The Mellow Way (Full Text)
The Mellow Way
The way written here is not the eternal way.
Words are not eternal.
The nameless way is eternal and the origin of all possibility.
The named is our universe, but the nameless is the creation of all universes.
If you effortlessly practice, you can observe the nameless.
If you try to see the nameless, you will only see its named reflection.
Their unity is the mystery of existence.
Opening the unity between the named and the nameless is the door to all wonder, the awe of all awes, understanding of all understandings.
Opposites are born together.
Beauty is the absence of ugliness.
Peace is the absence of suffering.
Being is the absence of non-being.
What is long without short?
How can anything be difficult, if nothing is simple?
High must be above low.
After must follow before.
The named rises from the nameless.
Therefore, to understand the way, one cannot use words.
One must experience the unity of named and nameless.
One must not be possessed or make assumptions.
If one understands the way, it does not matter.
The way remains.
Glorify achievements, competition reigns.
Glorify treasures, thievery reigns.
Glorify desires, instability reigns.
Glorify the way, nothing reigns.
Desire what is present.
Treasure what nourishes you.
Steady your structure.
The way glorifies all things so nothing is glorified.
Genuinely follow the way,
And you will find everything in nothing.
So deep is the way, even when it is exhausted, it is not empty.
The way is the endless source of the named.
The way is inevitable.
It is the reason beyond reason, cause beyond cause.
So mysterious, one can only see its reflection.
The way is unfeeling and empty, despite creating all feelings and things.
Those who follow the way are impartial, as if they are beyond feelings and things.
The way is like the wind.
It is transparent, yet it contains multitudes and shapes the earth.
But the way is still beyond the wind, because the named cannot compare to the nameless.
In the river valley, the wind blows combining the sky, earth, and water.
(the way combines the named, nameless, and their mysteries)
Even when it is barely perceptible, it flows.
Use it as much as you wish, it is never exhausted.
The way is everlasting.
Why can it last forever?
Because it exists for no purpose.
When the way becomes your goal, you will achieve.
Place yourself last, and you will end up front.
Exist beyond your body, and you will live forever.
The way is like water.
Life depends on water.
Water moves without approval or desire.
Water seeks the low places and fills them.
The biggest rivers started as rain drops.
Water hydrates all things that need hydration.
To follow the way, be like water:
Give life to others, and let them give you life,
Move where you must with grace,
Live below your means,
Know all monoliths began as many individuals,
Know your limits; do not force your way.
Because it is in harmony with the way
It is beyond reproach.
A cup overflowing can be worse than being half-empty.
An over sharpened blade can be worse than a dull one.
Hoarding treasure brings paranoia and thieves.
Achievements bring fame.
Withdraw oneself and understand the nameless way.
Is it possible to live the way?
Can an adult become an infant?
Can one be without imperfections?
Can one be without manipulation?
Can one be without intellect?
If one is able to bear all these without possessing them, to achieve all without arrogance, to raise all without dominating.
These are the virtues of the way.
Wheels are held together by their spokes, but the center hole is what gives them their roll.
A bowl is made of clay, but the emptiness inside it nourishes us.
A house is built of walls and windows, but the existence happens in its void.
Therefore, one must observe both the material and the emptiness.
See all colors at once, you will be blind.
Hear all noises at once, you will not hear.
Taste all flavors at once, you will not taste.
Hunt without rest, you will never be satisfied.
Race without end, you will never win.
Acquire without necessity, you will never have enough.
If you are hungry, feed your stomach and not your eyes.
The nameless holds all things, the named can only hold so much.
Fortune and misfortune cause fear.
The greatest misfortune is the self.
Fortune and misfortune define each other.
If you have a fortune, you are afraid of loosing it.
If you have misfortune, you are afraid it will never be lost.
If you have no self, what is misfortune?
Value the world as your self, and it will be your fortune.
Love the world as your self, and you will never loose it.
If you cannot see something, it is called invisible.
If you cannot hear something, it is called inaudible.
