The Way of Meekness and Might
As interpreted by 冷门道士 - Copyright 1996, Creative Commons 3.0 SA-BY-NC.
We can talk about ways of living, but not the eternal way. We can bring all things into language with the giving of names; but the one eternal name is outside language. As the substance of the world, it is nameless. As the infinite expression of the world, it is nameable. As for substance, we show what we understand of the way. But as infinite expression, the way is the subject of my words.
Substance and expression are one, though we separate them in language. Both are surrounded by clouds of words. And the clouds hide the entrance to the way.
We give up the beauty of the world for the word "beauty"; this is ugliness. We reduce the good we experience to "good"; this is evil. Substance and expression unfold each other. But "difficult" and "easy" circle each other; "long" and "short" measure each other; "high" and "low" compare each other. Voice and melody express each other. But "behind" and "before" follow each other.
The follower of the way does his work without a fuss. He simply shows what he is capable of. He denies no unfolding idea. He nurtures these ideas, but does not claim them as his own. He does his work, but does not rely upon it. He finishes his work, but does not dwell upon it. And precisely because he does not turn work into "work," no one can take it from him.
By not surrounding your talents with words, you help others to let go of pride and competition. By turning from the world's measure of value, you lead others to give up violence and theft. By not being governed by the clamor of your desires, you help other hearts to remain quiet.
The follower of the way governs himself by emptying his heart of the senses' desires, by filling his stomach with food, by relinquishing his ambitions, by strengthening his understanding. In this way he leads others to live without busy thinking or the clamor of desires, and prevents false knowledge from causing discord.
Practicing this quiet living, we find the world harmonious.
The way is like an empty bowl that is never filled, no matter how much we pour into it. It is beyond comprehension. Yet we apprehend it as the expresser of all ideas. It blunts all analysis, unties all knots, harmonizes all understanding, connects each expressed idea to all others. Hidden in its own vastness, we reflect its eternal nature. It is no one's child. It is the mother of all, the father of the only world.
The world does not value some of itself and disparage the rest. It does not distinguish between its parts. The follower of the way cannot see the relative values men claim for themselves; he is no respecter of person.
In the midst of the world, you will find a bellows. It is empty but you will find no end to the effect of its action. The more you work it, the more effect it has. You will never find the bellows in a cloud of words. The bellows is in what you are.
The source of spirit has no end; it is the infinite expression of the world. The understanding of this expression is the substance of the world. It seems no more than a strand of spider's silk, barely suffering our touch. But when you rely upon it, it cannot be broken.
Spirit is eternal, and its expression is everlasting. Why are these so enduring? Spirit is eternal because it is not concerned with having a self, and so its expression endures.
The follower of the way is self-effacing and yet finds himself leading others. He lives outwardly yet finds himself secure. Is it not because he disregards the self that his individuality is so evident?
The highest expression of goodness is like water. Water nourishes all things, contends with no thing. It remains quietly in places avoided by men. This shows us the way.
In choosing how you live, descend into meekness. When nurturing ideas, learn to wait in silence. Among people, remain loving and receptive. When you speak, let it mirror your actions. In governing yourself, recede into harmony. In your work, through each necessary step, flow quickly to the end. When you act, act from the necessity of both the moment and your own individuality. In so far as you do not contend, you will be perfect.
Instead of seeking to bring everything to a conclusion, stop with what is now sufficient. If you continue to flatten and sharpen a blade, the edge will soon be gone. If your home expresses excess, it cannot be preserved. If you rely upon gain and self, you will harvest only gain and self.
This is the way: When you finish your work, release it.
Remaining both upon the way and in the midst of the world, are you able to express harmony? When relying upon spirit to meet your need, are you like a newborn child? In learning to see the spirit more clearly, have you used the eyes that have no form? In loving others and governing yourself, do you turn from self to spirit? In waiting upon an unfolding idea, can you bring it patiently to fruition? Entering upon the way and seeing its consequences, can you take no credit and unself your actions?
Cherish your ideas. Nurture your ideas. Cherish them without claiming them as your own. Do your work and then release it. Show the way. Do not kill it! This is the power of meekness.
None of the thirty spokes of the wheel can claim the necessity of the empty space within the hub. When we turn a pot, we only make an empty space with clay. Doors and windows make of emptiness a home.
