Tao Te Ching 81



Sincere words are seldom pleasant

Pleasant words are seldom sincere

Good people do not argue

Argumentative people are not good

The wise do not know everything

And know-it-alls are not wise.

The sage is not possessive

The more he does for others

The more he has for himself

The more he gives to others

The richer he grows himself

The Way of Heaven

Helps without harming

The Way of the Sage

Never goes against nature



Tao Te Ching 80


A small country

Has few people


Give them

A thousand different implements

And they’ll have no need to use them


They take death seriously

And do not treat it

As a distant thing


Even if they had

Boats and carriages

They would have no place

To ride them


Even if they had

Armour and weapons

They would have no fights

In which to use them


May the people

Rediscover the use

Of knotted cords

Take delight in their food

Beautify their clothing

Be at peace wherever they are

And take joy in their ancient ways


Neighbouring communities

Live in sight of one another

Their roosters and dogs

Bark and crow at one another

Yet people grow old and die

Without needing to come or go




Reconcile a great hatred

And there is sure to be

Some resentment left over


What can be done to make this good?


Therefore, The sage

Keeps his side of an agreement

Without pressuring or blaming

The other person


Those with Integrity

Keep their agreements

Whilst those without Integrity

Make false claims

And only care about getting paid


Heaven’s Tao

Shows no partiality

Yet always sides with those

Skilled at following nature




Under Heaven

Nothing is more

Gentle and yielding than water

Yet when it comes to attacking the firm and strong

Nothing overcomes them so surpassingly

For this reason

Among all things

Nothing can take its place

The flexible overcomes the inflexible

The soft overcomes the hard

Under Heaven

There is no one that does not know this

Yet none are able to act upon it

Therefore the sage says:

To bear a country’s humiliations

Is to be enshrined as Lord of the Land

And suffering a country’s misfortunes

Makes you king of All Below Heaven”


Word of truth appear in paradox




The Way of Heaven

Is to be as bendy as a bow:

It brings down the high

And lifts up the low

It diminishes the excessive

And increases the insufficient


Heaven’s Way

Takes from what has too much

And adds to what has too little


The Way of Men

Is not like this:

Always taking from the needy

To make offerings to those

Who already have too much


Who accumulates wealth

Just to share it with the world?

Only those with the Way


Therefore, the sage

Acts and expects nothing

Succeeds and accomplishes

Without resting on his laurels

Has no desire

To be seen as greater than others



When a man is born

He is soft and tender

When he dies

He is rigid and stiff


Whilst alive

The ten thousand

Grasses and trees

Are yielding and supple

But in death

Are withered and brittle


Therefore, unyielding rigidity

Is the companion of death

Tender gentleness

Is the companion of life


So we see that

Unbending fighters cannot conquer

The strongest trees get cut down


Unyielding might

Is where the inferior rest

But gentle flexibility

Is where the superior rest


The starvation of the people

Occurs when those in authority

Devour everything they have

Through excessive tax


For this reason

The people starve


The people are difficult to govern

Because the powers that be

Are fond of interfering

For this reason

The people are difficult to govern


People die

For the most frivolous reasons

Because they long to get caught up

In the thickness of life

For this reason

People die needlessly


Truly, only those who do not force life

Are worthy of life’s treasures





If people are not afraid of death

How can you threaten them with death?


If people always

Lived in fear of death

And those that acted

Perverse and unnatural

Could be seized and executed

Who would presume to be reckless?


There is always a master executioner

To kill such people

Truly, if someone were to try and kill

In place of the master executioner

It would be like trying to take the place

Of a master wood-worker


In trying to take the place of a master carpenter

There are few that would not

Cut off their own hands!

Animal Blog: Wild Robins and Domesticated Humans


I was just in the garden, watching two robins fight, and fend off one another against their territories, when I was struck by a crucial difference in which animals relate to their world.

When observing wild animals in nature, we seldom see any genuine displays of clumsiness. Even though the fight must have come as a shock to both of the robins, and adrenaline must have been pumping, because all wild animals are thoroughly grounded in living states of constant vigilance and alertness, even shock is beautifully embraced and perfectly responded to as one of the perfect vicissitudes of nature.

After the initial explosive contact of the robins, both of them scattered on either side of my pool, and flitted about, upright and proud, ready for the next move. Everything in this display was so perfectly arranged and harmonized, it was almost like the whole thing had been pre-choreographed by some Grand Harmonizer, and the two fighting birds were following the dynamic of this pre-set structure.

The reason the two birds were able to respond with such agility and dignity, is because they have The Way. They live in accordance with the principles and methods of nature. They know their environment with an alarming and effortless thoroughness. They simply know how to respond to things, because their sense of involvement and integration with the world is exceedingly refined.

We do not see this refinement in domesticated animals, who have usually been separated from their environments, and been subject to such comfort and docility, that they begin to become clumsy, because that sense of relating to a living environment has gone.

We especially do not see this in Domesticated Humans who live in environments that have purposely been rendered null and dead. There is no sense of responding to what is in our environments, because most of what is in our environments is automated and man-made. It is expected to respond to us, and not the other way round.

Because of this, our sense of organic responsivity has become desiccated. Everything shocks and stresses us, because out artificial environments have tricked us into thinking that everything should be soft, comfortable, and capable of ordering and managing at the press of a button. Without the hardships of a living world to test and challenge us, our hardships become softships, which only render us winy, irritable and feeble. Comfy sofas, cinema-sized TVs, and mechanized espressos have taken all the physical and mental training out of life.

This is why the two things that people complain about the most are the weather and other humans. Amongst our world where we have ignorantly deceived ourselves into thinking we control all the variables, other humans, and the natural forces of our environment, are two things the majority are incapable of manipulating or controlling. We cannot change the attitude or actions of those around us just by briefly pushing a button. We must interact with them fully in order to understand and transform them, simultaneously transforming ourselves in the process, because there is no self and other. Other humans are the only things that still test our responsivity.

And, for this, we should always be grateful to them, no matter how belligerent, difficult, or challenging they are. Because, in a dead environment, interacting with other humans is the only thing that keeps us human. They are constant tester of our Integrity and Authenticity.

Thus I thought as I saw two robins fight on the edge of my pool.

Tao Te Ching 73


Having the bravery

To act recklessly

Leads to death


Having the bravery

To not be rash

Leads to life


Both of these approaches

Sometimes benefit

Sometimes harm


Who knows which one Heaven will hate?


Therefore The Sage

Is mindful of such troublesome ambiguities


The Way of Heaven

Does not compete

Yet skilfully conquers

Does not speak

Yet gives the best answers

Is not called

But comes of its own accord

Having a slow and patient nature

It lays the best plans


The Web of Heaven

Is a vast vastness

Completely open and spacious

Yet it never misses a thing