Tao Te Ching #21: “For the countenance of great virtue”

For the countenance of great virtue,
only the Way is to be followed.
As a thing, the Way is abstract and elusive:
elusive and abstract, there are images in it;
abstract and elusive, there is something there.
Recondite, hidden, it has vitality therein:
that vitality is very real;
it has truth therein.
From ancient times to now,
its name is the undeparting;
thereby are seen all beauties.
How do I know all beauties are thus?
By this.

– Thomas Cleary


The appearance of Empty Virtue
this is what comes from the Tao
the Tao as a thing
waxes and wanes
it waxes and wanes
but inside is an image
it wanes and waxes
but inside is a creature
it’s distant and dark
but inside is an essence
an essence that is real
inside which is a heart
throughout the ages
its name hasn’t changed
so we might follow our fathers
how do we know what our fathers were like
by means of this

– Red Pine


Boundless virtues all-accepting
Attends the Way, the Way alone.
Assuming form, the Way reveals
Shapes half-seen and then half-hid.
In dark half-lit, a likening;
In light half-dark, forms visible;
Hidden within, the germ of life;
The germ of life, no thing more real:
It contains a thing to trust.
From present time to ancient day
These names have never been forgotten;
Through them we can scrutinize
The myriad millions’ genesis.
How do we know of their formation?
Through the virtue of the Way.

– Moss Roberts