The expression is necessary.
The spirit is necessary.
The colors of things make the eye unseeing. The sounds of things cause the ear not to hear. All the fine tastes rob the palate. Sports and violence close the mind. Objects built from desire ask for heartless acts.
The follower of the way nourishes his understanding, not his senses. He prefers the world to things.
Welcome disapproval as an unexpected blessing. Value discord as you do your own body.
Why should we welcome disapproval as an unexpected blessing? Because meekness is grace. Disapproval should come unexpectedly. And it should leave unexpectedly. This is why we should welcome disapproval as an unexpected blessing.
Why should we value discord as we do our own bodies? Because our bodies are the source of all discord. When you have no body, where will the discord be? For only he who is willing to turn from the body to spirit is worthy of the world. And only he who does this out of love can remain in the world.
You look and cannot see it; it has no form. You listen but cannot hear it; it makes no sound. You reach for it but it cannot be grasped; it is intangible. Three incorporeal aspects point to one object. Above it there is no brightness. Beneath it nothing is hidden. The nameless unfolds through eternity, returning us beyond the experience of things. We say "incorporeal" and "intangible." We say "beyond understanding" and "beyond imagination." But the nameless offers no front to oppose and no back to pursue. Enter upon the way and what is now real will be your dominion. Understand what is fundamental and you enter upon the way.
The ancient followers of the way were discerning: expressing gentleness, principle, and completeness. Their understanding knew no bounds.
At this great distance we can only vaguely describe such people. Steadfast as one fording a rushing winter stream. Careful as if surrounded by the enemy. Gentle and thoughtful as a guest. Yielding as ice turning to water. Simple as the uncarved block. Empty like a cave. Confused like the muddied water of a pool. Did they not patiently and quietly turn their confusion into understanding? Did they not inexorably move from matter to spirit?
The follower of the way is always complete. And precisely because he is not responsible for his own completeness, he can be like the sprouting seed, never hastening into ripeness.
In order to empty what must be emptied, cling single-mindedly to spiritual sense. Only consider the returning, no matter what confusion things present. Unfolding as they must, even things will return to what they are. To return to what you are is to find harmony. To find harmony is to fulfill necessity. To fulfill necessity is to be eternal. To be eternal is to see clearly. If you do not know the eternal, you are drawn from one calamitous drama to the next. If you know the eternal, you are included within all understanding. Once included, you can act rightly. Acting rightly, you have dominion. Expressing dominion, you show your spiritual sense. To use spiritual sense is to be upon the way. And this is to be eternal. Here you find yourself safe and sound, in spite of the experience of the body.
The best government is one of which the people are almost unaware. The next best is one the people speak well of and acclaim. The next best is one the people fear. The next best is one the people despise and rebel against.
When you lack integrity, your experience will lack integrity. The follower of the way is meek and says little. When he has done his work and things are as they should be, the people say, This is how we do it here.
When the way was abandoned, relative values and human justice were first seen. When knowledge and criticism arose, great hypocrites first appeared. When the connections between things were mislaid, filial piety and parental care came into the world. When government expressed darkness and discord, honest officials offered their service.
Give up knowledge and criticism, and you will lead others into great blessings. Give up relative values and human justice, and you will lead others to value what is natural. Give up the qualities that pursue wealth and profit, and you will lead others to give up theft and violence. These three yieldings are the following of the way. But mere giving up of things or ways is not sufficient in itself. Abandoning old ideas must be subordinated to gaining a higher understanding. See what is indivisible and embrace what is eternal. Efface self. Turn from the clamor of desire.
Give up reliance on learning, and you will remove the source of discord. How important is correct pronunciation? What is the difference between "good" and "evil?" Must I respect what others tell me to? What a load of nonsense.
Everyone else seems joyful and happy, as if at a holy feast, as if honored by the gods. Only I am waiting, quiet as an infant who has yet to return a smile. Only I am forsaken, destitute as a man whose home is destroyed. Everyone else is more than satisfied. Only I can find nothing of value. Everyone else is enlightened. Only I am dumb. I am monotonous like the ocean becalmed, aimless as the shifting breeze. What a load of nonsense; what a clouded mind I have.
The difference between me and busyness should be this--I know how substance supplies my every need.
