The Tao Teh King: A Short Study in Comparative Religion, by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, , at sacred-texts.com
Profound indeed were the most excellent among the ancients, penetrating, fathomless; inasmuch as they were fathomless it becomes necessary to employ far fetched symbols when speaking of them.
Irresolute—as if fording a stream in winter.
Timid—as though fearful of their neighbors.
Grave—as if they were guests. 1
Elusive—like ice about to melt.
Simple—like raw material. 2
Expansive—like the space between hills.
Turbid—like muddy water. 3
Who can still the turbid and make it gradually clear; or quiet the active so that by degrees it shall become productive? Only he who keeps this Tao, without desiring fullness. If one is not full it is possible to be antiquated and not newly fashioned. 4
26:1 Chinese etiquette requires that a guest shall preserve due gravity in the presence of his host, to express his consciousness that he is where he is not himself a master, and must therefore guard himself.
26:2 "Simplicity is the highest quality of expression. It is that quality to which art comes in its supreme moments. It marks the final stage of growth. It is the rarest, as it is the most precious, result which men secure in their self-training."
26:3 This seven-fold illustration marks a certain progression—1. There is uncertainty of purpose. 2. The naturally resultant timidity of expression. 3. Yet a consciousness of a certain kind of standing. 4. But the position allows of no self assertion. 5. Nevertheless there is an inner center round which the whole man focuses his strength. 6. And from this inner center of self-consciousness there springs an all-embracing comprehensiveness. 7. This comprehensiveness because including All is as No-Thing (Turbid, like mudded water.)
26:4 All external conditions alike. Old age as serviceable as youth; youth as fruitful as old age.