THE LAO TZU HOW TO BOOK
How To Read Between the Lines
Existence is beyond the power of words
Terms may be used
But are none of them absolute
In the beginning the page was blank, there were no words,
Words came out of the cylinder of the pen;
They messed up the piety of the sheet,
So whether a man is illiterate
And sees only scratches
And sees the written language
The scratches and the writing
Are essentially the same,
Schooling makes them seem different
There are no words between the lines
There are no words on the lines
Wonder names them both
From wonder into wonder
How To Judge At A Beauty Contest
People through finding something beautiful
Think something else unbeautiful,
Through finding one woman a goddess
Judge another a hag.
Poise and charm, though stemming from each other, seem to reflect stages of change,
Song and dance as phases of achievement,
Breast and leg as measure of contrast,
Gown and swimwear as degrees of relation;
But, since the varying of makeup gives drama to a face
And what is is the was of what shall be,
The sanest judge
Sets up no ultimate,
Lays down no standard,
Takes every contestant as she is,
As someone to admire, not to criticize,
To enjoy, not to chastise,
To accept naturally without self-involvement:
If you never get involved
You never worry about what you do.
How To Be A Guard
It is better not to make corrections a matter of penalty
If inmates bicker and cry,
Not to pile up restrictions
If they revolt,
Not to threaten isolation
If they bugger.
A sound corrections officer's aim
Is to open the inmates' hearts,
Fill their stomachs,
Calm their wills,
Quell their anger
And so to clarify their thoughts and cleanse their needs
That no cunning meddler could touch them:
Without being forced, without strain or constraint,
Good behaviour comes of itself.
How To Weed Your Garden
Weeds, by nothing bred,
Breeds other weeds.
Parent of the wild field,
It houses insects and bugs,
Attracts rodents and birds,
Tempers the sterile city,
Brings life from all around,
Its existence on the earth never fails.
But why is it hacked down? - this harbinger
Of the earth's fertility.
How To Cope With Growing Old
Government, immune to the death of a single man
Faces its decay in ideation.
A sound family, immune to the death of a housefly
Faces the aging and disease of its members.
The world, like a bellows
Is always dying, always populated:
The more that die, the more can live.
Families come to their wit's end arguing
Had better be prepared for the morrow.
How To Invest Your Money
The value of money moves through a worldwide system
Of deplenishing resources
Which blind and uphold universal greed,
The seeming of a world never to end,
Lust for money to draw more profits as they will:
And the more they profit, the more they remain.
How To Understand The New Math
Mathematics is deathless,
Is deathless because, having no finite sets
It stays infinite.
A sound mathematician by not adding himself
Stays the further ahead of himself,
By not confining himself to closed sets,
Sustains himself on open theory:
By never trying to explain himself
He endlessly understands understanding.
How To Excell At Sports
An athlete at his best, like a student
Learns as he goes along:
Like water he seeks his own level,
The level level of life,
Loves living close to the earth,
Living clear down in his heart,
Loves teammanship with his team,
The style of play that brings results,
The even tenor of a well-run event,
The fair profit of able playing,
The right timing of useful skills,
And for impeding no one's progress
No one blames him.
How To Maintain Your Tools
Keep stretching a bow
You repent of the pull,
A whetted saw
Goes thin and dull,
Toys of pleasure
Keep under locks and keys,
Rewind your tape measure
And apply lots of grease:
Do enough, without trying,
Be active, not lying.
How To Teach At University
Can you keep your classes' attention
Wide-eyed to the lesson?
Can you, with just a simple example
Of a point, highly conceptualized,
To a student?
Can you continue teaching
With no books, no aides?
Can you, mating with tradition
Understand the student's part?
Can your learned head implant reason
Along with wisdom into their hearts?
If you can present issues and nourish its growing,
If you can guide without claim or strife,
If you can pass off knowledge without their knowing,
You are tenured for life.
How To Fix A Bicycle
Thirty spokes are joined in the middle of the hub
By holes joining them for the wheel's use,
The use of oil in generous dabs
Gives the wheel plenty of lubrication;
Gears, handles, on a bike
Should be aligned to the rider
Thus we're able to glide and brake
To move what is.
