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
When the whole world knows to regard beauty as beauty, there is ugliness.
When the whole world knows to regard good as good, there is evil.
Thus, something and nothing nurture each other;
Difficult and easy complete each other;
Long and short give form to each other;
High and low depend on each other;
Note and sound harmonize each other;
Front and rear follow each other.
That’s why the sage:
Conducts his affairs with effortless action;
Spreads his teaching without words;
Lets all things unfold without initiating them;
Lets them grow without claiming possession of them;
Gets things done without expecting any gratitude;
Achieves his goals without claiming any credit.
It is precisely because he does not claim any credit,
That it stays with him forever.
The Dao doesn’t place any arbitrary labels on anything. It draws no false distinctions between beauty and ugliness and good and evil. It simply allows everything to unfold, without ever attempting to intervene, in the knowledge that opposing natural forces will remain in balance. Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 2: effortless action
The Dao that can be spoken of is not the eternal Dao;
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth;
The named is the mother of all things.
Thus, always free yourself of desires,
To observe its mysteries,
But always allow yourself to possess desires,
To observe its manifestations.
Both spring from the same source but have different names;
Together they are called subtle and profound;
The most subtle and the most profound;
The gateway to all mysteries.
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 1: the most subtle and the most profound
The White Cloud Temple in Beijing: it may not be as well-known as many of the sights in Beijing, but is definitely worth a visit. Continue reading White Cloud Temple in Beijing
A timely warning against the dangers of excess: your greed will come back to bite you in the end. Continue reading The dangers of excess
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
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
The definition of wuwei (無為) is much more subtle than simply “take no action” or “do nothing”; more strictly speaking, it means “don’t interfere” or “only act when it is absolutely necessary”. Continue reading Take no action