Tao Te Ching 81

True words aren’t eloquent; eloquent words aren’t true. Wise men don’t need to prove their point men who need to prove their point aren’t wise. The Master has no possessions. The more he does for others, the happier he is. The more he gives to others, the wealthier her is. The Tao nourishes by not…

Tao Te Ching 80

If a country is governed wisely, its inhabitants will be content. They enjoy the labour of their hands and don’t waste time inventing labour-saving machines. Since they dearly love their homes, they aren’t interested in travel. There may be a few wagons and boats, but these don’t go anywhere. There may be an arsenal of…

Farmers celebrating the autumn moon

Farmers celebrating the autumn moon Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan, and the recognized master of the Haiku. He made a living as a teacher, but renounced the social and urban life of the literary circles, and wandered throughout the country to gain inspiration for his writing….

Tao Te Ching 79

Failure is an opportunity. If you blame someone else, there is no end to the blame. Therefore the Master fulfils her own obligations and corrects her own mistakes. She does what she needs to do and demands nothing of others.

Sagano no tsuki

Saga Moor moon In the Noh play “Kogo”, the heroine Kogo no Tsubone (1159-1180) is a beautiful and accomplished koto player, and a concubine of Emperor Takakura. When her life is threatened by Taira no Kiyomori, because an eventual son would endanger the position of the Taira clan, she flees to a remote cottage in…

Tao Te Ching 78

Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. Yet fir dissolving the hard and flexible, nothing can surpass it. The soft overcomes the hard; the gentle overcomes the rigid. Everyone knows this is true, but few can put it into practice. Therefore the Master remains serene in the midst of sorrow. Evil…

Tsuki no yotsu no o

The moon’s four strings The blind musician tuning a string on his biwa is Semimaru, a 10th-century poet of noble birth, who once served prince Atsuzane at the imperial court, but retired to live alone on Mount Ausaka near Kyoto. His life inspired a Noh play, which has the following verse: “The first string and…

Tao Te Ching 77

As it acts in the world, the Tao is like the bending of a bow. The top is bent downward; the bottom is bent up. It adjusts excess and deficiency so that there is perfect balance. It takes from what is too much and gives to what isn’t enough. Those who try to control, who…

Obasute no tsuki

The moon and the abandoned old woman A scene from the Noh play Obasuteyama i.e. “The mountain where the old woman was left to die”. According to Japanese folklore, peasant families in certain regions abandoned elderly family members that had become a nuisance, and left them in the wilderness to die from starvation or exposure….

Tao Te Ching 76

Men are born soft and supple; dead, they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and…

Chofu sato no tsuki

Chofu village moon The river near Chofu, a village on the Musashi Plain, was known as one of the Mu Tamagawa or Six Jewel Rivers. Its clean water was ideal for treating cloths. A famous poem by Lord Teika (1162-1241) about the Chofu river reads as follows: “At Tatzukuri – on cloth spread out for…

Tao Te Ching 75

when taxes are too high people go hungry. when the government is too intrusive people lose their spirit. Act for the people’s benefit. trust them, leave them alone.