Photograph of stairs leading from a dark walkway into the bright light by Doug Couvillion

Seeing these stairs on a winter afternoon I was drawn to the way they led up from the darkness to the light.

Days later, as I processed the photo I began to think about one of my favorite places to turn for inspiration, the Tao Te Ching, which has some interesting takes on the duality of human perception.

The following is from Stephen Mitchell’s translation.

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn't posses,
acts but doesn't expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.

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