十二种道德经英文译本

2009-11-09  leon_729

第一章         [道,可道,非恒道]
第二章         [天下皆知美之为美]
第三章         [不尚贤]
第四章         [道冲,而用之或不盈]
第五章         [天地不仁]
第六章         [谷神不死]
第七章         [天长地久]
第八章         [上善若水]
第九章         [持而盈之]
第十章         [载营魄抱一]
第十一章     [三十辐共一毂]
第十二章     [五色令人目盲]
第十三章     [宠辱若惊]
第十四章     [视之不见]
第十五章     [古之善为道者]
第十六章     [致虚极]
第十七章     [太上,不知有之]
第十八章     [大道废,有仁义]
第十九章     [绝圣弃智]
第二十章     [唯之与阿,相去几何]
第二十一章 [孔德之容]
第二十二章 [曲则全]
第二十三章 [希言自然]
第二十四章 [企者不立]
第二十五章 [有物混成]
第二十六章 [重为轻根]
第二十七章 [善行,无辙迹]
第二十八章 [知其雄]
第二十九章 [将欲取天下而为之]
第三十章     [以道佐人主者]
第三十一章 [夫兵者,不祥之器]
第三十二章 [道常无名]
第三十三章 [知人者智]
第三十四章 [大道泛兮]
第三十五章 [执大象]
第三十六章 [将欲歙之]
第三十七章 [道恒无名,侯王若能守之]
第三十八章 [上德不德]
第三十九章 [昔之得一者]
第四十章     [反者道之动]
第四十一章 [上士闻道]
第四十二章 [道生一]
第四十三章 [天下之至柔]
第四十四章 [名与身孰亲]
第四十五章 [大成若缺]
第四十六章 [天下有道]
第四十七章 [不出户,知天下]
第四十八章 [为学日益]
第四十九章 [圣人常无心]
第五十章     [出生入死]
第五十一章 [道生之]
第五十二章 [天下有始]
第五十三章 [使我介然有知]
第五十四章 [善建者不拔]
第五十五章 [含「德」之厚]
第五十六章 [知者不言]
第五十七章 [以正治国]
第五十八章 [其政闷闷]
第五十九章 [治人事天]
第六十章         [治大国,若烹小鲜]
第六十一章 [大国者下流]
第六十二章 [道者万物之奥]
第六十三章 [为无为]
第六十四章 [其安易持]
第六十五章 [古之善为道者]
第六十六章 [江海所以能为百谷王者]
第六十七章 [天下皆谓我道大]
第六十八章 [善为士者,不武]
第六十九章 [用兵有言]
第七十章     [吾言甚易知]
第七十一章 [知不知]
第七十二章 [民不畏威]
第七十三章 [勇于敢则杀]
第七十四章 [民不畏死]
第七十五章 [民之饥]
第七十六章 [人之生也柔弱]
第七十七章 [天之道]
第七十八章 [天下莫柔弱于水]
第七十九章 [和大怨]
第八十 章 [小邦寡民]
第八十一章 [信言不美]

~ ·· ~

一章

道,可道,非恒道。名,可名,非恒名。无名,天地之始;有名,万物之母。故常无欲,以观其妙;常有欲,以观其徼。此两者同出而异名,同谓之玄。玄之又玄,众妙之门。

二章

天下皆知美之为美,斯恶已;皆知善之为善,斯不善矣。有无相生,难易相成,长短相形,高下相盈,音声相和,前后相随,恒也。是以圣人处无为之事,行不言之教,万物作而弗始,生而弗有,为而弗恃,功成而弗居。夫唯弗居,是以不去。

三章

不尚贤,使民不争;不贵难得之货,使民不为盗;不见可欲,使民心不乱。是以圣人之治,虚其心,实其腹;弱其志,强其骨。常使民无知无欲。使夫知不敢弗为而已,则无不治。

四章

道冲,而用之或不盈。渊兮,似万物之宗。挫其锐,解其纷,和其光,同其尘。湛兮,似或存。吾不知谁之子,象帝之先。

五章

天地不仁,以万物为刍狗;圣人不仁,以百姓为刍狗。天地之间,其犹橐龠乎?虚而不屈,动而愈出。多闻数穷,不如守中。

六章

谷神不死,是谓玄牝。玄牝之门,是谓天地根。绵绵若存,用之不勤。

七章

天长地久。天地所以能长且久者,以其不自生,故能长生。是以圣人后其身而身先,外其身而身存。不以其无私邪?故能成其私。

八章

上善若水。水善利万物而不争,居众人之所恶,故几于道。居善地,心善渊,与善仁,言善信,政善治,事善能,动善时。夫唯不争,故无尤。

九章

持而盈之,不如其已。揣而锐之,不可长保。金玉满堂,莫之能守。富贵而骄,自遗其咎。功遂身退,天下之道。

十章

载营魄抱一,能无离乎?专气致柔,能如婴儿乎?修除玄览,能无疵乎?爱民治国,能无智乎?天门开阖,能为雌乎?明白四达,能无知乎?生之、畜之,生而不有,长而不宰。是为玄德。

十一章

三十辐共一毂,当其无,有车之用。埏埴以为器,当其无,有器之用。凿户牖以为室,当其无,有室之用。故有之以为利,无之以为用。

十二章

五色令人目盲;五音令人耳聋;五味令人口爽;驰骋畋猎,令人心发狂;难得之货,令人行妨。是以圣人为腹不为目,故去彼取此。

十三章

宠辱若惊,贵大患若身。何谓宠辱若惊?宠为下,得之若惊,失之若惊,是谓宠辱若惊。何谓贵大患若身?吾所以有大患者,为吾有身,及吾无身,吾有何患?故贵以身为天下,若可寄天下;爱以身为天下,若可托天下。

十四章

视之不见,名曰微;听之不闻,名曰希;搏之不得,名曰夷。此三者,不可致诘,故混而为一。其上不皎,其下不昧,绳绳兮不可名,复归于物。是谓无状之状,无物之象,是谓惚恍。迎之不见其首,随之不见其后。执古之道,以御今之有。能知古始,是谓道纪。

十五章

古之善为道者,微妙玄通,深不可识。夫唯不可识,故强为之容:豫兮,若冬涉川;犹兮,若畏四邻;俨兮,其若客;涣兮,其若凌释;敦兮,其若朴;旷兮,其若谷;混兮,其若浊。孰能浊以止?静之徐清。孰能安以久?动之徐生。保此道者,不欲盈。夫唯不盈,故能蔽而新成。

十六章

致虚极,守静笃。万物并作,吾以观复。夫物芸芸,各复归其根。归根曰静,静曰复命。复命曰常,知常曰明。不知常,妄作,凶。知常容,容乃公,公乃王,王乃天,天乃道,道乃久,殁身不殆。

十七章

太上,不知有之;其次,亲而誉之;其次,畏之;其次,侮之。信不足焉,有不信焉。悠兮,其贵言。功成事遂,百姓皆谓:「我自然」。

十八章

大道废,有仁义;智慧出,有大伪;六亲不和,有孝慈;国家昏乱,有忠臣。

十九章

绝圣弃智,民利百倍;绝仁弃义,民复孝慈;绝巧弃利,盗贼无有。此三者以为文,不足。故令有所属:见素抱朴,少思寡欲,绝学无忧。

二十章

唯之与阿,相去几何?美之与恶,相去若何?人之所畏,不可不畏。荒兮,其未央哉!众人熙熙,如享太牢,如春登台。我独泊兮,其未兆;沌沌兮,如婴儿之未孩;儡儡兮,若无所归。众人皆有馀,而我独若遗。我愚人之心也哉,沌沌兮!俗人昭昭,我独昏昏。俗人察察,我独闷闷。淡兮,其若海,望兮,若无止。众人皆有以,而我独顽似鄙。我独异于人,而贵食母。

二十一章

孔德之容,惟道是从。道之为物,惟恍惟惚。惚兮恍兮,其中有象;恍兮惚兮,其中有物;窈兮冥兮,其中有精;其精甚真,其中有信。自今及古,其名不去,以阅众甫。吾何以知众甫之状哉?以此。

二十二章

「曲则全,枉则直,洼则盈,敝则新,少则得,多则惑。」是以圣人抱一为天下式。不自见,故明;不自是,故彰;不自伐,故有功;不自矜,故长。夫唯不争,故天下莫能与之争。古之所谓「曲则全」者,岂虚言哉!诚全而归之。

二十三章

希言自然。故飘风不终朝,骤雨不终日。孰为此者?天地。天地尚不能久,而况于人乎?故从事于道者,同于道;德者,同于德;失者,同于失。同于道者,道亦乐得之;同于德者,德亦乐得之;同于失者,失亦乐得之。信不足焉,有不信焉。

二十四章

企者不立;跨者不行;自见者不明;自是者不彰;自伐者无功;自矜者不长。其在道也,曰馀食赘形,物或恶之,故有道者不居。

二十五章

有物混成,先天地生。寂兮寥兮,独立而不改,周行而不殆,可以为天地母。吾不知其名,字之曰道,强为之名曰大。大曰逝,逝曰远,远曰反。故道大,天大,地大,人亦大。域中有四大,而人居其一焉。人法地,地法天,天法道,道法自然。

二十六章

重为轻根,静为躁君。是以君子终日行不离辎重。虽有荣观,燕处超然。奈何万乘之主,而以身轻天下?轻则失根,躁则失君。

二十七章

善行,无辙迹;善言,无瑕谪;善数,不用筹策;善闭,无关楗而不可开;善结,无绳约而不可解。是以圣人常善救人,故无弃人;常善救物,故无弃物。是谓神明。故善人者,不善人之师;不善人者,善人之资。不贵其师,不爱其资,虽智大迷。是谓要妙。

二十八章

知其雄,守其雌,为天下溪。为天下溪,常德不离。常德不离,复归于婴儿。知其荣,守其辱,为天下谷。为天下谷,常德乃足。常德乃足,复归于朴。知其白,守其黑,为天下式。为天下式,常德不忒。常德不忒,复归于无极。朴散则为器,圣人用之,则为官长。故大制无割。

二十九章

将欲取天下而为之,吾见其不得已。天下神器,不可为也。为者败之,执者失之。物,或行或随,或嘘或吹,或强或羸,或挫或隳。是以圣人去甚,去奢,去泰。

三十章

以道佐人主者,不以兵强天下,其事好还:师之所居,荆棘生焉。大军之后,必有凶年。善有果而已,不以取强。果而勿矜,果而勿伐,果而勿骄,果而不得已,果而勿强。物壮则老,是谓不道,不道早已。

三十一章)

夫兵者,不祥之器。物或恶之,故有道者不居。君子居则贵左,用兵则贵右,故兵者非君子之器。不祥之器,不得已而用之,恬淡为上。胜而不美,而美之者,是乐杀人。夫乐杀人者,则不可得志于天下矣。吉事尚左,凶事尚右。偏将军居左,上将军居右,言以丧礼处之。杀人之众,以悲哀泣之,战胜以丧礼处之。

三十二章

道常无名。朴虽小,天下莫能臣。侯王若能守之,万物将自宾。天地相合,以降甘露,民莫之令而自均。始制有名,名亦既有,夫亦将知止。知止可以不殆。譬道之在天下,犹川谷之于江海。

三十三章

知人者智,自知者明;胜人者有力,自胜者强。知足者富。强行者有志。不失其所者久。死而不亡者寿。

三十四章

大道泛兮,其可左右。万物恃之而生而不辞,功成而不名有。衣养万物而不为主,可名于小;万物归焉而不为主,可名为大。以其终不自为大,故能成其大。

三十五章

执大象,天下往。往而不害,安平泰。乐与饵,过客止。道之出口,淡乎其无味,视之不足见,听之不足闻,用之不足既。

三十六章

将欲歙之,必故张之;将欲弱之,必故强之;将欲废之,必故兴之;将欲取之,必故与之。是谓微明。柔弱胜刚强。鱼不可脱于渊,国之利器不可以示人。

三十七章

道恒无名,侯王若能守之,万物将自化。化而欲作,吾将镇之以无名之朴。无名之朴,夫亦将不欲。不欲以静,天地将自正。

三十八章

上德不德,是以有德;下德不失德,是以无德。上德无为而无以为;下德无为而有以为。上仁为之而无以为;上义为之而有以为。上礼为之而莫之应,则攘臂而扔之。故失道而后德,失德而后仁,失仁而后义,失义而后礼。夫礼者,忠信之薄,而乱之首。前识者,道之华,而愚之始。是以大丈夫居其厚,不居其薄;居其实,不居其华。故去彼取此。

三十九章

昔之得一者:天得一以清;地得一以宁;神得一以灵;谷得一以盈;侯得一以为天下正。其致之。天无以清,将恐裂;地无以宁,将恐废;神无以灵,将恐歇;谷无以盈,将恐竭;侯王无以贵高,将恐蹶。故贵以贱为本,高以下为基。是以侯王自谓「孤」、「寡」、「不谷」。此非以贱为本耶?非乎?故致数誉无誉。是故不欲禄禄如玉。珞珞如石。

四十章

反者道之动;弱者道之用。天下万物生于有,有生于无。

四十一章

上士闻道,勤而行之;中士闻道,若存若亡;下士闻道,大笑之。不笑不足以为道。故建言有之:「明道若昧,进道若退,夷道若类,上德若谷,大白若辱,广德若不足,建德若偷;质真若渝,大方无隅,大器晚成,大音希声;大象无形。」道隐无名,夫唯道,善始且善成。

四十二章

道生一,一生二,二生三,三生万物。万物负阴而抱阳,冲气以为和。人之所恶,唯「孤」、「寡」、「不谷」。而王公以为称。故,物或损之而益,或益之而损。人之所教,我亦教之:「强梁者不得其死」,吾将以为教父。

四十三章

天下之至柔,驰骋天下之至坚。无有入无间。吾是以知无为之有益。不言之教,无为之益,天下希及之。

四十四章

名与身孰亲?身与货孰多?得与亡孰病?是故,甚爱必大费,多藏必厚亡。知足不辱,知止不殆,可以长久。

四十五章

大成若缺,其用不弊。大盈若冲,其用不穷。大直若屈,大巧若拙,大辩若讷。躁胜寒,静胜热,清静为天下正。

四十六章

天下有道,却走马以粪。天下无道,戎马生于郊。祸莫大于不知足;咎莫大于欲得。故,知足之足,常足矣。

四十七章

不出户,知天下;不窥牖,见天道。其出弥远,其知弥少。是以圣人不行而知,不见而明,不为而成。

四十八章

为学日益,为道日损。损之又损,以至于无为。无为而无不为。取天下常以无事。及其有事,不足以取天下。

四十九章

圣人常无心,以百姓心为心。善者吾善之,不善者吾亦善之,得善。信者吾信之,不信者吾亦信之,得信。圣人在天下,歙歙焉,为天下浑其心,圣人皆孩之。

五十章

出生入死。生之徒,十有三;死之徒,十有三;人之生,动之死地,亦十有三。夫何故?以其生之厚。盖闻善摄生者,陵行不遇兕虎,入军不被甲兵。兕无所投其角,虎无所措其爪,兵无所容其刃。夫何故?以其无死地。

五十一章

道生之,德畜之,物形之,器成之。是以万物莫不尊道而贵德。道之尊,德之贵,夫莫之命而常自然。故道生之,德畜之。长之育之,亭之毒之,养之覆之,生而不有,为而不恃,长而不宰,是谓玄德。

五十二章

天下有始,以为天下母。既得其母,以知其子。既知其子,复守其母,没身不殆。塞其兑,闭其门,终身不勤。启其兑,济其事,终身不救。见小曰明,守柔曰强。用其光,复归其明,无遗身殃,是为习常。

五十三章

使我介然有知,行于大道,唯施是畏。大道甚夷,而民好径。朝甚除,田甚芜,仓甚虚,服文采,带利剑,厌饮食,财货有馀,是为盗竽。非道也哉!

五十四章

善建者不拔,善抱者不脱,子孙以祭祀不辍。修之于身,其德乃真;修之于家,其德乃馀;修之于乡,其德乃长;修之于邦,其德乃丰;修之于天下,其德乃普。故以身观身,以家观家,以乡观乡,以邦观邦,以天下观天下。吾何以知天下然哉?以此。

五十五章

含「德」之厚,比于赤子。毒虫不螫,猛兽不据,攫鸟不搏。骨弱筋柔而握固。未知牝牡之合而作,精之至也。终日号而不嗄,和之至也。知和曰常,知常曰明,益生曰祥,心使气曰强。物壮则老,谓之不道,不道早已。

〔峻(去)〕zui1。

五十六章

知者不言,言者不知。塞其兑,闭其门,挫其锐,解其纷,和其光,同其尘,是谓玄同。故不可得而亲,不可得而疏;不可得而利,不可得而害;不可得而贵,不可得而贱。故为天下贵。

五十七章

以正治国,以奇用兵,以无事取天下。吾何以知其然哉?以此:天下多忌讳,而民弥贫;人多利器,国家滋昏;人多伎巧,奇物滋起;法令滋彰,盗贼多有。故圣人云:「我无为,而民自化;我好静,而民自正;我无事,而民自富;我无欲,而民自朴。」

五十八章

其政闷闷,其民淳淳;其政察察,其民缺缺。祸兮,福之所倚,福兮,祸之所伏。孰知其极?其无正。正复为奇,善复为妖。人之迷,其日固久!是以圣人方而不割,廉而不刿,直而不肆,光而不耀。

五十九章

治人、事天,莫若啬。夫为啬,是谓早服,早服谓之重积德。重积德则无不克。无不克则莫知其极。莫知其极,可以有国。有国之母,可以长久。是谓深根固柢,长生久视之道。

六十章

治大国若烹小鲜。以道莅天下,其鬼不神。非其鬼不神,其神不伤人。非其神不伤人,圣人亦不伤人。夫两不相伤,故德交归焉。

六十一章

大国者下流,天下之牝,天下之交。牝常以静胜牡,以静为下。故大国以下小国,则取小国;小国以下大国,则取大国。故或下以取,或下而取。大国不过欲兼畜人,小国不过欲入事人。夫两者各得所欲,大者宜为下。

六十二章

道者,万物之奥。善人之宝,不善人之所保。美言可以市尊,美行可以加人。人之不善,何弃之有?故立天子,置三公,虽有拱璧以先驷马,不如坐进此道。古之所以贵此道者何?不曰:求以得,有罪以免邪?故为天下贵。

六十三章

为无为,事无事,味无味。大小多少,报怨以德。图难于其易;为大于其细。天下难事,必作于易;天下大事,必作于细。是以圣人终不为大,故能成其大。夫轻诺必寡信,多易必多难。是以圣人犹难之,故终无难矣。

六十四章

其安易持;其未兆易谋;其脆易泮;其微易散。为之于未有,治之于未乱。合抱之木,生于毫末;九层之台,起于累土;千里之行,始于足下。为者败之;持者失之。是以,圣人无为,故无败;无持,故无失。民之从事,常于几成而败之。慎终如始,则无败事。是以圣人欲不欲,不贵难得之货,学不学,复众人之所过。以辅万物自然而不敢为。

六十五章

古之善为道者,非以明民,将以愚之。民之难治,以其智多。故以智治国,国之贼;不以智治国,国之福。知此两者亦稽式。常知稽式,是谓玄德。玄德深矣,远矣,与物反矣,然后乃至大顺。

六十六章

江海所以能为百谷王者,以其善下之,故能为百谷王。是以圣人欲上民,必以言下之;欲先民,必以身后之。是以圣人居上而民不重,居前而民不害。是以天下乐推而不厌。以其不争,故天下莫能与之争。

六十七章

天下皆谓我道大,似不肖。夫唯大,故似不肖。若肖,久矣其细也夫!我有三宝,持而保之:一曰慈,二曰俭,三曰不敢为天下先。慈,故能勇;俭,故能广;不敢为天下先,故能成器长。今舍慈且勇,舍俭且广,舍后且先,死矣。夫慈,以战则胜,以守则固。天将救之,以慈卫之。

六十八章

善为士者,不武。善战者,不怒。善胜敌者,不与。善用人者,为之下。是谓不争之德,是谓用人之力,是谓配天,古之极。

六十九章

用兵有言:「吾不敢为主,而为客;不敢进寸,而退尺。」是谓行无行,攘无臂,执无兵,乃无敌矣。祸莫大于轻敌,轻敌几丧吾宝。故抗兵相若,哀者胜矣。

七十章

吾言甚易知,甚易行。天下莫能知,莫能行。言有宗,事有君。夫唯无知,是以不我知。知我者希,则我者贵。是以圣人被褐而怀玉。

七十一章

知不知,上,不知不知,病。圣人不病,以其病病,是以不病。

七十二章

民不畏威,则大威至。无狎其所居,无厌其所生。夫唯不厌,是以不厌。是以圣人自知不自见,自爱不自贵。故去彼取此。

七十三章

勇于敢,则杀,勇于不敢,则活。此两者,或利或害。天之所恶,孰知其故?天之道,不争而善胜,不言而善应,不召而自来,姗然而善谋。天网恢恢,疏而不失。

七十四章

民不畏死,奈何以死惧之?若使民常畏死,而为奇者,吾得执而杀之,孰敢?常有司杀者杀。夫代司杀者杀,是谓代大匠斫。夫代大匠斫者,希有不伤其手矣。

七十五章

民之饥,以其上食税之多,是以饥。民之不治,以其上之有为,是以不治。民之轻死,以其上求生之厚,是以轻死。夫唯无以生为者,是贤于贵生。

七十六章

人之生也柔弱,其死也坚强。草木之生也柔脆,其死也枯槁。故坚强者死之徒,柔弱者生之徒。是以兵强则灭,木强则折,强大居下,柔弱居上。

七十七章

天之道,其犹张弓欤?高者抑之,下者举之,有馀者损之,不足者补之。天之道,损有馀而补不足。人之道,则不然:损不足以奉有馀。孰能有馀以奉天下?唯有道者。是以圣人为而不恃,功成而不居,其不欲见贤。

七十八章

天下莫柔弱于水,而攻坚强者莫之能胜,以其无以易之。弱之胜强,柔之胜刚,天下莫不知,莫能行。是以圣人云:「受国之垢,是谓社稷主;受国不祥,是为天下王。」正言若反。

七十九章

和大怨,必有馀怨,安可以为善?是以圣人执左契而不责于人。有德司契,无德司彻。天道无亲,恒与善人。

八十章

小邦寡民。使有什伯之器而不用;使民重死而不远徙。虽有舟舆,无所乘之;虽有甲兵,无所陈之。使民复结绳而用之。甘其食,美其服,安其居,乐其俗。邻邦相望,鸡犬之声相闻,民至老死,不相往来。

八十一章

信言不美,美言不信。善者不辩,辩者不善。知者不博,博者不知。圣人不积,既以为人己愈有,既以与人己愈多。天之道,利而不害;圣人之道,为而不争。

老子道德经终

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一九九四年,祥子据马王堆汉墓帛书本、任继愈《老子今译(修订本)》(上海古籍出版社,一九八五年版)校订。电子版底本:

一九九二年,李晓渝等据陈鼓应《老子注译及评介》(北京中华书局一九八四年版),参照马王堆汉墓帛书本及江南文化书院黄山分院《道德经》(一九九零年版)输入之《老子》电子版

一九九三年,常人《道德经解》电子版

Tao Te Ching Translated by S. Beck

 

1. The Mystical Way

The Way that can be described is not the absolute Way;
the name that can be given is not the absolute name.
Nameless it is the source of heaven and earth;
named it is the mother of all things.

Whoever is desireless, sees the essence of life.
Whoever desires, sees its manifestations.
These two are the same,
but what is produced has names.
They both may be called the cosmic mystery:
from the cosmic to the mystical
is the door to the essence of all life.

 

2. Relativity and Not Interfering

When the people of the world all know beauty as beauty,
there arises the recognition of ugliness.
When they all know the good as good,
there arises the recognition of bad.

Therefore being and non-being produce each other;
difficult and easy complete each other;
long and short contrast each other;
high and low distinguish each other;
sound and voice harmonize with each other;
beginning and end follow each other.

Therefore the wise manage affairs without interfering
and teach beyond the words.

All things rise, and they do not turn away from them.
They give them life, but do not take possession of them.
They act, but do not rely on their own ability.
They accomplish, but claim no credit.
Because they claim no credit,
their accomplishment remains with them.

 

3. Simplicity

Do not exalt the worthy,
so that people will not compete.
Do not value rare treasure,
so that people will not steal.
Do not display objects of desire,
so that people's hearts will not be disturbed.

Therefore the wise lead by keeping
their hearts pure, their bellies full,
their ambitions weak, and their bones strong,
so that the people may be purified
of their thoughts and desires;
and the cunning ones will not interfere.
By acting without interfering, all may live in peace.

 

4. The Infinite Way

The Way is infinite; its use is never exhausted.
It is bottomless, like the fountainhead of all things.
It smoothes its roughness; it unties its tangles.
It softens its light; it calms its turmoil.
Deep and still, ever present.
I do not know its source.
It seems to have existed before the Lord.

 

5. Emptiness and the Center

Nature is not humane.
It treats all things like sacrificial objects.
The wise are not humane.
They regard people like sacrificial objects.

How the universe is like a bellows!
While empty, it is never exhausted.
The more it is worked, the more it produces.
Much talk brings exhaustion.
It is better to keep to the center.

 

6. The Mystical Female

The spirit of the valley never dies.
It is called the mystical female.
The door of the mystical female
is the root of heaven and earth.
It seems to be continuously within us.
Use it, and it will never fail.

 

7. Enduring

Heaven is eternal, and the earth is very old.
They can be eternal and long lasting,
because they do not exist for themselves,
and for this reason can long endure.

Therefore the wise put themselves last,
but find themselves foremost.
They are indifferent to themselves,
and yet they always remain.
Is it not because they do not live for themselves
that they find themselves fulfilled?

 

8. The Best Are Like Water

The best are like water.
Water benefits all things and does not compete with them.
It flows to the lowest level.
In this it comes near to the Way.

In their dwellings, they love the earth.
In their hearts, they love what is profound.
In their friendship, they love humanity.
In their words, they love sincerity.
In government, they love peace.
In business, they love ability.
In their actions, they love timeliness.
It is because they do not compete
that there is no resentment.

 

9. Moderation

Stretch a bow to the very full,
and you will wish you had stopped in time.
Temper a sword-edge to its very sharpest,
and the edge will not last long.

When gold and jade fill your hall,
you will not be able to keep them safe.
To be proud with honor and wealth
is to cause one's own downfall.
Withdraw as soon as your work is done.
Such is heaven's way.

 

10. Mystical Power

Can you embrace the One with your soul,
and never depart from the Way?
Can you concentrate your vital force
to achieve the gentleness of a new-born baby?
Can you cleanse and purify your mystic vision
until it is clear?
Can you love the people and govern the state
without interfering?
Can you play the role of the female
in opening and closing the doors of heaven?
Can you understand all and penetrate all
without using the mind?

To give birth and to nourish,
to give birth without taking possession,
to act without obligation,
to lead without dominating---
this is mystical power.

 

11. Use What Does Not Exist

Thirty spokes are united around the hub of a wheel,
but the usefulness of the wheel
depends on the space where nothing exists.
Clay is molded into a vessel,
but the usefulness of the vessel
depends on the space where nothing exists.
Doors and windows are cut out of the walls of a house,
and the usefulness of the house
depends on the space where nothing exists.

Therefore take advantage of what exists,
and use what does not exist.

 

12. Satisfy the Inner Self

The five colors blind the eyes;
the five musical tones deafen the ears;
the five flavors dull the taste.
Racing and hunting madden the mind.
Precious goods keep their owners on guard.

Therefore the wise satisfy the inner self
rather than external senses.
They accept the one and reject the other.

 

13. Selflessness

Good fortune and misfortune cause apprehension.
Regard great trouble as you regard your self.

What is meant by
"Good fortune and misfortune cause apprehension?"
Those with good fortune are apprehensive of their gain.
Those with misfortune are apprehensive of their loss.

What is meant by
"Regard great trouble as you regard your self?"
Great trouble comes from being selfish.
Being selfless, what trouble is there?

Therefore those who value the world as themselves
may be entrusted to govern the world.
Those who love the world as themselves
may be entrusted to care for the world.

 

14. The Formless Way

We look at it, and do not see it; it is invisible.
We listen to it, and do not hear it; it is inaudible.
We touch it, and do not feel it; it is intangible.
These three elude our inquiries, and hence merge into one.

Not by its rising, is it bright,
nor by its sinking, is it dark.
Infinite and eternal, it cannot be defined.
It returns to nothingness.
This is the form of the formless, being in non-being.
It is nebulous and elusive.

Meet it, and you do not see its beginning.
Follow it, and you do not see its end.
Stay with the ancient Way
in order to master what is present.
Knowing the primeval beginning is the essence of the Way.

 

15. The Wise

The wise have ancient mystic wisdom
and profound understanding, too deep to comprehend.
Because they can not be comprehended,
they can only be described by analogy:
cautious, like crossing a stream in winter;
alert, like one aware of danger on all sides;
courteous, like a visiting guest;
self-effacing, like ice beginning to melt;
genuine, like a piece of uncarved wood;
open and receptive, like a valley;
freely mixing, like muddy water.

Who can make sense of a muddy world?
Let it be still, and it becomes clear.
Who can remain calm,
and through activity come back to life?
Those who embrace this Way do not over-extend themselves.
Because they do not over-extend themselves,
they do not wear out and are not replaced.

 

16. Know the Eternal

Empty yourself of everything.
Maintain a steady serenity.
All things take shape and become active,
but I see them return to their source,
like vegetation that grows and flourishes,
but returns to the root from which it springs.

Returning to the source is serenity;
it is to realize one's destiny.
To realize one's destiny is to know the eternal.
To know the eternal is to be enlightened.
Not to know the eternal
is to act blindly and court disaster.

Whoever knows the eternal is open to everything.
Whoever is open to everything is impartial.
To be impartial is to be universal.
To be universal is to be in accord with heaven.
To be in accord with heaven is to be in accord with the Way.
To be in accord with the Way is to be eternal
and to live free from harm even though the body dies.

 

17. Leaders

The best leaders the people barely know.
The next best they love and praise.
The next they fear.
And the next they hate.

Those who lack trust will not be trusted.
Then they resort to promises.
But when they accomplish their task and complete their work,
the people say, "We did it ourselves."

 

18. When the Way is Forgotten

When the great Way is forgotten,
the doctrines of humanity and morality arise.
When knowledge and cleverness appear,
there emerges great hypocrisy.
When family relationships are not in harmony,
filial piety and parental love are advocated.
When a country falls into chaos and disorder,
there is praise of loyal patriots.

 

19. What People Need

Abandon religion and discard cleverness,
and people will benefit a hundredfold.
Abandon humanity and discard morality,
and people will rediscover love and duty.
Abandon skill and discard profit,
and there will be no thieves or robbers.
These three things relate to externals and are inadequate.

People need what they can depend on:
reveal simplicity; embrace the natural;
control selfishness; reduce desires.

 

20. Drawing Sustenance

Abandon memorizing, and vexations end.
How much difference is there between yes and no?
How much difference is there between good and evil?
Is what people fear really to be feared?
How very remote the actual occurrence!

The people of the world make merry
as though at a holiday feast or a spring carnival.
I alone am inactive and desireless,
like a new-born baby who cannot yet smile,
unattached, as though homeless.

The people of the world possess more than enough.
I alone seem to have lost all.
I must be a fool, so indiscriminate and nebulous.

Most people seem knowledgeable and bright.
I alone am simple and dull.

Most people see differences and are sharp.
I alone make no distinctions,
seeming aimless, drifting as the sea,
like the wind blowing about, seemingly without destination.

People of the world all have a purpose.
I alone seem impractical and out of place.
I am different from others,
and value drawing sustenance from the Mother.

 

21. Within the Elusive Way

All-embracing power proceeds only through the Way.
What is called the Way is elusive and intangible.
Intangible and elusive, yet within it are thought-images.
Elusive and intangible, yet within it are objects.
Deep and obscure, yet within it is the life-force.
The life-force is very real, and within it is certainty.

From the ancient times till now
its manifestations have never ceased,
by which we may see the beginning of all things.
How do I know that the beginnings of all things are so?
Through this certainty.

 

22. Yielding for Unity

To yield is to preserve unity.
To bend is to become straight.
To empty oneself is to become full.
To wear oneself out is to be renewed.
To have little is to be content.
To have abundance is to be troubled.

Therefore the wise embrace the One
and become examples for the world.
They do not display themselves and are therefore illumined.
They do not justify themselves and are distinguished.
They do not make claims and are therefore given credit.
They do not seek glory and therefore are leaders.

Because they do not compete,
the world cannot compete with them.
Is not the ancient saying true,
"To yield is to preserve unity?"
for true wholeness comes from turning within.

 

23. Nature

Nature says few words.
A whirlwind does not last all morning,
nor does a rainstorm last a whole day.
What causes them? Nature.

If even Nature's utterances do not last long,
how much less should human beings'?

Those who follow the Way are one with the Way.
Those who follow power are one with power.
Those who abandon it are one with abandonment.

Those one with the Way are welcomed by the Way.
Those one with power are welcomed by power.
Those one with abandonment are welcomed by abandonment.
Those who lack trust will not be trusted.

 

24. Avoid Excess

Those who stand on tiptoe are not steady.
Those who strain their strides cannot long keep up the pace.
Those who display themselves do not illuminate.
Those who justify themselves are not distinguished.
Those who make claims are not given credit.
Those who seek glory are not leaders.
According to the Way these are like extra food and waste,
which all creatures detest.
Therefore followers of the Way avoid them.

 

25. The Supreme

There is something mysterious and whole
which existed before heaven and earth,
silent, formless, complete, and never changing.
Living eternally everywhere in perfection,
it is the mother of all things.

I do not know its name; I call it the Way.
If forced to define it, I shall call it supreme.
Supreme means absolute.
Absolute means extending everywhere.
Extending everywhere means returning to itself.

Thus the Way is supreme.
Heaven is supreme.
Earth is supreme.
And the person is supreme.

There are four supremes in the universe,
and the person is one of them.
The person reflects the earth.
The earth reflects heaven.
Heaven reflects the Way.
And the Way reflects its own nature.

 

26. Self-mastery

Gravity is the foundation of levity.
Serenity masters hastiness.
Therefore the wise travel all day
without leaving their baggage.
In the midst of honor and glory
they remain leisurely and calm,(.)

How can a leader of a great country
behave lightheartedly and frivolously?
In frivolity, the foundation is lost.
In hasty action, self-mastery is lost.

 

27. Using the Light

A good traveler leaves no trace.
A good speaker makes no slips.
A good accountant uses no devices.
A good door needs no bolts to remain shut.
A good fastener needs no rope to hold its bond.

Therefore the wise are good at helping people,
and consequently no one is rejected.
They are good at saving things,
and consequently nothing is wasted.
This is called using the Light.

Therefore the good teach the bad,
and the bad are lessons for the good.
Those who neither value the teacher nor care for the lesson
are greatly deluded, though they may be learned.
Such is the essential mystery.

 

28. The Valley of the World

Know the male and keep to the female.
Become the valley of the world.
Being the valley of the world is eternal power
and returning to the innocence of a baby.

Know the bright and keep to the obscure.
Become an example for the world.
Being an example for the world is eternal power
and returning to the infinite.

Know glory and keep to humility.
Become the valley of the world.
Being the valley of the world is eternal power
and returning to the natural.
Breaking up the natural makes instruments.
The wise use them and become leaders.
Therefore a leader does not break.

 

29. Do Not Tamper with the World

Those who take over the world and act upon it,
I notice, do not succeed.
The world is a sacred vessel, not to be tampered with.
Those who tamper with it, spoil it.
Those who seize it, lose it.

Some lead, and some follow.
Some blow hot, and some blow cold.
Some are strong, and some are weak.
Some are up, and some are down.
Therefore the wise avoid excess, extravagance, and pride.

 

30. Force of Arms

Whoever advises a leader according to the Way
opposes conquest by force of arms.
The use of force tends to rebound.
Where armies march, thorns and brambles grow.
Whenever a great army is formed, scarcity and famine follow.

The skillful achieve their purposes and stop.
They dare not rely on force.
They achieve their purposes, but do not glory in them.
They achieve their purposes, but do not celebrate them.
They achieve their purposes, but do not take pride in them.
They achieve their purposes, but without violence.

Things reach their prime and then decline.
Violence is contrary to the Way.
Whatever is contrary to the Way will soon perish.

 

31. War and Peace

Weapons are tools of destruction hated by people.
Therefore followers of the Way never use them.
In peace leaders favor the creative left.
In war they favor the destructive right.

Weapons are tools of destruction,
not used by good leaders.
When their use cannot be avoided,
the best policy is calm restraint.

Even in victory there is no glory.
Those who celebrate victory delight in slaughter.
Those who delight in slaughter
will not be successful leaders.
The killing of many should be mourned with sorrow.
A victory should be celebrated with funeral ceremonies.

 

32. The Natural Way

The Way is absolute and undefined.
Like natural uncarved wood in simplicity,
yet none in the world can overcome it.
If leaders would hold to it,
the whole world would serve them spontaneously.

Heaven and earth join, and gentle rain falls,
beyond the command of anyone, evenly upon all.
When civilization arose, names began.
With names, one should know when to stop.
Knowing when to stop, frees one from danger.
The Way in the world is like
rivers and streams flowing into the sea.

 

33. Inner Power

Those who know others are wise.
Those who know themselves are enlightened.
Those who overcome others require force.
Those who overcome themselves need strength.
Those who are content are wealthy.
Those who persevere have will power.
Those who do not lose their center endure.
Those who die but maintain their power live eternally.

 

34. The Great Way

The great Way flows everywhere, both left and right.
All things derive their life from it,
and it does not turn away from them.
It accomplishes its work, but does not take possession.
It provides for and nourishes everything,
but does not control them.

Always without desires, it may be considered small.
The destination of all things, yet claiming nothing,
it may be considered great.
Because it never claims greatness,
its greatness is achieved.

 

35. The Inexhaustible Way

Hold to the great form, and all the world follows,
following without meeting harm,
in health, peace, and happiness.
Music and delicacies to eat induce travelers to stay.
But the Way is mild to the taste.
Looked at, it is invisible.
Listened to, it is inaudible.
Applied, it is inexhaustible.

 

36. The Mystic Light

In order to contract, it is necessary first to expand.
In order to weaken, it is necessary first to strengthen.
In order to reduce, it is necessary first to build up.
In order to receive, it is necessary first to give.
This is called the mystic Light.
The soft and gentle overcome the hard and strong.
As fish stay in the deep water,
so sharp weapons of the state should not be displayed.

 

37. The Way Never Interferes

The Way never interferes,
yet through it everything is done.
If leaders would follow the Way,
the world would be reformed of its own accord.
When reformed and desiring to act,
let them be restrained by what is simply natural.
Undefined simplicity is free of desires.
Being free of desires, it is serene;
and the world finds peace of its own accord.

 

38. The Superior

Superior power does not emphasize its power,
and thus is powerful.
Inferior power never forgets its power,
and thus is powerless.
Superior power never interferes nor has an ulterior motive.
Inferior power interferes and has an ulterior motive.
Superior humanity takes action but has no ulterior motive.
Superior morality takes action and has an ulterior motive.
Superior custom takes action, and finding no response,
stretches out arms to force it on them.

Therefore when the Way is lost, power arises.
When power is lost, humanity arises.
When humanity is lost, morality arises.
When morality is lost, custom arises.
Now custom is a superficial expression
of loyalty and faithfulness, and the beginning of disorder.

Foreknowledge is the flowering of the Way
and the beginning of folly.
Therefore the mature dwell in the depth, not in the thin,
in the fruit and not in the flowering.
They reject one and accept the other.

 

39. Oneness

The ancients attained oneness.
Heaven attained oneness and became clear.
Earth attained oneness and became stable.
Spirits attained oneness and became divine.
The valleys attained oneness and became fertile.
Creatures attained oneness and lived and grew.
Kings and nobles attained oneness and became leaders.
What made them so is oneness.

Without clarity, heaven would crack.
Without stability, the earth would quake.
Without divinity, spirits would dissipate.
Without fertility, the valleys would be barren.
Without life and growth, creatures would die off.
Without leadership, kings and nobles would fall.

Therefore humility is the basis for nobility,
and the low is the basis for the high.
Thus kings and nobles call themselves
orphans, lonely, and unworthy.
Do they not depend upon the common people for support?
Dismantle the parts of a chariot, and there is no chariot.
Rather than tinkle like jade, rumble like rocks.

 

40. Movement of the Way

Returning is the movement of the Way.
Gentleness is the method of the Way.
All things in the world come from being,
and being comes from non-being.

 

41. What the Way is Like

When the wise hear the Way, they practice it diligently.
When the mediocre hear of the Way, they doubt it.
When the foolish hear of the Way, they laugh out loud.
If it were not laughed at, it would not be the Way.

Therefore it is said,
"The enlightenment of the Way seems like dullness;
progression in the Way seem like regression;
the even path of the Way seems to go up and down."

Great power appears like a valley.
Great purity appears tarnished.
Great character appears insufficient.
Solid character appears weak.
True integrity appears changeable.
Great space has no corners.
Great ability takes time to mature.
Great music has the subtlest sound.
Great form has no shape.

The Way is hidden and indescribable.
Yet the Way alone is adept
at providing for all and bringing fulfillment.

 

42. All Things

The Way produced the One;
the One produced two;
two produced three;
and three produced all things.

All things have the receptivity of the female
and the activity of the male.
Through union with the life force they blend in harmony.

People hate being orphaned, lonely, and unworthy.
Yet kings and nobles call themselves such.
Often gain can be a loss, and loss can be a gain.
What others teach, I teach also:
"The violent die a violent death."
I shall make this primary in my teaching.

 

43. The Value of Non-action

The softest things in the world overcome the hardest.
Non-being penetrates even where there is no space.
Through this I know the value of non-action.
Teaching without words and the value of non-action
are understood by few in the world.

 

44. How to Endure

Fame or your life, which do you love more?
Life or material wealth, which is more valuable?
Loss or gain, which is worse?
Therefore those who desire most spend most.
Those who hoard most lose most.
Those who are contented are not disappointed.
Those who know when to stop prevent danger.
Thus they can long endure.

 

45. Skill Seems Awkward

The greatest perfection seems incomplete,
but its utility is never impaired.
The greatest fullness seems empty,
but its use cannot be exhausted.
What is most direct seems devious.
The greatest skill seems awkward.
The greatest eloquence seems like stuttering.

Movement overcomes cold.
Stillness overcomes heat.
The serene and calm are guides for all.

 

46. Contentment

When the world lives in accord with the Way,
horses work on farms.
When the world does not live in accord with the Way,
the cavalry practices in the parks.

The greatest temptation to crime is desire.
The greatest curse is discontent.
The greatest calamity is greed.
Whoever is content with contentment is always content.

 

47. Understanding

One can know the world without going outside.
One can see the Way of heaven
without looking out the window.
The further one goes the less one knows.
Therefore the wise know without going about,
understand without seeing,
and accomplish without acting.

 

48. Doing Less

The pursuit of learning is to increase day by day.
The practice of the Way is to decrease day by day.
Less and less is done until one reaches non-action.
When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.
The world is led by not interfering.
Those who interfere cannot lead the world.

 

49. The Power of Goodness

The wise have no mind-set.
They regard the people's minds as their own.
They are good to people who are good.
They are also good to people who are not good.
This is the power of goodness.
They are honest to those who are honest.
They are also honest to those who are dishonest.
This is the power of honesty.
The wise live in the world peacefully and harmoniously.
The people share a common heart,
and the wise treat them as their own children.

 

50. Those Who Preserve Life

Coming into life and going out at death,
the organs of life are thirteen;
the organs of death are thirteen;
and these thirteen make life vulnerable to death.

Why is this so?
Because they feed life too grossly.

It is said that those who preserve life
walk the earth without fearing tigers and wild buffalo,
and in battle they are not touched by weapons of war.
The wild buffalo's horns find nothing to gore;
the tiger's claws find nothing to tear;
and weapons' points find nothing to pierce.

Why is this so?
Because they have nothing for death to enter.

 

51. Mystical Power

The Way produces all things.
Power nourishes them.
Matter gives them physical form.
Environment shapes their abilities.
Therefore all things respect the Way and honor power.
The Way is respected, and power is honored
without anyone's order and always naturally.

Therefore the Way produces all things,
and power nourishes them,
caring for them and developing them,
sheltering them and comforting them,
nurturing them and protecting them,
producing them but not possessing them,
helping them but not obligating them,
guiding them but not controlling them.
This is mystical power.

 

52. Practicing the Eternal

The beginning of the universe is the mother of all things.
Those who discover the mother understand the children.
Understanding the children and returning to the mother,
they live always free from harm.

Close the mouth, shut the doors,
and all of life is without strain.
Open the mouth, meddle with affairs,
and all of life is beyond help.

Seeing the small is insight;
to stay with the gentle is strength.
Use the Light, return to insight,
and thereby be preserved from harm.
This is practicing the eternal.

 

53. Leaders in Robbery

Those with even a scrap of sense
walk on the main way and fear only straying from the path.
The main way is smooth and easy,
but people like to be side-tracked.

While the courts are arrayed in splendor,
the fields are full of weeds,
and the granaries are empty.
Yet some wear embroidered clothes, carry sharp swords,
over-indulge themselves with food and drink,
and have more possessions than they can use.
They are leaders in robbery.
This is not the Way.

 

54. Power

What is well established cannot be uprooted.
What is firmly held cannot slip away.
The power of sacrifice continues on
from generation to generation.

Cultivated in the person, power becomes real.
Cultivated in the family, power becomes abundant.
Cultivated in the community, power endures.
Cultivated in the nation, power flourishes.
Cultivated in the world, power becomes universal.

Therefore see the person as a person,
the family as a family, the community as a community,
the nation as a nation, and the world as universal.
How do I know that the world is like this?
By this.

 

55. Know Harmony

Those filled with power are like new-born children.
Poisonous insects will not sting them;
ferocious beasts will not pounce upon them;
predatory birds will not swoop down on them.
Their bones are pliable, their muscles tender,
but their grip is firm.
They have never known the union of man and woman,
but the organ is fully formed,
meaning that the vital essence is strong.
They may cry all day without getting hoarse,
meaning that the harmony is perfect.
To know harmony is to be in accord with the eternal.
To know the eternal is to be enlightened.

To try to force life is ominous.
To force the vital essence with the mind is violence.
The prime is past, and decay follows,
meaning that it is contrary to the Way.
Whatever is contrary to the Way will soon perish.

 

56. Mystical Unity

Those who know do not speak.
Those who speak do not know.
Close the mouth; shut the doors.
Smooth the sharpness; untie the tangles.
Dim the glare; calm the turmoil.
This is mystical unity.
Those achieving it are detached from friends and enemies,
from benefit and harm, from honor and disgrace.
Therefore they are the most valuable people in the world.

 

57. Love Peace

States are governed by justice.
Wars are waged by violations.
The world is mastered by nonintervention.
How do I know this? By this:
The more restrictions there are, the poorer the people.
The more sharp weapons, the more trouble in the state.
The more clever cunning, the more contrivances.
The more rules and regulations, the more thieves and robbers.

Therefore the wise say,
"Do not interfere, and people transform themselves.
Love peace, and people do what is right.
Do not intervene, and people prosper.
Have no desires, and people live simply."

 

58. Results of Process

When the government is relaxed, people are happy.
When the government is strict, people are anxious.
Good fortune leans on bad fortune;
bad fortune hides behind good fortune.
Who knows the results of process?
Is there no justice?
When the just become unjust, goodness becomes evil.
People have been deluded for a long time.
Therefore the wise are square but not cornered,
sharp but not cutting, straight but not strained,
brilliant but not dazzling.

 

59. Be Frugal

In leading people and serving heaven
it is best to be frugal.
Being frugal is to be prepared from the start.
Being prepared from the start is to build up power.
By building up power nothing is impossible.
If nothing is impossible, then there are no limits.
Those without limits are capable of leading a country.
Those with maternal leadership can long endure.
This is to be deeply rooted in a firm foundation,
the way of long life and eternal vision.

 

60. Spirits

Leading a large country is like cooking a small fish.
When the world is led in accord with the Way,
spirits lose their powers.
It is not that they lose their powers,
but that their powers no longer harm people.
Not only do the spirits not harm people,
but the wise also do not harm people.
Not harming each other, spiritual power grows.

 

61. Large and Small Countries

A large country is like low land where rivers flow,
a place where everything comes together, the female of all.
The female overcomes the male with tranquillity.
Tranquillity is underneath.
A large country wins over a small country
by placing itself below the small country.
A small country wins over a large country
by placing itself below the large country.

Thus some win by placing themselves below,
and others win by being below.
A large country wants to protect people,
and a small country wants to join and serve.
Thus both get what they want.
It is best for the large country to place itself below.

 

62. The Way is Valued

The Way is sacred to all things.
It is treasure for the good and sanctuary for the bad.
Fine words can buy honor.
Good deeds can gain respect.
Though there be bad people, why reject them?

Therefore at the crowning of the emperor
or at the installation of the three ministers,
instead of sending gifts of jade and a team of four horses,
remain still and send the Way.

Why did the ancients prize this Way?
Did they not say, "Seek, and you will find;
let go, and you will be forgiven."
Therefore the Way is valued by the world.

 

63. The Wise Never Strive

Act without interfering.
Work without doing.
Taste the tasteless.
Large or small, many or few, repay injury with goodness.

Handle the difficult while it is still easy.
Handle the big while it is still small.
Difficult tasks begin with what is easy.
Great accomplishments begin with what is small.

Therefore the wise never strive for the great
and thus achieve greatness.
Rash promises inspire little trust.
Taking things too lightly results in much difficulty.
Thus the wise always confront difficulties
and therefore have no difficulty.

 

64. Do Not Grab

What stays still is easy to hold.
Without omens it is easy to plan.
The brittle is easy to shatter.
The minute is easy to scatter.
Handle things before they appear.
Organize things before there is confusion.
A tree as big as a person's embrace grows from a tiny shoot.
A tower nine stories high begins with a mound of earth.
A journey of a thousand miles begins under one's feet.

To act is to fail.
To grab is to lose.
Therefore the wise do not act and do not fail.
They do not grab and do not lose.
In handling things people usually fail
when they are about to succeed.
Be as careful at the end as at the beginning,
and there will be no failure.

Therefore the wise desire to have no desires.
They do not value rare treasures.
They learn what is unknown,
returning to what many have missed
so that all things may be natural without interference.

 

65. Know the Eternal Standard

The ancients who ruled skillfully
did not try to enlighten people but kept them in the dark.
People are hard to lead when they are too clever.
Those who lead with cleverness rob the country.
Those who lead without cleverness bless the country.
Understanding these two is to know the eternal standard.
Knowing the eternal standard is mystical power.
Mystical power is deep and far-reaching,
leading all things to return to perfect harmony.

 

66. Leading from Behind

Great rivers and seas are lords of all mountain streams,
because they are good at staying below them.
Therefore they are lords of the streams.
Thus the wise in watching over the people
speak humbly from below the people,
and in leading the people get behind them.
In this way the wise watch over the people
but do not oppress them;
they lead the people but do not block them.
Thus everyone happily goes along without getting tired.
Because they do not compete,
the world cannot compete with them.

 

67. Three Treasures

Everyone says the Way is great and beyond comparison.
Because it is great, it cannot be compared.
If it were compared, it already would have seemed small.

I have three treasures to be maintained and cherished:
the first is love;
the second is frugality;
the third is not pushing oneself ahead of others.

From love comes courage;
from frugality comes generosity;
from not pushing oneself ahead of others comes leadership.

Now courage without love, generosity without frugality,
and leadership by pushing oneself ahead of others are fatal.
For love wins all battles and is the strongest defense.
Heaven gives love to save and protect.

 

68. The Power of Not Striving

The best soldier is not violent.
The best fighter is not angry.
The best winner is not contentious.
The best employer is humble.
This is known as the power of not striving,
as ability in human relations,
and as being in accord with heaven.

 

69. The Kind Win

The strategists say,
"Do not be the aggressor but the defender.
Do not advance an inch, but retreat a foot instead."
This is movement without moving,
stretching the arm without showing it,
confronting enemies with the idea there is no enemy,
holding in the hand no weapons.
No disaster is greater than underestimating the enemy.
Underestimating the enemy will destroy my treasures.
Thus when the battle is joined,
it is the kind who will win.

 

70. My Ideas Are Easy

My ideas are easy to understand and easy to practice.
Yet no one understands them or practices them.
My ideas have a source; my actions have a master.
Because people do not understand this, they do not know me.
Since few know me, I am very precious.
Therefore the wise wear coarse clothes
and keep the jewel inside.

 

71. A Disease

To know that you do not know is the best.
To think you know when you do not is a disease.
Recognizing this disease as a disease is to be free of it.
The wise are free of disease,
because they recognize the disease as a disease.
Therefore they are free of disease.

 

72. Do Not Suppress

When people lack a sense of awe,
then something awful will happen.
Do not constrict people's living space.
Do not suppress their livelihoods.
If you do not harass them, they will not harass you.

Therefore the wise know themselves
but do not display themselves.
They love themselves but do not exalt themselves.
They let go of one and accept the other.

 

73. The Way of Heaven

Those brave in killing will be killed.
Those brave in not killing will live.
Of these two, one is good, and one is harmful.
Some are not favored by heaven. Who knows why?
Even the wise consider it a difficult question.

The Way of heaven does not strive; yet it wins easily.
It does not speak; yet it gets a good response.
It does not demand; yet all needs are met.
It is not anxious; yet it plans well.
The net of heaven is vast;
its meshes are wide, but nothing slips through.

 

74. Death

People are not afraid to die.
So why threaten them with death?
If people were afraid of death,
and lawbreakers could be caught and put to death,
who would dare to do so?
There is the Lord of Death who executes.
Trying to do his job
is like trying to cut wood for the Master Carpenter.
Those who try to cut wood for the Master Carpenter
rarely escape injuring their own hands.

 

75. Valuing Life

People are hungry,
because rulers eat too much tax-grain.
That is why people are starving.

People are hard to govern,
because rulers interfere too much.
That is why they are hard to govern.

People do not care about death,
because rulers demand too much of life.
That is why they do not care about death.
Only those who do not interfere with living
are best at valuing life.

76. Life Is Tender

When people are born, they are tender and supple.
At death they are stiff and hard.
All things, like plants and trees,
are tender and pliant while alive.
At death they are dried and withered.
Therefore the stiff and hard are companions of death.
The tender and supple are companions of life.
Thus strong arms do not win.
A stiff tree will break.
The hard and strong will fall.
The tender and supple will rise.

 

77. Taking and Giving

The Way of heaven is like bending a bow.
The high is lowered; the low is raised.
The excessive is reduced; the deficient is increased.
The Way of heaven takes from those who have too much
and gives to those who do not have enough.

The human way is different.
It takes from those who do not have enough
and gives to those who have too much.

Who has more than enough to give to the world?
Only the person of the Way.
Therefore the wise act but do not rely on their own ability.
They accomplish the task but claim no credit.
They have no desire to seem superior.

 

78. The Soft and Weak

Nothing in the world is softer and weaker than water.
Yet nothing is better at attacking the hard and strong.
There is no substitute for it.
The weak overcomes the strong; the soft overcomes the hard.
Everyone knows this, but no one puts it into practice.

Therefore the wise say,
"Those who bear the humiliation of the people
are able to minister to them.
Those who take upon themselves the sins of the society
are able to lead the world."
Words of truth seem paradoxical.

 

79. Stay with the Good

Compromising with great hatred surely leaves some hatred.
How can this be considered good?
Therefore the wise keep their part of an agreement
and do not blame the other party.
The good fulfill their obligations;
the bad exact obligations from others.
The Way of heaven is impartial.
It always stays with the good.

 

80. Home is Comfortable

In a small country with few people
machines that can work ten or a hundred times faster
are not needed.
People who care about death do not travel far.
Even if there are ships and carriages, no one takes them.
Even if there are armor and weapons, no one displays them.
People return to knotted rope for records.
Food is tasty; clothes are beautiful;
home is comfortable; customs are delightful.
Though neighboring communities see each other
and hear each other's cocks crowing and dogs barking,
they may grow old and die without going there.

 

81. True Words

True words are not beautiful.
Beautiful words are not truthful.
The good do not argue.
Those who argue are not good.
Those who know are not scholarly.
The scholarly do not know.

The wise do not hoard.
The more they give to others, the more they have.
The Way of heaven sharpens but does no harm.
The Way of the wise accomplishes without striving.

Tao Te Ching Translated by S. Mitchell

1

The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.

2

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 possess,
acts but doesn't expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.

3

If you overesteem great men,
people become powerless.
If you overvalue possessions,
people begin to steal.

The Master leads
by emptying people's minds
and filling their cores,
by weakening their ambition
and toughening their resolve.
He helps people lose everything
they know, everything they desire,
and creates confusion
in those who think that they know.

Practice not-doing,
and everything will fall into place.

4

The Tao is like a well:
used but never used up.
It is like the eternal void:
filled with infinite possibilities.

It is hidden but always present.
I don't know who gave birth to it.
It is older than God.

5

The Tao doesn't take sides;
it gives birth to both good and evil.
The Master doesn't take sides;
she welcomes both saints and sinners.

The Tao is like a bellows:
it is empty yet infinitely capable.
The more you use it, the more it produces;
the more you talk of it, the less you understand.

Hold on to the center.

6

The Tao is called the Great Mother:
empty yet inexhaustible,
it gives birth to infinite worlds.

It is always present within you.
You can use it any way you want.

7

The Tao is infinite, eternal.
Why is it eternal?
It was never born;
thus it can never die.
Why is it infinite?
It has no desires for itself;
thus it is present for all beings.

