When the superior sort learn about the Tao
They practice it with diligence and care.
When the average sort learn about the Tao
They half believe it, when it comes to mind.
When the vulgar sort learn about the Tao
They laugh it to scorn. And why not?
If they didn’t laugh, it would hardly be the Tao.
Hence these maxims:
Enlightenment in the Tao looks dim and plodding.
Advancement in the Tao looks like retreat.
Straightforward in the Tao looks up and down.
The most exalted Te appears a chasm.
The purest innocence appears disgraced.
The most abundant Te appears deficient.
The staunchest Te appears infirm.
And true reality dissolves in constant flux.
Perfect squares have no corners;
Highest talents take longest to mature.
Sublime music may hardly be made out,
And ideal images have no shape.
Thus hides the Tao in namelessness
As it brings forth, nourishes, and completes.
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