What is at rest is easy to maintain.
What has not yet happened is easy to plan.
That which is fragile is easily shattered.
That which is tiny is easily scattered.
Correct problems before they occur.
Intervene before chaos erupts.
A tree too big around to hug is produced from a tiny sprout. A nine-story tower begins with a mound of dirt. A thousand-mile journey begins with your own two feet.
Whoever tries will fail. Whoever clutches, loses. Therefore the Sage, not trying, cannot fail. Not clutching, he cannot lose.
When people try, they usually fail just on the brink of success. If one is as cautious at the outset as at the end, one cannot fail.
Therefore the Sage desires nothing so much as to be desireless.
He does not value rare and expensive goods.
He unlearns what was once taught.
He helps the people regain what they have lost, to help every being assume its natural way of being, and not dare to force anything.
(Tao Teh King 64–Mabry translation)
What is at rest is easy to maintain. Lin Yutang: “That which lies still is easy to hold.”
When our mind and life are at rest in the awareness of our spirit-self, they are easy to control and direct.
What has not yet happened is easy to plan. Lin Yutang: “That which is not yet manifest is easy to forestall.” Looking ahead and planning what we wish to bring about before interfering conditions can arise, we shall be successful in shaping our life. Further, if we are aware of problems that could arise and take measures to prevent them we will be free of troubles.
That which is fragile is easily shattered. Legge: “That which is brittle is easily broken.” If our thought and actions are not flexible and accommodating, they will be shattered to our disappointment and even grief. Failure only can result.
That which is tiny is easily scattered. When negative thoughts, things and situations are just beginning, are only hints, then is the time to deal with them, for they can be easily dispersed. That is why Solomon said: “Take us [Let us catch] the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines” (Song of Solomon 2:15), before the vineyards would be destroyed by them.
Correct problems before they occur. Again, we need to look ahead and see what difficulties might come and set about either preventing them or preparing to meet and overcome them.
Intervene before chaos erupts. Lin Yutang: “Check disorder before it is rife.” The moment we see a hint of chaos or disorder we must step in and stop its progress without delay or hesitation.
A tree too big around to hug is produced from a tiny sprout. A nine-story tower begins with a mound of dirt. A thousand-mile journey begins with your own two feet. Wu: “A journey of a thousand leagues starts from where your feet stand.” Big things start out being small. If we deal with them from the start, we will be able to either eliminate them or make them develop into what we want them to become.
Whoever tries will fail. Whoever clutches, loses. Therefore the Sage, not trying, cannot fail. Not clutching, he cannot lose. Byrn: “If you rush into action, you will fail. If you hold on too tight, you will lose your grip.” This is too obvious to need any comment.
When people try, they usually fail just on the brink of success. If one is as cautious at the outset as at the end, One cannot fail. Wu: “With heedfulness in the beginning and patience at the end, nothing will be spoiled.” Many times I have seen projects that were going very well suddenly ruined by the very people working on them. The secret is to be careful every step of the way, to prevent delays and most of all not to rush anything. Steady and sure must be the policy. Then success will result.
Therefore the Sage desires nothing so much as to be desireless. For desire causes rush and carelessness. In fact, nothing destroys like desire, which in a myriad ways brings ruin. Therefore success in anything is guaranteed by not desiring or being attached to a certain goal. Flexibility and accommodation are necessary at all times. Letting things develop without forcing is a wise policy.
He does not value rare and expensive goods. Nor does he value rare and expensive results! Rather, the wise man is willing to let things be natural and humble rather than impress and awe any observers. Simplicity and moderation is a mark of wisdom.
He unlearns what was once taught. Feng and English: “He learns not to hold on to ideas.” There is a great deal every one of us must unlearn before we can really learn the true nature and state of things. Much of what we have been told from childhood is errant nonsense. Every so often our minds need a good clearing out. Buddha said that one of the major obstacles to wisdom was clinging to ideas rather than examining and eliminating that which is not in harmony with truth and inner development.
He helps the people regain what they have lost, to help every being assume its natural way of being, and not dare to force anything. The wise man does not presume to indoctrinate and direct people, but shows them the way to find the wisdom that has always been within them. Real spiritual awakening is a process of remembering. When I first read the Bhagavad Gita I felt that my own soul was speaking to me. I did not learn a single thing: I remembered what I had forgotten. Truth is not learned but is recognized. Enlightenment is the natural state of every one of us. We do not force it or even attain it, but we recognize it. Our blind eyes are opened and we see what has always been there. We “come to ourself” in the truest sense. We uncover that which has been present all along but hidden.
Next in the Tao Teh King for Awakening: The Grand Harmony