The Master stays behind;
that is why she is ahead.
She is detached from all things;
that is why she is one with them.
Because she has let go of herself,
she is perfectly fulfilled.

8

The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.

In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don't try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.

When you are content to be simply yourself
and don't compare or compete,
everybody will respect you.

9

Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval
and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.

10

Can you coax your mind from its wandering
and keep to the original oneness?
Can you let your body become
supple as a newborn child's?
Can you cleanse your inner vision
until you see nothing but the light?
Can you love people and lead them
without imposing your will?
Can you deal with the most vital matters
by letting events take their course?
Can you step back from you own mind
and thus understand all things?

Giving birth and nourishing,
having without possessing,
acting with no expectations,
leading and not trying to control:
this is the supreme virtue.

11

We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.

We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.

12

Colors blind the eye.
Sounds deafen the ear.
Flavors numb the taste.
Thoughts weaken the mind.
Desires wither the heart.

The Master observes the world
but trusts his inner vision.
He allows things to come and go.
His heart is open as the sky.

13

Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.

What does it mean that success is a dangerous as failure?
Whether you go up the ladder or down it,
you position is shaky.
When you stand with your two feet on the ground,
you will always keep your balance.

What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
When we don't see the self as self,
what do we have to fear?

See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things.

14

Look, and it can't be seen.
Listen, and it can't be heard.
Reach, and it can't be grasped.

Above, it isn't bright.
Below, it isn't dark.
Seamless, unnamable,
it returns to the realm of nothing.
Form that includes all forms,
image without an image,
subtle, beyond all conception.

Approach it and there is no beginning;
follow it and there is no end.
You can't know it, but you can be it,
at ease in your own life.
Just realize where you come from:
this is the essence of wisdom.

15

The ancient Masters were profound and subtle.
Their wisdom was unfathomable.
There is no way to describe it;
all we can describe is their appearance.

They were careful
as someone crossing an iced-over stream.
Alert as a warrior in enemy territory.
Courteous as a guest.
Fluid as melting ice.
Shapable as a block of wood.
Receptive as a valley.
Clear as a glass of water.

Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?

The Master doesn't seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things.

16

Empty your mind of all thoughts.
Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of beings,
but contemplate their return.

Each separate being in the universe
returns to the common source.
Returning to the source is serenity.

If you don't realize the source,
you stumble in confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant,
disinterested, amused,
kindhearted as a grandmother,
dignified as a king.
Immersed in the wonder of the Tao,
you can deal with whatever life brings you,
and when death comes, you are ready.

17

When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists.
Next best is a leader who is loved.
Next, one who is feared.
The worst is one who is despised.

If you don't trust the people,
you make them untrustworthy.

The Master doesn't talk, he acts.
When his work is done,
the people say, "Amazing: we did it, all by ourselves!"

18

When the great Tao is forgotten,
goodness and piety appear.
When the body's intelligence declines,
cleverness and knowledge step forth.
When there is no peace in the family,
filial piety begins.
When the country falls into chaos,
patriotism is born.

19

Throw away holiness and wisdom,
and people will be a hundred times happier.
Throw away morality and justice,
and people will do the right thing.
Throw away industry and profit,
and there won't be any thieves.

If these three aren't enough,
just stay at the center of the circle
and let all things take their course.

20

Stop thinking, and end your problems.
What difference between yes and no?
What difference between success and failure?
Must you value what others value,
avoid what others avoid?
How ridiculous!

Other people are excited,
as though they were at a parade.
I alone don't care,
I alone am expressionless,
like an infant before it can smile.

Other people have what they need;
I alone possess nothing.
I alone drift about,
like someone without a home.
I am like an idiot, my mind is so empty.

Other people are bright;
I alone am dark.
Other people are sharper;
I alone am dull.
Other people have a purpose;
I alone don't know.
I drift like a wave on the ocean,
I blow as aimless as the wind.

I am different from ordinary people.
I drink from the Great Mother's breasts.

21

The Master keeps her mind
always at one with the Tao;
that is what gives her her radiance.

The Tao is ungraspable.
How can her mind be at one with it?
Because she doesn't cling to ideas.

The Tao is dark and unfathomable.
How can it make her radiant?
Because she lets it.

Since before time and space were,
the Tao is.
It is beyond is and is not.
How do I know this is true?
I look inside myself and see.

22

If you want to become whole,
let yourself be partial.
If you want to become straight,
let yourself be crooked.
If you want to become full,
let yourself be empty.
If you want to be reborn,
let yourself die.
If you want to be given everything,
give everything up.

The Master, by residing in the Tao,
sets an example for all beings.
Because he doesn't display himself,
people can see his light.
Because he has nothing to prove,
people can trust his words.
Because he doesn't know who he is,
people recognize themselves in him.
Because he has no goad in mind,
everything he does succeeds.

When the ancient Masters said,
"If you want to be given everything, give everything up,"
they weren't using empty phrases.
Only in being lived by the Tao can you be truly yourself.

23

Express yourself completely,
then keep quiet.
Be like the forces of nature:
when it blows, there is only wind;
when it rains, there is only rain;
when the clouds pass, the sun shines through.

If you open yourself to the Tao,
you are at one with the Tao
and you can embody it completely.
If you open yourself to insight,
you are at one with insight
and you can use it completely.
If you open yourself to loss,
you are at one with loss
and you can accept it completely.

Open yourself to the Tao,
then trust your natural responses;
and everything will fall into place.

24

He who stands on tiptoe
doesn't stand firm.
He who rushes ahead
doesn't go far.
He who tries to shine
dims his own light.
He who defines himself
can't know who he really is.
He who has power over others
can't empower himself.
He who clings to his work
will create nothing that endures.

If you want to accord with the Tao,
just do your job, then let go.

 

25

There was something formless and perfect
before the universe was born.
It is serene. Empty.
Solitary. Unchanging.
Infinite. Eternally present.
It is the mother of the universe.
For lack of a better name,
I call it the Tao.

It flows through all things,
inside and outside, and returns
to the origin of all things.

The Tao is great.
The universe is great.
Earth is great.
Man is great.
These are the four great powers.

Man follows the earth.
Earth follows the universe.
The universe follows the Tao.
The Tao follows only itself.

26

The heavy is the root of the light.
The unmoved is the source of all movement.

Thus the Master travels all day
without leaving home.
However splendid the views,
she stays serenely in herself.

Why should the lord of the country
flit about like a fool?
If you let yourself be blown to and fro,
you lose touch with your root.
If you let restlessness move you,
you lose touch with who you are.

27

A good traveler has no fixed plans
and is not intent upon arriving.
A good artist lets his intuition
lead him wherever it wants.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts
and keeps his mind open to what is.

Thus the Master is available to all people
and doesn't reject anyone.
He is ready to use all situations
and doesn't waste anything.
This is called embodying the light.

What is a good man but a bad man's teacher?
What is a bad man but a good man's job?
If you don't understand this, you will get lost,
however intelligent you are.
It is the great secret.

28

Know the male,
yet keep to the female:
receive the world in your arms.
If you receive the world,
the Tao will never leave you
and you will be like a little child.

Know the white,
yet keep to the black:
be a pattern for the world.
If you are a pattern for the world,
the Tao will be strong inside you
and there will be nothing you can't do.

Know the personal,
yet keep to the impersonal:
accept the world as it is.
If you accept the world,
the Tao will be luminous inside you
and you will return to your primal self.

The world is formed from the void,
like utensils from a block of wood.
The Master knows the utensils,
yet keeps to the the block:
thus she can use all things.

29

Do you want to improve the world?
I don't think it can be done.

The world is sacred.
It can't be improved.
If you tamper with it, you'll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you'll lose it.

There is a time for being ahead,
a time for being behind;
a time for being in motion,
a time for being at rest;
a time for being vigorous,
a time for being exhausted;
a time for being safe,
a time for being in danger.

The Master sees things as they are,
without trying to control them.
She lets them go their own way,
and resides at the center of the circle.

30

Whoever relies on the Tao in governing men
doesn't try to force issues
or defeat enemies by force of arms.
For every force there is a counterforce.
Violence, even well intentioned,
always rebounds upon oneself.

The Master does his job
and then stops.
He understands that the universe
is forever out of control,
and that trying to dominate events
goes against the current of the Tao.
Because he believes in himself,
he doesn't try to convince others.
Because he is content with himself,
he doesn't need others' approval.
Because he accepts himself,
the whole world accepts him.

31

Weapons are the tools of violence;
all decent men detest them.

Weapons are the tools of fear;
a decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint.
Peace is his highest value.
If the peace has been shattered,
how can he be content?
His enemies are not demons,
but human beings like himself.
He doesn't wish them personal harm.
Nor does he rejoice in victory.
How could he rejoice in victory
and delight in the slaughter of men?

He enters a battle gravely,
with sorrow and with great compassion,
as if he were attending a funeral.

32

The Tao can't be perceived.
Smaller than an electron,
it contains uncountable galaxies.

If powerful men and women
could remain centered in the Tao,
all things would be in harmony.
The world would become a paradise.
All people would be at peace,
and the law would be written in their hearts.

When you have names and forms,
know that they are provisional.
When you have institutions,
know where their functions should end.
Knowing when to stop,
you can avoid any danger.

All things end in the Tao
as rivers flow into the sea.

33

Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power.

If you realize that you have enough,
you are truly rich.
If you stay in the center
and embrace death with your whole heart,
you will endure forever.

34

The great Tao flows everywhere.
All things are born from it,
yet it doesn't create them.
It pours itself into its work,
yet it makes no claim.
It nourishes infinite worlds,
yet it doesn't hold on to them.
Since it is merged with all things
and hidden in their hearts,
it can be called humble.
Since all things vanish into it
and it alone endures,
it can be called great.
It isn't aware of its greatness;
thus it is truly great.


35

She who is centered in the Tao
can go where she wishes, without danger.
She perceives the universal harmony,
even amid great pain,
because she has found peace in her heart.

Music or the smell of good cooking
may make people stop and enjoy.
But words that point to the Tao
seem monotonous and without flavor.
When you look for it, there is nothing to see.
When you listen for it, there is nothing to hear.
When you use it, it is inexhaustible.

36

If you want to shrink something,
you must first allow it to expand.
If you want to get rid of something,
you must first allow it to flourish.
If you want to take something,
you must first allow it to be given.
This is called the subtle perception
of the way things are.

The soft overcomes the hard.
The slow overcomes the fast.
Let your workings remain a mystery.
Just show people the results.

37

The Tao never does anything,
yet through it all things are done.

If powerful men and women
could venter themselves in it,
the whole world would be transformed
by itself, in its natural rhythms.
People would be content
with their simple, everyday lives,
in harmony, and free of desire.

When there is no desire,
all things are at peace.

38

The Master doesn't try to be powerful;
thus he is truly powerful.
The ordinary man keeps reaching for power;
thus he never has enough.

The Master does nothing,
yet he leaves nothing undone.
The ordinary man is always doing things,
yet many more are left to be done.

The kind man does something,
yet something remains undone.
The just man does something,
and leaves many things to be done.
The moral man does something,
and when no one responds
he rolls up his sleeves and uses force.

When the Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is morality.
When morality is lost, there is ritual.
Ritual is the husk of true faith,
the beginning of chaos.

Therefore the Master concerns himself
with the depths and not the surface,
with the fruit and not the flower.
He has no will of his own.
He dwells in reality,
and lets all illusions go.

39

In harmony with the Tao,
the sky is clear and spacious,
the earth is solid and full,
all creature flourish together,
content with the way they are,
endlessly repeating themselves,
endlessly renewed.

When man interferes with the Tao,
the sky becomes filthy,
the earth becomes depleted,
the equilibrium crumbles,
creatures become extinct.

The Master views the parts with compassion,
because he understands the whole.
His constant practice is humility.
He doesn't glitter like a jewel
but lets himself be shaped by the Tao,
as rugged and common as stone.

40

Return is the movement of the Tao.
Yielding is the way of the Tao.

All things are born of being.
Being is born of non-being.

41

When a superior man hears of the Tao,
he immediately begins to embody it.
When an average man hears of the Tao,
he half believes it, half doubts it.
When a foolish man hears of the Tao,
he laughs out loud.
If he didn't laugh,
it wouldn't be the Tao.

Thus it is said:
The path into the light seems dark,
the path forward seems to go back,
the direct path seems long,
true power seems weak,
true purity seems tarnished,
true steadfastness seems changeable,
true clarity seems obscure,
the greatest are seems unsophisticated,
the greatest love seems indifferent,
the greatest wisdom seems childish.

The Tao is nowhere to be found.
Yet it nourishes and completes all things.

42

The Tao gives birth to One.
One gives birth to Two.
Two gives birth to Three.
Three gives birth to all things.

All things have their backs to the female
and stand facing the male.
When male and female combine,
all things achieve harmony.

Ordinary men hate solitude.
But the Master makes use of it,
embracing his aloneness, realizing
he is one with the whole universe.

43

The gentlest thing in the world
overcomes the hardest thing in the world.
That which has no substance
enters where there is no space.
This shows the value of non-action.

Teaching without words,
performing without actions:
that is the Master's way.

44

Fame or integrity: which is more important?
Money or happiness: which is more valuable?
Success of failure: which is more destructive?

If you look to others for fulfillment,
you will never truly be fulfilled.
If your happiness depends on money,
you will never be happy with yourself.

Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.

45

True perfection seems imperfect,
yet it is perfectly itself.
True fullness seems empty,
yet it is fully present.

True straightness seems crooked.
True wisdom seems foolish.
True art seems artless.

The Master allows things to happen.
She shapes events as they come.
She steps out of the way
and lets the Tao speak for itself.

46

When a country is in harmony with the Tao,
the factories make trucks and tractors.
When a country goes counter to the Tao,
warheads are stockpiled outside the cities.

There is no greater illusion than fear,
no greater wrong than preparing to defend yourself,
no greater misfortune than having an enemy.

Whoever can see through all fear
will always be safe.

47

Without opening your door,
you can open your heart to the world.
Without looking out your window,
you can see the essence of the Tao.

The more you know,
the less you understand.

The Master arrives without leaving,
sees the light without looking,
achieves without doing a thing.

48

In pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is added.
In the practice of the Tao,
every day something is dropped.
Less and less do you need to force things,
until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done,
nothing is left undone.

True mastery can be gained
by letting things go their own way.
It can't be gained by interfering.

49

The Master has no mind of her own.
She works with the mind of the people.

She is good to people who are good.
She is also good to people who aren't good.
This is true goodness.

She trusts people who are trustworthy.
She also trusts people who aren't trustworthy.
This is true trust.

The Master's mind is like space.
People don't understand her.
They look to her and wait.
She treats them like her own children.

 

50

The Master gives himself up
to whatever the moment brings.
He knows that he is going to die,
and her has nothing left to hold on to:
no illusions in his mind,
no resistances in his body.
He doesn't think about his actions;
they flow from the core of his being.
He holds nothing back from life;
therefore he is ready for death,
as a man is ready for sleep
after a good day's work.

51

Every being in the universe
is an expression of the Tao.
It springs into existence,
unconscious, perfect, free,
takes on a physical body,
lets circumstances complete it.
That is why every being
spontaneously honors the Tao.

The Tao gives birth to all beings,
nourishes them, maintains them,
cares for them, comforts them, protects them,
takes them back to itself,
creating without possessing,
acting without expecting,
guiding without interfering.
That is why love of the Tao
is in the very nature of things.

52

In the beginning was the Tao.
All things issue from it;
all things return to it.

To find the origin,
trace back the manifestations.
When you recognize the children
and find the mother,
you will be free of sorrow.

If you close your mind in judgements
and traffic with desires,
your heart will be troubled.
If you keep your mind from judging
and aren't led by the senses,
your heart will find peace.

Seeing into darkness is clarity.
Knowing how to yield is strength.
Use your own light
and return to the source of light.
This is called practicing eternity.

53

The great Way is easy,
yet people prefer the side paths.
Be aware when things are out of balance.
Stay centered within the Tao.

When rich speculators prosper
While farmers lose their land;
when government officials spend money
on weapons instead of cures;
when the upper class is extravagant and irresponsible
while the poor have nowhere to turn-
all this is robbery and chaos.
It is not in keeping with the Tao.

54

Whoever is planted in the Tao
will not be rooted up.
Whoever embraces the Tao
will not slip away.
Her name will be held in honor
from generation to generation.

Let the Tao be present in your life
and you will become genuine.
Let it be present in your family
and your family will flourish.
Let it be present in your country
and your country will be an example
to all countries in the world.
Let it be present in the universe
and the universe will sing.

How do I know this is true?
By looking inside myself.

55

He who is in harmony with the Tao
is like a newborn child.
Its bones are soft, its muscles are weak,
but its grip is powerful.
It doesn't know about the union
of male and female,
yet its penis can stand erect,
so intense is its vital power.
It can scream its head off all day,
yet it never becomes hoarse,
so complete is its harmony.

The Master's power is like this.
He lets all things come and go
effortlessly, without desire.
He never expects results;
thus he is never disappointed.
He is never disappointed;
thus his spirit never grows old.

56

Those who know don't talk.
Those who talk don't know.

Close your mouth,
block off your senses,
blunt your sharpness,
untie your knots,
soften your glare,
settle your dust.
This is the primal identity.

Be like the Tao.
It can't be approached or withdrawn from,
benefited or harmed,
honored or brought into disgrace.
It gives itself up continually.
That is why it endures.

57

If you want to be a great leader,
you must learn to follow the Tao.
Stop trying to control.
Let go of fixed plans and concepts,
and the world will govern itself.

The more prohibitions you have,
the less virtuous people will be.
The more weapons you have,
the less secure people will be.
The more subsidies you have,
the less self-reliant people will be.

Therefore the Master says:
I let go of the law,
and people become honest.
I let go of economics,
and people become prosperous.
I let go of religion,
and people become serene.
I let go of all desire for the common good,
and the good becomes common as grass.

 

58

If a country is governed with tolerance,
the people are comfortable and honest.
If a country is governed with repression,
the people are depressed and crafty.

When the will to power is in charge,
the higher the ideals, the lower the results.
Try to make people happy,
and you lay the groundwork for misery.
Try to make people moral,
and you lay the groundwork for vice.

Thus the Master is content
to serve as an example
and not to impose her will.
She is pointed, but doesn't pierce.
Straightforward, but supple.
Radiant, but easy on the eyes.

59

For governing a country well
there is nothing better than moderation.

The mark of a moderate man
is freedom from his own ideas.
Tolerant like the sky,
all-pervading like sunlight,
firm like a mountain,
supple like a tree in the wind,
he has no destination in view
and makes use of anything
life happens to bring his way.

Nothing is impossible for him.
Because he has let go,
he can care for the people's welfare
as a mother cares for her child.

60

Governing a large country
is like frying a small fish.
You spoil it with too much poking.

Center your country in the Tao
and evil will have no power.
Not that it isn't there,
but you'll be able to step out of its way.

Give evil nothing to oppose
and it will disappear by itself.

61

When a country obtains great power,
it becomes like the sea:
all streams run downward into it.
The more powerful it grows,
the greater the need for humility.
Humility means trusting the Tao,
thus never needing to be defensive.

A great nation is like a great man:
When he makes a mistake, he realizes it.
Having realized it, he admits it.
Having admitted it, he corrects it.
He considers those who point out his faults
as his most benevolent teachers.
He thinks of his enemy
as the shadow that he himself casts.

If a nation is centered in the Tao,
if it nourishes its own people
and doesn't meddle in the affairs of others,
it will be a light to all nations in the world.

62

The Tao is the center of the universe,
the good man's treasure,
the bad man's refuge.

Honors can be bought with fine words,
respect can be won with good deeds;
but the Tao is beyond all value,
and no one can achieve it.

Thus, when a new leader is chosen,
don't offer to help him
with your wealth or your expertise.
Offer instead
to teach him about the Tao.

Why did the ancient Masters esteem the Tao?
Because, being one with the Tao,
when you seek, you find;
and when you make a mistake, you are forgiven.
That is why everybody loves it.

63

Act without doing;
work without effort.
Think of the small as large
and the few as many.
Confront the difficult
while it is still easy;
accomplish the great task
by a series of small acts.

The Master never reaches for the great;
thus she achieves greatness.
When she runs into a difficulty,
she stops and gives herself to it.
She doesn't cling to her own comfort;
thus problems are no problem for her.

64

What is rooted is easy to nourish.
What is recent is easy to correct.
What is brittle is easy to break.
What is small is easy to scatter.

Prevent trouble before it arises.
Put things in order before they exist.
The giant pine tree
grows from a tiny sprout.
The journey of a thousand miles
starts from beneath your feet.

Rushing into action, you fail.
Trying to grasp things, you lose them.
Forcing a project to completion,
you ruin what was almost ripe.

Therefore the Master takes action
by letting things take their course.
He remains as calm
at the end as at the beginning.
He has nothing,
thus has nothing to lose.
What he desires is non-desire;
what he learns is to unlearn.
He simply reminds people
of who they have always been.
He cares about nothing but the Tao.
Thus he can care for all things.

65

The ancient Masters
didn't try to educate the people,
but kindly taught them to not-know.

When they think that they know the answers,
people are difficult to guide.
When they know that they don't know,
people can find their own way.

If you want to learn how to govern,
avoid being clever or rich.
The simplest pattern is the clearest.
Content with an ordinary life,
you can show all people the way
back to their own true nature.

66

All streams flow to the sea
because it is lower than they are.
Humility gives it its power.

If you want to govern the people,
you must place yourself below them.
If you want to lead the people,
you must learn how to follow them.

The Master is above the people,
and no one feels oppressed.
She goes ahead of the people,
and no one feels manipulated.
The whole world is grateful to her.
Because she competes with no one,
no one can compete with her.

67

Some say that my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical.
But to those who have looked inside themselves,
this nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice,
this loftiness has roots that go deep.

I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.

68

The best athlete
wants his opponent at his best.
The best general
enters the mind of his enemy.
The best businessman
serves the communal good.
The best leader
follows the will of the people.

All of the embody
the virtue of non-competition.
Not that they don't love to compete,
but they do it in the spirit of play.
In this they are like children
and in harmony with the Tao.

69

The generals have a saying:
"Rather than make the first move
it is better to wait and see.
Rather than advance an inch
it is better to retreat a yard."

This is called
going forward without advancing,
pushing back without using weapons.

There is no greater misfortune
than underestimating your enemy.
Underestimating your enemy
means thinking that he is evil.
Thus you destroy your three treasures
and become an enemy yourself.

When two great forces oppose each other,
the victory will go
to the one that knows how to yield.

70

My teachings are easy to understand
and easy to put into practice.
Yet your intellect will never grasp them,
and if you try to practice them, you'll fail.

My teachings are older than the world.
How can you grasp their meaning?

If you want to know me,
look inside your heart.

71

Not-knowing is true knowledge.
Presuming to know is a disease.
First realize that you are sick;
then you can move toward health.

The Master is her own physician.
She has healed herself of all knowing.
Thus she is truly whole.

72

When they lose their sense of awe,
people turn to religion.
When they no longer trust themselves,
they begin to depend upon authority.

Therefore the Master steps back
so that people won't be confused.
He teaches without a teaching,
so that people will have nothing to learn.

73

The Tao is always at ease.
It overcomes without competing,
answers without speaking a word,
arrives without being summoned,
accomplishes without a plan.

Its net covers the whole universe.
And though its meshes are wide,
it doesn't let a thing slip through.

74

If you realize that all things change,
there is nothing you will try to hold on to.
If you aren't afraid of dying,
there is nothing you can't achieve.

Trying to control the future
is like trying to take the master carpenter's place.
When you handle the master carpenter's tools,
chances are that you'll cut your hand.

 

75

When taxes are too high,
people go hungry.
When the government is too intrusive,
people lose their spirit.

Act for the people's benefit.
Trust them; leave them alone.

76

Men are born soft and supple;
dead, they are stiff and hard.
Plats are born tender and pliant;
dead, they are brittle and dry.

Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible
is a disciple of death.
Whoever is soft and yielding
is a disciple of life.

The hard and stiff will be broken.
The soft and supple will prevail.

77

As it acts in the world, the Tao
is like the bending of a bow.
The top is bent downward;
the bottom is bent up.
It adjusts excess and deficiency
so that there is perfect balance.
It takes from what is too much
and give to what isn't enough.

Those who try to control,
who use force to protect their power,
go against the direction of the Tao.
They take from those who don't have enough
and give to those who have far too much.

The Master can keep giving
because there is no end to her wealth.
She acts without expectation,
succeeds without taking credit,
and doesn't think that she is better
than anyone else.

78

Nothing in the world
is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible,
nothing can surpass it.

The soft overcomes the hard;
the gentle overcomes the rigid.
Everyone knows this is true,
but few can put it into practice.

Therefore the Master remains
serene in the midst of sorrow.
Evil cannot enter his heart.
Because he has given up helping,
he is people's greatest help.

True words seem paradoxical.

79

Failure is an opportunity.
If you blame someone else,
there is no end to the blame.

Therefore the Master
fulfills her own obligations
and corrects her own mistakes.
She does what she needs to do
and demands nothing of others.

80

If a country is governed wisely,
its inhabitants will be content.
They enjoy the labor of their hands
and don't waste time inventing
labor-saving machines.
Since they dearly love their homes,
they aren't interested in travel.
There may be a few wagons and boats,
but these don't go anywhere.
There may be an arsenal of weapons,
but nobody ever uses them.
People enjoy their food,
take pleasure in being with their families,
spend weekends working in their gardens,
delight in the doings of the neighborhood.
And even though the next country is so close
that people can hear its roosters crowing and its dogs barking,
they are content to die of old age
without ever having gone to see it.

81

True words aren't eloquent;
eloquent words aren't true.
Wise men don't need to prove their point;
men who need to prove their point aren't wise.

The Master has no possessions.
The more he does for others,
the happier he is.
The more he gives to others,
the wealthier he is.

The Tao nourishes by not forcing.
By not dominating, the Master leads.

Tao Te Ching Translated by C. Hansen

1. To Guide with Names

To guide what can be guided is not constant guiding.
To name what can be named is not constant naming.
'Not-exist' names the beginning (boundary) of the cosmos (Heaven and earth)
'Exists' names the mother of the ten-thousand natural kinds .
Thus, to treat 'not-exist' as constant is desiring to use it to view its mysteries.
To treat 'exists' as constant is desiring to use it to view its manifestations.
These two emerge together yet have different names.
'Together'--call that 'obscure. ' 'Obscure' it and it is more obscure.
. . . the gateway of a crowd of mysteries.

2. Contrast of Terms

That the social world knows to deem the beautiful as 'beautiful' simply creates the 'ugly. '
That the social world knows to deem worth as 'worthy' simply creates 'worthlessness. '
Thus 'exists' and 'not-exists' mutually sprout. 'Difficult' and 'easy' are mutually done.
'Long' and 'short' are mutually gauged. 'High' and 'low' mutually incline.
'Sound' and 'tone' mutually blend. 'Before' and 'after' mutually supervene.
(Pro-sage Commentary:)
Using this: sages fix social issues without deeming ; administer a 'no words' teaching.
The ten-thousand natural kinds work by it and don't make phrases. They sprout but don't 'exist'. Deem-act and don't rely on anything. Accomplish their work and don't dwell in it.
Because they don't dwell in it, they don't lose it.

3. Prescriptions for Politics

Don't glorify the high-brow: cause people not to wrangle.
Don't value limited commodities: cause people not to contemplate stealing.
Don't display the desirable: prevent confusing the people's hearts-'n-minds.
Using these: The governance of sages: empties their hearts-'n-minds, stuffs their guts
Weakens their resolve, and strengthens their bones.
He treats causing the people to lack both knowledge and desire as constants.
Causing those with knowledge not to venture deeming-actions.
They deem the absence of deeming-action and thus nothing is ungoverned.

4. Using Guidance

Guidance pours out but in using it, something is not filled.
Whew! It's like the ancestor of the ten-thousand natural kinds.
'Dull' its 'sharp', 'untie' its 'tie', 'blend' its 'bright', 'together' its 'diffused particles'.
Ooo! It's like it partly endures.
I don't know whose son it is.
It is before the emperor of signs!

5. Natural Guidance

Heaven-earth [the cosmos] is not kind. It treats the 10,000 natural kinds as straw dogs.
Sages are not kind. They treat the hundred surname-groups as straw dogs.
Is the space between Heaven and earth not like bellows and flutes?
Empty and not warped.
As long as you move them, they produce.
Many words and numbers unlimited are not as good as holding the center.

6. The Superiority of the Female

The Valley energy never dies.
This is called 'fathomless female'
The channel of the fathomless female:
This is called the basis of the cosmos.
Silken! It's as if it abides.
Handle it gently!

7. Intentional Reversal

Heaven is old and Earth is enduring.
What do Heaven and Earth rely on in order to be old and enduring?
They rely on avoiding self creation.
Hence they can be old and enduring.
Using this: Sages 'later' themselves and yet they comes first.
They 'outside' themselves and yet they abide.
Is this not a case of their lacking selfishness?
So they are able to achieve their selfishness.

8. The Worth of Water

Higher worth is like water.
Water is good at benefiting the ten-thousand natural kinds
Without wrangling for position.
What the crowd despises
Hence close to the guide.
In dwelling value the earth.
In heart-mind value depth.
In being-with value kindness.
In words value reliability.
In rectifying value order.
In social affairs value ability.
In action value timing.
In general, simply don't wrangle
Hence have no indiscretion.

9. The inconstancy of achievement

To grasp and pile things up is not as good as regarding it as already done.
When you measure and build a pillar , you cannot preserve it for long.
When gold and jade fill the hall, you can't keep any of it.
Rich, ennobled and thus proud bequeaths ruin.
With success, disappear: this is the heavenly guide.

10. Impossible Advice In general
In mustering your vitalities, embracing in one, can you fail to distinguish?
In specializing in breath and consummating weakness, can you be a child?
In cleansing and voiding your profound mirror, can you be without flaw?
In loving the people and ordering the state, can you fail to know?
In opening and closing the heavenly channel, can you fail to be female?
In discerning all within the four directions, can you fail to deem-act?
Generate it, nourish it:
Generate it and not 'exist' it.
Deem: act and not rely on anything.
Become 'elder' and not rule.
These are called 'profound virtuosities.'

11. The Value of Non-existence

Thirty spokes together make one hub.
Where the nothing is, lies the cart's use.
Throwing clay to deem: make a utensil;
Where the nothing is, lies the utensil's use.
Sculpting windows and doors to deem: make a room;
Where the nothing is, lies the room's use.
So where we deem having it as beneficial.
We deem use to consist in lacking it.

12. The Numbing

Effect of the Conventional The five colors stupefy the people's eyes.
The five tones desensitize the people's ears.
The five flavors numb the people's mouths.
Horse races and hunting derange the people's heart-minds.
Hard to get goods pervert the people's behavior.
Using this: Sages deem: act for the gut not the eye.
So they choose this and reject that.

13. Status

Favor is as disgraceful as a warning.
Nobility is as great a trouble as a self.
Why say 'favor is as disgraceful as a warning'?
The favored is deemed below.
Receiving it is like a warning.
Losing it is like a warning.
This is called 'favor is as disgraceful as a warning.'
Why say 'nobility is as great a trouble as a self'?
Deeming I have a self is what makes it possible for me have trouble.
and if I had no self, what trouble could I have?
Hence nobility is regarding your self as the social world.
To the likes of that, the social world can be delivered.
[Nobility's] love regards the self as the social world.
To the likes of that, the social world can be entrusted.

14. Metaphysical Issues

Look at it and fail to see: its name is 'remote.'
Listen to it and fail to hear: its name is 'diffuse.'
Feel it and fail to get anything: its name is 'subtle.'
This threesome cannot be exhaustively probed for portents.
Hence we blend them and deem them as one.
Its height is not sparkling.
Its depth is not murky.
String-like, it cannot be named.
It reverts to being no natural kind.
This we call the condition of being in no condition; the sign of no natural kind.
This we call 'confused' and 'indistinct.'
Facing it you cannot see its head; Following it you cannot see its rear
If you grasp guiding discourse from ancient times in dealing with today's reality
you can know the ancient beginnings.
This is called a guiding discourse's record.

15. Mastering Guiding Discourse

Those in ancient times who were good at deem: acting as scholars
Were subtlety mysterious and profoundly receptive
Unfathomably deep.
Now, precisely because unfathomable,
We must force a description of them.
Cautious: like crossing a stream in winter.
Ambivalent: like fearing those on all sides.
Exacting: like being a guest
Mutable: like ice on the point of melting
Unaffected: like uncarved wood.
Munificent: like a valley
Obscure: like muddied water
Who can, while muddy, using calmness gradually become clear?
Who can, while at ease, using activity gradually come to life.?
She who embraces this guiding discourse
doesn't desire fulfilling.
Now precisely because not fulfilled,
she can obscure and not newly fabricate.

16. Being a Guide

Go to the limit of emptiness
Take on quiet dependability
The ten-thousand natural kinds are all dealt with.
And I thus view their response
In general, natural kinds flourish.
Each responds by returning to its root.
Returning to the root is called quietude.
This I call responding to the word.
Responding to the word we describe as 'constant'.
To know what is constant we describe as 'discernment'.
Not to know what is constant is wantonly taking risks.
To know what is constant is openness;
Open thus equitable;
Equitable thus kingly;
Kingly thus natural;
Natural thus guiding;
Guiding thus enduring
Doesn't stop when you bury the body.

17. Politics

The best hierarchy is one those below realize is there.
Next to that
is one that you feel kin to and extol.
Next to that
is one you dread.
Next to that
is one you contemn.
When reliability is inadequate in it
There will be unreliability in it.
Reflectively! His ennobling of language.
Works are completed; affairs proceed
And the hundred surnames all call this 'our nature (our own doing)'

18. The Origin of Ethical Concepts

When the great guide is cast aside you will have 'humanity' and 'morality.'
When intuitive wisdom emerges you will have great artifice.
When great kinship is not in harmony, you will have 'filiality' and 'affection.'
When states and great families sink and become deranged, you will have 'loyal ministers.'

19. Argument for Ethical Anarchism

Terminate 'sageliness', junk 'wisdom'
the people will benefit a hundred-fold.
Terminate 'humanity', junk 'morality'
the people will respond with 'filiality' and 'affection.'
Terminate 'artistry', junk 'benefit'
thieves and robbers will lack 'existence'.
These three
taken as slogans are insufficient.
Hence, leads us to postulate that to which they belong.
Visualize simplicity and embrace uncarved wood.
Downgrade 'selfishness' and diminish 'desire.'
Terminate learning and you will lack irritation.

20. Left without Language

How much separates
'Uh huh' and 'Huh uh'?
What is the separation like between
'worthy' and 'vile'?
What humans fear
cannot not be feared.
Futile! Not focused yet.
The crowd festive
--like enjoying an Easter picnic
or on an Easter sunrise hike.
I, alone, am placid--it's portent not yet clear.
Like an infant not yet a baby.
Languorous!
Like having no refuge.
The crowd all have plenty
I alone treat it as loss.
Mine is the heart-mind of the stupid, indeed.
Indiscriminate!
People of custom are lustrous,
I alone am dull.
People of custom are critically discriminating;
I alone obfuscate.
Bland! It's like the ocean;
drifting! like I have no place to stop.
The crowd all have the-capacity-to
and I alone am dallying and wanton.
I alone am different from humans,
and value nursing at Mother's breast.

21. Guiding and the Physical

The content of permeating virtuosity
is merely following a guide.
To deem guides as a natural kind:
Indeed confused! Indeed indistinct!
Indistinct! Confused!
Within them there are signs.
Confused! Indistinct!
Within them there are natural kinds.
Yawning! Murky!
Within them there is generative energy.
Their energy is optimally authentic.
Within it there is reliability.
From the past to the present
it's name remains.
And elucidates the crowd's honored father.
How do I know the shape of the crowd's honored father?
With this.

22. The Point to Reversal?

If 'crooked' then 'intact'
If 'twisted' then 'straight'
If 'vacuous' then 'filled'
If 'worn out' then 'new'
If 'deficient' then 'endowed'
If 'endowed' then 'confounded'
Using this: Sages embrace one
and deem it the social world's model.
He doesn't see by himself hence is perceptive.
Doesn't affirm himself hence is discerning.
Doesn't attack by himself hence has success.
Doesn't esteem himself hence becomes an elder.
In general: he does not dispute
hence in the social world none is able to dispute with him.
The ancients who said 'If 'crooked' then 'intact''--
could they have offered empty words?
Take 'intact' as sincere and return to it.

23. The Constancy of Guiding Concepts

Rare language is our own doing.
Hence a twisting wind does not end the morning.
A sudden storm does not end the day.
What makes these the case?--the cosmos.
The cosmos can raise it but cannot make it endure.
How much more is this the case with the human realm?
Hence those who pursue affairs with 'guidance'
Those of 'guidance,' join in guidance.
Those of 'virtuosity,' join in virtuosity.
Those of 'loss,' join in loss.
Those who join in guidance, guidance is pleased to get them.
Those who join in virtuosity, virtuosity is pleased to get them.
Those who join in loss, loss is pleased to get them.
When reliability is inadequate in it
There will be unreliability in it.

24. Important distinctions

Those who tiptoe do not stand.
Those who stride do not walk.
Those who see for themselves are not discerning.
Those who affirm for themselves are not insightful.
Those who attack it themselves do not achieve.
Those who esteem themselves do not become elders.
When these are in guides, we say:
'Excess provision; redundant action.'
Some natural kinds avoid them.
Hence those who have guides don't place them.

 

25. What's behind it all?

There is a thing-kind made up of a mix.
It emerges before the cosmos.
Solitary! Inchoate!
Self grounded and unchanging.
Permeating all processes without extremity.
We can deem it the mother of the social world.
I don't know its name. When put in characters we say dao.
Forced to deem it as named, we say 'great.'
Being great, we say 'comprehensive.'
Being comprehensive, we say 'far reaching.'
Being far reaching, we say 'reverting.'
So our dao is great;
Nature (heaven) is great,
Earth is great,
and kings are also great.
Within a region are four 'greats.'
And the King occupies one of those [lofty] statuses.
Humans treat earth as a standard.
Earth treats constant nature as a standard.
Constant nature treats dao as a standard.
Dao treats being so of itself as a standard.

26. Ambiguous Reversals

Deem 'heavy' as root of 'light'
Deem 'calm' as lord of 'uproar'.
Using this: Sages pass the whole day in activity
and never separate from his heavy provisions cart.
Even though he has an sublime views,
surpassing those where swallows dwell.
What do we say, then,
of the 10,000 chariot ruler
who, based on the self, 'lights' the social world?
To 'light' is to lose the root.
To 'uproar' is to lose the lord.

27. Paradoxes of the Greatest Skill

Worthy travel lacks ruts and footprints.
Worthy language lacks flaws and reproach.
Worthy tallying doesn't use algorithms.
Worthy closing lacks bars and bolts
and still can't be opened.
Worthy securing lacks rope or restraint
and still can't be loosed.
Using this: Sages take saving humanity as a constant
hence don't abandon humans
take saving thing-kinds as a constant,
therefore don't abandon thing-kinds.
Call this 'bushwhacking discernment.'
Hence those who are worthy
are the instructors of the unworthy
The unworthy
are the stuff of the worthy.
'Don't value their instructor,
don't love their stuff'
Even the wise are greatly puzzled
Call this "the necessary mystery."

28. Opposites and Primitivism

To know its 'male'
and preserve its 'female'
is to act as the world's ravine.
To act as the world' ravine,
treat virtuosity as constant, and avoid separating
is to return to infancy.
To know its 'white'
and preserve its 'black'
is to act as the world's paradigm.
To act as the world's paradigm,
treat virtuosity as constant and avoid lapses
is to return to the negative ultimate.
To know its 'sublime'
and preserve its 'disgraced'
is to act as the world's valley.
To act as the world's valley,
treating virtuosity as constant is sufficient
to return to uncarved wood.
If wood is split then it is deemed an artifact.
Sages use it
and they are deemed officials and elders.
Thus great systems don't cut.

29. Deeming

Those who desire to take the social world and deem-act it,
I see that they just don't get it.
The social world is an energized artifact.
It is not the case that it can be deemed.
Those who deem-act crush it.
Those who grasp lose it.
Hence, among natural kinds sometimes act,
sometimes conform.
sometimes snort
sometimes blow.
sometimes be strong
sometimes weak.
sometimes control
sometimes destroy.
Using this: Sages abandon superlatives,
abandon extravagance,
abandon expansiveness.

30. Government without Coercion

Those who use a guide to help the ruling class
should not coerce the social world with arms.
Social affairs are highly reciprocal.
Where you place a division,
thorns and briars grow.
In the wake of a great army
inevitably lies years of calamities.
Skill bears fruit --period!
Do not presume, in view of that, to choose coercion.
Have effects and avoid regard.
Have effects and avoid assault.
Have effects and avoid pride.
Have effects and treat it as inevitable.
Have effects and avoid coercion.
Natural kinds are robust--then they get old.
This is called 'don't guide.'
Practice 'don't guide' early!

31. Military Strategies as Guides

In general, splendid martial force
is an inauspicious artifact.
Among natural kinds some eschew them.
Hence some guides don't place them.
If the 'superior gentleman' is in place then we value the left.
If we use martial force then we value the right.
Martial force
is an inauspicious artifact.
It is not an artifact of the 'superior gentleman.'
When you have no choice and use it,
deem detachment the better attitude.
When victorious don't treat it as glorious.
Those who glorify it--
that is to take satisfaction in killing.
If you take satisfaction in killing,
you cannot take that as filling the intent of the social world.
Auspicious affairs favor the left,
inauspicious the right.
The lower-rank general is on the left
and the higher rank on the right.
These words amount to arranging them according to the funeral rite.
Killing peoples in crowds,
we cry for them in bitter grief.
With victory in war we arrange things according to the funeral rite.

32. A Natural Guide

Guide by treating nameless uncarved wood as constant.
Although small,
none in the social world can treat it as vassal.
If fief-holding kings could embrace it,
all the natural kinds would come to self conformity.
Heaven and earth mutually coalesce to rain down sweet dew.
The people, no one ordering them, self balance.
To begin to restrain you have names.
As soon as you have names then,
in general, you must also come to know to stop.
If you know to stop, you can avoid danger.
Compare this guide's being in the social world
to the relation of brook valleys to rivers and oceans.

33. Achievable goals

Those who know the human are wise.
The self-knowing are discerning.
Those who triumph among the human have power.
The self-triumphing are coercive.
Those who know sufficiency are affluent.
Those who coercively act have will.
Those who don't lose their 'that-which' are long-lasting
Those who die and don't disappear are long-lived.

34. The Great Guide

The great guide is everywhere!
Thus it can 'left' the 'right.'
The ten-thousand natural kinds depend on it and thus live.
And it does not phrase its guidance.
Success is achieved and not named as 'having.'
Supports and nourishes the ten-thousand natural kinds
and does not deem-act as lord.
Treating lack of desire as constant;
it can be named in the direction of 'small.'
The ten-thousand natural kinds return to it
and it does not deem-act as lord.
It can be named as 'great.'
With its ultimately not self-deeming as 'great'
Hence it is able to achieve its 'great.'

35. Great Guiding Signs?

Grasp great signs.
The social world moves.
If it move and does not harm,
the comfort and balance is supreme.
Concerts and feasts
bring passing guests to a halt.
Guidance coming out of the mouth.
Isn't it bland? It lacks flavor.
Looking at it, it is not visible.
Listen to it, it is not audible.
Use it, it is not applicable.

36. Natural Reversals

On the point of desiring to contract it,
you must regard it as inherently expanded.
On the point of desiring to weaken it,
you must regard it as inherently strong.
On the point of desiring to dissipate it,
you must regard it as inherently thriving.
On the point of desiring to steal it,
you must regard it as inherently belonging.
This is called minute discernment.
Soft and pliant triumph over hard and coercive.
Fish cannot leave the abyss.
The state's beneficial artifacts
cannot be shown to people.

37. Non-Deeming Action

Some guide treats lacking deeming-action as a constant
yet everything is deem-acted.
If fief-holding kings could preserve this,
all the natural kinds would come to self transformation.
If they transform and desire to construct,
I will mollify them with the nameless uncarved wood.
Nameless uncarved wood is,
in general also being on the point of lacking desires.
If we use not desiring to get calm,
the social world will be on the point of self-fixing.
Book II
De
virtuosity

38. Consequences for Virtuosity

Superior virtuosity does not 'virtuosity.'
For that reason it has virtuosity.
Inferior virtuosity never forgets 'virtuosity'
For that reason it lacks virtuosity.
Superior virtuosity lacks deeming action
and lacks that with which to deem.
Inferior virtue deems it
and has something with which to deem.
Superior humanity deems it
and lacks that with which it deems.
Superior morality deems it
and has that with which it deems.
Superior conventionality deem it
and nothing answers.
So it raises its arm and throws it.
Hence we lose the guide and then virtuosity.
Lose virtuosity and then humanity.
Lose humanity and then morality.
Lose morality and then conventionality.
In general conventionality
is the thinning of fealty and trustworthiness
and the forerunner of disorder.
Those who realize first
take elaboration of guides
as the beginning of making them stupid.
For this reason, mature men
place emphasis on the thick
and do not dwell on the thin.
Place emphasis on the stuff
and don't dwell on the elaboration.
So they discard this and choose that.

39. Achieving Oneness

Things which from the beginning have achieved oneness:
Heaven achieves oneness in being clear.
Earth achieves oneness in stability.
Energy achieves oneness in spirit.
Valleys achive oneness in filling.
The ten-thousand natural kinds achieve oneness in life.
Fiefholders and Kings achieve oneness in deem-acting to make the social world correct.
They take it to the extreme.
When heaven lacks that with which to become clear,
we're on the point of fearing splitting.
When earth lacks that with which to become stable,
we're on the point of fearing spreading out.
When energy lacks that with which to become spirit,
we're on the point of fearing death.
When valleys lack that with which to become full,
we're on the point of fearing depletion.
When the ten-thousand natural kinds lack that with which to become alive,
we're on the point of fearing extinction.
When fiefholders and kings lack that with which to become noble and exhalted,
we're on the point of fearing toppling.
Hence the noble uses the plebeian as its base.
The high uses the low as its foundation.
Using this: Feifholders and kings refer to themselves as 'this orphan,' 'this lonely one,' and 'this impoverished one.'
Is this not taking the plebeian as the base?
It's not?!
Hence the extreme of numbering chariots is zero chariots.
Don't desire to colored veneer of jade
or the solid dullness of a rock.

40. Reversal

That which is converse is the action of a guide.
That which is weak is the use of a guide.
The cosmos and the ten-thousand natural kinds arise from 'existing.'
'Existing' arises from 'non-existing.'

41. Playing with Reversal

The 'superior' scholar hears a guide.
He gets all serious and follows it.
The 'medium' scholar hears a guide.
It's like it endures; it's like it disappears!
The 'lower' scholar hears a guide.
He hilariously laughs at it.
If he did not laugh, it would not be up to being deemed a guide.
Hence, as the saying goes--
A discerning guide is like a murky one.
An guide to advancing is like one to retreating.
A guide to leveling is like one to roughing up.
'Superior' virtuosity is like a valley.
The greatest 'white' is like filthy.
'Expansive' virtuosity is like 'insufficient.'
'Creating' virtuosity is like 'stealing.'
'Solid authenticity' is like 'sliminess.'
The greatest square has no corners.
The greatest artifact is never finished.
The greatest note rarely sounds.
The greatest sign lacks shape.
Guides hide the lack of names.
In general only guides are good at adopting and also completing.

42. Generating Things

A guide generates 'one.'
'One' generates 'two.'
'Two' generates 'three.'
'Three' generates the ten-thousand natural kinds.
The ten-thousand natural kinds bear Yin and embrace Yang.
Blend the life-forces and deem-make 'harmony.'
What humans revile
is specifically 'orphan,' 'lonely' and 'impoverished.'
Yet Kings and Dukes deem them as titles.
Hence among natural kinds: sometimes you diminish it and it increases.
Sometime you increase it and it diminishes.
What humans teach,
I also teach.
Those who force issues don't get their death.
I'm on the point of deeming this 'the father of teaching.'

43. Absolute Negation

The most yielding in the social world
gallops over the most firm in the social world.
That which lacks being enters into that which lacks space.
I, with this, know the advantage of lacking deem-acting.
The teaching that is not put in language,
The advantage of lacking deem-acting,
In the social world, these are rarely achieved.

44. Moderate Values

Your name or your self--which is closest to you?
Your self and commodities--which counts as more?
Obtaining and losing--which is a defect?
For this reason, superlative love certainly has great cost.
Much storage certainly increases losses.
Knowing to 'sufficient' does not disgrace.
Knowing to 'stop' does not endanger.'
You can endure longer.

45. Extremes and Reversals

Great completion is like deficiency.
Its use does not 'corrupt'.
Great filling is like being poured.
Its use does not exhaust.
Great straightforwardness is like being bent.
Great skill is like clumsiness.
Great distinction-debating is like shouting.
Exercise conquers a chill.
Rest conquers a fever.
'Clear' and 'quiet' are deemed as correct for the social world.

46. Guiding Contentment

When the social world has a guide
We turn back fast horses in order to fertilize.
When the social world lacks a guide
War horses are produced in the suburbs.
Among bad omens, none is greater than not knowing to 'sufficient.'
Among evils, none is greater than desiring 'getting.'
Hence, knowing to 'sufficient' is sufficient
for constant sufficiency.

47. Ignorant Guides

Don't step outside your door. Know the social world.
Don't look out the window. See the natural guide.
The farther you go
the less you know what to do.
Using this: Sages don't go anywhere and yet know what to do.
Don't see and yet name things.
Don't deem-act and yet accomplish.

48. Forgetting

In deem-acting on 'study' one daily increases.
In deem-acting on 'the guide ' one daily decreases.
Decrease it and further decrease it.
In order to arrive at no deem-acting.
No deem-acting and nothing not deem-acted.
Taking the social world , you treat relying on lacking social acts as constant.
When it comes to engaging in social acts,
it is not sufficient for taking the social world.

49. Sage's Constancy

Sages lack a constant heart-mind;
they deem the public's heart-mind as heart-mind.
Things which are worthy, I 'worthy'.
Things which are unworthy, I also 'worthy'
This treats 'worthy'-ing as a virtuosity.
Things which are reliable, I 'reliable'.
Things which are unreliable, I also 'reliable'
This treats 'reliable'-ing as a virtuosity.
A sage is in the social world is like an outcast.
Deem-acting for the social world, he addles his heart-mind.
Sages all 'child' themselves.

 

50. Fantasies of Avoiding Death

We emerge into life and enter into death.
Of life's associates, ten have three.
Of death's associates, ten have three.
People's being alive, death ground's activities
also ten have three.
Now, why is this?
Because they 'life' the thickness of life.
In general, when we hear about those worthy to abet life:
They walk the earth without encountering rhinoceros or tiger.
They enter the army and don't bear armor or weapons.
The rhinoceros has no place to thrust its horn.
The tiger has no place to wield its claws.
Arms have no place to accommodate their points.
Now, why is this?
Because they lack death's ground.

51. Natural Guides and Natural Virtuosity

A guide starts it,
virtuosity cultivates it,
Natural kinds model it
and circumstances complete it.
For this reason, among the ten-thousand natural kinds,
None fail to respect a guide and value virtuosity.
This respecting of guides
and valuing of virtuosity
is not, in general, commanded in words instead it treats self-so-ing as constant.
Hence a guide starts it,
virtuosity cultivates it,
Acts as its elder, educates it,
shades it, poisons it,
nourishes it and returns it.
Gives rise to and not 'exist,'
Deem:act and not rely on anything.
Acts as elder and does not rule.
This would be called 'profound virtuosity.'

52. So What?

The social world has a beginning
We deem it 'mother' of the social world.
Since we acquired its 'mother'
We use that to know its 'son'
Since we know its 'son'
We revert to embracing its mother.
Burying the self we risk nothing.
Shut up its exchanges ,
close its gates
and end life without struggle.
Open its exchanges,
benefit its social affairs
and still end life without saving anything.
see small, say 'discernible'
protect weakness, say 'coerce'
Use its light;
Revert and return to its discernment.
Bequeath yourself no trouble;
Deem this to be rehearsing the constant.

53. Increasing evidence

Let me suddenly have some know-how
To exercise on The Great Guide--
Only helping it--this I fear!
The Great Guide is profoundly smooth
and people easily track it.
The palace is profoundly stripped.
Fields are profoundly overgrown.
Granaries are profoundly bare.
Clothes embroidered colorfully.
Belts have sharp swords.
Bored of drink and food.
Wealth and commodities are excessive.
This is called 'stealing.' Exaggeration!
Not a guide!

54. Culturing Perspectives

Worthy builders do not tear down.
Worthy embracers do not let go.
Sons and grandsons never stop sacrificing.
Culture it in one self
and its virtuosity is authenticity.
Culture it in a family
and its virtuosity is sufficiency.
Culture it in a village
and its virtuosity is elders.
Culture it in a state
and its virtuosity is wealth.
Culture it in the social world
and its virtuosity is universality.
Hence use 'self' to view the self.
'Family' to view the family.
'Village' to view the village.
'State' to view the state.
'Social world' to view the social world.
How do I know the social world's condition?
With this.

55. Abstruse Signs

The thickness of implicit virtuosity:
Compare it to a robust infant.
Bees, scorpions, serpents, and snakes do not sting.
Ferocious animals do not seize.
Birds of prey do not take.
Bones are weak and muscles soft and yet he has a firm grasp.
He does not yet know to join male and female and yet he is completely ready.
This is the instinct's having arrived.
The whole day he babbles and he does not get hoarse.
This is the balance having arrived.
Knowing to balance, call it 'constant'
Knowing how to stay constant, call it 'discernment.'
Benefiting life, call it 'auspicious.'
The heart-mind's deploying life-force, call it 'coercion.'
When natural kinds are mature then old age sets in.
Call this not guided.
That which is not guided is early already.

56. Abstruse Virtuosity

Those who know to act do not speak.
Those who speak, do not know to act.
Shut up its exchanges,
close its gates.
Dull its sharpness,
undo its divisions.
Balance its brightness,
treat its particles as identical.
This is called the abstruse identity.
Hence we cannot obtain and be close.
Cannot obtain and be distant.
Cannot obtain and benefit.
Cannot obtain and harm.
Cannot obtain and value.
Cannot obtain and debase.
Hence we deem the social world as valuable.

57. Laissez Faire Politics

Use correcting to order the state.
Use shock in deploying military force.
Use absence of social matters to take charge of the social world.
How do I know these are so?
With this.
The more the social world has to elude,
the more the people are impoverished.
The more the people have beneficial artifacts,
the more the state and society are befuddled.
The more humans are skilled and clever
the more strange natural kinds crop up.
The more standards of behavior and commands are promulgated,
the more thieves and robbers there are.
Hence sages say:
I lack deeming-action and the people self-transform.
I remain calm and the people self-correct.
I avoid social matters and the people self-enrich.
I lack desires and the people self-simplify (become like uncarved wood).

58. Political Reversal

Its regime is torpid
its people are guileless.
Its government is critically discriminating
its people are deficient.
Calamity! The ground of fortuity.
Fortuity! The obverse of calamity.
Who knows its pivot?
It lacks a 'correct'
The 'correct' returns to be deemed unorthodox.
Worthiness returns to be deemed an apparition.
Human superstition
a truly old story.
Using this: Sages
square things without carving
Are fair without punishing.
Are straight without being arbitrary.
Are bright without dazzling us.

59. A Sensible Guide

In governing people and serving nature, nothing is better than conserving.
In general, only conserving
deserves to be called early readiness.
Early readiness: call it emphasizing accumulating virtuosity.
If one emphasizes accumulating virtuosity then there is nothing one cannot conquer.
If there is nothing one cannot conquer, no one knows one's limit.
Those of whom no one knows their limits
may take states.
The mother of taking states
is able to endure.
This is called the deep root and inherent base
Of the guide to long-life and enduring vision.

60. Skill at Ruling

Ruling a large state
Is like grilling a small bit of fresh food.
Using a guide to manage the social world
Its ghost does not energize.
If it is not that its ghost does not energize,
Its energy does not harm humans.
If it is not that its energy does not harm humanity,
Sages also do not harm humans.
In general, when both of these do not mutually harm,
Then virtuosity exchanges and returns in it.

61. Virtuosity at Using 'Beneath'

Those which are great states flow downward.
The interchanges in the social world!
The female of the social world!
The female constants using stillness. She conquer the male
using stillness to act out 'beneath'.
Hence if great states use 'beneath' on small states,
then they take small states.
If small states use 'beneath' on great states,
then they take great states.
Hence some 'beneath' in order to take,
some 'beneath' and then take.
Great states simply desire universally domesticating people.
Small states simply desire serving people.
So of the two, each gets what it wants.
The great fittingly deems 'beneath'.

62. Construing a Guide

A guide is a mystery among the ten-thousand natural kinds.
A treasure to worthy people.
That which non-worthy people sustain.
Beautiful language can be marketed.
Respectful behavior can augment humanness.
Those who are not worthy, what abandonment is there?
Hence, set up the master of nature and establish the three dukes.
Although one presents jade followed by a team of horses
It is not as good as sitting and promoting this guide.
That which ancient times treated as valuable was guidance.
How can we not say "with seeking you get to have it, with wrongdoing avoid unorthodoxy."
Hence construe the social world's value.

