Tao Te Ching #72: “Don’t repress how people live”

When the people are not awed by authority, then great authority is attained. Their homes are not small to them, their livelihood is not tiresome. Just because they do not tired of it, it is not tiresome to them. Therefore sages know themselves but do not see themselves. They take care of themselves but do…

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Tao Te Ching #71: “To presume to know what you don’t is sick”

To know unconsciously is best. To presume to know what you don’t is sick. Only by recognizing the sickness of sickness is it possible not to be sick. To sages’ freedom from ills was from recognizing the sickness of sickness, so they didn’t suffer from sickness. – Thomas Cleary   To understand yet not understand…

Tao Te Ching #69: “No fate is worse than to have no enemy”

There are sayings on the use of arms: “Let us not be aggressors, but defend.” “Let us not advance an inch, but retreat a foot.” This is called carrying out no action, shaking no arm, facing no enemy, wielding no weapon. No calamity is greater than underestimating opponents. If you underestimate opponents, you’re close to…

Tao Te Ching #68 “This is the virtue of nonaggression”

Good warriors do not arm, good fighters don’t get mad, good winners don’t contend, good employers serve their workers. This is called the virtue of noncontention; this is called mating with the supremely natural and pristine. – Thomas Cleary   In ancient times the perfect officer wasn’t armed the perfect warrior wasn’t angry the perfect…

Tao Te Ching #67: “What Heaven creates let compassion protect”

Everyone in the world says my Way is great, but it seems incomparable. It is just because it is great that it seems incomparable: when comparisons are long established it becomes trivialized. I have three treasures that I keep and hold: one is mercy, the second is frugality, the third is not presuming to be…

Tao Te Ching #66: Because they do not contend, no one in the world can contend with them”

The reason why rivers and seas can be lords of the hundred valleys is that they lower themselves to them well; therefore they can be lords of the hundred valleys. So when sages wishes to rise above people, they lower themselves to them in their speech. When they want to precede people, they go after…

Tao Te Ching #65: “The ancient masters of the Way tried not to enlighten but to keep people in the dark”

In ancient times, good practitioners of the Way did not use it to enlighten the people, but to make them unsophisticated. When people are unruly, it is because of sophistication. So to govern a country by cunning is to rob the country. Not using cunning to govern a country is good fortune for the country.…

Tao Te Ching #64: “The most massive tree grows from a sprout, the highest building rises from a pile of earth, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step”

What is at rest is easy to hold. What has not shown up is easy to take into account. What is frail is easy to break. What is vague is easy to dispel. Do it before it exists; govern it before there’s disorder. The most massive tree grows from a sprout; the highest building rises…

Tao Te Ching #63: “Do nondoing, strive for nonstriving, savor the flavorless, regard the small as important, make much of little, repay enmity with virtue”

Do nondoing, strive for nonstriving, savor the flavorless, regard the small as important, make much of little, repay enmity with virtue; plan for difficulty when it is still easy, do the great while it is still small. The most difficult things in the world must be done while they are easy; the greatest things in…

Tao Te Ching #61: “A great nation wants no more than to include and nurture people”

A great nation flows downward into intercourse with the world. The female of the world always prevails over the male by stillness. Because stillness is considered lower, by lowering itself to a small nation a great nation takes a small nation; by being lower than a great nation a small nation takes a great nation.…

Tao Te Ching #60: “Governing a large nation is like cooking little fish”

Governing a large nation is like cooking little fish. When the world is ruled by the Way, the ghosts are powerless. It is not that the ghosts are powerless; their spirits do not harm the people. Not only do the spirits not harm the people; sages do not harm the people either. Because the two…

Tao Te Ching #59: “The Way of extended life and sustained reflection”

To govern the human and serve the divine, nothing compares to frugality. Only frugality brings early recovery; early recovery means buildup of power. Build up virtue, and you master all. When you master all, no one knows your limit. When no one knows your limit, you can maintain a nation. When you maintain the matrix…

Tao Te Ching #58: “happiness rests in misery, misery hides in happiness”

When the government is unobtrusive, the people are pure. When the government is invasive, the people are wanting. Calamity is what fortune depends upon; fortune is what calamity subdues. Who knows how it will all end? Is there no right and wrong? The orthodox becomes unorthodox, the good also becomes ill; people’s confusion is indeed…

Tao Te Ching #57: “the people simplify themselves”

Use straightforwardness for civil government, use surprise for military operations; use noninvolvement to take the world. How do I know this? The more taboos there are in the world, the poorer the populace is; the more crafts the people have, the more exotic things are produced; the more laws are promulgated, the greater the number…

Tao Te Ching #56: “Those who know do not say, those who say do not know”

Those who know do not say; those who say do not know. Close the senses, shut the doors; blunt the sharpness, resolve the complications; harmonize the light, assimilate to the world. This is called mysterious sameness. It cannot be made familiar, yet cannot be estranged; it cannot be profited, yet cannot be harmed; it cannot…

Tao Te Ching #55: “Knowing how to be balanced we endure, knowing how to endure we become wise”

