Tao Te Ching #27: “Good works are trackless”

“Good works are trackless”

Good works are trackless,
good words are flawless,
good planning isn’t calculating.
What is well closed has no bolt locking it,
but cannot be opened.
What is well bound has no rope confining it,
but cannot be untied.
Therefore sages always consider it good to save people,
so that there are no wasted humans;
they always consider it good to save beings,
so that there are no wasted beings.
So good people are teachers
of people who are not good.
People who are not good
are students of people who are good.
Those who do not honor teachers or care for students
are greatly deluded, even if knowledgeable.
This is called an essential subtlety.

– Thomas Cleary


Good walking leaves no tracks
good talking contains no flaws
good counting counts no beads
good closing locks no locks
and yet it can’t be opened
good tying ties no knots
and yet it can’t be undone
sages are good at saving others
therefore they abandon no one
nor anything of use
this is called cloaking the light
thus the good instruct the bad
and the bad learn from the good
not honoring their teachers
or cherishing their students
the wise alone are perfectly blind
this is called peering into the distance.

– Red Pine


Expert marching leaves no trails;
Expert wording has no flaws;
Expert reckoning needs no tallies.
Well-sealed doors have no crossbar
Yet cannot be opened.
Well-made bonds require no cord,
Yet cannot be loosed.

Accordingly, the wise know how to salvage men
And make sure none go to waste;
They know how to salvage things
And make sure none go to waste;
This is called far-reaching insight.
The expert learns from the expert,
And draws lessons from the unfit.
Not to value the teacher,
Not to hold dear his subjects
Is misguided is even the most learned.
This is called the crucial secret.

– Moss Roberts