63. Origins in Reversal

Treat lacking deem-action as 'deem-acting'.
Treat having no social affair as 'social affair'.
Treat the absence of flavor as 'flavor'.
'Great' the small; 'many' the few;
Use virtuosity in dealing with moral anger.
Plan the difficult in its easy phases.
Deem-act on the great in its small phases.
The difficult affairs of the social world start with something easy.
The great affairs of the social world start with something small.
Using this: Sages, to the end, do not deem-act on it as 'great' and so are able to accomplish its greatness.
In general, light assent necessarily diminishes trust.
Much ease then necessarily much difficulty.
Using this: Sages make it even more difficult.
So in the end they have no difficulty.

64. Dealing with the Small

It is easy to sustain a situation when it is pacified.
It is easy to plan when it doesn't yet show signs of danger.
It is easy to dissolve what is crisp; easy to disperse what is minute.
Deem-act on it in its not-yet-exist phase; order it in its not-yet-disordered phase.
An armful of wood arises from small sprouts; nine story towers start from a pile of earth.
A thousand league walk starts with putting the foot down.
Those who deem-act wreck it; those who grasp lose it.
Using this: Sages lack deeming action, hence they lack wrecking, lack grasping hence lack losing.
The people in pursuing social affairs take the phase of nearly completed as constant and then wreck it.
If you are as careful at the end as in the beginning then you will lack wrecking things.
Using this: Sages treat not-desiring as a desire and don't value goods difficult to obtain.
Study not-studying and restore what the crowd of humanity has passed by.
Use restoring the self-so nature of the ten-thousand natural kinds and don't recklessly deem-act.

65. Unlearned Virtuosity

Those in ancient times who were good at deem-acting on a guide
Did not to use it to make the people discerning but to make them stupid.
People's being hard to govern comes from their knowing how to do too much.
Hence to use know-how to govern a state is the thief of the state.
Not to use know-how to govern a state is the blessing of the state.
Those who know to do these two things are also evaluated models.
To treat knowing to follow evaluated models as constant,
This is called obscure virtuosity.
Obscure virtuosity becomes deep! Becomes distant!
Becomes the reversal of natural kinds.
After it is so, then it achieves great flow.

66. Strategic Reversal

The reason rivers and oceans can deem-act as kings of a hundred valleys:
Is that they are good-at lowering them.
Hence they are able to deem-act as king of a hundred valleys.
Using this: if you desire to elevate the people, you must use language to diminish them.
If you desire to place the people first, you must treat them as less than your body.
Using this: Sages occupy the upper position and the people are not important.
Occupy the prior position and the people are not harmed.
Using this: the social world happily promotes and does not resent.
It's because he does not dispute.
So in the social world, nothing disputes with him.

67. Three Treasures

Everyone in the social world calls my guide 'great'
It's like not resembling.
In general only being great hence like not resembling.
If it resembled, it would long since have been small!
I have three treasures. I grasp and preserve them.
The first is called 'charity' the second 'frugality' and the third not presuming to deem-act coming before the social world.
Charity, hence one can be brave.
Frugal, hence one can be magnanimous.
Not presuming to deem-act coming before the social world, hence one can to fulfill the artifactual role of an elder.
Moderns abandon charity and are still brave.
Abandon frugality and are still liberal.
Abandon following and still put themselves in front.
Dead already!
Using charity in battle, one is victorious.
If involved in preserving then inherent nature will save it. Use charity to defend it.

68. Coinciding with Nature

Those who are good champions don't battle.
Those who are good at war don't get angry.
Those who are good at defeating the enemy don't engage them.
Those who are good at using people deem it as a something beneath them.
This is called virtuosity at not contending.
This is called the power of using people.
This is called on a par with nature--the apex of antiquity.

69. Profound Use

There are slogans for using armies.
"I don't presume to deem-act as lord and deem-act as guest.
Don't presume to advance an inch and withdraw a foot."
This is called "carrying out not carrying out.
Bearing non-existent arms;
Throwing against non-existent enemies.
Controlling non-existing armies."
No disaster is greater than taking an enemy lightly.
Taking an enemy lightly almost brings my treasures to grief.
Inherently, opposing armies strengthen each other.
Grieving then wins.

70. Difficulty in Knowing How

My words are profoundly easy to know.
Profoundly easy to perform.
In the social world none are able to know or to perform.
Language has an ancestor and social affairs have a ruler.
In general only lacking know-how--this counts as my know-how.
If those who know me are rare then things of mine are valuable.
Using this: Sages wrap precious jade in burlap.

71. Know-how as a disease

Knowing not to know is better.
Not knowing to know is a defect.
In general, in only 'defecting' defects, using this is not to 'defect.'
Sages do not 'defect' because they 'defect' defects.
For this reason they do not 'defect.'

72. Self-love

If the people do not fear authority then great authority has arrived.
Don't toy around with things they are at home with.
Don't despise things that contribute to their livelihood.
In general, only if you don't despise [them], using this [they] will not despise [you].
Using this: Sages start from what they know to do not from what they see.
Start from love not from value.
So they choose this and reject that.

73. Employing Deeming

If one is courageously presumptuous, then--killing.
If one is courageously non-presumptuous, then--living.
These pairings : one benefits, one harms.
That which nature despises, who knows its cause?
Using this, sages make it even more difficult.
The natural guide does not contend and yet is good at winning.
Does not discourse and yet skillfully responds.
Does not call and yet comes of itself.
Insensate and yet good at planning.
The natural net is all encompassing.
It is loose and yet nothing is lost.

74. Controlling Feelings

When the people are not afraid off death
For what reason would you use death to frighten them?
If you cause the people to constant fear of death
And yet those who deem: act deviantly, we take, hold and kill them,
who will dare do it?
Should we constant having a professional executor do the killing?
To delegate a professional executor for killing,
Is this called "delegating the great carpenter to chop"?
Those who delegate the great carpenter to chop are few.
It doesn't hurt his hand.

 

75. The Destructiveness of Envy

Starvation among the people comes from how much taxes-in-kind those above them 'eat'.
From this: they starve.
The difficulty in governing people comes from those above them taking deeming-action.
From this: they are difficult to govern.
People take death lightly because those above them seek life's richness.
From this they take death lightly.
In general: only those who don't deem-act using 'life' --these are worthies at valuing life.

76. Strength's Warning Signs

The human living state is soft and pliable.
The dead state is hard and rigid.
The alive state of the ten-thousand natural kinds --grass and wood--is soft and crisp.
Their dead state is hard and dry.
So things that are hard and rigid accompany death.
Things that are soft and pliable accompany life.
So if troops are strong they do not triumph.
When wood is stiff, it makes weapons.
When strength is great, its place is down.
When soft and pliable, its place is up.

77. The Natural Guide

The guide of nature: Is it not like a taut bow?
That which is high, represses them.
That which is low, raise them up.
That which has abundance, pare it back.
That which is insufficient, add to it.
The guide of nature is to pare back abundance and add to the insufficient.
If it's the guide of humans then it's not like that.
It injures that which is not sufficient and piles it on that which has abundance.
Who can have abundance and use it to pile it on the social world?
Only one who has a guide.
Using this: Sages Deem-act and don't rely on anything.
His work is accomplished and he doesn't locate it.
This is his not desiring the apprehending of worthies.

78. Recognizing Fidelity

In the social world, nothing is softer or more pliant than water.
And yet when it attacks firm, rigid things, none of them is able to win.
This is due to their lacking that with which to metamorphose it.
That the pliant wins over the rigid, the soft wins over the hard,
In the social world, no one fails to know.
[Yet] no one is able to execute.
Using this: Sages say, "Taking the soil of a state, this is called ruler of the world's grain alters.
Taking the non-auspicious state, this is being deemed the king of the social world."
Rectified language is like its opposite.

79. Recognizing Agreements

Settling a massive resentment
Necessarily some resentment will be left-over.
How can such be deemed as worth?
Using this: Sages grasp the left side of the agreement.
And don't demand from others.
Have virtuosity in supervising agreements.
Lack virtuosity in supervising taxation.
The natural guide has no kin.
It constants being with worthy people.

80. Primitivist Independence

'Small' the state and 'few' the people.
Bring about that having artifacts by the tens and hundreds yet they won't use them.
Bring it about that the people "weight" death and don't venture far.
Although they have boats and chariots, they don't have reasons to ride in them.
Although they have armour and weapons, they don't have reasons to marshall them.
Bring it about that humans revert to knotting string and use that.
"Sweet' their food; "beautiful' their clothing.
'Peaceful' their neighborhoods; 'pleasant' their customs.
Nearby states can see each other.
And hear the sounds of each other's chickens and dogs.
The peoples reach old age and death without any interaction.

81. Making the Essence Clear

Accurate language is not beautiful.
Beautiful language is not accurate.
Those who are good at [things] don't distinguish.
Those who distinguish are not good at [things].
Those who know-how are not comprehensive.
Those who are comprehensive do not know how.
Sages don't accumulate.
Although they use it to deem-act "others"
Themselves increase 'having'
Although they use it to give others.
Themselves increase in magnitude.
The guide of nature: benefit and yet do not harm.
The guide of Sages: deem-act and don't dispute.

Tao Te Ching Translated by T. Byrn

1

The way that can be told of is hardly an eternal, absolute, unvarying one;
the name that can be coded and given is no absolute name.
Heaven and earth sprang from something else: the bright nameless;
the named is but the said mother that rears the ten thousand creatures of heaven and earth, each after its kind.

He that rids himself of base desire can see the secret essences;
he that didn't and reached high being, he can see outcomes.
Still the two are the same; the secret and its manifestations came from the same ground, the same mould, but anyway sound different -
they're given different names where they appear.
They can both be called the cosmic mystery, awesome deep
or rather more secret than so-called mystery.

There's the deeper mystery: the gate and doorway from which issued all secret essences, yes, all subleties,
and the subtle mysterial opening homewards.
Call it the door mystery or golden secret of all life.

 

2

When the people of the world see beauty as beauty,
the notion of ugliness pops up along with that
And equally if every one recognize virtue as virtue, if they all know the good as good, the recognition of adjacent evil is wont to rise.

So: Being and not-yet-being interdepend in growth; grow out of another, they can produce each other.
And hard and easy interdepend in completion;
long and short interdepend. They test each other in contrast.
High and low determine one another and interdepend or distinguish each other in position. So it seems.
Pitch and mode give harmony to one another; tones, sound and voice interdepend in basic, functional harmony;
Front and back give sequence to one another.
The couples follow each other - interdepend in company, so to speak.

From this the wise man relies on doing nothing in the open, it's wu-wei. And he spreads doctrines without true or false words, by oddly wordless influence.
All things appear, and he hardly turns away from the creatures worked on by him:
Some he gives solid, good life, he hardly disowns his chosen ones.
He hardly takes possession of anyone under fair conditions.
He rears his sons in earthly ways, but neither appropriates nor lays blatant claim to any one.
He acts, but doesn't rely on his outer, visible smartness or miracle-working ability. He very often claims no credit.
At times he controls them, but hardly leans on any of them.
Because he lays claim to no credit, the handy credit can hardly be taken away from him.
Yes, for the very reason that he hardly calls attention to what he does, he isn't ejected at once.
3Stop looking for rare, moral persons (hsien) to put in power.
There will be jealousies among people, jealousies and strife.
If we cease to set store by products that are hard to get, there will be less outright thieves.
If the people never see such things as excite desire, their hearts can remain placid and undisturbed.
Therefore the wise one rules by emptying their hearts [like the clown]. He fills their bellies, weakens their brightness and toughens their bones,
ever striving to make the people without knowledge.

He sees to it that if there are any who are bright and clever, they dare not interfere.
Through his non-do actions all [such subjection] runs well [for some time].

 

4

Dao is like an empty vessel that yet can be drawn from
without ever needing to be filled.
It's without bottom;
the very breeder of all things in the world.
In it all sharpness is blunted,
all tangles untied,
all glare tempered,
all turmoil smoothed.
It's like a deep pool that never dries.
Was it too the child of something else?
We can hardly tell.
A substanceless image of all things seemed to exist before the progenitor that we hardly know of.

 

5

The universe seems without mercy, quite ruthless;
in that wider perspective all things are but as ritual straw dogs.
The wise man too is hard as nail; to him the people are but as straw dogs to throw.

Yet heaven and earth and all that lies between is like a bellows;
empty, yet yielding a supply that hardly fails.
Work it, and more comes out.
Whereas the force of words is soon spent.
It seems far better to keep what's in the heart.
So hold to the heart core and a regular mean.

 

6

The valley spirit never dies.
It's named the mystic woman.
And the gate of the profound woman is the root that heaven and earth sprang from.
It's there within us all the while;
draw upon it as you will,
you can never wear it out.
7Heaven is always, the earth, too.
How can it be?
Well, they don't live only for themselves;
that's why they live long.

So the wise man puts himself last, and finds himself in the foremost place,
puts himself in the background; yet always comes to the fore.
He keeps well fit; looks on his body almost as accidental, outer, something to be well taken care of;
still it always there, and always remains. He remains in the open by it, too.
He hardly strives for great personal ends;
his main ends seem fulfilled.

 

8

The highest good is like that of water.
The goodness of water is that it benefits the ten thousand creatures; yet itself hardly ever scrambles -
it seems quite content with the places that all men disdain.
It's this that can make water so near to some dao.
And if men think the ground the best place for building a house upon,
if among thoughts they value those that are profound,
if in friendship they value gentleness;
in words, truth, or sincere faithfulness,
in government, [bugbear] order;
in deeds: competence, ability, effectiveness;
in actions: timeliness and being properly timed -
In each case it's because they prefer things that hardly lead to strife, and therefore hardly go much astray or amiss.

 

9

Stretch a bow to the full, and you'll end up wishing you'd stopped in time; to hold and fill to overflowing isn't quite as able as to stop in time.
Temper a sword-edge to its very sharpest, and you'll find it soon grows dull.
When gold and jade fills your hall, can it be well guarded any more?
To be proud with things and glory given, could bring ruin. Wealth and place breed insolence and could slowly harm and ruin:
If your work is done, withdraw!
That's heaven's way. It can be opposed to lots of ways of man.

 

10

Can you keep the unquiet physical-soul from straying, hold fast to the unity and middle, and never quit it?
Can you, when concentrating your breath, make it soft like that of an infant?
Strive after less tainted perfection, let it be aided by penetrating insight. So wipe and cleanse your vision of the mystery till all is without blur.
Can you love the people and rule the land, yet remain unknown?
Can you in opening and shutting the heavenly gates, ever play the feminine part?
Can your mind penetrate every corner of the land, but you yourself never interfere? Can you renounce the grosser mind for comprehending all inside knowledge?

Produce things and rear well,
but never lay claims to such things -
control them, never lean upon them.
Rely on some innate ability to act well.
Be a sort of master among others, just refrain from mismanaging.
Here is found the essence of dao might, its deep, mystic virtue.

 

11

We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel; but it's on the space where there's nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.
We turn clay to make a vessel; but it's on the space where there's nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.
We pierce and cut out doors and windows to make a house;
and it's on these spaces where there's nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.
Take advantage of what is, turn existing into a great advantage: just make as much as you can out of it here.
Feel free to recognise the possible usefulness of whats not yet here. Prosper by clever use of something not yet.

 

12

The five colours tend to confuse the eye,
the five sounds of music can deafen the ear,
the five tastes all dull or spoil the palate.
Excess of hunting and chasing makes a mind go mad.
Things hard to get, keeps one on one's guard. Valuable things and products quite hard to get, can impede their owner's progress.
So the wise man is concerned with his tummy before his eyes. He can consider the tummy first, not the eye. That is: He disregards the world outside - "that", and he accepts, goes for and in the end grabs the supernormal powers dormant within - his daoist "this". Therefore he rejects the one but accepts the other.

 

13

Be glad for favour. Still receive favour or disgrace with regular apprehension.
Be cautious not to lose the winning sort of favour. Lower favour and disgrace can cause one dismay;
We can have fears because we have a self. Yet what we value and what we fear are as if within that inner sanctimonium self."

What does this mean:
"Favour and disgrace can cause one dismay?
Those who receive favour from above are dismayed when they receive it.
And should they lose it they turn distraught.

What does this mean:
"What we value and what we fear are as if within our serious self?"
Regard great trouble as seriously as you regard the body. One reason that we suffer hurt is that we have bodies.
When we don't regard that gross body as [most important aspect of self, what have we to fear? [Lao tse.]

And so, the one who values his experienced world as part of his exploring inner self, can then be entrusted with rule of something.
he who loves the all as an aspect of his sensing self -
The all can then be entrusted to his care.

 

14

Look at it, it can't be seen,
is called the invisible.
Listen to it, it can't be heard,
is called the inaudible.
Grasp at it, it can't be touched,
is called the fine formless..
These three elude all solid inquiries
And merge and become one.

Its rising brings no light;
its sinking, no darkness.
Unceasing, continuous,
it can't be defined,
on the way back to where there's nothing.
It's called shape free from shapes;
forms without form;
the image of nothingness.
That's why it's called the elusive;
Go towards them, and you can see no physical front;
go after them, and you see no rear.
Hold on to the dao of old to master the things of the present.
Master what once was, at the start,
It's the essence of rarefied, pearl-stringed dao.

 

15

The best rulers of old had fine natures, mysterious, too deep, they could not be understood.
And because such men could not be fully grasped at once,
they appeared to be
cautious, like wading a stream in winter;
at a loss, like one fearing and having to deal with danger on every side;
reserved, like one who pays a visit;
pliant and yielding, as ice when it begins to melt;
genuine, like a piece of raw wood;
open-minded like a valley;
and blending freely like a troubled, muddy stream of water.

Find repose in a muddy world by lying still; be gradually clear through tranquillity. You can assume such murkiness, to become in the end still and clear. And maintain your calm long in between.
So make yourself inert, to get in the end full of life and stir.
By such activity come back to life.

Who hugs this dao doesn't want to fill himself to overflowing.
It's just because he guards against being over-full, there's no overflowing, and next
he is like a garment that endures all, beyond wearing out and renewal.

 

16

Attain complete humility towards the void;
hold firm to the basis of quietude.
The myriad things take shape and rise to activity,
Now, I watch them fall, worked on,
back to their repose and roots
like plants that flourish
but return to the soil and root they grew from.

To return to the root is basic repose;
it's quiet and returning to some destiny.
To submit to a destiny is to find the eternal shelter, the always-so, or the eternal dao.
To know the eternal always-so is to be somewhat illumined.
not to know it courts disaster.

He who knows the eternal shelter has room in him for nearly everything - he is wide as tolerant.
Being much including, there's little prejudice;
to be without blunt prejudice is kingly;
to be kingly is to be well in accord with nature; it's to be of heaven.
To be of heaven in unison with an undaunted nature is to be in dao;
This dao is forever, and he that owns it, is hardly destroyed, even though his body ceases.

 

17

Of the best the people hardly ever know they exist;
The next best they flock to and praise for nothing.
The next they shrink from;
the next get reviled.
"Not believing people you turn them into liars" -
such bosses don't command the people's faith.
They lose faith in them and take to oaths!

The wise man is a clever ruler; he values his words highly.
It's so hard to get a single word from at any price that when his task is finished, a work well done, everyone says,
"It happened by itself, and we did it."

 

18

When the great dao declined,
jen and i arose, humanity and righteousness."
Next, when brightness and know-how came in vogue,
the great pretence fully started.

When the six family relationships are not in harmony
There's open talk of kind parents" dutiful sons" and deep love to children.
A confused country enmeshed in disorder praises ministers in chaos and misrule.

 

19

Banish wisdom, discard knowledge,
Then the people will benefit a hundred times.
Banish human love, just dump righteous, moral justice,
and then the people will be dutiful and recover deep love of their kin.
Banish cunning and skill, dispel profit; dismiss utility,"
then thieves and robbers will disappear.
These three things are not enough; externals are somehow
decorations, purpose's not enough; they tend to rob life and make it too little complicated.
Therefore let people hold well on to keeping accessories;
keeping simplicity to look at.
Go on and shield their internal soul's nature
as some ritual, raw block to hold,
their private, secret means and foster less ardent desires.

 

20

Abandon learning and there will be no sorrow.
Between Yes, sir," and Of course not", how much difference is there?
Between good" and bad", how much difference is there?
That which men fear is indeed to be feared;
alas confused, and the end isn't yet.

All men are wreathed in smiles, ever merry-making,
as if feasting after the great sacrifice, like ascending a tower in spring.
I alone am inert, like a child that has not yet given sign;
Like a new-born child that can't smile yet.
I seem to be without a home, droop and drift, as though I belonged nowhere, completely unattached.
All men have enough and to spare;
I alone seem to have lost everything; I am like one left out.
Mine is indeed the mind of a very idiot, my heart must be that of a fool,
dull as I seem - muddled, nebulous!

The world is full of knowing people that shine;
I alone am dull, confused.
I seem to be in the dark.
They look lively and clear-cut self-assured;
I appear alone, depressed, or patient as the sea,
blown adrift, seemingly aimless, never brought to a stop.

All men can be put to some use; as worldlings have a purpose.
I alone am intractable and boorish, appearing rustic, stubborn and uncouth, differing from most people,
But I differ most from others in that I prize no sustenance that doesn't come from the breast of mama mia.

 

21

The marks of great virtue follow alone from the (one) dao.
What's called one dao seems impalpable and vague, not to be measured at all.
Dao is an elusive, virtually incommensurable form, but eluding, elusive it contains sub-forms.
Within it lie idea-images of coming things, within it are some shadowy entities or some dormant, vibrant life force of the firstborn, dim essence - even of objects, somehow, but much rarefied - latent in the essence is the life-force.
The life-force is real and to be trusted.
It's true, and can be set to operate.
and latent in it are evidences.
From the days of old till now
its chunks havent departed or ceased,
By its chunks we can view some origin of all descended units.
How do I know a father of a thing? How to know how some origin of a manifestation is formed?
By much developed intuition, possibly.

 

22

"To remain whole, yield somewhat or seem curved and bent if you may."
To become straight, let yourself look bent.
To become full, seem hollow.
Seem tattered now, that you can be renewed.
Those that have little, can get more,
To have plenty is to be confused..
Therefore the wise man clasps the primal unity, testing by it everything under heaven by himself - it.
He doesn't show himself much, he is therefore luminous and clear.
He doesn't define himself, therefore he is distinct.
He doesn't boast, therefore people give him credit: he succeeds by that.
He's never outright proud of his work, and therefore it endures.
Because he doesn't contend, none in the world can contend with him.
So the old saying To remain whole, seem twisted!" was no idle word;
for true wholeness can only be won by return to dao.

 

23

To be always talking goes against nature.
For the same reason a good whirlwind never lasts the whole morning, nor a swell rainstorm the whole day.
The wind and rain emerge from nature. And if even nature can't blow, last or pour for long, how much less should man-given tenets?
So, he who takes to or follows (one) dao, becomes merged with (this) dao. Or if one uses dao as one's instrument, the results will be like dao.
Who follows virtue, is soaked by it. If one uses the power" as one's instrument, the results will be like the power.
If one uses whats the reverse of the power",
the results will be the reverse of the power".
Who is dao identified, could be glad as well. For to those who have conformed themselves to dao, dao readily lends its power.
To those who have conformed themselves to the power, the power readily lends more power.
While to those who conform themselves to inefficacy, inefficacy readily lends its ineffectiveness.
Who has not enough faith will not be able to get faith. Or:
"By not believing in people you turn them into liars."

 

24

Who stands on tiptoe, doesn't stand steady;
He who takes the longest strides, doesn't walk.."
He who does his own looking sees little, and he who shows or reveals himself is hardly luminous
He who justifies and defines himself isn't subsequently distinct.
He who boasts of what he will do succeeds in nothing;
Who brags doesn't endure for long. Who is proud of his work, achieves nothing well lasting.
Such people are like remnants of food and tumours of action from the dao point of view. Good braggarts could be dregs. So it's said
"Pass round superfluous dishes to those that have already had enough,
Such things of disgust all are likely to detest and reject in disgust."
So the man of dao spurns them. The man that has dao doesn't stay to bray and show off.

 

25

Before heaven and earth here was something nebulous, formless yet complete;
without sound, without substance, isolated, free from all form;
standing alone and depending on nothing, unchanging, operating everywhere, all pervading, revolving and without fail.
One can think of it as the mother of all
I don't know its true name. I call it dao.
"Way" is the by-name.
If forced to give it a name I can call it great (ta) .
Now such greatness implies reaching out in space, and also means functioning everywhere, or passing on;
Space-yielding or functioning everywhere signifies far-reaching. And passing on means going far away,
To go really far is to return to the original point. To reach far is a return. To go far away means to return.
So dao is great and far-reaching, and so is heaven, earth and the king.
For just as dao, earth and heaven each has its subtle greatness, so does the ruler.
There are four great things in the universe, and the king is one of them. So within the realm there are four portions of greatness", and one belongs to the king.
The ways of men are conditioned by those of earth.
The ways of earth, by those of heaven.
The ways of heaven by those of dao,
and the ways of dao by the Self-so's
Dao in turn models itself after Nature.

 

26

The solid is the platform of the light, and the heavy is the root of the light.
(Maybe firm integrity has to be the basis of light frivolity).
Quiet strength rules over activity, the not-so-active could be the big boss of the hasty.
So the wise man travels all day and never leaves his baggage;
he who travels all day hardly likes to be separated from his provision-chart:
However great and glorious the view, he sits quiet and dispassionate".
So the lord with ten thousand chariots can seldom allow himself to be light-spirited and lighter than those he rules. The ruler of a great country should never make light of his body - anywhere. In light frivolity, the controller's centre is lost; in hasty action, such self-mastery. If the ruler is light-hearted, the minister will be destroyed. If he is light, the foundation is lost;
If he is active, the lord is lost. [Maybe for ever.]

 

27

A good traveller leaves no track or trace behind, nor does fit activity. So a good runner leaves no track.
Perfect speech is like a jade-worker whose tool leaves no mark. Good speech leaves no flaws.
The perfect reckoner needs no counting-slips; the good reckoner uses no counters.
The perfect, shut door is without bolt nor bar and can't be opened.
The perfect knot needs neither rope nor twine, yet can't be untied. No one can untie it.
So the wise man is good at helping men, always good in saving men: the wise man is all the time helping men in the most perfect way - he certainly doesn't turn his back on men; is all the time in the most perfect way helping creatures. He certainly doesn't turn his back on creatures, and consequently no man is rejected. For that reason there's no useless person.
And he is always good in saving. So nothing is rejected.
This is called following the light (of nature) - is called resorting to the light, nay, stealing some divine light.
Truly, the good man is the teacher of the bad, as they say. But the bad man is the lesson of the good, in part some material from which the good can learn. And so the imperfect is the equipment of the perfect man".
He who hardly respects or values his teacher, hardly cares for the material or loves his lesson, is gone far astray even if well versed.
That's the fine secret.

 

28

"He who knows the male (active force), yet keeps to the female (the passive force or receptive element), becomes like a ravine, receiving all sort of things.
Being the all-encompassing ravine he knows a power that he never calls upon in vain. This is returning to the state of infancy.
He who knows the white, yet keeps and cleaves to the black becomes the standard by which all things are tested, he becomes the model for the world.
As such he has all the time the eternal power that never errs; and he returns to the limitless, a primordial nothingness.
He who knows glory, yet keeps to obscurity or even cleaves to ignominy,
turns into the valley that receives into it all kind of things. And being such a valley he has all the time a power that suffices. So he returns again to some pristine simplicity, returns to the state of simplicity: its the raw, uncarved block.
Break up simple awareness and it becomes shaped. Next it becomes someones tool in the hands of the wise man. For when a block is sawed up it's made into subordinates or implements.
When the wise man uses it, it becomes chief.
So the greatest carver does the least cutting, as they say. The great ruler doesn't cut up.

 

29

Those that would gain what's under heaven by tampering with it - Ive seen that they don't succeed.
For that which is under heaven is like a holy vessel, dangerous to tamper with. Those that tamper with it, harm it. Human go-between is likely to fail. Those that grab at it lose it. Who makes can spoil well; who holds can lose.
Among creatures of this world some lead and some follow. Some things go forward among creatures: some go in front, some follow behind -
Some blow out, some blow in; some blow out while others would blow in.
Some are feeling vigorous just when others are worn out. Some are strong, some are weak.
Some are loading just when others would be tilting out. Some can break, some can fall.
So the wise man discards excess, extravagance, and ridiculous pride: He discards even the absolute, the all-inclusive, the extreme.

 

30

He who by dao purposes to help a ruler of men, will oppose most conquest by force of arms:
such things are wont to rebound.
Where armies are, thorns and brambles can grow.
The raising of a great host could be followed by a year of dearth.
Therefore a good general effects his purpose and next stops; for he dares not rely upon the strength of arms: he doesn't take further advantage of a victory. He fulfils his purpose and does hardly glory in things he has done; effects his purpose and doesnt boast of a thing he accomplished;
fulfils an ignoble purpose, but takes no pride in something he did well; fulfils his purpose as some perhaps regrettable necessity - does it as a step that could hardly be averted and avoided. So he effects his purpose, but hardly loves violence. Why?

Things age after reaching their prime. What has a time of vigour (and conquest) also has its time of decay. After things reach their prime, they begin to grow old, which means being contrary to dao. Furthermore, morbid violence and violence in excess could be against dao. He who is against the dao perishes young. Whatever is contrary to dao will soon perish. Whats against dao will hardly survive.

 

31

Fine weapons are instruments of evil as soldiers can be: quite ill-omened things, often hated.
Those with fine dao turn away from weapons that are most often hated.
The gentleman favours the left hand side among people in peace; peace people are of good birth. In a fair peace the symbolic left is the place of honour. Yes, a good ruler honours the left and its good omens when at home, but in war this is reversed: On military occasions he favours the right side as the place of war honour. And so he honours the right of bad omens.
The durable, even when he conquers, does hardly regard weapons as lovely things. Weapons and soldiers can be bad and evil-doing tools. They're not often the tools of the gentleman and good ruler.
To hold them dear means to delight in them, and so to delight in slaughter of men.
And he who delights in the slaughter of men will never get what he looks for out of those that live and function under heaven. In ugly victory there's no beauty,
and who calls it handsome perhaps preaches slaughter.
Use of soldiers [and police] can't be helped, best policy is calm restraint.
Who delights in the slaughter of men wont succeed, wont succeed in ruling the world; and slaying of multitudes should be mourned.
A host that has slain men had better be received with grief and mourning rites; he that has conquered in battle had better be received and celebrated with some mournful funeral custom.. A victory is the grand occasion for funerals.

 

32

Best dao is absolute and eternal. As such it has neither name nor fame.
Its uncunning, cute naivet? the fabled raw block of wood, and it cant be used by anybody. None in the whole world can master and make use of such basic simplicity. Yet, though seemingly of small value, it could be greater than anything in the universe.

Good kings and barons can keep such unspoiled, inborn nature. If kings and barons would but hold on to it, all beings and things would submit to them well of their own accord. Yes, the best let heaven and earth join, so that the mystic sweet rain falls, all the time beyond the command of men, yet evenly upon all. Let heaven and earth unite to drip sweet dew. And the ten thousand creatures would flock to honour you; for the world would conspire much for sweet dew: Without law or compulsion, men would take up regulations and institutions, sort out names and [try to] live in harmony.

A human civilisation can rise once there are names [principles].
Once the block is carved, there will be such names; they're wide differentiations of things. But as soon as there are [principles and neatly differentiated] names, know that it's time to stop. Its well to know where to stop for calm and poise. As soon as there are names [and study] it's time to stop.

By knowing when it's time to stop, much danger could be avoided.
In the world dao can be likened to rivers that turn into wider rivers and eventually course into some sea. All will come to and be clasped by one and more such dao rivers -and to [some] dao all under heaven will come, as streams and torrents flow into a great river or sea [of universal dao].

 

33

He who knows others is learned;
but he who knows himself is wise, nay, in the end it could be illumined.
He who conquers others has strength of muscles;
To conquer oneself is hard. So he who conquers himself is strong.
To be content with what one has is to feel rich; so let the contented feel rich.
Next: He who works, may eventually succeed. And he one who acts with vigour has will. Even he who works through sordid violence can get his way - The determined one has strength of will.
What stays in its place can endure. He who doesn't lose his centre can last quite long, he who hardly loses his place (with such as dao).
The one ho dies but doesn't really perish enjoys long life. He who dies yet (his power) remains has long life. When such a one dies he should hardly be thought of as [too] lost; there's no other longevity [than long life].

 

34

Some great dao can flow everywhere. Like a flood it can go left or right. Like a drifting boat it can go this way or that.
All things [eventually] derive their life from it. It hardly denies or disowns them.
It accomplishes its task, but seem to claim no credit for it. It hardly takes possession of anyone, either.
So though it covers all there is like some garment, it hardly takes possession. It can clothe and feed all beings but hardly claims to be guru over them.
Therefore it can perhaps be called low and quite free from insignificant desires.
To turn into the home of all things, dont make any outer claims. (Implied; cf. Y)
See into how dao is by non-desiring empty mind. (Cf. Y)
Ten thousand [hungry] creatures obey a dao master and his ways, though they hardly understand it or how. Dao is called great. And the man who lives it or a dao repertoire is called great as well.
The wise man never strives [verbally] for the great. To the end the wise dao man doesn't claim any outer greatness. Thus [some degree of subtle Vossa-] greatness is installed.
And the wise man never at any time hardly ever makes a show of greatness. By such a dogged, keen strategy some [clowns] achieves greatness.

 

35

Hold the great symbol and great form of dao know-how. He who visualises or holds the great symbol form at its best can go about his work (in such as his empire), yet without doing harm. An then all the world follows. At last a lot of people will come and meet no harm. All in peace, quietness and security, commonwealth. All can enjoy comfort and health.
Sound of music, smell of good dishes will make the passing stranger pause. Yes, offer music and dainties, very good things to eat and the [odd], passing and wayfaring stranger will stays.

How different the words that dao gives forth! So thin, insipid, so flavour- or tasteless! Still dao is mild to the taste.
Looked at, it can't be seen. So look at dao; it's quite imperceptible. If one looks for dao, there's hardly anything solid to see.
If one listens for it, there's nothing loud to hear. We listen to this inaudible [thing].
If one uses it, its supply never fails. So use it; it's inexhaustible.

 

36

What's in the end to be shrunk can first be stretched. The one who is to be made to dwindle (in power) can first be caused to expand; and then it's necessary first to expand.
Whatever is to be weakened must begin by being made strong [enough for it first of all].
He who is to be laid low can first be exalted to power. So: first promote, next destroy. Or: To destroy, first promote.
What's to be overthrown must begin by being set up. He who would be a taker must begin as a giver.
And this is the fine art. of dimming" one's light.
According to this [set-up] the soft overcomes the hard; and the weak, the strong. [Such things can happens, but most often not, or what?]
Fish should be left in the deep pool, not taken away from water. And sharp weapons of the state should not be displayed, but left where nobody can see them.

 

37

The dao never does; it takes no action. Through it everything is done, yet there's nothing left undone.
If good kings and barons would master some fit dao and keep it, all things in the world should transform spontaneously.
When reformed and rising to action, let all influenced be restrained by the blankness of the unnamed, the nameless pristine simplicity. Yes, if after being transformed they should desire to act, someone has to restrain them with simplicity that has no name.

Its an unnamed blankness; it could bring dispassion; As such nameless pristine simplicity is stripped of desire. So to be truly, artfully dispassionate, be free of desires and still. Simple wit and sense is free of desires.

By stripping of desire true [yoga] rest is achieved almost of itself, the whole [body or] empire will be at rest of its own accord. And next the world [perhaps of somebody] could get at peace of its own accord.

 

38

The man of superior [scholar] virtue is hardly (conscious of his) virtue, and so he is virtuous.
Superior virtue is hardly (conscious of) its virtue. [Or could it be that superior virtue is hardly virtue at all?]
The high-standing man hardly ever shows off the has some supreme powers or prowess deep inside himself. He keeps such powers, and in this way he really owns virtue.
The man of low virtue is hardly losing virtue, and so he is devoid of virtue. The man of low virtue can lose sight of some virtue by never losing sight of it. Rather low or indecent power" can't get rid of the appearance of being some power'; [There's no scoffed, angrily sulking Messiah power'].
No one thinks a man of highest calibre acts. No one thinks he ever acts with ulterior motives.
The man of low virtue acts from himself, and very often with an ulterior motive - and is so regarded -
The man of super-kindness also acts, but with no irksome, ulterior motives. But all folks never think the superman acts.
The man of superior justice acts but has no ulterior motive to do so, and maybe with an ulterior motive, as he who is best in ritual acts not merely acts. (Yes, when) the man of superior morality acts and finds no response, he rolls up his sleeves and stretches his arms or advances upon them to force it on others.
So:
Only when dao is lost does [said] virtue arise. When [spoken-of] virtue is lost, only then does [a parade of] kind humanity rise. Such good kindness is lost, then (comes some sort of or endorsement of) just moral: When humanist riches deep inside are lost, only then comes [conform, outer-directed] normal righteousness. When righteousness is lost, only then propriety pops up.
[And now it stands up: Boss-given, endorsed] morality can be the thinning out of loyalty and honesty of heart and the start of chaos. [Inner, hearty] morality lost, then propriety or semi-ritual. So [much] ritual endorsement could be the mere husk of loyalty and promise-keeping. [And so, all in all,] good, seemly propriety is a superficial expression of loyalty and faithfulness, and the start of chaos or disorder.

Those who are the first to know, let words of dao flower, and in the end it's an origin of folly. From this the great or noble man dwells in the solid, heavy and thick (base), and not in the superficial or thinned (end). Yes, he dwells in reality, which is a fruit, and not in the show of appearances, or flowering (expression).
Therefore he rejects the one and accepts the other.

 

39

There were those in old times who grasped and were possessed of the one:
The heaven was much clarified by attaining it.
Likewise, the earth got stable or calm by the same [rotating] measure; and demon spirits or gods were spiritualised, became divine.
The valley likewise became full, the abyss replenished.
By staying in the one, all creatures lived and grew.
By staying in some basic unity, [Russian] princes and dukes became the ennobled of the people - That was how each became so.

Barons and princes direct their people [in some ways]. It's some inner fabric of unified wholeness that sees to it.
[Man-felt] heaven could soon split open without fundamental clarity. Without basic clarity, heavens might become torn.
Without resting, steady stability, the earth might quake and tip over.
Without spiritual power, the gods might wither and crumble,
Without being filled, the valleys might crack and run dry.
If the myriad things had not thus lived and grown all would end without the life-giving sustenance of power. Without the ennobling power, the honourable kings and barons in high places, even the directors of their people, might stumble, some overthrown.

So the humble is the stem upon which the mighty grows. Yes, humble oneness is the basis for all honour. So even the exalted ones depend upon the lowly for their base. That could be [one reason] why [Russian] princes and dukes call themselves the orphaned," the lonely one," the unworthy," or the truly ill-provided. Is it not true then that they [to some extent] depend upon common man for support, or on hard ruler might rooting itself upon humility?

Just enumerate all the parts of a chariot. and you still have no [unified construct, no] chariot
So [learn to] rumble like rocks rather than jingle like jade.

 

40

Reversion is the action of dao. In dao the only motion is a return;
and the one useful quality is named soft [or polite] gentleness, So polite or weak gentleness [or humility] is the function of dao.
The creatures and things of this world come from being. And being from not-yet-being. though all (???)

 

41

When the highest of men hear of dao and truth they put it into practice quite diligently.
When the common types hear of dao, they seem to be in two minds about it, half believing, aware and unaware of some.
When the lowest types hear of dao, they ridicule or laugh loudly - but if they did not laugh, it would be no dao.

The proverb has it:
The way out into the light often looks dark; one who understands dao seems dull, as dao which is bright appears to be dark.
The dao which goes forward appears to fall backward; the one who is advanced (in dao) seems to slip backwards; the way that goes ahead often looks as if it went back.
He who works and moves on the even dao [co-path] seems to go up and down; the least hilly way often looks as if it went thus, as level dao appears uneven.
Great virtue seems hollow and empty. The truly loftiest might looks like an abyss; superior virtue appears like a valley (hollow). Great capability is [granted to be] hollow. Yes, the loftiest is something abysmal.
Sheerest white seems blurred, sheer white is like tarnished; (most) purity seems like disgrace.
The most sufficing might looks inadequate; far-reaching virtue hardly seems to be enough; and great [and rustic] character appears to be not enough [but it's all the same].
The [organising] might that stands most firm seems flimsy. Solid character looks infirm; and solid virtue unsteady.
Whats in its natural, pure state looks faded: True substance looks changeable, and pure worth seems dirtied.
The largest square has no corners: great space has no corners.
The greatest capacities develop latest, and great talent could be slow to mature; as they say: The greatest vessel takes the longest to finish. The great tool and talent is slow to finish (or mature). Great tools do slow work. Great inside talent takes long to ripen.
Great music is far from course; [at times] rare, it could be hard to get, or hardly heard.
Great, hidden form has neither shape nor contour; as great here means of dao, [which is thought up as] hidden and without (overtly sounded) name.
Now, dao backs all things financially; dao alone skilfully provides for all - it supports all things and advances [some] to perfection. Well dao-lent power could bring us (some degree of) fulfilment. Skilled, able dao-lending (of some majesty and power) could bring [Christian] fulfilment.

 

42

Dao gave birth to the one; the one gave birth successively to two things, three things, up the everything, everybody and the whole world we know.
The ten thousand things carry the yin as some back or behind, and hug the yang in front. Through the blending of the pervading principles as some abstract union, and by a further blending [designing] the material force (ki) they can gain [sound] harmony. And so the union in harmony gets strong [and defences].
In other words, living beings can't turn their backs to the shade [such as cooling yin] without having the sun on their bellies [it could be invigorating yang], and it's on such (yin-yang) blending of so-called breaths that [most] harmony depends.
Most people hate to be diagnosed as lonely, unworthy, orphaned, needy, ill-provided. Yet princes and dukes style themselves so, and call themselves by these names.

Truly, things are often increased by seeking to diminish them and diminished by seeking to increase them." And sometimes things are benefited by being taken away from and suffer by being added to. And so it often happens that things can gain by losing and lose by gaining.

What others have taught, I teach also:
"Violent and fierce people hardly die a natural [elegant] death."
Yet, show me a man of violence that came to a good end, and I will take him for my teacher. I shall make all this the father (basis) of my teaching. [Uha.]

 

43

The softest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world. The softest substance radiates through the hardest. Also, what's most yielding can eventually overwhelm the hardest.
Formless penetrates no-crevice; substanceless it can enter where there's no space; all this could be not-yet-being entering and jostling non-space. That's how I know the value of action that's actionless. Through this I [also] know the benefit or advantage of taking no action.
There can be [sad] teaching without words. To teach without words can be best. Still few can understand such stuff. And there can be solid value in action that's actionless, or the advantage of taking no action. Yes, the [said] benefit of taking no action is without compare. Few can understand it.

 

44

Fame or one's own self, which matters most? Nay, which does one love more? Which should one love more, fame or one's own life?
Which is more valuable, one's own life or wealth? One's own self or things bought, the solid goods, which should really count most?
Which is worse, gain or loss? Could it be loss (of self) or possession which is the greater evil? [Which gain is the greater evil here?]
Therefore: he who loves most spends most. He who has lavish desires could spend extravagantly.
He who hoards much could lose much. Who hoards much is in for losing heavily if who has hoarded most could suffer the heaviest loss.
The contented man could meet no disgrace;
Who stops in time knows when to stop. Who stops in time nothing can harm if free from danger he can long endure and feel forever safe and secure. He can long endure who stays forever safe and secure -

 

45

What's most perfect [ambivalence] seems to be incomplete; [its] highest perfection is never impaired. The perfect seems to have something missing; [so have something missing]. Highest perfection is like imperfection, but its use is never impaired, nor its utility [at times].
What's most full [opening] seems empty; its use will never fail.
The greatest abundance seems meagre indeed, but its use will never fail.
What's most straight seems devious, maybe crooked.

The greatest skills seems to be [rustic,] clumsy. The greatest cleverness appears like stupidity, [(Demon skill seems like clumsiness. Apt skill seems clumsy, true cleverness seems clumsy.]
The greatest [harlequin] eloquence seems to stutter or seems like stuttering.
Hasty movement overcomes cold.
Keeping still can overcome heat. Tranquillity and staying still can overcome heat.
By being greatly still you'll next be fit to rule the world. Who is calm and quiet becomes the universe deceit. By his limpid calm he all the time puts right everything [as universal deceit].

 

46

When dao reigns in the kingdom, galloping horses are turned back to fertilise certain fields with their manure. If the world in accord with dao, racing horses are turned back to pull refuse carts.
When the world hardly lives in accord with dao, dao doesn't prevail or win. Next war horses will be reared even on a sacred hill below the city walls, and blatant cavalry will frolic in the countryside, driving and riding pestering war horses in suburbs in between. Dao does hardly prevail if war is on in city suburbs.
No lure is greater than to possess what others want.
There's no greater guilt than [sudden] discontent. There's (...) greater disaster than greed. [Eventually] there's hardly a greater sin than desire for possession.
No disaster could be greater than [...] to be content with what one has [in dire need and disabling poverty]. No presage of [airy] evil is greater than men wanting to get more.
He who has once known the pure [orgasm] contentment that comes simply through being content [at its peak], gets rather content-centred a long time after.

 

47

One can know whats happening all over the world without going out of doors.
One can see the dao of the big wide beyond here without looking out of ones windows, and see all the ways of that beyond-here.
Then, the further one travels the less one knows.
So the wise man can [at times] arrive without going and know without going about; he can understand much without seeing -
or achieve much without [visible] action.

 

48

The student of knowledge goes into learning a little day by day;
The student of dao reduces his assets by dwindling or losing a bit each day.
Learning consists in adding daily to one's stock, and the practice of dao consists in loose dwindling day by day. It could be subtracting till one has reached inactivity. By steady reductions [of certain sorts] you reach certain sorts of laissez-faire. So decrease and further decrease until you reach the point of taking no action.
[This is clowning.] By artful inactivity everything [bad] can be set in motion.
He who conquers the [inside] domain does so [mostly] by doing nothing. Those who once won the adherence of all who live here, did so by not interfering much.
Had they interfered, they would never have won this adherence.
One who likes to do, may not be able to rule a kingdom [inside or outside].

 

49

The wise man makes no judgements of his own. He has no rigid and plump ideas alone. Maybe no certain, opinionated feelings.
He uses the heart of the people as his own inner side and heart. People's opinions and feeling are then as his own.
He says:
Good ones I declare good; and I [often] treat those who are good with goodness, as I approve of the good man.
I also treat those who are not so good with goodness.
I often approve of the [said] bad; he gets goodness.
So bad ones I also declare good. That's the goodness on how goodness can be attained [by demagogy.]
The honest ones I believe; and [some] liars I also believe;
I am honest to those who are honest, and I am also honest to those who are not [so] honest. By such means great honesty, the faith of virtue, can be attained and the honest gets [closer to rueful] truthfulness.
In dealing with the world a wise man seems like one dazed with a felt fear, and while governing his [little] empire he has no subjective viewpoint.
So a wise man lives in the world in peace, and his bright mind forms a sound whole with that of his [dear] people.
Then they all lend their sense perceptions - eyes and ears - and he treats them all - infants as well. But sometimes again a wise man, dealings with some world, for the world's sake dulls his wits.
Where a hundred families all the time strain their eyes and ears, the wise man all-sees a people are brought into a fold of one heart. Next the wise man regards them as his own dear children.
At times the wise man sees and hears no more than an infant. [thats not much.]

 

50

He who aims at life could achieve his death. Out of living, death pops up. Who comes to life can go to death.
If three out of ten are life companions, then the same number are death companions as well. As such the latter are labelled death-spots: some take life, through activity, to death.
How is it?
Its much due to men's intensive striving after life; in part the intense activity of multiplying life. Some do feed life too grossly.
It's said that he who is a good preserver of his life can meet no tigers or wild buffaloes on land. Such a one could have a true hold on life,
If so, in battle or fighting he should hardly try to escape from weapons. He should neither get very much touched nor vulnerable to weapons in battle. [Cf. dont be there]
The wild buffalo cannot butt its powerless horns against him,
The tiger cannot fasten its then useless claws in him and tear him apart,
And much absent weapons of war should find no place to enter - cannot thrust their blades into him. [The absent part is always to blame. Demagogy]
And why? (Demagogy, thats why]
In him there's no room for death because he is beyond death. Others find no Achilles heel in him then and there.

 

51

One dao gives them birth, next hidden virtue and glory fosters them.
Matter gives them physical form. some get shaped according to intrinsic designs, perfected by first being allotted its primal strength.
Sets of circumstances and tendencies complete them.
So all things of the universe worship their intrinsic ways (dao forms) and honour virtue.
There's hardly one who doesn't honour inborn modes of living and standard accommodations, so in one way or other all who accommodate likeably do homage to set dao structure, and concomitant native, later, possibly unfolded growth power. Conclusion: all things of the universe honour dao and exalt good te without being ordered by anybody.
From this: the right praise always come spontaneously. And this is so of its own accord.
Proficient dao hardly needs any right to be worshipped, Hardly does its best fit, proper unfoldment prowess or power claim the right to be honoured. Its just like this: Some dao produces them and concomitant, abundant virtue fosters them. Said in other words:

The right dao gives them birth,
a proper te fosters them, Dao [deep structure] and might enough can rear and develop, can feed, nurture and shelter. In other words: grant some harbour of security, protect and give deep, strong peace in a place fit for that end.
Just the right dao could be a prolongation of some deft was always and of itself so.
Yes, the right dao gives birth, shields from storms, and seems hardly possessive. The right shields hardly lay claim to you.
Good dao bore you and the power" of dao evolved or reared you (a bit), made you grow [naturally, according to innate designs] brewed for you personally, sort of.
A man must rear others, control some, but never lean upon them.
By such natural designs just dao can act and also help, but it hardly appropriates.
Just be chief among them, but hardly manage them. This can be called the superior power. See: The superior power hardly controls anybody!
And this is the [program of developing fit] mystic might.

 

52

There was a [bang] start of the universe, call it the mother of the world.
Who has found that mother dao, also understands [some of] her sons (things) by it. From the mother, we can know her sons.
Having understood some sons, yet keep to the inner, subtle mother.
Who has known the sons will hold to the mother, for one's whole life can be protected from danger by it. [So they say.]

Shut down life's various openings. Close its doors, and till the end your strength may remain. Next, your whole life can seem without toil.

On the other hand; open the mouth busy about affairs, and to the end of life there will be no help or salvation coming to you [from the outer realm].

Good sight implies seeing what's very small. Seeing what's small is called [Zen] enlightenment.

Who stays by some good conduct is strong. So use the light and return to clear sight through the bright light of the subtle, shining inner realm [debated in Buddhism]
By this art, never cause yourself future distress, [but see well in advance by the inner realm's sight and bright light; or just psyche such things out,] thereby preserved from most harm.
This is called resorting to the always-so, or practising the eternal.
That act is also called to steal the absolute.

 

53

Once started on the great [lax] highway, if I had but little [Vossing] knowledge I should, in walking on a broad way, fear getting off the road. On the main path (dao), I would avoid the by-paths.
Some dao main path is easy to walk [or drift] on, but safe and easy.
All the same people are fond, men love by-paths, love even small by-paths:
The by-path courts are spick-and-span. And the fields go untilled, nay, exceedingly weedy. They're content to let their fields run to weed.
All the while granaries stand quite empty and some exceedingly empty.
They have elegant, in clothes and gown to wear, some furnished with patterns and embroideries,
Some carry sharp weapons, glut themselves with drink and
foods enjoyed beyond limit,
And wealth and treasures are accumulated in excess, owning far more than they can handle and use.
This is to [molest] the world towards brigandage, it's robbery as extravagance. In the end they're splitting with wealth and possessions. Wealth splits, tends to.
This cannot be a highway of dao (the way).

 

54

Well planted can hardly be plucked. Who is well established (in dao) can hardly be pulled away. The firmly grounded is hardly easily shaken.
Who has a firm grasp doesn't easily let go. Who has a firm grasp of dao can't be separated from it. A really firm grasp can't be relaxed.

Next, the ancestor's dao ways and means and their powers unite to carry the modern family on. From generation to generation firmly gripped dao [gyrations] shall be continued without fail. Such ancestral sacrifice is not to be suspended.
When one cultivates firm grasp or well modified ancestor disciplines in one's own life, things tend to go markedly well: If you cultivate, elevate and apply well blended, ad hoc modified ancestor ways and means, jobs, routines, accomplishments, such formerly seen, halfway "inherited" cardinal dao know-how at its best should be rewarding for yourself as an individual or person at its peak, and if so, your lifestyle could become suitable, even genuine, and its prowess likewise.
This spells such as: Apply the firm manas grasp to yourself according to "like father, like son" and you'll incur no manas problem, no such deep, unseen trouble -

From this:
Apply such inherited "firmly rooted strategy" and its various grasps to yourself, and by its id outlets and precious routines you'll be freed from much unsuitable dross.
Also apply best, united ancestor dao (or sakti) to your family or household and your household should flourish and thrive by this syncretic way of ways. [Honour your best father(s) at their best by doing in best footsteps under his wings, in his shadows - by such as halfway inherited or taken-op proclivities.]
Apply it to the village on a wider, social scale, and the village will be strengthened or more secure.
Apply it to the kingdom, and the kingdom could prosper.
Apply it to an kingdom, and it will grow.
Cultivated in the world, sour id-based handling sets could become all-embracing.

Therefore: Delve into how "well structured, planted or formed" some things that are instituted seem to be.
By delving back through own conscious stages as parts of yourself, you can in the end contemplate and ridicule yourself a little.
The person should be some family-and-ancestors embedded "thing" in its own right.
Next you can control your household by the united dao controls involved in it [allied to yin-yang structured cosmology].
According to (such well-planted, relations-structured schooled and trained virtue of) the individual, evaluate the individual;
According to (the same virtues of) the family, judge the family;
According to (similar blends of virtue of) the village, judge the village;
According to (the virtue of the statutes ) the state, judge the state;
According to (the crossed virtues of) the world, evaluate the world.
How do I know the world? It's from the cultivation of root-strong virtue from the level of the individual to that of the sour world - I know just by what's inside me and this, all brought together.

 

55

He who has a lot of mystic might also should be strong in secret able influence-might - quite free from getting harmed, at times like a tender child: full of childlike virtue at its best.
Then no poisonous insects should sting him. Fierce beasts should not seize him and wild beasts hardly attack him, clawing birds of prey should not pounce on and harass him.
The bones of this dear little one are soft and tender, his sinews tender, but his grip is quite firm.
He hardly yet knows about the union of male and female, yet his organs are fully formed and well, at times aroused. This means that his essence is at its height there and then, or means that the vital force is at its height. [It could be both.]
Such a one can cry all day without getting hoarse if his [libido as natural balance] is whole and healthy [for it]. If so it's well in accord with something eternal.
Now, to know eternity full well can be a discerning matter. To know bland harmony likewise implies to be in eternity, or if missed, it is to understand some [principle of] always-so by some degree of mental illumination. But to be well in accord with the eternal means to be free as a bird.

To fill life to the brim is to invite ugly portents, bad omens. To force the growth of life likewise spells ills. Some ready at hand or to come later on, maybe. Now, if the heart makes calls upon the life-breath, laziness or [yogic] rigidity can follow suit.
After things reach their prime, they begin to grow old, Whatever has a time of vigour also has a time of decay. Certain things age after reaching their prime.
Much is contrary to dao. Whatever is contrary to dao will soon perish. He who is against dao can perish rather young. Whats against dao could soon be destroyed.

 

56

He who knows doesn't speak (artfully). He who speaks hardly knows.

Fill your openings, shut the doors,
Dull all nasty edges. Untie all tangles.
Temper or soften all glaring light.
Submerge its turmoil as unified with the world: Let all chaotic hustle and bustle be smoothed down.
This is the called the mysterious [Vossing] levelling for bland unity or deep insider identification.

Love and hatred can barely affect the gods and supermen who are said to have achieved it.
Certain forms of loss can hardly reach up to this.
It can be hard to repel and shoo such an accomplished god-being, as it's impossible to be distant and indifferent to him.
He can't be raised, can't be much humbled, and disgrace can hardly affect him deep inside.
So he is already highest of all humbled creatures. He is to be so honoured by the world.

 

57

Kingdoms can only be governed if rules are kept; rule a kingdom by some normal standards and with utmost discretion.
Battles, on the other hand, can be won if rules are aptly broken. Operate the army and fight some battles by (unusual) tactics of surprise and attack.
Yet administer the kingdom by engaging in no activity. Win the world by doing next to nothing, for major adherence can only be won by letting well alone.
How do I know this will be so? By this:
The more prohibitions, ritual avoidances, and taboos there are, the poorer the people will end.
The more 'sharp weapons' there are, the more troubled and chaotic the state will be, and the more benighted the whole land will grow.
The more cunning craftsmen there are, the more skills of technique, the more vicious things will appear: the more pernicious contrivances will be invented.
The more laws are promulgated, the more thieves and bandits there will be. So: The greater the number of statutes, the greater the number of thieves in the end.
So a wise man decreed:
So long as I "do nothing" the people get transformed of themselves.
So long as I love quietude, the people will of themselves go straight.
So long as I act only by proper inactivity the people will of themselves grow rich.
I have no desires, and the people of themselves become simple as the mythological raw block'.

 

58

When the government is non-discriminative, lazy and dull, the people are contented and not spoiled, but quite generous. When the ruler looks sullen or depressed, the people will be happy and satisfied;
When the government is efficient and smart, searching and discriminative, the people are discontented, disappointed and contentious. Even if the ruler looks lively and self-assured the people will be carping and discontented.

