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Slang Version of the TTC

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Part One

TAO (The Way)




If you can talk about it,

it ain't Tao.

If it has a name,

it's just another thing.


Tao doesn't have a name.

Names are for ordinary things.


Stop wanting stuff;

it keeps you from seeing what's real.

When you want stuff,

all you see are things.


Those two sentences

mean the same thing.

Figure them out,

and you've got it made.




If something looks beautiful to you,

something else must be ugly.

If something seems good,

something else must seem bad.


You can't have

something without nothing.

If no job is difficult,

then no job is easy.

Some things are up high

because other things are down low.

You know you're listening to music

because it doesn't sound like noise.

All that came first,

so this must be next.


The Masters get the job done

without moving a muscle

and get their point across

without saying a word.


When things around them fall apart,

they stay cool.

They don't own much,

but they use whatever's at hand.

They do the work

without expecting any favors.

When they're done,

they move on to the next job.

That's why their work is so damn good.




If you toss compliments around freely,

people will waste your time

trying to impress you.

If you give things too much value,

you're going to get ripped off.

If you try to please people,

you'll just make them really angry.


The Master leads

by clearing the crap

out of people's heads

and opening their hearts.

He lowers their aspirations

and makes them suck in their guts.


He shows you how to forget

what you know and what you want,

so nobody can push you around.

If you think you've got the answers,

he'll mess with your head.


Stop doing stuff all the time,

and watch what happens.




How much Tao is there?

More than you'll ever need.

Use all you want,

there's plenty more

where that came from.


You can't see Tao, but it's there.

Damned if I know where it came from.

It's just always been around.




Tao's neutral:

it doesn't worry about good or evil.

The Masters are neutral:

they treat everyone the same.


Lao Tzu said Tao is like a bellows:

It's empty,

but it could help set the world on fire.

If you keep using Tao, it works better.

If you keep talking about it,

it won't make any sense.


Be cool.




Tao is an eternal mystery,

and everything starts with Tao.


Everybody has Tao in them.

They just have to use it.




Tao never stops. Why?

Because it isn't trying to accomplish anything.


The Masters hang back.

That's why they're ahead of the game.


They don't hang on to things.

That's how they manage to keep them.


They don't worry

about what they can't control.

That's why they're always satisfied.




"Doing the right thing" is like water.

It's good for all living things,and flows without thinking about where it's going


...just like Tao.


Keep your feet on the ground.

Remember what's important.

Be there when people need you.

Say what you mean.

Be prepared for anything.

Do whatever you can,

whenever it needs doing.


If you don't

compare yourself to others,

nobody can compare to you.




If you drink too much, you get drunk.

The engine won't start

if you're always tinkering with it.


If you hoard wealth,

you fall into its clutches.

If you crave success,

you succumb to failure.


Do what you have to do,

then walk away.

Anything else will drive you nuts.




Can you hold on to your ego

and still stay focused on Tao?


Can you relax your mind and body

and brace yourself for a new life?


Can you check yourself

and see past

what's in front of your eyes?


Can you be a leader

and not try to prove you're in charge?


Can you deal with what's happening

and let it happen?


Can you forget what you know

and understand what's real?


Start a job and see it through.

Have things

without holding on to them.

Do the job

without expectation of reward.

Lead people

without giving orders.

That's the way you do it.




A wheel has spokes,

but it rotates around a hollow center.


A pot is made out of clay or glass,

but you keep things in the space inside.


A house is made of wood or brick,

but you live between the walls.


We work with something,

but we use nothing.




Sight obscures.

Noise deafens.


Desire messes with your heart.

The world messes with your mind.


A Master watches the world

but keeps focused on what's real.




Winning can be just as bad as losing.

Confidence can mess you up

just as much as fear.


What does

"winning can be just as bad as losing" mean?


If you're down,

you might be able to get up.

But if you're up,

you can get knocked down real fast.

Don't worry about the score,

just do what you have to do.


What does

"confidence can mess you up

just as much as fear" mean?


Fear can keep you

from getting the job done,

but confidence

can get you in over your head.

Walk tall, but don't get cocky.


Know your limits,

and nothing can ever hold you back.

Deal with what you can.

The rest will follow.




You can't see Tao,

no matter how hard you look.

You can't hear Tao,

no matter how hard you listen.