If you cannot hold something, it is called intangible.
If something is all three, how could it be named?
And if this nameless nothingness was infinite and inexhaustible, it is a mystery that is inescapable.
This mystery is the shape of the invisible, the sound of the inaudible, the form of the intangible.
Try to face it, and it will turn its back on you.
Try to follow it, and it will confront you.
This is a portrait of the way.
How can you know someone is living the way?
They reveal the depths of its mystery in ways that are as mysterious as its depths.
Cautious, like someone stepping on thin ice.
Aware, like prey in the house of a predator.
Solemn, like a guest of a sacred ritual.
Free, like water dripping.
Genuine, like freshly cut wood.
Open, like a wide valley.
Opaque, like a muddy stream.
Still the waters, and all will become clear.
One who follows the way is serene yet alive.
They achieve what they need and move on or rest.
They preserve the order of all things, therefore they are like the way.
In the depths of meditative emptiness and tranquility, all things continue to move.
Watch their lifecycle.
Life flourishes, but death is inevitable.
How can death be tranquil?
Because tranquility is about returning to one’s true nature.
If you live rooted in tranquility you can clearly see the cycle and know its inevitability.
If you live in doubt, you will be reckless with life.
To know, first you must accept it wholly and hold its truth as sacred because this truth is the eternal nameless way.
Once accepted, you can die without fear.
If the way was our leader, to follow would be our nature.
Therefore, the best leader is followed by people who do not know they are being led.
The great leader is followed by people who love them.
Any leader will be followed by people who fear them.
The worst leader is one who is despised by their followers.
If a leader cannot trust their followers, the followers will not know how to trust.
The best leader accomplishes the task and moves on.
The followers say, “We did it all by ourselves.”
When named ways are held up as the nameless, there may be great unity and prosperity and learning.
But because it is not the nameless way, there is great deception.
There is chaos in the family, so patriarchy begins.
The truth becomes uncomfortable, so comfortable untruth begins.
There is chaos in the country, so patriots are born.
Throw away holiness; forget all knowledge.
People will live in bliss.
End assistance; rule with force.
People will live frugally and depend on charity.
Destroy wealth, embrace transparency.
People have no desire or ability for thievery.
No solution is perfect, and neither are these words.
Live as the world.
End your desires.
Stop learning, and you will find an easy peace.
Obey or disobey, what does it matter?
Who cares if you are in misery or ecstasy?
What difference does it make?
Do you live by others’ cares?
How stupid and selfish.
People get excited at nothing, as if every day were a parade.
I alone don’t care.
I am expressionless as an infant who is unaware of its own face.
I have no home, so I have no excess to celebrate.
People have plenty.
I alone have no possession.
My mind is so empty, it is only full of space.
People are cheery and fun.
I alone am serious.
People are know-it-alls.
I alone am dumbfounded.
My mind is as still as the ocean, blowing as endlessly as the wind.
People have goals.
I alone am aimless.
I am different from other people.
I feed from the eternal nothingness, creator of all things.
What people see as virtue is simply following the way.
The way is nameless, shapeless, purposely obtuse.
Those who follow it are remembered, simple, transparent.
This is the essence of the way.
To have faith in the way is to have faith in reality, because no matter how much time passes, reality never changes.
How do I know this is true?
By looking inside myself.
Submit yet remain in control.
Bend yet remain straight.
Kneel yet remain exalted.
Give yet remain full.
If you have nothing, it will be given to you.
If you have all, you have no room to receive.
Those who follow the way are revealed in these ways.
They are famous without flaunting.
They are unique without ego.
They are esteemed without boasting.
They do not compete with the world; therefore, the world cannot compete with them.
Being is non-being are not empty words.
They are the nature of sincerity.
Silence is the way, so do not talk.
Strong winds blow themselves out.
Sudden rains end suddenly.
Why is this?
It is the way of nature.
If nature cannot overcome silence, how could humans?
This is why those who follow the way follow it.
Their virtue is pure in itself.