How To Enjoy The Indoors
The four walls can bore,
The ceiling can crowd,
The floor can limit.
The phone, the radio, can drive men mad
And their wives leave them no peace
Therefore the indoor man
Prefers the book to the television:
He has his peace, - he has his quiet.
How To Be A Stand-Up Comedian
Success and bombs have been called equal worries,
Vegas and Buffalo have been called equal ailments
How can success and bombs be called equal worries?
Because rave reviews burdens the comedian
With the fear of losing them.
How can Vegas and Buffalo be called equal ailments?
Because a comedian thinks of Caesar's Palace as the epitome.
When he no longer thinks of Caesar's Palace as the epitome
Neither Vegas nor Buffalo can ail him.
One who knows his jokes are funny to all other men
Is a safe comedian to tell them,
One who recognizes the sense of humour in all other men,
Is a cinch to amuse them.
How To Use A Radio Telescope
What we look for beyond seeing
And call the ether,
Listen for beyond hearing
And call radio waves,
Grasp for beyond reaching
And call light years,
Merge beyond understanding
In a radio telescope
Which does not merely rise and give light
Does not merely probe into the darkness
But forever searches for evidence of living things that are mysterious
As the unbegotten existence of life which we do not know.
That is why men have searched the heavens,
Finding no meaningless images,
In the stars.
Still no face to meet,
No back to follow
Yet one who is anciently aware of existence
Is prepared for every moment,
Feels no tedium time in time out
In the way the stars shine.
How To Pick Out A Movie
Long ago motion pictures were ruled with a wisdom
Too fine, too deep, to be fully understood
And, since it was beyond the patron's full understanding,
Only some of it has come down to us, as in these sayings:
"Dr. Livingstone, I presume,'
"Do it for the Gipper,'
"I vant to be alone,'
"Me Tarzan, you Jane,'
"Viaduct. Why a duck,'
"I'd rather be in Philadelphia."
And this one also, "A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away"
Why this one?
Because Star Wars is a movie the way a movie should be
Swashbuckling? Good v. bad? Isn't this theme all used up?
How can the film industry keep its course
If it does not sell popcorn?
Those who live in fantasy (cinema?) worlds
Need only the 'Force':
They need no sex, they need no violence,
They need no powerful human drama.
How To Look Beautiful
Be utterly ugly
And you shall hold to the foundation of beauty.
Be at one with all your living pores which, having blemished and soiled
Return to the natural order whence they came,
Like a topographic map of the epidermis
Exposing all that is good.
Acceptance of this return to the good has been called 'inner beauty',
Acceptance of inner beauty has been condemned as 'turning one's head.'
But turning one's head is acceptance of beauty
And to accept beauty is to face life with open eyes,
Whereas not to accept beauty is to face only ugliness
She who has open pores is open skinned,
She who is open skinned is open healthed,
She who is open healthed is pretty,
She who is pretty is beautiful,
She who is beautiful is noticed,
She who is noticed is admired,
She who is adrmired is loved,
She who is loved is living.
How To Be A Factory Supervisor
A foreman is best
When assemblers barely know that he exists,
Not so good when workers obey and acclaim him,
Worst when they despise him.
'Fail to respect your subordinates
They fail to respect you.'
But a good supervisor, who demonstrates little,
When the job is done, the product assembled,
They will all say, 'We built it ourselves.'
How To Find A Mistake
When errors are out of sight to be detected
Came standards of quality control,
New methods came, different technology came,
Fool-proofness took charge;
When mistakes still appeared
Came dissatisfaction and depression;
And when anger was misdirected and frustrated
Came dissentors recommending rebellion.
How To Set Priorities
Rid of flowcharts and organizational maps
People would be a hundredfold happier,
Rid of deferential titles and prestiges
People would find their lives clearer,
Rid of legalized profiteering
People would have no dismissals to fear.