You can't hold on to Tao,

no matter how hard you grab.


But it's there.


It's in you, and it's all around you.


Remember that.




The ancient Masters

were damn impressive.

They were deep. Real deep.

Words can't even begin to describe

how deep they were.

You can only talk

about how they acted.


They were careful,

like a man walking on thin ice.

They were cautious,

like a soldier behind enemy lines.

They were polite,

like a guest at a party.

They moved quickly, like melting ice.

They were as plain as a block of wood.

Their minds were as wide as a valley,

and their hearts as clear

as spring water.


Can you wait

for that kind of openness and clarity

before you try to understand the world?


Can you hold still

until events have unfolded

before you do the right thing?


When you act without expectations,

you can accomplish great things.




Keep your head clear.

Stay calm.


as everything happens around you.


Everything reverts

to its original state,

which was nothing.

And when something becomes nothing,

it gets right with Tao.


If you don't understand that,

you're going to screw up

somewhere down the line.

If you figure it out,

you'll always know what to do.


If you get right with Tao,

you won't be afraid to die,

because you know you will.




When a Master takes charge,

hardly anybody notices.

The next best leader

is obeyed out of love.

After that,

there's the leader obeyed out of fear.

The worst leader is one who is hated.


Trust and respect people.

That's how you earn

their trust and respect.


The Masters don't give orders;

they work with everybody else.

When the job's done,

people are amazed

at what they accomplished.




When people lose touch with Tao,

they start talking about

"righteousness" and "sanctity."


When people forget what's true,

they start talking about

"self-evident truths."


When people have no respect

for one another,

they start talking about

"political correctness"

and "family values."


When the nation is unstable,

people start talking about "patriotism."





Get rid of sanctity.

People will understand the truth

and be happier.


Get rid of morality.

People will respect each other

and do what's right.


Get rid of value and profit.

People will not steal

if they do not desire.


If that's not possible, go to Plan B:

Be simple. Be real.

Do your work as best you can.

Don't think about what you get for it.

Stay focused. Get rid of all your crap.






Don't spend too much time

thinking about stupid stuff.

Why should you care

if people agree or disagree with you?

Why should you care

if others find you attractive or not?

Why should you care

about things that worry others?

Call bullcrap on all that.


Let other people

get worked up

and try to enjoy themselves.

I'm not going to give myself away.

A baby doesn't know how to smile,

but it's still happy.


Let other people

get excited about stuff.

I'm not going to hang on to anything.

I'm not going to fill my mind with ideas.

I'm not going to get stuck in a rut,

tied down to any one place.


Other people are clever;

I guess I must be stupid.

Other people have goals;

I guess I must be aimless.

Like the wind. Or the waves.


I'm not like other people.

I'm getting right with Tao.




A Master stays focused on Tao.

Nothing else, just Tao.


But you can't pin Tao down--

you can't even see it!

How are you supposed to focus on something like that?


Just remember what Lao Tzu said:

The universe began as a void.

The void fills with images.

Images lead to the creation of objects.

And every object has Tao at its core.


That's the way it's been,

ever since the world began.

How can I be so sure?

I just know.






Learn how to stand still

if you want to go places.

Get on your knees

if you want to stand tall.

If you want wisdom,

empty your mind.

If you want the world,

renounce your riches.

Push yourself until you're exhausted,

and then you'll find your strength.


You can go far

if you don't have anything to carry.

The more you acquire,

the less you can really see.


A Master takes this to heart

and sets an example

for everybody else.


She doesn't show off

so people take notice.

She's not out to prove anything

so people take her at her word.

She doesn't brag about herself

but people know what she's done.

She hasn't got an agenda

but people know what she can do.

She's not out to get anybody

so nobody can get in her way.


"Learn how to stand still

if you want to go places."

That's not as crazy as it sounds.

Get in touch with Tao,

and you'll see what I mean.




When you have nothing to say,

you may as well keep your mouth shut.

The wind and the rain

don't go on forever.

If nature knows enough

to give it a rest sometimes,

so should you.


If you're ready for Tao,

you can live with Tao.

If you're ready to succeed,

you can live with success.

If you're ready to fail,

you can live with failure.


Trust your instincts,

and others will trust you.




Keep your feet firmly planted

unless you want to fall on your face.

Learn how to pace yourself

if you want to get anywhere.

