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 at the head of the world.
By reason of mercy,
one can be brave.
By reason of frugality,
one can be broad.
By not presuming
to be at the head of the world,
one can make your potential last.

Now if one were bold
but had no mercy,
if one were broad
but were not frugal,
if one went ahead
without deference,
one would die.

Use mercy in war,
and you win;
use it for defense,
and you’re secure.
Those whom heaven is going to save
are those it guards with mercy.

– Thomas Cleary


The world calls me great
great but useless
it’s because I am great I am useless
if I were of use
I would have remained small
but I possess three treasures
I treasure and uphold
first is compassion
second is austerity
third is reluctance to excel
because I’m compassionate
I can be valiant
because I’m austere
I can be extravagant
because I’m reluctant to excel
I can be chief of all tools
if I renounced compassion for valor
austerity for extravagance
humility for superiority
I would die
but compassion wins every battle
and outlasts every attack
what Heaven creates
let compassion protect

– Red Pine


“All the world declares me great.”
Be great but do not seem to be.
For it is seeming not to be
That makes you great.
Otherwise, by seeming so,
You’d long ago have ceased to matter.

We have always our triple treasure,
Which we rely upon and cherish:
“A mother’s heart, a frugal hand, and
No drive to boldly lead this world.”
A brave heart takes a mother’s heart,
A giving hand a frugal hand;
And one who will not lead to serve
As sacred elder of this world.
Forsaking love for bravery,
Frugal hand for giving hand,
Staying back for leading forth
Mean entering the gates of death.
A mother’s heart holds battle lines
And also makes defenses sure.
The man whom heaven means to keep
It protects with mother-heart.

– Moss Roberts