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 Simple / blank / shapeable, like uncarved wood.

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 15
translated by Stephen Mitchell

The ancient Masters were profound and subtle.
Their wisdom was unfathomable.
There is no way to describe it;
all we can describe is their appearance.

They were careful
as someone crossing an iced-over stream.
Alert as a warrior in enemy territory.
Courteous as a guest.
Fluid as melting ice.
Shapable as a block of wood.
Receptive as a valley.
Clear as a glass of water.

Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises of itself?

The Master doesn't seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things.


Tao Te Ching: Chapter 15
translated by Ursula K. Le Guin

Once upon a time
people who knew the Way
were subtle, spiritual, mysterious,
penetrating, unfathomable.

Since they're inexplicable
I can only say what they seemed like:
Cautious, oh yes, as if wading
through a winter river.
Alert, as if afraid of the neighbors.
Polite and quiet, like houseguests.
Elusive, like melting ice.
Blank, like uncut wood.
Empty, like valleys.
Mysterious, oh yes, they were like
troubled water.

Who can by stillness, little by little
make what is troubled grow clear?
Who can by movement, little by little
make what is still grow quick?

To follow the Way
is not to need fulfillment.
Unfulfilled, one may live on
needing no renewal.


Photos: earlywomenmasters.net | Emily Dickinson's Nature Mysticism | Feminine Tao