Taoist Poems of Wisdom

If you appreciate the wisdom of Taoism, you’re certainly going to enjoy the following short yet insightful Taoist poems.Written by the reclusive Taoist sage Hung Ying-ming, this is a profound work on human nature and the essence of life.

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Those who do evil and yet fear that men should learn of it
Are, in the midst of evils, still on the road to good.
Those who do good and yet want that men should soon learn of it
Live within the good, but are truly at nothing other than the foot iniquity.

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When you step but lightly through the world,
You are but lightly affected by it;
But when you pass through events with a deeper tread,
Their tricks and schemes are profound.
This the gentleman knows
Simplicity is better than a show of dexterity.
This he knows
A rude single-mindedness is better than a distorted show of manners.

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Those with power, fame, wealth, and extravagance-
By not coming close to them a man stays pure.
Yet the man who can approach and not be affected is the purest of all.
Those who are clever, artful, and full of guile-
By not knowing them a man stays high-minded.
Yet the man who can know and still not use them is the most high-minded at all.

***

When attacking someone’s faults
Do not be too severe.
You need to consider how well he will weather what he hears.
When teaching someone by showing him what is good,
Do not pass certain heights,
But hit upon what he should be able to follow.

***

Reading books but not seeing the wisdom and intelligence within-
This is being slave to paper and print.
Being of high rank but not loving the people-
This is a thief wearing ceremonial roes.
Lecturing on learned subjects but not giving proper respect to putting them into action-
This is Zen of the mouth alone.
Performing great achievements but giving no thought to the seeds of virtue for the future-
This is only flowers blooming and withering tight before your eyes.

 

Tanslation by William Scott Wilsom