the tao of harming life and enhancing life

doug kliewer / audobon

When turtles hide in the mud, they come to no harm. When they emerge from the mud, people catch them. When fish lurk in the depths, they remain whole. When they come out of the depths, birds kill them.

What I realize as I observe this is the tao of harming life and enhancing life.

The reason that people ordinarily cannot enhance life, and tend to hasten to their doom, is that they cannot hide their light and nurture it in darkness — confident of their intelligence, they use their talent and wit too much.

Intellectual brilliance, talent, and wit divide the mind and disturb one’s nature, so that sane energy wanes day by day, and aberrant energy grows days by day. Eventually the root of life is shaken, so mortality is inevitable.

This is why adept humans do not give rise to thoughts from within and do not take in things from without. They appear to lack what they do in fact have; though fulfilled, they appear empty. They appear to be simpletons; they have understanding that they do not employ, they have illumination that they do not allow to shine.

Such people do not let the artificial damage the real, do not let externals disturb them inwardly. They only respond to an intuitive sense, only rise when pressed, only act when there is no choice. Though they are outwardly responsive, they remain inwardly unmoved. Though physically active, their minds remain unstirring.

When you meet such people, you cannot tell where they are going; when you follow such people, you cannot tell where they have been. Even Creation cannot constrain them, so what harm can befall them? They are like turtles gone into the mud where people cannot catch them, like fish lurking in the depths where birds cannot kill them.

Liu I-Ming