Spiritual sense finds it natural to follow the way and in no way to stray from it. And what is the way? It evades and eludes our words. The words twist and turn. And yet the way is substance. We see it darkly, poorly. And yet the way is the source of all life. This source of life is reality and is unfailingly pure. The eternal way connects us to the source of all things. How do I know so much about the qualities of the way? I find them in me.
Give up the self, and you remain whole. Bend the self, and you remain straight. Empty the self, and you remain full. Only the self ages. You are forever new. Possess little, and you are sustained. Possess much, and you are lost in the clamor of desire.
The follower of the way embraces substance and becomes a pattern of clear expression to the world. He does not elevate himself, yet he is the expression of glory. He does not explain himself, yet he is known for what he is. He does not surround his ability with words, yet his work is acknowledged. He does not rely upon his accomplishments, yet he endures. He does not compete and no one can compete with him. The precept "Bend and you will remain unbroken" is no idle saying. When you demonstrate your wholeness, everything will come to you.
The only words that come to fruition are those that do not reach beyond demonstration. They are simple and meek. The whirlwind does not outlast the morning and the downpour does not outlast the day. What causes the whirlwind and the downpour? Substance? Substance does not sustain the violent expression of things. Nor does it sustain the violent expression of men.
So, he who demonstrates the way is upon the way. He who practices morality is one with morality. And he who gives up error is separate from that error. To be upon the way is to be satisfied within the way. To be moral is to be satisfied with morality. To be able to give up error is to be satisfied with losing error. If you are not faithful, you will lead others away from the blessings of faith.
If you stand too tall on tiptoe, you will fall down. If you take too big a step, you will fall down. And if you make too big a display of yourself, you will fall down. If you justify your self, you will attain nothing. If you boast of your work, it has no merit. If you recount your successes, they will not endure. Upon the way, anything pointing to the self is unwanted and unnecessary. Those upon the way point away from the self. Do not fall down.
Everything was already complete in itself before we explained the world, which is silent and without end. It is a unity eternally unchanging and filling all space. I call it substance; I do not know its name. Call it the way. Or call it simply great.
To be great is to continue; to continue is to go far; and to go far is to return. So, the way is great, spirit is great. Principle is one of the great pillars of the world. Man follows the shadow of expression. The shadows follow spirit, which is expression itself. Spirit follows the way, which explains all that follows.
Stability is the root of freedom. And serenity is the master of activity. The follower of the way does not part with his baggage cart even though the distractions upon the road are wonderful and many. He remains serene in his own home. Why should the leader of ten thousand people display his freedom for all to see? To be free in the common way is to be separated from your root. And to be merely active is to lose your serenity.
No trace is left by one who walks well. No criticism is heard of one who speaks directly. Good mathematics includes no errors. What is well-closed does not use lock or bolt, and yet no one can open it. What is well-tied uses no knot or rope, and yet it cannot be undone. Those upon the way cherish people, and so no one is abandoned. They cherish their ideas, and so no real inspiration is lost. Those upon the way are directed by spiritual sense.
Good men are always the teachers of the bad. Bad men are always the responsibility of the good. This is a law of the way, No matter how intelligent you think you are, cherish your teacher and cherish those you are responsible for.
While understanding masculine qualities, express feminine qualities and become the flowing stream of the world. To be the flowing stream of the world is to move constantly within the bounds of the way and to become again as a little child without straying from the path.
While understanding the spirit, demonstrate it here in the only world and become a pattern of the world. To be a pattern of the world is to remain upon the way and to return without straying from the path.
While understanding what is nameless, concentrate upon your experience among the names and become the fountain of the world. To be a fountain of the world is to live abundantly right here even as you return to your original simplicity. As this simplicity finds full expression, you will find it meets your every need.
When the original simplicity unfolds, it becomes useful ideas, which become the means of demonstration to those upon the way. A great tailor makes the fewest cuts.
Does anyone believe that he can take the world and shape it to his will? He cannot succeed. The world is a spiritual whole no part of which can be owned or altered. To seek to alter it is to spoil your understanding of it. To seek to own it is to lose what you already possess.
Things divide into "those ahead" and "those behind," the "lively" and the "slow," the "waxing" and the "waning," those "above" and those "below." Those upon the way avoid these useless divisions, these separations, these too many things.