Don't call attention to yourself

if you want people to notice your work.


Nobody respects people

who always have excuses.

Nobody gives credit to people

who always take it.

People who hype themselves

have nothing else to offer.


Think of being in touch with Tao

like eating at a buffet:

Take only what you need.

Save some for everybody else.




Something perfect

has existed forever,

even longer than the universe.

It's a vast, unchanging void.

There's nothing else like it.

It goes on forever and never stops,

and everything else came from it.


I don't know what else to call it

so I'll call it Tao.

What's it like?

I can tell you this much: it's great.


So great that it endures.

Something that endures

goes a long way.

And something that goes a long way

always comes back to the beginning.


Tao's great.

Heaven's great.

Earth's great.

And someone in touch with Tao

is great, too.

Those are the four greatest things

in the universe.


Someone who's in touch with Tao

is in touch with the earth.

The earth is in touch with heaven.

Heaven's in touch with Tao.

Tao's in touch with the way things are.




To be light on your feet,

you need a steady mind.

If your body is active,

your mind should be relaxed.


A Master can travel long distances

and still see everything she owns.

She may be surrounded by beauty

but she isn't caught up in it.


Why run around thoughtlessly?

If you act lightly,

you lose your bearings.

If you act recklessly,

you lose your self-control.




With enough practice,

you could come and go without a trace,

speak without stumbling over words,

do complicated math problems

in your head.


You could build a door with no lock

that nobody could open.

You could tie something down

with no knots,

without even a rope,

and nobody could pry it loose.


Masters have time to help everybody,

and ignore nobody.

They use their resources wisely,

wasting nothing.

Some people call this

"following the light."


Good people teach others

because they have the potential

to be good too.

Brains count for nothing

if you fail to respect your teachers

or to honor the potential in others.

That's one of the most important lessons of Tao.




If you are strong,

but remain sensitive,

power will flow through you.

With that power,

you'll always be right with Tao:

It's like a whole new life.


If you are idealistic,

but stay rooted in reality,

you are an example to others.

Set that example,

and you'll always be right with Tao:

There is no limit to what you can do.


If you are honorable,

but remain humble,

you will see things as they are.

If you see things as they are,

you'll always be right with Tao:

Your life will become simple,

yet full of potential.


Let Tao show you

how to get right with Tao,

so your slightest gesture

can change the world.




Want to take over the world?

Think again.

The world's a holy place.

You can't just mess around with it.

Those who try to change it destroy it.

Those who try to possess it lose it.


With Tao, you push forward,

or maybe you stay behind.

Sometimes you push yourself,

other times you rest.

Sometimes you're strong,

sometimes you're weak.

Sometimes you're up,

and sometimes you're down.


A Master lives simply,

avoiding extravagance and excess.




Listen up:

If you want to be a leader

who's in touch with Tao,

never use violence

to achieve your goals.


Every act of violence backfires.

An army on the move

leaves a trail of tears,

and a military victory

always lies in ruins.


The Masters do what needs doing

and that's all they do.

Do what you have to do

without arrogance or pride.

Get the job done

and don't brag about it afterwards.

Do what you have to do,

not for your own benefit,

but because it needs to be done.

And don't do it the way

you think it should be done,

do it the way it needs to be done.


The mighty will always lose their power

and any connection

they ever had to Tao.

They will not last long;

if you're not right with Tao,

you might as well be dead.




Weapons are terrible things.

If you want to get right with Tao,

reject weapons.


The Master,

knowing all things came from Tao,

recognizes what he has in common

with his enemies

and always tries to avoid conflict.


But when there is no other choice,

he uses force reluctantly.

He does so with great restraint,

and never celebrates a victory;

to do so would be to rejoice in killing.

A person who would rejoice in killing

has completely lost touch with Tao.


When you win a war,

you preside over a funeral.

Pay your respects to the dead.




Tao is an eternal mystery,

so small you can never take hold of it.


If a leader gets right with Tao,

people will follow him on instinct.

All will be right with the world.

People will do the right thing

without being told.


Everything that comes from Tao

needs a name.

But once everything has its name,

you should make no other distinction between things.

This prevents you

from becoming trapped by them.


Everything in the universe is full of Tao

and leads to Tao,

just like the water in rivers

that flows into oceans.




Knowing things makes you smart,

but knowing yourself makes you wise.

