The Dao is an empty vessel;
It is used and never fills up.
It’s so deep that it is like the origin of all things.
Blunt the sharpness;
Untangle the knot;
Soften the glare;
Merge with the dust;
Invisible and formless, it always seems to be present.
I have no idea who gave birth to it.
It seems to have existed before the Lord did.
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 4: the invisible and ineffable source
Do not single out the gifted for praise,
To ensure that the people never contend;
Do not prize rare goods,
To ensure that the people never steal;
Do not display objects of desire,
To ensure that the people’s hearts will never be restless.
That’s why the sage rules his people by:
Emptying their minds;
But filling their stomachs;
Weakening their ambitions;
But strengthening their sinews.
Always keeping the people free from knowledge and desires,
To ensure that those with knowledge will never dare act.
By acting with effortless action,
There is nothing that he cannot govern.
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 3: leadership through effortless action
The way that can be spoken of is not the constant way;
The name that can be named is not the constant name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth;
The named is the mother of the myriad things.
Therefore, by always remaining free of desire you can observe its secrets;
While by always remaining full of desire, you can observe its manifestations.
The two emerge from the same source,
But they have different names;
Call them both mysteries;
Mystery upon mystery;
The gateway to all secrets.
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 1: the gateway to all secrets
We are living in a time when the world’s store of data is increasing at an exponential rate. Is this enabling us to make better decisions or does it actually impede our ability to get things done because we get so caught so caught up in the minutiae of the data that we can’t see the wood for the trees? Continue reading Let go
Appearances can be deceptive. Don’t let your own prejudices or preconceptions cloud your judgment. Examples of human perfection are so rare that you are unlikely to be able to recognize them without scrutinizing them very carefully. Continue reading Cool and calm
What is the origin of heaven, earth, and all things? This is the question that Laozi explores in the first half of Chapter 42 of the Daodejing. Continue reading The origin of all things
No matter how compelling your “big idea” might be, it is impossible to persuade everyone to accept it. How do you go about promoting it so that it reaches the right people who will endorse it and accelerate its adoption amongst the benighted? Continue reading Big ideas and key influencers
The Dao is not static or linear. It operates in a dynamic circular motion that governs the lives of all things, always bringing them back to their original starting point so that the process is carried out once again. Continue reading The circle of life
The “One” (一) in this passage is clearly the Dao: it is not only the source of all things but also controls their fate. If they act in accordance with it they will be fine, but if they deviate from it disaster awaits. Continue reading The one
Imagine a pyramid. At its apex are the people in your office who are so far “in the zone” that they are not even conscious of it. They could include the CEO, a brilliant engineer or designer, or perhaps even a salesperson who lives for nothing more than the daily customer chase. Or, perhaps more likely, they could include nobody at all for achieving such a rarified state of natural spontaneity is almost impossible. Continue reading Fruit and Flowers