XLVII – “Without stirring abroad”

Without stirring abroad

One can know the whole world;

Without looking out of the window

One can see the way of heaven.

The further one goes

The less one knows.

Therefore the sage knows without having to stir,

Identifies without having to see,

Accomplishes without having to act.


The self-discipline of constantly restraining oneself, of tolerating pompous stupidity, of waiting for the idiocy to run aground; to leave the stage to fools, to suffer the judgment of the ignorant, and to pursue one’s own ends and the ends of one’s family peacefully… is a question of internal alchemy: it means accepting mistakes and persevering in the training.




Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua, pt 3

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;

The whole earth is full of his glory.” 

It is from the prophet Isaiah. It was odd to hear it (in Hebrew) at the synagogue, its rightful context, and not as “the Sanctus”. I find myself looking (now listening) for the G-d I “knew” from the “Old Testament”, the G-d to Whom the Christian trajectory directs towards but then bends away from by its fixation on the divine-man concept-paradox-dogma, which should make G-d present – but is really much more a fixation on man (his crucifixion and resurrection) than it is on G-d. But no more on Christianity.

Now the new language of Ancient Hebrew, G-d’s chosen voice, stands before me like Mount Sinai itself. (To say nothing of 620 mitzvah.) I don’t believe I will ascend it. But there is also wisdom and shelter in its shadow and at its foot, for there is a moment in which even its shadow and its foot are full of His glory.



Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua, pt.2

Except for

Gob, piss, plaque, snot, BO, puss,

Halitosis, cerumen, dandruff,

Vomit, smegma, blackheads, crust,

Sores, scum, slime, bum-fluff;

Mold, skip-juice, globs of congealed fat;

Smack, fags, amphetamine, crack;

Plastic, asbestos, rabies, anthrax,

TB, the plague, cancer, poison-gas;

Curse words, the middle-finger, spit;

Torture chambers, guns, psychosis,

Thermonuclear bombs… farts, zits

Rancid butter, eye-gunge, shit.




Moany verse

Life goes on and on –

And I’m only forty, just gone:

Hardly getting on.

Did you know I’ve even got

My second row

Of eye-bags to show?


I’m getting old in my mind too.

Examples? There’s a few:

The news is no longer news;

I’ve hardly any CDs

That aren’t from the 1990s;

The atlas once inspired plans

To visit promised lands.

But I’m going nowhere.


And I’ve not got any wiser.

I’d like to have become more taciturn.

But no. I’ve learnt

You’re never too old not to learn.


Everything is getting worse.

Everything is getting worse, it is.

Except for moany verse, that is.




XLVI – “When the way prevails”

When the way prevails in the empire, fleet-footed horses are relegated to ploughing the fields; when the way does not prevail in the empire, war-horses breed on the border.

There is no crime greater than having too many desires;

There is no disaster greater than not being content;

There is no misfortune greater than being covetous.

Hence in being content, one will always have enough.


The speed and agility of thought I have developed for attacks is well put to task in ploughing the field which is my soul. This leads to good growth. But when my thoughts charge, contending with others, desiring mastery of others, strength will be given up to war.

I will keep to my borders and I will be content within them, ploughing my own soul for the life of my family. That way, we will always have enough.



XLV – “Great perfection seems chipped”

Great perfection seems chipped,

Yet use will not wear it out;

Great fullness seems empty,

Yet use will n0t drain it;

Great straightness seems bent;

Great skill seems awkward;

Great eloquence seems tongue-tied.

Restlessness overcomes cold; stillness overcomes heat.

Limpid and still,

One can be a leader in the empire.


The use or value of something is contradictory to its appearance. Contradictory. Beware that which looks – or sounds – great; it certainly isn’t.