Those who do not follow the way do not follow it. Their lacking is pure in itself.
The way is unmoved because it is the way.
The way is pure in itself.
If you cannot trust this, what can be trusted?
Walk on your tiptoes, you will not stand firm.
Stand on the fence, you will not be grounded.
Promote yourself, you will not be honest.
Live by ego, you will not be unique.
Praise yourself, you will not be worshiped.
Boast yourself, you will not be remembered.
These are all needless excess.
Those who follow the way despise them and do not engage with them.
The way is nameless and formless.
It existed before all things.
Silent, ethereal, singular, unchanging, cyclic, endless.
This is the creator of all things.
It has no name, so we call it the way.
If it were to be described in a word it would be awesome.
Awesome as in awe inspiring.
Awe inspiring as in it is the source of awe.
All returns to it’s source.
This is why the way is awesome.
All things follow the laws of nature, this is the way.
Weight is the root of lightness.
Silence is the root of chaos.
One can travel an entire day without leaving home.
In the stillness, one can transcend beyond their surroundings.
Lose your root, and become restless, you will lose your mastery.
A good traveler does not leave tracks.
A good debater does not seek faults.
A good compromise helps all parties.
A good door is always unlocked, but can only be opened by its owners.
A good knot holds firm without any rope.
Good does not abandon anyone or anything.
To be good, you must illuminate the bad.
It is your duty to goodness.
Students must be inspired by their teachers; teachers must be allowed to inspire their students.
Otherwise, it is not education, but inspection.
Education is essential to the way.
Know the truth of your body, hold dearly to the truths of others’ bodies.
Be water for the world
You will show the world the way.
See the world as if you were new to it.
Know what is in the light, hold dearly to what is in the darkness.
Let the way guide you
(Like a leader)
You will lead the world to the way.
Bring yourself to the dawn of our universe.
Know what it is to taste victory, hold dearly to what it is to suffer defeat.
Give way to the world.
(Like a river valley)
You will reveal the mysteries of the way.
If you practice the virtues of the way, that is enough.
Know the forms you can craft from wood, hold dearly to the form of the tree.
Become like the tree, and you will be a resource for generations.
People will try to control the world.
The world is beyond reproach.
People cannot control it.
They can only waste it.
Leaders will gain followers,
They will fight or stabilize,
They will be strong or meek,
They will be satisfied or desperate.
They will all lose grasp.
Leaders who follow the way allow it to lead.
They eliminate extremes,
They eliminate excesses,
They eliminate arrogance.
If leaders followed the way, they wouldn’t send soldiers around the world, because they would know the world will return the soldiers in kind.
When armies camp in foreign soil, they sow seeds of thorns and dry up the land for decades after.
Knowing this, a good commander does what is needed, and then stops.
There is no boasting, flaunting, or arrogance.
This is because the commander only acts out of necessity, not dominance.
This is because the good commander knows that all things pass.
Domination is not the way; therefore, it is never eternal.
Weapons are the tools of death.
Their purpose is abominable.
To follow the way is to avoid them.
Good people only turn to them in times of war.
If necessary, they hold their weapons with solemn detachment.
There is no glory in what they are about to do.
Glory would mean to praise death, and those who praise death scorn the living.
Those who know the way know that time is not always peaceful.
They enter their battles gravely; because they are entering a funeral.
When they alone are left standing, they do not celebrate.
There is no victory in survival.
They abhor what they have done.
The nameless way may seem too simple to govern all things, but it is their ruler.
If leaders were to follow it, so too would their people.
All things would be in harmony.
People would find the rain as sweet as a sunny day, because they will have returned to their nature.
No one is made to follow the way, it happens by itself— like how names only become known through their use.
This can be taken too far, so know when to stop and avoid danger.
Bringing the way into the world is like a stream bringing water to a river bringing water to the ocean without flooding the land.
Be wise: understand other people.
Be enlightened: understand yourself.
Be strong: overcome other people’s will.
Be powerful: overcome your own will.
Be content: treasure what you have.
