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Hide what you know.
Conceal talent.
Shield your light.
Bide your time.

Once you can follow Tao with skill, hide your abilities. Privately accumulate extraordinary knowledge and skill, but keep a plain appearance.

There is great wisdom in being inconspicuous. Do not brag or try anything beyond your means. Don’t let yourself become unbalanced before you have fully mastered an art. Thus, you will not be expected to use your talents on behalf of others unless you yourself volunteer, you will not become the victim of others’ resentment, and the depth of your character will not be judged. When you know how to hide, you avoid the attention and scorn of others, but retain the strategic advantage of surprise. You need to do this not for personal advantage, but to manage yourself and your skills well.

Knowledge and skill are neutral. They are meant to be used. That is all. Mastery should not be used to bolster self-image. We should not allow ourselves to be categorized by what we do know. It is far better to simplify ourselves and free ourselves from the limits of tightly defined identities.


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