The ancient adepts of the Tao were subtle and
flexible, profound and comprehensive.
Their minds were too deep to be fathomed.
Because they are unfathomable,
One can only describe them vaguely by their
Hesitant like one wading a stream in winter;
Timid like one afraid of his neighbours on all sides;
Cautious and courteous like a guest;
Yielding like ice on the point of melting;
Simple like an uncarved block;
Hollow like a cave;
Confused like a muddy pool;
And yet who else could quietly and gradually evolve
from the muddy to the clear?
Who else could slowly but steadily move from the inert
to the living?
He who keeps the Tao does not want to be full.
But precisely because he is never full,
He can always remain like a hidden sprout,
And does not rush to early ripening.
I had an unusual reaction to reading this. It was more like impressions, vague sensations, rather than insight. I felt a sense of the adept’s mind, the deep psyche, or the subconscious to use the western term, a part of us that cannot be fully comprehended. We know it is there. We see manifestations from it in art, inspiration, and mystical experience. But we cannot grasp it. It is something we feel, yet is totally intangible.
I almost see this passage as a mediation, the purpose of which is to shift your consciousness ever so slightly, so as to give you an impression of what is hidden just beyond the veil of perception.
If you have any different insights or impressions, I would love to hear about them. Please share them with us in the comment section below.
Have a blessed day!