Be passionate: breath life into the inanimate.
Be stable: endure all things.
Be everlasting: live through the inanimate.
The way is like a great flood.
It flows where ever it can.
All things live from it, but now it is relentless.
Since it takes no credit for the good, it cannot be held accountable for the bad.
Even now in all its power, it only follows.
Giving life, taking life: it does not rule.
Therefore, it can be named great.
But even then, it doesn’t recognize its own greatness.
This is how it achieves its greatness.
Follow the way, all things will follow peacefully.
Speak the way, it is ignored with ennui.
Seek the way, it won’t be found.
Listen for the way, and it cannot be heard.
Be the way, and it cannot be lost.
To compress it, one must know what can be removed without ruining it.
To weaken it, one must know what makes it strong.
To eliminate it, one must know what it contributes.
To seize it, one must be prepared to keep it.
This is how the wise know so many things.
Even when they are old and brittle, they can subdue the strength of youth.
The deeper you dive, the harder it is to come up for air.
Do not parade your weapons in front of those who may gravely meet them.
The way is nothing, yet everything resides in it.
Understand this and all will be transformed.
All will be what it is, instead of what it is desired to be.
If the world saw itself for what it was instead of what it could be, there would be peace.
Walk the way without sanctimony.
If there is sanctimony, it is not the way being walked.
The way has no commandments or ceremonies.
The ignorant need rules and repetition to remember goodness.
The pious must preach and enforce to feel goodness.
The cultists will codify and enshrine all this in the place of goodness.
When the ignorant world is ruled by pious cults, the way is lost.
Even if the cultists are celebrated, the pious respected, and the ignorant in bliss, it will be a fragile peace that will eventually reveal its chaos.
Those who have been seeded in the way will blossom by ignoring all this fakery.
They are great because they stand on ground instead of glass.
They are great because they see the growth instead of the flower.
They know what is critical and what is superfluous.
Time is a process to become whole.
The sky encapsulated the earth.
The earth became balanced.
Chemicals became life.
Life became abundance.
Abundance became humans.
Humans became rulers.
Rulers imagined they controlled the world.
Time is a process to decompose.
No one can control the world.
The rules became human.
Humans who squandered their abundance.
Abundance they needed for life.
Because life was always chemistry.
The earth became unbalanced.
The sky dissolved into space.
Place yourself above, you will fall farther below.
The ultimate elevation leaves you where you are and lets all other things fall away.
Do not dream of being cut like a fine jewel.
Desire to be the rock.
The way moves by constantly returning to the source.
It is forceless.
All things are, yet they came from nothing.
Good people begin following the way as soon as they discover it.
Most people follow it without practice and let some of it go.
Ignorant people laugh at it.
If ignorance does not mock it, it is not the way.
The way is purposefully obtuse, while being obvious.
The way is the creator of all things, while being nothing.
The way is deeply complex, while being easily accessed.
It’s goodness is divine but natural.
It’s holiness is beyond reproach but humble.
It can be understood in a sentence but is boundless.
Practicing it well takes no effort.
Knowing its perfection exposes its hypocrisies.
It is as contrary as a square without corners.
It is whole, but never finished.
It is a symphony of silence.
It is an image that will never be seen.
The way is indescribable, yet I describe it here.
It is nameless, yet it created naming.
The nameless eternal way is the producer of the named.
The named can create many things.
Many things create many more things.
And so, on…
Therefore, all things are rooted in the perfect contradictions of the way.
Harmony is uniting the contradictions of all things.
Being alone with the naked truth of our life is overwhelming.
If you are aware in solitude, you will find the spark of enlightenment.
True poverty is when even your benefits have become losses.
If you can benefit even when you are loosing, you will know true wealth.
Because of harmony, you must know this.
If violent people were not allowed natural deaths, natural people would not die by violence.
Harmony is foundational to the way.
The softest can overcome the hardest.
Things can enter even if you can’t see the opening.
From these I have learned the benefits of not doing.
Teaching by being.
To achieve this is beyond reproach.