Those who govern from the standpoint of the way do not try to shape the world with the cutting edge of weapons. The nature of the weapon is to harm its wielder. Where armies go, thorns cover fallow fields. What we must protect is our spiritual standpoint. We must not inflate the self. When you attain your goal, do not flaunt your achievement, nor boast of your ability, nor accept pride. You must instead regret that you could not avoid conflict. Never conquer others by force. To inflate the self is to embrace decay. It is no part of the way. And what is not part of the way is not real.
Weapons of war are flowers of evil--even inanimate objects seem to hate them. Those upon the way exclude weapons from their hearts. In peaceful times, men regard the left side as the place of honor; in war, men regard the right side as the place of honor. Flowers of evil are not the right means of expression for man. Only through lack of understanding will he resort to them. Peace and harmony are in the hearts of those upon the way. And a victory over others cannot be a reason to rejoice. Because to rejoice in a victory is to rejoice in death. Those who accept the death of others cannot share in the world of the living. In joyful times, the left side is preferred by men; in times of sadness, the right side. In war, the leader without responsibility stands on the left. The leader who bears responsibility stands on the right. War is a funeral service. Amid the death, the survivors should only mourn. Every victory is a funeral.
The way is outside of names. It is clear and compact in its original simplicity, superior to all things composing the world. If one could only remain upon it, the world would bow to his dominion. The effect of the way is the harmony, like morning dew, between the world and its expression--all mankind peaceful, principled, and self-governed.
When the original simplicity is lost, the manifold of names arises. Do we not have enough names? Is it not time to stop naming? By stopping, by returning, we avoid danger.
The way is to the world what the rivers and oceans are to all the waters.
It is only cleverness to understand the common-mindedness of the world. It is understanding to know one's individuality. It is violence to conquer men. It is strength to conquer the self. Wealth is knowing what is sufficient. Purpose is remaining upon the way. When you understand and possess your true home, you will endure. And he who gives up his life in this enduring understanding is eternal.
The way covers the world like a flood. So how can you say it passes to the left or to the right? All real ideas have their existence in the way. It denies none of these ideas to anyone. Its work is done, but it makes no claim for itself. It meets every need, sustains all, yet it grinds nothing underfoot. I consider it humble. All things are returning to it, coming home, yet it does not raise itself above them. I consider it unutterably great. It is because the way makes no claim for its own greatness, because it is meekness, that its greatness can be demonstrated.
He who expresses the nameless name will attract the world to himself. All come to him and are cared for because he expresses immediate peace and comfort and joy.
The music and the delicacies of the feast sustain the guests for but a moment. The substance of the way is eternal, even though it is plain to the palate and appeals neither to the ear nor to the eye.
The hide that is to be shrunken and tanned is first stretched. The steel that is to be tempered and sharpened is first made brittle. The kingdom that is cast down is first made great. And the city that is to be plundered is first made wealthy.
So it goes. The weak are found stronger than the strong. And the yielding are found harder than the hard. Like fish safe within deep water, those upon the way never listen to the idea that the power of the way belongs in any way to the self.
The way is never full of busyness. It simply does all that is done. If one can remain upon it, all ideas will come to fruition. If your life becomes busy, you must return to the original simplicity. The original simplicity is the only thing that quiets the clamor of desire. And when the desires are quiet, the world is found harmonious.
The way has nothing to do with virtue. Yet virtue surrounds it like a cloud. Virtue has nothing to do with power, strength, or demonstration. The way is never busy and serves no self. Virtue is only busy and is bound up in the self.
In seeking to emulate virtue, mankind avoids neither selfishness nor busyness. Morality shakes its finger at the self but is full of busyness. Ceremony is busy, busy, busy--never touching the heart, ever obstructing the way.
Leaving the way, man resorts to virtue. He falls from virtue into the form of virtue. Failing there, he takes refuge in morality. His emptiness turns morality into ceremony. Ceremony is the shell, the husk, of faith and steadfastness. It is the seed of discord and confusion.
Insight is an effect of the way and the destruction of confusion. Those upon the way turn to substance and not to the husk, to cause and not to effect, to spirit and not to things.
The world has always expressed unity. Spirit is one and expresses clarity. Substance is one and expresses harmony. Mankind is one and demonstrates the way. Abundance is one and fills all. All of the expressions of the way are one and reproduce themselves. Men and women are one and express dominion in the world. All in all is in unity.
