Tao Te Ching #22: “Be tactful and you remain whole”

Be tactful and you remain whole;
bend and you remain straight.
The hollow is filled,
the old is renewed.
Economy is gain,
excess is confusion.
Therefore sages embrace unity
as a model for the world.
Not seeing themselves,
they are therefore clear.
Not asserting themselves,
they are therefore meritorious.
Not taking pride in themselves,
they last long.
It is just because they do not contend
that no one in the world can contend with them.
It is empty talk, the old saying
that tact keeps you whole?
When truthfulness is complete,
it still resorts to this.

– Thomas Cleary


The incomplete become whole
the crooked become straight
the hollow become full
the worn-out become new
those with less become content
those with more become confused
sages therefore hold on to one thing
and use this to guide the world
not considering themselves they appear
not displaying themselves they shine
not flattering themselves they succeed
not parading themselves they lead
because they don’t compete
no one can compete against them
the ancients who said the incomplete become whole
came close indeed
becoming whole depends on this

– Red Pine


Bend to not break.
Wrong leads to right,
Depletion to expansion,
Ruin to revival,
Deprivation to acquisition.

Thus the wise hold fast to oneness,
Their measure for this world below;
They make no display and thus shed light,
Put forward no claim and thus set patterns,
Do not advance and thus preside.
By their refusal to contend
The world cannot with them contend.
Those ancient words “Bend to not break”
Have pith and point
Truly those unbroken credit them.

Spare speech and let things be.

– Moss Roberts