Would you sacrifice your self to be famous?
Would you sacrifice your self to be wealthy?
Do you imagine fame or wealth will ease your pain?
Those with excess are compelled to use it.
They are anxious about losing it.
Why not have just enough?
If you know your limits, you will know when to stop.
The self only needs enough to endure.
The way’s perfection seems flawed.
That is only because we see its functions as failures.
The way’s fullness seems empty.
That is only because we see inaction as exhaustion.
The way’s singularity seems multiplicative.
That is only because we see its wholeness as separations.
The way’s methods seem chaotic.
That is only because we only see from our perspective.
The way’s description seems hypocritical.
That is only because we cannot grasp its unity.
Hot and cold is only our perception of the movement of particles.
Right and wrong is only our perception of the movement of the way.
Quiet your mind and you will see how the way makes the world move.
When the world is in harmony with the way,
Our tools are used to nourish our bodies.
When the world dismisses the way,
Our tools are used for needless wars.
To be out of harmony is to allow people to be greedy.
People must have enough or there will be discontent.
People will crave what others have.
If all people are content, all people will be satisfied.
You can know the way from inside a prison.
Even if there is no window, you will see its light.
The world is a distraction.
Those who know the way travel without going.
They name the invisible.
They achieve through non-action.
Education is gaining knowledge.
The way is forgetting what you know.
The more you forget, the more you understand.
Keep forgetting until you know not knowing.
When you don’t know, all possibilities are clear.
You can take on the world without ruining it.
Often those who take the world know.
Thus they are blind to unknown possibilities.
They ruin it even when they try to improve it.
Those who know the way do not think as themselves.
They think as all people.
They are goodness for all people– good and not good.
They are spirituality for all people– spiritual and not spiritual.
This is because they are reflections of the named
(And thus reflections of the nameless)
Over time, they expand their mind to contain all minds.
If people are attentive, they will find those who share their mind.
They will grow and know the way themselves.
The living fear death.
Whether they embrace life, death, or both, it doesn’t matter.
Because they do not accept the way.
Those who nurture the way are accepted by all things.
When they travel, they do not encounter peril.
When they enter a battlefield, they are not targets.
Because no one wants to harm them.
All things arise from the nameless way.
All things are cared for through virtue.
All things shape other things.
All things live in accordance with nature.
Therefore, they respect and value the way.
This is not because they are commanded to do so.
It is just the way it is.
To follow the way:
Live in accordance with the nature of all things without losing your own nature.
Allow yourself to be shaped by all things without losing your own shape.
Care for all things without controlling them or neglecting your own care.
Achieve all these without centering achievement in yourself.
Do these and you will flow like water.
The universe has a beginning
We call it the big bang.
Knowing how we started we can know where we are going.
Hold both of these together and you will understand the universe.
Be quiet and alone.
Solitude can relieve your problems.
Speak quickly and build your network;
There will be no respite from the outside.
Read between the lines to gain clarity.
Be strong enough to hold on to your vulnerabilities.
Work in the day.
Replenish in the night.
Leave no messes to be cleaned up in the morning.
You will become your own steward.
This is one aspect of the way that is certain.
It is easy to lose the way even though it is right in front of you.
This is because it is human nature to ignore it.
I live in an ignorant country.
There is no justice in our courts, while incarceration is at its highest.
There is no food for the hungry, while it rots on the fields and in our refrigerators.
There are no homes for the houseless, while mansions and summer homes sit empty.
There is no luxury for the people, while the politicians set their own salaries.
There is no money for the poor, while our military and police are handed new weapons.
Our public infrastructure is crumbling, while family offices buy private jets and dodge taxes.
There is chaos in my country because of these obvious imbalances.
There is chaos in my country because it was built on robbery.
Being built on robbery it continues to rob.
Until my country understands where it came from and how that shapes it, it is impossible for it to follow the way.
This is how I came to know the way; I was raised by its opposite.
The deeper the roots, the harder to remove.
The deeper the belief, the harder to see beyond.