If spirit were not clear, it would fragment. If substance were not harmonious, all would be separate. If mankind could not demonstrate the way, it would cease to be. If abundance did not supply every need, not one need could be filled. If all expressions did not reproduce themselves, we would fall into silent darkness. If men and women had no dominion, the way would be a lie.
Meekness is the source of greatness. And what is great must be built upon humility. And so those upon the way are meek. They realize their dependence upon the way. The honor that accrues to the worldly is no honor. It is shiny jade and tin bells.
The action of the way is found in returning. And its expression is found in meekness. All things are expressions of spirit. And the source of all expression is substance.
When someone who understands the moral value of the world hears of the way, he follows it without hesitation. When someone who partially understands moral value hears of the way, he swings back and forth between following the way and following self. When someone who thinks that value is relative hears of the way, he laughs it to scorn. If that kind of person did not laugh, the way would not be the way.
Old sayings have it: The way of light appears dark. The way of improvement appears backwards. The smoothest path appears difficult. Real virtue seems to be an abyss. Pure white is mottled to our eyes. Absolute strength seems weak. The practice of virtue is found in simplicity. Solid understanding is as water. Great uprightness has no sharp edges. Real talent blossoms late. The deepest sound is silent. The greatest form has no form.
The way is spiritual. It has no name. Only the way can help us and fulfill us.
The way is the origin of unity. Unity gave birth to its shadow. These two gave birth to the self. And the self fragments the one into many.
All of the many are one with substance and are embraced by expression. The harmony of each is in the unity of substance and expression.
Men hate to be called little or worthless. But this is what those upon the way call themselves. One gains by losing and loses by gaining. I repeat what I was told: A man who expresses discord can only experience discord. He who said this is my teacher, my father.
The meekest of all overcomes the most self-insistent. Only that which rises above separateness can understand unity. And this is the advantage of not being busy-minded. All real things are learned in silence and are the fruition of being simply- minded, that is, one-minded, mindful of unity.
Which is most important to you, your name or your body? What do you value most, your body or your wealth? And what is most painful to you, loss or gain? In your busy-mindedness, no right answers can appear. Love for any of these choices has painful consequences. Gathering any of them brings only great loss.
Understand what is sufficient, and there will be no disgrace. Understand when to stop, and there will be no harm. This is eternity.
Absolute perfection can only appear imperfect to imperfect eyes. Absolute fulfillment can only appear empty, yet it remains immanently useful. Absolute principle can only appear distorted; absolute skill, primitive; absolute eloquence, halting.
Activity supplants cold; calm overcomes heat. Harmony and calm compose the substance of the world.
When the world is understood from the way, wild horses manure the fields with droppings. Outside the way, armored war-horses fill the streets.
Nothing is worse than not knowing what is necessary. This is covetousness. This is greed. Only he who knows what is necessary will have what he needs.
It is not necessary to go out and experience the world in order to understand the consequences of the world. The way is clearly seen without looking out the window. The further you go into the experience of the self, the more your understanding is crowded out.
Those upon the way understand without passing through, comprehend without studying appearances, come to fruition without busyness.
Learning is composed of daily accretions. Being upon the way is composed of daily unlearnings. Give up one learned idea after another until you are no longer busy. Never busy, nevertheless everything necessary is done. To have dominion over the world, one must give up all learning. As long as you preserve your self, you will never have dominion.
Those upon the way are not self-serving; they express unselfed love. They are loving to the loving. And they are loving to the unloving. For the substance of the way is love. They are principled to the principled. And they are principled to those who have no principles. For the expression of the way is principle.
In the midst of the only world, those upon the way are humble and selfless in their motives. For the good of the world, their thoughts remain spiritual. Most people try to see and hear the drama of the world. Those upon the way smile quietly with the regained and hard-won innocence of a child.
When one is not upon the way, one is dead. All the accoutrements of living are to be found in death. When one is upon the way and then leaves it, one loses nothing. How can this be? It is because we are eternally connected to the way, to life.
They say that those upon the way meet wild buffaloes or tigers or become caught up in a battle, yet they remain untouched. In those who understand life, the horns of the buffalo find no substance; the claws of the tiger, no prey; the sword, no approach. How can this be? It is because the living of our eternal connection to life rules out death.