These methods of life have failed, all three,
Here is the way, it seems to me:
Give people freedom
To delve deep in their hearts to see what they like to be,
Free from private greeds
And wanton needs.
How To Write Free Verse
Leave off exclamation marks! End the comma
Between adjective phrases and pauses in speech,
Little worms with how little difference!
Conjugate this, conjugate that,
What's the use of tenses anyway!
If one character is me, another must be you,
How silly that is and how false!
Yet conventional writers write like this
With all their characters pivotal,
A constant army of Frodos and the Dark Tower,
While I am a simpleton, a nobody,
Not big enough yet to be published,
Not known enough to be read,
A hapless, wayward writer.
Writers who've made it have a surplus of books,
While I am left out, owning unfinished manuscripts
How run of the mill I must be
Not to have any creative thoughts,
What a fool!
The published writer is so well read and so confident
That I ought to be jealous
Writing and writing reams of pages,
All these writers are making their mark on the world,
While I, inexperienced, wavering,
Different from the rest,
Am only a precocious boy still learning to hold the pen.
How To Know If You Need Glasses
The surest test if a man can see
If he sees a billboard whole, as it is,
Without guessing or counting the words
From the meaningless unintelligible source
Of its message,
The meaningless unintelligible source
Of its characters,
The source while it appears dark and empty
Explodes with vital information
That seems far away
And yet nearer than the background
From which the billboard lay,
Changing its images each month:
What more need you know of a billboard
How To Keep A Kitchen Clean
'A woman's work is never done:'
Ashtrays to be emptied,
Rugs to be vacuumed,
Shirts to mend;
And the work never rewards you
But somehow you feel better
Aware of this, the housekeeper has the simple task
Which other men seek;
Without worrying herself
She is content,
Without timing herself,
Without taking pay
Laying no humility
And, because she does not hurry,
Finds peaceful competence,
How true is the old saying,
'A woman's work is never done'!
How completely she cleans up home!
How To Predict The Weather
Nature does not have to insist,
Can blow for only half a morning,
Rain for only half a day,
And what are these winds and these rains but natural?
If nature behaves like this,
How does the meteorologist predict?
It is natural too
That meteorologists follow continental air masses,
That meteorologists use weather balloons,
Whereas he knows wind direction he loses the balloon to the west.
That meteorologists keep vital statistics
Know the air pressure,
Meteorologists using it properly
Predict the weather
Whereas if he uses it impromperly
Will be in left field:
'Fail to read the barometer,
The weather will be a mystery to you.'
How To Get Fit
Standing tiptoe a man strengthens muscles,
Walking quickly conditions the heart's pace,
Dieting himself he loses weight,
Quitting cigarettes he regains his breath,
Admiring women smile at him.
Pride of the body healthens the mind
But, he has to stay with this way of life,
Getting lazy will make him unfit,
Make him sloppy in the eyes of his neighbour,
And a fit man will not have this.
How To Paint A Picture
Before creation, equipment is needed,
Canvas, paints, iodine,
And a state of mind,
Which wants to show itself
With unending expression.
Though there can be no name for this state,
I have called it 'the will to paint'
Perhaps I should have called it 'the essence of paint'
Since essence implies the fullness of spirit,
Implies still further fullness,
Implies a fullness until the spirit is all.
In this sense
The will to paint is the essence,
Creativity is the essence,
The subject is the essence
And the painter is also the essence.
These are the four amplitudes of painting
And a painter is one of them:
The painter is the subject,
The subject is creativity,
Creativity is the will to paint
'Til the picture is completed.
How To Pass Another Car
The accelerator is the root of passing,
The mainstay of all speed.
A traveler of true means, whatever the traffic's pace,
Really wants to pass
And , however crowded the roads are, will pass
With a cloud of dust.
What copper in a black and white would want to give chase,
Would risk the lives of other drivers
Just to hand out a ticket,
For speeding or reckless driving?
