Some twenty-five hundred years ago, a brief manuscript said to have been written by the Old Master or Lao-tse, appeared in what is now China. The writing was so powerful and so enduring that it has become the second most translated book in the world, surpassed only by the Christian Bible.
Many legends grew up about Lao-tse. The first was that he was a court librarian who became so disillusioned with the state of society that he chose to leave it all behind. As he was passing through the city gates, the gatekeeper prevailed on him to write down the wisdom he had learned. He wrote a short book of verses, describing nature and the way things work.
Myths grew up around the author. He was called immortal, and some sought to follow his teachings in order to become immortal themselves. The great Confucius was said to have recognized his wisdom, but could not understand why it was wise. Some said Lao-tse traveled to India and taught the Buddha. His teachings, called “Tao” or “the Way,” often paralleled the teachings of Jesus, whose early followers were called, not Christians, but believers in “the Way.”
Even in translation the book has almost always been called the Tao Te Ching, taking its name from the poems—“Tao” and “Te”—which begin the two sections of the “Ching” or classic work.
The Tao Te Ching. For nearly two millennia, the sections were arranged in that order — “Tao” before “Te.” Yet the oldest known manuscript, discovered more recently in a tomb, places Te before Tao.
The volume you are holding is called Te Tao because it is derived from the original. Because it is not a translation, I do not call it “Ching” or “classic.” Translation must betray the original, for it pretends to be the same and yet it cannot be. With Chinese ideograms, translation is nearly impossible, as C. Wright Mills observed. As a result, we have over a hundred translations, and not all agree. Te Tao simply seeks to convey what the translations agree on—the essential wisdom of Lao-tse—in a form, manner and language that can be understood by Americans today.
In creating this new version, the author has done little more than tie the shoes of the Old Master. Any greatness has it roots in the original. Beyond that is nothing of value.
Reality. Te Tao seeks to accurately reveal reality and show the way things really work.
To understand the universe and live as we wish, we must first be aware of what is real. To do this, we must recognize the underlying law of “patephysics”—a name coined for the science of uniqueness.
Each event, each person, each element of reality is unique —we can never see reality clearly unless we recognize that no two people, no two moments, no two sequences of events are ever the same. Each exists only once. Because this is true, we cannot be certain how things will come to pass. Circumstances are never identical.
Much conventional knowledge is based on overlooking the uniqueness of events so we can draw conclusions, make rules, and use the resulting rules to guide our actions. Such knowledge is a barrier to our awareness.
We all have opinions based on our education and experience. If we rely on these opinions to define reality rather than being fully aware of things as they occur, we will not know what is real. If our minds are made up, we will be confused by facts. If we try to make reality fit our opinions, we will be frustrated when things turn out in a way we did not expect.
The facts we can discern about reality are few. Our ability to see and hear and taste and smell and touch allows us to perceive only the tiniest parts of reality. Even though our senses work full time with the tiny fragments presented to us, the truth is that—in relation to the vast universe—we have seen and experienced almost nothing at all. If we base our conclusions—our opinions—on our limited perceptions and experience, we are almost certainly going to be mistaken.
Finally, if we try to share our knowledge of the universe with other people, our limited perceptions and our resulting imprecise or inaccurate opinions must be converted into words. We can never be perfectly clear when we use words, for they cannot precisely convey reality. They are poor tools at best. Even when we seek to be perfectly truthful, even when we choose our words carefully, we may be misunderstood, we may mislead.
If we can abandon our opinions about how the world should be or how it should work, we may begin to accept that everything is exactly as it must be at this instant. We may begin to understand that the complex interaction of forces and events extending back billions of years have brought us right here, right now. The way things are is no accident. Given everything, you and I and the world could not be any other way.
Te Tao teaches that we are wise to accept all of reality. We are wise to be ourselves, because we can’t be anyone else. Each of us has power which comes from our unique nature and circumstances. When we try to gain power by acting in a way that doesn’t come naturally, we lose our natural power. Using our unique ability (Te) to move in accordance with the way things work (Tao) gives us the freedom to choose our life.
Our freedom and power are limited only by reality and our awareness of reality.
Change. Our limited perceptions and mistaken opinions may lead us to believe that things stay very much the same from one day to the next. The reality is that change occurs every instant. Things never stay the same.
Even though we may not be able to observe the changes as they occur, in the tiniest fraction of a second, every particle in the universe moves. Our perceptions tell us that most things are standing still. We do not see the vast empty spaces through which tiny particles move. We see, instead, the appearance of solidity.
Much that we believe to be change is an illusion—a trick of the mind. Relying on perceptions, we may believe that the Moon changes dramatically—it is a new moon, a waxing moon, a half moon, a full moon, a waning moon. These appearances reflect an underlying reality: the interplay of Sun, Moon, and Earth. Other real changes to the Moon—the landing of space debris and cosmic rays and men—are invisible to us.
What is true for the Moon is true for every fragment of the universe. At times you may appear very different to other people, though the change is only superficial. People see only the surface, they cannot see the great energy and emptiness that combine to create the illusion of permanence. You are never the same as you were a moment ago, even if you do not notice the difference.
Change cannot be avoided. Even if we sit completely still, the spinning earth will move us—whether we are aware of it or not. The forces which cause the earth to circle the Sun will move us ten million miles in a week. In a year, in a galaxy spinning through the universe, we will not return to our starting point, but will journey vast distances across space. We cannot stop moving, because the universe is moving us.
Yet within this flowing reality, we have some power to move, and every move we make will help determine the future not just for us, but for others. Each step we take carries the entire universe along a road to some new reality, creating the world others will move in, bringing happiness or unhappiness to them and to us.
We and everything in the universe are partners in a great dance—a pattern of change and movement that does not end. Any path we do not choose will never exist.
Dance. Te Tao teaches us to dance by letting the universe—reality—lead us, step-by-step with a gentle persuasion, along the path of least resistance. If we do not struggle, if we act in harmony with the great celestial symphony, we glide through life. If we are immersed in worries, troubles, and thoughts of what might have been or might be, we cannot hear the music of the spheres.
This dance is easy to learn, for we carry in our cells the lessons of billions of years. If we are distracted by the constant chatter around us or by an instruction manual thrust into our hands, we may stumble. We don’t need a book to learn to dance. We are already dancing.
When we follow rules, thinking 1-2-3 as we step, ignoring the signals from the universe, we seem clumsy. We step on our partner’s toes, we bump into other dancers. Soon, we find ourselves cursing the universe, society, other people, fate, life.
If we listen to the music in our own cells, if we stop running on words, we can become free to do exactly as we wish. Our dance will carry us wherever we choose to go, led by the universe.
Your road to happiness, your dance across the dance floor, can’t be exactly like anyone else's. If you try to imitate other dancers, you will become frustrated and tired. The pleasure of the dance will be lost.