All things unfold upon the way. Intelligence forms them and substance nurtures them. The only world maintains their clear perfection. And so all things exalt the way and show the reality of substance. This exaltation and demonstration are not far from you. They are your birthright.
The way is life to all things. Its substance begins, unfolds, maintains, protects, loves, and nurtures them. This life enfolds us with its wings.
Express life, do not claim it as your own. Do your work, do not rely upon it. Show the way, do not obscure it. This is spiritual strength.
Every expression of substance has the same origin. This origin is the nurturer of the world. When you understand the mother of the world, you will understand her children. When you understand her children, you are ready to go past them and embrace substance. You will lose nothing by remaining with her, even if your body is destroyed.
Close the five senses, shut out all busyness, and you will never reach the end of substance. Embrace the five senses, do more of this and more of that, and you remain forever helpless.
Seeing what avoids the eyes is inspiration. Holding to what cannot be grasped is strength. See what is beneath the sun, but remain inspired. Do not leave the way. This is learning to endure.
If I had only half a brain, I would walk upon the way. And my only fear would be of not remaining upon it. The way is easy to follow, easy to understand. Still, most of us would rather wander in the dark light of the self.
The outside appearance of our lives is well-maintained, well-explained. But the fields that supply these lives are overgrown and fallow. Our granaries are empty. These lives are well-dressed. They are full of fine food. They love the death that lives in a weapon or a mirror. They are full of more things than will ever be shaped by the individual inside. They are the maintenance of crime.
As for the way, where in such a life is it to be seen?
What grows out of substance cannot be uprooted. What you understand cannot be lost to you. Those who follow your example will sacrifice self for the way.
Express goodness in your daily life, and you will find goodness is a part of you. Express it in the midst of your family, and it will grow there. Express it in the midst of your community, and it will live there. Express it among the people, and it will multiply. Express it here, in the only world, and you will find it the law of all.
See each person as the good expressing that person. See each community as the good living in that community. See all people as the good working as yeast in their midst. See all the world as the expression of good, growing out of substance.
How can you know this world? Express good.
Those accustomed to the way are like little children: poisonous creatures do not sting them, predators do not attack them, raptors do not seize them. Their bones are pliable, their muscles yielding. Their grasp cannot be shaken off. They do not know of any division of male and female. They remain whole and, with integrity, their lives unfold. They can yell and cry all day and never lose their voices. Harmony comes easily to them.
To express harmony is to know the eternal. To know the eternal is to have understanding. To rush at the world set on gaining something for the self is dangerous. To grasp the world with the will is death. To be full of busy knowledge is death. To criticize and judge and condemn is death. These depart from the way. Only upon the way do we find life.
To those who understand, the way is beyond the reach of words. Talking about it is so much ignorance.
Close the five senses. Shut out all busyness. Blunt the cutting mind. Unlearn all learning. Develop spiritual sense. Live in the only world. This is indivisible understanding that you cannot buy, cannot avoid, cannot assist, cannot harm. It is beyond your praise or your humility.
It is the highest understanding.
People are ruled by ordinary ideas. They are overcome by extraordinary ideas. But harmony is achieved by letting ideas alone. How can I say this? By my own example of following the way.
The more beliefs and morals there are, the more poverty is expressed. The more weapons in the hands of the people, the more confusion is expressed. The more learning and artifice there is, the more discord is expressed. Each rule or law only raises up more violence and greed.
This is the way: I keep from being busy, and others see that they can give up busyness. I express harmony, and others see that harmony requires nothing they do not already possess. Showing that the one way is the one morality, I help others see the source of abundance. I close my heart to the clamor of desire, and others witness my returning.
When the teacher does not rely upon words, the students learn clarity and joy. When the teacher is full of explanations, the students learn cleverness and competition.
Bad luck is the support of good luck. Good luck is the Trojan horse for bad luck. Where does such nonsense end? Is there no standard of understanding? What seems a standard is diffused into one of many. What seems substantial is too weak to support us. Looking and listening and learning, we maintain our confusion.
Those upon the way find the truth without analysis, express the truth without disfiguring its context, give up error without regret, show what is true without busyness.