To rule others, you must be powerful,

but to rule yourself,

you must be strong.


If you have only what you need,

you have true wealth.

If you never give up,

you will find a way.

If you stay true to yourself,

you will never be lost.

If you stay alive your whole life,

you've really lived.




Tao flows in all directions.

It's in everything,

but nothing can contain it.

Everything needs Tao,

so Tao provides,

and never expects anything in return.


Everything comes from Tao,

but Tao doesn't call attention to itself.

It wants for nothing.

Think nothing of it.


Everything leads to Tao,

but Tao doesn't call attention to itself.

Pretty impressive, huh?


It doesn't strive for success.

That's why it succeeds.




When you get right with Tao,

everybody wants to be your friend.

When they're around you,

they can relax and enjoy themselves.


People can be easily distracted

by music or good food.

When we try to talk about Tao,

it seems boring by comparison.


It doesn't look like much.

It doesn't sound like much.

But no matter how much you use,

there's still plenty left.




To make something smaller,

you need to appreciate its size.

To make something weaker,

you must recognize its strength.

To get rid of something,

you need to hold it tight.

To take something,

you must give it up entirely.


To put it another way:

Sensitivity and weakness

overcome unfeeling strength.




Tao never does anything

but nothing is left undone.


If our leaders

could get in touch with Tao,

the world would take care of itself.

Even if they wanted

to impose their own ideas,

they'd be drawn back to Tao's

nameless simplicity.


When our lives are that simple,

we want for nothing.

We can relax,

and the world becomes a better place.



Part Two

TE (Virtue)





People with integrity

don't even think about it.

That's how you can tell

they have integrity.

Other people talk about

how much integrity they have,

when they really don't have much.

If any.


Truly powerful people

don't do anything,

but they get the job done.

Other people are always busy

doing something,

but nothing ever gets done.


When kind people act,

they do so without thinking about it.

When the just act,

they're always sure

they're doing the right thing.

But when the righteous act,

and nobody reacts,

they try to force everyone

to do things their way.


If you're not in touch with Tao,

at least you can still have integrity.

If you don't have integrity,

there's always kindness.

If you don't have kindness,

there's always justice.

If you don't have justice,

all you have left is righteousness.


Righteousness is an pale imitation

of true faith and loyalty,

and always leads to trouble.

If you've already made up your mind,

you don't know the first thing about Tao,

and you never will.


The Masters pay attention

to what's beneath the surface.

They'll look at a tree's leaves,

but eat the fruit.

They turn all that down,

so they can accept this.




Since time began,

this is what it's meant

to be in touch with Tao:


Tao made the heavens clear.

Tao made the earth solid.

Tao made our spirits strong.

Tao made the valleys fertile.

Tao gave all living things life.

Tao gave rulers authority.


Without Tao,

the heavens would collapse.

Without Tao,

the earth would crumble.

Without Tao,

our spirits would fade away.

Without Tao,

the valleys would dry up.

Without Tao,

all life would become extinct.

Without Tao,

rulers would stumble and fall.


Humility gives us power.

Our leaders should think of themselves

as insignificant, powerless,

unworthy of their stature.

Isn't that what humility is all about?


Be strong,

but pay no attention to hollow praise.

Don't call attention to yourself.

Don't make a scene.




Tao is always heading

back to where it came from.

Tao advances by not pressing forward.


Things exist because they are.

They are because they once were not.




When a wise person hears about Tao,

he gets right with it.

When an ordinary person

hears about Tao,

he tries to get right with it,

but eventually gives up.

When a fool hears about Tao,

he just laughs and laughs.

If he didn't laugh, it wouldn't be Tao.


Here's what they find so funny:

The path to enlightenment

seems covered in shadows.

The way forward

feels like taking a step back.

The easiest path seems difficult.

Those with the most virtue

seem debased.

Those who are most pure

seem to be grubby and soiled.

The deepest thoughts appear shallow.

The greatest strength

looks like weakness.

What is most real

strikes us as imaginary.

The largest space has no boundaries.

The greatest talent

seems to produce nothing.

The greatest voice is unhearable.

The greatest beauty is invisible.


Tao is hidden to us

and it has no name.

It is the source and the strength of all things.




Chapter 42 starts out

with some cosmic mumbo-jumbo

about Tao making one,

one making two,

two making three,

and three making everything else.