Family tradition can hold for generations.
What grows in your mind has an obvious virtue.
If you cultivate it in your family it becomes abundant.
If they cultivate it in your community, it outlasts your family.
If your community cultivates it in your country, it will outlast your community.
If your country cultivates it in the world, it becomes unforgettable.
Observe others with yourself.
Observe other families with your family.
Observe other communities with your communities.
Observe other countries with your country.
Observe the world with the world.
Understand the world.
The virtues of the way are like that of a newborn baby.
The world cares for them, because they do not wish harm on them.
Their bones are still soft, and they cannot even crawl.
Yet their grasp is firm.
Their bodies are fully capable despite their awareness of none of the capabilities.
They can cry for hours without losing interest or emphasis.
Newborns behave in harmony with their senses.
They do not impose themselves on the world
Therefore the world must attend to them.
They are a reflection of the world around them.
It is only when they grow that they begin to separate themselves from the world.
They learn to be young and strong and then to be old and wise.
This is contrary to the way.
If first you grow old and wise then become young and strong you will endure.
If you know the way, you are quiet.
If you constantly talk, you do not know the way.
Be silent and alone.
Be vulnerable to your self.
Let go of your troubles.
Close your eyes.
Breath in the world.
You will be at one with the way.
If you make this action your life, you will be ever present and joyfully stoic.
You will be revered by the world.
When a country is at peace, it should be governed peacefully.
When a country is at war, it should do what it must swiftly and then return to peace.
A country should not try to save the world.
How do I know this?
Because I know the world.
The world cannot be saved.
Try to do it with rules and regulations, people feel restricted.
Try to do it by force and domination, people will return the favor.
People do not want to be governed, but deeply need administration.
If you pass laws against human nature, you only create more criminals.
If you allow the people to govern themselves, they will have what they want.
Therefore the best government should be quiet, non interfering, and have no desires of its own.
The people will monitor, enrich, and equalize themselves.
The best government does exactly what all of its people ask and then stops.
When all governments do what is best for all their people, the world won’t need to be saved.
When governance is thoughtless,
The people are plain and simple.
When governance is scrutinizing,
People are severe and scheming.
When fortunes are only made from others’ misfortune, fortunes become unfortunate.
People become conflicted and paralyzed.
Righteousness feels awkward.
Goodness feels wicked.
This has been the whole of human history.
Let righteousness be without scorn, mockery, and punishment.
Let duty be without retaliation.
Let direct action be without carelessness.
Let enlightenment be without sanctimony.
Let government be a service to all things.
Being a servant of all things, government should practice conservation.
Conservation means submitting early to what is known to be inevitable.
If you conserve what is truly in jeopardy, nothing will be in peril.
Knowing and practicing this, a government would last forever.
This would make that government truly sovereign and the people would love it.
If its principle of power was conservation of all things, it keeps to the way.
Thus it has longevity and an endless vision.
Ruling a large country is like cooking a small fish.
Too much action and a beautiful filet becomes a broken mess.
Do nothing and the bottom will burn while the top is raw.
Reflect on the way:
It has no demons that torment the sinner.
It has no gods that destroy the wicked.
There are no wars fought in its name, because it is nameless.
It does not demand obedience.
It does not promise paradise.
It does not condemn eternally.
Its greatest teachers practice non-action.
A large country is like a river basin.
It is a converging point for the world.
Like gravity, it warps the geopolitical fabric.
Small countries can get lost in it.
Its influence pulls all things towards itself.
Large countries desire people to partake in its abundance.
Small countries desire respect and solidarity in their right to their own abundance.
If all countries were in alignment with the reality of our shared world, the largest country would lower itself to accept all others.
The way is the mystic wonder of all things.
It is divinity without the divine.
It is the practical answer for all miraculous questions.
It is why the kindhearted are kind.
It is why the unkind are forgiven.
It is why speeches can inspire respect and public outcry.
It is why public actions can improve or destroy the people.
It is why it feels wrong to abandon people.
