1.1 Existence is beyond the power of words To define: Terms may be used But are none of them absolute.
1.2 In the beginning of heaven and earth there were no words, Words came out of the womb of matter;
1.3 And whether a man dispassionately Sees to the core of life Or passionately Sees the surface,
1.4 The core and the surface Are essentially the same, Words making them seem different Only to express appearance.
1.5 If name be needed, wonder names them both: From wonder into wonder Existence opens.
2.1 People through finding something beautiful Think something else unbeautiful,
2.2 Through finding one man fit Judge another unfit.
2.3 Life and death, though stemming from each other, seem to conflict as stages of change, Difficult and easy as phases of achievement, Long and short as measures of contrast,
2.4 High and low as degrees of relation; But, since the varying to tones gives music to a voice And what is is the was of what shall be,
2.5 The sanest man Sets up no deed, Lays down no law,
2.6 Takes everything that happens as it comes, As something to animate, not to appropriate,
2.7 To earn, not to own, To accept naturally without self-importance: If you never assume importance You never lose it.
3.1 It is better not to make merit a matter of reward Lest people conspire and contend,
3.2 Not to pile up rich belongings Lest they rob,
3.3 Nor to excite by display Lest they covet.
3.4 A sound leader's aim Is to open people's hearts, Fill their stomachs, Calm their wills, Brace their bones
3.5 And so to clarify their thoughts and cleanse their needs That no cunning meddler could touch them:
3.6 Without being forced, without strain or constraint, Good government comes of itself.
4.1 Existence, by nothing bred, Breeds everything
4.2 Parent of the universe,
4.3 It smooths rough edges, Unties hard knots, Tempers the sharp sun, Lays blowing dust,
4.4 Its image in the wellspring never fails.
4.5 But how was it conceived? - this image Of no other sire.
5.1 Nature, immune as to a sacrifice of straw dogs, Faces the decay of its fruits.
5.2 A sound man, immune as to a sacrifice of straw dogs, Faces the passing of human generations.
5.3 The universe, like a bellows, Is always emptying, always full: The more it yields, the more it holds.
5.4 Men come to their wit's end arguing about it And had better meet it at the marrow.
6.1 The breath of life moves through a deathless valley Of mysterious motherhood
6.2 Which conceives and bears the universal seed, The seeming of a world never to end,
6.3 Breath for men to draw from as they will: And the more they take of it, the more remains.
7.1 The universe is deathless,
7.2 Is deathless because, having no finite self, It stays infinite.
7.3 A sound man by not advancing himself Stays the further ahead of himself,
7.4 By not confining himself to himself Sustains himself outside himself:
7.5 By never being an end in himself He endlessly becomes himself.
8.1 Man is at his best, like water, Serves as he goes along: Like water he seeks his own level, The common level of life,
8.2 Loves living close to the earth, Living clear down in his heart, Loves kinship with his neighbours, The pick of words that tell the truth,
8.3 The even tenor of a well-run state, The fair profit of able dealing, The right timing of useful deeds,
8.4 And for blocking no one's way No one blames him.
9.1 Keep stretching a bow You repent of the pull,
9.2 A whetted saw Goes thin and dull,
9.3 Surrounded with treasure Your lie ill at ease,
9.4 Proud beyond measure You come to your knees:
9.5 Do enough, without vying, Be living, not dying.
10.1 Can you hold the door of your tent Wide to the firmament?
10.2 Can you, with the simple stature Of a child, breathing nature, Become, notwithstanding, A man?
10.4 Can you continue befriending With no prejudice, no ban?
10.5 Can you, mating with heaven, Serve as the female part?
10.6 Can your learned head take leaven From the wisdom in your heart?
10.7 If you can bear issue and nourish its growing. If you can guide without claim or strife, If you can stay in the lead of men without their knowing, You are at the core of life.
11.1 Thirty spokes are made one by holes in a hub By vacancies joining them for a wheel's use.
11.2 The use of clay in moulding pitchers Comes from the hollow of its absence;
11.3 Doors, windows, in a house, Are used for their emptiness:
11.4 Thus we are helped by what is not to use what is.
12.1 The five colours can blind, The five tones deafen, The five tastes cloy.
12.2 The race, the hunt, can drive men mad And their booty leave them no peace.
12.3 Therefore a sensible man Prefers the inner to the outer eye: He has his yes, - he has his no.
13.1 Favour and disfavour have been called equal worries, Success and failure have been called equal ailments.
13.2 How can favour and disfavour be called equal worries? Because winning favour burdens a man With the fear of losing it.