I don't know what it means,

and, frankly,

I wouldn't worry about it too much.


Let's get to the practical part:

Men hate to be called

powerless, insignificant, or unworthy,

but that's how

Masters describe themselves.


Because when we lose, we've won.

And when we succeed, we've failed.


Other people will tell you

what I'm telling you now:

"Live by the sword, die by the sword."

That's pretty much what Chapter 42

boils down to.

(See Chapter 46 for more details.)




The softest force in the universe

can overcome the hardest of objects.

Something without substance

can pass through the space between atoms.


That's how I know

about the power of doing nothing.


The silent teachings

and the power of doing nothing

can only be understood

by a few people.




What's more important,

fame or your well-being?

What's worth more,

your money or your life?

What is more dangerous,

winning or losing?


If you are too attached

to your possessions,

they will bring you misery.

If you hang on to your riches,

you will suffer substantial loss.

If you know when you have enough,

you will never be disgraced.

If you practice moderation,

you can stay out of trouble.


And that's the secret to lasting success.




The greatest achievements

may look like mistakes,

but you will always be able

to build upon them.


The fullest reserves may seem empty,

but you will always be able

to draw upon them.


The straightest line looks crooked.

The most skilled people

come off as clumsy.

The most eloquent people

are usually silent.


When it's cold,

you can move around to stay warm.

When it's hot,

you should keep still and stay cool.

But whatever the weather,

if you stay calm,

the world will sort itself out around you.




"When the world is right with Tao,"

Lao Tzu said,

"horses haul fertilizer to the fields.

When the world loses touch with Tao,

horses are trained for cavalry."


Nothing is more insidious than possession.

Nothing is more dangerous than desire.

Nothing is more disastrous than greed.


If you know when enough is enough,

you will always have enough.





You don't have to leave your room

to understand what's happening in the world.


You don't have to look out the window

to appreciate the beauty of heaven.


The farther you wander,

the less you know.


The Masters don't wander around

They know.

They don't just look.

They understand.

They don't do anything,

but the work gets done.





we try to learn something new every day.


But if we want to get right with Tao,

we have to let go of something every day.


We do less and less,

until we end up doing nothing.

And it's when we do nothing

that we get the job done.


Let events take their course,

and everything will turn out

in your favor.

If you act on your ambitions,

they will never pan out.




The Masters

don't make up their minds.

They turn their thoughts

to other people.


They are good to good people,

and they're good to bad people.

This is real goodness.


They have faith in the faithful,

and they have faith in the unfaithful.

This is real faith.


A Master throws himself

into the world completely,

forgetting everything he's been told.

People pay attention to him

because he lives a life of child-like wonder.




People who look

for the secret of long life

wind up dead.


Their bodies are the focus of their lives

and the source of their death,

because they think a healthy body

is all there is to life.


Lao Tzu used to say

a man who truly understood life

could walk through the jungle

without fear

or across a battlefield

without armor, totally unarmed.

Wild animals and weapons couldn't kill him.


I know, I know:

what the hell does that mean?

"Well, he couldn't be killed,"

Lao Tzu said,

"because his body

wasn't where he kept his death."




Tao is the source of all living things,

and they are nourished

by Tao's power.

They are influenced

by the other living things around them,

and they are shaped

by their circumstances.


Everything respects Tao

and honors its power.

That's just the way it is.


Tao gives life to all things,

and its power watches out for them,

cares for them, helps them grow,

protects them, and comforts them.


Create something

without holding on to it.

Do the work

without expecting credit for it.

Lead people

without giving them orders.

That's the secret of the power of Tao.




Everything starts with Tao,

the mother of all things.

If you know the mother,

you know the children.

If you know the children

and remember the mother,

you have nothing to fear in your life.


Shut your mouth and keep still,

and your life will be full of happiness.

If you talk all the time,

always doing something,

your life will be hopeless.


It takes insight to see subtlety.

It takes strength

to yield gently to force.

Use that strength

to hang on to your insight,

and you will always be at peace.

That's how to get right with Tao.





If I had any sense,

I'd be trying to get right with Tao,

and the only thing I'd worry about

would be messing up.

It's not that hard to get right with Tao,

but people are easily distracted.


"When the king's palace is full of treasure,"

Lao Tzu said,

"ordinary people's fields

are smothered with weeds,

and the food supplies run out."