The richness of subliminal virtue is comparable to an infant: poisonous creatures do not sting it, wild beasts do not claw it, predatory birds do not grab it. Its tendons are flexible, yet its grip is firm. Even while it knows not the mating of male and female, its genitals get aroused; this is the…

Tao Te Ching #54: “What you plant well can’t be uprooted, what you hold well can’t be taken away”

Good construction does not fall down, a good embrace does not let go; their heirs honor them unceasingly. Cultivate it in yourself, and that virtue is real; cultivate it in the home, and that virtue is abundant; cultivate it in the locality, and that virtue lasts; cultivate it in the nation, and that virtue is…

Tao Te Ching #53: “The Great Way is quite even, yet people prefer byways”

Causing one flashes of knowledge to travel the Great Way, only its application demands care. The Great Way is quite even, yet people prefer byways. When courts are extremely fastidious, the fields are seriously neglected, and the granaries are very empty; they wear colorful clothing and carry sharp swords, eat and drink to their fill…

Tao Te Ching #52: “Once you’ve found the mother, thereby you know the child”

The world has a beginning that is the mother of the world. Once you’ve found the mother, thereby you know the child. Once you know the child, you return to keep the mother, not perishing though the body die. Close your eyes, shut your doors, and you do not toil all your life. Open your…

Tao Te Ching #51: “this is called Dark Virtue”

The Way gives birth, virtue nurtures, things form, momentum completes. Therefore all beings honor the Way and value its Virtue. The honor of the Way and the value of Virtue are not granted by anyone, but are always naturally so. So the Way gives birth and nurtures, makes grow and develops, completes and matures, builds…

Tao Te Ching #49: “Sages have no fixed mind, they make the minds of the people their mind”

Sages have no fixed mind; they make the minds of the people their mind: they improve the good, and also improve those who are not good; that virtue is good. They make sure of the true, and they make sure of the untrue too; that virtue is sure. The relation of sages to the world…

Tao Te Ching #48: “To pursue learning, learn more day by day, to pursue the Way, unlearn it day by day”

For learning you gain daily; for the Way you lose daily. Losing and losing, thus you reach noncontrivance; be uncontrived, and nothing is not done. Taking the world is always done by not making anything out of it. For when something is made of it, that is not enough to take the world. – Thomas…

Tao Te Ching #47: “Without going out your door you can know the whole world”

They know the world without even going out the door. They see the sky and its pattern without even looking out the window. The further out it goes, the less knowledge it; therefore sages know without going, name without seeing, complete without striving. – Thomas Cleary   Without going out your door you can know…

Robert Okaji (5 Poems)

Underfoot Poetry

As Blue Fades

Which defines you best, a creaking lid or the light-turned flower?
The coffee’s steam or smoke wafting from your hand.
Your bowls color my shelves; I touch them daily.
Sound fills their bodies with memory.
The lighter’s click invokes your name.
And the stepping stones to nowhere, your current address.
If the moon could breathe would its breath flavor our nights?
I picture a separate one above your clouded island.
The dissipating blue in filtered light.
Above the coral. Above the waves and ocean floor far below.
Above the space your ashes should share.
Where the boats rise and fall, like chests, like the waning years.
Like a tide carrying me towards yesterday’s reef.
Or the black-tailed gull spinning in the updraft.


River Carry Me

I approach the window with closed eyes.
In this case, the between dissolves.
Without form and weight, still you linger.
A ticketless…

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Tao Te Ching #46: “No crime is greater than approving of greed”

When the world has the Way, running horses are retired to till the fields. When the world lacks the Way, war-horses are bred in the countryside. No crime is greater than approving of greed; no calamity is greater than discontent, no fault is greater than possessiveness. So the satisfaction of contentment is always enough. –…

Tao Te Ching #45: “Clear stillness is right for the world”

Great completeness seems incomplete; its use is never exhausted. Great fullness seems empty; its use is never ended. Great directness seems restrained, great skill seems inept, great eloquence seems inarticulate. Movement overcomes cold, stillness overcomes heat. Clear stillness is right for the world. – Thomas Cleary   Perfectly complete it seems deficient yet it never…

Tao Te Ching #44: “Extreme fondness means great expense, and abundant possessions mean much loss”

Which is closer, your name or your body? Which is more, your body or your possessions? Which is more destructive, gain or loss? Extreme fondness means great expense, and abundant possessions mean much loss. If you know when you have enough, you will not be disgraced. If you know when to stop, you will not…

Tao Te Ching #43: “In this world below the sky the gentle will outdo the strong”

What is softest in the world drives what is hardest in the world. Nonbeing enters where there is no room; that is how we know noncontrivance enhances. Unspoken guidance and uncontrived enhancement are reached by few in the world. – Thomas Cleary   The weakest thing in the world overcomes the strongest thing in the…

Tao Te Ching #42: “Those who take less shall have more, Those given more shall have less”

The Way produces one; one produces two, two produces three, three produces all beings: all beings bear yin and embrace yang, with a mellowing energy for harmony. The things people dislike are only to be alone, lacking, and unworthy; yet these are what monarchs call themselves. Therefore people may gain from loss, and may lose…