It is why people wish to only carry their own people forward.
Leaders will be anointed, praised, and followed.
Instead of being a leader, follow the way.
It anoints and praises those who follow it as if they were its master.
It also anoints and praises those who do not follow it as if they were its master.
That is why it is the greatest.
Taking action does not require being active.
Managing does not require meddling.
Experiencing does not require physical sensation.
There is greatness in the smallest quark.
There are multitudes to explore inside each and every thing.
The best response to hatred is virtue.
Overcome complexity by taking small simple actions.
The problems of the world can only be solved by the mundane actions of the people.
The greatest people in the world didn’t set out to achieve;
Through persistent daily action, they became great.
Hold promises more highly than anything else.
They are the essence of trust.
If you understand the difficulties of all things, conquering them becomes simple.
If there is true peace, it is easy to be peaceful.
If there are no signs of difficulty, it is easy to plan to achieve it.
If something is fragile, it is easily broken.
If something is small, it is easily scattered.
Act before necessary action is needed.
Treat a wound before the flesh is broken.
The tallest redwood grew from a sapling– like all trees.
The biggest stadium started as blueprints and raw materials– like all construction.
The journey of a thousand miles starts by taking one step- like all movement.
If you meddle, you will fail.
If you hold too tightly, you will lose it.
People get too excited when they are nearly done with a task.
This causes failure.
If people took the care of planning to the end of the process, they wouldn’t get excited.
Those who follow the way understand all these things.
They desire to not desire.
They learn to forget what they know.
They assist in the nature of all things without meddling.
This is how they redeem the faults of the people.
Those who follow the way do not try to enlighten people.
They keep them humble.
Clever people like to find loopholes and incentives for themselves.
Therefore, their government must become clever and control the incentives.
This turns the country into a state of thieves.
The people and the government both trying to best each other.
A government that does not try to outsmart its people is a blessing on the people.
People who do not try to outsmart their government are a blessing on the country.
This is a spectrum of politics.
Being aware of this spectrum, one can govern and be governed virtuously.
At first it feels to be opposed to the way, but it is only a sign of its mystic perfection.
Rivers and oceans fill the deepest valleys, because they seek the low places.
Good leaders speak humbly to their people.
They place themselves behind to lead forward.
This makes the followers feel like they are leading.
They can push the people beyond themselves without harming them.
The world seems to welcome their movement.
This is because they move with the way.
They do not compete with the world.
Therefore, they are beyond competition.
Every person knows the greatness of the way.
They know it is beyond comparison.
If it could be compared, it would not be great.
Therefore, it would have already been discarded.
The way is beyond comparison for at least three reasons.
The first is compassion.
The second is conservation.
The third is harmony with the world.
True compassion gives us courage.
True conservation gives us the widest reach.
True harmony with the world gives us natural leadership.
There can be compassion without courage,
Conservation without the widest reach,
Harmony without natural leadership.
Because these are contradictions of the way, they only lead to death.
If one fights falsity with compassion, they will have victory.
If one fights falsity with conservation, they will have security.
If one fights falsity with harmony, the world will guard them.
The greatest generals do not desire war.
The greatest warriors do not worship their anger.
Those who know how to demolish an army are hesitant to engage them.
Those who can lead the people lower themselves to be with the people.
This is because they are in harmony with the way.
Being in harmony with the way, the people are happy to give them power.
This is the ultimate principle of leadership.
What does the way say about war?
Do not start wars, prefer to be attacked.
Do not advance an inch, until you are prepared to retreat a mile.
March in formation without form.
Raise your arms without arming yourself.
Grapple with enemies knowing they are humans.
Hold your weapon as if it will not perform.
The greatest mistake is to underestimate your enemy.
If both armies are evenly matched, the victor will be the most compassionate.
The words are easy to understand and practice.
However, the world doesn’t understand or practice.
These words are rooted in the way.
The actions they describe are principled.
People fail to understand this, so they fail to understand my words and actions.
However, there are few people who understand this and know my true value.