Today, you see sharply dressed people

carrying flashy weapons

and living the high life.


They own more

than they could ever use,

let alone need.


They're nothing

but gangsters and crooks.

That's not what Tao's about.




Tao's power is so deeply entrenched

it can never be uprooted.

Tao's power clings so tightly

it can never slip away.

It will endure for generations.


If you get in touch

with the power of Tao,

it will become real.

If your family gets in touch

with the power of Tao,

the power will flourish.


If your community gets in touch

with the power of Tao,

the power will grow even stronger.

If your country gets in touch

with the power of Tao,

the power will become abundant.


If the world gets in touch

with the power of Tao,

the power will be everywhere.


How can I know this?

I just do.




A person filled with the power of Tao

is like a baby boy:

bees can't sting him,

wild beasts can't attack him.


A baby has soft bones

and weak muscles,

but a firm grip.

He hasn't had sex,

but he can get an erection.

That's because he's got lots of energy.

He can cry all day

and never lose his voice.

That's because he's at one with his world.


If you're at one with the world,

you know constancy.

And if you know constancy,

you've been enlightened.


It's not healthy

to try to prolong your life.

It's unnatural to impose the mind's will

upon the body.

People waste time and energy

trying to be strong or beautiful,

and their strength and beauty fade.

They've lost touch with Tao,

and when you lose touch with Tao,

you might as well be dead.




Those who know, don't talk.

Those who talk, don't know.


Shut your mouth.

Be still. Relax.

Let go of your worries.

Stay out of the spotlight.

Be at one with the world

and get right with Tao.


If you get right with Tao,

you won't be worried

about praise or scorn,

about winning or losing,

about honor or disgrace.

That's the way to be.




You can run a country

by sticking to principles,

and you can win a war

with strategy and tactics.

But you can gain the entire world

by doing nothing at all.


How do I know this?

I've seen it happen:

The more restrictions

a nation imposes,

the poorer its people become.

When a nation hoards weapons,

troubles arise from within

and from without.

When its leaders try

to be cunning and clever,

the situation spins

further out of control.

When they try to fix things

by passing more laws,

they only increase the number of outlaws.


A wise leader says to himself:

"I do nothing,

and people transform themselves.

I keep silent,

and they do the right thing

on their own.

I stay out of the way,

and they prosper.

I want for nothing,

and they lead simple lives."




When a nation is ruled

with a light touch,

people lead simple lives.

When a government

is harsh and demanding,

people will spend their time

trying to outsmart it.


Happiness is rooted in misery,

and misery lurks beneath all joy.

Who knows what could happen tomorrow?


Everything is relative;

what's considered proper today

may become improper.

Correct appearances

may hide dishonesty and sinfulness.


No wonder so many people get confused.


The Masters have sharp minds,

not sharp tongues.

They are austere,

but never judgmental.

They are straightforward,

but not provocative.

They are brilliant,

but not flashy.




Leadership is based on moderation.

Practice moderation,

and you'll get in touch

with the power of Tao.


If you get right with Tao,

nothing is impossible.

If you get right with Tao,

there's no limit to what you can do.

If you get right with Tao,

you can be a true leader.


Remember this advice

if you want to be a leader:

Plant deep roots in firm soil.

Get right with Tao,

and you'll always see things clearly.




Being a leader

is like cooking a small fish;

get right with Tao,

and it's quick and easy.


When you're in touch with Tao,

you don't need to worry

about misfortune.

You can't make it go away, of course,

but you can keep it

from harming other people.


Also, as a wise leader,

you cause no harm to others,

so people won't have to worry

about getting hurt,

and they'll take the opportunity

to do the right thing.




Power flows down

to every level of existence

like a river to the ocean.


Victory comes

from lying perfectly still

and waiting for power

to come your way.


If you yield to someone

less powerful than yourself,

you will be in a position

to influence them.


If you submit to someone

more powerful than yourself,

you create an opportunity

to get your own way.


So if you want to get ahead,

lay low and bide your time.

That way, everybody's happy.




Every living thing

gets its strength from Tao.

Good people respect the value of Tao.

The wicked and foolish don't,

but Tao provides for them anyway.


Some people gain power and prestige through fancy words,

others through great deeds.

But Tao is available to everyone,

not just the powerful.

