Tao Te Ching – Verse 15 – The ancient Masters were profound and subtle

15
The ancient Masters were profound and subtle.
Their wisdom was unfathomable.
There is no way to describe it;
all we can describe is their appearance.

They were careful
as someone crossing an iced-over stream.
Alert as a warrior in enemy territory.
Courteous as a guest.
Fluid as melting ice.
Shapable as a block of wood.
Receptive as a valley.
Clear as a glass of water.

Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?

The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things.

(translation by Stephen Mitchell, 1995)
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The Tao masters of antiquity
Subtle wonders through mystery
Depths that cannot be discerned
Because one cannot discern them
Therefore one is forced to describe the appearance

Hesitant, like crossing a wintry river
Cautious, like fearing four neighbors
Solemn, like a guest
Loose, like ice about to melt
Genuine, like plain wood
Open, like a valley
Opaque, like muddy water

Who can be muddled yet desist
In stillness gradually become clear?
Who can be serene yet persist
In motion gradually come alive?

One who holds this Tao does not wish to be overfilled
Because one is not overfilled
Therefore one can preserve and not create anew

(translation by Derek Lin, 2006)
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The Wise are quiet.
Follow them.
You may not see them, though they are present.
Like water, reflecting sky; sky reflecting water.

(translation by Jeremy M. Miller, 2013)
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from I Ching Online

 

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