Good fortune leans on bad fortune and bad fortune could rest on good fortune. Latent calamity is happiness, and sound happiness depends on some calamity. Fortune's route is a disaster; fortune is hidden disaster.
Who knows when the limit will be reached? Who would be able to know the ultimate results of good fortune?
They may be:
The normal will (in time) revert to deceitful.
There will hardly be any correctness (used to govern the world) any more.
The old correct will become the perverse again.
Some of the good we know of will again turn evil.
Few know it, but the people have been deluded for a long time.

Anyhow, there's a bourn where there's neither right nor wrong. It's in a realm where every straight is doubled by a crooked and every good by an ill. Surely mankind has gone long enough astray?

Therefore the wise man has firm, square principles. He is at times as pointed as a square, but hardly cuts or pierces.
His integrity is as acute as a knife but hardly cuts, hardly hurts (innocent others), so "he shapes the corners without lopping",
He is indeed straight, but doesn't extend his sway. He reaches his [most cherished] ends.
He is far from high-handed, he can be bright, but refrains from dazzling.

 

59

In managing human affairs, there's no better rule than to be sparing, which is to forestall. You can't rule men nor serve heaven unless you have laid up a store; Be [simply artistic] frugal, there's nothing better for serving heaven and ruling people.
To forestall is to be prepared and strengthened; and by being frugal in such ways one may recover quickly. To recover quickly means to accumulate [intense moral] rather much. This "laying up a store" means quickly absorbing, And "quickly absorbing" in the end means doubling one's garnered "power". Double your garnered power and it acquires a strength that nothing can overcome. By the heavy accumulation of virtue one can overcome everything. Be prepared and strengthened to be always victorious: to have infinite capacity;
If there's nothing it can't overcome, it knows no bounds, then he will acquire a capacity with limits well beyond anyone's knowledge. One can next overcome nearly everything. And only what knows no bounds is huge enough to keep a whole kingdom in its grasp. If his capacity is beyond anyone's knowledge, he is fit to rule a kingdom. Who has infinite capacity is fit to rule, but only he who having the kingdom goes to the mother, can keep it long. He who possesses he mother (dao) of the state will last long. The mother (principle) of a ruling country can long endure.
This is called the art of making the roots strike deep by fencing the trunk, It signifies to be firmly rooted, to have deep strength, for the roots are deep and the stalks are firm, road to immortality and enduring vision, the way of long life and everlasting existence is won by making life long by fixed staring.

 

60

Ruling a big kingdom is like frying a small fish.
They who by dao ruled all that's under heaven did not let an evil spirit within them display its powers. Such evil spirits did not display their supernatural powers; the spirits of wise men were hardly used to hurt other men. So when dao is employed to rule the kingdom, spiritual beings will lose their supernatural grip and cease to harm common people. And their supernatural power will far from harm people, and the wise man also will refrain from harming people. When both don't do each other harm, virtue (power) flows towards them. If the sage's good spirit is nowhere mobilised to harm other men, he himself can be saved from [deterioration] harm.

And so, if evil spirits and supermen don't harm each other, each can be quite saved from harm. Furthermore, some of their "tall abilities" could converge. If so, virtue can be accumulated in both for ulterior benefit or towards some common [soap opera] end.

 

61

A big kingdom can be compared to the lower part of a river, like the low ground which all streams flow down towards.
Here is a point towards which all things under heaven converge. Its part must be that of the woman
who overcomes man by simple quietude. By [such as] quiescence she gets underneath, and by tranquillity she is down under.

A big kingdom can take over [a soul of] a small one if it succeeds in getting itself below the small kingdom; If so it absorbs some from the small country, or wins some adherence of the small kingdom in the open.

If a small country on the other hand places itself below a big country, it can absorbs or take over some of the big country [assets]. Therefore some place themselves low so as to take over or absorb (others). Some are (naturally) low and absorb (others). Because small kingdoms are by nature in this way underneath large kingdoms, they [sometimes] win the adherence of large kingdoms [or end].

What a big kingdom is after is but to annex and herd others. So what large countries really need is a lot of inhabitants. What small countries need is some place where their surplus inhabitants can go and get employment. What they want can be little more that to join, be somewhat sheltered and perhaps serve for it all.

Both can have what they want; I say the large kingdom must "get underneath".

 

62

Dao is thought up as the mysterious secret of the universe, it could be the storehouse of "all things", like the pivotal worship centre in the south-west corner in the [old Chinese] house. It's the good man's treasure and the bad man's support and resort.

Fine words can buy honour, fine sayings can be sold. Fine deeds can win respect from others. The best conduct is a gift. Persons of noble, grave demeanour are accepted as gifts.
Even if a man is bad, when has (dao) rejected him? Why reject bad people [the winners of tomorrow if all goes fine]? Even the bad let slip no opportunity to acquire gifts that fit them well enough.

Therefore on the crowning of an emperor and appointing his three ministers of the state, rather than send ta disc of jade and teams of four horses, sit down and deliver this dao. It can be done without moving from one's seat.
What did the old ones say of this dao, how did they prize it? Why did they treasure such dao?

Did they not say of those that have it "Pursuing, they shall catch; pursued, they shall escape?" Or, "Search for the guilty ones and pardon them?" Or, "Those who seek shall have it, those who sin shall be freed"?
They thought [common] dao to be the most precious, the treasure of the world.

 

63

Succeed in the magician's wu-wei: Accomplish seemingly do-nothing.
Attend seemingly to no-affairs. And do completely without ado. What runs, acts without action, does without doing,

So let's taste without tasting. Taste the flavourless. Taste the flavourless without tasting. Find flavourless flavour.

Whether it's big or small, many or few, requite hatred with virtue.
Dao can make the small great and the few many, can requite injuries with some decent deeds. But prepare for the hard while it's still easy. Deal with it while it's still easy. Deal with the great or big while it's still small.
In governing your kingdom everything hard must be dealt with while it's still easy. The hard has to be dealt with while still very easy. All the great (ones and great problems) of the world are to be dealt with while they're yet small. Everything great must be dealt with while it's still small.

Therefore the wise man never has to deal with the great; and so gets greatness. He never strives for the great, by this the great is had.
So great undertakings shall start with what's small.

But again "Who makes rash promises surely lacks. Who lightly makes a promise, can find it too hard to keep his faith. And light assent inspires little confidence. Who takes things very easily is surely in for dealing with more difficulty in the end. So "many easies" means many a hard. In other words, who makes light of many things should find many difficulties.

From all this even the wise man regards things as hard, but he also knows how to make the easy difficult. For that reason he very seldom meets with difficulties. [Uha.]

 

64

What remains placid is quite easy to hold.
Not determined happenings can be prepared for well in advance. Before there has been an omen it's easy to lay plans. It's easy to forestall some things that don't are or not yet occur. It's quite easy to plan for and prepare well in advance.

[But such forestalling is had by thoughts, and thoughts are airy and can be tender and brittle, to say the least.] And what's brittle is easy to crack. What's tender is easily torn. What's brittle like ice is easy to melt. And what's tiny is easy to scatter.
[All the same, reach up to] deal with things in their state of not-yet-being; deal with things well before they appear. Just put things well in shape before disorder and confusion. Put all very well in order before disorder, and next go on to check loss or disorder well. A tree as big as a man's hug grows from a tiny sprout. A tower nine storeys high begins with a clod of earth. Further, the journey of three hundred miles began with ... the feet. A journey of a thousand li begins right where one stands, even with the very first step.
Still, he who takes a [visible forestalling] action fails. Who acts, harms; he who grabs, lets slip. And therefore the wise man doesn't act in the open, and so doesn't spoil or harm; yes, he takes seemingly no action and therefore hardly fails.
And why is this? It's due to: He who grasps things [often] loses them. He doesn't grasp a lot, he doesn't let slip a lot. Does hardly grab in the open, and so doesn't let slip a lot. He grasps nothing visibly to others, and therefore he doesn't lose much. Whereas people in their handling of affairs often fail when they're about to succeed at their tasks. Such people constantly spoil things when within an ace of completing them.

Be as careful at the end as at the start to avert failures at hand. Then there will be no such failures. Heed the end no less than the start, so that your valuable work will not be spoiled and ruined.
Therefore the wise man learns to seem unlearned, wants only things that are unwanted. Yes, the wise man publicly desires to have no desire. Therefore the wise man desires no desire - and desires all the same.
He doesn't often value rare treasures publicly. He hardly values objects hard to get or find - in public. He says he learns that which is unlearned. He claims he sets no store by products difficult to get, and so teaches things untaught. [It's a trap.]
But he also turns all beings back to the very thing they have left behind, so that he can assist in the course of nature somehow. And if so, "the ten thousand creatures" can be restored to their self-sameness, the self-so which is of [some] dao. Yes, he supports all things in some of their natural states.
This he does; but hardly presume to interfere all right. He hardly dares to act in the open. So he denies to take any visible action.

 

65

In old times those who practised a dao well, did hardly aim to enlighten people, but to make them ignorant and hold them that way. It seems that the more knowledge people have, the harder they are to rule. Maybe it's hard for people to live in peace due to very much knowledge.
So he who rules the state through knowledge is robber of the state; and who seek to rule by giving knowledge could be like [coming] bandits preying on the land. Maybe all who seek to rule by knowledge form the nation's curse, eventually.
He who rules a state not through knowledge is a blessing. Those who seek not to rule by knowledge, are the nation's blessing. To rule without giving knowledge could bring a stock of good fortune to the land. [And maybe not.]
One who knows these two things also (sets) the standard.
Always to know such an old standard is called to of the deep, secret calibre.
When such secret virtue becomes clear, outgoing, far-reaching, and lets things revert back to some guessed at source, all related things could return to some natural state. It could go all the way back to [brutal] concord and harmony.

 

66

How did the great rivers and seas become the kings of the ravines? By being experts at keeping low.
Therefore to be above the people you have to speak as though you're lower than the people in some ways.
So to be ahead of the people, you have to follow them in your own person. To be foremost or guide well, walk behind.

The wise man keeps himself on top, and the people hardly feels his weight or get crushed by it in time. He guides in this way, and the people don't harm him the least.
He can even walk in front [as an example], and people don't wish him harm. [Let's hope that.]
In this dynamic [guru] way everything under heaven will be glad to be pushed by him and will not find his guidance irksome. Then the people of the world are glad, the world rejoices and praises him without getting tired of it, in order to uphold him forever.

He accomplishes his aims by overt non-striving. Because he doesn't compete in the open, no one can compete well with him.

 

67

Every one says my dao is greatly like folly. Just because it's great, it looks like folly. Great ways don't look like the ordinary anyhow.
If it did not look like folly, it could have turned small and petty long ago! Then it would have been small. As for things that don't look foolish to common men, there can be no question about their smallness.

I have three treasures. Guard and keep them:
The first is a deep, deep concern; call it mystic pity, if you like.
The second is never too much, which may mean frugality.
And the third is refusal to be ahead, foremost or first, for I hardly dare to be ahead.

Deep, concerned love brings guts [or fall].
Through not doing too much, one has amplitude (of reserve power): Who has spared, may then give and seem generous.
Through not presuming to be the first and best there is, one can develop one's talent and strength; let it mature to dominate a world.

On the other hand,
to be bold by forsaking deep love;
to be generous by forsaking frugality-won reserves and clever, artful restraint;
and to be ahead and rushing in front by forsaking following behind;
all this could prove fatal in the end.

Ardent, loving concern can't fight well without conquering a lot. It shall help in the case of attack, and likewise to be firm in the case of defence.
When heaven is to save a person, heaven will protect him through deep love. Heaven arms those it would not see beaten, with all right concern. [Let's hope that.]

 

68

A skilful leader of troops is never oppressive with his military strength. The brave soldier is hardly very violent;
The best fighter doesn't become visibly angry; he hardly loses his temper.
A skilful conqueror doesn't compete with people. The great conqueror doesn't fight for small issues alone.
The best user of men acts as though he were their inferior and puts himself below them by the virtue of not-competing.

This is called the ability or capacity to use men, or matching heaven, or being suited to the highest found principle, [maybe of old]

 

69

The strategists say:
"If I dare not be the guest, then let me be the host. When I dare not take the offensive, then I'll take the defensive. If you doubt your ability to advance, then retreat." Also: "When you doubt your ability to meet the enemy's attack, take the offensive yourself."

Much of this his implies to march without visible formations; its in part like rolling up the sleeve, and yet presenting no bare arm. Or it could be like stretching your arm without showing the sleeves.

Confront well, present no battle-front yourself. Refrain from charging in frontal attacks, and seem to be armed without weapons. [Let that come as a surprise.] Hold a thousand weapons without seeming to have them.

Now, great calamity comes from making light of an enemy. There's no greater catastrophe than if a foolishly underestimated enemy robs and destroys your most cherished treasures. It could even destroy your topmost treasure, your old, dear body. Refrain from having an enemy at the price of losing your body and life. Remember: He whose enemy presents no front, could lose his booty.

Therefore when armies meet, the kind-looking man of sorrows could win [by such as surprise tactics. But often it's the opposite that happens.] Who doesn't delight in warfare in the open, he wins. [And most often not?]

 

70

My words are very easy to understand and very easy to put into practice. Yet no one understands them; no one puts them into practice.
But some of my teaching could have nature as a source, and also there's a principle-ruled ancestry in some of my words.
Yes, [some of] my deeds have a lord; my deeds could have [right] dao as sovereign.
Most men don't understand this, they're unable to understand me.

Few people understand me, and on this my real value depends. I am highly valued, for few understand me.
The wise man wears a coarse cloth on top and carries jade underneath his dress, within his bosom.

 

71

To know that you do not know is best. Who knows that he doesn't know is the highest. To know when one doesn't know is best.
Who pretends to know what he doesn't know is sick-minded; To think one knows when one doesn't know is a sort of malady. Pretend to know when you don't know - that's a disease. He who recognises this disease as a disease can also cure himself of it [and maybe not]. [One may eventually get free from a disease by recognising it for what it is.]
Who recognises sick-mindedness as sick-mindedness can't be wholly sick-minded, after all.
The wise man is hardly sick-minded if he recognises sick mind as sick and also cures some diseases. He's hardly a sick mind.

 

72

If the people hardly fear what's dreadful, something greatly dreadful could descend. If people have no fear of force, then great force descends. So never mind if people are not intimidated by your authority. Some mightier authority could deal with them in the long run.

Neither despise their dwellings nor narrow the living space of their dwellings. They could cease to turn away if you don't put them in jail. Don't dislike their offspring, harass or oppress their lives. Don't harass them, and they could cease to turn from you. Drop heavy taxes, and the people won't be fed up. If you don't persecute all, you'll hardly be so much disliked. They're not oppressed if you refrain from gross oppressive measures.

So the wise man knows himself but hardly shows off. Knows his own value, but doesn't exalt himself
Truly, "he rejects the one (brute force or enemicy) but accepts or takes the other (being some kind, sturdy neighbour)."

 

73

Who is brave in daring can kill or get killed [on a bus].
On the other hand, one who is brave in not daring, can survive or give life. Either approach can be profitable or unprofitable, still one of them is harmful.
Who is brave in non-daring without ado lets live. There can be some advantage and some disadvantage in each approach -

Now, "Dao-heaven hates the one it hates, hates what it hates; and none can know the reason why." Who knows why and what it dislikes? Heaven dislikes certain people; but the wise man considers it a tricky question. Yes, why heaven seems to hate - even a wise man regards it as a tricky question.

Well, it's in the fixed dao sets of heaven not to strive in the open, but none the less to conquer. Not to compete, but all the same win expertly. Be good at conquest without strife.

Dao hardly speaks, it skilfully responds. It comes without skilful invitation, it can appear without a call. It doesn't seem anxious about things and yet it shows up it plans very well. It gets able results without obvious design, as from hidden, laid, [broad] plans and schemes. [Say little, foster well laid schemes and designs.]

Dao-heaven's net is wide, with big, coarse meshes. Still it misses nothing. Nothing slips through.

 

74

When the people are not afraid of death, why threaten them with death sentences?
Even supposing the people are constantly afraid of death and we can seize and kill those who are unruly or vicious, who would dare to slay them? There's always the master executioner (Heaven). To kill in his stead is like thrusting oneself into he master-carpenter's place and doing his chipping for him. "He who tries it is lucky if he doesn't cut his hand," they say. To undertake executions for the master executioner is like hewing wood for him. It rarely happens you escape injuring your own hands. Now, often it happens as well that the executioner is killed -
And to take the place of the executioner is in part like handling the hatchet for the master carpenter. He who handles the hatchet for the master carpenter seldom escapes injury to his hands.

 

75

People are hungry because rulers eat too much income, too much tax-grain. Therefore they starve, but also because of bad interference from those above. Some turn hard to rule as their rulers do too many things. That's why they're hard to keep in order.
If so, the people are not very afraid of death, as they're anxious to make a living. That's why they take death lightly in such cases.

So: Those who interfere not with their living that are wise in exalting life. Maybe he who seeks only little after life can excel in making life valuable. But all that have hearts set only little on life could be superior to those who set store by life.

 

76

When man is born, he is tender and weak. In death he becomes stiff and hard.
All things, the grass as well as trees, are supple and soft while alive. When dead they become brittle and dried.
So hardness and stiffness very often accompany death, the soft and gentle could be companions of life.
The headstrong army will lose in battle. They say "the weapon that's too hard will be broken, the tree that has the hardest wood will be cut down". Yes, a hard tree will be cut down.
So the hard and mighty eventually should be cast down; and the soft and weak may be set on high.

 

77

Heaven's way is like the bending of a bow. When a bow is bent the top comes down and the bottom-end comes up.
So too could heaven take away from those who have too much, and give to those that have not enough. Take away from those that have too much and give to those that have not enough.
But this is far from man's way. He takes away from those that have not enough to offer those who already have too much.
The man of dao can fool enough and spare, and next give to the whole world.
So the wise man acts, but doesn't possess, accomplishes but lays claim to no credit.
If he accomplishes a task, achieves an aim, he doesn't wish to reveal himself as better than others. So he seems to claim no credit. He seems to have no wish to appear superior, no desire to display excellence.

 

78

There's hardly anything more yielding than [gas, air, and] water, but almost none is better in attacking the resistant and hard,
There are few substitutes for it.
Thus the yielding may conquer the resistant and the soft the hard. This was utilised by none I knew.
Wise sayings,
"Only he who has accepted the dirt of a country can be lord of its soil-shrines: can become heaven-accepted there. Who bears evils of the country can become a king. Who takes into himself the calumny of the world serves to preserve the state."
Straight words seem crooked.

 

79

To allay the main discontent, but in a way that begets further discontents, can hardly be top successful. And to patch up great hatred is sure to leave some hatred behind; how can this be regarded as satisfactory?
So the wise man keeps the obligation of a contract
and refrains from blaming the other party. He stays where he is and does not go round making claims on people.
Therefore good people attend to their obligations, while those without virtue attend to other people's mistakes.
The way of heaven is impartial. It's always with the good man, without distinction of persons, to keep the good firmly supplied.''

 

80

Let there be a small country with few people. Let there be ten times and a hundred times as many utensils and let them not be used.
Let there be contrivances requiring ten times, a hundred times less labour; they should not use them.
Let the people value their lives highly and not travel far. Bring it about that the people are quite ready to lay down their lives at times to defend their homes rather than emigrate.
As for ships and carriages, let there be none to ride.
There can still be weapons, but no one to drill seriously with them and none to display them often.
People should have no use for any form of writing save knotted ropes: Let the people again knot cords for reckoning.
Let them be very pleased with their food, beautify their clothing, be content with their homes, take pleasure in rustic tasks, and delight in such customs [just like Negroes].
The neighbouring place can be overlooked, can be so near that one may hear the cocks crowing in it, the dogs barking; but the people would grow old and die without ever having been there.
and never outside their country.

 

81

True words hardly sound fine. Nice words are far from always true.
A good man seldom proves by argument; he hardly argues. He who argues or proves by argument is hardly so good (as non-argumentative good men). Who argues [blatantly] is hardly (ever) a good man.
[All this is "Lao" arguing, debating or clowning.]

Brilliant wisdom is different from sordid learning. Much bookish learning can mean too little wisdom. Who has extensive knowledge is hardly a wise man.

The wise man has no need to hoard for himself. He lives for other people, seemingly, and grows richer himself if the more he uses for others, the more he has for himself - He gives to other people to get greater abundance.

Heaven's way is to sharpen and bless, all free from harm of cutting,
And the wise man's way is to act and accomplish without contending or striving.

Tao Te Ching Translated by R.B. Blakney

1

There are ways but the Way is uncharted;
There are names but not nature in words:
Nameless indeed is the source of creation
But things have a mother and she has a name.

The secret waits for the insight
Of eyes unclouded by longing;
Those who are bound by desire
See only the outward container.

These two come paired but distinct
By their names.
Of all things profound,
Say that their pairing is deepest,
The gate to the root of the world.

 

2

Since the world points up beauty as such,
There is ugliness too.
If goodness is taken as goodness,
Wickedness enters as well.

For is and is-not come together;
Hard and easy are complementary;
Long and short are relative;
High and low are comparative;
Pitch and sound make harmony;
Before and after are a sequence.

Indeed the Wise Man's office
Is to work by being still;
He teaches not by speech
But by accomplishment;
He does for everything,
Neglecting none;
Their life he gives to all,
Possessing none;
And what he brings to pass
Depends on no one else.
As he succeeds,
He takes no credit
And just because he does not take it,
Credit never leaves him.

 

3

If those who are excellent find no preferment,
The people will cease to contend for promotion.
If goods that are hard to obtain are not favored,
The people will cease to turn robbers or bandits.
If things much desired are kept under cover,
Disturbance will cease in the minds of the people.

The Wise Man's policy, accordingly,
Will be to empty people's hearts and minds,
To fill their bellies, weaken their ambition,
Give them sturdy frames and always so,
To keep them uninformed, without desire,
And knowing ones not venturing to act.

Be still while you work
And keep full control
Over all.

 

4

The Way is a void,
Used but never filled:
An abyss it is,
Like an ancestor
From which all things come.

It blunts sharpness,
Resolves tangles;
It tempers light,
Subdues turmoil.

A deep pool it is,
Never to run dry!
Whose offspring it may be
I do not know:
It is like a preface to God.

 

5

Is then the world unkind?
And does it treat all things
Like straw dogs used in magic rites?
The Wise Man too, is he unkind?
And does he treat the folk
Like straw dogs made to throw away?

Between the earth and sky
The space is like a bellows,
Empty but unspent.
When moved its gift is copious.

Much talk means much exhaustion;
Better far it is to keep your thoughts!

 

6

The valley spirit is not dead:
They say it is the mystic female.
Her gateway is, they further say,
The base of heaven and earth.

Constantly, and so forever,
Use her without labor.
7The sky is everlasting
And the earth is very old.
Why so? Because the world
Exists not for itself;
It can and will live on.

The Wise Man chooses to be last
And so becomes the first of all;
Denying self, he too is saved.
For does he not fulfillment find
In being an unselfish man?

 

8

The highest goodness, water-like,
Does good to everything and goes
Unmurmuring to places men despise;
But so, is close in nature to the Way.

If the good of the house is from land,
Or the good of the mind is depth,
Or love is the virtue of friendship,
Or honesty blesses one's talk,
Or in government, goodness is order,
Or in business, skill is admired,
Or the worth of an act lies in timing,
Then peace is the goal of the Way
By which no one ever goes astray.

 

9

To take all you want
Is never as good
As to stop when you should.
Scheme and be sharp
And you'll not keep it long.
One can never guard
His home when it's full
Of jade and fine gold:
Wealth, power and pride
Bequeath their own doom.
When fame and success
Come to you, then retire.
This is the ordained Way.

 

10

Can you govern your animal soul, hold to the One and
never depart from it?
Can you throttle your breath, down to the softness of
breath in a child?
Can you purify your mystic vision and wash it until it is
spotless?
Can you love all your people, rule over the land without
being known?
Can you be like a female, and passively open and shut
heaven's gates?
Can you keep clear in your mind the four quarters of earth
and not interfere?

Quicken them, feed them;
Quicken but do not possess them.
Act and be independent;
Be the chief but never the lord:
This describes the mystic virtue.

 

11

Thirty spokes will converge
In the hub of a wheel;
But the use of the cart
Will depend on the part
Of the hub that is void.

With a wall all around A clay bowl is molded;
But the use of the bowl
Will depend on the part
Of the bowl that is void.

Cut out windows and doors
In the house as you build;
But the use of the house
Will depend on the space
In the walls that is void.

So advantage is had
From whatever is there;
But usefulness rises
From whatever is not.

 

12

The five colors darken the eye;
The five sounds will deaden the ear;
The five flavors weary the taste;
Chasing the beasts of the field
Will drive a man mad.
The goods that are hard to procure
Are hobbles that slow walking feet.

So the Wise Man will do What his belly dictates
And never the sight of his eyes.
Thus he will choose this but not that.

 

13

"Favor, like disgrace
Brings trouble with it;
High rank, like self,
Involves acute distress."

What does that mean, to say
That "favor, like disgrace
Brings trouble with it"?
When favor is bestowed
On one of low degree,

Trouble will come with it.
The loss of favor too
Means trouble for that man.
This, then, is what is meant
By "favor, like disgrace
Brings trouble with it."

What does it mean, to say
That "rank, like self,
Involves acute distress"?
I suffer most because
Of me and selfishness.
If I were selfless, then
What suffering would I bear?

In governing the world,
Let rule entrusted be
To him who treats his rank
As if it were his soul;
World sovereignty can be
Committed to that man
Who loves all people
As he loves himself.

 

14

They call it elusive, and say
That one looks
But it never appears.
They say that indeed it is rare,
Since one listens,
But never a sound.
Subtle, they call it, and say
That one grasps it
But never gets hold.
These three complaints amount
To only one, which is
Beyond all resolution.

At rising, it does not illumine;
At setting, no darkness ensues;
It stretches far back
To that nameless estate
Which existed before the creation.

Describe it as form yet unformed;
As shape that is still without shape;
Or say it is vagueness confused:
One meets it and it has no front;
One follows and there is no rear.

If you hold ever fast
To that most ancient Way,
You may govern today.
Call truly that knowledge
Of primal beginnings
The clue to the Way.

 

15

The excellent masters of old,
Subtle, mysterious, mystic, acute,
Were much too profound for their times.
Since they were not then understood,
It is better to tell how they looked.

Like men crossing streams in the winter,

How cautious!
As if all around there were danger,

How watchful!
As if they were guests on every occasion,

How dignified!
Like ice just beginning to melt,

Self-effacing!
Like a wood-block untouched by a tool,

How sincere!
Like a valley awaiting a guest,

How receptive!
Like a torrent that rushes along,

And so turbid!

Who, running dirty, comes clean like still waters?
Who, being quiet, moves others to fullness of life?
It is he who, embracing the Way, is not greedy;
Who endures wear and tear without needing renewal.

 

16

Touch ultimate emptiness,
Hold steady and still.

All things work together:
I have watched them reverting,
And have seen how they flourish
And return again, each to his roots.

This, I say, is the stillness:
A retreat to one's roots;
Or better yet, return
To the will of God,
Which is, I say, to constancy.
The knowledge of constancy
I call enlightenment and say
That not to know it
Is blindness that works evil.

But when you know
What eternally is so,
You have stature
And stature means righteousness
And righteousness is kingly
And kingliness divine
And divinity is the Way
Which is final.

Then, though you die,
You shall not perish.

 

17

As for him who is highest,
The people just know he is there.
His deputy's cherished and praised;
Of the third, they are frightened;
The fourth, they despise and revile.
If you trust people less than enough,
Some of them never trust you.

He is aloof, as if his talk
Were priced beyond the purchasing;
But once his project is contrived,
The folk will want to say of it:
"Of course! We did it by ourselves!"

 

18

The mighty Way declined among the folk
And then came kindness and morality.
When wisdom and intelligence appeared,
They brought with them a great hypocrisy.
The six relations were no more at peace,
So codes were made to regulate our homes.
The fatherland grew dark, confused by strife:
Official loyalty became the style.

 

19

Get rid of the wise men!
Put out the professors!
Then people will profit
A hundredfold over.
Away with the kind ones;
Those righteous men too!
And let people return
To the graces of home.
Root out the artisans;
Banish the profiteers!
And bandits and robbers
Will not come to plunder.

But if these three prove not enough
To satisfy the mind and heart,
More relevant, then, let there be
A visible simplicity of life,
Embracing unpretentious ways,
And small self-interest
And poverty of coveting.

 

20

Be done with rote learning
And its attendant vexations;
For is there distinction
Of a "yes" from a "yea"
Comparable now to the gulf
Between evil and good?
"What all men fear, I too must fear"-
How barren and pointless a thought!

The reveling of multitudes
At the feast of Great Sacrifice,
Or up on the terrace
At carnival in spring,
Leave me, alas, unmoved, alone,
Like a child that has never smiled.

Lazily, I drift
As though I had no home.
All others have enough to spare;
I am the one left out.
I have the mind of a fool,
Muddled and confused!
When common people scintillate
I alone make shadows.
Vulgar folks are sharp and knowing:
Only I am melancholy.
Restless like the ocean,
Blown about, I cannot stop.
Other men can find employment,
But I am stubborn; I am mean.

Alone I am and different,
Because I prize and seek
My sustenance from the Mother!

 

21

The omnipresent Virtue will take shape
According only to the Way.
The Way itself is like some thing
Seen in a dream, elusive, evading one.
In it are images, elusive, evading one.
In it are things like shadows in twilight.
In it are essences, subtle but real,
Embedded in truth.

From of old until now,
Under names without end,
The First, the Beginning is seen.
How do I know the beginning of all,
What its nature may be?
By these!

 

22

The crooked shall be made straight
And the rough places plain;
The pools shall be filled
And the worn renewed;
The needy shall receive
And the rich shall be perplexed.

So the Wise Man cherishes the One,
As a standard to the world:
Not displaying himself,
He is famous;
Not asserting himself,
He is distinguished;
Not boasting his powers,
He is effective;
Taking no pride in himself,
He is chief.

Because he is no competitor,
No one in all the world
can compete with him.

The saying of the men of old
Is not in vain:
"The crooked shall be made straight-"
To be perfect, return to it.

 

23

Sparing indeed is nature of its talk:
The whirlwind will not last the morning out;
The cloudburst ends before the day is done.
What is it that behaves itself like this?
The earth and sky! And if it be that these
Cut short their speech, how much more yet should man!

If you work by the Way,
You will be of the Way;
If you work through its virtue
you will be given the virtue;
Abandon either one
And both abandon you.

Gladly then the Way receives
Those who choose to walk in it;
Gladly too its power upholds
Those who choose to use it well;
Gladly will abandon greet
Those who to abandon drift.

Little faith is put in them
Whose faith is small.

 

24

On tiptoe your stance is unsteady;
Long strides make your progress unsure;
Show off and you get no attention;
Your boasting will mean you have failed;
Asserting yourself brings no credit;
Be proud and you will never lead.

To persons of the Way, these traits
Can only bring distrust; they seem
Like extra food for parasites.
So those who choose the Way,
Will never give them place.
25Something there is, whose veiled creation was
Before the earth or sky began to be;
So silent, so aloof and so alone,
It changes not, nor fails, but touches all:
Conceive it as the mother of the world.

I do not know its name:
A name for it is "Way";
Pressed for designation,
I call it Great.
Great means outgoing,
Outgoing, far-reaching,
Far-reaching, return.

The Way is great,
The sky is great,
The earth is great,
The king also is great.
Within the realm
These four are great;
The king but stands
For one of them.

Man conforms to the earth;
The earth conforms to the sky;
The sky conforms to the Way;
The Way conforms to its own nature.

 

26

The heavy is foundation for the light;
So quietness is master of the deed.

The Wise Man, though he travel all the day,
Will not be separated from his goods.
So even if the scene is glorious to view,
He keeps his place, at peace, above it all.

For how can one who rules
Ten thousand chariots
Give up to lighter moods
AS all the world may do?
If he is trivial,
His ministers are lost;
If he is strenuous,
There is no master then.

 

27

A good runner leaves no tracks.
A good speech has no flaws to censure.
A good computer uses no tallies.
A good door is well shut without bolts and cannot be opened.
A good knot is tied without rope and cannot be loosed.

The Wise Man is always good at helping people,
so that none are cast out;
he is always good at saving things,
so that none are thrown away.
This is called applied intelligence.

Surely the good man is the bad man's teacher;
and the bad man is the good man's business.
If the one does not respect his teacher,
or the other doesn't love his business,
his error is very great.

This is indeed an important secret.

 

28

Be aware of your masculine nature;
But by keeping the feminine way,
You shall be to the world like a canyon,
Where the Virtue eternal abides,
And go back to become as a child.

Be aware of the white all around you;
But remembering the black that is there,
You shall be to the world like a tester,
Whom the Virtue eternal, unerring,
Redirects to the infinite past.

Be aware of your glory and honor;
But in never relinquishing shame,
You shall be to the world like a valley,
Where Virtue eternal, sufficient,
Sends you back to the Virginal Block.

When the Virginal Block is asunder,
And is made into several tools,
To the ends of the Wise Man directed,
They become then his chief officers:
For "The Master himself does not carve."

 

29

As for those who would take the whole world
To tinker as they see fit,
I observe that they never succeed:
For the world is a sacred vessel
Not to be altered by man.
The tinker will spoil it;
Usurpers will lose it.

For indeed there are things
That must move ahead,
While others must lag;
And some that feel hot,
While others feel cold;
And some that are strong,
While others are weak;
And vigorous ones,
While others worn out.

So the Wise Man discards
Extreme inclinations
To make sweeping judgments,
Or to a life of excess.

 

30

To those who would help
The ruler of men
By means of the Way:

Let him not with his militant might
Try to conquer the world;
This tactic is like to recoil.
For where armies have marched,
There do briars spring up;
Where great hosts are impressed,
Years of hunger and evil ensue.

The good man's purpose once attained,
He stops at that;
He will not press for victory.
His point once made, he does not boast,
Or celebrate the goal he gained,
Or proudly indicate the spoils.
He won the day because he must:
But not by force or violence.

That things with age decline in strength,
You well may say, suits not the Way;
And not to suit the Way is early death.

 

31

Weapons at best are tools of bad omen,
Loathed and avoided by those of the Way.

In the usage of men of good breeding,
Honor is had at the left;
Good omens belong on the left
Bad omens belong on the right;
And warriors press to the right!
When the general stands at the right
His lieutenant is placed at the left.
So the usage of men of great power
Follows that of the funeral rite.

Weapons are tools of bad omen,
By gentlemen not to be used;
But when it cannot be avoided,
They use them with calm and restraint.
Even in victory's hour
These tools are unlovely to see;
For those who admire them truly
Are men who in murder delight.

As for those who delight to do murder,
It is certain they never can get
From the world what they sought when ambition
Urged them to power and rule.

A multitude slain!- and their death
Is a matter for grief and for tears;
The victory after a conflict
Is a theme for a funeral rite.

 

32

The Way eternal has no name.
A block of wood untooled, though small,
May still excel the world.
And if the king and nobles could
Retain its potency for good,
Then everything would freely give
Allegiance to their rule.

The earth and sky would then conspire
To bring the sweet dew down;
And evenly it would be given
To folk without constraining power.

Creatures came to be with order's birth,
And once they had appeared,
Came also knowledge of repose,
And with that was security.

In this world,
Compare those of the Way
To torrents that flow
Into river and sea.

 

33

It is wisdom to know others;
It is enlightenment to know one's self.

The conqueror of men is powerful;
The master of himself is strong.

It is wealth to be content;
It is willful to force one's way on others.

Endurance is to keep one's place;
Long life it is to die and not perish.

 

34

O the great Way o'erflows
And spreads on every side!
All beings come from it;
No creature is denied.
But having called them forth,
It calls not one its own.
It feeds and clothes them all
And will not be their lord.
Without desire always,
It seems of slight import.
Yet, nonetheless, in this
Its greatness still appears:
When they return to it,
No creature meets a lord.

The Wise Man, therefore, while he is alive,
Will never make a show of being great:
And that is how his greatness is achieved.

 

35

Once grasp the great Form without form,
And you roam where you will
With no evil to fear,
Calm, peaceful, at ease.

At music and viands
The wayfarer stops.
But the Way, when declared,
Seems thin and so flavorless!

It is nothing to look at
And nothing to hear;
But used, it will prove
Inexhaustible.

 

36

What is to be shrunken
Is first stretched out;
What is to be weakened
Is first made strong;
What will be thrown over
Is first raised up;
What will be withdrawn
Is first bestowed.

This indeed is
Subtle Light;
The gentle way
Will overcome
The hard and strong.
As fish should not
Get out of pools,
The realm's edged tools
Should not be shown
To anybody.

 

37

The Way is always still, at rest,
And yet does everything that's done.
If then the king and nobles could
Retain its potency for good,
The creatures all would be transformed.

But if, the change once made in them,
They still inclined to do their work,
I should restrain them then
By means of that unique
Original simplicity
Found in the Virgin Block,
Which brings disinterest,
With stillness in its train,
And so, an ordered world.

 

38

A man of highest virtue
Will not display it as his own;
His virtue then is real.
Low virtue makes one miss no chance
To show his virtue off;
His virtue then is naught.
High virtue is at rest;
It knows no need to act.
Low virtue is a busyness
Pretending to accomplishment.

Compassion at its best
Consists in honest deeds;
Morality at best
Is something done, aforethought;
High etiquette, when acted out
Without response from others,
Constrains a man to bare his arms
And make them do their duty!

Truly, once the Way is lost,
There comes then virtue;
Virtue lost, comes then compassion;
After that morality;
And when that's lost, there's etiquette,
The husk of all good faith,
The rising point of anarchy.

Foreknowledge is, they say,
The Doctrine come to flower;
But better yet, it is
The starting point of silliness.
So once full-grown, a man will take
The meat and not the husk,
The fruit and not the flower.
Rejecting one, he takes the other.

 

39

These things in ancient times received the One:

The sky obtained it and was clarified;
The earth received it and was settled firm;
The spirits got it and were energized;
The valleys had it, filled to overflow;
All things, as they partook it came alive;
The nobles and the king imbibed the One
In order that the realm might upright be;
Such things were then accomplished by the One.

Without its clarity the sky might break;
Except it were set firm, the earth might shake;
Without their energy the gods would pass;
Unless kept full, the valleys might go dry;
Except for life, all things would pass away;
Unless the One did lift and hold them high,
The nobles and the king might trip and fall.

The humble folk support the mighty ones;
They are base on which the highest rest.
The nobles and the king speak of themselves
As "orphans," "desolate" and "needy ones."
Does this not indicate that they depend
Upon the lowly people for support?

Truly a cart is more than the sum of its parts.

Better to rumble like rocks
Than to tinkle like jade.

 

40

The movement of the Way is a return;
In weakness lies its major usefulness.
From What-is all the world of things was born
But What-is sprang in turn from What-is-not.

 

41

On hearing of the Way, the best of men
Will earnestly explore its length.
The mediocre person learns of it
And takes it up and sets it down.
But vulgar people, when they hear the news,
Will laugh out loud, and if they did not laugh,
It would not be the Way.

And so there is a proverb:
"When going looks like coming back,
The clearest road is mighty dark."

Today, the Way that's plain looks rough,
And lofty virtue like a chasm;
The purest innocence like shame,
The broadest power not enough,
Established goodness knavery,
Substantial worth like shifting tides.
Great space has no corners;
Great powers come late;
Great music is soft sound;
The great Form no shape.

The Way is obscure and unnamed;
It is a skilled investor, nonetheless,
The master of accomplishment.

 

42

The Way begot one,
And the one, two;
Then the two begot three
And three, all else.

All things bear the shade on their backs
And the sun in their arms;
By the blending of breath
From the sun and the shade,
Equilibrium comes to the world.

Orphaned, or needy, or desolate, these
Are conditions much feared and disliked;
Yet in public address, the king
And the nobles account themselves thus.
So a loss sometimes benefits one
Or a benefit proves to be loss.

What others have taught
I also shall teach:
If a violent man does not come
To a violent death,
I shall choose him to teach me.

 

43

The softest of stuff in the world
Penetrates quickly the hardest;
Insubstantial, it enters
Where no room is.

By this I know the benefit
Of something done by quiet being;
In all the world but few can know
Accomplishment apart from work,
Instruction when no words are used.

 

44

Which is dearer, fame or self?
Which is worth more, man or pelf?
Which would hurt more, gain or loss?

The mean man pays the highest price;
The hoarder takes the greatest loss;
A man content is never shamed,
And self-restrained, is not in danger:
He will live forever.

 

45

Most perfect, yet it seems
Imperfect, incomplete:
Its use is not impaired.
Filled up, and yet it seems
Poured out, an empty void:
It never will run dry.

The straightest, yet it seems
To deviate, to bend;
The highest skill and yet
It looks like clumsiness.
The utmost eloquence,
It sounds like stammering.

As movement overcomes
The cold, and stillness, heat,
The Wise Man, pure and still,
Will rectify the world.

 

46

When the Way rules the world,
Coach horses fertilize the fields;
When the Way does not rule,
War horses breed in the parks.

No sin can exceed
Incitement to envy;
No calamity's worse
Than to be discontented,
Nor is there an omen
More dreadful than coveting.
But once be contented,
And truly you'll always be so.

 

47

The world may be known
Without leaving the house;
The Way may be seen
Apart from the windows.
The further you go,
The less you will know.

Accordingly, the Wise Man
Knows without going,
Sees without seeing,
Does without doing.

 

48

The student learns by daily increment.
The Way is gained by daily loss,
Loss upon loss until
At last comes rest.

By letting go, it all gets done;
The world is won by those who let it go!
But when you try and try,
The world is then beyond the winning.

 

49

The Wise Man's mind is free
But tuned to people's need:

"Alike to be good and bad
I must be good,
For Virtue is goodness.
To honest folk
And those dishonest ones
Alike, I proffer faith,
For Virtue is faithful."

The Wise Man, when abroad,
Impartial to the world,
Does not divide or judge.
But people everywhere
Mark well his ears and eyes;
For wise men hear and see
As little children do.

 

50

On leaving life, to enter death:
Thirteen members form a living body;
A corpse has thirteen, too:
Thirteen spots by which a man may pass
From life to death. Why so?
Because his way of life
Is much too gross.

As I have heard, the man who knows
On land how best to be at peace
Will never meet a tiger or a buffalo;
In battle, weapons do not touch his skin.
There is no place the tiger's claws can grip;
Or with his horn, the buffalo can jab;
Or where the soldier can insert his sword.
Why so? In him there is no place of death.

 

51

The Way brings forth,
Its virtue fosters them,
With matter they take shape,
And circumstance perfects them all:

That is why all things
Do honor the Way
And venerate its power.

The exaltation of the Way,
The veneration of its power,
Come not by fate or decree;
But always just because
By nature it is so.

So when the Way brings forth,
Its power fosters all:
They grow, are reared,
And fed and housed until
They come to ripe maturity.

You shall give life to things
But never possess them;
Your work shall depend on none;
You shall be chief but never lord.
This describes the mystic power.

 

52

It began with a matrix:
The world had a mother
Whose sons can be known
As ever, by her.
But if you know them,
You'll keep close to her
As long as you live
And suffer no harm.

Stop up your senses;
Close up your doors;
Be not exhausted
As long as you live.
Open your senses;
Be busier still:
To the end of your days
There's no help for you.

You are bright, it is said,
If you see what is small;
A store of small strengths
Makes you strong.
By the use of its light,
Make your eyes again bright
From evil to lead you away.

This is called "practicing constancy."

 

53

When I am walking on the mighty Way,
Let me but know the very least I may,
And I shall only fear to leave the road.
The mighty Way is easy underfoot,
But people still prefer the little paths.

The royal court is dignified, sedate,
While farmers' fields are overgrown with weeds;
The granaries are empty and yet they
Are clad in rich-embroidered silken gowns.
They have sharp swords suspended at their sides;
With glutted wealth, they gorge with food and drink.

It is, the people say,
The boastfulness of brigandage,
But surely not the Way!

 

54

Set firm in the Way: none shall uproot you;
Cherish it well and none shall estrange you;
Your children's children faithful shall serve
Your forebears at the altar of your house.

Cultivate the Way yourself,
and your Virtue will be genuine.
Cultivate it in the home,
and its Virtue will overflow.
Cultivate it in the village,
and the village will endure.
Cultivate it in the realm,
and the realm will flourish.
Cultivate it in the world,
and Virtue will be universal.

Accordingly,
One will be judged by the Man of the Way;
Homes will be viewed through the Home of the Way;
And the Village shall measure the village;
And the Realm, for all realms, shall be standard;
And the World, to this world, shall be heaven.
How do I know the world is like this?
By this.

 

55

Rich in virtue, like an infant,
Noxious insects will not sting him;
Wild beasts will not attack his flesh
Nor birds of prey sink claws in him.

His bones are soft, his sinews weak,
His grip is nonetheless robust;
Of sexual union unaware,
His organs all completely formed,
His vital force is at its height.
He shouts all day, does not get hoarse:
His person is a harmony.

Harmony experienced is known as constancy;
Constancy experienced is called enlightenment;
Exuberant vitality is ominous, they say;
A bent for vehemence is called aggressiveness.

That things with age decline in strength,
You well may say, suits not the Way;
And not to suit the Way is early death.

 

56

Those who know do not talk
And talkers do not know.

Stop your senses,
Close the doors;
Let sharp things be blunted,
Tangles resolved,
The light tempered
And turmoil subdued;
For this is mystic unity
In which the Wise Man is moved
Neither by affection
Nor yet by estrangement
Or profit or loss
Or honor or shame.
Accordingly, by all the world,
He is held highest.

 

57

"Govern the realm by the right,
And battles by stratagem."

The world is won by refraining.
How do I know this is so?
By this:

As taboos increase, people grow poorer;
When weapons abound, the state grows chaotic;
Where skills multiply, novelties flourish;
As statutes increase, more criminals start.

So the Wise Man will say:

As I refrain, the people will reform:
Since I like quiet, they will keep order;
When I forebear, the people will prosper;
When I want nothing, they will be honest.

 

58

Listlessly govern:
Happy your people;
Govern exactingly:
Restless your people.

"Bad fortune will
Promote the good;
Good fortune, too,
Gives rise to the bad."

But who can know to what that leads?
For it is wrong and would assign
To right the strangest derivations
And would mean that goodness
Is produced by magic means!
Has man thus been so long astray?

Accordingly, the Wise Man
Is square but not sharp,
Honest but not malign,
Straight but not severe,
Bright but not dazzling.

 

59

"For ruling men or serving God,
There's nothing else like stores saved up."

By "stores saved up" is meant forehandedness,
Accumulate Virtue, such that nothing
Can resist it and its limit
None can guess: such infinite resource
Allows the jurisdiction of the king;
Whose kingdom then will long endure
If it provides the Mother an abode.
Indeed it is the deeply rooted base,
The firm foundation of the Way
To immortality of self and name.

 

60

Rule a large country
As small fish are cooked.

The evil spirits of the world
Lose sanction as divinities
When government proceeds
According to the Way;
But even if they do not lose
Their ghostly countenance and right,
The people take no harm from them;
And if the spirits cannot hurt the folk,
The Wise Man surely does no hurt to them.

Since then the Wise Man and the people
Harm each other not at all,
Their several virtues should converge.

 

61

The great land is a place
To which the streams descend;
It is the concourse and
The female of the world:
Quiescent, underneath,
It overcomes the male.

By quietness and by humility
The great land then puts down the small
And gets it for its own;
But small lands too absorb the great
By their subservience.
Thus some lie low, designing conquest's ends;
While others lowly are, by nature bent
To conquer all the rest.

The great land's foremost need is to increase
The number of its folk;
The small land needs above all else to find
Its folk more room to work.
That both be served and each attain its goal
The great land should attempt humility.

 

62

Like the gods of the shrine in the home,
So the Way and its mystery waits
In the world of material things:
The good man's treasure,
The bad man's refuge.

Fair wordage is ever for sale;
Fair manners are worn like a cloak;
But why should there be such waste
Of the badness in men?

On the day of the emperor's crowning,
When the three noble dukes are appointed,
Better than chaplets of jade
Drawn by a team of four horses,
Bring the Way as your tribute.

How used the ancients to honor the Way?
Didn't they say that the seeker may find it,
And that sinners who find are forgiven?
So did they lift up the Way and its Virtue
Above everything else in the world.

 

63

Act in repose;
Be at rest when you work;
Relish unflavored things.
Great or small,
Frequent or rare,
Requite anger with virtue.

Take hard jobs in hand
While they are easy;
And great affairs too
While they are small.
The troubles of the world
Cannot be solved except
Before they grow too hard.
The business of the world
Cannot be done except
While relatively small.
The Wise Man, then, throughout his life
Does nothing great and yet achieves
A greatness of his own.

Again, a promise lightly made
Inspires little confidence;
Or often trivial, sure that man
Will often come to grief.
Choosing hardship, then, the Wise Man
Never meets with hardship all his life.

 

64

A thing that is still is easy to hold.
Given no omen, it is easy to plan.
Soft things are easy to melt.
Small particles scatter easily.
The time to take care is before it is done.
Establish order before confusion sets in.
Tree trunks around which you can reach with
your arms were at first only minuscule sprouts.
A nine-storied terrace began with a clod.
A thousand-mile journey began with a foot put down.

Doing spoils it, grabbing misses it;
So the Wise Man refrains from doing
and doesn't spoil anything;
He grabs at nothing so never misses.

People are constantly spoiling a project
when it lacks only a step to completion.
To avoid making a mess of it,
be as careful of the end as you were of the beginning.
So the Wise Man wants the unwanted;
he sets no high value on anything
because it is hard to get.
He studies what others neglect
and restores to the world what multitudes have passed by.
His object is to restore everything to its natural course,
but he dares take no steps to that end.

 

65

Those ancients who were skilled in the Way
Did not enlighten people by their rule
But had them ever held in ignorance:
The more the folk know what is going on
The harder it becomes to govern them.

For public knowledge of the government
Is such a thief that it will spoil the realm;
But when good fortune brings good times to all
The land is ruled without publicity.
To know the difference between these two
Involves a standard to be sought and found.

To know that standard always, everywhere,
Is mystic Virtue, justly known as such;
Which Virtue is so deep and reaching far,
It causes a return, things go back
To that prime concord which at first all shared.

 

66

How could the rivers and the seas
Become like kings to valleys?
Because of skill in lowliness
They have become the valley's lords.

So then to be above the folk,
You speak as if you were beneath;
And if you wish to be out front,
Then act as if you were behind.

The Wise Man so is up above
But is no burden to the folk;
His station is ahead of them
To see they do not come to harm.

The world will gladly help along
The Wise Man and will bear no grudge.
Since he contends not for his own
The world will not contend with him.

 

67

Everywhere, they say the Way, our doctrine,
Is so very like detested folly;
But greatness of its own alone explains
Why it should be thus held beyond the pale.
If it were only orthodox, long since
It would have seemed a small and petty thing!

I have to keep three treasures well secured:
The first, compassion; next, frugality;
And third, I say that never would I once
Presume that I should be the whole world's chief.

Given compassion, I can take courage;
Given frugality, I can abound;
If I can be the world's most humble man,
Then I can be its highest instrument.

Bravery today knows no compassion;
Abundance is, without frugality,
And eminence without humility:
This is the death indeed of all our hope.

In battle, 'tis compassion wins the day;
Defending, 'tis compassion that is firm:
Compassion arms the people God would save!

 

68

A skillful soldier is not violent;
An able fighter does not rage;
A mighty conqueror does not give battle;
A great commander is a humble man.

You may call this pacific virtue;
Or say that it is mastery of men;
Or that it is rising to the measure of God,
Or to the stature of the ancients.

 

69

The strategists have a saying:

"If I cannot be host,
Then let me be guest.
But if I dare not advance
Even an inch,
Then let me retire a foot."
This is what they call
A campaign without a march,
Sleeves up but no bare arms,
Shooting but no enemies,
Or arming without weapons.
Than helpless enemies, nothing is worse:
To them I lose my treasures.
When opposing enemies meet,
The compassionate man is the winner!

 

70

My words are easy just to understand:
To live by them is very easy too;
Yet it appears that none in all the world
Can understand or make them come to life.

My words have ancestors, my works a prince;
Since none know this, unknown I too remain.
But honor comes to me when least I'm known:
The Wise Man, with a jewel in his breast,
Goes clad in garments made of shoddy stuff.

 

71

To know that you are ignorant is best;
To know what you do not, is a disease;
But if you recognize the malady
Of mind for what it is, then that is health.

The Wise Man has indeed a healthy mind;
He sees an aberration as it is
And for that reason never will be ill.

 

72

If people do not dread your majesty,
A greater dread will yet descend on them.
See then you do not cramp their dwelling place,
Or immolate their children or their stock,
Nor anger them by your own angry ways.

It is the Wise Man's way to know himself,
And never to reveal his inward thoughts;
He loves himself but so, is not set up;
He chooses this in preference to that.

 

73

A brave man who dares to, will kill;
A brave man who dares not, spares life;
And from them both come good and ill;
"God hates some folks, but who knows why?"
The Wise Man hesitates there too:
God's Way is bound to conquer all
But not by strife does it proceed.

Not by words does God get answers:
He calls them not and all things come.
Master plans unfold but slowly,
Like God's wide net enclosing all:
Its mesh is coarse but none are lost.

 

74

The people do not fear at all to die;
What's gained therefore by threatening them with death?
If you could always make them fear decease,
As if it were a strange event and rare,
Who then would dare to take and slaughter them?
The executioner is always set
To slay, but those who substitute for him
Are like would-be master carpenters
Who try to chop as that skilled craftsman does
And nearly always mangle their own hands!

 

75

The people starve because of those
Above them, who consume by tax
In grain and kind more than their right.
For this, the people are in want.

The people are so hard to rule
Because of those who are above them,
Whose interference makes distress.
For this, they are so hard to rule.

The people do not fear to die;
They too demand to live secure:
For this, they do not fear to die.
So they, without the means to live,
In virtue rise above those men
Who value life above its worth.

 

76

Alive, a man is supple, soft;
In death, unbending, rigorous.
All creatures, grass and trees, alive
Are plastic but are pliat too,
And dead, are friable and dry.

Unbending rigor is the mate of death,
And wielding softness, company of life:
Unbending soldiers get no victories;
The stiffest tree is readiest for the ax.
The strong and mighty topple from their place;
The soft and yielding rise above them all.
77Is not God's Way much like a bow well bent?
The upper part has been disturbed, pressed down;
The lower part is raised up from its place;
The slack is taken up; the slender width
Is broader drawn; for thus the Way of God
Cuts people down when they have had too much,
And fills the bowls of those who are in want.
But not the way of man will work like this:
The people who have not enough are spoiled
For tribute to the rich and surfeited.

Who can benefit the world
From stored abundance of his own?
He alone who has the Way,
The Wise Man who can act apart
And not depend on others' whims;
But not because of his high rank
Will he succeed; he does not wish
To flaunt superiority.

 

78

Nothing is weaker than water,
But when it attacks something hard
Or resistant, then nothing withstands it,
And nothing will alter its way.

Everyone knows this, that weakness prevails
Over strength and that gentleness conquers
The adamant hindrance of men, but that
Nobody demonstrates how it is so.

Because of this the Wise Man says
That only one who bears the nations shame
Is fit to be its hallowed lord;
That only one who takes upon himself
The evils of the world may be its king.

This is paradox.

 

79

How can you think it is good
To settle a grievance too great
To ignore, when the settlement
Surely evokes other piques?

The Wise Man therefore will select
The left-hand part of contract tallies:
He will not put the debt on other men.
This virtuous man promotes agreement;
The vicious man allots the blame.

"Impartial though the Way of God may be,
It always favors good men."

 

80

The ideal land is small
Its people very few,
Where tools abound
Ten times or yet
A hundred-fold
Beyond their use;
Where people die
And die again
But never emigrate;
Have boats and carts
Which no one rides.
Weapons have they
And armor too,
But none displayed.
The folk returns
To use again
The knotted chords.
Their meat is sweet;
Their clothes adorned,
Their homes at peace,
Their customs charm.

And neighbor lands
Are juxtaposed
So each may hear
The barking dogs,
The crowing cocks
Across the way;
Where folks grow old
And folks will die
And never once
Exchange a call.

81

As honest words may not sound fine,
Fine words may not be honest ones;
A good man does not argue, and
An arguer may not be good!
The knowers are not learned men
And learned men may never know.

The Wise Man does not hoard his things;
Hard-pressed, from serving other men,
He has enough and some to spare;
But having given all he had,
He then is very rich indeed.

God's Way is gain that works no harm;
The Wise Man's way, to do his work
Without contending for a crown.

Tao Te Ching Translated by C. Ganson

1

The Tao described in words is not the real Tao.
Words cannot describe it.
Nameless, it is the source of creation.
Named, it is the mother of all things.

To see Tao the observer must be motiveless.
Those with selfish motives see only
the surface, not the innermost depths.

These two kinds of observers look alike,
but differ in the insight of their observations.
They look alike because they are both human.
Within humanity is the key to the door of creation.

 

2

Whenever the most beautiful is perceived
ugliness arises, the least beautiful.
Whenever good is perceived
evil exists, its natural opposite.

Perception involves opposites:
Reality and fantasy are opposing thoughts.
Difficult and simple oppose in degree.
Long and short oppose in distance.
High and low oppose in height.
Shrill and deep oppose in tone.
Before and after oppose in sequence.

The truly wise accept this,
and they work diligently
without allegiance to words.
They teach by doing, not by saying;
are genuinely helpful, not discriminating;
are positive, not possessive.
They do not proclaim their accomplishments,
and because they do not proclaim them,
credit for them can never be taken away.

 

3

Leaders Work Humbly

Leaders should not seek power or status;
people will not then crave power or status.
If scarce goods are not valued highly,
people will have no need to steal them.
If there is nothing available to arouse passion,
people will remain content and satisfied.