So don't look down on anybody.


When people become powerful,

and everybody lines up

to kiss their ass,

sit still and stay right with Tao.


Why have the Masters

always respected Tao?

Because when you get right with Tao,

you can always find

what you need to get by,

and trouble can never find you.




Keep still.

Don't work so hard.

Learn to appreciate everyday life.

Pay attention to details.

Start small and work your way up.

When people give you trouble,

let it slide.


Break everything down to its essentials.

Get the job done

before it becomes a chore.


With the right preparation,

difficult tasks

can be completed with ease;

every major project

consists of simple steps.


The Masters don't take on

more than they can handle,

which is why

they can do just about anything.


Don't promise

more than you can deliver,

and don't underestimate the task:

You'll only make things harder for yourself.


The Masters are always aware

of the difficulties involved,

which is why

they never have to deal with them.




It's easy to maintain balance.

Trouble can be nipped in the bud.

Fragile things break easily,

and small things are easy to lose.


Deal with the situation

before it becomes a problem.

Keep everything straight

so it can't get messed up.


Every tree was once a seed.

Every skyscraper started out

with a shovelful of dirt.

And--stop me if you've heard this one before--

a journey of a thousand miles

begins with a single step.


When you try too hard,

you defeat your own purpose.

Cling to stuff,

and you will suffer loss.

The Masters make no effort,

so they never fail.

They aren't attached to things,

so they never feel loss.


People often screw up

when the job's nearly done.

Pay as much attention

to the finishing touches

as you do to the initial steps,

and you won't screw up like that.


The Masters try to be free from desire.

They don't collect precious things.

They don't cling to any beliefs.

They pay attention

to what everybody else ignores.

They help the world get right with Tao,

but don't try to change a thing.




In ancient times,

leaders who were right with Tao

didn't teach everybody

how to become enlightened.

They kept people's lives simple.


People who know too much

can't be taught anything.

Leaders who try to be clever

always screw things up.

Leaders who keep things simple

always make things right.


If you get that,

you'll understand

the mysterious power of Tao.


That kind of power is so deep,

so extensive,

it penetrates into every level of existence.




An ocean is greater

than the hundred rivers

that flow into it,

and all it does is wait

to receive what they bring.


If you want to teach people,

don't talk down to them.

If you want to lead them,

find out where they want to go.


People love leaders

who make them feel safe

without smothering them.

They'll always support

a leader like that,

and because he doesn't try

to compete with anybody,

nobody is able to compete with him.




Everywhere I go, people tell me,

"Tao is so powerful, so immense,

it's inconceivable!"


But it's only powerful

because it's inconceivable.

If we could wrap our minds around it,

Tao would be just another thing.


The three most important qualities in life

are compassion,

or showing kindness and mercy to others,


or knowing what a thing is worth,

and modesty,

or knowing your place in the world.


Courage stems from showing

kindness and mercy to others.

Generosity starts with knowing

what a thing is worth.

True leadership begins with knowing

your place in the world.


But these days,

I see everyone trying to act courageous

without any trace of compassion.

They try to be generous

but they don't practice moderation

in their own lives.

They act like leaders,

but they have no sense of modesty.

No good can come of this.


If you want to get ahead,

show people compassion.

When other people attack you,

defend yourself with compassion.

It's the most powerful force in the universe.






A true warrior never uses force

with an attitude of pride or anger.

A true victor

does not pursue vengeance.

A true leader shows humility.


This is the power of modesty.

It's the best way to deal with people.

It's always been an excellent way

to get right with Tao.




There's an old military saying:

"I'd rather face an attack

than have to make one.

I'd rather retreat a foot

than try to advance an inch."


That's the secret to moving forward

while staying put,

preparing for battle

without revealing your strength.


When you defend yourself

without any show of force,

you give your opponent

nothing to fight.


Attacking an enemy

you've underestimated

is a costly mistake.

When two forces oppose each other,

the winner is the one most reluctant to fight.




Lao Tzu's advice

was easy to understand

and easy to follow.

But nobody understood him

or did what he suggested.


His words

stemmed from ancient wisdom,

and his actions were highly disciplined.

People didn't get that,

which is why

they didn't understand him.

And the less they understood him,

the more meaningful his advice became.


That's why the Masters live simply,

hiding their wisdom deep within themselves.





