Tao Te Ching: Verse 22

A compelling philosophy about yielding to resistance rather than fighting the natural way of things. I hope many of you, any of you, find this thought-provoking and helpful. Please excuse my previous patriarchal language; from now on, I’ll aspire to include an equal amount of references to “wise women” and “wise persons”.


Verse 22 [original]

The flexible are preserved unbroken.
The bent become straight.
The empty are filled.
The exhausted become renewed.
The poor are enriched.
The rich are confounded.

Therefore the sage embraces the one.
Because he doesn’t display himself,
people can see his light.
Because he has nothing to prove,
people can trust his words.
Because he doesn’t know who he is,
people recognise themselves in him.
Because he has no goal in mind,
everything he does succeeds.

The old saying that the flexible are preserved unbroken is surely right!
If you have truly attained wholeness,
everything will flock to you.


Verse 22 [my interpretation]

The flexible survive unhurt.

Through practicing emptiness,
you are prepared to be filled.
Through practicing adaptability,
you are ready for all life has to offer.

In this way, the exhausted will become renewed,
the bent will straighten,
the poor will be enriched and so on.
So too will the energised become lethargic,
the straightened will become bent
and the rich become confounded.
Yield to the natural cycles of the Way!

The wise person has no goals, no judgements, no attachments;
thus everything that happens to her is neither good nor bad,
and she will never fail nor succeed.

She who is humble [has no ego] may be recognised.
She who has nothing to prove [has no ego] can be trusted.
She who has no identity [has no ego] allows others to recognise themselves in her.

By being flexible like the palm tree or the fern,
strong of root and soft of body,
everything in life will flock to you
(neither good nor bad, needed or unneeded).


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