Tao Te Ching (Chapter 15)
The ancient masters were subtle, mysterious, profound, responsive.
The depth of their knowledge is unfathomable.
Because it is unfathomable.
All we can do is describe their appearance.
Watchful, like men crossing a winter stream.
Alert, like men aware of danger.
Courteous, like visiting guests.
Yielding, like ice about to melt.
Simple, like uncarved blocks of wood.
Hollow, like caves.
Opaque, like muddy pools.
Who can wait quietly while the mud settles?
Who can remain still until the movement of action?
Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfillment.
Not seeking fulfillment, they are not swayed by desire for change.
(By Lao Tsu, translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English)
The line “the ancient masters were subtle” clashes with modern trading advice that relies on hard numbers (statistics) and strict rules that demand rigid adherence. Hard numbers and strict rules take the enjoyment out of trading. Computers trade like this. The goal of this type of trading is winning at all costs rather than trader development. If trader development is allowing the Tao to direct a trader’s actions moment by moment, then the unseen goal is the “unfathomable knowledge” of a sage.
Trade like a Sage
The sage trades by sensing market movement like sensing a light breeze’s slight change of direction. The sage trades by being “watchful, like men crossing a winter stream” and by being “alert, like men aware of danger.” “Who can remain still until the movement of action?” The sage trader can. With a quiet heart and a quiet mind, the sage trader can “. . . wait quietly while the mud settles” and then act accordingly.
“Observers of the Tao . . . are not swayed by desire for change.” This means followers of the Tao have no expectations. They allow life and market action to unfold. And by taking no artificial action, nothing is left undone.