The truly wise do lead
by instilling humility and open-mindedness,
by providing for fair livelihoods,
by discouraging personal ambition,
by strengthening the bone-structure of the people.

The wise avoid evil and radical reform;
thus the foolish do not obstruct them.
They work serenely, with inner quiet.

 

4

Tao is a vast immeasurable void.
It can be used to infinity.
It is truly inexhaustible.

Like nature, it appears to be the origin of everything.
In it, conflicts (sharp edges) are satisfied (rounded).
Differences (tangles) are resolved (untied).
Observations (light) are clarified (tempered).
Disturbances (turmoil) are quieted (submerged).

It is like a deep dark pool.
I do not know its source.
It is like a prelude to nature,
a preface to God.

 

5

Nature is indifferent to life.
It realizes everything is as a straw dog
(a sacrificial animal-image).
The truly wise are also indifferent to life.
They realize humanity is as a straw dog.

The universe is like a bellows:
empty, yet quite full.
As it proceeds, it produces.

Much talk, much exhaustion.
Keep your thoughts within!

 

6

The concept of Yin is ever present.
It is the Mystic Female from whom
the heavens and the earth originate.

Constantly, continuously, enduring always.
Use her!

 

7

The heavens endure; the earth is very old. Why?
Because they do not exist for themselves,
they therefore have long life.

The truly wise are content to be last;
they are therefore first.
They are indifferent to themselves;
they are therefore self-confident.

Perhaps because they do not exist for themselves
they find complete fulfillment.

 

8

The highest motive is to be like water.
Water is essential to all life,
yet it does not demand a fee
or proclaim its importance.
Rather, it flows humbly to the lowest level,
and in so doing it is much like Tao.

In the home the truly wise love the humble earth,
the foundation on which the home is built.
In the heart they love what is genuine.
In friendship they are compassionate.
In words they are sincere.
In government they foster peace and goodwill.
In business they work with quiet efficiency.

Serenity is the goal of Tao.
Through it nothing is lost.

 

9

There is a danger in extremes:

Pull a bowstring too far,
and you wish you had let go before.
Hone a sword-edge too sharp,
and the edge will wear too soon.
Fill your house with gold and jade,
and you invite thieves.
Be proud and arrogant over good fortune,
and you prepare your own downfall.

When you have reached your goal,
be satisfied to go no further.
This is the way of Tao.

 

10

Can you control your mind
so that it never strays from the way of Tao?
Can you control your breathing
so that it is soft and gentle
like a new-born babe?

Can you purify yourself
so that you are perfect?
Can you love all the people,
rule them, and remain unknown?
And do so without interference?
Can you play the same role always?

Give birth, provide nourishment;
do this without being possessive.
Give help without obligation.
Lead without dominating.
This is the Mytic Virtue (Teh).

 

11

Thirty spokes unite at the hub of a wheel
but the ultimate use of the wheel
depends on the part where nothing exists.

Clay is molded into a vessel
but the ultimate use of the vessel
depends on the part where nothing exists.

Doors and windows are cut from the walls of a house
but the ultimate use of the house
depends on the part where nothing exists.

So there is advantage in using
what can be seen, what does exist.

There is also advantage in using
the invisible, the non-existent.

 

12

Five colors (blue, yellow, red, white, black)
blind the eye.
Five notes (do, re, mi, so, la)
deafen the ear.
Five tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, salt)
dull the tongue.

Hunting and pursuing will unbalance the mind.
Striving for earthly goods produces unhealthy tension.

Therefore the truly wise
satisfy the internal and reject the external.
They accept one and deny the other.

 

13

It is said:
Both good fortune and misfortune cause tension.
The creative and the destructive
exist equally in the mind.

How can both good fortune and misfortune cause tension?
Those with good fortune are tense anticipating their gift;
those with misfortune are tense lamenting their loss.

How can the creative and destructive
exist equally in the mind?
Tension exists because we have a mind,
a self, with dual purposes.
If we can be selfless, indifferent to the mind,
then tension cannot exist.

Thus, one who views the world as he views himself
is best suited to govern the world;
one who loves humanity as he loves himself
can be entrusted with the world.

 

14

Looked for it cannot be seen; it is invisible.
Listened for it cannot be heard; it is inaudible.
Reached for it cannot be touched; it is intangible.
These three are beyond analysis; these three are one.

It rises like the sun, but does not illuminate.
It sets like the sun, but does not darken.
Without beginning, without end,
it is infinite, undefinable.

It is the form of the formless;
it is existence in non-existence;
it is the greatest mystery.
Meet it and it has no face;
follow it and it has no back.

Hold close to the ancient Tao
and be master of your present existence.
Knowing the present you mirror the past.
This is the clue to Tao.

 

15

The Tao of the Ancients

The ancient followers of the Tao:
so wise, so subtle, so profound,
so deeply understanding,
that they were themselves misunderstood.
They must therefore be described.

Cautious, like crossing a stream in mid-winter;
observant, like moving in fear through hostile land;
modest, retiring like ice beginning to melt;
dignified, like an honored guest;
genuine, like natural, untouched wood;
receptive, like an inviting, open valley;
friendly, like muddied water, freely mixing.

Who can make sense of a world like cloudy water?
Left alone and still, it becomes clear.
Should this stillness be maintained?
Moving hastily will surely cloud it again.
How then can one move and not become clouded?

Accept Tao and achieve without being selfish;
being unselfish one endures the world's wear,
and needs no change of pace.

 

16

Achieve the highest goal by being passive;
hold close to a state of perfect serenity.

Everything comes into existence,
but observe, returns to its source.
Thus, vegetation flourishes and grows,
but returns to the soil whence it came.

Returning to the source is serenity;
it is to realize one's destiny.
To realize one's destiny
is to know the Eternal Constant.
To know the Eternal Constant
is to be enlightened.
To be ignorant of this
is blindness that begets evil.

Whoever knows the Eternal Constant
is open-minded. Being open-minded
is to be impartial. Being impartial
is to be above nations and laws.

Being above nations and laws
is to be in accord with nature.
Being in accord with nature
is to be in accord with Tao.
Being in accord with Tao
is to be eternal.

Although his body may die and decay,
he shall live forever.

 

17

The Best Leader

The best leaders, the people do not notice.
The next best, the people honor and praise.
The next, the people fear;
and the next, the people hate.

If you have no faith,
people will have no faith in you,
and you must resort to oaths.

When the best leader's work is done
the people say: "We did it ourselves!"

 

18

Nature is sparing in its talk.
High winds seldom last all morning.
Heavy rains seldom last all day.

Where do these things originate? In nature.
And if nature so spares its talk,
how much more, then, should you?

 

19

On Real Education

Do away with learning, the same with wisdom;
the people will gain a hundredfold.
Do away with "humanity" and the same with "justice";
the people will rediscover love and duty.
Do away with expensive arts, the same with profits;
there will be no thieves, no robbers.
These three things involve the external world;
they are therefore of no real value.

Do away with formal learning and
you will not be annoyed by its multitude of details.
How much difference between yes and yea?
How much difference between good and evil?
It is true that what men fear you must also fear,
but how very remote the actual occurrence.

The people need what is more dependable.
Reveal, then, your natural, inner self.
Realize your original nature;
control selfishness; subdue desires.

 

20

The great mass of people are content
as if at the sacrificial feast
or at the spring carnival.

I alone am serene, quiet, passive,
like a newborn baby unable yet to smile.
I am alone, like one who is homeless.

Others seem to have abundance
while I seem to live in contemplation.
Perhaps I am the fool, so obscure, so vague.

The masses seem bright and informed;
I alone seem dull and uninformed.
The masses are clever and smug;
I alone am simple and unassuming.
Alone, as if adrift on the lonely sea.

And others seem to have useful purpose;
I alone seem impractical and awkward.
I am alone, different.
I choose to be sustained by nature.

 

21

The Teh follows Tao.

Tao is like a dream:
invisible, intangible, obscure.

It is invisible yet there is a form to it.
It is intangible yet there is a feel to it.
It is obscure yet there is method to it.
The method is true and so there are signs of it.

From ancient times until now
the signs have never ceased
by which we can still see the beginning.
How can I know the nature of the beginning?
By these signs!

 

22

Be humble; you will remain yourself.
Be flexible, bend, and you will be straight.
Be ever receptive, and you will be satisfied.
Become tired and weary and you will be renewed.

Have little, you will have enough;
to have abundance is to be troubled.

The truly wise seek Unity, embrace oneness,
and become examples for all the world.

Not revealing themselves, they shine;
not self-righteous, they are distinguished;
not self-centered, they are famous;
not seeking glory, they are leaders.

Because they are not quarrelsome
no one quarrels with them.

Thus it is as the ancients said:
"To yield is to retain Unity."
The truly wise have Unity,
and the world respects them.

 

23

Whoever follows Tao becomes as Tao.
Whoever follows Teh becomes as Teh.
Whoever abandons Tao or Teh
will be abandoned by Tao and Teh.

Whoever seeks Tao is welcomed by Tao.
Whoever seeks Teh is welcomed by Teh.
Whoever seeks abandonment
is welcomed by abandonment.

 

24

Whoever stands on tiptoe
is unsteady.
Whoever walks with long strides
cannot long keep up the pace.
Whoever makes a show of himself
cannot shine.
Whoever is self-righteous
cannot gain the respect of the people.
Whoever is self-centered
cannot become loved by others.
Whoever seeks glory
cannot become a true leader.

According to the Tao
these attitudes are excessive, unnecessary.
Even in earthly matters they are to be avoided.
Therefore the follower of Tao avoids them.

 

25

There is something mysterious,
without beginning, without end,
that existed before the heavens and earth.
Unmoving; infinite; standing alone; never changing.
It is everywhere and it is inexhaustible.
It is the mother of all.

I do not know its name.
If I must name it I call it Tao
and I hail it as supreme.

Supreme means never-ending;
never-ending means far-reaching;
and far-reaching means returning.
Thus Tao is supreme, the heavens are supreme,
earth is supreme, and man is supreme.
There are four supremes in the universe;
man is one of them.

Man is subject to the laws of the earth,
the earth is subject to the laws of the universe,
the universe is subject to the laws of Tao,
and Tao is subject to the laws of its own nature.

 

26

Heaviness (sincerity)
is the root of lightness (frivolity).
And serenity far surpasses hastiness.

The truly wise can travel all day
yet never put down their baggage
(a pun alluding to depth or heaviness of spirit).
Though there be appealing distractions
they remain serene, passive, undisturbed.

How can a leader of ten thousand chariots
make his rule obscure, insignificant?

To be light is to lose the root of lightness;
to be hasty is to lose self-mastery.

 

27

A good traveler has no need to leave tracks;
a good speaker leaves no grounds for rebuttal;
a good trader needs no scales, no computer;
a good door needs no latch to remain shut;
a good fastener needs no rope to perfect its bond.

The truly wise are helpful to people.
No one is rejected.
The truly wise are helpful to everything.
Nothing is rejected.
This is double enlightenment.

Therefore the good teach the bad;
the bad are lessons for the good.
Whoever dislikes such a teacher,
who dislikes such lessons,
may appear learning but is misguided.
This is the subtlety of true wisdom.

 

28

He who knows the mystic male (Yang)
yet retains the mystic female (Yin)
is as a great canyon welcoming the whole world.
He has Teh and is innocent as a child.

Whoever is aware of the white (Yang)
yet retains the black (Yin)
is as a standard for all the world.
He has Teh and has returned to the Absolute.

Whoever is aware of fame and glory
yet retains humility and obscurity
is as a valley that can hold the earth.
He has Teh and has returned to Unity.

Divide the Unity; the parts become as tools.
In the hands of the truly wise
they become the means to an end,
but never ends in themselves.

 

29

Those who seek to conquer the world
and shape it as they see fit never succeed.
The world is a sacred vessel and cannot be improved.
Whoever tries to alter it spoils it;
whoever tries to direct it, misleads it.

So, some things advance, others lag;
some proceed in silence, others make sound;
some are strong, others weak;
some are forward, others retiring.

Therefore the truly wise avoid extremes,
extravagance, and foolish pride.

 

30

Tao in War

Whoever advises a ruler according to Tao
opposes conquest by war.
Policies of war tend to rebound.
Where the armies march, brambles grow.
Whenever a great army is formed,
hunger and evil follow.

So, a wise general achieves his goal and stops;
he does not battle beyond victory.
He wins, but does not boast of it;
he wins, but does not celebrate it;
he wins, but does not revel in the spoils;
he wins, for it is his duty to win;
he wins, but not from love of violence.

Things reach their peak, then decline.
Violence opposes Tao.
Whoever opposes Tao dies early.

 

31

War Is Evil

Weapons are tools of destruction
avoided by followers of Tao.
The citizen favors the creative in time of peace;
the citizen favors the destructive in time of war.

Weapons are tools of destruction
not used by people of dignity,
but when their use cannot be avoided,
the best policy is calm restraint.

There is no beauty in victory.
Whoever calls it so delights in slaughter.
Whoever delights in slaughter is not fit to rule.

 

32

Tao is absolute, nameless.
A piece of wood, uncarved, natural,
cannot be used by anyone.
The leaders who can be genuine and natural as this,
gain the respect of the people.

The heavens and the earth join and gentle rains fall,
beyond anyone's command, to everyone equally.

When civilization grew, names began.
With names, one should know where to stop.
Whoever knows this has security.

In the world Tao is like rain
that falls into the rivers
and thence to the open sea.

 

33

One who knows others is wise;
one who knows himself is wisest.
One who conquers others is strong;
one who conquers himself is strongest.

To be content is to be wealthy.
To be dedicated is to be strong.
To be genuine is to endure.
To die and be remembered is to have immortality.

 

34

The great Tao is everywhere, on all sides.
Everything derives from it;
nothing is rejected by it.

Through Tao everything exists
yet it does not take possession.
It provides for everything
yet it does not lay claim.

Without motive it seems small.
Being the source of everything it is great.
Because it never claims greatness,
its greatness shines brightly.

 

35

The world will follow, without fear of evil,
serene, peaceful, secure,
one who follows the great symbol of Yin-Yang.

Music and good food will stop the passing stranger,
but Tao, offered by the spoken word,
seems unappealing, tasteless.

Looked for, it cannot be seen;
listened for, it cannot be heard;
applied, it cannot be exhausted.

 

36

Govern Peacefully

That which is to contract is first expanded.
That which is to weaken is first strengthened.
That which is to be felled is first reinforced.
This is subtle enlightenment.

Being gentle overcomes strength.
As fish should not leave the deep,
so the sharp weapons of the state
should always be hidden from view.

 

37

Tao never acts directly;
it activates everything.
If rulers would do likewise,
the world would improve of itself.

But when improving, motives show.
These should be restrained by motiveless Yin.

Motiveless Yin is free of all desire.
Being free of desire is to be serene.
Being serene, the world is at peace.

 

38

Whoever has Teh never boasts of it,
and so truly possesses it.
Whoever has Teh and boasts of it,
no longer possesses it.

Possessing Teh is to be serene;
with little effort much is done and motives diminish.
Losing Teh is to be hasty;
with great effort much is wasted and motives increase.

Possessing Teh is to act out of love without ulterior motive;
losing Teh is to act self-righteous with an ulterior motive.
When a person of high station directs but sees no following
of that direction, he shows his hand and forces direction.

When Tao is lost "compassion" becomes doctrine;
when compassion is lost "justice" becomes doctrine;
when justice is lost ritual becomes doctrine.
Ritual is the slow loss of loyalty,
the beginning of unprincipled confusion.

Foreknowledge is Tao blossoming;
it is also the flower of folly.
The truly wise seek the center, not the surface;
take the fruit, leaving the flower.
Accept one and reject the other.

 

39

Lead With a Deep Unity

From past ages there has been Unity:
the heavens achieved it and became clear,
the earth achieved it and became firm,
the valleys achieved it and became fertile,
the spirit achieved it and become inspired,
all things achieved it and became existent,
leaders achieved it and became good rulers.

Without clarity the heavens would be tempestuous,
without firmness the earth would tremble,
without fertility the valleys would dry up,
without inspiration the spirit would be lost,
without existence all things would vanish,
rulers would falter and fall.

Thus good leaders are humble.
The high are founded on the low
just as a chariot is made up of many small parts.

Better to rumble like rocks (have depth)
than to jingle lightly like jewels (be flighty).

 

40

Tao is an endless circle, ever returning.
Serenity is its ultimate function.
Everything rises from existence.
Existence rises from non-existence.

 

41

Whenever the truly wise hear of Tao
they strive earnestly to use it.
Whenever the mediocre hear of Tao
they are aware, yet unaware of it.
Whenever the stupid hear of Tao they laugh aloud at it.
If it were not laughed at it would not be Tao.

Therefore it is said of Tao:
enlightenment seems dullness;
progress seems regression;
the true path seems misleading.

The highest character seems recessive like a valley;
the purest virtue seems tarnished;
the most adequate seems somehow insufficient;
the most firm seems frail;
the most fundamental seems changeable.

Great space has no corners;
great ability takes time to mature;
great music is soft and mellow;
great form is shapeless, contourless.

Tao is hidden; it is nameless;
yet it stimulates; it brings fulfillment.

 

42

Out of Tao comes Unity; out of Unity comes two;
from two comes three; from three all things come.

The shade of Yin is on the back of everything;
the light of Yang is on the face of everything.
From their blending together
balance exists in the world.

To feel unworthy, to be alone, orphaned,
is greatly feared and disliked,
yet statesmen claim these feelings.
Loss sometimes benefits; benefits can be a loss.

Others have taught this too:
the violent meet violent ends.
This is a good teaching.

 

43

The softest will penetrate the hardest.
The non-existent will penetrate the existent.
By this I know the value of being passive.

This is teaching without words,
achievement without direct action.
In all the world few know this.

 

44

Fame or self: which is more important?
Wealth or self: which is more valuable?
Gain or loss: which is the greater evil?

Overdoing leads to waste;
great fortunes invite theft.

Being content prevents humiliation.
Knowing where to stop prevents danger.
To know this is to endure.

 

45

The most perfect seems imperfect,
but it endures with constancy.
The greatest fullness seems empty,
but it cannot be exhausted.

The most straight seems twisted.
The most skillful seems clumsy.
The most eloquent seems awkward.

Movement overcomes cold,
stillness overcomes heat.
The serene and passive are guides for all.

 

46

Contentment

When the world follows Tao,
racehorses work on farms.
When the world forsakes Tao,
cavalry horses practice in parks.

The greatest curse is discontent.
It is the greatest misery.
The greatest sin is selfish striving.

Being content with contentment
is to be always satisfied.

 

47

One can know the world without leaving the house.
One can see Tao without looking out the window.

The more you study the less you know.

Thus the truly wise know without traveling,
perceive without seeing, achieve without doing.

 

48

The scholar needs to know more and more each day.
The follower of Tao needs to know less and less each day.

By lessening knowledge one reaches inaction.
By inaction everything can be done.

The world is won by those who leave it alone.
When one feels compelled to dominate,
the world is already beyond reach.

 

49

The truly wise are selfless.
People's needs are their needs.

The good are treated with goodness;
the bad are also treated with goodness;
this is the goodness of Teh.

The faithful are treated with faith;
the faithless are treated with faith;
this is the faith of Teh.

The truly wise live peacefully and impartially.
In their eyes people share a common heritage.
The truly wise accept all people as their own family.

 

50

Life leaves and death enters.

Three and ten parts accompany life;
three and ten parts accompany death;
three and ten parts move toward death.
(Four limbs plus nine orifices.)

Why? The wear of the drive to live.
Why? Living tips the balance toward dying.

It is said that whoever realizes this
is not attacked by the wild buffalo or tiger
and is not vulnerable on the field of battle.
The buffalo's horns find no place to gore,
the tiger's claws no place to tear,
the soldier's weapons no place to pierce.

Why? Because death is not yet within reach.

 

51

Tao causes all things to exist; Teh sustains them.
Reality gives them form; fate completes them.
Thus all things honor Tao and respect Teh
of their own accord.

Teh sustains all things in existence.
It fosters growth, develops them,
harbors them, provides shelter.
It nourishes them, gives protection.

Everything exists through Tao
and nothing is rejected.
Everything is produced through Tao
but Tao is not possessive.
Tao is superior but never interferes.

 

52

The beginning of the universe
may be considered the mother.
Knowing the mother the sons can be known.
Knowing the sons we can keep close to the mother.
Thus life has within itself security.

Eyes closed and mouth shut, life is without trouble.
Eyes open, busily conversant, life is without hope.

Whoever sees the most minute sees clearest.
Whoever cherishes the weak has the most strength.
Whoever uses enlightenment has bright vision.

Thus, no harm is done.
This is following Tao.

 

53

The Main Path of Tao

Let me walk along the main path of Tao
and avoid by-paths of worthless knowledge.
I would not leave this main path, so easily followed,
but many people prefer the by-paths.

The palaces are well kept
while fields go untilled
and the granaries are empty.

To wear elegant clothes, to carry a fine sword,
to gorge with food and drink, to have wealth and riches,
all this invites plunder.

Is this not departing from Tao?

 

54

Whatever is firmly planted is not easily uprooted.
Whatever is firmly grasped is not easily loosened.
Generation follows generation, continuing endlessly.

Accept Tao in yourself and Teh is yours.
Accept Tao in the family and Teh is abundant.
Accept Tao in the village and Teh multiplies.
Accept Tao in the nation and Teh flourishes.
Accept Tao in the world and Teh is universal.

Therefore, one can measure by Teh:
By your Teh gauge the family.
By the family's Teh gauge the village.
By the village's Teh gauge the nation.
By the nation's Teh gauge the world.

How do I know this is so? By seeing it so!

 

55

Whoever has Teh is like a child:

Poisonous insects will not bit.
Wild animals will not attack.
Predatory birds will not strike.

Bones soft, muscles weak, but gripping strongly.
Unconcerned about sex yet most vigorous.
Crying out all day long but not hoarse.

This involves perfect harmony.
Knowing harmony is to approach the eternal.
Knowing the eternal is to be enlightened.

To become excitable leads to confusion.
To freely vent emotions is to be aggressive.

Things reach their prime and then decline.
To be impatient is to oppose Tao.
Whatever opposes Tao dies young.

 

56

Whoever knows does not speak;
whoever speaks does not know.

So, stop the senses.
Close their doors.
Solve their riddles.
Subdue their light.
Be one with humble dust.

This is the mystic unity.

It is beyond love and hate,
beyond profit and loss,
beyond honor and dishonor.
Thus it is the most valuable treasure
in all the world.

 

57

Be Lawful, Not Full of Laws

Rule by what is right.
Wage war by clever strategy.
Win the world by being passive.
How do I know? By this:

More restrictions mean weaker people.
More weapons mean a troubled state.
More cunning means many surprises.
More laws mean more violators.

Be passive and the people will be reformed.
Be serene and the people will be righteous.
Be peaceable and the people will be wealthy.
Be selfless and the people will be simple and serene.

 

58

To Govern, Be Gentle

Govern passively, the people are happy.
Govern precisely, the people are restless.

Happiness arises from unhappiness;
unhappiness lies beneath happiness.
Who knows what is best?

When the state is self-righteous,
self-righteousness becomes strategy
and good becomes evil.
Man has long been misguided.

The truly wise are:
square (sharp-cornered) but not cutting;
angled (wedge-like) but not interfering;
straight (pointed) but not domineering;
bright (enlightened) but not binding.

 

59

With Tao, You Are Supreme

In ruling men be reserved.
To be reserved is to conform to Tao.
To conform to Tao is to achieve Teh.
With Teh anything is possible.

Because anything is possible,
no one knows your supremacy.
Because no one knows your supremacy,
a nation can be ruled well.

Because this is a Mother Principle
it long endures.
Therefore you are as deeply rooted
and as immortal as it is.

 

60

Do, But Never Overdo

Rule a great state
as you cook a small fish:
do not overdo it!

Rule with Tao and evil departs.
Evil will still have power,
but it will not harm the people.

Then not only does evil cease to do harm,
the ruler also ceases to do harm,
and therefore both possess Teh.

 

61

The Tao of Statecraft

A great nation is one to which the streams descend.
It is the meeting place, the female of the world.
Quiet, passive, leading the male by humble submission.

A great nation lowers itself to the smaller
and thus wins the smaller nation.
A smaller nation lowers itself beneath the greater
and thus wins the greater nation.
So, some lower themselves to win others;
some are already low, and therefore win others.

A great nation wants more people;
a small nation wants more room.
When both are dedicated to these ends,
the greater nation should humbly yield.

 

62

Tao is at the source of everything:
treasure for the good, refuge for the bad.
Fine words can be sold;
fine deeds can be just a show.
Why then reject the bad?

Therefore, at the crowning of the emperor
or at the appointment of the three ministers,
rather than present gifts of jade and horses,
present the gift of Tao.

Why did the ancients value Tao so?
Did they not say the seeker shall find it,
the sinner shall find it and be forgiven?
So is it the treasure of the world.

 

63

Achieve serenity. Work passively. Taste the flavorless.
Large or small, many or few, exchange love for hatred.

Undertake the difficult while it is still simple.
Undertake the great while it is still minor.
The problems of the world must be solved
while they are easy, the great while they are minor.
The truly wise find greatness by undertaking nothing great.

A promise lightly made is often difficult to keep.
Whoever makes light of things encounters many problems.
The truly wise know that things are difficult
and therefore meet with no difficulties.

 

64

What is not moving is easily held.
What has not happened is easily planned.
What is brittle is easily broken.
What is tiny is easily dispersed.

Deal with a problem before it arises;
exercise control before confusion exists.

A tree with an arm-girth of trunk grows from a tiny sprout.
A nine-storied terrace arises from a heap of dirt.
A thousand-mile journey begins with the first step.

Action spoils; reaching loses.
The truly wise are not active.
Thus they do not spoil things.
Do not reach so do not lose.

Things are often spoiled very close to completion.
Be as careful at completion as you were at the beginning.

Thus the truly wise want the unwanted
and do not prize what is rare.
Study what is unstudied and preserve what is lost.
Assist in the course of nature but never interfere in it.

 

65

Simplicity an Ancient Standard

The ancient followers of Tao
did not use it to increase knowledge,
but rather to preserve simplicity.

People are difficult to govern
when there is too much knowledge.
Whoever rules a country by furthering knowledge
is that nation's curse.
Whoever rules a country by furthering simplicity
is that nation's blessing.

To know these two principles
is to know the ancient standard.
To know the ancient standard
is to possess Teh of a certainty.

Teh is deep and vast as infinity.
It returns us to primal peace.

 

66

To Lead, Appear to Follow

Why do rivers and seas have dominion over lowlands?
Because the one lowers itself to the other.

To be elevated by the people,
speak like their inferior.
To lead the people, walk behind them.

Thus the truly wise are above,
but people do not feel their weight.
They walk in front,
but people do not feel blocked.

The whole world respects
and never grows tired of such leadership.
Because the truly wise are not aggressive,
no one attacks them.

 

67

The world says:
"Tao is great but seems so foolish!"
It seems foolish because it is great.
If it did not seem so foolish
it would long since have lost its value.

I have three treasures.
Guard them and keep them safe!
The first is love,
the second is moderation,
the third is humility.

From love one gains courage,
from moderation one gains ability,
from humility one achieves greatness.

To forsake love and courage,
to forsake moderation and ability,
to forsake humility and rush to the forefront,
is death to all hope.

With love battles can be won,
with love defense proves invulnerable,
with love heaven arms those it would protect.

 

68

Victory in Tao

The most skilled soldier is not aggressive.
The most proficient fighter never loses control.
The most victorious commander does not bicker.
The most efficient leader is humble before all.

This is the virtue of serenity.
This is the mastery of life.
This is matching Teh to Tao.

 

69

Tao Strategy

Ancient military strategists said:
I would rather be invaded than be the invader.
I would rather retreat one foot than advance one inch.

This means not marching in formation;
not appearing prepared, with sleeves up;
not charging in frontal assault;
not arming with elaborate weapons.

There is no worse catastrophe
than to underestimate the enemy.
To underestimate the enemy
is to run the risk of losing everything.

When evenly matched armies do battle,
the passive, recessive one is the victor.

 

70

My teachings are easily understood
and readily put into practice.
Yet not everyone understands them,
not everyone practices them.

Words have specific origins,
deeds specific controls.
Not having such knowledge,
people do not know me.
Being unknown, honor is mine.
Unknown, I am distinguished.

The wise wear common clothes
and carry jewels in their hearts.

 

71

On Intelligence

To know what you do not know, is best.

He who thinks he knows what he does not know,
is sick in mind.

One who sees this sickness for what it is,
is not sick in mind.

The followers of Tao are not sick in mind,
because they know this.

 

72

Lead Humbly But Surely

When the people do not fear absolute rule,
a greater fear will yet descend on them.

Do not give them cramped quarters.
Do not make sacrifice of their children.
If you do not dislike them
you will not be disliked yourself.

The truly wise know themselves
but do not flaunt themselves.
The truly wise love themselves
but do not take pride in themselves.
They reject the one and accept the other.

 

73

One of courage, with audacity, will kill.
One of courage, but gentle, spares life.
From these two kinds of courage
arise harm and benefit.

Even if Tao dislikes certain people,
who can say why?
The truly wise regard this
as a most difficult question.

Tao does not contend but it surely wins,
does not speak but it surely responds,
does not command but things come of themselves.
It is empty yet contains the master plan.

The net of Tao is all-encompassing,
its meshes are wide, yet nothing is lost.

 

74

Capital Punishment

If the people do not fear death,
why threaten them with it?

If the people do fear death,
and if the unlawful be killed,
who would dare to execute them?

Only the Supreme Executioner kills.

To take His place is to set an unskilled man
to wield the hatchet of the master carpenter:
he rarely escapes chopping off his own hand!

 

75

Rule Without Interfering

The people starve
when rulers impose heavy taxes.
That is why people starve.

The people are rebellious
when rulers meddle in their affairs.
That is why people are rebellious.

The people do not fear death
when they try to lead a better life.
That is why they do not fear death.

Those who do not interfere with life
receive genuine value from it.

 

76

Living, man is supple and yielding;
when dead, man is hard and stiff.
Living, animals and plants are soft and pliant;
when dead, they are withered and brittle.

Being inflexible and unyielding is part of dying;
being flexible and yielding is part of living.
A headstrong legion will lose in war just
as an unyielding tree will snap under the axe.

The place of the strong is below;
the place of the gentle is above.

 

77

Is not Tao like the drawn bow?
The highest part is lowered,
the lowest part is raised.
Overall length is shortened,
overall depth is lengthened.

So the Great Tao
lowers the highest and raises the lowest.
But the Tao of man
increases the high and decreases the low.

Who can take from the high and give to the low?
Only the true follower of Tao.

Thus, the truly wise act but are not possessive,
achieve but claim no credit,
because they have no desire for vain glory.

 

78

Nothing in the world is weaker
or more yielding than water.
Yet nothing is its equal
in wearing away the hard and strong.
There is nothing quite like it.

Thus the weak can overpower the strong;
the flexible can overcome the rigid.
The whole world can perceive this,
but does not put it into practice.

And so the truly wise say:
Whoever bears the shame of the nation
is fit to lead the nation.
Whoever bears the sins of the world
is fit to lead the world.

Straight words (truth)
can seem crooked (paradoxical).

 

79

Settling Disputes

Settling a great dispute leaves some hatred behind.
Can this be good?

Therefore the truly wise defend the weak
and do not seek vengeance.

The man with Teh fosters reconciliation;
the man without Teh fosters reaction.

And so it is truly said:
While Tao is impartial, it permeates good men.

 

80

The Ideal State

The ideal state is small with few people.
It has abundance of goods, beyond possible use.
Understanding death, the people do not emigrate.

Though they have vessels and vehicles,
they do not travel far in them.
Though they have armor and weapons,
they have no need to display them.

Let them use knotted ropes for simple reckoning,
be satisfied with their food,
be attractive in their clothing,
be comfortable in their homes,
be happy with their customs.

Though from other states the dog's bark
and cock's crow can clearly be heard,
the people never leave the ideal state.

 

81

Words of truth are not high-sounding;
high-sounding words are not the truth.
One who has Teh does not argue;
one who argues does not have Teh.
The truly wise do not know many things;
one who knows many things is not truly wise.

The truly wise do not selfishly crave.
They live for other people
and thereby grow richer.
They give freely of themselves
and thereby have great abundance.

The great Tao endows,
but does so unconditionally.
The Tao of the wise accomplishes,
but does so unselfishly.

Tao Te Ching Translation by J. Legge

1

The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and
unchanging Tao. The name that can be named is not the enduring and
unchanging name.

(Conceived of as) having no name, it is the Originator of heaven
and earth; (conceived of as) having a name, it is the Mother of all
things.

Always without desire we must be found,
If its deep mystery we would sound;
But if desire always within us be,
Its outer fringe is all that we shall see.

Under these two aspects, it is really the same; but as development
takes place, it receives the different names. Together we call them
the Mystery. Where the Mystery is the deepest is the gate of all that
is subtle and wonderful.

 

2

All in the world know the beauty of the beautiful, and in doing
this they have (the idea of) what ugliness is; they all know the skill
of the skilful, and in doing this they have (the idea of) what the
want of skill is.

So it is that existence and non-existence give birth the one to
(the idea of) the other; that difficulty and ease produce the one (the
idea of) the other; that length and shortness fashion out the one the
figure of the other; that (the ideas of) height and lowness arise from
the contrast of the one with the other; that the musical notes and
tones become harmonious through the relation of one with another; and
that being before and behind give the idea of one following another.

Therefore the sage manages affairs without doing anything, and
conveys his instructions without the use of speech.

All things spring up, and there is not one which declines to show
itself; they grow, and there is no claim made for their ownership;
they go through their processes, and there is no expectation (of a
reward for the results). The work is accomplished, and there is no
resting in it (as an achievement).

The work is done, but how no one can see;
'Tis this that makes the power not cease to be.

 

3

Not to value and employ men of superior ability is the way to
keep the people from rivalry among themselves; not to prize articles
which are difficult to procure is the way to keep them from becoming
thieves; not to show them what is likely to excite their desires is
the way to keep their minds from disorder.

Therefore the sage, in the exercise of his government, empties
their minds, fills their bellies, weakens their wills, and strengthens
their bones.

He constantly (tries to) keep them without knowledge and without
desire, and where there are those who have knowledge, to keep them
from presuming to act (on it). When there is this abstinence from
action, good order is universal.

 

4

The Tao is (like) the emptiness of a vessel; and in our
employment of it we must be on our guard against all fulness. How
deep and unfathomable it is, as if it were the Honoured Ancestor of
all things!

We should blunt our sharp points, and unravel the complications of
things; we should attemper our brightness, and bring ourselves into
agreement with the obscurity of others. How pure and still the Tao
is, as if it would ever so continue!

I do not know whose son it is. It might appear to have been before
God.

 

5

Heaven and earth do not act from (the impulse of) any wish to be
benevolent; they deal with all things as the dogs of grass are dealt
with. The sages do not act from (any wish to be) benevolent; they
deal with the people as the dogs of grass are dealt with.

May not the space between heaven and earth be compared to a
bellows?

'Tis emptied, yet it loses not its power;
'Tis moved again, and sends forth air the more.
Much speech to swift exhaustion lead we see;
Your inner being guard, and keep it free.

 

6

The valley spirit dies not, aye the same;
The female mystery thus do we name.
Its gate, from which at first they issued forth,
Is called the root from which grew heaven and earth.
Long and unbroken does its power remain,
Used gently, and without the touch of pain.
7Heaven is long-enduring and earth continues long. The reason
why heaven and earth are able to endure and continue thus long is
because they do not live of, or for, themselves. This is how they are
able to continue and endure.

Therefore the sage puts his own person last, and yet it is found in
the foremost place; he treats his person as if it were foreign to him,
and yet that person is preserved. Is it not because he has no
personal and private ends, that therefore such ends are realised?

 

8

The highest excellence is like (that of) water. The excellence
of water appears in its benefiting all things, and in its occupying,
without striving (to the contrary), the low place which all men
dislike. Hence (its way) is near to (that of) the Tao.

The excellence of a residence is in (the suitability of) the place;
that of the mind is in abysmal stillness; that of associations is in
their being with the virtuous; that of government is in its securing
good order; that of (the conduct of) affairs is in its ability; and
that of (the initiation of) any movement is in its timeliness.

And when (one with the highest excellence) does not wrangle (about
his low position), no one finds fault with him.

 

9

It is better to leave a vessel unfilled, than to attempt to
carry it when it is full. If you keep feeling a point that has been
sharpened, the point cannot long preserve its sharpness.

When gold and jade fill the hall, their possessor cannot keep them
safe. When wealth and honours lead to arrogancy, this brings its evil
on itself. When the work is done, and one's name is becoming
distinguished, to withdraw into obscurity is the way of Heaven.

 

10

When the intelligent and animal souls are held together in one
embrace, they can be kept from separating. When one gives undivided
attention to the (vital) breath, and brings it to the utmost degree of
pliancy, he can become as a (tender) babe. When he has cleansed away
the most mysterious sights (of his imagination), he can become without
a flaw.

In loving the people and ruling the state, cannot he proceed
without any (purpose of) action? In the opening and shutting of his
gates of heaven, cannot he do so as a female bird? While his
intelligence reaches in every direction, cannot he (appear to) be
without knowledge?

(The Tao) produces (all things) and nourishes them; it produces
them and does not claim them as its own; it does all, and yet does not
boast of it; it presides over all, and yet does not control them.
This is what is called 'The mysterious Quality' (of the Tao).

 

11

The thirty spokes unite in the one nave; but it is on the empty
space (for the axle), that the use of the wheel depends. Clay is
fashioned into vessels; but it is on their empty hollowness, that
their use depends. The door and windows are cut out (from the walls)
to form an apartment; but it is on the empty space (within), that its
use depends. Therefore, what has a (positive) existence serves for
profitable adaptation, and what has not that for (actual) usefulness.

 

12

Colour's five hues from th' eyes their sight will take;
Music's five notes the ears as deaf can make;
The flavours five deprive the mouth of taste;
The chariot course, and the wild hunting waste
Make mad the mind; and objects rare and strange,
Sought for, men's conduct will to evil change.

Therefore the sage seeks to satisfy (the craving of) the belly, and
not the (insatiable longing of the) eyes. He puts from him the
latter, and prefers to seek the former.

 

13

Favour and disgrace would seem equally to be feared; honour and
great calamity, to be regarded as personal conditions (of the same
kind).

What is meant by speaking thus of favour and disgrace? Disgrace is
being in a low position (after the enjoyment of favour). The getting
that (favour) leads to the apprehension (of losing it), and the losing
it leads to the fear of (still greater calamity):--this is what is
meant by saying that favour and disgrace would seem equally to be
feared.

And what is meant by saying that honour and great calamity are to be
(similarly) regarded as personal conditions? What makes me liable to
great calamity is my having the body (which I call myself); if I had
not the body, what great calamity could come to me?

Therefore he who would administer the kingdom, honouring it as he
honours his own person, may be employed to govern it, and he who would
administer it with the love which he bears to his own person may be
entrusted with it.

 

14

We look at it, and we do not see it, and we name it 'the
Equable.' We listen to it, and we do not hear it, and we name it 'the
Inaudible.' We try to grasp it, and do not get hold of it, and we
name it 'the Subtle.' With these three qualities, it cannot be made
the subject of description; and hence we blend them together and
obtain The One.

Its upper part is not bright, and its lower part is not obscure.
Ceaseless in its action, it yet cannot be named, and then it again
returns and becomes nothing. This is called the Form of the Formless,
and the Semblance of the Invisible; this is called the Fleeting and
Indeterminable.

We meet it and do not see its Front; we follow it, and do not see
its Back. When we can lay hold of the Tao of old to direct the things
of the present day, and are able to know it as it was of old in the
beginning, this is called (unwinding) the clue of Tao.

 

15

The skilful masters (of the Tao) in old times, with a subtle
and exquisite penetration, comprehended its mysteries, and were deep
(also) so as to elude men's knowledge. As they were thus beyond men's
knowledge, I will make an effort to describe of what sort they
appeared to be.

Shrinking looked they like those who wade through a stream in
winter; irresolute like those who are afraid of all around them; grave
like a guest (in awe of his host); evanescent like ice that is melting
away; unpretentious like wood that has not been fashioned into
anything; vacant like a valley, and dull like muddy water.

Who can (make) the muddy water (clear)? Let it be still, and it
will gradually become clear. Who can secure the condition of rest?
Let movement go on, and the condition of rest will gradually arise.

They who preserve this method of the Tao do not wish to be full (of
themselves). It is through their not being full of themselves that
they can afford to seem worn and not appear new and complete.

 

16

The (state of) vacancy should be brought to the utmost degree,
and that of stillness guarded with unwearying vigour. All things
alike go through their processes of activity, and (then) we see them
return (to their original state). When things (in the vegetable
world) have displayed their luxuriant growth, we see each of them
return to its root. This returning to their root is what we call the
state of stillness; and that stillness may be called a reporting that
they have fulfilled their appointed end.

The report of that fulfilment is the regular, unchanging rule. To
know that unchanging rule is to be intelligent; not to know it leads
to wild movements and evil issues. The knowledge of that unchanging
rule produces a (grand) capacity and forbearance, and that capacity
and forbearance lead to a community (of feeling with all things).
From this community of feeling comes a kingliness of character; and he
who is king-like goes on to be heaven-like. In that likeness to
heaven he possesses the Tao. Possessed of the Tao, he endures long;
and to the end of his bodily life, is exempt from all danger of decay.

 

17

In the highest antiquity, (the people) did not know that there
were (their rulers). In the next age they loved them and praised
them. In the next they feared them; in the next they despised them.
Thus it was that when faith (in the Tao) was deficient (in the rulers)
a want of faith in them ensued (in the people).

How irresolute did those (earliest rulers) appear, showing (by
their reticence) the importance which they set upon their words!
Their work was done and their undertakings were successful, while the
people all said, 'We are as we are, of ourselves!'

 

18

When the Great Tao (Way or Method) ceased to be observed,
benevolence and righteousness came into vogue. (Then) appeared wisdom
and shrewdness, and there ensued great hypocrisy.

When harmony no longer prevailed throughout the six kinships,
filial sons found their manifestation; when the states and clans fell
into disorder, loyal ministers appeared.

 

19

If we could renounce our sageness and discard our wisdom, it
would be better for the people a hundredfold. If we could renounce
our benevolence and discard our righteousness, the people would again
become filial and kindly. If we could renounce our artful
contrivances and discard our (scheming for) gain, there would be no
thieves nor robbers.

Those three methods (of government)
Thought olden ways in elegance did fail
And made these names their want of worth to veil;
But simple views, and courses plain and true
Would selfish ends and many lusts eschew.

 

20

When we renounce learning we have no troubles.
The (ready) 'yes,' and (flattering) 'yea;'--
Small is the difference they display.
But mark their issues, good and ill;--
What space the gulf between shall fill?

What all men fear is indeed to be feared; but how wide and without end
is the range of questions (asking to be discussed)!

The multitude of men look satisfied and pleased; as if enjoying a
full banquet, as if mounted on a tower in spring. I alone seem
listless and still, my desires having as yet given no indication of
their presence. I am like an infant which has not yet smiled. I look
dejected and forlorn, as if I had no home to go to. The multitude of
men all have enough and to spare. I alone seem to have lost
everything. My mind is that of a stupid man; I am in a state of
chaos.

Ordinary men look bright and intelligent, while I alone seem to be
benighted. They look full of discrimination, while I alone am dull
and confused. I seem to be carried about as on the sea, drifting as
if I had nowhere to rest. All men have their spheres of action, while
I alone seem dull and incapable, like a rude borderer. (Thus) I alone
am different from other men, but I value the nursing-mother (the Tao).

 

21

The grandest forms of active force
From Tao come, their only source.
Who can of Tao the nature tell?
Our sight it flies, our touch as well.
Eluding sight, eluding touch,
The forms of things all in it crouch;
Eluding touch, eluding sight,
There are their semblances, all right.
Profound it is, dark and obscure;
Things' essences all there endure.
Those essences the truth enfold
Of what, when seen, shall then be told.
Now it is so; 'twas so of old.
Its name--what passes not away;
So, in their beautiful array,
Things form and never know decay.

How know I that it is so with all the beauties of existing things? By
this (nature of the Tao).

 

22

The partial becomes complete; the crooked, straight; the empty,
full; the worn out, new. He whose (desires) are few gets them; he
whose (desires) are many goes astray.

Therefore the sage holds in his embrace the one thing (of
humility), and manifests it to all the world. He is free from self-
display, and therefore he shines; from self-assertion, and therefore
he is distinguished; from self-boasting, and therefore his merit is
acknowledged; from self-complacency, and therefore he acquires
superiority. It is because he is thus free from striving that
therefore no one in the world is able to strive with him.

That saying of the ancients that 'the partial becomes complete' was
not vainly spoken:--all real completion is comprehended under it.

 

23

Abstaining from speech marks him who is obeying the spontaneity
of his nature. A violent wind does not last for a whole morning; a
sudden rain does not last for the whole day. To whom is it that these
(two) things are owing? To Heaven and Earth. If Heaven and Earth
cannot make such (spasmodic) actings last long, how much less can man!

Therefore when one is making the Tao his business, those who are
also pursuing it, agree with him in it, and those who are making the
manifestation of its course their object agree with him in that; while
even those who are failing in both these things agree with him where
they fail.

Hence, those with whom he agrees as to the Tao have the happiness
of attaining to it; those with whom he agrees as to its manifestation
have the happiness of attaining to it; and those with whom he agrees
in their failure have also the happiness of attaining (to the Tao).
(But) when there is not faith sufficient (on his part), a want of
faith (in him) ensues (on the part of the others).

 

24

He who stands on his tiptoes does not stand firm; he who stretches
his legs does not walk (easily). (So), he who displays himself does
not shine; he who asserts his own views is not distinguished; he who
vaunts himself does not find his merit acknowledged; he who is self-
conceited has no superiority allowed to him. Such conditions, viewed
from the standpoint of the Tao, are like remnants of food, or a tumour
on the body, which all dislike. Hence those who pursue (the course)
of the Tao do not adopt and allow them.

 

25

There was something undefined and complete, coming into
existence before Heaven and Earth. How still it was and formless,
standing alone, and undergoing no change, reaching everywhere and in
no danger (of being exhausted)! It may be regarded as the Mother of
all things.

I do not know its name, and I give it the designation of the Tao
(the Way or Course). Making an effort (further) to give it a name I
call it The Great.

Great, it passes on (in constant flow). Passing on, it becomes
remote. Having become remote, it returns. Therefore the Tao is
great; Heaven is great; Earth is great; and the (sage) king is also
great. In the universe there are four that are great, and the (sage)
king is one of them.

Man takes his law from the Earth; the Earth takes its law from
Heaven; Heaven takes its law from the Tao. The law of the Tao is its
being what it is.

 

26

Gravity is the root of lightness; stillness, the ruler of
movement.

Therefore a wise prince, marching the whole day, does not go far
from his baggage waggons. Although he may have brilliant prospects to
look at, he quietly remains (in his proper place), indifferent to
them. How should the lord of a myriad chariots carry himself lightly
before the kingdom? If he do act lightly, he has lost his root (of
gravity); if he proceed to active movement, he will lose his throne.

 

27

The skilful traveller leaves no traces of his wheels or
footsteps; the skilful speaker says nothing that can be found fault
with or blamed; the skilful reckoner uses no tallies; the skilful
closer needs no bolts or bars, while to open what he has shut will be
impossible; the skilful binder uses no strings or knots, while to
unloose what he has bound will be impossible. In the same way the
sage is always skilful at saving men, and so he does not cast away any
man; he is always skilful at saving things, and so he does not cast
away anything. This is called 'Hiding the light of his procedure.'

Therefore the man of skill is a master (to be looked up to) by him
who has not the skill; and he who has not the skill is the helper of
(the reputation of) him who has the skill. If the one did not honour
his master, and the other did not rejoice in his helper, an
(observer), though intelligent, might greatly err about them. This is
called 'The utmost degree of mystery.'

 

28

Who knows his manhood's strength,
Yet still his female feebleness maintains;
As to one channel flow the many drains,
All come to him, yea, all beneath the sky.
Thus he the constant excellence retains;
The simple child again, free from all stains.

Who knows how white attracts,
Yet always keeps himself within black's shade,
The pattern of humility displayed,
Displayed in view of all beneath the sky;
He in the unchanging excellence arrayed,
Endless return to man's first state has made.

Who knows how glory shines,
Yet loves disgrace, nor e'er for it is pale;
Behold his presence in a spacious vale,
To which men come from all beneath the sky.
The unchanging excellence completes its tale;
The simple infant man in him we hail.

The unwrought material, when divided and distributed, forms
vessels. The sage, when employed, becomes the Head of all the
Officers (of government); and in his greatest regulations he employs
no violent measures.

 

29

If any one should wish to get the kingdom for himself, and to
effect this by what he does, I see that he will not succeed. The
kingdom is a spirit-like thing, and cannot be got by active doing. He
who would so win it destroys it; he who would hold it in his grasp
loses it.

The course and nature of things is such that
What was in front is now behind;
What warmed anon we freezing find.
Strength is of weakness oft the spoil;
The store in ruins mocks our toil.

Hence the sage puts away excessive effort, extravagance, and easy
indulgence.

 

30

He who would assist a lord of men in harmony with the Tao will
not assert his mastery in the kingdom by force of arms. Such a course
is sure to meet with its proper return.

Wherever a host is stationed, briars and thorns spring up. In the
sequence of great armies there are sure to be bad years.

A skilful (commander) strikes a decisive blow, and stops. He does
not dare (by continuing his operations) to assert and complete his
mastery. He will strike the blow, but will be on his guard against
being vain or boastful or arrogant in consequence of it. He strikes
it as a matter of necessity; he strikes it, but not from a wish for
mastery.

When things have attained their strong maturity they become old.
This may be said to be not in accordance with the Tao: and what is not
in accordance with it soon comes to an end.

 

31

Now arms, however beautiful, are instruments of evil omen,
hateful, it may be said, to all creatures. Therefore they who have
the Tao do not like to employ them.

The superior man ordinarily considers the left hand the most
honourable place, but in time of war the right hand. Those sharp
weapons are instruments of evil omen, and not the instruments of the
superior man;--he uses them only on the compulsion of necessity. Calm
and repose are what he prizes; victory (by force of arms) is to him
undesirable. To consider this desirable would be to delight in the
slaughter of men; and he who delights in the slaughter of men cannot
get his will in the kingdom.

On occasions of festivity to be on the left hand is the prized
position; on occasions of mourning, the right hand. The second in
command of the army has his place on the left; the general commanding
in chief has his on the right;--his place, that is, is assigned to him
as in the rites of mourning. He who has killed multitudes of men
should weep for them with the bitterest grief; and the victor in
battle has his place (rightly) according to those rites.

 

32

The Tao, considered as unchanging, has no name.

Though in its primordial simplicity it may be small, the whole
world dares not deal with (one embodying) it as a minister. If a
feudal prince or the king could guard and hold it, all would
spontaneously submit themselves to him.

Heaven and Earth (under its guidance) unite together and send down
the sweet dew, which, without the directions of men, reaches equally
everywhere as of its own accord.

As soon as it proceeds to action, it has a name. When it once has
that name, (men) can know to rest in it. When they know to rest in
it, they can be free from all risk of failure and error.

The relation of the Tao to all the world is like that of the great
rivers and seas to the streams from the valleys.

 

33

He who knows other men is discerning; he who knows himself is
intelligent. He who overcomes others is strong; he who overcomes
himself is mighty. He who is satisfied with his lot is rich; he who
goes on acting with energy has a (firm) will.

He who does not fail in the requirements of his position, continues
long; he who dies and yet does not perish, has longevity.

 

34

All-pervading is the Great Tao! It may be found on the left
hand and on the right.

All things depend on it for their production, which it gives to
them, not one refusing obedience to it. When its work is
accomplished, it does not claim the name of having done it. It
clothes all things as with a garment, and makes no assumption of being
their lord;--it may be named in the smallest things. All things
return (to their root and disappear), and do not know that it is it
which presides over their doing so;--it may be named in the greatest
things.

Hence the sage is able (in the same way) to accomplish his great
achievements. It is through his not making himself great that he can
accomplish them.

 

35

To him who holds in his hands the Great Image (of the invisible
Tao), the whole world repairs. Men resort to him, and receive no
hurt, but (find) rest, peace, and the feeling of ease.

Music and dainties will make the passing guest stop (for a time).
But though the Tao as it comes from the mouth, seems insipid and has
no flavour, though it seems not worth being looked at or listened to,
the use of it is inexhaustible.

 

36

When one is about to take an inspiration, he is sure to make a
(previous) expiration; when he is going to weaken another, he will
first strengthen him; when he is going to overthrow another, he will
first have raised him up; when he is going to despoil another, he will
first have made gifts to him:--this is called 'Hiding the light (of
his procedure).'

The soft overcomes the hard; and the weak the strong.

Fishes should not be taken from the deep; instruments for the
profit of a state should not be shown to the people.

 

37

The Tao in its regular course does nothing (for the sake of
doing it), and so there is nothing which it does not do.

If princes and kings were able to maintain it, all things would of
themselves be transformed by them.

If this transformation became to me an object of desire, I would
express the desire by the nameless simplicity.

Simplicity without a name
Is free from all external aim.
With no desire, at rest and still,
All things go right as of their will.

 

38

(Those who) possessed in highest degree the attributes (of the
Tao) did not (seek) to show them, and therefore they possessed them
(in fullest measure). (Those who) possessed in a lower degree those
attributes (sought how) not to lose them, and therefore they did not
possess them (in fullest measure).

(Those who) possessed in the highest degree those attributes did
nothing (with a purpose), and had no need to do anything. (Those who)
possessed them in a lower degree were (always) doing, and had need to
be so doing.

(Those who) possessed the highest benevolence were (always seeking)
to carry it out, and had no need to be doing so. (Those who)
possessed the highest righteousness were (always seeking) to carry it
out, and had need to be so doing.

(Those who) possessed the highest (sense of) propriety were (always
seeking) to show it, and when men did not respond to it, they bared
the arm and marched up to them.

Thus it was that when the Tao was lost, its attributes appeared;
when its attributes were lost, benevolence appeared; when benevolence
was lost, righteousness appeared; and when righteousness was lost, the
proprieties appeared.

Now propriety is the attenuated form of leal-heartedness and good
faith, and is also the commencement of disorder; swift apprehension is
(only) a flower of the Tao, and is the beginning of stupidity.

Thus it is that the Great man abides by what is solid, and eschews
what is flimsy; dwells with the fruit and not with the flower. It is
thus that he puts away the one and makes choice of the other.

 

39

The things which from of old have got the One (the Tao) are--

Heaven which by it is bright and pure;
Earth rendered thereby firm and sure;
Spirits with powers by it supplied;
Valleys kept full throughout their void
All creatures which through it do live
Princes and kings who from it get
The model which to all they give.

All these are the results of the One (Tao).

If heaven were not thus pure, it soon would rend;
If earth were not thus sure, 'twould break and bend;
Without these powers, the spirits soon would fail;
If not so filled, the drought would parch each vale;
Without that life, creatures would pass away;
Princes and kings, without that moral sway,
However grand and high, would all decay.

Thus it is that dignity finds its (firm) root in its (previous)
meanness, and what is lofty finds its stability in the lowness (from
which it rises). Hence princes and kings call themselves 'Orphans,'
'Men of small virtue,' and as 'Carriages without a nave.' Is not this
an acknowledgment that in their considering themselves mean they see
the foundation of their dignity? So it is that in the enumeration of
the different parts of a carriage we do not come on what makes it
answer the ends of a carriage. They do not wish to show themselves
elegant-looking as jade, but (prefer) to be coarse-looking as an
(ordinary) stone.

 

40

The movement of the Tao
By contraries proceeds;
And weakness marks the course
Of Tao's mighty deeds.

All things under heaven sprang from It as existing (and named);
that existence sprang from It as non-existent (and not named).

 

41

Scholars of the highest class, when they hear about the Tao,
earnestly carry it into practice. Scholars of the middle class, when
they have heard about it, seem now to keep it and now to lose it.
Scholars of the lowest class, when they have heard about it, laugh
greatly at it. If it were not (thus) laughed at, it would not be fit
to be the Tao.

Therefore the sentence-makers have thus expressed themselves:--

'The Tao, when brightest seen, seems light to lack;
Who progress in it makes, seems drawing back;
Its even way is like a rugged track.
Its highest virtue from the vale doth rise;
Its greatest beauty seems to offend the eyes;
And he has most whose lot the least supplies.
Its firmest virtue seems but poor and low;
Its solid truth seems change to undergo;
Its largest square doth yet no corner show
A vessel great, it is the slowest made;
Loud is its sound, but never word it said;
A semblance great, the shadow of a shade.'

The Tao is hidden, and has no name; but it is the Tao which is
skilful at imparting (to all things what they need) and making them
complete.

 

42

The Tao produced One; One produced Two; Two produced Three;
Three produced All things. All things leave behind them the Obscurity
(out of which they have come), and go forward to embrace the
Brightness (into which they have emerged), while they are harmonised
by the Breath of Vacancy.

What men dislike is to be orphans, to have little virtue, to be as
carriages without naves; and yet these are the designations which
kings and princes use for themselves. So it is that some things are
increased by being diminished, and others are diminished by being
increased.

What other men (thus) teach, I also teach. The violent and strong
do not die their natural death. I will make this the basis of my
teaching.

 

43

The softest thing in the world dashes against and overcomes the
hardest; that which has no (substantial) existence enters where there
is no crevice. I know hereby what advantage belongs to doing nothing
(with a purpose).

There are few in the world who attain to the teaching without
words, and the advantage arising from non-action.

