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The ablest doers, since ancient times,
Have been subtle, profound, spiritual and foresighted.
So entirely are they imbued with these qualities,
That one may only allude to their behavior.
Are they cautious? Like one crossing a frozen stream?
Or bold? Like one fearless of all danger?
Are they polite? Like one who is a guest?
Or direct? Like one who is at home?
Are they slippery? Like ice beginning to melt?
Or simple? Like a log of unsawn lumber?
Are they empty? Like a grand canyon?
Or full? Like a swollen river?

It is impossible to predict sages’ obscure behavior, but
Their actions always seem simple and obvious. Yet
After they act they are obscure again.
Postulating their method may help you perceive their actions.
You may follow your secret path, and never seem full; and
Not seeming full you may glide through your life:
You are never exploited and never exhausted.