How To Look Tidy
One may be so handsome that untidiness never shows,
Works so hard that the desk never piles up,
Dances so well that no lessons are needed,
Eats spaghetti so quickly, without using a fork,
Finds no sauce on his tie,
Buys clothes so often, using credit cards,
That they are thrown away before being washed.
And these are traits not only of a sloppy man
But of many a man thought to be tidy.
A sloppy man is good at covering up,
At hiding the dirt in his ears.
Being what is called lazy
A sloppy man, before he can become a tidy man,
Finds in himself disgraceful behaviour
Which at first
Doesn't bother him
Until he realizes the impressions of others
Anybody that he may know
Counts also to him.
How To Process Film
One who has the proper chemicals
And a darkroom also
Is in himself a do-it-yourselfer
And, being a do-it-yourselfer
One who, preferring light,
Prefers darkness also
Has in himself the image of the camera,
And, having the image of the camera
Has patience, carefulness
In the processing of creation;
One who uses Minoltas
And Kodaks also
Can take pictures of every valley of the world,
And , pictures of every valley of the world
Reproduces their source
From which reprints may be easily made;
Owners of such reprints,
Will be filled with undiminishing glee.
How To Keep To A Schedule
Those who would take over the earth
And shape it to their will
Always, I notice, are punctuous.
Life is like a timetable so precise
That at a mere delay of the schedule
All is marred
And when the late reach out their fingers it is gone
For time in the world forces events ahead
The late are left behind,
For time in the world makes a great noise
The late are held silent,
For time in the world makes the prompt fat
The late are kept hungry,
For time in the world is a large boat
In which the late are left out:
At no time in the world will a man who is prompt
Miss the boat,
Overload the boat,
Sink the boat.
How To Be A Successful Maitre D'
One who guides a party of diners into a restaurant
Will seat each guest as comfortably as possible.
Chairs turned to view the window,
Easy access to the washrooms,
Table space for all the dishes
Ensures the meal as a delight.
A good maitre d', during supper hours, dares not hurry,
Will never press his guest with dinner.
What he must do he does but not for turnover,
What he must do he does but not for gratuities,
What he must do he does but not for expedience;
He has done it because it had to be done,
Not for a hot dish.
Let meals flourish and then be eaten,
Rushing is not the way at all;
Deny atmosphere and you are fired.
How To Be A Team Member
Even the best player can be a liability,
Lose the game,
And the way for a successful team is not the way of its star.
But in crucial games all-stars of skill
Turn from their brilliance to teammanship,
All-stars are a liability,
No asset for great teams
Until they fall in line
And drop their egos from it.
He who thinks triumph beautiful
Is one with a will to kill,
And one with a will to kill
Shall never seek stardom in the game.
It is a good sign when the star's teammanship comes forward,
A bad sign when his ego comes forward,
When lesser-lights take charge
And the star holds back
As in the conduct of being short-handed
The death of a penalty is cause for joy:
Conduct your play as being short-handed.
How To Overthrow A Government
Society is eternal, not to be limited;
And, though it seem but an artifact of a country, to change as you please,
It is not to be tampered with and then forgotten.
When revolutionaries stuck to their credo,
They were upheld by popular support:
The poor and the wealthy were joined and made content,
Life was a freshness of rain,
Subject to none,
Free to all.
But rebels of greed came, with their slogans and their causes;
And as soon as class differences had been devised
No one knew to what they belonged,
Though the one who does know that there are no castes
Is the true revolutionary:
Might be likened to the compromise
Of many people reaching the one power.
How To Dance
Dancers study each other,
The waltz is self-known;
Disco masters the brothers,
How to dance on one's own;
Steps need never borrow,
Rhythm wanders blind:
Fluency on the floor - oh
Leaving the other's behind.
How To Pick A Babysitter
Your child, letting anyone babysit
Making no distinction between boy and girl
Playing with every one, refusing no one
Has not provided the sitter the chance to mature
Has not fed and clad the sitter with the opportunity of responsibility;
And, because your child lacks the knack
Of teaching or nurturing the sitter in what he (she) has done,
The responsibility of care or experience,
Is not always remembered by the sitter
Others appreciate the helpfulness of the perfect sitter
Who, is fashioned by the child,
Matures the most.
