When the best students learn about Tao,
They work hard to put it into practice.
When mediocre students learn about Tao,
They practice it only half-heartedly.
When the worst students learn about Tao,
They laugh out loud.
This is how we know it is truly Tao:
When the dull find it dumb.
Thus it is said that while starting on the path of Tao:
The way of illumination appears dim,
Moving forward seems like a retreat,
The easier path appears more difficult,
The highest virtue sounds hollow,
The purest innocence looks disgraced,
The wisest mind seems ignorant,
The most steadfast character appears deceitful,
The most evident truth seems spurious,
The ideal structure looks badly-shaped,
The perfect tool takes too long to implement,
The finest music is too unsettling to enjoy,
The most beautiful image betrays no evident form.
Tao is utterly obscure and unnamable.
This is how it safeguards its power,
And how it is able to invest itself so effectively in the world.
You may order or download The Tao Te Ching here.
List of verses here