A Poem From the Tao Te Ching

tao te chingThe Tao Te Ching has long been a favorite book of mine. I first got a copy of it in my early twenties and have always had a translation close. It is a book of mystic poetry which serves me well. I love reading it but don’t always get it, and often “get it” in a different way than I did previously.

When I first started teaching yoga I would read poems from it on a regular basis. For whatever reason that habit fell to the wayside for many years but it has returned of late.

The translation that I have been reading from is by Stephen Mitchell who has translated a number of the more important books of my life in a way that allowed me to understand them. The big three are the Tao Te Ching, Letters to a Young Poet, and The Bhagavad Gita. And I am planning on diving into his Iliad and Odyssey soon.

I have read the poem below in the last few classes and it is one that I am particularly fond of.

 

The Tao Te Ching by Lau-tzu

Translated by Stephen Mitchell

Poem 27

A good traveller has no fixed plans

and is not intent upon arriving.

A good artist lets his intuition

lead him wherever it wants.

A good scientist has freed himself of concepts

and keeps his mind open to what is.

.

Thus the Master is available to all people

and doesn’t reject anyone.

He is ready to use all situations

and doesn’t waste anything.

This is called embodying the light.

.

What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher?

What is a bad man but a good man’s job?

If you don’t understand this, you will get lost,

however intelligent you are.

It is the great secret.

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