Following your own easy path, hearing the music, feeling the strong arms of the universe guide you, you will swirl through crowds of people who appear certain to block your way. In this dance, you find happiness.
We cannot see the future, for it is decided by dancing one step at a time. Yet we can avoid conflict by being aware of all that surrounds us and by the flow of the dancers. Long before danger threatens, we will have moved to another part of the dance floor.
Listen to the music. Go where you want to go. Change direction when you choose. If you seek to experience all the pleasure of the dance, don’t bump into others. Seek pleasure, avoid pain—what could be easier?
Hear the music and dance.
for C. Wright Mills
Can't be done, the wise men say,
Words once changed have lost their way;
Ancient words we might adore,
In tongues long dead, are sure to bore.
Turn them round to tongues diverse,
You will simply make things worse.
Said of Torah, Koran, too,
I Ching, Tao—quite a few
Scholars have now joined in arms,
Sabotaging sans alarms.
Can I translate as a tool?
Better far to be a fool.
Te 1—Tao 38
If you plan to set the pace,
Before you step, you've lost the race;
For once you plan on doing good,
You lose the power, as you should.
The more you try, the less you do,
For what you try—it isn't you.
So drop your efforts and just be.
That's best for you—it sets you free.
In freedom is your greatest power,
It brings the future into flower.
Forget the day and seize the minute,
And you will find the secret in it.
It isn't what you have to do
That is the power given you.
Your power drives the way you feel—
No other power is so real.
Forget about the power you seek;
Accept the power that some call meek.
Te 2—Tao 39
There's only one of you, you see,
Just one of you and one of me.
There's just one earth and just one sun;
A trillion stars, but each is one.
The power in each is far too clear.
Could earth be square and not a sphere?
Could sky be rock or dirt be blue?
Could you be me? Could I be you?
The answer is too obvious:
You must be you, we must be us.
Alone or in a combination,
It takes no ratiocination.
We see exactly how it works:
Sometimes we're smooth, sometimes we're jerks;
But if the jerks can just relax,
Instead of war: humana pax.
We aren't the same—that bird won't fly:
Use your own power—we'll reach the sky.
Te 3—Tao 40
The plant that grows up to the sky
Goes down to penetrate what's dry;
To rise above, it sinks below,
To reach the stars, it must go slow.
For those of us in forests dense—
Who see the trunks and trust to sense—
Who think the leaves are where it is—
What's underneath, we're sure to miss.
The universe grew from a seed.
Some see a flower, some see a weed;
But which of us can see the root?
It holds the treasure we can't loot.
The source of everything that grows
Is not the head and not the nose;
It's not the fingers, nor the toes,
And not the belly when it shows.
But somewhere, nowhere, it begins
And from this place, the whole thing spins.
Te 4—Tao 41
The wise man sees the way and goes;
The average man looks twice and slows;
The foolish creatures glance and grin—
Then join their buddies for a spin.
The road we travel may look real,
Lined by signs with sex appeal.
The empty path across the dunes
Seems like a way that leads to ruins.
The purest things, to busy folks,
Look tarnished—made the brunt of jokes.
The obvious is well concealed;
The false is always first revealed.
The truest light may seem to flicker.
The fastest route we think no quicker.
The wisest path, since it's not straight,
We think will cause the longest wait.
The path that's free lacks name and number;
The road that's clogged won't let us slumber.
Te 5—Tao 42
Bright and dark, strong and weak,
Lost and found, hide and seek—
The way divides the high and low.
Those go the farthest who don't go.
Reality is never dual,
But unity escapes the fool.
The One from which the two began
Seems far beyond the mind of man.
The cluttered noise in which we live
Will give us all it has to give,
If in the dark and light we find
The secret of the whole combined.
The richest gains from poverty.
True wealth depends on charity.
The man of words requires no tongue.
The greatest singer hasn't sung.
So gain is loss and loss is gain.
When life is death, it starts again.
Te 6—Tao 43
The slippery slides through realms of ice;
The water soaks into the rice;
The light shines clearly through the glass;
A laser through thick steel may pass.
What seems so hard cannot resist
The vapor of the morning mist.
From this we see, as clear as day,
To penetrate the easy way.
Our progress on the road that runs
Changes things by micro-tons.
The world can't observe the change
That proves the way to rearrange.
The teacher of elusive arts
Finishes before he starts.
Without a word, he says it all—
He rises high, but seems to fall.
The busy man is bumping heads;
The pencil pusher needs more leads.
Te 7—Tao 44
Pursuing ownership of flowers
Requires passing up those hours
That might be spent in meadows breezy.
Fighting to own will make you queasy.
The hoard that some consider treasure
Is piled up in place of leisure,
And in this sacrifice of life,
The owner captures endless strife.
The giver by the gift is blest;
The lover through his love finds rest;
The fool consuming all he can
Has far less time for grapes and fan.
When we are guided by our light
We clearly see the future's bright.
While those demanding more and more
Have lost themselves, think life's a bore.
Live well by taking what comes easy.
You'll find this path avoids what's sleazy.
Te 8—Tao 45
The real seems false, the true we doubt,
The obvious rule we're quick to flout.
The universe we think is space
And yet it's too full to erase.
The straightest man we think a crook;
The wisest man we think a schnook;
The greatest speech sounds clumsy, though
We miss the truth by thinking so.
When we are cold, just moving works.
To cure heat, avoid all jerks.
Why organize the world so dizzy?
More business would just make us busy.
If we would see beyond façade,
Through clouds and space right up to God,
We must let go of all our views
And let things go the way they choose.
Illusion goes the way of dust.
We always see more than we must.
Te 9—Tao 46
When stress abounds, you've lost the way.
The signals strike you every day.
You want to rest, but you're too tired.
Instead of going, you seem mired.
The folks around you feel the strain.
They plan for war, prepare for pain.
And sure enough, their search succeeds—
They plow through flowers, discover weeds.
If you should find yourself at odds,
Want to get even with the clods,
If you're afraid of what's to come,
Your castle turns into a slum.
The order of the universe
Has brought you here—it's nothing worse
Than had to be, when all's been done,
So smile, enjoy it, have some fun.
It's when at last you drop the ax
Your battle's done, and you'll relax.
Te 10—Tao 47
I sit inside and see it all
I need no window, get no call.
I have some books, but truth be told,
They're there for looks and should be sold.
For studying the bits and pieces
Can't inform us of what pleases.
The whole is far too clear for books,
In fact, it can't be seen by looks.
Nor will a life pursuing deeds
Help us see to our true needs.
We find that once we understand
We have no need to traverse land.
I say this not to prove I'm bright,
For what I've learned, I learned tonight.
Before that time, if I recall,
I don't think I knew much at all.
Yet here in silence and at rest,
I've endless treasure in my chest.
Te 11—Tao 48
Surrender and you'll overcome,
Take more and you'll be missing some.
Give up the things you've fought to hold;
Surrender all that's bought and sold.
What must be done, somehow it will.
What you may empty, God will fill.
Fighting against the universe
Will only gain you something worse.
The work you do to make things fly
Will end in no more than a sigh.
The stones you raise to greater height
Will fall to earth some stormy night.
So do not force—not fast, not slow.
If it won't glide, then just let go.
You lose your struggle? Don't complain,
For you'll progress with far less pain.
The chance you have to win it all
Requires first you let it fall.
Te 12—Tao 49
You say you're right, I can't dispute,
For if I do, I'll get the boot,
And since I'd not be thought a loafer,
When you say drive, I'll be a chauffeur.
The world is right about its views.
You hear reports that fill the news.
Sometimes with guns they make the point
That somehow things are out of joint.
The course I follow is just mine.
Not good or evil, I'm just fine.
I tell the truth to all I meet.
I see no wisdom in deceit.
I take no side in argument,
So I'm not swimming in cement,
And even though I cannot see
Why you are right, I guess it's me.
If others fight, I say “so long”
And whistle a familiar song.
Te 13—Tao 50
The traveler, while he's still alive,
Is living and he doesn't strive.
For death, which others may contain,
Is something that gives him no strain.
Some seek to live—they miss the point.
Their search for life is out of joint.
For death will rule their living act,
They'll work too hard to stay intact.
Some think of life as it flies by,
They fear they'll lose it, start to cry,
While others buy themselves a plot,
A casket, funeral—quite a lot.
The traveler really can't complain.
He's warmed by sun and cooled by rain.
While living, he is never dead.
Once dead, he's left no word unsaid.
So when you leave, don't feel it’s wrong;
And while you stay, be found in song.
Te 14—Tao 51
The secret of the universe
Is not something to fill your purse.
The treasure that we all might seek,
In simple terms, has sprung a leak.
Like water, everything begins
From elements: the fishes' fins,
The beauty queen, the princess, too,
The one called me, the one called you.
Elements grew from something less,
And eons later, all's a mess
Of things with roots so long forgotten,
The crowd believes the world is rotten.
Yet in disorder there's a way
That makes it work from day to day.
Like billiard balls we bounce around
The table with a clicking sound.
The secret of the game — it dangles:
The winning player knows the angles.
Te 15—Tao 52
To know what lies beneath what seems,
To see the real instead of dreams,
Detect the source of every heart,
And follow all back to the start.
To know what senses always miss
Discard perceptions, trust what is.
Abandon words and actions, too,
You'll find your troubles soon are few.
Your eyes can't see what's far too small.
Your intuition knows it all.
Your strength relies on gentleness.
These are the sources of success.
You see the parent in the child,
Know how the tame was once the wild,
Beyond each way are greater orders:
The universe defies all borders.
Look for the source to find the heart,
For seeking that, you will be smart.
Te 16—Tao 53
The Donner Party took a route
Across a mountain, seeking loot.
They had advice from someone learned.
He was no scout, for those they spurned.
Too much from books can make you weak,
For if it's better ways you'd seek,
The easy road is always best
Leave lofty shortcuts to the rest.
The folks on top seem elegant,
For on appearances they've spent.
They teach us all to steal and guard,
To build high walls around a yard.
The feast they eat does no one good.
The bodies of the weak need food.
The rich who travel all uphill
Can never eat enough to fill.
Forget their books and sage advice;
Avoid the crowds on such thin ice.
Te 17—Tao 54
The proper seed, when it's well sown,
Determines how the future's grown,
For what is nourished, it’s the truth,
Feeds both the soul and the tooth.
Once learned the lesson always stays:
The goals we seek create our days.
If we and our true selves come first,
The way we go will not be cursed.
For man or woman, town or earth,
The rule's the same, avoid the dearth
That plagues the life of abnegation,
Reward yourself to find salvation.
Above the world, my lover, friend,
Consider always your own end.
Simply do just as you wish,
The world will quickly learn to fish.
The lesson that you teach is plain:
Consider first how you will gain.
Te 18—Tao 55
While others brag of how they've grown
The traveler is on his own,
Not armored or with muscles bound,
He's easy going, weak but sound.
More like an infant than a man
Though all could hurt him, still none can.
He's soft and yet his grip is firm.
He can be easy, yet not squirm.
Our elders struggle to survive,
To gain more strength so they might thrive;
To cut all fat and just eat lean;
To study sex, to be more keen.
The traveler simply travels on.
He never tires, has no con,
With little work he turns up wise,
His secret is, he never lies.
What old folks know, he has forgot.
Still he endures, the old do not.
Te 19—Tao 56
The source of balance is one spot
A traveler seeks — tourists do not.
When leaders stand to make a speech
Their words show truth is out of reach.
If others speak as if to guide,
You'll see him moving to the side
And out the door, where order reigns.
He gives no prizes to big brains.
Although he knows, he rarely speaks.
The sharp, he dulls—that's all he seeks.
His balance is in how he lives:
He sometimes takes and sometimes gives.
The world has views he can't explain.
He's still surprised by summer rain.
He sees no reason he should fight
Or argue—he'll just say goodnight.
He sees no sides, for all's a dance;
He’d be unwise to take a stance.
Te 20—Tao 57
If you would lead, you must be straight.
Stand aside, and you'll be great.
For only in a war, push in.
To interfere is always sin.
The rules we have will make us poor.
Our weapons lead us straight to war.
When we are clever, who will trust?
If we choose treasure, it will rust.
The traveler travels down the road,
Never burdened by a load.
He sees no need for endless talk,
He's happy just to take a walk.
To change the world, he has a plan:
He'll shut his mouth, go get a tan.
No more than this will he require:
He'll be himself and thus inspire.
Each one will change just as they please;
They have within themselves the keys.
Te 21—Tao 58
The power of the sword, you'll find,
Is to destroy, it cannot bind.
It simply kills, it cannot free.
The more it's used, the less you'll see.
On fortune's wheel, you'll be amazed;
With ups and downs, we all are dazed.
We think we're headed toward the good,
The wheel rolls on, just as it should.
In war, we find ourselves engaged.
We're tricked, misled, sometimes enraged.
The traveler makes himself a sword:
You see him shine, you're never bored.
He's sharp and straight and bright and strong,
And yet with that he does no wrong.
He can't impress or cut or hurt—
You needn't fear him when he's curt.
For what he does, when all is done,
Is parry, thrust, and have some fun.
Te 22—Tao 59
Relax and rest, the world will spin.
It needs no help, the shape it's in.
If for a day you hold it up,
At night you'll be too weak to sup.
The power you have is quite complete.
You'll feel it best when off your feet,
And in a hammock or a bed,
You needn't struggle—enough said.
While you are dreaming in the day,
You'll see there is a better way.
And what you feel, just floating there,
Will keep you walking on the air.
Your source of power lies in rest;
Once you know this, you'll be the best.
Not busy like the maddened crowd;
Not dressed up in a costly shroud.
You'll stroll and nap and dream again;
And never have to scheme again.
Te 23—Tao 60
If you would rule the world entire,
First learn to cook small fish with fire.
You cannot stir them with a spoon,
They'll fall apart. Behold the moon:
It doesn't stir the world below
But rather shifts the oceans slow.
The tide rolls in and then rolls out
In harmony with all about.
If you can rule as nature does,
We won't blame you, we'll say “it's us.”
No secret forces will do harm,
Some folks will say they've bought the farm.
If evil cannot harm the folks,
The traveler will get by on jokes,
For each of us is a small fish,
And all should swim just as they wish.
In schools where we daily nourish,
A gentle ruler lets us flourish.
Te 24—Tao 61
The greatest never demands bows.
It's not the way; the great allows
The less to join and gain protection
By traveling in the right direction.
The lesser gains by closing ranks,
For when you're weak, you should give thanks
If one who's great has open arms,
Embracing all who seek such charms.
In this slow dance, the great can't lead
Unless a follower has need,
For then to service, greatness bows,
To do whatever love allows.
When great ones push, the weak withdraw;
The weak, in power, will break the law.
Those who submit to gain the power
Of greatness will, by joining, flower.
The harmony for great and small,
Is take your place, and have a ball.
Te 25—Tao 62
The road is there for good or bad.
It leads to treasure, so be glad.
It's straight and fast and never misses.
It takes no work, yet ends with kisses.
The good believe the road is great.
The evil take it as their fate.
We cannot judge by how they travel.
We cannot good from bad unravel.
So on the road in Rolls-Royce,
Mercedes-Benz might be your choice,
Or simply strolling on the road
May lead you to a pot of gold.
Without hard work, it's effortless,
Without long-seeking, free of mess,
When errors come, it wipes them out,
While words and manners hide a lout.
Forget your manners and your word,
Just hit the road—don't be absurd.
Te 26—Tao 63
Before a problem first appears,
The traveler acts to calm all fears.
The greatest problem, at the start,
If you act quickly, falls apart.
When things are easy, you can act
Without much effort—that's a fact.
While those who choose to turn away,
Will struggle on day after day.
When stress and anger cause you pain,
Remember early actions gain;
While acting once the matter's serious
Can make you feel quite delirious.
The calm and easy-going one
Acts early to assure his fun.
While others wait and hope and pray,
He started acting yesterday.
The lesson's clear, begin before
The problem's kicking down your door.
Te 27—Tao 64
When folks are talking, they just bubble,
But once they boil, they'll make trouble.
Before they blow, a breeze can stop them;
And like a bubble, points can pop them.
To order all before it's needed,
Remove the weeds before you've seeded.
Great thistles start as tiny sprouts,
And plots and schemes begin with shouts.
The journey all around the Earth
Does not begin from Minsk or Perth,
It starts from where you sit or stand,
And as you step, the future's planned.
The way to keep success assured,
Is take each step with eyes unblurred.
Avoid what's hard, and find what's lost,
You'll be content, not tempest-tossed.
While things are still, you'll find it easy.
Once they take off, you may get queasy.
Te 28—Tao 65
What folks believe, you can't dismiss
And yet to lead, you must resist.
To all opinion be a stranger.
Those who persuade will cause much danger.
What works requires us to avoid
Opinions, or the world's annoyed,
And up in arms believers rise
Killing over hows and whys.
Forget discussing your great theory.
If others talk, you must be leery.
When you don't know, you choose the forks
That take you on the way that works.
Conclusions that some may have drawn,
To judgments and debates are spawn.
The power that links us arm-in-arm
Is silent; words just lead to harm.
And harm is far from harmony.
Forget opinions and let be.
Te 29—Tao 66
What you receive depends on where
You've placed yourself, so do take care.
If you submit to serve inferiors,
You'll find your lips on their posteriors.
You see the ocean fill itself
With droplets from a higher shelf,
For mountains cannot hold the rain,
So to the oceans it must drain.
The oceans fill with tons of mud,
Cow manure and other crud,
But if you'll notice what transpires,
The purest water soon expires.
Caught on the breeze, drawn up by sun,
The cycle is again begun;
And all the ocean holds is junk
That's sunken in a treasure trunk.
The leader rises since he must,
While others scramble in the dust.
Te 30—Tao 67
What others say I don't embrace;
I travel at a different pace,
And what I choose to hold and guard,
The world more often would discard.
Most search for love from someone great.
They must have wealth as their estate.
They think they have to gain a title.
They won't perform without recital.
I’ve no position, so prefer
To choose whatever may occur.
I'm not obsessed by my ambition,
A consequence of erudition.
Pursuing wealth, I know the trick
That has all dancing on a stick.
I am content with what I have,
To others I can't be a slave.
At last, for love, I want what's free.
Who sets a price cannot love me.
Te 31—Tao 68
The great in war do not need force.
Great fighters, anger would make worse.
The conquering king won't ever squabble.
Commanders don't contend with rabble.
To reach our goal requires no tool,
No struggle to defeat a fool.
The road we follow to success
Begins the moment we confess.
We need no claim to be ourselves.
To reach great heights, a fool delves,
For nature gives us all the powers
We need to win what must be ours.
In this we find why force must lack,
Why endless struggle is off-track;
For on the way we best pursue,
We find all we're entitled to.
We need no more than we are given.
Once we confess, we are forgiven.
Te 32—Tao 69
You may need war to prove your love,
To show you're guided from above,
To make it clear you dislike waste,
As evidence you're not misplaced.
So make your goal to injure none,
For if well-matched, you've surely won.
If you'd like peace, withdraw war's tools.
Armored columns attract fools.
If not attacked, to fight's unwise.
Let someone start, you can reprise.
If going forward seems precarious,
Pull back, avoid the fate of Darius.
Throughout our lives, we will see battle.
We'll stand our ground, we aren't like cattle.
To prove our love, we must protect,
But war's ambitions we reject.
To injure none and aid what's best,
We welcome war, but aren't impressed.
Te 33—Tao 70
The words I write, some sense are true,
But those who follow me are few.
It isn't that my path is hard,
But well-trod ways most won't discard.
The easy way lies all around,
It's effortless and you're not bound,
And yet your mind is so immersed
In fear, you act as if rehearsed.
By habit you are surely trapped.
Deep in a rut, your spirit's sapped,
And so I say, ignore my verse,
Look first for me—you could do worse.
The prophets who in ancient times
Proclaimed the future in their rhymes,
I'm sure you know of quite a few
Who shine much brighter than Tai Shu.
If you're a diamond in the rough,
Cut out the crap, don't be so tough.
Te 34—Tao 71
If you don't know and realize,
You're wiser than those who surmise
They are with knowledge greatly blessed,
Since before long they'll be undressed.
The sanest person can't begin
To understand the state we're in.
The lunatic will mount a box
Proclaiming loudly in his socks.
The traveler has seen too much
To put in words, for they're a crutch
To help us hobble when we'd run.
Put down your books, follow the sun.
We clothe ourselves in terms nefarious,
Yet naked we'd be more gregarious.
Until you seek the way that works,
You're doomed to live with verbal jerks.
To lose your mind is truly sane.
It's when you're certain, you've no brain.
Te 35—Tao 72
If you don't care about what's real,
The consequences you will feel.
It would be wise to change your ways
Before your head is in a daze.
The real result of all your acts
May teach you fear, for facts are facts.
You can't fly high on wings of lead;
Think otherwise and you'll be dead.
To know your place and nature, too,
Does not depend on who knows you;
For love from all the teeming masses
Cannot be gained with backstage passes.
The traveler has no point of view
Since he's still traveling; so are you;
He takes what's real in his glance,
Leaves the ideal for some romance.
Whatever way you choose to feel,
The end will show you what was real.
Te 36—Tao 73
The universe has far to go.
To some it seems to move too slow.
It doesn't spend its time in quarrels,
It has no view of current morals.
It takes no side in a dispute,
And how it acts is not astute.
It answers us without a word.
To plan its future is absurd.
The net of heaven catches all,
Within its rules we surely fall:
It won't support us if we're wrong.
Depart its way, you won't last long.
The heavenly order you must face
Includes you in its firm embrace.
While force applies, just as it must,
Still peace survives—in both we trust.
You may not see the way it works,
But when you do, you'll earn the perks.
Te 37—Tao 74
The hangman's rope is so uncouth.
Our judgment must be based on truth;
And if we kill, when life is bleak,
The poor will kill. We're up a creek.
To do this job, you deal in force,
For most of us this makes things worse,
So if you cannot hold the rope,
To take this job, you'd be a dope.
In punishing, we are remiss.
Unless they care, they'll just dismiss
The consequences flesh is heir to.
So warn them well, but do beware, too.
The wise to joy trust all their power.
The cure for evil is the flower
Of living in a peaceful place
Where every pleasure we embrace.
So if you'd execute with reason,
Bring us joy in every season.
Te 38—Tao 75
When those who lead us in the race
Reward our work at snail's pace
So they may gather what we've made,
Is it so hard to see who's paid?
At times when people seem too needy,
You'll find their rulers far too greedy.
Some see themselves as doing well
By making others live in hell.
They tax the ones who do the labor.
They guard themselves from every neighbor.
They rule with arms and fists of steel.
They think that others cannot feel.
The world they build with others' sweat,
Is built on force, so don't forget:
The life you lose is lost in battle
While you're immersed in ceaseless prattle.
When others tax with many rules,
Depart from them, for they are fools.
Te 39—Tao 76
At birth we yield, we're soft and tender,
To every force we must surrender.
When we are hard and tough and cold,
We've surely grown very old.
A part of us must always grow,
For once we stiffen, we must slow.
It is the growth that keeps us living,
Become too firm, you can't be giving.
What works for plants, we should apply:
Unless we dance, we'll surely die.
Beneath us lies a trunk of steel
While dancing leaves, the wind may feel.
If we would yield to every breeze,
We'd blow away each time we sneeze;
But firmly placed, and bending low,
Held by our roots, we let it blow.
Our growth survives the worst of wind
While those unchanged have surely sinned.
Te 40—Tao 77
The universe lowers all that's high,
And like a bird that's in the sky,
To earth all flyers must return,
This is a lesson we can learn.
When things are tight, they will grow loose;
The rope untied was once a noose.
The sharp grows dull, the wide grows thin;
The winners lose, the losers win.
This is the way we all must trek,
Since we cannot just void the check.
If we would work for greater order,
We should not count on bricks and mortar.
The traveler knows his bags are small.
He has few clothes, and gives to all.
To all the universe, he grants
The wealth he carries in used pants.
His spirit goes to those who're light
And then he travels out of sight.
Te 41—Tao 78
It can dissolve the hardest rock,
Disintegrate the strongest block,
Pull down the trees by rushing fast,
And in a freeze, destroy the past.
This knowledge should disturb our slumber:
The source of power is the number
Of moving atoms arm-in-arm,
Enough to inundate a farm.
Some say the king should lead the way,
Rising to direct the fray,
Rolling forward on great waves,
Buoyed up by his willing slaves.
The strongest king can't end the flow,
If he would lead, he has to know
That power grows from drops of rain;
Those who stand fast, go down the drain.
Like water flowing in the sea,
Embrace the wind, avoid the lee.
Te 42—Tao 79
If we may chance to disagree
You'll find I never claim a fee.
If I have said I'll fix a flaw,
It won't depend upon the law.
The views I hold of what is best,
You'll find are not my final test.
I have no plan to win the fight,
I'm never certain who is right.
The settlements we think will mend
Turn out to be another bend;
A simple pause along a route
That keeps us in a great dispute.
Because the world would argue long
I often walk away in song.
A traveler cannot look for war
If he intends to win much more.
While battles may just make things worse,
Peace treaties, too, can be a curse.
Te 43—Tao 80
The land we own is not so big—
To claim the earth best suits a pig.
Our countrymen are truly few—
We'd rather have no one to sue.
Our armaments we don't display.
When others fight, we go away.
We need no plane or boat or car,
For we don't travel very far.
The books we see are of no use.
We'd rather have a chocolate mousse,
A quiet home upon a hill,
With pleasant manners—that's our will.
The world at large is on TV,
So we can hear and we can see;
But do we want to leave our bubble
When we can just avoid the trouble?
To those who come to share our life
We offer shelter from all strife.
Te 44—Tao 81
No trumpeter proclaims he's here,
And why he's come is never clear.
You could debate ad infinitum;
Just look around if you would sight him.
He has no trailer full of stuff,
And yet he always has enough,
For from his wealth he's always giving.
Just helping others is a living.
He is a guide who won't command.
He simply treks across the land.
If any follow, he will lead,
And those who won't, he doesn't need.
He doesn't know enough to speak.
And fancy words he doesn't seek.
He has no hoard he must protect.
He doesn't represent a sect.
The traveler is the richest man
The world has seen, that's why he's tan.
The road ahead goes everywhere,
But look for it and it's not there.
We have no map before we go,
And we can't stop the endless flow.
Although we pick, it's not our choice.
For others choose, creating noise,
And so a highway never stays,
But intersects ten billion ways.
The universal way we seek
Starts where we are, just take a peak.
You'll see how what is real imposes
And teaches us with thorns and roses.
Discard your books, if you would know,
For then you'll see you have to go
Along a path that starts right here.
Just where it leads is never clear.
The past is gone, that play's not showing.
The future waits, you must be going.
When we decide that something's bad,
To some degree we're being had,
For every bad requires good.
We've picked a road that's paved with should.
The universe is all one thing;
No ringmaster, no center ring.
One point of view ignores the crowd;
Amid the cheering, it's not loud.
Divide and conquer may suit war;
Reality is so much more.
If we can hold off all division,
Our mind is certain of revision.
The traveler moves although he's still.
He doesn't split when others will.
He knows how change must carry on;
This stream you cannot tarry on.
Divide to lose; two eyes, you're blind;
For what is real must be combined.
When you are clear—your mind uncluttered,
You see true wealth with eyes unshuttered.
The needs that others may profess—
Superfluous to your success.
So many folks will buy to gain
The life they have goes down the drain.
They hoard the things that others need,
Lay waste the world pursuing greed.
When value experts judge what's fair,
Don't let them leave you unaware.
For if these needs you needn't feel
How can such purchases appeal?
Those who would rise on others’ wings
May not discern the truth of things.
Some values do betray their name,
Not all that's great is granted fame.
The way we seek takes a clear mind,
But lacking this, it's hard to find.
The universe holds all there is,
Its emptiness you cannot miss.
Its pattern, so say all the sages,
Decays, destroys, or slowly ages.
The sharpest point in time grows dull.
The greatest void in time grows full.
The fullest thing in time grows void.
From life grows death, why be annoyed?
And yet we are, though death is certain,
Crying for life to the last curtain,
Acting as if we'd never quit,
Striving to stand and do our bit.
To see both sides is a great art:
To cling to life, refuse to part,
To see that we will die indeed,
And still to live and still to lead.
The traveler goes when it is time.
Until that instant, he's sublime.
The rain and sun take no position.
The wind blows on without tradition.
So who you are has no effect,
It's what you do, you should inspect.
The traveler takes a neutral spot.
He listens more, won't talk a lot,
He's found his travels more enlightening
When he shuts up—for noise is frightening.
His quiet spot is not a tower.
He seems to float quite out of power,
And when he lands, he never trips,
While faster folks are doing flips.
The movement of someone who cares
May merely rearrange the chairs;
And hurrying as if in panic
Won't save us all from things titanic.
The traveler takes a slower boat
In warmer seas, where ice won't float.
The source of all our great success
We won't find buried in a mess
Of struggled labors to achieve.
In times of trouble, we should leave.
We gain our goals the easy way.
If we can simply learn to pay,
To give to everyone his due—
More or less, we'd best eschew.
To nasty folks who make us sad,
We simply turn our backs, we're glad
To have a chance to get away,
To find someone who likes to play.
All work departs when we agree
To pay to each the proper fee,
For lessons learned or chances sought—
Give all the rest, just what you ought.
Relax, don't work, don't think too much,
Just pay what's owed, and then go Dutch.
All that we are and all else, too,
Will last forever. This is true,
But in each instant all must change,
Thus to be constant would be strange.
The large and small forever stay
Traveling along the way,
Growing toward some other state,
Preserving only what is great.
The world along the way won't last,
So those who travel can't be cast
With any changeless form or feature,
For change is part of every creature.
Avoiding death, we'll surely die.
By fearing danger, we won't fly.
In safety we will lose our chance,
Preserve the past and never dance.
In letting go of all that is,
We learn to travel forth gratis.
Can you compete with none at all?
Can you pick up what they let fall?
Can you avoid what is so rare
And take instead what's everywhere?
When others choose in such a rush,
Can you be patient in the crush?
Can you reject the castle high
And find the place that all pass by?
Can you decide you'd rather aid
Than seek to have your fortune made?
Can you take charge without command
And make the truth your only stand?
Can you act well at the right time?
Just be yourself, since more is crime?
Know being less is never right?
Can you see why this course is bright?
You'll be the best when you are you,
For on this route, you must be true.
To reach the top, don't go too far.
To touch the Moon, don't pass a star,
For if you go so far beyond,
Returning must place you in bond.
The work you do to fly past suns
Will suck up fuel by the tons.
To get yourself back on the track
Is sure to cause a lot of flak.
Your goal must be the one for you,
Shoot higher and it's Waterloo.
The mountain that you just can't climb
Prevents your reaching spots divine.
Should someone offer far too much,
The traveler declines the crutch.
He knows accepting such excess
Will keep him from his own success.
He is himself, does what he may,
Accepts repose as generous pay.
Control yourself and nothing more.
Let go advice that makes you poor.
Allow the world to keep its course.
Control it all, you'll make things worse.
Instead do what the world cannot;
Relax your focus so you've got
A vision of the unity
That others simply cannot see.
Without illusions, you may guard
Those whom conclusions may have marred;
Not by your effort, that's not it,
But breathing deep right where you sit.
Opinions that would rule all life
To closer ties are like a knife;
Owned and ruled, forced to action,
We'll soon control a world in traction.
To have life work as one great soul,
Reject all else for self-control.
A house has walls that make it work.
Some see the space as just a perk,
But lose the space, you have no room.
In filling things, we bring their doom.
A jar that's full is lost to use.
A rope that's tightened is a noose.
But when untied it has potential,
That's why to naught we're reverential.
Once God's defined, it isn't God,
But simply some restricted clod,
An earthly creature made of dust
And blown apart by every gust.
Our mind and future should stay void.
With each commitment, they're destroyed.
The wealth that comes to open arms
Exceeds the profit earned from farms.
For every open place we leave
Preserves the world we would achieve.
The sights we see make us forget
We cannot see the half of it.
The sweet or sour that we taste now
Makes us forget all other chow.
The sound of songs that fill the air
Keeps us from hearing what's not there,
And while our senses teach us this,
There's all of that we'll surely miss.
When we are busy doing things,
We sacrifice meanderings.
The knowledge that fills up our brains
Is like the track that limits trains.
For once we have our mind quite filled,
Our chance for wisdom has been killed.
We overflow with confidence,
Though we are far past common sense.
The traveler has an unmarked map,
A well-planned route is just a trap.
Success and failure are just tricks.
Honor, dishonor like two sticks.
Favor, disfavor bring us dangers,
Replace our wits with those of strangers.
When other people set our prices,
We're up and down in endless crisis.
Outside rewards cost us ourselves;
We spend our lives on trophy shelves.
With trinkets and acclaim we're bound,
Forgetting everything around.
Our own safe home in time and space
Is lost in running some rat's race.
If we remember to be glad
At all the pleasures to be had
By simply being who we are,
We'll find our goal is not so far.
We'd love and honor all that comes;
Reject the ups and downs of thumbs.
Beyond our reach, outside our grip,
The universe gives us the slip.
The vastness of ten billion stars?
We strain our eyes to search for Mars.
The specks of matter far too small,
Beneath the atom, if at all,
We cannot catch them in our net.
Those who pursue them do forget.
To see what can be seen is wise.
To hear what's soundless leads to sighs,
To touch a wave of light won't feel,
As if you touch a world that's real.
Relax your reach if you would touch
All you can grasp—it isn't much.
The inner feeling of what flows
Assures us that our body knows.
The flow of life we see and hear
Beyond the senses, runs quite clear.
The wisest ones in ancient days
Left all who followed in amaze;
And how they came to be so great,
History won't elucidate.
We don't know how they found the way,
But looking back we have to say
They seemed on guard and careful, too,
Quiet, patient, always true.
They were uncertain, but were clear,
Simple, direct, and at home here,
Not very different from the rest,
Just being natural made them best.
In harmony with every season,
They seemed relaxed and had no reason
To cause the world such serious cracks
That we could follow in their tracks.
In quiet times the wisest led
And through inaction stayed ahead.
Nature finds itself at rest,
In balance, sitting on a nest.
It flies into a wild state,
But moments later must abate.
The pattern in our life repeats:
We find ourselves still in our seats,
Our active moments must subside,
For in repose we must abide.
Until we follow nature's route,
We hide our soul inside a suit.
Our nature can't become as pure
If constant action has allure.
If we begin and end at rest,
We can accept that all is best.
The way it works brings many joys;
We smile at death, turmoil, and noise.
We take no sides and are serene;
Relax, and just enjoy the scene.
To rule the world, you can't be kind
And so it won't be love you'll find.
It won't seem just to do it well,
The praise you gather leads to hell.
The laws that weaker rulers use,
The punishments from their abuse,
May guide the people using fear,
But when they fail, the people cheer.
The poorest rulers turn to force,
And, since they're fools, to something worse:
To lies and promises they trust.
So ends the road from kind and just.
The ruler who is heaven's mate
Serves with nature's true mandate,
Not pressing down upon the folk,
They never feel a master's yoke.
He's light in power, so you know who
Is ruling, but are sure you do.
If we have somehow lost our way
If from ourselves we've gone astray,
We start to praise and then to blame—
We do forget these are the same.
The world is natural as it is.
This is an easy thing to miss.
We dream that wise is very good,
And criticize, as if we should.
Morality is on our lips.
We curse the flab that girds our hips.
We damn the fool and praise the kind,
And criticize the weak of mind.
We lecture on true loyalty,
The service owed to keep us free,
The love we must give to our kin,
How to obey and not to sin.
The road to chaos starts with should:
An endless struggle to be good.
The cards we play we think are trumps,
Yet they have made us look like chumps.
Our wise and reasoned views of right,
Have filled our lives with spreading blight.
If we'd deposit words so wise
In one great pile, we'd save more lives;
With good and right no longer said,
Our dealings could move straight ahead.
We have and hold and sometimes steal
To pay for skills we won't reveal:
For secrets used to outwit others,
So we can profit from our brothers.
We fear and dream and cannot see
Each deal is as it's meant to be.
Just play your hand, hold only one,
And you'll start having far more fun.
Do not desire what cannot be.
When you discard, you will be free.
In school you exercise your wit
Distinguishing all kinds of shit—
From crap to dung you know it all,
Don't trust to words, please use the stall.
The traveler can't tell east from west,
And yet he's drawn by behest
To places that he doesn't ken,
A dropout who would follow yen.
If good and evil aren't alike,
Is tricycle the same as trike?
In touch with nature, does it matter?
Pin things down, you're a mad hatter.
The traveler has no home to keep,
No goal, confused, unsure, not deep.
The wind blows him away from jobs,
From friends and knowledge, from the mobs.
Outside the system, he just listens,
Gaining luster as gold glistens.
Our power has been there from the start—
Not from our mind, not from our heart—
The life within us paved the way
To have the power we have today.
Sometimes the power seems to fade;
It isn't gone, it's in the shade.
The Sun's still shining as before,
And will on us, we can be sure.
The Moon's not full on every night
It moves around, reflecting light.
Just like our power, it never goes,
But like the tide, it ebbs and flows.
To see the start of nature's power
Look at the root of every flower,
For what is common is the source
While endless change completes the course.
Our power grows with every minute,
Reaching at last to the infinite.
If balance is the ruling force,
Admire what stays; what goes, divorce.
And notice that what's rich grows poor.
What leaves one day, comes back for more.
The universe plays by the rules,
Those who forget this must be fools.
If you'd be seen, first disappear.
If you would lead, walk to the rear.
By giving each just what is due,
What person can dispute with you?
The credit comes when you don't seek;
If you're all thumbs, why not be meek?
Don't set your goal to be the king,
For to aspire won't earn a thing.
Honor and glory will be yours
Just focusing on daily chores.
Unharmed and honored is the one
Who sees the way all things must run.
In words we find the deepest curse:
We seek to teach but make things worse.
Observe the storm uproot the palm,
An hour later, all is calm.
To make our lives be all they can,
This rule of nature is our plan:
We'll simply notice how things flow,
And in deep silence, let it go.
When we the easy way would leave,
We first forget how words deceive.
The ways that clue us we have lost,
Our special skills we've simply tossed.
We think that we aren't who we are.
We act as if the sun's no star.
If we are doubters, who'll believe?
The truth we've lost makes us deceive.
If we must speak, we'll keep it short.
In stormy seas, seek silent port.
When we reach heights on our tiptoes,
Our standing won't survive the blows.
If we take steps that are too big,
Our graceful walk becomes a jig.
If in our zeal to win some fame,
We brag, show off, or play some game,
Instead of winning well-earned credit,
The world will mark us with a debit.
You can't be chief of anything,
If you would crown yourself as king.
Don't think you'll make your life last long,
Running fast or growing strong.
This truth of things the traveler knows:
In humble weakness, virtue shows.
When others rush to do too much —
The traveler pushes in the clutch.
Too much of anything is bad.
Relax, do less, and you'll be glad.
The unnamed thing that came before
Was what it was, you can't say more.
A road to here that started there,
When we look back, it goes nowhere.
You could call us a moon in orbit.
The sun's great light, we can't absorb it;
And when we trace the solar light,
The place it came from now is night.
The past, if that is what we say,
Is perfect, there's no other way.
The universe is perfect, too,
So is the earth, and so are you.
We have no name for this perfection
Because its heart is resurrection.
The moon is full and then it's gone.
The perfect pattern lingers on.
In every instance at all times,
Our symphony is played by mimes.
Beneath the joy that comes from play
Must be a solid, serious way.
A life of fun and all romance,
Requires we have a place to dance.
The traveler travels all day long,
But still he never leaves what's strong.
He keeps himself and all he needs;
The flower needs soil to break through weeds.
When hunger comes, he finds his lunch,
So he is never in a crunch.
The world around him rushes by;
He's calm and quiet, like the sky.
To travel on the road that flows,
He must keep track of how it goes.
Once busy, he has lost his way,
Too active to discern the day.
By trusting to the source of all,
His seriousness need never gall.
The traveler's footprints can't be found.
He passes gently over ground.
He speaks a little, yet says it all;
But what he’s said, you can’t recall.
His wealth he carries in his head.
He says no more than must be said.
He locks the door without a key.
Tied with no knot, you can't break free.
He teaches those devoid of love;
Needs no respect, he doesn't shove.
What he can't see, the world knows best;
He finds what others must have missed.
Invisible, he gets things done,
Making work a world of fun.
He seems not bright, yet finds the use
Of things and people, though obtuse.
Invisible, he leaves no trail,
So what he's done can hardly fail.
The traveler knows the ways of men:
Their strength and action, sword (not pen);
But still he takes the woman's role,
Weak and passive, on a stroll.
The flow of things drives some men wild.
By letting go he's like a child,
And travels at a different pace,
Not pushing past to win the race.
He sees the great that all admire,
But thinks the unseen is much higher.
His failings keep him very humble;
He tells the truth, he doesn't mumble.
He has the power that meets his need
Without achieving excess speed.
He stays himself, a good example,
While others to gain power, trample.
So if to better ways you'd pass,
Act less the lad and more the lass.
Those who claim a plan that orders
Everything within the borders,
Always end in some disaster,
Pressing us to change things faster.
Those who'd return to ancient ways
Or what was best in olden days,
Have a vision to impale us.
From all progress they'd derail us.
The world has an order clear,
Accepting it will bring us cheer:
Moving in and moving out,
Silent here, but there a shout.
The traveler isn't like a tiger,
A lady riding down the Niger,
He sees the sites in grand decay,
Knows they must, and goes away.
Himself he organizes simply.
He knows that diet makes one pimply.
The force we use to take the lead,
As it’s employed, makes others bleed,
So then to war do not resort—
It stops the wealth we all would court.
When power or skill or past success
Become our boast, we do much less.
To bring about a great result
Do what you must, don't form a cult.
For while you're great, perhaps supreme,
Your claim to fame destroys the dream.
The easy way you've left behind,
Your strength exhausted, you're declined.
To win the game, abjure all stress,
Conflict and effort make a mess;
And if you win, please take no credit,
Or someone else will mark a debit.
Force earns revenge and poverty,
Results require a smaller fee.
The tools of war bring no success,
For every use demands redress;
So people don't admire killers,
Lawyers, guns, or such bone-chillers.
The easy road will pass these by,
For at their best they make us cry;
So if a conflict lies ahead,
Turn off the road, don't be misled.
If calm and care guide your defense,
You'll minimize the recompense.
Those who enjoy the spoils of war,
Will find death always at their door.
The greatest weapons cost more lives.
The profit promised, you'll surmise,
Suggests that war's a clever act,
As if the deaths were not a fact.
Please stand aside from all gun play.
Keep death and sorrow far away.
The rules that guide the real world
Show why it is some hair is curled.
The way things go does not take hope,
Think otherwise, you'll seem a dope.
The dew that sparkles on the grass
Means only that a cloud went past.
No weatherman decreed the act.
The grass had never signed a pact.
In words, we lose the simple things,
Replace desire with diamond rings.
Departing from plain realty,
We lose the land in fealty.
In contracts, theories, take no stock,
For complex things put us in hock;
And in the end the universe
Carts all away in one great hearse.
We're left with what we always had:
A simple world that's free of fad.
To know another takes a mind
Attuned to differences in kind.
To know yourself is truer far;
What can compare to who you are?
To master others takes great power.
Control yourself and you will flower.
For in control you've strength abundant;
To rule others is redundant.
Once you're content, you have enough.
Your wealth does not depend on stuff.
When your desires are in the saddle,
You find yourself in endless battle.
To be yourself and nothing more,
Allows you to with ease endure;
Though death will come to what's alive,
Matter and energy will survive.
Do what is easy to be rich,
The other course is such a bitch.
The power that rules the universe
Is in the laws, not in the purse,
For laws create and guide it all,
Making things rise and also fall.
This power exceeds by far the might
Of those who shine in bright limelight,
Yet some may think it powerless
Because it never claims success.
The way things work won't choose a goal;
Won't take a side or claim control;
Thinks nothing and owns even less;
Is quite indifferent, free of stress;
And yet it changes everything,
Assures the birds that they may sing,
Supplies the needs that life requires,
Until the time that life expires.
The greatest laws, we may not see.
They cause no suits, but still must be.
The road ahead is not yet made:
No map, no cars, it's quite unpaved.
This secret plain the world has lost,
But spring will come to melt the frost.
Because the future isn't there,
It really does no good to stare.
To listen for tomorrow's sound
Will simply prove it can't be found.
An empty road claims no attention,
And so the rest gains all the mention.
We're so distracted in the present,
We lose our chance for something pleasant.
The traveler can forget the past
To find a future far more vast.
The limits that the tourists face
Soon disappear in endless space.
The future is an empty road.
We needn't reap what once we sowed.
If you would gain the highest place,
First see what let's you win the race.
The one ahead seems sure to win.
His head, however, soon will spin.
To sap the power of other folks,
Allow them power, for power brings yokes.
In pushing higher, they lose ground.
Up in the air, their spot's not sound.
To take away, first give far more;
You'll see things flying out the door.
Reversal is the rule of all;
What you help rise is sure to fall.
By knowing well what does defeat,
If you'd advance, you'll first retreat.
Forget this fact, you’ll push ahead,
And be pushed back until you're dead.
The natural road to reach the peak
Requires us first to turn our cheek.
The way it works is not so hard:
Ignore the rules, your life is marred.
Go with the flow of what will come,
You'll easily extract your thumb.
The harmony you seek in vain
Arrives at once avoiding pain.
Pursuing pleasure when you're clear,
Is certain to protect your rear.
But if your peace you’d set aside
To seek a more luxurious ride—
You’ll leave the path you walked on foot;
The interstate requires a suit.
So sue the world and beat the rest,
Abandon peace if you think best,
Let harmony go on its road,
And you will harvest what you've sowed.
A gentle breeze will change to wind
To teach quite clearly how you've sinned.