We understand my value, the value of the few, and the value of the many.
This is why we are humble even though we hold many treasures.
To know that we will never know keeps to the way.
To think you know is an error.
Acknowledging your errors is the best way to be without them.
Can you be without error?
Those who follow the way can be said to be without error.
Because when they make an error, they see it as an error.
When people are no longer afraid of force,
They can become a greater force.
This is why you should not limit people.
People must be allowed to live free.
If a leader accepts all people,
All people will accept them.
Know yourself, but do not glorify yourself.
Respect yourself, but do not worship yourself.
Remove the excess, and take only enough.
Take a risk and fail, that may be all.
Take a risk and succeed, you may thrive.
One might benefit; One might harm.
It seems one is meant to be avoided
As if cursed by something divine.
Because it is perceived that way.
The way is impartial:
It does not compete, yet seems to reward and punish;
It does not converse, yet appears to be in dialog;
It does not plan, yet can feel so contrived;
It was not summoned, yet here we are.
The way captures all things.
It is wide and full of holes, yet nothing escapes it.
People do not fear death.
If they did,
Any crime worthy of death
Wouldn’t be committed.
People are made to fear death,
So they can be killed.
If you live without fear,
How can you be threatened by death?
There is a perfect executioner for all things.
If we try to stop it or be it,
It is like trying to take the place of a master butcher.
It is unlikely we won’t cut our own hands.
When leaders live in excess,
Their people starve.
When leaders meddle in personal affairs,
Their people become unruly.
When leaders act as if they are eternal,
Their people are full of false hope.
You will hold life more dearly
Than those who value the living.
Living humans, even when muscled, are soft and pliable.
Dead humans, no matter how strong, are hard and rigid.
So too is life.
Life is flexible and yielding
Death is rigid and brittle.
If you make your self hard and stiff,
You seem to follow death.
Make your self flexible and yielding,
You seem to follow life.
To win, you cannot be inflexible.
Even the strongest tree will be cut down
If its plodding roots stop winding towards water
And its twisting branches cease bending to the sun.
The way is like inspecting a gun before loading.
Everything must be in alignment,
All pieces must perform their function,
Anything off must be righted.
This is like the way:
It aligns all things,
It lets all pieces perform their functions,
It allows all things to settle in their nature.
People often corrupt the way:
They stabilize misalignment,
They force pieces into place,
They bend nature to their will.
Who is allowed to corrupt the people?
Those who follow the way.
They reveal instabilities,
They loosen what is attached,
They see the world for itself.
Because their virtues are seen as corruption,
They keep them hidden in plain sight.
Nothing is as soft or weak as water,
Yet rivers can carve their paths in the earth.
Nothing can replace water.
Therefore the weak will overcome the strong,
And the soft will overcome the hard.
It’s obvious, but people still ignore it.
The one who bears the humiliations of the government is its best leader.
The one who accepts that governments will fail could rule all governments.
Though it seems like the opposite is true.
When there is an argument, there are probably hidden resentments.
Can there be any good in hidden resentments?
Consider holding people to their contract without demanding payment.
It is righteous to hold the contract, not to ensure collections.
The way is impartial, but it seems to take care of its kindest.
A portrait of a small country:
They have many weapons, but no use for them.
They take death seriously.
They have boats and cars, but no need to take them.
They have armies, but no need to parade them.
The people are humble.
They build their tools and use them.
They cook their own food,
Sew their own clothes,
Relax in their own homes,
Celebrate their own customs;
They love them.
Their neighbors see them.
Some live so close they can hear each other through the walls.
The people grow old until they die.
They live in peace.
True words need no beauty.
Beautiful words need no truth.
Wise people do not debate.
Those who debate speak without wisdom.
Knowing doesn’t take intelligence.
Great intellect doesn’t equal great knowledge.
To follow the way:
Don’t seek to accumulate,
Seek to assist as if you were in need,
Seek to give as if you were receiving.
The nameless way can only be
The mellow way assists and has no contention with this.