were about to do.

How can we describe them to you?

They were like soldiers about to cross a cold river,
hesitant, watchful and uncertain.

They were cautious like people who know
there is danger.

They were over-polite, like practised guests.

They gave way like ice, melting.

They were simple like uncarved wood

            They were empty like deserted valleys

They were muddy like unreflecting water.

The mud will settle and it is hard to wait for it

But if you can, then you can act.

If you follow the Tao without pretension

                                    you will never burn yourself out

Learn to yield and be soft

If you want to survive

            Learn to bow

And you will stand in your full height

Learn to empty yourself

                                                and be filled by the Tao

            the way a valley empties itself into a river

            Use up all you are

And then you can be made new

            Learn to have nothing

And you will have everything

Sages always act like this

and are Children of the Tao

Never trying to impress, their being shines forth

Never saying ‘this is it,’ people see what the truth is

Never boasting, they leave the space they can be valued in

And never claiming to be who they are, people can see them

And since they never argue, no one argues with them either

So the ancient ones say
                        ‘Bend, and you will rule’

Is this a lie?  You’ll find it is true

Be true to yourself, and all will go well with you

What is going to be diminished

Must first be allowed to inflate

Whatever you want to weaken

Must first be convinced of its strength

What you want to overcome

You must first of all submit to

What you want to take over

You must first of all give to

This is called discerning

You see, what is yielding and weak

Overcomes what is hard and strong

And just as a fish can’t be seen

When he stays down in the deep

don’t show your power to anyone!

                                                                        Every living thing
                                    Comes from the Mother of Us All:

                                    If we can understand the Mother
                                    Then we can understand her children

And if we know ourselves as children

We can see the source is Her

And well, if your body dies

there’s nothing to be frightened about

If you keep your mouth shut

And stay inside

Then you’ll live a long time

If you blurt out

What you think to everyone

Then you won’t last long

Value littleness.  This is wisdom.

To bend like a reed

                                    in the wind

            that is real strength

Use your mind, but stay close to the light

And it will lengthen its glow
                                                right through your life.