The ancient masters cultivated the mysterious essence.
They were profound, subtle –
beyond our ability to comprehend.
For this reason we cannot know them,
but we can describe their existence:
Cautious, as if crossing an icy river in winter.
Vigilant, as if surrounded by unseen dangers.
Reverent, as if receiving honored guests.
As malleable as ice when it begins to melt,
as unspoiled as an uncarved block,
as receptive as a vast open valley.
Obscure as muddied water.
But with stillness, muddy waters clear.
Can you also act while remaining still?
Keeping to the Tao, one does not approach extremes,
one becomes an empty vessel.
It is enough to surrender, without beginning anew.
-Lao-tzu- (Tao Te Ching, verse 15, interpretation by Robert Brookes)