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365 Tao - Deng Ming-Dao

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A knife keeps its edge

Only with honing and proper cutting.

A warrior's virtue is readiness.

A sage's virtue is awareness.


"This life is so competitive and challenging that one must remain in constant readiness for the problems and conflicts that come with each day. That is why the followers of Tao meld the way of the warrior and the sage. They want the courage and preparedness of the fighter, the luminous perception of the wise. Each day, they dedicate themselves to maintaining their characters and perpetuating their development. But how does one maintain one's edge without blunting?


There is a fable about a king who was watching his butcher. He was amazed that the man could dismember a whole ox without much effort and without dulling his knife. Seeking to learn, the king questioned his servant, who said that his secret was to insert his knife only in the spaces between muscles, thus parting the body along its natural lines. In this way, where an ordinary butcher had to grind his blade daily, he only had to sharpen his knife once a year.


From this we can learn that we must first hone ourselves to a sharp edge, but the proper use of our talents is equally essential. We must remember to take action along the basic lines and seams of the day. If we do this, we can never be opposed for long."


I implore all Taoists who would be ready for the future to read James Howard Kunstler's weekly essay at We are really headed for an extraordinarily different future, one for which most people, at least Americans, will never be able to adapt. For Taoists, there will be extraordinary opportunities.

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