1 If you can talk about it, it ain't Tao. If it's got a name, it's just another thing. Tao doesn't have a name. Names are for ordinary stuff. Stop wanting stuff. It keeps you from seeing what's real. When you want stuff, all you see are things. 2 If something's beautiful, something's got to be ugly. If something's good, something's got to be bad. You can't have something without nothing. If no task is difficult, then no task is easy. Things are up high because other things are down low. So, the Master gets shit done with moving a muscle and signifies without saying a word. When shit happens, he doesn't blink. When things fall apart, he stays cool. He doesn't own much, but he's got a lot. He does his work without expecting any favors. When the job's finished, he moves on to the next job. That's why his work is so damn good. 3 If you cut people too much slack, they're going to come up short. If you give things too much value, they're going to get ripped off. The Master leads by clearing the crap out of people's heads and beefing up their hearts. He lowers their sights and makes them suck in their guts. He shows them how to forget what they know and what they wanted. If you think you've got the answers, he'll mess with your head. Stop doing stuff all the time, and watch things happen. 4 You want to know how much Tao there is? There's more Tao than you'll ever need. No matter how much you use, there's more out there. You can't see Tao, but it's there. Damned if I know where it came from. It's just always been around. 5 Tao's neutral: it doesn't give a shit about good or evil. The Master's neutral: he treats everyone the same. Tao is like a bellows. Sure, it's empty, but it'll get your fire lit. If you keep using Tao, it works better. If you keep talking about it, it won't make any sense. Keep cool. 6 Everybody has Tao in them. They just have to use it. 7 Tao never ends and it never stops. It never ends because it never began. It never stops because it doesn't want anything, so it's always ready for anybody to use. The Master hangs back. That's why he's ahead of the game. He doesn't hang on to things. That's how he manages to keep them. He doesn't worry about stuff he can't control. That's why he's got satisfaction. 8 Doing the right thing is like water; it helps everything without even trying. You don't care where you are when you're doing the right thing; and that's how Tao works. Keep your feet on the ground. Keep your head low. Stop thinking so much about complicated shit. If you have to fight, fight fair. Don't fight dirty. Do what you really want to do. Be there when people need you. When you're okay with yourself, and stop giving a damn what everyone thinks about you, people will respect you. 9 If you drink too much, you get drunk. If you tinker with the engine too much, the truck won't start. If you want too much, you become a tightass. If you care too much about other people think, they'll walk all over you. Do what you have to do, then walk away. Anything else will drive you nuts. 10 Can you hold on to your ego and stick to Tao? Can you relax and keep your mind and body ready for action? Can you check yourself and see past what's in front of your eyes? Can you be a leader and not get on everybody's case? Can you deal with what's happening and let things happen? Can you forget what you know and understand what's real? Starting a job and seeing it through, Having things without holding on to them, Doing the job without expecting anything, Delegating authority without giving orders. That's the way you do it. 11 A wheel has spokes, but it rotates around the empty center. A pot is made from ceramics or steel, but you keep things in the empty space. A house is made from wood or brick, but you live in the emptiness between the walls. We work with something, but we use nothing. 12 Sight obscures. Noise deafens. Desire messes with your heart. Thoughts mess with your mind. The Master watches the world but keeps focused on what's real. 13 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 it can also keep you from getting in over your head. Confidence can help you get the job done, but it can also get you in over your head. Walk tall, but don't get cocky. Know your limits. Deal with the things you can, and let the rest go. Like the saying goes, "Your arms are too short to box with God." 14 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. 15 The ancient Masters were pretty damn impressive. They were deep. Real deep. Words can't even begin to describe how deep they were. You can only talk about what they were like. They were careful, like a man walking on thin ice. They were cautious, like a soldier behind enemy lines. They were demure, like a guest at a party. They were quick, like ice when it melts. They were rough and ready, like a block of uncarved wood. Their minds were open, like an expansive valley. Their hearts were clear, like spring water. Can you wait until your mind is open and your heart is clear before you try to understand? Can you stay still until events have unfolded before you do the right thing? When you act without expectation, you can accomplish great things. 16 Clear your head. Stay calm. Watch as everything goes down around you. Everything goes back to where it came from. Everything came from nothing. 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. 17 When the Master takes charge, hardly anybody else notices. The next best leader is one whose orders are obeyed out of love. After that, there's the leader whose orders are obeyed out of fear. The worst leader is the one who is hated; he won't be obeyed for long. Trust and respect people. That's how to earn their trust and respect. The Master doesn't give orders; he works with everybody else. When the job's done, they are amazed at what they were able to accomplish. 18 When people ignore Tao, they start talking about "righteousness" and "sanctity". When they forget what's true, they start talking about "self-evident truths". When they do not respect each other, they start talking about "political correctness" and "family values". When the nation is unstable, they start talking about "patriotism". 19 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 crap. 20 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 if you win or lose -- what's the point of the game? Call bullshit on all that. Let other people get themselves worked up. 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.
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