Literature builds literate people who take inspiration from what they read and echo back strains of other authors’ beauty in their own writing. In this way, we have an ongoing song woven of books and thoughts and ideas that resonate with chords of insights, like a great opus of language rising to crescendos, subsiding into harmonies, and pulsing onward with the bright sound of synergy.” — Richard R. Powell, Wabi Sabi for Writers

Those who can read the patterns of life are the truly cultured.

Every person who has followed Tao has been a person of culture and refinement. Not only does Tao require study and intelligence, but it also demands the subtle mind of a sensitive person. You will not find that type of mind in the unthinking brute or the insensitive lout.

The wen person is someone who can read not just human language, but the languages of nature as well. There are patterns and secrets throughout the world — the rings of trees, and tracks of animals, and the traces of water down the sides of a valley are as clear as any scripture. The person who follows Tao does not blindly go through life, but is able to read it on every level. Those who follow Tao are those who know the many languages of life.

A person who can read literature in this extended sense cannot help but develop great character. After all, to follow Tao requires patience in adversity, great compassion, and understanding of the balance between action and stillness. We all need to experience more and more, strive to know life on deeper and deeper levels, and give consideration to all that happens to us. Such understanding must be ongoing, and those who revel in wen never tire of exploring what is around them. They always read the patterns of life.

Deng Ming Dao, Everyday Tao