The Skillful Masters
Quotations to enlighten your day.
The skilful masters (of the Tao) in old times, with a subtle and exquisite penetration, comprehended its mysteries, and were deep (also) so as to elude men’s knowledge. As they were thus beyond men’s knowledge, I will make an effort to describe of what sort they appeared to be.
Shrinking looked they like those who wade through a stream in winter; irresolute like those who are afraid of all around them; grave like a guest (in awe of his host); evanescent like ice that is melting away unpretentious like wood that has not been fashioned into anything; vacant like a valley, and dull like muddy water.
Who can (make) the muddy water (clear)? Let it be still, and it will gradually become clear. Who can secure the condition of rest?
Let movement go on, and the condition of rest will gradually arise.
They who preserve this method of the Tao do not wish to be full (of themselves). It is through their not being full of themselves that they can afford to seem worn and not appear new and complete.
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching Chapter 15
The Wise Man’s way, to do his work without contending for a crown. …
As honest words may not sound fine,
Fine words may not be honest ones;
A good man does not argue, and
An arguer may not be good!
The knowers are not learned men
And learned men may never know.
The Wise Man does not hoard his things;
Hard-pressed, from serving other men,
He has enough and some to spare; having given all he had,
He then is very rich indeed.
God’s Way is gain that works no harm;
The Wise Man’s way, to do his work
Without contending for a crown.
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching Chapter 81
You do look, my son, in a moved sort,
As if you were dismayed. Be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep. Sir, I am vexed.
Bear with my weakness. My brain is troubled.
Be not disturbed with my infirmity.
If you be pleased, retire into my cell
And there repose. A turn or two I’ll walk
To still my beating mind.
Shakespeare’s The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158
Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies- God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr, God Bless You Mr. Rosewater
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.
Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Love and Togetherness:
Grown used to New York weather,
all too familiar with Smog,
You, Her unsullied Sister,
I’d quite forgotten and what
You bring to British winters:
now native knowledge returns.
Sworn foe to festination,
daunter of drivers and planes,
volants, of course, will cause You,
but how delighted I am
that You’ve been lured to visit
Wiltshire’s witching countryside
for a whole week at Christmas,
that no one can scurry where
my cosmos is contracted
to an ancient manor-house
and four Selves, joined in friendship,
Jimmy, Tania, Sonia, Me.
Outdoors a shapeless silence,
for even then birds whose blood
is brisk enough to bid them
abide here all the year round,
like the merle and the mavis,
at Your cajoling refrain
their jocund interjections,
no cock considers a scream,
vaguely visible, tree-tops
rustle not but stay there, so
Your damp to definite drops.
Indoors specific spaces,
cosy, accommodate to
reminiscence and reading,
crosswords, affinities, fun:
reflected by a sapid
supper and regaled by wine,
we sit in a glad circle,
each unaware of our own
nose but alert to the others,
making the most of it, for
how soon we must re-enter,
when lenient days are done,
the world of the work and money
and minding our p’s and q’s.
No summer sun will ever
dismantle the global gloom
cast by the Daily Papers,
vomiting in slip-shod prose
the facts of filth and violence
that we’re too dumb to present:
our earth’s a sorry spot, but
for this special interim,
so restful yet so festive,
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Fog.
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