13.3 How can success and failure be called equal ailments? Because a man thinks of the personal body as self. When he no longer thinks of the personal body as self Neither failure nor success can ail him.
13.4 One who knows his lot to be the lot of all other men Is a safe man to guide them, One who recognizes all men as members of his own body Is a sound man to guard them.
14.1 What we look for beyond seeing And call the unseen, Listen for beyond hearing, Grasp for beyond reaching and call the
14.2 Merge beyond understanding In a oneness
14.3 Which does not merely rise and give light, Does not merely set and leave darkness, But forever sends forth a succession of living things as mysterious As the unbegotten existence to which they return.
14.4 That is why men have called them empty phenomena, Meaningless images, In a mirage With no face to meet, No back to follow.
14.5 Yet one who is anciently aware of existence Is master of every moment, Feels no break since time beyond time In the way life flows.
15.1 Long ago the land was ruled with a wisdom Too fine, too deep, to be fully understood
15.2 And, since it was beyond men's full understanding, Only some of it has come down to us, as in these sayings: 'Alert as a winter-farer on an icy stream,' 'Wary as a man in an ambush,' 'Considerate as a welcome guest,'
15.3 'Selfless as melting ice,' 'Green as an uncut tree,' 'Open as a valley,' And this one also, 'Roiled as a torrent.'
15.4 Why roiled as a torrent? Because when a man is in turmoil how shall he find peace Save by staying patient till the stream clears? How can a man's life keep its course If he will not let it flow?
15.5 Those who flow as life flows know They need no other force: They feel no wear, they feel no tear, They need no mending, no repair.
16.1 Be utterly humble And you shall hold to the foundation of peace.
16.2 Be at one with all these living things which, having arisen and flourished, Return to the quiet whence they came, Like a healthy growth of vegetation Falling back upon the root.
16.3 Acceptance of this return to the root has been called 'quietism,' Acceptance of quietism has been condemned as 'fatalism.' But fatalism is acceptance of destiny And to accept destiny is to face life with open eyes, Whereas not to accept destiny is to face death blindfold.
16.4 He who is open-eyed is open-minded, He who is open-minded is open-hearted, He who is open-hearted is kingly, He who is kingly is godly, He who is godly is useful, He who is useful is infinite,
16.5 He who is infinite is immune, He who is immune is immortal.
17.1 A leader is best When the people barely know that he exists, Not so good when people obey and acclaim him, Worst when they despise him.
17.2 'Fail to honour people, They fail to honour you;'
17.3 But of a good leader, who talks little, When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, They will all say, 'We did this ourselves.'
18.1 When people lost sight of the way to live Came codes of love and honesty,
18.2 Learning came, charity came, Hypocrisy took charge;
18.3 When differences weakened family ties Came benevolent fathers and dutiful sons;
18.4 And when lands were disrupted and misgoverned Came ministers commended as loyal.
19.1 Rid of formalized wisdom and learning People would be a hundredfold happier,
19.2 Rid of conventionalized duty and honour People would find their families dear,
19.3 Rid of legalized profiteering People would have no thieves to fear.
19.4 These methods of life have failed, all three,
19.5 Here is the way, it seems to me: Set people free, As deep in their hearts they would like to be, From private greeds And wanton needs.
20.1 Leave off fine learning! End the nuisance Of saying yes to this and perhaps to that, Distinctions with how little difference! Categorical this, categorical that, What slightest use are they!
20.2 If one man leads another must follow, How silly that is and how false!
20.3 Yet conventional men lead an easy life With all their feast-days, A constant spring visit to the Tall Tower, While I am a simpleton, a do-nothing, Not big enough yet to raise a hand, Not grown enough to smile, A homeless, worthless waif.
20.4 Men of the world have a surplus of goods, While I am left out, owning nothing. What a booby I must be Not to know my way round, What a fool!
20.5 The average man is so crisp and so confident That I ought to be miserable Going on and on like the sea, Drifting nowhere.
- Next >>