 

44

Or fame or life,
Which do you hold more dear?
Or life or wealth,
To which would you adhere?
Keep life and lose those other things;
Keep them and lose your life:--which brings
Sorrow and pain more near?

Thus we may see,
Who cleaves to fame
Rejects what is more great;
Who loves large stores
Gives up the richer state.

Who is content
Needs fear no shame.
Who knows to stop
Incurs no blame.
From danger free
Long live shall he.

 

45

Who thinks his great achievements poor
Shall find his vigour long endure.
Of greatest fulness, deemed a void,
Exhaustion ne'er shall stem the tide.
Do thou what's straight still crooked deem;
Thy greatest art still stupid seem,
And eloquence a stammering scream.

Constant action overcomes cold; being still overcomes heat. Purity
and stillness give the correct law to all under heaven.

 

46

When the Tao prevails in the world, they send back their swift
horses to (draw) the dung-carts. When the Tao is disregarded in the
world, the war-horses breed in the border lands.

There is no guilt greater than to sanction ambition; no calamity
greater than to be discontented with one's lot; no fault greater than
the wish to be getting. Therefore the sufficiency of contentment is
an enduring and unchanging sufficiency.

 

47

Without going outside his door, one understands (all that takes
place) under the sky; without looking out from his window, one sees
the Tao of Heaven. The farther that one goes out (from himself), the
less he knows.

Therefore the sages got their knowledge without travelling; gave
their (right) names to things without seeing them; and accomplished
their ends without any purpose of doing so.

 

48

He who devotes himself to learning (seeks) from day to day to
increase (his knowledge); he who devotes himself to the Tao (seeks)
from day to day to diminish (his doing).

He diminishes it and again diminishes it, till he arrives at doing
nothing (on purpose). Having arrived at this point of non-action,
there is nothing which he does not do.

He who gets as his own all under heaven does so by giving himself
no trouble (with that end). If one take trouble (with that end), he
is not equal to getting as his own all under heaven.

 

49

The sage has no invariable mind of his own; he makes the mind
of the people his mind.

To those who are good (to me), I am good; and to those who are not
good (to me), I am also good;--and thus (all) get to be good. To
those who are sincere (with me), I am sincere; and to those who are
not sincere (with me), I am also sincere;--and thus (all) get to be
sincere.

The sage has in the world an appearance of indecision, and keeps
his mind in a state of indifference to all. The people all keep their
eyes and ears directed to him, and he deals with them all as his
children.

 

50

Men come forth and live; they enter (again) and die.

Of every ten three are ministers of life (to themselves); and three
are ministers of death.

There are also three in every ten whose aim is to live, but whose
movements tend to the land (or place) of death. And for what reason?
Because of their excessive endeavours to perpetuate life.

But I have heard that he who is skilful in managing the life
entrusted to him for a time travels on the land without having to shun
rhinoceros or tiger, and enters a host without having to avoid buff
coat or sharp weapon. The rhinoceros finds no place in him into which
to thrust its horn, nor the tiger a place in which to fix its claws,
nor the weapon a place to admit its point. And for what reason?
Because there is in him no place of death.

 

51

All things are produced by the Tao, and nourished by its
outflowing operation. They receive their forms according to the
nature of each, and are completed according to the circumstances of
their condition. Therefore all things without exception honour the
Tao, and exalt its outflowing operation.

This honouring of the Tao and exalting of its operation is not the
result of any ordination, but always a spontaneous tribute.

Thus it is that the Tao produces (all things), nourishes them,
brings them to their full growth, nurses them, completes them, matures
them, maintains them, and overspreads them.

It produces them and makes no claim to the possession of them; it
carries them through their processes and does not vaunt its ability in
doing so; it brings them to maturity and exercises no control over
them;--this is called its mysterious operation.

 

52

(The Tao) which originated all under the sky is to be
considered as the mother of them all.

When the mother is found, we know what her children should be.
When one knows that he is his mother's child, and proceeds to guard
(the qualities of) the mother that belong to him, to the end of his
life he will be free from all peril.

Let him keep his mouth closed, and shut up the portals (of his
nostrils), and all his life he will be exempt from laborious exertion.
Let him keep his mouth open, and (spend his breath) in the promotion
of his affairs, and all his life there will be no safety for him.

The perception of what is small is (the secret of clear-
sightedness; the guarding of what is soft and tender is (the secret
of) strength.

Who uses well his light,
Reverting to its (source so) bright,
Will from his body ward all blight,
And hides the unchanging from men's sight.

 

53

If I were suddenly to become known, and (put into a position
to) conduct (a government) according to the Great Tao, what I should
be most afraid of would be a boastful display.

The great Tao (or way) is very level and easy; but people love the
by-ways.

Their court(-yards and buildings) shall be well kept, but their
fields shall be ill-cultivated, and their granaries very empty. They
shall wear elegant and ornamented robes, carry a sharp sword at their
girdle, pamper themselves in eating and drinking, and have a
superabundance of property and wealth;--such (princes) may be called
robbers and boasters. This is contrary to the Tao surely!

 

54

What (Tao's) skilful planter plants
Can never be uptorn;
What his skilful arms enfold,
From him can ne'er be borne.
Sons shall bring in lengthening line,
Sacrifices to his shrine.

Tao when nursed within one's self,
His vigour will make true;
And where the family it rules
What riches will accrue!
The neighbourhood where it prevails
In thriving will abound;
And when 'tis seen throughout the state,
Good fortune will be found.
Employ it the kingdom o'er,
And men thrive all around.

In this way the effect will be seen in the person, by the
observation of different cases; in the family; in the neighbourhood;
in the state; and in the kingdom.

How do I know that this effect is sure to hold thus all under the
sky? By this (method of observation).

 

55

He who has in himself abundantly the attributes (of the Tao) is
like an infant. Poisonous insects will not sting him; fierce beasts
will not seize him; birds of prey will not strike him.

(The infant's) bones are weak and its sinews soft, but yet its
grasp is firm. It knows not yet the union of male and female, and yet
its virile member may be excited;--showing the perfection of its
physical essence. All day long it will cry without its throat
becoming hoarse;--showing the harmony (in its constitution).

To him by whom this harmony is known,
(The secret of) the unchanging (Tao) is shown,
And in the knowledge wisdom finds its throne.
All life-increasing arts to evil turn;
Where the mind makes the vital breath to burn,
(False) is the strength, (and o'er it we should mourn.)

When things have become strong, they (then) become old, which may
be said to be contrary to the Tao. Whatever is contrary to the Tao
soon ends.

 

56

He who knows (the Tao) does not (care to) speak (about it); he
who is (ever ready to) speak about it does not know it.

He (who knows it) will keep his mouth shut and close the portals
(of his nostrils). He will blunt his sharp points and unravel the
complications of things; he will attemper his brightness, and bring
himself into agreement with the obscurity (of others). This is called
'the Mysterious Agreement.'

(Such an one) cannot be treated familiarly or distantly; he is
beyond all consideration of profit or injury; of nobility or
meanness:--he is the noblest man under heaven.

 

57

A state may be ruled by (measures of) correction; weapons of
war may be used with crafty dexterity; (but) the kingdom is made one's
own (only) by freedom from action and purpose.

How do I know that it is so? By these facts:--In the kingdom the
multiplication of prohibitive enactments increases the poverty of the
people; the more implements to add to their profit that the people
have, the greater disorder is there in the state and clan; the more
acts of crafty dexterity that men possess, the more do strange
contrivances appear; the more display there is of legislation, the
more thieves and robbers there are.

Therefore a sage has said, 'I will do nothing (of purpose), and the
people will be transformed of themselves; I will be fond of keeping
still, and the people will of themselves become correct. I will take
no trouble about it, and the people will of themselves become rich; I
will manifest no ambition, and the people will of themselves attain to
the primitive simplicity.'

 

58

The government that seems the most unwise,
Oft goodness to the people best supplies;
That which is meddling, touching everything,
Will work but ill, and disappointment bring.

Misery!--happiness is to be found by its side! Happiness!--misery
lurks beneath it! Who knows what either will come to in the end?

Shall we then dispense with correction? The (method of) correction
shall by a turn become distortion, and the good in it shall by a turn
become evil. The delusion of the people (on this point) has indeed
subsisted for a long time.

Therefore the sage is (like) a square which cuts no one (with its
angles); (like) a corner which injures no one (with its sharpness).
He is straightforward, but allows himself no license; he is bright,
but does not dazzle.

 

59

For regulating the human (in our constitution) and rendering
the (proper) service to the heavenly, there is nothing like
moderation.

It is only by this moderation that there is effected an early
return (to man's normal state). That early return is what I call the
repeated accumulation of the attributes (of the Tao). With that
repeated accumulation of those attributes, there comes the subjugation
(of every obstacle to such return). Of this subjugation we know not
what shall be the limit; and when one knows not what the limit shall
be, he may be the ruler of a state.

He who possesses the mother of the state may continue long. His
case is like that (of the plant) of which we say that its roots are
deep and its flower stalks firm:--this is the way to secure that its
enduring life shall long be seen.

 

60

Governing a great state is like cooking small fish.

Let the kingdom be governed according to the Tao, and the manes of
the departed will not manifest their spiritual energy. It is not that
those manes have not that spiritual energy, but it will not be
employed to hurt men. It is not that it could not hurt men, but
neither does the ruling sage hurt them.

When these two do not injuriously affect each other, their good
influences converge in the virtue (of the Tao).

 

61

What makes a great state is its being (like) a low-lying, down-
flowing (stream);--it becomes the centre to which tend (all the small
states) under heaven.

(To illustrate from) the case of all females:--the female always
overcomes the male by her stillness. Stillness may be considered (a
sort of) abasement.

Thus it is that a great state, by condescending to small states,
gains them for itself; and that small states, by abasing themselves to
a great state, win it over to them. In the one case the abasement
leads to gaining adherents, in the other case to procuring favour.

The great state only wishes to unite men together and nourish them;
a small state only wishes to be received by, and to serve, the other.
Each gets what it desires, but the great state must learn to abase
itself.

 

62

Tao has of all things the most honoured place.
No treasures give good men so rich a grace;
Bad men it guards, and doth their ill efface.

(Its) admirable words can purchase honour; (its) admirable deeds
can raise their performer above others. Even men who are not good are
not abandoned by it.

Therefore when the sovereign occupies his place as the Son of
Heaven, and he has appointed his three ducal ministers, though (a
prince) were to send in a round symbol-of-rank large enough to fill
both the hands, and that as the precursor of the team of horses (in
the court-yard), such an offering would not be equal to (a lesson of)
this Tao, which one might present on his knees.

Why was it that the ancients prized this Tao so much? Was it not
because it could be got by seeking for it, and the guilty could escape
(from the stain of their guilt) by it? This is the reason why all
under heaven consider it the most valuable thing.

 

63

(It is the way of the Tao) to act without (thinking of) acting;
to conduct affairs without (feeling the) trouble of them; to taste
without discerning any flavour; to consider what is small as great,
and a few as many; and to recompense injury with kindness.

(The master of it) anticipates things that are difficult while they
are easy, and does things that would become great while they are
small. All difficult things in the world are sure to arise from a
previous state in which they were easy, and all great things from one
in which they were small. Therefore the sage, while he never does
what is great, is able on that account to accomplish the greatest
things.

He who lightly promises is sure to keep but little faith; he who is
continually thinking things easy is sure to find them difficult.
Therefore the sage sees difficulty even in what seems easy, and so
never has any difficulties.

 

64

That which is at rest is easily kept hold of; before a thing
has given indications of its presence, it is easy to take measures
against it; that which is brittle is easily broken; that which is very
small is easily dispersed. Action should be taken before a thing has
made its appearance; order should be secured before disorder has
begun.

The tree which fills the arms grew from the tiniest sprout; the
tower of nine storeys rose from a (small) heap of earth; the journey
of a thousand li commenced with a single step.

He who acts (with an ulterior purpose) does harm; he who takes hold
of a thing (in the same way) loses his hold. The sage does not act
(so), and therefore does no harm; he does not lay hold (so), and
therefore does not lose his bold. (But) people in their conduct of
affairs are constantly ruining them when they are on the eve of
success. If they were careful at the end, as (they should be) at the
beginning, they would not so ruin them.

Therefore the sage desires what (other men) do not desire, and does
not prize things difficult to get; he learns what (other men) do not
learn, and turns back to what the multitude of men have passed by.
Thus he helps the natural development of all things, and does not dare
to act (with an ulterior purpose of his own).

 

65

The ancients who showed their skill in practising the Tao did
so, not to enlighten the people, but rather to make them simple and
ignorant.

The difficulty in governing the people arises from their having
much knowledge. He who (tries to) govern a state by his wisdom is a
scourge to it; while he who does not (try to) do so is a blessing.

He who knows these two things finds in them also his model and
rule. Ability to know this model and rule constitutes what we call
the mysterious excellence (of a governor). Deep and far-reaching is
such mysterious excellence, showing indeed its possessor as opposite
to others, but leading them to a great conformity to him.

 

66

That whereby the rivers and seas are able to receive the homage
and tribute of all the valley streams, is their skill in being lower
than they;--it is thus that they are the kings of them all. So it is
that the sage (ruler), wishing to be above men, puts himself by his
words below them, and, wishing to be before them, places his person
behind them.

In this way though he has his place above them, men do not feel his
weight, nor though he has his place before them, do they feel it an
injury to them.

Therefore all in the world delight to exalt him and do not weary of
him. Because he does not strive, no one finds it possible to strive
with him.

 

67

All the world says that, while my Tao is great, it yet appears
to be inferior (to other systems of teaching). Now it is just its
greatness that makes it seem to be inferior. If it were like any
other (system), for long would its smallness have been known!

But I have three precious things which I prize and hold fast. The
first is gentleness; the second is economy; and the third is shrinking
from taking precedence of others.

With that gentleness I can be bold; with that economy I can be
liberal; shrinking from taking precedence of others, I can become a
vessel of the highest honour. Now-a-days they give up gentleness and
are all for being bold; economy, and are all for being liberal; the
hindmost place, and seek only to be foremost;--(of all which the end
is) death.

Gentleness is sure to be victorious even in battle, and firmly to
maintain its ground. Heaven will save its possessor, by his (very)
gentleness protecting him.

 

68

He who in (Tao's) wars has skill
Assumes no martial port;
He who fights with most good will
To rage makes no resort.
He who vanquishes yet still
Keeps from his foes apart;
He whose hests men most fulfil
Yet humbly plies his art.

Thus we say, 'He ne'er contends,
And therein is his might.'
Thus we say, 'Men's wills he bends,
That they with him unite.'
Thus we say, 'Like Heaven's his ends,
No sage of old more bright.'

 

69

A master of the art of war has said, 'I do not dare to be the
host (to commence the war); I prefer to be the guest (to act on the
defensive). I do not dare to advance an inch; I prefer to retire a
foot.' This is called marshalling the ranks where there are no ranks;
baring the arms (to fight) where there are no arms to bare; grasping
the weapon where there is no weapon to grasp; advancing against the
enemy where there is no enemy.

There is no calamity greater than lightly engaging in war. To do
that is near losing (the gentleness) which is so precious. Thus it is
that when opposing weapons are (actually) crossed, he who deplores
(the situation) conquers.

 

70

My words are very easy to know, and very easy to practise; but
there is no one in the world who is able to know and able to practise
them.

There is an originating and all-comprehending (principle) in my
words, and an authoritative law for the things (which I enforce). It
is because they do not know these, that men do not know me.

They who know me are few, and I am on that account (the more) to be
prized. It is thus that the sage wears (a poor garb of) hair cloth,
while he carries his (signet of) jade in his bosom.

 

71

To know and yet (think) we do not know is the highest
(attainment); not to know (and yet think) we do know is a disease.

It is simply by being pained at (the thought of) having this
disease that we are preserved from it. The sage has not the disease.
He knows the pain that would be inseparable from it, and therefore he
does not have it.

 

72

When the people do not fear what they ought to fear, that which
is their great dread will come on them.

Let them not thoughtlessly indulge themselves in their ordinary
life; let them not act as if weary of what that life depends on.

It is by avoiding such indulgence that such weariness does not
arise.

Therefore the sage knows (these things) of himself, but does not
parade (his knowledge); loves, but does not (appear to set a) value
on, himself. And thus he puts the latter alternative away and makes
choice of the former.

 

73

He whose boldness appears in his daring (to do wrong, in
defiance of the laws) is put to death; he whose boldness appears in
his not daring (to do so) lives on. Of these two cases the one
appears to be advantageous, and the other to be injurious. But

When Heaven's anger smites a man,
Who the cause shall truly scan?

On this account the sage feels a difficulty (as to what to do in the
former case).

It is the way of Heaven not to strive, and yet it skilfully
overcomes; not to speak, and yet it is skilful in (obtaining a reply;
does not call, and yet men come to it of themselves. Its
demonstrations are quiet, and yet its plans are skilful and effective.
The meshes of the net of Heaven are large; far apart, but letting
nothing escape.

 

74

The people do not fear death; to what purpose is it to (try to)
frighten them with death? If the people were always in awe of death,
and I could always seize those who do wrong, and put them to death,
who would dare to do wrong?

There is always One who presides over the infliction death. He who
would inflict death in the room of him who so presides over it may be
described as hewing wood instead of a great carpenter. Seldom is it
that he who undertakes the hewing, instead of the great carpenter,
does not cut his own hands!

 

75

The people suffer from famine because of the multitude of taxes
consumed by their superiors. It is through this that they suffer
famine.

The people are difficult to govern because of the (excessive)
agency of their superiors (in governing them). It is through this
that they are difficult to govern.

The people make light of dying because of the greatness of their
labours in seeking for the means of living. It is this which makes
them think light of dying. Thus it is that to leave the subject of
living altogether out of view is better than to set a high value on
it.

 

76

Man at his birth is supple and weak; at his death, firm and
strong. (So it is with) all things. Trees and plants, in their early
growth, are soft and brittle; at their death, dry and withered.

Thus it is that firmness and strength are the concomitants of
death; softness and weakness, the concomitants of life.

Hence he who (relies on) the strength of his forces does not
conquer; and a tree which is strong will fill the out-stretched arms,
(and thereby invites the feller.)

Therefore the place of what is firm and strong is below, and that
of what is soft and weak is above.

 

77

May not the Way (or Tao) of Heaven be compared to the (method
of) bending a bow? The (part of the bow) which was high is brought
low, and what was low is raised up. (So Heaven) diminishes where
there is superabundance, and supplements where there is deficiency.

It is the Way of Heaven to diminish superabundance, and to
supplement deficiency. It is not so with the way of man. He takes
away from those who have not enough to add to his own superabundance.

Who can take his own superabundance and therewith serve all under
heaven? Only he who is in possession of the Tao!

Therefore the (ruling) sage acts without claiming the results as
his; he achieves his merit and does not rest (arrogantly) in it:--he
does not wish to display his superiority.

 

78

There is nothing in the world more soft and weak than water,
and yet for attacking things that are firm and strong there is nothing
that can take precedence of it;--for there is nothing (so effectual)
for which it can be changed.

Every one in the world knows that the soft overcomes the hard, and
the weak the strong, but no one is able to carry it out in practice.

Therefore a sage has said,
'He who accepts his state's reproach,
Is hailed therefore its altars' lord;
To him who bears men's direful woes
They all the name of King accord.'

Words that are strictly true seem to be paradoxical.

 

79

When a reconciliation is effected (between two parties) after a
great animosity, there is sure to be a grudge remaining (in the mind
of the one who was wrong). And how can this be beneficial (to the
other)?

Therefore (to guard against this), the sage keeps the left-hand
portion of the record of the engagement, and does not insist on the
(speedy) fulfilment of it by the other party. (So), he who has the
attributes (of the Tao) regards (only) the conditions of the
engagement, while he who has not those attributes regards only the
conditions favourable to himself.

In the Way of Heaven, there is no partiality of love; it is always
on the side of the good man.

 

80

In a little state with a small population, I would so order it,
that, though there were individuals with the abilities of ten or a
hundred men, there should be no employment of them; I would make the
people, while looking on death as a grievous thing, yet not remove
elsewhere (to avoid it).

Though they had boats and carriages, they should have no occasion
to ride in them; though they had buff coats and sharp weapons, they
should have no occasion to don or use them.

I would make the people return to the use of knotted cords (instead
of the written characters).

They should think their (coarse) food sweet; their (plain) clothes
beautiful; their (poor) dwellings places of rest; and their common
(simple) ways sources of enjoyment.

There should be a neighbouring state within sight, and the voices
of the fowls and dogs should be heard all the way from it to us, but I
would make the people to old age, even to death, not have any
intercourse with it.

 

81

Sincere words are not fine; fine words are not sincere. Those
who are skilled (in the Tao) do not dispute (about it); the
disputatious are not skilled in it. Those who know (the Tao) are not
extensively learned; the extensively learned do not know it.

The sage does not accumulate (for himself). The more that he
expends for others, the more does he possess of his own; the more that
he gives to others, the more does he have himself.

With all the sharpness of the Way of Heaven, it injures not; with
all the doing in the way of the sage he does not strive.

Tao Te Ching Translated by T. McCarroll

1

The Tao that can be spoken of is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.

The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The name is the mother of the ten thousand things.

Send your desires away and you will see the mystery.
Be filled with desire
and you will see only the manifestation.

As these two come forth they differ in name.
Yet at their source they are the same.
This source is called a mystery.

Darkness within darkness,
the gateway to all mystery.


2

All under heaven see beauty as beauty
only because they also see ugliness.
All announce that good is good
only because they also denounce what is bad.

Therefore, something and nothing give birth to one another
Difficult and easy complete one another.
Long and short fashion one another.
High and low arise from one another.
Notes and tones harmonize with one another.
Front and back follow one another.

Thus, the True Person acts without striving
and teaches without words.

Deny nothing to the ten thousand things.

Nourish them without claiming authority,
Benefit them without demanding gratitude,
Do the work, then move on.

And, the fruits of your labor will last forever.


3

Not exalting the talented prevents rivalry.
Not valuing goods that are hard to obtain
prevents stealing.
Not displaying desirable things
prevents confusion of the heart.

Therefore, the True Person governs by
emptying the heart of desire
and filling the belly with food,
weakening ambitions
and strengthening bones.

If the people are simple and free from desire,
then the clever ones never dare to interfere.

Practice action without striving
and all will be in order.


4

The Tao is like an empty bowl,
yet it may be used
without ever needing to be filled.
It is the deep and unfathomable source
of the ten thousand things.

Blunt the sharpness.
Untie the knot.
Soften the glare.
Settle with the dust.

It is hidden deep yet ever present.
I do not know whose child it is.
It existed before the common ancestor.


5

Heaven and earth are not moved
by offerings of straw-dogs.
The Trne Person is not moved
by offerings of straw-dogs.

The space between heaven and earth is like a bellows.
It is empty and yet never exhausted.
The more it works the more comes out.

Many words lead to exhaustion.
Better to hold fast to your center.


6

The valley spirit never dies.
It is the unknown first mother,
whose gate is the root
from which grew heaven and earth.
It is dimly seen, yet always present.
Draw from it all you wish;
it will never run dry.


7

Heaven and earth last forever.
The reason why heaven and earth last forever
is that they do not live for themselves.
Hence, they last forever.

Therefore, the True Person
leaves self behind
and thus is found in front,
is not guarded and thus is preserved,
is self-free and thus is able
to find fulfillment.


8

The highest good is like water.
For water benefits the ten thousand things without striving.
It settles in places that people avoid
and so is like the Tao.

In choosing your horne look to the land.
In preparing your heart go deep.
In associating with others value gentleness.
In speaking exhibit good faith.
In governing pruvide good order.
In the conduct of business be competent.
In action be timely.

Then there is no strife, nothing goes amiss.


9

Better to stop in time than to fill to the brim.
Hone a blade to the sharpest point,
and it will soon be blunt.
Fill your house with gold and jade,
and no one can protect it.
Be prideful about wealth and position,
and you bring disasters upon yourself.
Retire when the work is done.
This is the way of heaven.


10

While carrying your active life on your head
can you embrace the quiet spirit in your arms,
and not let go?
While being fully focused on vour vital breath
can you make it soft like that of a newborn babe?
While cleaning your inner mirror
can you leave it without blemish?
While loving the people and ruling the country
can you dispense with cleverness?
While opening and closing the gates of heaven
can you be like a mother bird?
While penetrating the four quarters with your insight
can you remain simple?

Help the people live!
Nourish the people!

Help them live yet lay no claim to them.
Benefit them yet seek no gratitude.
Guide thern yet do not control them.
This is called the hidden Virtue.


11

Thirty spokes connect to the wheel's hub;
yet, it is the center hole
that makes it useful.
Clay is shaped into a vessel;
yet, it is the emptiness within
that makes it useful.
Doors and windows are cut for a room;
yet it is the space where there is nothing
that makes it useful.

Therefore, though advantage comes from what is;
usefulness comes from what is not.


12

The five colors blind the eye.
The five notes deafen the ear.
The five flavors dull the palate.
Racing and hunting drive the heart wild.
Goods that are hard to obtain hinder the journey.

Therefore, the True Person
is guided more by the belly than the eye,
and prefers this within to that without.


13

Both favor and disgrace bring fear.
Great trouble comes from having a body.

What is meant by:
"Both favor and disgrace bring fear"?
Favor leads to a fear of losing it and
disgrace leads to a fear of greater trouble.

What is meant by:
"Great trouble comes from having a body"?
The reason you have trouble is that
you are self-conscious.
No trouble can befall a self-free person.

Therefore, surrender your self-interest.
Love others as much as you love yourself.
Then you can be entrusted with all things under heaven.


14

Look at it, you cannot see it.
It is invisible.
Listen to it, you cannot hear it.
It is inaudible.
Reach for it, you cannot grasp it.
It is intangible.

These three qualities are unfathomable
and so they fuse together and become one.

The upper part is not bright.
The lower part is not dark.
Ceaselessly the Unnamed moves back to nothingness.
It has the form of the formless,
the image of the imageless.
It is indefinable and shadowy.
Go up to it and you will not see its front.
Follow it and you will not see its back.

Yet, hold fast to this ancient Tao and
you will experience the present now-moment.

Know its beginnings and
you can follow the path of the Tao.


15

The ancient followers of the Tao
were subtle, mysterious, and penetrating.
They were too deep to be fathomed.
All we can do is describe their appearance.
Hesitant, as if crossing a winter stream.
Watchful, as if aware of neighbors on all sides.
Respectful, like a visiting guest.
Yielding, like ice beginning to melt.
Simple, like an uncarved block.
Open, like a valley.
Obscure, like muddy water.

Who else can be still and let the muddy water
slowly become clear?
Who else can remain at rest and slowly come to life?

Those who hold fast to the Tao
do not try to fill themselves to the brim.
Because thev do not try to be full
they can be worn out and yet ever new.


16

Empty everything out;
hold fast to your stillness.
Even though all things are stirring together,
watch for the movement of return.
The ten thousand things flourish and then
each returns to the root from which it came.
Returning to the root is stillness.
Through stillness each fulfills its destiny.
That which has fulfilled its destiny
becomes part of the Always-so.
To be aware of the Always-so is to awaken.

Those who innovate while in ignorance of the Always-so
move toward disaster.
Those who act wirh awareness of the Always-so
embrace all, are not possessed by particular desire
and move toward the Tao.
Those who are at one with the Tao abide forever.
Even after their bodies waste away,
they are safe and whole.


17

The best leader is one whose existence
is barely known by the people.
Next comes one whom they love and praise.
Next comes one they fear.
Next comes one they defy.

If you do not trust enough, you will not be trusted.

True Persons do not offer words lightly.
When their task is accomplished
and their work is completed,
the people say, "It happened to us naturally."


18

When the great Tao is forgotten,
benevolence and moral codes arise.
When shrewdness and cleverness appear,
great hypocrisy follows.
When there is no harmony in the family,
filial manners are developed
When the country is in disorder,
ministers appear as loyal servants.


19

Stop being learned and your troubles will end.

Give up wisdom, discard cleverness,
and the people will benefit a hundredfold.

Give up benevolence, discard moral judgments, .'~
and the people will rediscover natural compassion.

Give up shrewdness, discard gain,
and thieves and robbers will disappear.

These three false adornments are not enough to live by.
They must give way to something more solid.
Look for what is simple and hold onto the Uncarved Block.
Diminish thoughts of self and restrain desires.


20

How great is the difference between "yea" and "yeah"?
How great is the distinction between "good" and "evil"?

Must I fear what others fear? How silly!

Everyone else is joyous as if enjoying the greatest feast,
or going up the terraces in spring.
I alone am drifting without direction,
like a baby who has not yet smiled.
I alone am moping as if I had no home.
Everyone else has more than they need,
I alone seem in want.
I have the mind of a fool, how confused I am!
Other people are bright and clever,
I alone am dark.
Other people are alert and self-assured,
If alone am dull and muddled.
I am unsettled like the waves of the sea,
like the restless wind.
Everyone else has a purpose,
I alone am stubborn and awkward.
I am different from other people,
Even so, I am nourished by the Great.


21

The Great Virtue is to follow the Tao and only the Tao.

The Tao is shadowy and intangible.
Intangible and evasive, and yet within it is a form.
Evasive and intangible, and yet within it is a substance.
Shadowy and dark, and vet within it is a vital force.
This vital force is real and can be relied upon.

From ancient times to the present the Tao's instructions
have not been forgotten.
Through it can be perceived the beginning of the story
of life.
How do I know how it was at the beginning of the story
of life?
Because of what is within me.


22

Yield and overcome;
bend and be straight.
Empty out and be full;
wear out and be renewed.
Have little and gain;
have much and be confused.

Therefore, the True Person embraces the One
and becorrles a model for all.

Do not look only at yourself,
and you will see much.
Do not justify yourself,
and you will be distinguished.
Do not brag,
and you will have merit.
Do not be prideful,
and your work will endure.

It is because you do not strive
that no one under heaven can strive with you.

The saying of the Old Ones, "Yield and Overcome,"
is not an empty phrase.
True wholeness is achieved
by blending with life.


23

To talk little is to follow nature.

A whirlwind does not last all morning.
A sudden shower does not last all day.
Who produces these things?
Heaven and earth!
Even heaven and earth cannot make
wild things last long.
How then can people hope to do so?

People of the Tao
conform to the Tao.
People of Virtue
conform to Virtue.
People who lose the way
conform to the loss.
Those who conform to the Tao
are welcomed into the Tao.
Those who conform to Virtue
are welcomed into Virtue.
Those who conform to the loss
are welcomed into the loss.

Those who do not trust enough
will not be trusted.


24

The person on tiptoe is not steady.
The person with legs astride cannot walk.

Those who look only at thernselves see little.
Those who justify themselves are not distinguished.
Those who brag have no merit.
The work of prideful people will not endure.

From the standpoint of the Tao,
these things are
"excessive food and tumors of the body."
As they bring sickness,
followers of the Tao do not linger around them.


25

Something formless yet complete,
existing before heaven and earth.
Silent and limitless,
it stands alone and does not change.
Reaching everywhere, it does not tire.
Perhaps it is the Mother of all things under heaven.
I do not know its name
so I call it "Tao."

When I have to describe it I call it "great."
Being great it flows.
It flows far away.
Having gone far away, it returns.

Therefore, the Tao is great.
Heaven is great.
Earth is great.
People are also great.
Thus, people constitute one of the
four great things of the universe.

People conform to the earth.
The earth conforms to heaven.
Heaven conforms to the Tao.
The Tao conforms to its own nature.


26

Whe solid must be the root of the light.
The still must be the master of thc restless.

Therefore, wise people when traveling all day
do not lose sight of their baggage cart.
Although there are beautiful scenes to see,
they remain quietly in their own place.
Should a lord of ten thousand chariots
appear more frivolous than a simple traveler?

To be light is to lose the root.
To be restless is to lose the master.


27

A skillful traveler leaves no track.
A skillful speaker makes no slip.
A skillful reckoner needs no counting rod.
A skillfully made door requires no bolts,
yet it cannot be opened.
A skillful binding has no cords or knots,
yet it cannot be untied.

Therefore, the True Person is skillful in assisting people,
and abandons nobody;
In skillful in assisting things,
and abandons nothing.
This is called "Following the lnner Light."

Therefore, the skillful person is the teacher
of the person without skill.
The person withont skill is the material
for the skillfirl person.
If you do not respect the teacher,
if you do not care for the material,
you are on the road to confusion
and your cleverness will not save you.

This is an essential principle.


28

Develop the strength of a man,
but live as gently as a woman.
Become a brook and receive all things under heaven.
If you are such a brook
then Virtue will constantly flow into you
and you will become a simple child again.

Know thew pure
but live the life of the sullied.
Become a fountain to all things under heaven.
If you bccome such a fountain
then you will have abundant Virtue
and you will return to the state of the Uncarved Block.

When the Uncarved Block is cut up into pieces,
it is turned into specialized instruments.
But the True Person makes use of it whole
and becomes the master of the instruments.

Hence, it is said, "The finest carver cuts little."


29

Whoever wishes to take over the world
will not succeed.
The world is a sacred vessel
and nothing should be done to it.
Whoever tries to tamper with it
will mar it.
Whoever tries to grab it
will lose it.

Hence, there is a time to go ahead
and a tirne to stay behind.
There is a time to breathe easy
and a time to breathe hard.
There is a tirne to be vigorous
and a tirrle to be gentle.
There is a tine to gather
and a time to release.

Therefore, the True Person avoids extremes,
self-indulgence, and extravagance.


30

If you would assist leaders of people
by way of the Tao,
you will oppose the use of armed force to overpower
the world.

Those who use weapons will be harmed by them.
Where troops have camped only thorn bushes grow.
Bad harvests follow in the wake of a great army.

The skillful person strikes the blow and stops,
without taking advantage of victory.
Bring it to a conclusion but do not be vain.
Bring it to a conclusion but do not be boastful.
Bring it to a conclusion but do not be arrogant.
Bring it to a conclusion but only when there is no choice.
Bring it to a conclusion but without violence.

When force is rlsed, youthful strength decays.
This is not the way of Tao.
And that which goes against the Tao
will quickly pass away.


31

Weapons are ill-omened things.

Among gentle people the left side
is the place of honor when at home,
but in war the right side is the place of honor.

Weapons are not proper instruments for gentle people;
they use them only when they have no other choice.
Peace and quiet are what they value.
They do not glory in victory.
to glorify it is to delight in the slaughter of people.
Those who delight in the slaughter of people will
never thrive among all that dwell under heaven.

The army that has killed people
should be received with sorrow.
Conquerors should be received with the rites of mourning.


32

The Tao is forever nameless.

Though the Uncarved Block is small,
it is not inferior to anything under heaven.
lf leaders could keep hold of it,
the ten thousand things would submit to them freely.
Heaven and earth would unite and sweet dew would fall.
The people would live in harmony
without any law or decree.

Only when the Block is carved are there names.
As soon as there are names
it is timc to stop.
Knowing when to stop prevents trouble.

All under heaven will return to the Tao
as brooks and streams flow home to the sea.


33

Knowing others is to be clever.
Knowing yourself is to be enlightened.
Overcoming others requires force.
Overcoming yourself requires strength.

To know that you have enough is to be rich.
Push through and you may get your way,
but return home and you will endure.
Live out your days and you have had a long life.


34

The great Tao covers everything like a flood.
lt flows to the left and to the right.
The ten thousand things depend upon it
and it denies none of them.
It accomplishes its task yet claims no reward.
It clothes and feeds the ten thousand things
yet it does not attempt to control them.
Therefore, it may be called "the little."

The ten thousand things return to it,
even though it does not control them.
Therefore, it may be called "the great."

So it is that the True Person does not wish to be great
and therefore becomes truly great.


35

Hold on to the Great Image
and all under heaven will approach you.
Coming to you and not being harmed,
they will find rest, peace, and security.

A passing guest will pause at the sound of music
and the smell of fancy food.
By comparison the Tao is mild and flavorless.
It is not solid enough to be seen,
nor loud enough to be heard.
Yet, it lasts forever.


36

That which is to be shrunk
must first be stretched out.
That which is to be weakened
must first be strengthened.
That which is to be cast down
must first be raised up.
That which is to be taken
must first be given.

There is wisdom in dimming your light.
For the soft and gentle
will overcome the hard and powerful.

Fish are best left in deep waters.
And, weapons are best kept out of sight.


37

The Tao never strives,
yet nothing is left undone.
If leaders were able to adhere to it
the ten thousand things would develop
of their own accord.
If after they have developed
they experience desires to strive,
they can bury those desires
under the nameless Uncarved Block.

The nameless Uncarved Block can protect
against desire.
When desires are restrained there will be peace,
and then all under heaven will be at rest.

THE SECOND BOOK: Te (Virtue)


38

A person of high virtue is not conscious of virtue
and therefore possesses Virtue.
A person of little virtue tries to be virtuous
and therefore lacks Virtue.
A person of high vir-tue does not make a fuss
and is not seen.
A person of little virtue always makes a fuss
and is always seen.
A truly good person functions without ulterior motive.
A moralist acts out of private desires.
A ritualist acts and, when no one responds,
rolls up a sleeve and marches.

When we lose the Tao, we turn to Virtue.
When we lose Virtue, we turn to kindness.
When we lose kindness, we turn to morality.
When we lose morality, we turn to ritual.

Ritual is the mere husk of good faith and loyalty
and the beginning of disorder.
Knowledge of what is to come
may be a flower of the Tao,
but it is the beginning of folly.

Hence, the well-formed person relies on what is solid
and not on what is flimsy,
on the fruit and not the flower.
Therefore, such a person lets go of that without
and is cont:ent with this within.


39

From ancient times these things have arisen from the One:

Heaven is clear because of the One,
The earth is firm because of the One,
The Spirit is strong because of the One,
The valley is full because of thc One,
The ten thousand things reprodnce because of the One,
Leaders are able to lead because of the One.

All of this comes from the One.

If heaven were not clear it would soon split.
If the earth were not firm it would soon bend and break.
If the Spirit were not strong it would soon wear out.
If the valley were not full it would soon dry up.
If the ten thousand things did not reproduce
they would soon die out.
If leaders could not lead they would soon fall.

Therefore, greatness has its source in the little.
The low is the foundation of the high.

Princes call themselves "alone," "helpless," "worthless."
Is this not acknowledging a humble root~

Enumerate the parts of a carriage
and you have not defined a carriage.

Better to resound like stone chimes
than to tinkle like jade bells.


40

Returning is the direction of the Tao.
Yielding is the way of the Tao.

The ten thousand things are born of Being
and Being is born of Nonbeing.


41

The wise student on hearing the Tao
diligently puts it into practice.
The average student on hearing the Tao
keeps it one minute and loses it the next.
The mediocre student on hearing the Tao
laughs at it loudly.
If this student did not laugh it would not be the Tao.

Therefore, the ancient proverb says:

The bright path seems dull.
The path that goes torward seems to lead backward.
The even path seems up and down.
The greatest whiteness seems soiled.

High Virtue seems like a canyon.
Abundant Virtue seems deficient.
Vigorous Virtue seems limp.
Simple Virtue seems faded.

The greatest square has no corners.
The greatest vessel takes long to complete.
The greatest note is hard to hear.
The greatest image has no shape.

The Tao is hidden and narneless;
yet, it is the Tao alone that supports all thing?;
and brings them to completion.


42

The Tao gives birth to the One.
The One gives birth to two.
Two gives birth to three.
And three gives birth to the ten thousand things.

The ten thousand things have their backs in the shadow
while they embrace the light.
Harmony is achieved by blending
the breaths of these two forces.

People dislike the words "alone," "helpless," "worthless,"
yet this is how Princes describe them selves.

So it is that sometimes a thing is increased
by being diminished and
diminished by being increased.

What others teach I also teach:
"A violent person will not die a natural death."
I shall make this the basis of my teaching.


43

The most yielding of all things
overcomes the hardest of all things.
That which has no substance
enters where there is no crevice.

Hence, I know the value of action without striving.

Few things under heaven bring more benefit than
the lessons learned from silence and
the actions taken without striving.


44

Your integrity or your body:
Which is more important?
Your body or your possessions Which is worth more?
Gain or loss:
Which is more harmful?
Thus it is that the miser will pay much.
The hoarder will suffer great loss.
Be content with what you have
and you will not be disgraced.
Know when to stop
and you will be preserved from danger.
Only in this way will you long endure.


45

Great accomplishment seems incomplete,
yet its use is not impaired.
Great filllness seems empty,
yet it will never be drained.

Great straightness looks crooked.
Great skill appears clumsy.
Great eloquence sounds like stammering.

Movement overcomes cold,
stillness overcomes heat.

The calm and quiet set right
everything under heaven.


46

When the Tao prevails in the world
swift horses are used to fertilize the fields.
When the Tao is unheeded
war horses are bred on the border lands.

There is no greater offense than harboring desires.
There is no greater disaster than discontent.
There is no greater misfortune than wanting more.

Hence, if you are content
You will always have enough.


47

Without going outside
you can know the ways of the world.
Without looking through the window
you can see the way of heaven.
The farther you go
the less you know.

Therefore, the Trne Person
arrives without traveling,
perceives without looking,
and acts without striving.


48

In the pursuit of learning,
every day something isadded.
In the pursuit of the Tao,
every day something is dropped.

Less and less is done
until you come to action with striving.
When you follow this practice,
nothing remains undone.

All under heaven is won by
letting things take their cuurse.
Nothing can be gained by interfering.


49

The True Person does not have an individual heart
but uses the heart of the people.

I am kind to those who are kind.
I am also kind to those who are not kind.
Thus, there is an increase in kindness.
I keep faith with those who are in good faith.
I also keep faith with those WhO lack good faith.
Thus, there is an increase of good faith.

The True Person is detached and humble
and to the world appears confusing.
The people all strain their eyes and ears,
yet the True Person remains childlike.


50

When going off one way means living
and going off the other way means dying,
three in ten are companions of Life,
three in ten are companions of Death, and
three in ten value Life but drift toward Death.

Why is all this so?
Because, these people are too greedy about living.

It is said:
People who are skillful in caring
for the life that has been given to them
travel abroad without fear of wild ox or tiger,
and enter a battle without concern for sharp weapons.
There is no place for the wild ox to thrust its horns,
there is no place for the tiger to put its claws,
there is no place for a weapon to lodge.

How is this so?
Because, there is no place for Death to enter in!


51

The Tao gives life to all things,
and its Virtue nourishes them,
forms each according to its nature
and gives to each its inner strengrth.

Therefore, the ten thousand things all venerate the Tao
and honor its Virtue.
It has never bccn decreed that the Tao be venerated
and its Virtue be honored;
they have always been so treated spontaneously.

Thus, the Tao gives life to all things;
and its Virtue raises them, nourishes them,
brings them to their full growth,
feeds, shelters, and protects them.

Giving life without claiming authority,
benefiting without demanding gratitude,
guiding without control.
This is called hidden Virtue.


52

All things under heaven had a common beginning,
and that beginning could be considered
the Mother of all things.
When you know the Mother
you will also know the children.
Know the children, yet hold fast to the Mother,
and to the end of your days
you will be free from danger.

Block the passages!
Shut the doors!
And, to the end of your days
your strength will not fail you.
Open the passages!
Increase your activities!
And, to the end of your days
you will be beyond help.

See the small and develop clear vision.
Practice yielding and develop strength.
Use the outer light to return to the inner light,
and save yourself from harm.

This is known as following the Always-so.


53

If I have even little sense,
I will walk upon the great path of Tao
and only fear straying from it.
This Great Way is straight and smooth
yet people often prefer the side roads.

The courtyard is well kept
but the fields are full of weeds,
and the granaries stand empty.
Still, there are those of us
who wear elegant clothes, carry sharp swords,
pamper ourselvcs with food and drink
and have more possessions than we can use.
These are the actions of robbers.

This is certainly far from the Tao.


54

What is well rooted cannot be pulled up.
What is firmly grasped will not slip loose.
It will be honored from generatlon to generation.

When cultivated in your person, Virtue will be real.
When cultivated in your household, Virtue will be plentiful.
When cultivated in your village, Virtue will endure.
When cultivated in your country, Virtue will abound.
When cultivated in your world, Virtue will be universal.

Hence, through yourself look at Self.
Through your household look at Household.
Through your community look at Community.
Through yonr country look at Country.
Through your world look at World.

How do I know that the world is like this?
Because of what is within me.


55

A person who is filled with Virtue
is like a newborn child.
Poisonons insects will not sting,
wild animals will not pounce,
birds of prey will not swoop down.
Although bones are soft and sinews weak,
a child's grip is firm.
The union of man and woman is not known,
yet there is completeness,
because a child's vital force is at its height.
Crying all day will not produce hoarseness,
because there is perfect harmony.

To know harmony is to know the Always-so.
To know the Always-so is to be awakened.

Trying to fill life to the brim invites a curse.
For the mind to Inake demands upon the breath of life
brings strain.

Whatever has been forced to a peak of vigor
approaches its decay.
This is not the way of Tao.
And that which goes against the Tao
will quickly pass away.


56

Those who know do not speak.
Those who speak do not know.

Block the passages!
Shut the doors!
Blunt the sharpness!
Untangle the knots!
Soften the glare!
Settle with the dust!
This is the Mystery of Evenness.

Those who have achieved this cannot be enclosed
nor kept at a distance;
they cannot be bene fited nor harmed,
honored nor disgraced.

Therefore, this is the noblest state under heaven.


57

Govern the country by being straightforward.
Wage war by being crafty.
Win all under heaven by not meddling.

How do I know that this is so?
By what is within me.

The more restrictions there are,
the poorer are the people.
The more pointed the people's weapons,
the more disorder there is in the country.
The more ingenious and clever the people,
the more strange the contrivances that appear.
The more laws and edicts that are posted,
the more thieves and robbers that arise.

Hence an Old One has said:
I act without striving and the
people transform themselvey.
I love stillness and the
people straighten themselves.
I do not meddle and the
people prosper by themselves.
I am free from desires and the
people themselves return to the simplicily
of the Uncarved Block.


58

When the government is unseen
the people are simple and happy.
When the government is lively
the people are cunning and discontented.

On misery perches happiness.
Beneath happiness crouches misery.

Who knows when this will cease?
The straight changes into the crooked.
The good becomes the ominous.
Surely the people
have been confused for a long time.

Therefore, the True Person squares without cutting,
carves without hacking,
straightens without dislocating,
gives forth light without blinding.


59

For governing others and serving heaven
there is nothing better than moderation.
A person who is moderate returns to the path.
Returning to the path brings an abundance of Virtue.
This good store of Virtue cannot be conquered.
Virtue that cannot be conquered knows no limit.
Only a person who has lirnitiess Virtue is fit to lead.
Only the leader who possesses the Mother of the country
will long endure.
This is called making the roots go deep
by restraining the trunk.
Learn to focus your life and you will see many days.


60

Governing a big country is like cooking a small fish.

Let all under heaven be governed in accordance with the Tao,
and demons will not manifest their power.
It is not that they lack power
but rather they will not use their power
to harm the people.
They are not the only ones who have power
and do not use it to harm the people.
The True Person does not harm the people.
Whenever there is no harm done,
that power flows into the common Virtue.


61

A great country is like the low lands
where all the streams unite.

In all things under heaven
the female overcomes the male by her stillness,
and because she is still she lies below.

Hence, if the great country will take the low place
it will win over the little country.
If the little country will take the low place
it will win over the great country.

Thus, the one gets below and prospers
and the other remains below and prospers.
All that the great country wants is more people.
All that the little country wants is a place
for its people to go and to be employed.
If each is to get what it wants
it is necessary for the great country
to take the low place.


62

The Tao is to the ten thousand things
what the shrine is in the home.
It is the treasure of the virtuous
and the protection of the wrongdoer.

Good words are appreciated.
Good deeds deeds accepted as gifts.

Even the wrongdoers are not abandoned.

Hence, on the day an Emperor is installed
and appoints the three ducal ministers.
remain where you are and make an offering of the Tao.
It will be preferable to a gift ofjade discs
followed by a team of fonr horses.
Why did the ancients value the Tao?
Was it not because through it
you can find what you seek,
and because of it
you can escape what is hounding you?

Therefore, it is the most valuable thing under heaven.


63

Act without striving.
Work without interfering.
Find the flavor in what is flavorless.

Enlarge the small, increase the few.
Heal injury with goodness.

Handle the difficult while it is still easy.
Cultivate the great while it is still small.

All difficult things begin as easy things.
All great things begin as small things.

Therefore, the True Person never attempts anything great,
and accomplishes great things.

Lightly made promises inspire little faith.
Trying to make things easy results in great difficulties.

Therefore, the True Person regards everything as difficult,
and is never overcome by difficulties.


64

Peace is easily maintained while things are still at rest.
Trouble is easily handled before it starts.
What is brittle is easily broken.
What is minute is easily scattered.

Handle a problem before it appears.
Secure order before confusion begins.

A tree as big as a person's embrace begins as a tiny shoot.
A terrace nine stories high rises from a shovelful of earth.
A journey of a thousand miles begins under your feet.

A person who interferes does harm,
and those who grasp lose their hold.
Therefore, the True Person acts without striving and does no
harm,
avoids grabbing and never loses hold.

People often ruin their ventures
when they are on the verge of success.
So, be as careful at the end as at the beginning,
and your work will not be ruined.

Therefore, the True Person seeks freedom from desire,
does not value things that are hard to come by,
learns without scholarship,
brings people back to what they have passed by,
and assists the ten thousand things to find their own
natures;
all without daring to interfere.


65

The ancients who practiced the Tao
did not use it to enlighten the people,
but rather to assist them in gaining simplicity.
The reason people are difficult to govern
is because they are too clever.

Hence, a person who attempts
to govern a country by cleverness
will injure it.
Those who govern without cleverness
will be a blessing to the land.
These are the two models.
Knowing these models is called the Mystic Virtue.
The Mystic Virtue is deep and so far-reaching
that it can lead all things back
toward great harmony.


66

How did the sea
gain kingship of a hundred streams?
Because it takes the lower position.
Hence, it is king of a hundred streams.

Therefore, when True Persons are over the people
they put themselves below the people by their speech.
When they lead the people
they stand behind the people.

When True Persons are given places above the people
they do not crush the people with their weight.
When they take their place ahead of the people
they do not obstruct the people's progress.
That is why everything under heaven supports them gladly
and does not tire of them.

Because they strive with no one,
no one can ever strive with them.


67

Everyone under heaven says my Tao is great
and resembles nothing else.
It is because it is great that it seems different.
If it were like anything on earth
it would have been small from the beginning.

I have three treasures that I cherish and hald fast.
The first is gentleness,
the second is simplicity,
the third is daring not to be first
among all things under heaven.
Because of gentleness I am able to be courageous.
Because of simplicity I am able to be generous.
Because of daring not to be first
I am able to lead.

If people forsake gentleness and attempt to be courageous,
forsake simplicity and attempt to be generous,
forsake the last place and attempt to get the first place,
this is certain death.

Gentleness conquers in battle and protects in defense.
What heaven guards, it arms with the gift of gentleness.


68

A skilled warrior does not rush ahead of others
A skilled fighter does not make a show of anger.
A skilled victor does not seek revenge.
A skilled employer does not acr superior.

This is known as the virtue of not competing.
This is known as making use of the abilities of others.
This is known as being united with heaven
as it was in ancient times.


69

The master soldiers have a saying:
I dare not be the host but prefer to be the guest.
I dare not advance an inch
but prefer to retreat a foot.

This is called marching without Inoving,
rolling up a sleeve without baring an arm,
capturing a foe without a battlefront,
arming yourself without weapons.

There is no disaster greater than attacking
and finding no enemy.
Doing so will cost you your treasure.
Thus it is that when opposing forces meet,
victory will go to those
who take no delight in the situation.


70

My words are easy to understand
and easy to put into practice.
Yet no one under heaven understands them
or puts them into practice.

My words have an ancestor. My actions are governed.

Because people do not understand this
they do not understand me.
Those who understand me are few.
Those who follow me should be respected.

Therefore, the True Person wears homespun clothes
and carries jade in the heart.


71

It is well to know that you do not know.
To think you know when you do not is sickness.

When you are sick of sickness you will no longer be sick.
True Persons are not sick because they are sick of sickness;
this is the way to health.


72

When the people lack a sense of awe
disaster will descend upon them.

Do not constrict their living space.
Do not harass them in their work.
If you do not oppress them, they will not weary of you.

Therefore, True Persons know themselves
but make no show of themselves.
They know their value
but do not exalt themselves.
They prefer this within to that without.


73

A person whose courage lies in daring will meet death.
A person whose courage lies in not daring
will encounter life.
Of the two courses, either may be beneficial or harmful.

Heaven dislikes what it dislikes.
Who knows the reason why?
Even the True Person has difficulty with such a question.

The Tao of Heaven
does not strive and yet it overcomes,
does not speak and yet it gets responses,
does not beckon and yet it attracts,
is at ease and yet it follows a plan.

The net of heaven is cast wide.
Though the mesh is coarse, nothing ever slips through.


74

When the people do not fear death,
of what use is it to threaten them with death?
If the people were always afraid of death
and if those who did wrong
would always be arrested and put to death,
who would do wrong?

There is always a Lord of Execution
whose duty it is to kill.
If you try to fill that function
it is like trying to hew wood
in place of a master carpenter.
You will probably injure your own hands.


75

Why are the people starving?
Because their leaders eat up too much of the tax-grain;
that is why the people are starving.
Why are thc people difficult to govern?
Because their leaders interfere;
that is why the people are difficult to govern.
Why do the people treat death lightly.
Because their leaders are so grossly absorbed
in the pursuit of living;
that is why the people treat death lightly.

Indeed, it is wiser to ignore life altogether
than to place too high a value on it.


76

At birth you are supple and soft.
At death you are stiff and hard.
Grass and trees are pliant and tender when living,
but they are dry and brittle when dead.
Therefore, the stiff and hard are attendants of death,
the supple and soft are attendants of life.

Thus, the hard weapon will be broken.
The mighty tree will invite the axe.

Therefore, the hard and mighty belong below;
the yielding and gentle belong above.


77

The way of heaven is like the bending of a bow.
The high end is pulled down and the low end is raised up.
The excessive is dirninished
and the deficient is supplemented.

It is the way of heaven to take where there is too much
in order to give where there is not enough.
The way of people is otherwise.
They take where there is not enough
in order to increase where there is already too much.
Who will take from their own excesses
and give to all under heaven?
Only those who hold to the Tao.

Therefore, the True Person benefits yet expects no reward,
does the work and moves on.
There is no desire to be considered better than others.


78

Nothing under heaven is
softer or more yielding than water.
Yet it has no equal for attacking things
that are hard and stiff.
Nothing can withstand it.

Everyone knows that the yielding overcomes the stiff,
and the soft overcomes the hard.
Yet no one applies this knowledge.

Therefore, an Old One said:
Only a person who has accept,ed the country's dirt
is a leader worthy to offer sacrifice
at its shrines of earth and grain.
Only a person who takes llp the country's burdens
deserves to be a leader
among those who dwell under heaven.

Straightforward words seem crooked.


79

Even though a truce is made between great enemies,
some enmity is bound to remain.
How can this be beneficial?

Therefore, the True Person
undertakes the obligations of the agreerment
but makes no claim upon others.
The person who has Virtue shares with others.
The person who lacks Virtue takes fron others.

The way of heaven has no favorites;
it always remains with what is good.


80

In a small country with few people:
Though there are machines that would increase
production ten to a hundred miles
they are not used.
The people take death seriously and do not
travel about.

Though they have boats and carriages no one uses them.
Though they have armor and weapons,
there is no occasion to display them.

The people give up writing
and return to the knotting of cords.
They are satisfied with their food.
They are pleased with their clothes.
They are content with their homes.
They are happy in their simple ways.

Even though they live within sight of another country
and can hear dogs barking and cocks crowing in it,
still the people grow old and die
without ever coming into conflict.


81

Sincere words are not elegant;
elegant words are not sincere.
The good person does not argue;
the person who argues is not good.
The wise do not have great learning;
those with great learning are not wise.

True Persons do not hoard.
Using all they have for others, they still have more.
Giving all they have to others, they are richer than before.

The way of heaven is to benefit and not to harm.
The way of the True Reason is to assist without striving
in the unfolding of the story of the earth.

Tao Te Ching Translated by J. McDonald

1

The tao that can be described
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be spoken
is not the eternal Name.

The nameless is the boundary of Heaven and Earth.
The named is the mother of creation.

Freed from desire, you can see the hidden mystery.
By having desire, you can only see what is visibly real.

Yet mystery and reality
emerge from the same source.
This source is called darkness.

Darkness born from darkness.
The beginning of all understanding.

2

When people see things as beautiful,
ugliness is created.
When people see things as good,
evil is created.

Being and non-being produce each other.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low oppose each other.
Fore and aft follow each other.

Therefore the Master
can act without doing anything
and teach without saying a word.
Things come her way and she does not stop them;
things leave and she lets them go.
She has without possessing,
and acts without any expectations.
When her work is done, she takes no credit.
That is why it will last forever.

3

If you over esteem talented individuals,
people will become overly competitive.
If you overvalue possessions,
people will begin to steal.

Do not display your treasures
or people will become envious.

The Master leads by
emptying people's minds,
filling their bellies,
weakening their ambitions,
and making them become strong.
Preferring simplicity and freedom from desires,
avoiding the pitfalls of knowledge and wrong action.

For those who practice not-doing,
everything will fall into place.

4

The Tao is like an empty container:
it can never be emptied and can never be filled.
Infinitely deep, it is the source of all things.
It dulls the sharp, unties the knotted,
shades the lighted, and unites all of creation with dust.

It is hidden but always present.
I don't know who gave birth to it.
It is older than the concept of God.

