Those of ancient times who were adept at the Tao
Used it not make people brighter
But to keep them simple
The difficulty in governing people
Is due to their deceptiveness
Therefore using cleverness to govern the state
Is being a thief of the state
Not using cleverness to govern the state
Is being a blessing of the state?
Know that these two are both standards
Always knowing these standards
Is called Mystic Virtue
Mystic Virtue is so profound, so far reaching
It goes opposite of material things
Then it teaches great congruence
There is an old saying that goes something like “the devil is in the details”.
When the ego mind is at work it strives. In striving, ego always sets up as many incoming vectors of self serving as possible. In a given situation, it believes that the more complex something is the more elegant. It strives to create confusion so that those it would manipulate are not aware of its true intention. Ego loves tricky, clever misdirection so that it can act in deceitful ways to manipulate and take advantage of the those around them.
An example can be found in this when engaged with sales people who go to great lengths to create confusion and employ cleverness to get the sale. They can be found in every industry where hard work and honesty are dropped in favor of clever wording and psychological parlor trick manipulate people into giving up their money.
We even do this to ourselves. When ego is allowed to run freely as the creator of our path, it can be so very clever in justifying the self gratifying poor choices that get us into so much trouble. Sometimes our striving can become so complex that we believe our own tricks and deceive ourselves. While living within ego our cleverness can get us into serious trouble.
Ego living for the pursuit of desire fulfillment creates problems from poor choices. Ego thinking that it can buy happiness through the purchase of material items, will soon run out of money because there is just not enough stuff to ever find that feeling of fulfillment. When the money runs out, it seeks more, often in the form of credit cards. Soon the ego is feeling clever at how well it can ‘rob Peter to pay Paul”. It will set up what it thinks are clever schemes to shuffle money around, even feeling proud of how tricky and complex their system is. Yet, it cannot last and one day the house of cards collapses. The mess they create they can create can be so complex that it is impossible to sort out and come up with a viable solution. Thus ego creates situations that are too complex and impossible to solve.
The Tao cultivator learns to keep things simple and to follow those who seek simplicity and straightforward demeanor over cleverness. Importantly they also recognise the tricks of cleverness in others and learn to not fall into the traps that clever egos set up. In this balanced way the the Tao cultivator can experience the grace of mystic virtue. Staying away from trouble keeps them on the path. When trouble is at hand, they use simple straightforward steps to go beyond the problems areas of life because they are not overburdened with complexity and detail.
The self aware person is mindful and present. They pay attention to the choices at hand and carefully choose the way of simplicity. By managing their own ego, they are able to discern the cleverness of other egos and steer away from trouble. In this way they do not take upon themselves the distractions that lead to suffering and misery.