Recently unearthed in a clay pot during an archeological dig of an independent bookstore in Glen Burnie, Maryland, these new stanzas of the Tao Te Ching appear to bear directly on this year's NFL draft. Was Lao Tzu having a Nostradamus moment? Was the semi-legendary Chinese sage also a closet draftnik? Or is this an elaborate hoax? It's hard to tell, but when it comes to scandal-ridden linebackers about to face tough questions at the Scouting Combine, some human foibles prove to be timeless.
The Te'o that can be explained is not the true Te'o.
The face that can be faced is not the eternal face.
The faceless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the girlfriend of ten thousand things.
Ever without desire, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can only see text messages.
Those seeking truth only disappear into darkness,
The gateway to all mystery.
Having and not having arise together.
Dating and not dating complement each other.
Existing and not existing spring from the same well, but have different names.
Voice and sound harmonize with each other,
Even when that voice is rather deep and should be suspiciously familiar.
The true sage goes about doing nothing, not speaking
Knowing that words are shovels which can only dig wells deeper.
The 10,000 blogs rise and fall without cease.
What was worked for in the past is gone.
What was said last to reporters last year was forgotten,
And is therefore eternal.
In dwelling, be close to land.
In meditation, go deep within the soul.
In dealing with others, be gentle.
In speech, be true.
Seriously: in speech, be true.
When speaking on the record, be especially true.
When loving, demand some Skype time, minimum.
When defending, shed blockers more quickly.
When deflecting, try daytime talk shows.
Do not fight. Do not blame.
Do not expect to be a first round pick.
The doorway of the mysterious female
Is the basis from which sprang Heaven and Earth.
You can say that again, buddy.
A scandal is like a strong wind.
It blows where it chooses and stirs up what it likes.
The ten thousand blogs follow its path.
The fool who starts the scandal means no harm.
The wind means no harm, yet it rips through sails.
The sage seeks not sympathy,
And when caught seeking sympathy,
The sage especially seeks not additional sympathy.
The sage seeks only truth. And virtue.
And if possible, shelter from the strong wind.
Managing a scandal is like cooking a small fish.
This is the mystery of the Te'o.
"Trouble is easily overcome before it starts.
The brittle is easily shattered;
The small is easily scattered.
Deal with things before they happen.
Set things in order before there is confusion."
Those lines are from Tao Te Ching, no jokes added.
This advice is 2,500 years old, yet too late.
So is this advice, also verbatim, same chapter:
"People usually fail when they are on the verge of success.
So give as much care to the end as to the beginning.
Then there will be no failure."
To summarize again: too freakin' late.
Why are all the draft experts muttering?
Because they hoped your character would overcome your limitations.
Why are all the scouts conferring?
Because you have become something they cannot classify, and therefore fear.
Why do the ten thousand blogs jibber and snicker?
Because you have made the word intangibles unintentionally hilarious.
The man who causes doubt for one thing
Causes doubt for all things.
Make others confident of your convictions
And they will overlook a missed tackle.
Give them cause to question one thing you said
And they will question all things you have done.
The scribe examines the dishonest man's documents
With a magnifying glass.
The scout watches film of the troubling prospect
Searching for every flaw.
The man who draws attention to himself
Is cursed to receive exactly what he sought.
Truthful words are not beautiful
Beautiful words are not truthful
The sage does not store things up
The more he shares, the more he possesses.
The more he gives to others
The greater his abundance.
The Tao does not dwell within scripted statements.
It is not managed by public relations.
The sage is concerned with virtue, not reputation.
The sage dwells not on doors which he closed,
But on those which remain open.
Most of all, the sage remembers the unknowable truth of the Tao:
Nail the 40 yard dash and the drills
And all else will likely be forgiven.