In teaching others and in doing justice to the way, you must desire only good. To desire only good is to return to the way even as the thought comes to leave the way. To immediately return is to express substance in your life. To express substance is to overcome all that is not found in the way. And to overcome these things is to demonstrate spirituality. Only those who demonstrate spirituality have dominion over the self in this only world. Only those who understand substance endure.
Here is how we reach our roots deep into the way: We know there is one world, and we demonstrate spiritual sense.
Having dominion over the world is like cooking a small fish. There is no room for even a small mistake.
It is not that mistakes cannot occur, but that they have no power over those upon the way. Error has no power because the way is the expression of that which has no error. If those upon the way and those who would follow them express that which contains no error, all good would follow.
Spiritual sense is the valley that receives all the flowing streams. It is the mother of all great rivers. It is the basis of real strength, the feminine quality of the world. The feminine always overcomes the masculine by her harmony, by the meekness of her might.
If the greater in the world can abase itself before the lesser, the lesser will embrace the greater. If the lesser can remain harmonious before the greater, the greater will acquiesce to the lesser. The one is mighty through lowering itself. The other is mighty by remaining meek.
The greater must learn to express more love. The lesser must learn to be of greater service to all. In meekness, both meet their need.
But the hardest lesson is the greater's.
The way is the spiritual basis of the world. It is the pearl of great price for the good, and the returning for those lost. A loving word exerts itself and achieves its consequence. A loving gift is the only gift we may give each other. That someone is lost does not mean he is separate from the way.
And so when you offer up your tithe to the error you cannot avoid, let others turn to money and rich appeasements. Your offering is to remain quietly upon the way.
Why is the way loved from of old? It is because those who seek it are found and those who think anew are forgiven. Here is the value of the way.
Do what is not busy until your doing is effortless. Learn to appreciate what is not appreciated. Devote yourself to the humble and to those few, substantial ideas you have found among the many. Return love for ill, destroying ill in the first instant. Express the great in the small. We overcome what is difficult by meeting each small challenge as it arises. We achieve greatness by mastering the smallest of ideas. Those upon the way can never avoid great troubles. Yet great good is their expression. Those who pass lightly through the world have no faith in true substance. Thinking each thought superficially, they are chained to difficulties. Those upon the way see all as difficult and destroy that difficulty in their lives day by day.
Once upon a time, those upon the way never told anyone they would be better off for entering the way. They never talked about the way at all. The simply kept to the way.
And why is it hard to govern oneself this way? Because we try to be clever, building a world of words in the midst of one simplicity. To live in cleverness is discord, while he who lives upon the way dwells in goodness. To know this is to have a principle and a guide, which, if kept constantly in thought, are what the ignorant call mystical power. The power of the way is substance and eternity. It is the expression of returning, the source of harmony.
Why do all the streams and rivers pay homage to the sea? Because it is beneath them.
Those upon the way lead others to the way by keeping their words humble and by leaving self behind. When you hold yourself above others, the true substance of your thought is displaced by your insubstantial self. When you try to do the work for others, they do not suffer and so do not enter upon the way. The world is quick to accept the lie that another's suffering places them upon the way. People are happy for you to busy yourself with doing their work.
No one can bring busyness to those upon the way because they are separate from busyness itself.
The world admits that the way is great. But it adds that the way seems peculiar and is not really a part of the world. It is because the way has nothing to do with the self that the world finds it unworldly. If the way relied upon the self, it would have been a small and worldly thing from the beginning, and the world would have embraced it.
I have three ideas that I value and try always to express. They are love, frugality, and humility. By expressing love, I have the strength to go on. By expressing frugality, generosity comes naturally to me. And by expressing humility, I learn the great value of my own true nature.
If you do not express love and frugality and humility you express only death. Only love overcomes opposition. Only love preserves your individuality. The only world surrounds the loving and protects it with its love.
Upon the way, never be aggressive, never be angry. The best way of overcoming opposition is to build, not resistance, but understanding.
The best way to employ a man is to work for him. This is called concord. This is called employment. This is being at one with the way.
Those who understand the world prefer to be guests rather than play the host. They would rather give up much than grasp at a little. This is the idea of arriving without moving, of preparing oneself without outward show, of overcoming opposition without strife. It is the weapon of the spirit.
But the worst error is to under-estimate the power of the opponent and so lose your treasure. Success is with the guest whose treasure is substance.