5

Heaven and Earth are impartial;
they treat all of creation as straw dogs.
The Master doesn't take sides;
she treats everyone like a straw dog.

The space between Heaven and Earth is like a bellows;
it is empty, yet has not lost its power.
The more it is used, the more it produces;
the more you talk of it, the less you comprehend.

It is better not to speak of things you do not understand.

6

The spirit of emptiness is immortal.
It is called the Great Mother
because it gives birth to Heaven and Earth.

It is like a vapor,
barely seen but always present.
Use it effortlessly.

7

The Tao of Heaven is eternal,
and the earth is long enduring.
Why are they long enduring?
They do not live for themselves;
thus they are present for all beings.

The Master puts herself last;
And finds herself in the place of authority.
She detaches herself from all things;
Therefore she is united with all things.
She gives no thought to self.
She is perfectly fulfilled.

8

The supreme good is like water,
which benefits all of creation
without trying to compete with it.
It gathers in unpopular places.
Thus it is like the Tao.

The location makes the dwelling good.
Depth of understanding makes the mind good.
A kind heart makes the giving good.
Integrity makes the government good.
Accomplishment makes your labors good.
Proper timing makes a decision good.

Only when there is no competition
will we all live in peace.

9

It is easier to carry and empty cup
than one that is filled to the brim.

The sharper the knife
the easier it is to dull.
The more wealth you possess
the harder it is to protect.
Pride brings its own trouble.

When you have accomplished your goal
simply walk away.
This is the pathway to Heaven.

10

Nurture the darkness of your soul
until you become whole.
Can you do this and not fail?
Can you focus your life-breath until you become
supple as a newborn child?
While you cleanse your inner vision
will you be found without fault?
Can you love people and lead them
without forcing your will on them?
When Heaven gives and takes away
can you be content with the outcome?
When you understand all things
can you step back from your own understanding?

Giving birth and nourishing,
making without possessing,
expecting nothing in return.
To grow, yet not to control:
This is the mysterious virtue.

11

Thirty spokes are joined together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that allows the wheel to function.

We mold clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that makes the vessel useful.

We fashion wood for a house,
but it is the emptiness inside
that makes it livable.

We work with the substantial,
but the emptiness is what we use.

12

Five colors blind the eye.
Five notes deafen the ear.
Five flavors make the palate go stale.
Too much activity deranges the mind.
Too much wealth causes crime.
The Master acts on what she feels and not what she sees.
She shuns the latter, and prefers to seek the former.

13

Success is as dangerous as failure,
and we are often our own worst enemy.

What does it mean that success is as dangerous as failure?
He who is superior is also someone's subordinate.
Receiving favor and losing it both cause alarm.
That is what is meant by success is as dangerous as failure.
What does it mean that we are often our own worst enemy?
The reason I have an enemy is because I have "self".
If I no longer had a "self", I would no longer have an enemy.

Love the whole world as if it were your self;
then you will truly care for all things.

14

Look for it, and it can't be seen.
Listen for it, and it can't be heard.
Grasp for it, and it can't be caught.
These three cannot be further described,
so we treat them as The One.

Its highest is not bright.
Its depths are not dark.
Unending, unnamable, it returns to nothingness.
Formless forms, and imageless images,
subtle, beyond all understanding.

Approach it and you will not see a beginning;
follow it and there will be no end.
When we grasp the Tao of the ancient ones,
we can use it to direct our life today.
To know the ancient origin of Tao:
this is the beginning of wisdom.

15

The Sages of old were profound
and knew the ways of subtlety and discernment.
Their wisdom is beyond our comprehension.
Because their knowledge was so far superior
I can only give a poor description.

They were careful
as someone crossing an frozen stream in winter.
Alert as if surrounded on all sides by the enemy.
Courteous as a guest.
Fluid as melting ice.
Whole as an uncarved block of wood.
Receptive as a valley.
Turbid as muddied water.

Who can be still
until their mud settles
and the water is cleared by itself?
Can you remain tranquil until right action occurs by itself?

The Master doesn't seek fulfillment.
For only those who are not full are able to be used
which brings the feeling of completeness.

16

If you can empty your mind of all thoughts
your heart will embrace the tranquility of peace.
Watch the workings of all of creation,
but contemplate their return to the source.

All creatures in the universe
return to the point where they began.
Returning to the source is tranquility
because we submit to Heavens mandate.

Returning to Heavens mandate is called being constant.
Knowing the constant is called 'enlightenment'.
Not knowing the constant is the source of evil deeds
because we have no roots.
By knowing the constant we can accept things as they are.
By accepting things as they are, we become impartial.
By being impartial, we become one with Heaven.
By being one with Heaven, we become one with Tao.
Being one with Tao, we are no longer concerned about
losing our life because we know the Tao is constant
and we are one with Tao.

17

The best leaders are those the people hardly know exist.
The next best is a leader who is loved and praised.
Next comes the one who is feared.
The worst one is the leader that is despised.

If you don't trust the people,
they will become untrustworthy.

The best leaders value their words, and use them sparingly.
When she has accomplished her task,
the people say, "Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!"

18

When the great Tao is abandoned,
charity and righteousness appear.
When intellectualism arises,
hypocrisy is close behind.

When there is strife in the family unit,
people talk about 'brotherly love'.

When the country falls into chaos,
politicians talk about 'patriotism'.

19

Forget about knowledge and wisdom,
and people will be a hundred times better off.
Throw away charity and righteousness,
and people will return to brotherly love.
Throw away profit and greed,
and there won't be any thieves.

These three are superficial and aren't enough
to keep us at the center of the circle, so we must also:

Embrace simplicity.
Put others first.
Desire little.

20

Renounce knowledge and your problems will end.
What is the difference between yes and no?
What is the difference between good and evil?
Must you fear what others fear?
Nonsense, look how far you have missed the mark!

Other people are joyous,
as though they were at a spring festival.
I alone am unconcerned and expressionless,
like an infant before it has learned to smile.
Other people have more than they need;
I alone seem to possess nothing.
I am lost and drift about with no place to go.
I am like a fool, my mind is in chaos.

Ordinary people are bright;
I alone am dark.
Ordinary people are clever;
I alone am dull.
Ordinary people seem discriminating;
I alone am muddled and confused.
I drift on the waves on the ocean,
blown at the mercy of the wind.
Other people have their goals,
I alone am dull and uncouth.

I am different from ordinary people.
I nurse from the Great Mother's breasts.

21

The greatest virtue you can have
comes from following only the Tao;
which takes a form that is intangible and evasive.

Even though the Tao is intangible and evasive,
we are able to know it exists.
Intangible and evasive, yet it has a manifestation.
Secluded and dark, yet there is a vitality within it.
Its vitality is very genuine.
Within it we can find order.

Since the beginning of time, the Tao has always existed.
It is beyond existing and not existing.
How do I know where creation comes from?
I look inside myself and see it.

22

If you want to become whole,
first let yourself become broken.
If you want to become straight,
first let yourself become twisted.
If you want to become full,
first let yourself become empty.
If you want to become new,
first let yourself become old.
Those whose desires are few get them,
those whose desires are great go astray.

For this reason the Master embraces the Tao,
as an example for the world to follow.
Because she isn't self centered,
people can see the light in her.
Because she does not boast of herself,
she becomes a shining example.
Because she does not glorify herself,
she becomes a person of merit.
Because she wants nothing from the world,
the world can not overcome her.

When the ancient Masters said,
"If you want to become whole,
then first let yourself be broken,"
they weren't using empty words.
All who do this will be made complete.

23

Nature uses few words:
when the gale blows, it will not last long;
when it rains hard, it lasts but a little while;
What causes these to happen? Heaven and Earth.

Why do we humans go on endlessly about little
when nature does much in a little time?
If you open yourself to the Tao,
you and Tao become one.
If you open yourself to Virtue,
then you can become virtuous.
If you open yourself to loss,
then you will become lost.

If you open yourself to the Tao,
the Tao will eagerly welcome you.
If you open yourself to virtue,
virtue will become a part of you.
If you open yourself to loss,
the lost are glad to see you.

"When you do not trust people,
people will become untrustworthy."

24

Those who stand on tiptoes
do not stand firmly.
Those who rush ahead
don't get very far.
Those who try to outshine others
dim their own light.
Those who call themselves righteous
can't know how wrong they are.
Those who boast of their accomplishments
diminish the things they have done.

Compared to the Tao, these actions are unworthy.
If we are to follow the Tao,
we must not do these things.

25

Before the universe was born
there was something in the chaos of the heavens.
It stands alone and empty,
solitary and unchanging.
It is ever present and secure.
It may be regarded as the Mother of the universe.
Because I do not know its name,
I call it the Tao.
If forced to give it a name,
I would call it 'Great'.

Because it is Great means it is everywhere.
Being everywhere means it is eternal.
Being eternal means everything returns to it.

Tao is great.
Heaven is great.
Earth is great.
Humanity is great.
Within the universe, these are the four great things.

Humanity follows the earth.
Earth follows Heaven.
Heaven follows the Tao.
The Tao follows only itself.

26

Heaviness is the basis of lightness.
Stillness is the standard of activity.

Thus the Master travels all day
without ever leaving her wagon.
Even though she has much to see,
she is at peace in her indifference.

Why should the lord of a thousand chariots
be amused at the foolishness of the world?
If you abandon yourself to foolishness,
you lose touch with your beginnings.
If you let yourself become distracted,
you will lose the basis of your power.

27

A good traveler leaves no tracks,
and a skillful speaker is well rehearsed.
A good bookkeeper has an excellent memory,
and a well made door is easy to open and needs no locks.
A good knot needs no rope and it can not come undone.

Thus the Master is willing to help everyone,
and doesn't know the meaning of rejection.
She is there to help all of creation,
and doesn't abandon even the smallest creature.
This is called embracing the light.

What is a good person but a bad person's teacher?
What is a bad person but raw material for his teacher?
If you fail to honor your teacher or fail to enjoy your student,
you will become deluded no matter how smart you are.
It is the secret of prime importance.

28

Know the masculine,
but keep to the feminine:
and become a watershed to the world.
If you embrace the world,
the Tao will never leave you
and you become as a little child.

Know the white,
yet keep to the black:
be a model for the world.
If you are a model for the world,
the Tao inside you will strengthen
and you will return whole to your eternal beginning.

Know the honorable,
but do not shun the disgraced:
embracing the world as it is.
If you embrace the world with compassion,
then your virtue will return you to the Uncarved Block.

The block of wood is carved into utensils
by carving void into the wood.
The Master uses the utensils, yet prefers to keep to the block
because of its limitless possibilities.
Great works do not involve discarding substance.

29

Do you want to rule the world and control it?
I don't think it can ever be done.

The world is sacred vessel
and it can not be controlled.
You will only it make it worse if you try.
It may slip through your fingers and disappear.

Some are meant to lead,
and others are meant to follow;
Some must always strain,
and others have an easy time;
Some are naturally big and strong,
and others will always be small;
Some will be protected and nurtured,
and others will meet with destruction.

The Master accepts things as they are,
and out of compassion avoids extravagance,
excess and the extremes.

30

Those who lead people by following the Tao
don't use weapons to enforce their will.
Using force always leads to unseen troubles.

In the places where armies march,
thorns and briars bloom and grow.
After armies take to war,
bad years must always follow.
The skillful commander
strikes a decisive blow then stops.
When victory is won over the enemy through war
it is not a thing of great pride.
When the battle is over,
arrogance is the new enemy.
War can result when no other alternative is given,
so the one who overcomes an enemy should not dominate them.
The strong always weakened with time.

This is not the way of the Tao.
That which is not of the Tao will soon end.

31

Weapons are the bearers of bad news;
all people should detest them.

The wise man values the left side,
and in time of war he values the right.
Weapons are meant for destruction,
and thus are avoided by the wise.
Only as a last resort
will a wise person use a deadly weapon.
If peace is her true objective
how can she rejoice in the victory of war?
Those who rejoice in victory
delight in the slaughter of humanity.
Those who resort to violence
will never bring peace to the world.
The left side is a place of honor on happy occasions.
The right side is reserved for mourning at a funeral.
When the lieutenants take the left side to prepare for war,
the general should be on the right side,
because he knows the outcome will be death.
The death of many should be greeted with great sorrow,
and the victory celebration should honor those who have died.

32

The Tao is nameless and unchanging.
Although it appears insignificant,
nothing in the world can contain it.

If a ruler abides by its principles,
then her people will willingly follow.
Heaven would then reign on earth,
like sweet rain falling on paradise.
People would have no need for laws,
because the law would be written on their hearts.

Naming is a necessity for order,
but naming can not order all things.
Naming often makes things impersonal,
so we should know when naming should end.
Knowing when to stop naming,
you can avoid the pitfall it brings.

All things end in the Tao
just as the small streams and the largest rivers
flow through valleys to the sea.

33

Those who know others are intelligent;
those who know themselves are truly wise.
Those who master others are strong;
those who master themselves have true power.

Those who know they have enough are truly wealthy.

Those who persist will reach their goal.

Those who keep their course have a strong will.
Those who embrace death will not perish,
but have life everlasting.

34

The great Tao flows unobstructed in every direction.
All things rely on it to conceive and be born,
and it does not deny even the smallest of creation.
When it has accomplished great wonders,
it does not claim them for itself.
It nourishes infinite worlds,
yet it doesn't seek to master the smallest creature.
Since it is without wants and desires,
it can be considered humble.
All of creation seeks it for refuge
yet it does not seek to master or control.
Because it does not seek greatness;
it is able to accomplish truly great things.

35

She who follows the way of the Tao
will draw the world to her steps.
She can go without fear of being injured,
because she has found peace and tranquility in her heart.

Where there is music and good food,
people will stop to enjoy it.
But words spoken of the Tao
seem to them boring and stale.
When looked at, there is nothing for them to see.
When listen for, there is nothing for them to hear.
Yet if they put it to use, it would never be exhausted.

36

If you want something to return to the source,
you must first allow it to spread out.
If you want something to weaken,
you must first allow it to become strong.
If you want something to be removed,
you must first allow it to flourish.
If you want to possess something,
you must first give it away.

This is called the subtle understanding
of how things are meant to be.

The soft and pliable overcomes the hard and inflexible.

Just as fish remain hidden in deep waters,
it is best to keep weapons out of sight.

37

The Tao never acts with force,
yet there is nothing that it can not do.

If rulers could follow the way of the Tao,
then all of creation would willingly follow their example.
If selfish desires were to arise after their transformation,
I would erase them with the power of the Uncarved Block.

By the power of the Uncarved Block,
future generations would lose their selfish desires.
By losing their selfish desires,
the world would naturally settle into peace.

38

The highest good is not to seek to do good,
but to allow yourself to become it.
The ordinary person seeks to do good things,
and finds that they can not do them continually.

The Master does not force virtue on others,
thus she is able to accomplish her task.
The ordinary person who uses force,
will find that they accomplish nothing.

The kind person acts from the heart,
and accomplishes a multitude of things.
The righteous person acts out of pity,
yet leaves many things undone.
The moral person will act out of duty,
and when no one will respond
will roll up his sleeves and uses force.

When the Tao is forgotten, there is righteousness.
When righteousness is forgotten, there is morality.
When morality is forgotten, there is the law.
The law is the husk of faith,
and trust is the beginning of chaos.

Our basic understandings are not from the Tao
because they come from the depths of our misunderstanding.
The master abides in the fruit and not in the husk.
She dwells in the Tao,
and not with the things that hide it.
This is how she increases in wisdom.

39

The masters of old attained unity with the Tao.
Heaven attained unity and became pure.
The earth attained unity and found peace.
The spirits attained unity so they could minister.
The valleys attained unity that they might be full.
Humanity attained unity that they might flourish.
Their leaders attained unity that they might set the example.
This is the power of unity.

Without unity, the sky becomes filthy.
Without unity, the earth becomes unstable.
Without unity, the spirits become unresponsive and disappear.
Without unity, the valleys become dry as a desert.
Without unity, human kind can't reproduce and becomes extinct.
Without unity, our leaders become corrupt and fall.

The great view the small as their source,
and the high takes the low as their foundation.
Their greatest asset becomes their humility.
They speak of themselves as orphans and widows,
thus they truly seek humility.
Do not shine like the precious gem,
but be as dull as a common stone.

40

All movement returns to the Tao.
Weakness is how the Tao works.

All of creation is born from substance.
Substance is born of nothing-ness.

41

When a superior person hears of the Tao,
She diligently puts it into practice.
When an average person hears of the Tao,
he believes half of it, and doubts the other half.
When a foolish person hears of the Tao,
he laughs out loud at the very idea.
If he didn't laugh,
it wouldn't be the Tao.

Thus it is said:
The brightness of the Tao seems like darkness,
the advancement of the Tao seems like retreat,
the level path seems rough,
the superior path seems empty,
the pure seems to be tarnished,
and true virtue doesn't seem to be enough.
The virtue of caution seems like cowardice,
the pure seems to be polluted,
the true square seems to have no corners,
the best vessels take the most time to finish,
the greatest sounds cannot be heard,
and the greatest image has no form.

The Tao hides in the unnamed,
Yet it alone nourishes and completes all things.

42

The Tao gave birth to One.
The One gave birth to Two.
The Two gave birth to Three.
The Three gave birth to all of creation.

All things carry Yin
yet embrace Yang.
They blend their life breaths
in order to produce harmony.

People despise being orphaned, widowed and poor.
But the noble ones take these as their titles.
In losing, much is gained,
and in gaining, much is lost.

What others teach I too will teach:
"The strong and violent will not die a natural death."

43

That which offers no resistance,
overcomes the hardest substances.
That which offers no resistance
can enter where there is no space.

Few in the world can comprehend
the teaching without words,
or understand the value of non-action.

44

Which is more important, your honor or your life?
Which is more valuable, your possessions or your person?
Which is more destructive, success or failure?

Because of this, great love extracts a great cost
and true wealth requires greater loss.

Knowing when you have enough avoids dishonor,
and knowing when to stop will keep you from danger
and bring you a long, happy life.

45

The greatest accomplishments seem imperfect,
yet their usefulness is not diminished.
The greatest fullness seems empty,
yet it will be inexhaustible.

The greatest straightness seems crooked.
The most valued skill seems like clumsiness.
The greatest speech seems full of stammers.

Movement overcomes the cold,
and stillness overcomes the heat.
That which is pure and still is the universal ideal.

46

When the world follows the Tao,
horses run free to fertilize the fields.
When the world does not follow the Tao,
war horses are bread outside the cities.

There is no greater transgression
than condoning peoples selfish desires,
no greater disaster than being discontent,
and no greater retribution than for greed.

Whoever knows contentment will be at peace forever.

47

Without opening your door,
you can know the whole world.
Without looking out your window,
you can understand the way of the Tao.

The more knowledge you seek,
the less you will understand.

The Master understands without leaving,
sees clearly without looking,
accomplishes much without doing anything.

48

One who seeks knowledge learns something new every day.
One who seeks the Tao unlearns something new every day.
Less and less remains until you arrive at non-action.
When you arrive at non-action,
nothing will be left undone.

Mastery of the world is achieved
by letting things take their natural course.
You can not master the world by changing the natural way.

49

The Master has no mind of her own.
She understands the mind of the people.

To those who are good she treats as good.
To those who aren't good she also treats as good.
This is how she attains true goodness.

She trusts people who are trustworthy.
She also trusts people who aren't trustworthy.
This is how she gains true trust.

The Master's mind is shut off from the world.
Only for the sake of the people does she muddle her mind.
They look to her in anticipation.
Yet she treats them all as her children.

50

Those who leave the womb at birth
and those who enter their source at death,
of these; three out of ten celebrate life,
three out of ten celebrate death,
and three out of ten simply go from life to death.
What is the reason for this?
Because they are afraid of dying,
therefore they can not live.

I have heard that those who celebrate life
walk safely among the wild animals.
When they go into battle, they remain unharmed.
The animals find no place to attack them
and the weapons are unable to harm them.
Why? Because they can find no place for death in them.

51

The Tao gives birth to all of creation.
The virtue of Tao in nature nurtures them,
and their family gives them their form.
Their environment then shapes them into completion.
That is why every creature honors the Tao and its virtue.

No one tells them to honor the Tao and its virtue,
it happens all by itself.
So the Tao gives them birth,
and its virtue cultivates them,
cares for them,
nurtures them,
gives them a place of refuge and peace,
helps them to grow and shelters them.

It gives them life without wanting to posses them,
and cares for them expecting nothing in return.
It is their master, but it does not seek to dominate them.
This is called the dark and mysterious virtue.

52

The world had a beginning
which we call the Great Mother.
Once we have found the Mother,
we begin to know what Her children should be.

When we know we are the Mothers child,
we begin to guard the qualities of the Mother in us.
She will protect us from all danger
even if we lose our life.

Keep your mouth closed
and embrace a simple life,
and you will live care-free until the end of your days.
If you try to talk your way into a better life
there will be no end to your trouble.

To understand the small is called clarity.
Knowing how to yield is called strength.
To use your inner light for understanding
regardless of the danger
is called depending on the Constant.

53

If I understood only one thing,
I would want to use it to follow the Tao.
My only fear would be one of pride.
The Tao goes in the level places,
but people prefer to take the short cuts.

If too much time is spent cleaning the house
the land will become neglected and full of weeds,
and the granaries will soon become empty
because there is no one out working the fields.
To wear fancy clothes and ornaments,
to have your fill of food and drink
and to waste all of your money buying possessions
is called the crime of excess.
Oh, how these things go against the way of the Tao!

54

That which is well built
will never be torn down.
That which is well latched
can not slip away.
Those who do things well
will be honored from generation to generation.

If this idea is cultivated in the individual,
then his virtue will become genuine.
If this idea is cultivated in your family,
then virtue in your family will be great.
If this idea is cultivated in your community,
then virtue will go a long way.
If this idea is cultivated in your country,
then virtue will be in many places.
If this idea is cultivated in the world,
then virtue will be with everyone.

Then observe the person for what the person does,
and observe the family for what it does,
and observe the community for what it does,
and observe the country for what it does,
and observe the world for what it does.
How do I know this saying is true?
I observe these things and see.

55

One who is filled with the Tao
is like a newborn child.
The infant is protected from
the stinging insects, wild beasts, and birds of prey.
Its bones are soft, its muscles are weak,
but its grip is firm and strong.
It doesn't know about the union
of male and female,
yet his penis can stand erect,
because of the power of life within him.
It can cry all day and never become hoarse.
This is perfect harmony.

To understand harmony is to understand the Constant.
To know the Constant is to be called 'enlightened'.
To unnaturally try to extend life is not appropriate.
To try and alter the life-breath is unnatural.
The master understands that when something reaches its prime
it will soon begin to decline.
Changing the natural is against the way of the Tao.
Those who do it will come to an early end.

56

Those who know do not talk.
Those who talk do not know.

Stop talking,
meditate in silence,
blunt your sharpness,
release your worries,
harmonize your inner light,
and become one with the dust.
Doing this is called the dark and mysterious identity.

Those who have achieved the mysterious identity
can not be approached, and they can not be alienated.
They can not be benefited nor harmed.
They can not be made noble nor to suffer disgrace.
This makes them the most noble of all under the heavens.

57

Govern your country with integrity,
Weapons of war can be used with great cunning,
but loyalty is only won by not-doing.
How do I know the way things are?
By these:

The more prohibitions you make,
the poorer people will be.
The more weapons you posses,
the greater the chaos in your country.
The more knowledge that is acquired,
the stranger the world will become.
The more laws that you make,
the greater the number of criminals.

Therefore the Master says:
I do nothing,
and people become good by themselves.
I seek peace,
and people take care of their own problems.
I do not meddle in their personal lives,
and the people become prosperous.
I let go of all my desires,
and the people return to the Uncarved Block.

58

If a government is unobtrusive,
the people become whole.
If a government is repressive,
the people become treacherous.

Good fortune has its roots in disaster,
and disaster lurks with good fortune.
Who knows why these things happen,
or when this cycle will end?
Good things seem to change into bad,
and bad things often turn out for good.
These things have always been hard to comprehend.

Thus the Master makes things change
without interfering.
She is probing yet causes no harm.
Straightforward, yet does not impose her will.
Radiant, and easy on the eye.

59

There is nothing better than moderation
for teaching people or serving Heaven.
Those who use moderation
are already on the path to the Tao.

Those who follow the Tao early
will have an abundance of virtue.
When there is an abundance of virtue,
there is nothing that can not be done.
Where there is limitless ability,
then the kingdom is within your grasp.
When you know the Mother of the kingdom,
then you will be long enduring.

This is spoken of as the deep root and the firm trunk,
the Way to a long life and great spiritual vision.

60

Governing a large country
is like frying small fish.
Too much poking spoils the meat.

When the Tao is used to govern the world
then evil will lose its power to harm the people.
Not that evil will no longer exist,
but only because it has lost its power.
Just as evil can lose its ability to harm,
the Master shuns the use of violence.

If you give evil nothing to oppose,
then virtue will return by itself.

61

A large country should take the low place like a great watershed,
which from its low position assumes the female role.
The female overcomes the male by the power of her position.
Her tranquility gives rise to her humility.

If a large country takes the low position,
it will be able to influence smaller countries.
If smaller countries take the lower position,
then they can allow themselves to be influenced.
So both seek to take the lower position
in order to influence the other, or be influenced.

Large countries should desire to protect and help the people,
and small countries should desire to serve others.
Both large and small countries benefit greatly from humility.

62

The Tao is the tabernacle of creation,
it is a treasure for those who are good,
and a place of refuge for those who are not.

How can those who are not good be abandoned?
Words that are beautiful are worth much,
but good behavior can only be learned by example.

When a new leader takes office,
don't give him gifts and offerings.
These things are not as valuable
as teaching him about the Tao.

Why was the Tao esteemed by the ancient Masters?
Is it not said: "With it we find without looking.
With it we find forgiveness for our transgressions."
That is why the world can not understand it.

63

Act by not acting;
do by not doing.
Enjoy the plain and simple.
Find that greatness in the small.
Take care of difficult problems
while they are still easy;
Do easy things before they become too hard.

Difficult problems are best solved while they are easy.
Great projects are best started while they are small.
The Master never takes on more than she can handle,
which means that she leaves nothing undone.

When an affirmation is given too lightly,
keep your eyes open for trouble ahead.
When something seems too easy,
difficulty is hiding in the details.
The master expects great difficulty,
so the task is always easier than planned.

64

Things are easier to control while things are quiet.
Things are easier to plan far in advance.
Things break easier while they are still brittle.
Things are easier hid while they are still small.

Prevent problems before they arise.
Take action before things get out of hand.
The tallest tree
begins as a tiny sprout.
The tallest building
starts with one shovel of dirt.
A journey of a thousand miles
starts with a single footstep.

If you rush into action, you will fail.
If you hold on too tight, you will lose your grip.

Therefore the Master lets things take their course
and thus never fails.
She doesn't hold on to things
and never loses them.
By pursing your goals too relentlessly,
you let them slip away.
If you are as concerned about the outcome
as you are about the beginning,
then it is hard to do things wrong.
The master seeks no possessions.
She learns by unlearning,
thus she is able to understand all things.
This gives her the ability to help all of creation.

65

The ancient Masters
who understood the way of the Tao,
did not educate people, but made them forget.

Smart people are difficult to guide,
because they think they are too clever.
To use cleverness to rule a country,
is to lead the country to ruin.
To avoid cleverness in ruling a country,
is to lead the country to prosperity.

Knowing the two alternatives is a pattern.
Remaining aware of the pattern is a virtue.
This dark and mysterious virtue is profound.
It is opposite our natural inclination,
but leads to harmony with the heavens.

66

Rivers and seas are rulers
of the streams of hundreds of valleys
because of the power of their low position.

If you want to be the ruler of people,
you must speak to them like you are their servant.
If you want to lead other people,
you must put their interest ahead of your own.

The people will not feel burdened,
if a wise person is in a position of power.
The people will not feel like they are being manipulated,
if a wise person is in front as their leader.
The whole world will ask for her guidance,
and will never get tired of her.
Because she does not like to compete,
no one can compete with the things she accomplishes.

67

The world talks about honoring the Tao,
but you can't tell it from their actions.
Because it is thought of as great,
the world makes light of it.
It seems too easy for anyone to use.

There are three jewels that I cherish:
compassion, moderation, and humility.
With compassion, you will be able to be brave,
With moderation, you will be able to give to others,
With humility, you will be able to become a great leader.
To abandon compassion while seeking to be brave,
or abandoning moderation while being benevolent,
or abandoning humility while seeking to lead
will only lead to greater trouble.
The compassionate warrior will be the winner,
and if compassion is your defense you will be secure.
Compassion is the protector of Heavens salvation.

68

The best warriors
do not use violence.
The best generals
do not destroy indiscriminately.
The best tacticians
try to avoid confrontation.
The best leaders
becomes servants of their people.

This is called the virtue of non-competition.
This is called the power to manage others.
This is called attaining harmony with the heavens.

69

There is an old saying:
"It is better to become the passive
in order to see what will happen.
It is better to retreat a foot
than to advance only an inch."

This is called
being flexible while advancing,
pushing back without using force,
and destroying the enemy without engaging him.

There is no greater disaster
than underestimating your enemy.
Underestimating your enemy
means losing your greatest assets.
When equal forces meet in battle,
victory will go to the one
that enters with the greatest sorrow.

70

My words are easy to understand
and easier to put into practice.
Yet no one in the world seems to understand them,
and are not able to apply what I teach.

My teachings come from the ancients,
the things I do are done for a reason.

Because you do not know me,
you are not able to understand my teachings.
Because those who know me are few,
my teachings become even more precious.

71

Knowing you don't know is wholeness.
Thinking you know is a disease.
Only by recognizing that you have an illness
can you move to seek a cure.

The Master is whole because
she sees her illnesses and treats them,
and thus is able to remain whole.

72

When people become overly bold,
then disaster will soon arrive.

Do not meddle with people's livelihood;
by respecting them they will in turn respect you.

Therefore, the Master knows herself but is not arrogant.
She loves herself but also loves others.
This is how she is able to make appropriate choices.

73

Being overbold and confidant is deadly.
The wise use of caution will keep you alive.

One is the way to death,
and the other is the way to preserve your life.
Who can understand the workings of Heaven?

The Tao of the universe
does not compete, yet wins;
does not speak, yet responds;
does not command, yet is obeyed;
and does act, but is good at directing.

The nets of Heaven are wide,
but nothing escapes its grasp.

74

If you do not fear death,
then how can it intimidate you?
If you aren't afraid of dying,
there is nothing you can not do.

Those who harm others
are like inexperienced boys
trying to take the place of a great lumberjack.
Trying to fill his shoes will only get them seriously hurt.

75

When people go hungry,
the government's taxes are too high.
When people become rebellious,
the government has become too intrusive.

When people begin to view death lightly,
wealthy people have too much
which causes others to starve.

Only those who do not cling to their life can save it.

76

The living are soft and yielding;
the dead are rigid and stiff.
Living plants are flexible and tender;
the dead are brittle and dry.

Those who are stiff and rigid
are the disciples of death.
Those who are soft and yielding
are the disciples of life.

The rigid and stiff will be broken.
The soft and yielding will overcome.

77

The Tao of Heaven works in the world
like the drawing of a bow.
The top is bent downward;
the bottom is bent up.
The excess is taken from,
and the deficient is given to.

The Tao works to use the excess,
and gives to that which is depleted.
The way of people is to take from the depleted,
and give to those who already have an excess.

Who is able to give to the needy from their excess?
Only someone who is following the way of the Tao.

This is why the Master gives
expecting nothing in return.
She does not dwell on her past accomplishments,
and does not glory in any praise.

78

Water is the softest and most yielding substance.
Yet nothing is better than water,
for overcoming the hard and rigid,
because nothing can compete with it.

Everyone knows that the soft and yielding
overcomes the rigid and hard,
but few can put this knowledge into practice.

Therefore the Master says:
"Only he who is the lowest servant of the kingdom,
is worthy to become its ruler.
He who is willing to tackle the most unpleasant tasks,
is the best ruler in the world."

True sayings seem contradictory.

79

Difficulties remain, even after solving a problem.
How then can we consider that as good?

Therefore the Master
does what she knows is right,
and makes no demands of others.
A virtuous person will do the right thing,
and persons with no virtue will take advantage of others.

The Tao does not choose sides,
the good person receives from the Tao
because she is on its side.

80

Small countries with few people are best.
Give them all of the things they want,
and they will see that they do not need them.
Teach them that death is a serious thing,
and to be content to never leave their homes.
Even though they have plenty
of horses, wagons and boats,
they won't feel that they need to use them.
Even if they have weapons and shields,
they will keep them out of sight.
Let people enjoy the simple technologies,
let them enjoy their food,
let them make their own clothes,
let them be content with their own homes,
and delight in the customs that they cherish.
Although the next country is close enough
that they can hear their roosters crowing and dogs barking,
they are content never to visit each other
all of the days of their life.

81

True words do not sound beautiful;
beautiful sounding words are not true.
Wise men don't need to debate;
men who need to debate are not wise.

Wise men are not scholars,
and scholars are not wise.
The Master desires no possessions.
Since the things she does is for the people,
she has more than she needs.
The more she gives to others,
the more she has for herself.

The Tao of Heaven nourishes by not forcing.
The Tao of the Wise person acts by not competing.

Tao Te Ching Translated by P. Merel

1. The Way

The Way that can be experienced is not true;
The world that can be constructed is not true.
The Way manifests all that happens and may happen;
The world represents all that exists and may exist.
To experience without intention is to sense the world;
To experience with intention is to anticipate the world.
These two experiences are indistinguishable;
Their construction differs but their effect is the same.
Beyond the gate of experience flows the Way,
Which is ever greater and more subtle than the world.

2. Abstraction

When beauty is abstracted
Then ugliness has been implied;
When good is abstracted
Then evil has been implied.
So alive and dead are abstracted from nature,
Difficult and easy abstracted from progress,
Long and short abstracted from contrast,
High and low abstracted from depth,
Song and speech abstracted from melody,
After and before abstracted from sequence.
The sage experiences without abstraction,
And accomplishes without action;
He accepts the ebb and flow of things,
Nurtures them, but does not own them,
And lives, but does not dwell.

3. Without Action

Not praising the worthy prevents contention,
Not esteeming the valuable prevents theft,
Not displaying the beautiful prevents desire.
In this manner the sage governs people:
Emptying their minds,
Filling their bellies,
Weakening their ambitions,
And strengthening their bones.
If people lack knowledge and desire
Then they can not act;
If no action is taken
Harmony remains.

4. Limitless

The Way is a limitless vessel;
Used by the self, it is not filled by the world;
It cannot be cut, knotted, dimmed or stilled;
Its depths are hidden, ubiquitous and eternal;
I don't know where it comes from;
It comes before nature.

5. Nature

Nature is not kind;
It treats all things impartially.
The Sage is not kind,
And treats all people impartially.
Nature is like a bellows,
Empty, yet never ceasing its supply.
The more it moves, the more it yields;
So the sage draws upon experience
And cannot be exhausted.

6. Experience

Experience is a riverbed,
Its source hidden, forever flowing:
Its entrance, the root of the world,
The Way moves within it:
Draw upon it; it will not run dry.

7. Complete

Nature is complete because it does not serve itself.
The sage places himself after and finds himself before,
Ignores his desire and finds himself content.
He is complete because he does not serve himself.

8. Water

The best of man is like water,
Which benefits all things, and does not contend with them,
Which flows in places that others disdain,
Where it is in harmony with the Way.
So the sage:
Lives within nature,
Thinks within the deep,
Gives within impartiality,
Speaks within trust,
Governs within order,
Crafts within ability,
Acts within opportunity.
He does not contend, and none contend against him.

9. Retire

Fill a cup to its brim and it is easily spilled;
Temper a sword to its hardest and it is easily broken;
Amass the greatest treasure and it is easily stolen;
Claim credit and honour and you easily fall;
Retire once your purpose is achieved - this is natural.

10. Harmony

Embracing the Way, you become embraced;
Breathing gently, you become newborn;
Clearing your mind, you become clear;
Nurturing your children, you become impartial;
Opening your heart, you become accepted;
Accepting the world, you embrace the Way.
Bearing and nurturing,
Creating but not owning,
Giving without demanding,
This is harmony.

11. Tools

Thirty spokes meet at a nave;
Because of the hole we may use the wheel.
Clay is moulded into a vessel;
Because of the hollow we may use the cup.
Walls are built around a hearth;
Because of the doors we may use the house.
Thus tools come from what exists,
But use from what does not.

12. Substance

Too much colour blinds the eye,
Too much music deafens the ear,
Too much taste dulls the palate,
Too much play maddens the mind,
Too much desire tears the heart.
In this manner the sage cares for people:
He provides for the belly, not for the senses;
He ignores abstraction and holds fast to substance.

13. Self

Both praise and blame cause concern,
For they bring people hope and fear.
The object of hope and fear is the self -
For, without self, to whom may fortune and disaster occur?
Therefore,
Who distinguishes himself from the world may be given the world,
But who regards himself as the world may accept the world.

14. Mystery

Looked at but cannot be seen - it is beneath form;
Listened to but cannot be heard - it is beneath sound;
Held but cannot be touched - it is beneath feeling;
These depthless things evade definition,
And blend into a single mystery.
In its rising there is no light,
In its falling there is no darkness,
A continuous thread beyond description,
Lining what can not occur;
Its form formless,
Its image nothing,
Its name silence;
Follow it, it has no back,
Meet it, it has no face.
Attend the present to deal with the past;
Thus you grasp the continuity of the Way,
Which is its essence.

15. Enlightenment

The enlightened possess understanding
So profound they can not be understood.
Because they cannot be understood
I can only describe their appearance:
Cautious as one crossing thin ice,
Undecided as one surrounded by danger,
Modest as one who is a guest,
Unbounded as melting ice,
Genuine as unshaped wood,
Broad as a valley,
Seamless as muddy water.
Who stills the water that the mud may settle,
Who seeks to stop that he may travel on,
Who desires less than may transpire,
Decays, but will not renew.

16. Decay and Renewal

Empty the self completely;
Embrace perfect peace.
The world will rise and move;
Watch it return to rest.
All the flourishing things
Will return to their source.
This return is peaceful;
It is the flow of nature,
An eternal decay and renewal.
Accepting this brings enlightenment,
Ignoring this brings misery.
Who accepts nature's flow becomes all-cherishing;
Being all-cherishing he becomes impartial;
Being impartial he becomes magnanimous;
Being magnanimous he becomes natural;
Being natural he becomes one with the Way;
Being one with the Way he becomes immortal:
Though his body will decay, the Way will not.

17. Rulers

The best rulers are scarcely known by their subjects;
The next best are loved and praised;
The next are feared;
The next despised:
They have no faith in their people,
And their people become unfaithful to them.
When the best rulers achieve their purpose
Their subjects claim the achievement as their own.

18. Hypocrisy

When the Way is forgotten
Duty and justice appear;
Then knowledge and wisdom are born
Along with hypocrisy.
When harmonious relationships dissolve
Then respect and devotion arise;
When a nation falls to chaos
Then loyalty and patriotism are born.

19. Simplify

If we could abolish knowledge and wisdom
Then people would profit a hundredfold;
If we could abolish duty and justice
Then harmonious relationships would form;
If we could abolish artifice and profit
Then waste and theft would disappear.
Yet such remedies treat only symptoms
And so they are inadequate.
People need personal remedies:
Reveal your naked self and embrace your original nature;
Bind your self-interest and control your ambition;
Forget your habits and simplify your affairs.

20. Wandering

What is the difference between assent and denial?
What is the difference between beautiful and ugly?
What is the difference between fearsome and afraid?
The people are merry as if at a magnificent party
Or playing in the park at springtime,
But I am tranquil and wandering,
Like a newborn before it learns to smile,
Alone, with no true home.
The people have enough and to spare,
Where I have nothing,
And my heart is foolish,
Muddled and cloudy.
The people are bright and certain,
Where I am dim and confused;
The people are clever and wise,
Where I am dull and ignorant;
Aimless as a wave drifting over the sea,
Attached to nothing.
The people are busy with purpose,
Where I am impractical and rough;
I do not share the peoples' cares
But I am fed at nature's breast.

21. Accept

Harmony is only in following the Way.
The Way is without form or quality,
But expresses all forms and qualities;
The Way is hidden and implicate,
But expresses all of nature;
The Way is unchanging,
But expresses all motion.
Beneath sensation and memory
The Way is the source of all the world.
How can I understand the source of the world?
By accepting.

22. Home

Accept and you become whole,
Bend and you straighten,
Empty and you fill,
Decay and you renew,
Want and you acquire,
Fulfill and you become confused.
The sage accepts the world
As the world accepts the Way;
He does not display himself, so is clearly seen,
Does not justify himself, so is recognized,
Does not boast, so is credited,
Does not pride himself, so endures,
Does not contend, so none contend against him.
The ancients said, "Accept and you become whole",
Once whole, the world is as your home.

23. Words

Nature says only a few words:
High wind does not last long,
Nor does heavy rain.
If nature's words do not last
Why should those of man?
Who accepts harmony, becomes harmonious.
Who accepts loss, becomes lost.
For who accepts harmony, the Way harmonizes with him,
And who accepts loss, the Way cannot find.

24. Indulgence

Straighten yourself and you will not stand steady;
Display yourself and you will not be clearly seen;
Justify yourself and you will not be respected;
Promote yourself and you will not be believed;
Pride yourself and you will not endure.
These behaviours are wasteful, indulgent,
And so they attract disfavour;
Harmony avoids them.

25. Beneath Abstraction

There is a mystery,
Beneath abstraction,
Silent, depthless,
Alone, unchanging,
Ubiquitous and liquid,
The mother of nature.
It has no name, but I call it "the Way";
It has no limit, but I call it "limitless".
Being limitless, it flows away forever;
Flowing away forever, it returns to my self:
The Way is limitless,
So nature is limitless,
So the world is limitless,
And so I am limitless.
For I am abstracted from the world,
The world from nature,
Nature from the Way,
And the Way from what is beneath abstraction.

26. Calm

Gravity is the source of lightness,
Calm, the master of haste.
A traveller will journey all day, watching over his belongings;
Yet once safe in his bed he will lose them in sleep.
The captain of a great vessel will not act lightly or hastily.
Acting lightly, he loses sight of the world,
Acting hastily, he loses control of himself.
A captain can not treat his great ship as a small boat;
Rather than glitter like jade
He must stand like stone.

27. Perfection

The perfect traveller leaves no trail to be followed;
The perfect speaker leaves no question to be answered;
The perfect accountant leaves no working to be completed;
The perfect container leaves no lock to be closed;
The perfect knot leaves no end to be ravelled.
So the sage nurtures all men
And abandons no one.
He accepts everything
And rejects nothing.
He attends to the smallest details.
So the strong must guide the weak,
For the weak are raw material to the strong.
If the guide is not respected,
Or the material is not cared for,
Confusion will result, no matter how clever one is.
This is the secret of perfection:
When raw wood is carved, it becomes a tool;
When a man is employed, he becomes a tool;
The perfect carpenter leaves no wood to be carved.

28. Becoming

Using the male, being female,
Being the entrance of the world,
You embrace harmony
And become as a newborn.
Using strength, being weak,
Being the root of the world,
You complete harmony
And become as unshaped wood.
Using the light, being dark,
Being the world,
You perfect harmony
And return to the Way.

29. Ambition

Those who wish to change the world
According with their desire
Cannot succeed.
The world is shaped by the Way;
It cannot be shaped by the self.
Trying to change it, you damage it;
Trying to possess it, you lose it.
So some will lead, while others follow.
Some will be warm, others cold
Some will be strong, others weak.
Some will get where they are going
While others fall by the side of the road.
So the sage will be neither wasteful nor violent.

30. Violence

Powerful men are well advised not to use violence,
For violence has a habit of returning;
Thorns and weeds grow wherever an army goes,
And lean years follow a great war.
A general is well advised
To achieve nothing more than his orders:
Not to take advantage of his victory.
Nor to glory, boast or pride himself;
To do what is dictated by necessity,
But not by choice.
For even the strongest force will weaken with time,
And then its violence will return, and kill it.

31. Armies

Armies are tools of violence;
They cause men to hate and fear.
The sage will not join them.
His purpose is creation;
Their purpose is destruction.
Weapons are tools of violence,
Not of the sage;
He uses them only when there is no choice,
And then calmly, and with tact,
For he finds no beauty in them.
Whoever finds beauty in weapons
Delights in the slaughter of men;
And who delights in slaughter
Cannot content himself with peace.
So slaughters must be mourned
And conquest celebrated with a funeral.

32. Shapes

The Way has no true shape,
And therefore none can control it.
If a ruler could control the Way
All things would follow
In harmony with his desire,
And sweet rain would fall,
Effortlessly slaking every thirst.
The Way is shaped by use,
But then the shape is lost.
Do not hold fast to shapes
But let sensation flow into the world
As a river courses down to the sea.

33. Virtues

Who understands the world is learned;
Who understands the self is enlightened.
Who conquers the world has strength;
Who conquers the self has harmony.
Who is determined has purpose;
Who is contented has wealth.
Who defends his home may long endure;
Who surrenders his home may long survive it.

34. Control

The Way flows and ebbs, creating and destroying,
Implementing all the world, attending to the tiniest details,
Claiming nothing in return.
It nurtures all things,
Though it does not control them;
It has no intention,
So it seems inconsequential.
It is the substance of all things;
Though it does not control them;
It has no exception,
So it seems all-important.
The sage would not control the world;
He is in harmony with the world.

35. Peace

If you offer music and food
Strangers may stop with you;
But if you accord with the Way
All the people of the world will keep you
In safety, health, community, and peace.
The Way lacks art and flavour;
It can neither be seen nor heard,
But its benefit cannot be exhausted.

36. Opposition

To reduce someone's influence, first expand it;
To reduce someone's force, first increase it;
To overthrow someone, first exalt them;
To take from someone, first give to them.
This is the subtlety by which the weak overcome the strong:
Fish should not leave their depths,
And swords should not leave their scabbards.

37. Tranquility

The Way takes no action, but leaves nothing undone.
When you accept this
The world will flourish,
In harmony with nature.
Nature does not possess desire;
Without desire, the heart becomes quiet;
In this manner the whole world is made tranquil.

38. Ritual

Well established hierarchies are not easily uprooted;
Closely held beliefs are not easily released;
So ritual enthralls generation after generation.
Harmony does not care for harmony, and so is naturally attained;
But ritual is intent upon harmony, and so can not attain it.
Harmony neither acts nor reasons;
Love acts, but without reason;
Justice acts to serve reason;
But ritual acts to enforce reason.
When the Way is lost, there remains harmony;
When harmony is lost, there remains love;
When love is lost, there remains justice;
But when justice is lost, there remains ritual.
Ritual is the end of compassion and honesty,
The beginning of confusion;
Belief is a colourful hope or fear,
The beginning of folly.
The sage goes by harmony, not by hope;
He dwells in the fruit, not the flower;
He accepts substance, and ignores abstraction.

39. Support

In mythical times all things were whole:
All the sky was clear,
All the earth was stable,
All the mountains were firm,
All the riverbeds were full,
All of nature was fertile,
And all the rulers were supported.
But, losing clarity, the sky tore;
Losing stability, the earth split;
Losing strength, the mountains sank;
Losing water, the riverbeds cracked;
Losing fertility, nature disappeared;
And losing support, the rulers fell.
Rulers depend upon their subjects,
The noble depend upon the humble;
So rulers call themselves orphaned, hungry and alone,
To win the people's support.

40. Motion and Use

The motion of the Way is to return;
The use of the Way is to accept;
All things come from the Way,
And the Way comes from nothing.

41. Following

When the great man learns the Way, he follows it with diligence;
When the common man learns the Way, he follows it on occasion;
When the mean man learns the Way, he laughs out loud;
Those who do not laugh, do not learn at all.
Therefore it is said:
Who understands the Way seems foolish;
Who progresses on the Way seems to fail;
Who follows the Way seems to wander.
For the finest harmony appears plain;
The brightest truth appears coloured;
The richest character appears incomplete;
The bravest heart appears meek;
The simplest nature appears inconstant.
The square, perfected, has no corner;
Music, perfected, has no melody;
Love, perfected, has no climax;
Art, perfected, has no meaning.
The Way can be neither sensed nor known:
It transmits sensation and transcends knowledge.

42. Mind

The Way bears sensation,
Sensation bears memory,
Sensation and memory bear abstraction,
And abstraction bears all the world;
Each thing in the world bears feeling and doing,
And, imbued with mind, harmony with the Way.
As others have taught, so do I teach,
"Who loses harmony opposes nature";
This is the root of my teaching.

43. Overcoming

Water overcomes the stone;
Without substance it requires no opening;
This is the benefit of taking no action.
Yet benefit without action,
And experience without abstraction,
Are practiced by very few.

44. Contentment

Health or reputation: which is held dearer?
Health or possessions: which has more worth?
Profit or loss: which is more troublesome?
Great love incurs great expense,
And great riches incur great fear,
But contentment comes at no cost;
Who knows when to stop
Does not continue into danger,
And so may long endure.

45. Quiet

Great perfection seems incomplete,
But does not decay;
Great abundance seems empty,
But does not fail.
Great truth seems contradictory;
Great cleverness seems stupid;
Great eloquence seems awkward.
As spring overcomes the cold,
And autumn overcomes the heat,
So calm and quiet overcome the world.

46. Horses

When a nation follows the Way,
Horses bear manure through its fields;
When a nation ignores the Way,
Horses bear soldiers through its streets.
There is no greater mistake than following desire;
There is no greater disaster than forgetting contentment;
There is no greater sickness than seeking attainment;
But one who is content to satisfy his needs
Finds that contentment endures.

47. Knowing

Without taking a step outdoors
You know the whole world;
Without taking a peep out the window
You know the colour of the sky.
The more you experience,
The less you know.
The sage wanders without knowing,
Sees without looking,
Accomplishes without acting.

48. Inaction

The follower of knowledge learns as much as he can every day;
The follower of the Way forgets as much as he can every day.
By attrition he reaches a state of inaction
Wherein he does nothing, but nothing remains undone.
To conquer the world, accomplish nothing;
If you must accomplish something,
The world remains beyond conquest.

49. People

The sage does not distinguish between himself and the world;
The needs of other people are as his own.
He is good to those who are good;
He is also good to those who are not good,
Thereby he is good.
He trusts those who are trustworthy;
He also trusts those who are not trustworthy,
Thereby he is trustworthy.
The sage lives in harmony with the world,
And his mind is the world's mind.
So he nurtures the worlds of others
As a mother does her children.

50. Death

Men flow into life, and ebb into death.
Some are filled with life;
Some are empty with death;
Some hold fast to life, and thereby perish,
For life is an abstraction.
Those who are filled with life
Need not fear tigers and rhinos in the wilds,
Nor wear armour and shields in battle;
The rhinoceros finds no place in them for its horn,
The tiger no place for its claw,
The soldier no place for a weapon,
For death finds no place in them.

51. Nurture

The Way bears all things;
Harmony nurtures them;
Nature shapes them;
Use completes them.
Each follows the Way and honours harmony,
Not by law,
But by being.
The Way bears, nurtures, shapes, completes,
Shelters, comforts, and makes a home for them.
Bearing without possessing,
Nurturing without taming,
Shaping without forcing,
This is harmony.

52. Clarity

The origin of the world is its mother;
Understand the mother, and you understand the child;
Embrace the child, and you embrace the mother,
Who will not perish when you die.
Reserve your judgments and words
And you maintain your influence;
Speak your mind and take positions
And nothing can save you.
As observing detail is clarity,
So maintaining flexibility is strength;
Use the light but shed no light,
So that you do yourself no harm,
But embrace clarity.

53. Difficult Paths

With but a small understanding
One may follow the Way like a main road,
Fearing only to leave it;
Following a main road is easy,
Yet people delight in difficult paths.
When palaces are kept up
Fields are left to weeds
And granaries empty;
Wearing fine clothes,
Bearing sharp swords,
Glutting with food and drink,
Hoarding wealth and possessions -
These are the ways of theft,
And far from the Way.

54. Cultivate Harmony

Cultivate harmony within yourself, and harmony becomes real;
Cultivate harmony within your family, and harmony becomes fertile;
Cultivate harmony within your community, and harmony becomes abundant;
Cultivate harmony within your culture, and harmony becomes enduring;
Cultivate harmony within the world, and harmony becomes ubiquitous.
Live with a person to understand that person;
Live with a family to understand that family;
Live with a community to understand that community;
Live with a culture to understand that culture;
Live with the world to understand the world.
How can I live with the world?
By accepting.

55. Soft Bones

Who is filled with harmony is like a newborn.
Wasps and snakes will not bite him;
Hawks and tigers will not claw him.
His bones are soft yet his grasp is sure,
For his flesh is supple;
His mind is innocent yet his body is virile,
For his vigour is plentiful;
His song is long-lasting yet his voice is sweet,
For his grace is perfect.
But knowing harmony creates abstraction,
And following abstraction creates ritual.
Exceeding nature creates calamity,
And controlling nature creates violence.

56. Impartiality

Who understands does not preach;
Who preaches does not understand.
Reserve your judgments and words;
Smooth differences and forgive disagreements;
Dull your wit and simplify your purpose;
Accept the world.
Then,
Friendship and enmity,
Profit and loss,
Honour and disgrace,
Will not affect you;
The world will accept you.

57. Conquer with Inaction

Do not control the people with laws,
Nor violence nor espionage,
But conquer them with inaction.
For:
The more morals and taboos there are,
The more cruelty afflicts people;
The more guns and knives there are,
The more factions divide people;
The more arts and skills there are,
The more change obsoletes people;
The more laws and taxes there are,
The more theft corrupts people.
Yet take no action, and the people nurture each other;
Make no laws, and the people deal fairly with each other;
Own no interest, and the people cooperate with each other;
Express no desire, and the people harmonize with each other.

58. No End

When government is lazy and informal
The people are kind and honest;
When government is efficient and severe
The people are discontented and deceitful.
Good fortune follows upon disaster;
Disaster lurks within good fortune;
Who can say how things will end?
Perhaps there is no end.
Honesty is ever deceived;
Kindness is ever seduced;
Men have been like this for a long time.
So the sage is firm but not cutting,
Pointed but not piercing,
Straight but not rigid,
Bright but not blinding.

59. Restraint

Manage a great nation as you would cook a delicate fish.
To govern men in accord with nature
It is best to be restrained;
Restraint makes agreement easy to attain,
And easy agreement builds harmonious relationships;
With sufficient harmony no resistance will arise;
When no resistance arises, then you possess the heart of the nation,
And when you possess the nation's heart, your influence will long endure:
Deeply rooted and firmly established.
This is the method of far sight and long life.

60. Demons

When you use the Way to conquer the world,
Your demons will lose their power to harm.
It is not that they lose their power as such,
But that they will not harm others;
Because they will not harm others,
You will not harm others:
When neither you nor your demons can do harm,
You will be at peace with them.

61. Submission

A nation is like a hierarchy, a marketplace, and a maiden.
A maiden wins her husband by submitting to his advances;
Submission is a means of union.
So when a large country submits to a small country
It will adopt the small country;
When a small country submits to a large country
It will be adopted by the large country;
The one submits and adopts;
The other submits and is adopted.
It is in the interest of a large country to unite and gain service,
And in the interest of a small country to unite and gain patronage;
If both would serve their interests,
Both must submit.

62. Sin

The Way is the fate of men,
The treasure of the saint,
And the refuge of the sinner.
Fine words are often borrowed,
And great deeds are often appropriated;
Therefore, when a man falls, do not abandon him,
And when a man gains power, do not honour him;
Only remain impartial and show him the Way.
Why should someone appreciate the Way?
The ancients said, "By it, those who seek may easily find,
And those who regret may easily absolve"
So it is the most precious gift.

63. Difficulty

Practice no-action;
Attend to do-nothing;
Taste the flavorless,
Magnify the small,
Multiply the few,
Return love for hate.
Deal with the difficult while it is yet easy;
Deal with the great while it is yet small;
The difficult develops naturally from the easy,
And the great from the small;
So the sage, by dealing with the small,
Achieves the great.
Who finds it easy to promise finds it hard to be trusted;
Who takes things lightly finds things difficult;
The sage recognizes difficulty, and so has none.

64a. Care at the Beginning

What lies still is easy to grasp;
What lies far off is easy to anticipate;
What is brittle is easy to shatter;
What is small is easy to disperse.
Yet a tree broader than a man can embrace is born of a tiny shoot;
A dam greater than a river can overflow starts with a clod of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles begins at the spot under one's feet.
Therefore deal with things before they happen;
Create order before there is confusion.

64b. Care at the End

He who acts, spoils;
He who grasps, loses.
People often fail on the verge of success;
Take care at the end as at the beginning,
So that you may avoid failure.
The sage desires no-desire,
Values no-value,
Learns no-learning,
And returns to the places that people have forgotten;
He would help all people to become natural,
But then he would not be natural.

65. Subtlety

The ancients did not seek to rule people with knowledge,
But to help them become natural.
It is difficult for knowledgeable people to become natural;
So to use law to control a nation weakens the nation,
But to use nature to control a nation strengthens the nation.
Understanding these two paths is understanding subtlety;
Subtlety runs deep, ranges wide,
Resolves confusion and preserves peace.

66. Lead by Following

The river carves out the valley by flowing beneath it.
Thereby the river is the master of the valley.
In order to master people
One must speak as their servant;
In order to lead people
One must follow them.
So when the sage rises above the people,
They do not feel oppressed;
And when the sage stands before the people,
They do not feel hindered.
So the popularity of the sage does not fail,
He does not contend, and no one contends against him.

