Lessons From The Tao
Good deeds leave no signs.
Good words leave no flaws.
Good scheme needs no deliberate plans.
A good lock uses no bolts, yet it cannot be opened.
A good knot uses no rope, yet it cannot be united.
Hence, a saint is always kind by saving other people and rejects no one.
He is always kind by saving all things and therefore nothing is being rejected.
This is the true enlightenment.
Thus, a kind person is the teacher of the unkind.
An unkind person is a lesson for the kind to learn.
He who does not value his teacher and dislikes the valuable lesson, although knowledgeable, is in fact greatly confused.
This is the fundamental essence.
One who assists the ruler with the principle of Tao,
Will not use the force of arms to conquer the world.
For such affairs will result in cause and effect.
Wherever the armies touch the land, it is turned into a wasteland of thorns and brambles.
After a war is fought, bad years are sure to follow.
Therefore, one who follows the true nature will understand the principle of cause and effect and shall not rely upon the strength of force.
By knowing the effect, thus one will not brag.
By knowing the effect, thus one will not boast.
By knowing the effect, thus one will not become arrogant.
By knowing the effect, although one has no choice, one still abides with the principle of cause and effect and does not resolve into force.
When things reach their prime, they start to age and decline.
This is the life that is diminishing and shall not reach the ultimate essence.
The great Tao is ever present.
It can adjust Itself to everything.
All things live by It, and It does not deny them.
When Its work is accomplished, It does not claim possession.
It gives great love to nurture all things and all lives, but dominates not.
The true void of Tao has no desires and may seem small.
Yet all things entrust their lives to It and It does not act as their master.
This may be recognized as “the Great.”
Because a saint does not restrict himself with the greatness,
Hence his greatness is accomplished.
Fame and life, which one is of intimacy?
Life and wealth, which one is of importance?
To gain one but to lose the other, which is of harm?
Therefore, if one’s desires are great, one would result in exhaustion.
Overstock shall result in heavy loss.
He who is contented will not suffer disgrace.
He who knows his true nature will not incur danger.
It is in this Way that one can long endure.
Tao exists in one’s own true self.
It cannot be found outside of one’s true nature.
Hence, there is no need to leave the house to take journey in order to know the world.
There is no need to look outside of the window to see the nature of Tao.
The further one departs from Tao, the less one will be able to know.
Therefore a saint is wise to know without seeking for It.
He is wise to understand without seeing It.
He is wise to accomplish according to the Natural Way.
The saint has no set mind,
He regards the wish of the people as his own wish.
He is kind to the kind, he is also kind to the unkind.
This is the true virtue of kindness.
The saint trusts those who are trustworthy.
He also trusts those who are not trustworthy.
This is the true virtue of trust.
The saint conducts himself in the world by harmonizing with all beings to be at one.
The worldly people thus look up to him attentively with their eyes and ears.
And the saint treats the people like a loving mother who loves her children unconditionally.
In governing one’s life and serving the nature,
There is nothing better than to follow the Way of simplicity.
Simplicity is to restrain one’s desires.
To restrain one’s desires is to practice the virtue of Nature Way.
By practicing the virtue of Nature Way,
One is capable to accomplish anything.
With the ability to accomplish anything,
One can achieve the infinite realm.
By achieving the infinite realm,
One can then become a true leader of a nation.
To govern a nation with the Law of Nature is to be long enduring.
This is regarded as a profound and firm foundation of the everlasting Tao.
It is easy to preserve when things are stable.
It is easy to plan ahead when things have no yet occurred.
If one waits until the affair has begun,
Then the situation is as brittle as ice that easily cracks and is fragile that easily shatters.
Take actions before things occur.
Manage before things get out of order.
A huge tree grows from a tiny sprout;
A nine-story high terrace is built from heaps of earth.
A journey of thousand miles begins from the first step.
He who acts with desire shall fail.
He who tries to possess shall lose.
Therefore, the saint acts without effort and so he does not fail.
He is not eager to possess and so he does not lose.
Most people fail when they are near completion.
If one can be cautious from beginning to end, then he will not fail.
Thus a saint pursues what people do not pursue.
He does not value the hard-to-get objects.
He learns what people do not learn and avoids the faults in order to restore his true nature.
He follows the course of nature to benefit all things and dares not go astray from the right Way, Tao.
When a man is alive, he is soft and supple.
When he dies, the body becomes hard and stiff.
When a plant is alive, it is soft and flexible.
When it is dead, it becomes dry and brittle.
Therefore, hard and rigid shall lead to death.
Soft and gentle shall lead to life.
Thus, a strong army with rigid force shall not win.
A thick and big tree will be cut down for its use.
The big and strong will take an inferior position.
The soft and gentle will take superior position.
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