All that I have written is easy to understand, easy to demonstrate. But the people cannot be bothered with understanding and demonstration. Stand apart!
My words are not my own, and my demonstrations follow in the footsteps of those who have shown us the way. But the people cannot understand even this much and so I am misunderstood. The few that understand are exalted by the way. Those upon the way remain humble even as they bear this shining treasure.
We must come to see all our learning as ignorance. To regard our learning as an understanding of the world is a disease of the mind. Only when we weary of this disease will we give it up. Those upon the way are not diseased in this way, having passed through darkness into the dawn. This is the understanding that gives health.
When the people are no longer afraid of your demonstration, you will know that they are ready to understand. Do not interfere with how they live or burden their daily work. You must cease teaching, and then those who are prepared will learn. Those upon the way know what they are, but do not preach this becoming to others. They love what they are, but remain humble. They remain with the spirit rather than with matter.
If you are brave in facing death, you are bound up with death. But if you are brave in refusing death, you will live. Of these two kinds of courage, one turns to ignorance, one to substance.
Spirit abhors some things--can you discern which? Even those upon the way cannot always discern rightly. You must learn to overcome without striving, encourage others without speaking, lead others to the way without governing, live without busyness.
The net of spirit is immense and wide-meshed, yet nothing escapes it.
When you are no longer afraid of death, give up the image of death. If the fear of death truly prevented evil acts, we could rightly arrest those who did not give up evil and execute them.
But the world does its killing and makes no mistakes. To do this for the world is to hew wood for the master carpenter. And you would be fortunate not to cut off your own hand with so busy a mind.
Why are people's lives so empty? Because the models before their minds require so many things, and so their lives are empty.
Why do the people accomplish so little? Because the models before their minds require them to be busy and self-seeking, and so they accomplish little.
Why do people have so little fear of their lives' consequences? Because the models before their minds are more material than moral, and so they do not see anything to fear.
The people have nothing to live for, and they show how little they value this only life.
Alive, you are lithe and supple. Dead, you are stiff and hard. Alive, the blossom is pliant and beautiful. Dead, the blossom is brittle and dry. The unyielding is death; the yielding is life. An army too large cannot respond and loses to its own mass. Dry wood is the easiest to cut. The proud and the selfish make their own death. The humble and tender discover life.
The way is like shooting a horn bow. When you draw the string, the upper curve lowers and the lower is raised. If the string is too long, you cut it short; if too short, you replace it with a longer one. The way takes from the infinite and supplies those in need. The way of the people is to take from those in need to mimic the infinite. Only those upon the way can show how the way can supply the needs of the world.
Those upon the way do their work but do not rely upon it. They finish each task but do not dwell on each result. They keep their good work as quiet as good can be.
Nothing is as soft and yielding as water, yet without effort it wears down the hard and unyielding. The soft overcomes the hard; the yielding, the unyielding. We all know this, but who can demonstrate it in their lives?
Those upon the way know that to take on the burden of others is to be exalted by others. To take on the burden of all men is to be exalted by all the world.
Truth arrives and is mistaken for a lie.
When a serious wound heals, there often remains a scar. Is this necessary? Those upon the way, holding fast to the guidance of the heart, do what the spirit dictates yet never try to govern others.
Those who are virtuous do their own work. Only those who do not understand the way try to govern others. The way is no respecter of persons. It knows only the good.
Oh, for a small place where few people live. The world is full of desirable goods, but they are of no use. Let us know the value of life and not waste ours searching far and wide. The means of travel and of war abound, but there is no good in them. Let us communicate in the simplest of ways. Let us have enough to eat and to wear, a small house, and simple work to fill our lives. Let the noise and clamor be so close to us that they beat upon our ears and fill our eyes. But we can remain apart, and let our living in the only world have nothing to do with the noise, nothing to do with the clamor.
The words of the spirit are sour. Sweet words do not bring us into the demonstration of the way. Those upon the way do not agree with the common-minded. Those who argue misunderstand goodness. The wise are not filled with learning. The learned are apart from wisdom. Those upon the way do not fill up their lives with getting this and that. The more they live for others, the more fully they are upon the way. The more they quietly give, the more they are filled. The way of this only world is to bless, not to harm. The way teaches us to avoid the busyness of others and to do our own work.
There--I have said too much.