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Taoist Philosophy - Chapter 82

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Guard Against Being Over-Full


If you take muddy water and still it,
It gradually becomes clear.
If you grab hold of something in order to move it,
It gradually comes alive.
He who embraces the Tao
Guards against being over-full (conceited).
Because he guards against being over-full,
He is beyond wearing out and renewal.

(Because the eternal principle of life, Tao, works silently and without action in the way that spring comes round every year, because Tao does not claim credit for its individual acts and is content to be silent, it becomes the image for the Taoist Sage.)

Edited by Marblehead

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Lin Yutang's translation: XV. THE WISE ONES OF OLD


The wise ones of old had subtle wisdom and depth of understanding,

So profound that they could not be understood.

And because they could not be understood,

Perforce must they be so described:

Cautious, like crossing a wintry stream,

Irresolute, like one fearing danger all around,

Grave, like one acting as guest,

Self-effacing, like ice beginning to melt,

Genuine, like a piece of undressed wood,

Open-minded, like a valley,

And mixing freely, like murky water.


Who can find repose in a muddy world?

By lying still, it becomes clear.

Who can maintain his calm for long?

By activity, it comes back to life.


He who embraces this Tao

Guards against being over-full.

Because he guards against being over-full

He is beyond wearing out and renewal.

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