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Feb 24, 2011 - 2 minute read - Evil Tester Techniques

Exploratory Testing Lessons from the Tao Te Ching

Original Blog Posting on [blog.eviltester.com]

Tony Bruce posted some quotes inspired by Taoist traditional writing from The Magic of Metaphor. I have a particular fondness for Taoist classics and I have a fair few translations of the Tao Te Ching on my bookshelf. I love the feeling of simplicity generated when reading.

I cherry picked the following quotes with a relevance to my testing.

If you have not before taken the following approaches in your testing then I encourage you to try them (failing this you could just read “The Berenstain Bears Inside, Outside, Upside Down” as initially recommended to me by Rob Sabourin):

On Subtle Wisdom…

  • In order to contract a thing, one should surely expand it first.
  • In order to weaken, one will surely strengthen first.
  • In order to overthrow, one will surely exalt first.
  • In order to take, one will surely give first.

What is planted by the best planter can never be removed;

What is embraced by the best embracer can never be loosened.

On Absolute Equality:

  • Blunt all that is sharp;
  • Cut all that is divisible;
  • Blur all that is brilliant;
  • Mix with all that is humble as dust;

Chapter LXIV:

  • What is motionless is easy to hold;
  • What is not yet foreshadowed is easy to form plans for;
  • What is fragile is easy to break’
  • What is minute is easy to disperse.
  • Deal with a thing before it comes into existence;
  • Regulate a thing before it gets into confusion.
  • The common people in their business often fail on the verge of succeeding.
  • Take care with the end as you do with the beginning,
  • And you will have no failure.

All the above from the 1937 Translation by Ch’u Ta-Kao

You can find various translations around the web: