Thoughts Along the Way

The way inhales and exhales.
The way digests and discards.
The way multiplies and divides.
The way adds and subtracts.

The way compasses the infinite,
The infinite compasses the way.
Division makes union possible,
Union makes division desirable.

The more governors a man has,
The less governable he becomes.
The more educators a man has,
The less educable he becomes.

The leader knows not where he goes,
Yet people blindly follow the leader.
A leader who knows his way forward
Chooses his companions more carefully.

Power that one seeks from without corrupts,
Power that one discovers from within purifies.
Stolen wealth purchases a form of poverty,
Chosen poverty may buy a form of freedom.

As multiplicity grows, divisions increase.
As divisions increase, unity grows desirable.
Forcible unity results in hostile divisions,
Peaceful divisions facilitate amicable unity.

The fool takes great pride in sure knowledge,
The sage derives consolation from questions.
The eager fool hastens to enlighten the sages,
A cautious sage listens, and learns from fools.

The more control a man possesses over others,
The less control he retains over his ambition.
The sage seeks to retain mastery over his self,
The reckless man barters autonomy for authority.

Who bears heavier chains forged in ignorance
Than the oppressors and enslavers of men?
No man presents darker or deadlier deceptions
Than the fool who believes he serves the light.

Desire for mastery over others enslaves a man.
Desire for mastery over himself liberates a man.
The largest crowd is composed of individual men,
One man who abandons himself becomes a crowd.

Multiplicity of laws provoke contempt for law,
Simplicity of law inspires men's affection for it.
Many laws act as weapons brandished by a mob,
Each man hungry to inflict his will upon the next.

Intellectual pride fills minds with petty distinctions.
Petty distinctions stir a community with conflicts.
Conflicts plague the minds of people with doubts.
Doubts cleanse the mind of unnatural distinctions.

The way favors not the right nor the left, male nor female,
Light nor dark, heat nor cold, youth nor age, dry nor damp,
Foolishness nor wisdom, height nor depth, life nor death,
For the way finds harmony between opposites, not conflict.

Author's note: The above, inspired by Lao Tse's 'Tao Te Ching', represents a condensed version of a labor of love yet in progress, and may appear in new or altered forms in the future.

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