Taoteching 36

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A burst of strength is followed by the onset of fatigue. A tower raised too high is in danger of collapsing. Every seller must have a buyer. A fish will die when it is brought up into the open air.

The people would revolt if they knew what a sovereign must do to maintain order. A show of strength suggests underlying weakness.

A disciple asked, "If your words are so beneficient, Master Ji, why aren't you shouting them from the rooftops?"

Ji answered, "Suppose I began to whisper my words. What would be the response of my students, if they consider my words a treasure?"

"Master Ji, the students who are eager to learn will incline their ears toward you."

"Exactly," replied Master Ji. "It is when words are foolish or unwanted that we hear them being trumpeted, and the less valuable they are, the louder and more urgently they are pushed."

"But your teachings are timeless, Master Ji!" the disciple objected. "If you don't preserve your words you will be considered a failure!"

Master Ji said, "I do not guarantee success nor do I protect you from failure. But if your mind is placed in conformity with my words, success will not unduly excite you and failure will not unduly discourage you."

"Then why do you say the Nameless Way is great, Master Ji?"

Master Ji replied, "Since my words are not concentrated in a body or a thing, they can be applied to all bodies and all things. So they are great. Woman is an echo of the world's fertility. The world's seasons are an echo of the cycles of heaven. The regularities in heaven are an echo of my words. And my words echo only themselves."

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