Michael The other day we were talking about natural rhythms as contrapuntals. Does your book talk about contrapuntals?
George Yes. Listen to this. I've got my favorite translation up on the top shelf here. OK:

Yield and overcome;
Bend and be straight;
Empty and be full;
Wear out and be new;
Have little and gain;
Have much and be confused.

Get the point?
Michael Those are paradoxes. What's the trick to them? I used to fool around with riddles all the time. See if you can figure out who "I" am in this one. "I'm not my sister and not my brother, but I am a child of my father and mother. Who am I?"
George You're you, of course.
Michael No. I'm "I." You see, I tricked you. What's the trick to those Tao puzzles?
George No tricks, really. It reveals rather than conceals.
Michael Well, I disagree. What you read doesn't reveal much at all. You present a paradox of opposites, and there's no meaning in that. What if I said something like, "I can see better when I close my eyes." There! What sense does that make?
George Are you sure you haven't read this book before? That's in here somewhere and yes, it does make sense.
Michael OK, explain.
George Don't you ever get good ideas while you are asleep with your eyes closed? Don't you see things with your mind's eye?
Michael Sure, but they're not real. If you want to see what's there, you have to open your eyes, don't you?
George I'm looking for your passage in the book. Here it is.

Without going outside,
You may know the whole world.
Without looking through the window,
You may see the ways of heaven.

The farther you go, the less you know.
Thus the sage knows without traveling;
He sees without looking;
He works without doing.

See, Mike. You've got potential to be an Eastern sage. A mystic in a three piece suit.
Michael Ha Ha. Sounds like a pretty easy job - coming up with nonsense. Work without doing - come on! What kind of magic is that?
George It's not magical. It just is. And your skepticism actually helps it to be what it is.

The foolish student hears
Of the Tao and laughs aloud.

If there were no laughter,
The Tao would not be what it is.
Michael Forgive my disrespect. But if there's something there that's useful, please tell me what it is. I don't think I'm cut out for this kind of knowing or whatever you call it.
George Let's call it awareness, but that's only a name. And I can't tell you what the Tao is. To me it's about living, and since managing is part of living, I see value in it. But I can't just tell you what it is. Listen:

A description of the Tao
Seems without substance or flavor.

It cannot be seen, it cannot be heard.
And yet it cannot be exhausted.
Michael I really don't know what to think about that.
George Perhaps the key is not to think so much. Don't worry about it, Mike. Understanding Taoism isn't necessary around here. When you're ready for it, it will still be there. Right now I'd like to discuss your first assignment.
Michael Great.
George How'd you'd like to supervise a testing operation while we look for a replacement for McCormick? It would be good experience for you.
Michael You mean a management position? In testing? But I've never worked in testing.
George I know. But if you were a lab technician, you probably wouldn't be a good manager. It's temporary, and you can get the help you need from me or Rob Blaine. I'11 take you down this afternoon so you can meet everyone. You'll have a week to study the lab reports and the budget, and then I'11 turn it over to you. Sound OK?
Michael Uh, great. Can't wait to get started. How many people are there in testing?
George In your unit there'll be eight, and we're looking for one more. They're pretty good people, Mike. I think you'll enjoy it and do a good job. I know it's a bit of a surprise, but I need you there more than I need another staff analyst right now.
Michael I'11 see what I can do. Thanks for the opportunity.

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