Is and Is Not

Scene from Sesshu Toyo’s Long Scroll

The following is from Sam Hammill’s translation of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching written some 2,500 years ago:

Beauty and ugliness have one origin.
Name beauty, and ugliness is.
Recognizing virtue recognizes evil.

Is and is not produce one another.
The difficult is born in the easy,
long is defined by short, the high by the low.
Instrument and voice achieve one harmony.
Before and after have places.

That is why the sage can act without effort
and teach without words,
nurture things without possessing them,
and accomplish things without expecting merit:

only one who makes no attempt to possess it
cannot lose it.