How To Choose A Family Pet
If the sign of life is in its face
You when you respond to it
Will feel sure and content
That, in your friendly home,
Its sure of hearty care,
A pet-owner can hardly wait.
Though it may not smell too nice
And it may soil your floor
Or chew on your socks and your sofa,
How lovable it is and how cute!
How To Settle An Argument
He who feels injured
Must once have been at fault,
He who feels angry
Must have felt at ease,
He who feels ridiculed
Must have been important,
He who feels like a victim
Must have once been an aggressor,
Whereas a man with no chip on his shoulder
Knows that there is two sides to every coin
What happens to a disagreement that is ignored?
Or to an injustice that is belittled?
Unheard, they dwindle.
How To Sharpen A Lawn Mower
The way to a neat lawn is to do nothing through watering,
The way to a neat lawn is to do everything through sharpening.
When a mower needs sharpening,
The grass naturally grows unruly.
And a sloppy yard straying to unruliness
Can be checked at the core
By the simple act of honing
Through which the blades are ripe for cutting
And to a lawn where the blades are ripe for cutting
It looks like a golf course.
How To Wax Your Car
A car of sure beauty, without making ado about its wax,
A car of older years, assuming a shining appearance,
The car of sure beauty never has to ask for it
Nor care about ensuing rain;
The car of older years has to demand for it
And worries about every cloud in the sky.
However a car with a solid wax coat,
Forgets about the weather altogether;
However a car with a glossy underbody,
Remembers the care it needs;
However an older model auto gets its wax, it is sure and can ascertain
That on the next rainy, overcast day it will need a new coat.
Here is what happens:
Losing its shiny gloss, the old car relies on wax's protection;
Losing its protection, it relies upon the metallic paint;
Losing the paint, it relies upon its body's alloys;
Losing its metal, it begins to fall apart.
Falling apart is disgusting and the car goes to waste,
There are holes in the hood and the door.
Some mechanics will tell you that they can patch it up
That is nonsense.
The car of old years should be sold to a scrapyard
Before it starts clanking,
There it can be recycled
For its useful parts:
It can become a brand new car again.
How To Say No To An Attractive Offer
Every once and a while, from somewhere, an offer is made to you:
An opportunity is offered you, made in heaven,
With the firmness of earth,
And the sincerity of the whole spirit,
In the least likely moment,
Under the most unlikely conditions;
And so you are given a chance to make a decision
That will affect the rest of your life
But maybe the offer is not heaven-made
But maybe the firmness can be in doubt
But maybe its sincerity is only presumptious,
But maybe the moment was too likely,
But maybe the conditions were too conducive;
So, there you are, forced to make a decision:
Always one side or the other
With no middle road, no Japanese mu.
What happens if you opt the wrong way?
No wonder you feel distressed
About saying yes and saying no
When the future is so veiled to you!
If you feel yes is the right thing to do,
Why do you dwell on your no?
Who will question you if you did go the right way
And things fell in place as if heaven made!
How To Circulate The Air
Air on its way through the window
Returns by way of the door:
If you heat the air in your room and then let it go
Hot air will come inside to make you warm.
How To Get Out Of A Jammed Elevator
Men in elevators, not knowing the way out,
Steadily stay in it;
Men in elevators, hoping for a way out,
Keep to it until the door comes open;
Men in elevators, knowing the way out
And having once escaped from them, laugh again the louder.
If you need to be sure which way is right, you can tell by their laughing at it.
They fling open the doors:
'A trick without toil,
'For every floor up a floor or two back.'
To such laughter a seventh floor looks like the first,
Top seems bottom,
'Ninth appears basement,'
'Penthouse is a lobby,'
Endurance is a weakness,
Simplicity is the trick.
But eternity in the elevator is his who can't get out,
Starvation is his who fails to strive,
Hatred is his who severs a finger prying the door,
Freedom is his who climbs out the top gate:
Awe is his who does not tell with words
Of his escape from the elevator.