If you know

what you don't know,

you're doing great.

If you don't know

what you don't know,

you're sick.


The only way

to get rid of that sickness

is to be sick of it.


The Masters aren't sick,

because they got sick of being sick.




When you show no fear at all,

the universe gives you something

to really be afraid of.


Don't try to fence people in

or grind them down.

Just let them be,

and they'll always be on your side.


The Masters know themselves,

but they don't reveal themselves.

They love themselves,

but they know

what their lives are worth.

They let go of all that

to concentrate on this.




Those who dare to be bold die.

Those who dare to be careful survive.

So--what do you want to do?


Why is life like that, you ask?

I don't know.


This is how Tao works:

It doesn't push itself,

and it always succeeds.

It acts silently, and it always reacts.

It can't be summoned;

it comes whenever it's ready.

It can't be rushed; it's always on time.


"Heaven casts a wide net,

with big holes,"

Lao Tzu used to say,

"but nothing ever gets by it."




If people's lives suck,

and they look forward to death,

what good does it do

to threaten to kill them?


If people are afraid to die,

and the wicked are condemned to death,

then who would dare to commit evil?


But that doesn't mean you or I

can just take life and death

into our own hands.

That'd be like walking up

to an industrial buzzsaw

and trying to use it

without any training.

We'd only end up hurting ourselves.




People starve

because the government

taxes them to death.

People rebel

because the government

tries to run their lives.

People act like life is meaningless

because the government

takes everything they have.


People who know how to enjoy life

are wiser than people who value their lives.




A baby's body is soft and gentle.

A corpse is hard and stiff.

Plants and trees are tender

and full of sap.

Dead leaves are brittle and dry.


If you are rigid and unyielding,

you might as well be dead.

If you are soft and flexible,

you are truly alive.


Soldiers trained to fight to the death will die.

A tree that cannot bend with the wind

will snap.


Here's a useful saying:

The harder they come,

the harder they fall.


Here's another:

The meek shall inherit the earth.




Lao Tzu said using Tao

was like pulling on a bowstring:

The top bends down,

the bottom bends up,

and all the energy

is focused in the middle.


Tao takes energy from where it is,

and sends it where it needs to be.

But most people take from those

who don't have enough,

so those who have too much already

can have more.


So who in this world

is truly generous to others?

People who are in touch with Tao.

They do their work

without taking credit.

They get the job done and move on.

They aren't interested in showing off.




Nothing is softer

or more yielding

than water.

Yet, given time,

it can erode even the hardest stone.

That's how the weak

can defeat the strong,

and the supple

can win out over the stiff.


Everybody knows it.

So why don't we apply it to our own lives?


Lao Tzu used to say:

"Take on people's problems,

and you can be their leader.

Deal with the world's problems,

and you'll be a Master."


Sometimes the truth makes no sense.





when an argument is settled,

feelings of resentment still remain

on either side.

What's the point of carrying a grudge?


The Masters care

about what they owe other people,

not what other people owe them.


People who are in touch with Tao

do their duty.

People who aren't

try to force others into submission.


Tao doesn't play favorites.

But if you do right by Tao,

Tao will do right by you.




Lao Tzu had a dream

about a small country

with very few people.


They didn't need machines

to get their work done faster.

They took their lives seriously,

and stayed close to home.


They may have owned

boats and carriages,

but they never went anywhere.

They may have owned weapons,

but they kept those weapons

locked up, securely hidden.

They had so few responsibilities,

they never had to make a To-Do list

to remember what had to be done.


They enjoyed simple foods,

dressed plainly,

lived comfortably,

and kept their traditions alive.


And even though

their neighbors were so close

they could hear

the dogs barking at night,

they had no interest

in leaving their homes,

where they grew old peacefully

and died.




The truth isn't flashy.

Flashy words aren't true.


Educated people

aren't always smart.

Smart people

don't always have an education.


Good people don't argue.

People who argue aren't good.


The Masters don't hang on to things.

They're always doing something

for other people,

so they always have more to give.

They give away

whatever they have,

so what they have is worth more.


If you want to get right with Tao,

help other people, don't hurt them.

The Masters always work with people,

never against them.



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maybe most badass

celebration of wisdom

delightfully cool B)




You write that?

(gonna send it to all my friends,

& I hope to know who to thank along the way)

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