67. Unimportance

All the world says,
"I am important;
I am separate from all the world.
I am important because I am separate,
Were I the same, I could never be important."
Yet here are three treasures
That I cherish and commend to you:
The first is compassion,
By which one finds courage.
The second is restraint,
By which one finds strength.
And the third is unimportance,
By which one finds influence.
Those who are fearless, but without compassion,
Powerful, but without restraint,
Or influential, yet important,
Cannot endure.

68. Compassion

Compassion is the finest weapon and best defence.
If you would establish harmony,
Compassion must surround you like a fortress.
Therefore,
A good soldier does not inspire fear;
A good fighter does not display aggression;
A good conqueror does not engage in battle;
A good leader does not exercise authority.
This is the value of unimportance;
This is how to win the cooperation of others;
This to how to build the same harmony that is in nature.

69. Ambush

There is a saying among soldiers:
It is easier to lose a yard than take an inch.
In this manner one may deploy troops without marshalling them,
Bring weapons to bear without exposing them,
Engage the foe without invading them,
And exhaust their strength without fighting them.
There is no worse disaster than misunderstanding your enemy;
To do so endangers all of my treasures;
So when two well matched forces oppose each other,
The general who maintains compassion will win.

70. Individuality

My words are easy to understand
And my actions are easy to perform
Yet no other can understand or perform them.
My words have meaning; my actions have reason;
Yet these cannot be known and I cannot be known.
We are each unique, and therefore valuable;
Though the sage wears coarse clothes, his heart is jade.

71. Limitation

Who recognizes his limitations is healthy;
Who ignores his limitations is sick.
The sage recognizes this sickness as a limitation.
And so becomes immune.

72. Revolution

When people have nothing more to lose,
Then revolution will result.
Do not take away their lands,
And do not destroy their livelihoods;
If your burden is not heavy then they will not shirk it.
The sage maintains himself but exacts no tribute,
Values himself but requires no honours;
He ignores abstraction and accepts substance.

73. Fate

Who is brave and bold will perish;
Who is brave and subtle will benefit.
The subtle profit where the bold perish
For fate does not honour daring.
And even the sage dares not tempt fate.
Fate does not attack, yet all things are conquered by it;
It does not ask, yet all things answer to it;
It does not call, yet all things meet it;
It does not plan, yet all things are determined by it.
Fate's net is vast and its mesh is coarse,
Yet none escape it.

74. Execution

If people were not afraid of death,
Then what would be the use of an executioner?
If people were only afraid of death,
And you executed everyone who did not obey,
No one would dare to disobey you.
Then what would be the use of an executioner?
People fear death because death is an instrument of fate.
When people are killed by execution rather than by fate,
This is like carving wood in the place of a carpenter.
Those who carve wood in place of a carpenter
Often injure their hands.

75. Rebellion

When rulers take grain so that they may feast,
Their people become hungry;
When rulers take action to serve their own interests,
Their people become rebellious;
When rulers take lives so that their own lives are maintained,
Their people no longer fear death.
When people act without regard for their own lives
They overcome those who value only their own lives.

76. Flexibility

A newborn is soft and tender,
A crone, hard and stiff.
Plants and animals, in life, are supple and succulent;
In death, withered and dry.
So softness and tenderness are attributes of life,
And hardness and stiffness, attributes of death.
Just as a sapless tree will split and decay
So an inflexible force will meet defeat;
The hard and mighty lie beneath the ground
While the tender and weak dance on the breeze above.

77. Need

Is the action of nature not unlike drawing a bow?
What is higher is pulled down, and what is lower is raised up;
What is taller is shortened, and what is thinner is broadened;
Nature's motion decreases those who have more than they need
And increases those who need more than they have.
It is not so with Man.
Man decreases those who need more than they have
And increases those who have more than they need.
To give away what you do not need is to follow the Way.
So the sage gives without expectation,
Accomplishes without claiming credit,
And has no desire for ostentation.

78. Yielding

Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water,
Yet nothing can better overcome the hard and strong,
For they can neither control nor do away with it.
The soft overcomes the hard,
The yielding overcomes the strong;
Every person knows this,
But no one can practice it.
Who attends to the people would control the land and grain;
Who attends to the state would control the whole world;
Truth is easily hidden by rhetoric.

79. Reconciliation

When conflict is reconciled, some hard feelings remain;
This is dangerous.
The sage accepts less than is due
And does not blame or punish;
For harmony seeks agreement
Where justice seeks payment.
The ancients said: "nature is impartial;
Therefore it serves those who serve all."

80. Utopia

Let your community be small, with only a few people;
Keep tools in abundance, but do not depend upon them;
Appreciate your life and be content with your home;
Sail boats and ride horses, but don't go too far;
Keep weapons and armour, but do not employ them;
Let everyone read and write,
Eat well and make beautiful things.
Live peacefully and delight in your own society;
Dwell within cock-crow of your neighbours,
But maintain your independence from them.

81. The Sage

Honest people use no rhetoric;
Rhetoric is not honesty.
Enlightened people are not cultured;
Culture is not enlightenment.
Content people are not rich;
Riches are not contentment.
So the sage does not serve himself;
The more he does for others, the more he is satisfied;
The more he gives, the more he receives.
Nature flourishes at the expense of no one;
So the sage benefits all men and contends with none.

Tao Te Ching Translated by C. Muller

1.

The Tao that can be followed is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the origin of heaven and earth
While naming is the origin of the myriad things.
Therefore, always desireless, you see the mystery
Ever desiring, you see the manifestations.
These two are the same--
When they appear they are named differently.
Their sameness is the mystery,
Mystery within mystery;
The door to all marvels.

2.

All in the world recognize the beautiful as beautiful.
Herein lies ugliness.
All recognize the good as good.
Herein lies evil.
Therefore
Being and non-being produce each other.
Difficulty and ease bring about each other.
Long and short delimit each other.
High and low rest on each other.
Sound and voice harmonize each other.
Front and back follow each other.
Therefore the sage abides in the condition of wu-wei (unattached action).
And carries out the wordless teaching.
Here, the myriad things are made, yet not separated.
Therefore the sage produces without possessing,
Acts without expectations
And accomplishes without abiding in her accomplishments.
It is precisely because she does not abide in them
That they never leave her.

3.

If you do not adulate the worthy, you will make others non-contentious.
If you do not value rare treasures, you will stop others from stealing.
If people do not see desirables, they will not be agitated.
Therefore, when the sage governs,
He clears peoples minds,
Fills their bellies,
Weakens their ambition and
Strengthens their bones.
If the people are kept without cleverness and desire
It will make the intellectuals not dare to meddle.
Acting without contrivance, there is no lack of manageability.

4.

The Tao is so vast that when you use it, something is always left.
How deep it is!
It seems to be the ancestor of the myriad things.
It blunts sharpness
Untangles knots
Softens the glare
Unifies with the mundane.
It is so full!
It seems to have remainder.
It is the child of I-don't-know-who.
And prior to the primeval Lord-on-high.

5.

Heaven and Earth are not jen,
And regard the people as straw dogs.
The sage is not jen,
And regards all things as straw dogs.
The space between Heaven and Earth is just like a bellows:
Empty it, it is not exhausted.
Squeeze it and more comes out.
Investigating it with a lot of talk
Is not like holding to the center.

6.

The valley spirit never dies.
It is called "the mysterious female."
The opening of the mysterious female
Is called "the root of Heaven and Earth."
Continuous, seeming to remain.
Use it without exertion.

7.

Heaven and Earth last forever.
The reason that Heaven and Earth are able to last forever
Is because they do not give birth to themselves.
Therefore, they are always alive.
Hence, the sage puts herself last and is first.
She is outside herself and therefore her self lasts.
Is it not through her selflessness
That she is able to perfect herself?

8.

The highest goodness is like water.
Water easily benefits all things without struggle.
Yet it abides in places that men hate.
Therefore it is like the Tao.
For dwelling, the Earth is good.
For the mind, depth is good.
The goodness of giving is in the timing.
The goodness of speech is in honesty.
In government, self-mastery is good.
In handling affairs, ability is good.
If you do not wrangle, you will not be blamed.

9.

To hold until full is not as good as stopping.
An oversharpened sword cannot last long.
A room filled with gold and jewels cannot be protected.
Boasting of wealth and virtue brings your demise.
After finishing the work, withdraw.
This is the Way of Heaven.

10.

Pacifying the agitated material soul and holding to oneness:
Are you able to avoid separation?
Focusing your energy on the release of tension:
Can you be like an infant?
In purifying your insight:
Can you un-obstruct it?
Loving the people and ruling the state:
Can you avoid over-manipulation?
In opening and closing the gate of Heaven:
Can you be the female?
In illuminating the whole universe:
Can you be free of rationality?
Give birth to it and nourish it.
Produce it but don't possess it.
Act without expectation.
Excel, but don't take charge.
This is called Mysterious Virtue.

11.

Thirty spokes join together in the hub.
It is because of what is not there that the cart is useful.
Clay is formed into a vessel.
It is because of its emptiness that the vessel is useful.
Cut doors and windows to make a room.
It is because of its emptiness that the room is useful.
Therefore, what is present is used for profit.
But it is in absence that there is usefulness.

12.

The five colors blind our eyes.
The five tones deafen our ears.
The five flavors confuse our taste.
Racing and hunting madden our minds.
Possessing rare treasures brings about harmful behavior.
Therefore the sage regards his center, and not his eyes.
He lets go of that and chooses this.

13.

Accept humiliation as a surprise.
Value great misfortune as your own self.
What do I mean by "Accept humiliation as a surprise"?
When you are humble
Attainment is a surprise
And so is loss.
That's why I say, "Accept humiliation as a surprise."
What do I mean by "Value great misfortune as your own self"?
If I have no self, how could I experience misfortune?
Therefore, if you dedicate your life for the benefit of the world,
You can rely on the world.
If you love dedicating yourself in this way,
You can be entrusted with the world.

14.

Look for it, it cannot be seen.
It is called the distant.
Listen for it, it cannot be heard.
It is called the rare.
Reach for it, it cannot be gotten.
It is called the subtle.
These three ultimately cannot be fathomed.
Therefore they join to become one.
Its top is not bright;
Its bottom is not dark;
Existing continuously, it cannot be named and it returns to no-thingness.
Thus, it is called the formless form,
The image of no-thing.
This is called the most obscure.
Go to meet it, you cannot see its face.
Follow it, you cannot see its back.
By holding to the ancient Tao
You can manage present existence
And know the primordial beginning.
This is called the very beginning thread of the Tao.

15.

The ancient masters of the Tao
Had subtle marvelous mystic penetration
A depth that cannot be known.
It is exactly because that they are unknowable
That we are forced to pay attention to their appearance.
Hesitant, like one crossing an ice-covered river.
Ready, like one afraid of his neighbors on all sides.
Dignified, like a guest.
Loose, like ice about to melt.
Straightforward, like an uncarved block of wood.
Open, like a valley.
Obscure, like muddy water.
Who can be muddled, and use clarity to gradually become lucid?
Who can be calm, and use constant application for eventual success?
The one who holds to this path does not crave fulfillment.
Precisely because he does not crave fulfillment
He can be shattered
And do without quick restitution.

16.

Effect emptiness to the extreme.
Keep stillness whole.
Myriad things act in concert.
I therefore watch their return.
All things flourish and each returns to its root.
Returning to the root is called quietude.
Quietude is called returning to life.
Return to life is called constant.
Knowing this constant is called illumination.
Acting arbitrarily without knowing the constant is harmful.
Knowing the constant is receptivity, which is impartial.
Impartiality is kingship.
Kingship is Heaven.
Heaven is Tao
Tao is eternal.
Though you lose the body, you do not die.

17.

From great antiquity forth they have known and possessed it.
Those of the next level loved and praised it.
The next were in awe of it.
And the next despised it.
If you lack sincerity no one will believe you.
How careful she is with her precious words!
When her work is complete and her job is finished,
Everybody says: "We did it!"

18.

When the great Tao perishes
There is jen and justice.
When intelligence is manifest
There is great deception.
When the six relationships are not in harmony
There is filial piety and compassion.
When the country is in chaos
Loyal ministers appear.

19.

Get rid of "holiness" and abandon "wisdom" and the people will benefit a hundredfold.
Get rid of "altruism" and abandon "Justice" and the people will return to filial piety and compassion.
Get rid of cleverness and abandon profit, and thieves and gangsters will not exist.
Since the above three are merely words, they are not sufficient.
Therefore there must be something to include them all.
See the origin and keep the non-differentiated state.
Lessen selfishness and decrease desire.

20.

Get rid of "learning" and there will be no anxiety.
How much difference is there between "yes" and "no"?
How far removed from each other are "good" and "evil"?
Yet what the people are in awe of cannot be disregarded.
I am scattered, never having been in a comfortable center.
All the people enjoy themselves, as if they are at the festival of the great sacrifice,
Or climbing the Spring Platform.
I alone remain, not yet having shown myself.
Like an infant who has not yet laughed.
Weary, like one despairing of no home to return to.
All the people enjoy extra
While I have left everything behind.
I am ignorant of the minds of others.
So dull!
While average people are clear and bright, I alone am obscure.
Average people know everything.
To me alone all seems covered.
So flat!
Like the ocean.
Blowing around!
It seems there is no place to rest.
Everybody has a goal in mind.
I alone am as ignorant as a bumpkin.
I alone differ from people.
I enjoy being nourished by the mother.

21.

The form of great virtue is something that only the Tao can follow.
The Tao as a "thing" is only vague and obscure.
How obscure! How vague! In it there is form.
How vague! How obscure! In it are things.
How deep! How dark! In it there is an essence.
The essence is so real--therein is belief.
From the present to antiquity, its name has never left it, so we can examine all origins.
How do I know the form of all origins?
By this.

22.

The imperfect is completed.
The crooked is straightened.
The empty is filled.
The old is renewed.
With few there is attainment.
With much there is confusion.
Therefore the sage grasps the one and becomes the model for all.
She does not show herself, and therefore is apparent.
She does not affirm herself, and therefore is acknowledged.
She does not boast and therefore has merit.
She does not strive and is therefore successful.
It is exactly because she does not contend, that nobody can contend with her.
How could the ancient saying, "The imperfect is completed" be regarded as empty talk?
Believe in the complete and return to it.

23.

To speak little is natural.
Therefore a gale does not blow a whole morning
Nor does a downpour last a whole day.
Who does these things? Heaven and Earth.
If even Heaven and Earth cannot force perfect continuity
How can people expect to?
Therefore there is such a thing as aligning one's actions with the Tao.
If you accord with the Tao you become one with it.
If you accord with virtue you become one with it.
If you accord with loss you become one with it.
The Tao accepts this accordance gladly.
Virtue accepts this accordance gladly.
Loss also accepts accordance gladly.
If you are untrustworthy, people will not trust you.

24.

Standing on tiptoe, you are unsteady.
Straddle-legged, you cannot go.
If you show yourself, you will not be seen.
If you affirm yourself, you will not shine.
If you boast, you will have no merit.
If you promote yourself, you will have no success.
Those who abide in the Tao call these
Leftover food and wasted action
And all things dislike them.
Therefore the person of the Tao does not act like this.

25.

There is something that is perfect in its disorder
Which is born before Heaven and Earth.
So silent and desolate! It establishes itself without renewal.
Functions universally without lapse.
We can regard it as the Mother of Everything.
I don't know its name.
Hence, when forced to name it, I call it "Tao."
When forced to categorize it, I call it "great."
Greatness entails transcendence.
Transcendence entails going-far.
Going-far entails return.
Hence, Tao is great, Heaven is great, the Earth is great
And the human is also great.
Within our realm there are four greatnesses and the human being is one of them.
Human beings follow the Earth.
Earth follows Heaven
Heaven follows the Tao
The Tao follows the way things are.

26.

Heaviness is the root of lightness.
Composure is the ruler of instability.
Therefore the sage travels all day
Without putting down his heavy load.
Though there may be spectacles to see
He easily passes them by.
This being so
How could the ruler of a large state
Be so concerned with himself as to ignore the people?
If you take them lightly you will lose your roots.
If you are unstable, you will lose your rulership.

27.

A good traveler leaves no tracks.
Good speech lacks faultfinding.
A good counter needs no calculator.
A well-shut door will stay closed without a latch.
Skillful fastening will stay tied without knots.
It is in this manner that the sage is always skillful in elevating people.
Therefore she does not discard anybody.
She is always skillful in helping things
Therefore she does not discard anything.
This is called "the actualization of her luminosity."
Hence, the good are the teachers of the not-so-good.
And the not-so-good are the charges of the good.
Not valuing your teacher or not loving your students:
Even if you are smart, you are gravely in error.
This is called Essential Subtlety. 

28.

Know the Masculine, cleave to the Feminine
Be the valley for everyone.
Being the valley for everyone
You are always in virtue without lapse
And you return to infancy.
Know the White, cleave to the Black
Be a model for everyone.
Being the model for everyone
You are always in virtue and free from error
You return to limitlessness.
Know Glory but cleave to Humiliation
Be the valley for everyone.
When your constancy in virtue is complete
You return to the state of the "uncarved block."
The block is cut into implements.
The sage uses them to fulfill roles.
Therefore the great tailor does not cut.

29.

If you want to grab the world and run it
I can see that you will not succeed.
The world is a spiritual vessel, which can't be controlled.
Manipulators mess things up.
Grabbers lose it. Therefore:
Sometimes you lead
Sometimes you follow
Sometimes you are stifled
Sometimes you breathe easy
Sometimes you are strong
Sometimes you are weak
Sometimes you destroy
And sometimes you are destroyed.
Hence, the sage shuns excess
Shuns grandiosity
Shuns arrogance.

30.

If you used the Tao as a principle for ruling
You would not dominate the people by military force.
What goes around comes around.
Where the general has camped
Thorns and brambles grow.
In the wake of a great army
Come years of famine.
If you know what you are doing
You will do what is necessary and stop there.
Accomplish but don't boast
Accomplish without show
Accomplish without arrogance
Accomplish without grabbing
Accomplish without forcing.
When things flourish they decline.
This is called non-Tao
The non-Tao is short-lived.

31.

Sharp weapons are inauspicious instruments.
Everyone hates them.
Therefore the man of the Tao is not comfortable with them.
In the domestic affairs of the gentleman
The left is the position of honor.
In military affairs the right is the position of honor.
Since weapons are inauspicious instruments, they are not the instruments of the gentleman
So he uses them without enjoyment
And values plainness.
Victory is never sweet.
Those for whom victory is sweet
Are those who enjoy killing.
If you enjoy killing, you cannot gain the trust of the people.
On auspicious occasions the place of honor is on the left.
On inauspicious occasions the place of honor is on the right.
The lieutenant commander stands on the left.
The commander-in-chief stands on the right.
And they speak, using the funerary rites to bury them.
The common people, from whom all the dead have come
Weep in lamentation.
The victors bury them with funerary rites.

32.

The Tao is always nameless.
And even though a sapling might be small
No one can make it be his subject.
If rulers could embody this principle
The myriad things would follow on their own.
Heaven and Earth would be in perfect accord
And rain sweet dew.
People, unable to deal with It on its own terms
Make adjustments;
And so you have the beginning of division into names.
Since there are already plenty of names
You should know where to stop.
Knowing where to stop, you can avoid danger.
The Tao's existence in the world
Is like valley streams running into the rivers and seas.

33.

If you understand others you are smart.
If you understand yourself you are illuminated.
If you overcome others you are powerful.
If you overcome yourself you have strength.
If you know how to be satisfied you are rich.
If you can act with vigor, you have a will.
If you don't lose your objectives you can be long-lasting.
If you die without loss, you are eternal.

34.

The Tao is like a great flooding river. How can it be directed to the left or right? The myriad things rely on it for their life but do
not distinguish it.
It brings to completion but cannot be said to exist.
It clothes and feeds all things without lording over them.
It is always desireless, so we call it "the small."
The myriad things return to it and it doesn't exact lordship
Thus it can be called "great."
Till the end, it does not regard itself as Great.
Therefore it actualizes its greatness.

35.

Holding to the Great Form
All pass away.
They pass away unharmed, resting in Great Peace.
It is for food and music that the passing traveler stops.
When the Tao appears from its opening
It is so subtle, it has no taste.
Look at it, you cannot see it.
Listen, you cannot hear it.
Use it
You cannot exhaust it.

36.

That which will be shrunk
Must first be stretched.
That which will be weakened
Must first be strengthened.
That which will be torn down
Must first be raised up.
That which will be taken
Must first be given.
This is called "subtle illumination."
The gentle and soft overcomes the hard and aggressive.
A fish cannot leave the water.
The country's potent weapons
Should not be shown to its people.

37.

The Tao is always "not-doing"
Yet there is nothing it doesn't do.
If the ruler is able to embody it
Everything will naturally change.
Being changed, they desire to act.
So I must restrain them, using the nameless "uncarved block (original mind)."
Using the nameless uncarved block
They become desireless.
Desireless, they are tranquil and
All-under-Heaven is naturally settled.

38.

True virtue is not virtuous
Therefore it has virtue.
Superficial virtue never fails to be virtuous
Therefore it has no virtue.
True virtue does not "act"
And has no intentions.
Superficial virtue "acts"
And always has intentions.
True jen "acts"
But has no intentions.
True righteousness "acts"
But but has intentions.
True propriety "acts" and if you don't respond
They will roll up their sleeves and threaten you.
Thus, when the Tao is lost there is virtue
When virtue is lost there is jen
When jen is lost there is Justice
And when Justice is lost there is propriety.
Now "propriety" is the external appearance of loyalty and sincerity
And the beginning of disorder.
Occult abilities are just flowers of the Tao
And the beginning of foolishness.
Therefore the Master dwells in the substantial
And not in the superficial.
Rests in the fruit and not in the flower.
So let go of that and grasp this.

39.

These in the past have attained wholeness:
Heaven attains wholeness with its clarity;
The Earth attains wholeness with its firmness;
The Spirit attains wholeness with its transcendence;
The Valley attain wholeness when filled;
The Myriad Things attain wholeness in life;
The Ruler attains wholeness in the correct governance of the people.
In effecting this:
If Heaven lacked clarity it would be divided;
If the Earth lacked firmness it would fly away;
If the spirit lacked transcendence it would be exhausted;
If the valley lacked fullness it would be depleted;
If the myriad things lacked life they would vanish.
If the ruler lacks nobility and loftiness he will be tripped up.
Hence
Nobility has lowliness as its root
The High has the Low as its base.
Thus the kings call themselves "the orphan, the lowly, the unworthy."
Is this not taking lowliness as the fundamental? Isn't it?
In this way you can bring about great effect without burden.
Not desiring the rarity of gems
Or the manyness of grains of sand.

40.

Return is the motion of the Tao.
Softening is its function.
All things in the cosmos arise from being.
Being arises from non-being.

41.

When superior students hear of the Tao
They strive to practice it.
When middling students hear of the Tao
They sometimes keep it and sometimes lose it.
When inferior students hear of the Tao
They have a big laugh.
But "not laughing" in itself is not sufficient to be called the Tao, and therefore it is said:
The sparkling Tao seems dark
Advancing in the Tao seems like regression.
Settling into the Tao seems rough.
True virtue is like a valley.
The immaculate seems humble.
Extensive virtue seems insufficient.
Established virtue seems deceptive.
The face of reality seems to change.
The great square has no corners.
Great ability takes a long time to perfect.
Great sound is hard to hear.
The great form has no shape.
The Tao is hidden and nameless.
This is exactly why the Tao is good at developing and perfecting.

42.

The Tao produces one, one produces two.
The two produce the three and the three produce all things.
All things submit to yin and embrace yang.
They soften their energy to achieve harmony.
People hate to think of themselves as "orphan," "lowly," and "unworthy"
Yet the kings call themselves by these names.
Some lose and yet gain,
Others gain and yet lose.
That which is taught by the people
I also teach:
"The forceful do not choose their place of death."
I regard this as the father of all teachings.

43.

The softest thing in the world
Will overcome the hardest.
Non-being can enter where there is no space.
Therefore I know the benefit of unattached action.
The wordless teaching and unattached action
Are rarely seen.

44.

Which is dearer, fame or your life?
Which is greater, your life or possessions?
Which is more painful, gain or loss?
Therefore we always pay a great price for excessive love
And suffer deep loss for great accumulation.
Knowing what is enough, you will not be humiliated.
Knowing where to stop, you will not be imperiled
And can be long-lasting.

45.

Great perfection seems flawed, yet functions without a hitch.
Great fullness seems empty, yet functions without exhaustion.
Great straightness seems crooked,
Great skill seems clumsy,
Great eloquence seems stammering.
Excitement overcomes cold, stillness overcomes heat.
Clarity and stillness set everything right.

46.

When the Tao prevails in the land
The horses leisurely graze and fertilize the ground.
When the Tao is lacking in the land
War horses are bred outside the city.
Natural disasters are not as bad as not knowing what is enough.
Loss is not as bad as wanting more.
Therefore the sufficiency that comes from knowing what is enough is an eternal sufficiency.

47.

Without going out the door, knowing everything,
Without peaking out the windowshades, seeing the Way of Heaven.
The further you go, the less you know.
The sage understands without having to go through the whole process.
She is famous without showing herself.
Is perfected without striving.

48.

In studying, each day something is gained.
In following the Tao, each day something is lost.
Lost and again lost.
Until there is nothing left to do.
Not-doing, nothing is left undone.
You can possess the world by never manipulating it.
No matter how much you manipulate
You can never possess the world.

49.

The sage has no fixed mind,
She takes the mind of the people as her mind.
I treat the good as good, I also treat the evil as good.
This is true goodness.
I trust the trustworthy, I also trust the untrustworthy.
This is real trust.
When the sage lives with people, she harmonizes with them
And conceals her mind for them.
The sages treat them as their little children.

50.

Coming into life and entering death,
The followers of life are three in ten.
The followers of death are three in ten.
Those whose life activity is their death ground are three in ten.
Why is this?
Because they live life grasping for its rich taste.
Now I have heard that those who are expert in handling life
Can travel the land without meeting tigers and rhinos,
Can enter battle without being wounded.
The rhino has no place to plant its horn,
The tiger has no place to place its claws,
Weapons find no place to receive their sharp edges.
Why?
Because he has no death-ground.

51.

Tao gives birth to it,
Virtue rears it,
Materiality shapes it,
Activity perfects it.
Therefore, there are none of the myriad things who do not venerate the Tao or esteem its virtue.
This veneration of the Tao and esteeming of its virtue is something they do naturally, without being forced.
Therefore, Tao gives birth.
Its virtue rears, develops, raises, adjusts and disciplines,
Nourishes, covers and protects,
Produces but does not possess,
Acts without expectation,
Leads without forcing.
This is called "Mysterious Virtue."

52.

All things have a beginning, which we can regard as their Mother.
Knowing the mother, we can know its children.
Knowing the children, yet still cleaving to the mother
You can die without pain.
Stop up the holes
Shut the doors,
You can finish your life without anxiety.
Open the doors,
Increase your involvements,
In the end you can't be helped.
Seeing the subtle is called illumination.
Keeping flexible is called strength.
Use the illumination, but return to the light.
Don't bring harm to yourself.
This is called "practicing the eternal."

53.

If I had just a little bit of wisdom
I should walk the Great Path and fear only straying from it.
Though the Way is quite broad
People love shortcuts.
The court is immaculate,
While the fields are overgrown with weeds,
And the granaries are empty.
They wear silk finery,
Carry sharp swords,
Sate themselves on food and drink
Having wealth in excess.
They are called thieving braggarts.
This is definitely not the Way.

54.

The well-established cannot be uprooted.
The well-grasped does not slip away.
Generation after generation carries out the ancestor worship without break.
Cultivate it in yourself and virtue will be real.
Cultivate it in the family and virtue will overflow.
Cultivate it in the town and virtue will be great.
Cultivate it in the country and virtue will abundant.
Cultivate it in the world and virtue will be everywhere.
Therefore, take yourself and observe yourself.
Take the family and observe the family.
Take the town and observe the town.
Take the country and observe the country.
Take the world and observe the world.
How do I know the world as it is?
By this.

55.

One who remains rich in virtuous power
Is like a newborn baby.
Bees, scorpions and venomous snakes do not bite it,
The wild beasts do not attack it,
Birds of prey do not sink their claws into it.
Though its bones are weak
And muscles soft,
Its grip is strong.
Without knowing of the blending of male and female
S/he is a perfect production,
The ultimate in vitality.
S/he cries all day without getting hoarse.
S/he is the ultimate in harmony.
Understanding harmony is called the Constant.
Knowing the Constant is called illumination.
Nourishing life is called blessing.
Having control of your breath is called strength.
After things blossom they decay, and
This is called the non-Tao.
The non-Tao expires quickly.

56.

She who knows does not speak.
She who speaks does not know.
Close your holes, shut your doors,
Soften your sharpness, loosen your knots.
Soften your glare and merge with the everyday.
This is called mysteriously attaining oneness.
Though you cannot possess it, you are intimate with it
And at the same time, distant.
Though you cannot possess it, you are benefitted by it,
And harmed by it.
You cannot possess it, but are esteemed through it
And humbled by it.
Therefore the world values you.

57.

Use fairness in governing the state.
Use surprise tactics in war.
Be unconcerned and you will have the world.
How do I know it is like this?
Because:
The more regulations there are,
The poorer people become.
The more people own lethal weapons,
The more darkened are the country and clans.
The more clever the people are,
The more extraordinary actions they take.
The more picky the laws are,
The more thieves and gangsters there are.
Therefore the sages say:
"I do not force my way and the people transform themselves.
I enjoy my serenity and the people correct themselves.
I do not interfere and the people enrich themselves.
I have no desires
And the people find their original mind.

58.

When the government is laid back
The people are relaxed.
When the government is nitpicking
The people have anxiety.
Misfortune depends upon fortune.
Fortune conceals misfortune.
What has a definite delimitation?
Or abnormality?
The normal reverts to strangeness.
Goodness reverts to perversion.
People certainly have been confused for a long time.
Therefore the sage squares things without cutting.
Edges without separating.
Straightens without lining up.
Shines but does not glare.

59.

In governing the country and serving Heaven
There is nothing like frugality.
Only by being frugal can you recover quickly.
When you recover quickly you accumulate virtue.
Having accumulated virtue,
There is nothing you can't overcome.
When there is nothing you can't overcome
Who knows the limits of your capabilities?
These limits being unfathomable
You can possess the country.
The Mother who possesses the country can be long-living.
This is called "planting the roots deeply and firmly."
The way to long life and eternal vision.

60.

Ruling a large country is like cooking a small fish.
When you govern people with the Tao
Demons will have no power.
Not that they don't have power,
But their power will not harm people.
Since the sage doesn't harm people,
The two will not harm each other.
Here their power merges and returns.

61.

The great state should be like a river basin.
The mixing place of the world,
The feminine of the world.
The feminine always overcomes the masculine by softness
Because softness is lesser.
Therefore if a large state serves a small state
It will gain the small state.
If a small state serves a large state
It will gain the large state.
Therefore some serve in order to gain
And some gain despite their servitude.
The large state wants nothing more
Than to unite and feed its people.
The small state wants nothing more
Than to enter into the service of the right person.
Thus both get what they want.
Greatness lies in placing oneself below.

62.

The Tao is hidden deeply in all things.
It is the treasure of the good
And the refuge of the not-so-good.
With skillful words you can be successful.
With honorable actions you can be included.
People may not be so good, but how can you deny them?
Therefore, even though there are great jewels brought in by teams of horses at the coronation of the emperor and the
installation of the three princes,
This is not as good as staying where you are
And advancing in this Tao.
Why did the ancients so value the Tao?
You can't say that it was for seeking gain
Or to have punishments to deter crime.
Therefore it is the most prized in the world.

63.

Do without "doing."
Get involved without manipulating.
Taste without tasting.
Make the great small,
The many, few.
Respond to anger with virtue.
Deal with difficulties while they are still easy.
Handle the great while it is still small.
The difficult problems in life
Always start off being simple.
Great affairs always start off being small.
Therefore the sage never deals with the great
And is able to actualize his greatness.
Now light words generate little belief,
Much ease turns into much difficulty.
Therefore the sage treats things as though they were difficult,
And hence, never has difficulty.

64.

That which is at rest is easy to grasp.
That which has not yet come about is easy to plan for.
That which is fragile is easily broken.
That which is minute is easily scattered.
Handle things before they arise.
Manage affairs before they are in a mess.
A thick tree grows from a tiny seed.
A tall building arises from a mound of earth.
A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.
Contriving, you are defeated;
Grasping, you lose.
The sage doesn't contrive, so she isn't beaten.
Not grasping, she doesn't lose.
When people are carrying out their projects
They usually blow it at the end.
If you are as careful at the end
As you were at the beginning,
You won't be disappointed.
Therefore the sage desires non-desire,
Does not value rare goods,
Studies the unlearnable
So that she can correct the mistakes of average people
And aid all things in manifesting their true nature
Without presuming to take the initiative.

65.

The ancients who were skillful at the Tao
Did not illuminate the people
But rather kept them simple.
When the people are difficult to rule
It is because of their cleverness.
Therefore
If you use cleverness to rule the state
You are a robber of the state.
If you don't use cleverness to rule the state
You are a blessing to the state.
If you understand these two points, you know the proper norm for governing To be continuously understanding the proper
norm is called
Mysterious Virtue.
How deep and far-reaching Mysterious Virtue is!
It makes all return
Until they reach the Great Norm.

66.

The reason the river and sea can be regarded as
The rulers of all the valley streams
Is because of their being below them.
Therefore they can be their rulers.
So if you want to be over people
You must speak humbly to them.
If you want to lead them
You must place yourself behind them.
Thus the sage is positioned above
And the people do not feel oppressed.
He is in front and they feel nothing wrong.
Therefore they like to push him front and never resent him.
Since he does not contend
No one can contend with him.

67.

The reason everybody calls my Tao great
Is because there is nothing quite like it.
It is exactly because it is great
That there is nothing quite like it.
If there were something that were consistently like it
How could it be small?
I have three treasures which I hold and cherish.
The first is compassion,
The second is frugality,
The third is not daring to put myself ahead of everybody.
Having compassion, I can be brave.
Having frugality, I can be generous.
Not daring to put myself ahead of everybody
I can take the time to perfect my abilities.
Now if I am brave without compassion
Generous without frugality, or
Go to the fore without putting my own concerns last,
I might as well be dead.
If you wage war with compassion you will win.
If you protect yourself with compassion you will be impervious.
Heaven will take care of you,
Protecting you with compassion.

68.

The best warrior is never aggressive.
The best fighter is never angry.
The best tactician does not engage the enemy.
The best utilizer of people's talents places himself below them.
This is called the virtue of non-contention.
It is called the ability to engage people's talents.
It is called the ultimate in merging with Heaven.

69.

Strategists have a saying:
"I prefer to be able to move, rather than be in a fixed position
Prefer to retreat a foot rather than advancing an inch."
This is called progress without advancing;
Preparing without showing off;
Smashing where there is no defense;
Taking him without a fight.
There is no greater danger than under-estimating your opponent.
If I under-estimate my opponent
I will lose that which is most dear.
Therefore
When opponents clash
The one who is sorry about it will be the winner.

70.

My words are easy to understand
And easy to practice.
Yet nobody understands them or practices them.
My words have an origin;
My actions have a principle.
It is only because of your not understanding this
That you do not understand me.
Since there are few who understand me
I am valued.
Therefore the sage wears coarse clothes.
Yet hides a jewel in his bosom.

71.

There is nothing better than to know that you don't know.
Not knowing, yet thinking you know--
This is sickness.
Only when you are sick of being sick
Can you be cured.
The sage's not being sick
Is because she is sick of sickness.
Therefore she is not sick.

72.

When the people do not fear your might
Then your might has truly become great.
Don't interfere with their household affairs.
Don't oppress their livelihood.
If you don't oppress them they won't feel oppressed.
Thus the sage understands herself
But does not show herself.
Loves herself
But does not prize herself.
Therefore she lets go of that
And takes this.

73.

If you are courageous in daring you will die.
If you are courageous in not-daring you will live.
Among these two, one is beneficial and the other is harmful.
Who understands the reason why Heaven dislikes what it dislikes?
Even the sage has difficulty in knowing this.
The Way of Heaven is to win easily without struggle.
To respond well without words,
To naturally come without special invitation,
To plan well without anxiety.
Heaven's net is vast.
It is loose.
Yet nothing slips through.

74.

If the people don't fear death
How will you scare them with death?
If you make the people continuously fear death
By seizing anybody who does something out of the ordinary
And killing them,
Who will dare to move?
There is always an official executioner to handle this.
If you play the role of the official executioner
It is like cutting wood in the capacity of Master Carpenter.
There are few who will not cut their hands.

75.

The reason people starve
Is because their rulers tax them excessively.
They are difficult to govern
Because their rulers have their own ends in mind.
The reason people take death lightly
Is because they want life to be rich.
Therefore they take death lightly.
It is only by not living for your own ends
That you can go beyond valuing life.

76.

When people are born they are gentle and soft.
At death they are hard and stiff.
When plants are alive they are soft and delicate.
When they die, they wither and dry up.
Therefore the hard and stiff are followers of death.
The gentle and soft are the followers of life.
Thus, if you are aggressive and stiff, you won't win.
When a tree is hard enough, it is cut. Therefore
The hard and big are lesser,
The gentle and soft are greater.

77.

The Way of Heaven
Is like stretching a bow.
The top is pulled down,
The bottom is pulled up.
Excess string is removed
Where more is needed, it is added.
It is the Way of Heaven
To remove where there is excess
And add where there is lack.
The way of people is different:
They take away where there is need
And add where there is surplus.
Who can take his surplus and give it to the people?
Only one who possesses the Tao.
Therefore the sage acts without expectation.
Does not abide in his accomplishments.
Does not want to show his virtue.

78.

Nothing in the world is softer than water,
Yet nothing is better at overcoming the hard and strong.
This is because nothing can alter it.
That the soft overcomes the hard
And the gentle overcomes the aggressive
Is something that everybody knows
But none can do themselves.
Therefore the sages say:
"The one who accepts the dirt of the state
Becomes its master.
The one who accepts its calamity
Becomes king of the world.
Truth seems contradictory.

79.

After calming great anger
There are always resentments left over.
How can this be considered as goodness?
Therefore the sage keeps her part of the deal
And doesn't check up on the other person.
Thus virtuous officials keep their promise
And the crooked ones break it.
The Heavenly Tao has no favorites:
It raises up the Good.

80.

Let there be a small country with few people,
Who, even having much machinery, don't use it.
Who take death seriously and don't wander far away.
Even though they have boats and carriages, they never ride in them.
Having armor and weapons, they never go to war.
Let them return to measurement by tying knots in rope.
Sweeten their food, give them nice clothes, a peaceful abode and a relaxed life.
Even though the next country can be seen and its doges and chickens can be heard,
The people will grow old and die without visiting each others land.

81.

True words are not fancy.
Fancy words are not true.
The good do not debate.
Debaters are not good.
The one who really knows is not broadly learned,
The extensively learned do not really know.
The sage does not hoard,
She gives people her surplus.
Giving her surplus to others she is enriched.
The way of Heaven is to help and not harm.

Tao Te Ching Translated by S. Rosenthal

1. THE EMBODIMENT OF TAO

Even the finest teaching is not the Tao itself.
Even the finest name is insufficient to define it.
Without words, the Tao can be experienced,
and without a name, it can be known.

To conduct one's life according to the Tao,
is to conduct one's life without regrets;
to realize that potential within oneself
which is of benefit to all.

Though words or names are not required
to live one's life this way,
to describe it, words and names are used,
that we might better clarify
the way of which we speak,
without confusing it with other ways
in which an individual might choose to live.

Through knowledge, intellectual thought and words,
the manifestations of the Tao are known,
but without such intellectual intent
we might experience the Tao itself.

Both knowledge and experience are real,
but reality has many forms,
which seem to cause complexity.

By using the means appropriate,
we extend ourselves beyond
the barriers of such complexity,
and so experience the Tao.

2. LETTING GO OF COMPARISONS

We cannot know the Tao itself,
nor see its qualities direct,
but only see by differentiation,
that which it manifests.

Thus, that which is seen as beautiful
is beautiful compared with that
which is seen as lacking beauty;
an action considered skilled
is so considered in comparison
with another, which seems unskilled.

That which a person knows he has
is known to him by that which he does not have,
and that which he considers difficult
seems so because of that which he can do with ease.
One thing seems long by comparison with that
which is, comparatively, short.
One thing is high because another thing is low;
only when sound ceases is quietness known,
and that which leads
is seen to lead only by being followed.
In comparison, the sage,
in harmony with the Tao,
needs no comparisons,
and when he makes them, knows
that comparisons are judgments,
and just as relative to he who makes them,
and to the situation,
as they are to that on which
the judgment has been made.

Through his experience,
the sage becomes aware that all things change,
and that he who seems to lead,
might also, in another situation, follow.
So he does nothing; he neither leads nor follows.
That which he does is neither big nor small;
without intent, it is neither difficult,
nor done with ease.
His task completed, he then lets go of it;
seeking no credit, he cannot be discredited.
Thus, his teaching lasts for ever,
and he is held in high esteem.

3. WITHOUT SEEKING ACCLAIM

By retaining his humility,
the talented person who is also wise,
reduces rivalry.

The person who possesses many things,
but does not boast of his possessions,
reduces temptation, and reduces stealing.

Those who are jealous of the skills or things
possessed by others,
most easily themselves become possessed by envy.

Satisfied with his possessions,
the sage eliminates the need to steal;
at one with the Tao,
he remains free of envy,
and has no need of titles.

By being supple, he retains his energy.
He minimizes his desires,
and does not train himself in guile,
nor subtle words of praise.
By not contriving, he retains
the harmony of his inner world,
and so remains at peace within himself.

It is for reasons such as these,
that an administration
which is concerned
with the welfare of those it serves,
does not encourage status
and titles to be sought,
nor encourage rivalry.

Ensuring a sufficiency for all,
helps in reducing discontent.

Administrators who are wise
do not seek honours for themselves,
nor act with guile
towards the ones they serve.

4. THE UNFATHOMABLE TAO

It is the nature of the Tao,
that even though used continuously,
it is replenished naturally,
never being emptied,
and never being over-filled,
as is a goblet
which spills its contents
upon the ground.

The Tao therefore cannot be said
to waste its charge,
but constantly remains
a source of nourishment
for those who are not so full of self
as to be unable to partake of it.
When tempered beyond its natural state,
the finest blade will lose its edge.
Even the hardest tempered sword,
against water, is of no avail,
and will shatter if struck against a rock.
When untangled by a cutting edge,
the cord in little pieces lies,
and is of little use.

Just as the finest swordsmith
tempers the finest blade
with his experience,
so the sage, with wisdom, tempers intellect.
With patience, tangled cord may be undone,
and problems which seem insoluble, resolved.

With wise administrators, all can exist in unity,
each with the other,
because no man need feel that he exists,
only as the shadow of his brilliant brother.

Through conduct not contrived for gain,
awareness of the Tao may be maintained.
This is how its mysteries may be found.

5. WITHOUT INTENTION

Nature acts without intent,
so cannot be described
as acting with benevolence,
nor malevolence to any thing.

In this respect, the Tao is just the same,
though in reality it should be said
that nature follows the rule of Tao.

Therefore, even when he seems to act
in manner kind or benevolent,
the sage is not acting with such intent,
for in conscious matters such as these,
he is amoral and indifferent.

The sage retains tranquillity,
and is not by speech or thought disturbed,
and even less by action which is contrived.
His actions are spontaneous,
as are his deeds towards his fellow men.

By this means he is empty of desire,
and his energy is not drained from him.

6. COMPLETION

Like the sheltered, fertile valley,
the meditative mind is still,
yet retains its energy.

Since both energy and stillness,
of themselves, do not have form,
it is not through the senses
that they may be found,
nor understood by intellect alone,
although, in nature, both abound.

In the meditative state,
the mind ceases to differentiate
between existences,
and that which may or may not be.
It leaves them well alone,
for they exist,
not differentiated, but as one,
within the meditative mind.

7. SHEATHING THE LIGHT

When living by the Tao,
awareness of self is not required,
for in this way of life, the self exists,
and is also non-existent,
being conceived of, not as an existentiality,
nor as non-existent.

The sage does not contrive to find his self,
for he knows that all which may be found of it,
is that which it manifests to sense and thought,
which side by side with self itself, is nought.

It is by sheathing intellect's bright light
that the sage remains at one with his own self,
ceasing to be aware of it, by placing it behind.
Detached, he is unified with his external world,
by being selfless he is fulfilled;
thus his selfhood is assured.

8. THE WAY OF WATER

Great good is said to be like water,
sustaining life with no conscious striving,
flowing naturally, providing nourishment,
found even in places
which desiring man rejects.

In this way
it is like the Tao itself.

Like water, the sage abides in a humble place;
in meditation, without desire;
in thoughtfulness, he is profound,
and in his dealings, kind.
In speech, sincerity guides the man of Tao,
and as a leader, he is just.
In management, competence is his aim,
and he ensures the pacing is correct.

Because he does not act for his own ends,
nor cause unnecessary conflict,
he is held to be correct
in his actions towards his fellow man.

9. WITHOUT EXTREMES

The cup is easier to hold
when not filled to overflowing.

The blade is more effective
if not tempered beyond its mettle.

Gold and jade are easier to protect
if possessed in moderation.

He who seeks titles,
invites his own downfall.

The sage works quietly,
seeking neither praise nor fame;
completing what he does with natural ease,
and then retiring.
This is the way and nature of Tao.

10. CLEANING THE DARK MIRROR

Maintaining unity is virtuous,
for the inner world of thought is one
with the external world
of action and of things.

The sage avoids their separation,
by breathing as the sleeping babe,
and thus maintaining harmony.

He cleans the dark mirror of his mind,
so that it reflects without intent.
He conducts himself without contriving,
loving the people, and not interfering.

He cultivates without possessing,
thus providing nourishment,
he remains receptive
to changing needs,
and creates without desire.

By leading from behind,
attending to that
which must be done,
he is said to have attained
the mystic state.

11. THE UTILITY OF NON-EXISTENCE

Though thirty spokes may form the wheel,
it is the hole within the hub
which gives the wheel utility.

It is not the clay the potter throws,
which gives the pot its usefulness,
but the space within the shape,
from which the pot is made.

Without a door, the room cannot be entered,
and without windows it is dark.

Such is the utility of non-existence.

12. THE REPRESSION OF DESIRES

Through sight, the colours may be seen,
but too much colour blinds us.
Apprehending the tones of sound,
too much sound might make us deaf,
and too much flavour deadens taste.
When hunting for sport, and chasing for pleasure,
the mind easily becomes perplexed.
He who collects treasures for himself
more easily becomes anxious.

The wise person fulfills his needs,
rather than sensory temptations.

13. UNMOVED AND UNMOVING

The ordinary man seeks honour, not dishonour,
cherishing success and abominating failure,
loving life, whilst fearing death.
The sage does not recognize these things,
so lives his life quite simply.

The ordinary man seeks to make himself
the centre of his universe;
the universe of the sage is at his centre.
He loves the world, and thus remains unmoved
by things with which others are concerned.
He acts with humility, is neither moved nor moving,
and can therefore be trusted in caring for all things.

14. EXPERIENCING THE MYSTERY

The Tao is abstract,
and therefore has no form,
it is neither bright in rising,
nor dark in sinking,
cannot be grasped, and makes no sound.

Without form or image, without existence,
the form of the formless, is beyond defining,
cannot be described,
and is beyond our understanding.
It cannot be called by any name.

Standing before it, it has no beginning;
even when followed, it has no end.
In the now, it exists; to the present apply it,
follow it well, and reach its beginning.

15. THE MANIFESTATION OF THE TAO IN MAN

The sage of old was profound and wise;
like a man at a ford, he took great care,
alert, perceptive and aware.

Desiring nothing for himself,
and having no desire
for change for its own sake,
his actions were difficult to understand.

Being watchful, he had no fear of danger;
being responsive, he had no need of fear.

He was courteous like a visiting guest,
and as yielding as the springtime ice.
Having no desires, he was untouched by craving.

Receptive and mysterious,
his knowledge was unfathomable,
causing others to think him hesitant.

Pure in heart, like uncut jade,
he cleared the muddy water
by leaving it alone.

By remaining calm and active,
the need for renewing is reduced.

16. RETURNING TO THE ROOT

It is only by means of being
that non-being may be found.

When society changes
from its natural state of flux,
to that which seems like chaos,
the inner world of the superior man
remains uncluttered and at peace.
By remaining still, his self detached,
he aids society in its return
to the way of nature and of peace.
The value of his insight may be clearly seen
when chaos ceases.

Being one with the Tao is to be at peace,
and to be in conflict with it,
leads to chaos and dysfunction.

When the consistency of the Tao is known,
the mind is receptive to its states of change.

It is by being at one with the Tao,
that the sage holds no prejudice
against his fellow man.
If accepted as a leader of men,
he is held in high esteem.

Throughout his life,
both being and non-being,
the Tao protects him.

17. LEADERSHIP BY EXCEPTION

Man cannot comprehend the infinite;
only knowing that the best exists,
the second best is seen and praised,
and the next, despised and feared.

The sage does not expect that others
use his criteria as their own.

The existence of the leader who is wise
is barely known to those he leads.
He acts without unnecessary speech,
so that the people say,
"It happened of its own accord".

18. THE DECAY OF ETHICS

When the way of the Tao is forgotten,
kindness and ethics need to be taught;
men learn to pretend to be wise and good.

All too often in the lives of men,
filial piety and devotion
arise only after conflict and strife,
just as loyal ministers all too often appear,
when the people are suppressed.

19. RETURNING TO NATURALNESS

It is better merely to live one's life,
realizing one's potential,
rather than wishing
for sanctification.

He who lives in filial piety and love
has no need of ethical teaching.

When cunning and profit are renounced,
stealing and fraud will disappear.
But ethics and kindness, and even wisdom,
are insufficient in themselves.

Better by far to see the simplicity
of raw silk's beauty
and the uncarved block;
to be one with oneself,
and with one's brother.
It is better by far
to be one with the Tao,
developing selflessness,
tempering desire,
removing the wish,
but being compassionate.

20. BEING DIFFERENT FROM ORDINARY MEN

The sage is often envied
because others do not know
that although he is nourished by the Tao,
like them, he too is mortal.

He who seeks wisdom is well advised
to give up academic ways,
and put an end to striving.
Then he will learn that yes and no
are distinguished only by distinction.

It is to the advantage of the sage
that he does not fear what others fear,
but it is to the advantage of others
that they can enjoy the feast,
or go walking, free of hindrance,
through the terraced park in spring.

The sage drifts like a cloud,
having no specific place.
Like a newborn babe before it smiles,
he does not seek to communicate.
In the eyes of those
who have more than they need,
the sage has nothing, and is a fool,
prizing only that which of the Tao is born.

The sage may seem to be perplexed,
being neither bright nor clear,
and to himself, sometimes he seems
both dull and weak, confused and shy.
Like the ocean at night,
he is serene and quiet,
but as penetrating as the winter wind.

21. FINDING THE ESSENCE OF TAO

The greatest virtue is to follow the Tao;
how it achieves ! without contriving.

The essence of Tao is dark and mysterious,
having, itself, no image or form.
Yet through its non-being,
are found image and form.
The essence of Tao is deep and unfathomable,
yet it may be known by not trying to know.

22. YIELDING TO MAINTAIN INTEGRITY

Yield, and maintain integrity.
To bend is to be upright;
to be empty is to be full.

Those who have little have much to gain,
but those who have much
may be confused by possessions.

The wise man embraces the all encompassing;
he is unaware of himself, and so has brilliance;
not defending himself, he gains distinction;
not seeking fame, he receives recognition;
not making false claims, he does not falter;
and not being quarrelsome,
is in conflict with no one.

This is why it was said by the sages of old,
"Yield, and maintain integrity;
be whole, and all things come to you".

23. ACCEPTING THE IRREVOCABLE

Nature's way is to say but little;
high winds are made still
with the turn of the tide,
and rarely last all morning,
nor heavy rain, all day.
Therefore, when talking,
remember also
to be silent and still.

He who follows the natural way
is always one with the Tao.
He who is virtuous may experience virtue,
whilst he who loses the natural way
is easily lost himself.

He who is at one with the Tao
is at one with nature,
and virtue always exists for he who has virtue.

To accept the irrevocable
is to let go of desire.

He who does not have trust in others
should not himself be trusted.

24. EXCESS

He who stretches
beyond his natural reach,
does not stand firmly
upon the ground;
just as he
who travels at a speed
beyond his means,
cannot maintain his pace.

He who boasts
is not enlightened,
and he who is self-righteous
does not gain respect
from those who are meritous;
thus, he gains nothing,
and will fall into disrepute.

Since striving,
boasting and self-righteousness,
are all unnecessary traits,
the sage considers them excesses,
and has no need of them.

25. THE CREATIVE PRINCIPLE OF TAO

The creative principle unifies
the inner and external worlds.
It does not depend on time or space,
is ever still and yet in motion;
thereby it creates all things,
and is therefore called
'the creative and the absolute';
its ebb and its flow extend to infinity.

We describe the Tao as being great;
we describe the universe as great;
nature too, we describe as great,
and man himself is great.

Man's laws should follow natural laws,
just as nature gives rise to physical laws,
whilst following from universal law,
which follows the Tao.

26. CENTRING

The natural way is the way of the sage,
serving as his dwelling,
providing his centre deep within,
whether in his home or journeying.

Even when he travels far,
he is not separate
from his own true nature.
Maintaining awareness of natural beauty,
he still does not forget his purpose.

Although he may dwell in a grand estate,
simplicity remains his guide,
for he is full aware, that losing it,
his roots as well would disappear.
So he is not restless,
lest he loses the natural way.

Similarly, the people's leader
is not flippant in his role, nor restless,
for these could cause the loss
of the roots of leadership.

27. FOLLOWING THE TAO

The sage follows the natural way,
doing what is required of him.

Like an experienced tracker,
he leaves no tracks;
like a good speaker, his speech is fluent;
He makes no error, so needs no tally;
like a good door, which needs no lock,
he is open when it is required of him,
and closed at other times;
like a good binding, he is secure,
without the need of borders.

Knowing that virtue may grow from example,
this is the way in which the sage teaches,
abandoning no one who stops to listen.
Thus, from experience of the sage,
all might learn, and so might gain.

There is mutual respect twixt teacher and pupil,
for, without respect, there would be confusion.

28. RETAINING INTEGRITY

Whilst developing creativity,
also cultivate receptivity.
Retain the mind like that of a child,
which flows like running water.

When considering any thing,
do not lose its opposite.
When thinking of the finite,
do not forget infinity;

Act with honour, but retain humility.
By acting according to the way of the Tao,
set others an example.

By retaining the integrity
of the inner and external worlds,
true selfhood is maintained,
and the inner world made fertile.

29. TAKING NO ACTION

The external world is fragile,
and he who meddles with its natural way,
risks causing damage to himself.
He who tries to grasp it,
thereby loses it.

It is natural for things to change,
sometimes being ahead, sometimes behind.

There are times when even breathing
may be difficult,
whereas its natural state is easy.

Sometimes one is strong,
and sometimes weak,
sometimes healthy,
and sometimes sick,
sometimes is first,
and at other times behind.

The sage does not try
to change the world by force,
for he knows that force results in force.
He avoids extremes and excesses,
and does not become complacent.

30. A CAVEAT AGAINST VIOLENCE

When leading by the way of the Tao,
abominate the use of force,
for it causes resistance, and loss of strength,
showing the Tao has not been followed well.
Achieve results but not through violence,
for it is against the natural way,
and damages both others' and one's own true self.

The harvest is destroyed in the wake of a great war,
and weeds grow in the fields in the wake of the army.

The wise leader achieves results,
but does not glory in them;
is not proud of his victories,
and does not boast of them.
He knows that boasting is not the natural way,
and that he who goes against that way,
will fail in his endeavours.

31. MAINTAINING PEACE

Weapons of war are instruments of fear,
and are abhorred by those who follow the Tao.
The leader who follows the natural way
does not abide them.

The warrior king leans to his right,
from whence there comes his generals' advice,
but the peaceful king looks to his left,
where sits his counselor of peace.
When he looks to his left, it is a time of peace,
and when to the right, a time for sorrow.

Weapons of war are instruments of fear,
and are not favoured by the wise,
who use them only when there is no choice,
for peace and stillness are dear to their hearts,
and victory causes them no rejoicing.

To rejoice in victory is to delight in killing;
to delight in killing is to have no self-being.

The conduct of war is that of a funeral;
when people are killed, it is a time of mourning.
This is why even victorious battle
should be observed without rejoicing.

32. IF THE TAO WERE OBSERVED

The Tao is eternal, but does not have fame;
like the uncarved block, its worth seems small,
though its value to man is beyond all measure.
Were it definable, it could then be used
to obviate conflict, and the need
to teach the way of the Tao;
all men would abide in the peace of the Tao;
sweet dew would descend to nourish the earth.

When the Tao is divided,
there is a need for names,
for, like the block which is carved,
its parts then are seen.

By stopping in time
from torment and conflict,
strife is defeated, and danger averted.
The people then seek the wisdom of Tao,
just as all rivers flow to the great sea.

33. WITHOUT FORCE: WITHOUT PERISHING

Knowledge frequently results
from knowing others,
but the man who is awakened,
has seen the uncarved block.

Others might be mastered by force,
but to master one's self
requires the Tao.

He who has many material things,
may be described as rich,
but he who knows he has enough,
and is at one with the Tao,
might have enough of material things,
and have self-being as well.

Will-power may bring perseverance;
but to have tranquility is to endure,
being protected for all his days.

He whose ideas remain in the world,
is present for all time.

34. WITHOUT CONTRIVING

All things may act, without exclusion,
according to the natural way,
which fulfills its purpose silently,
and with no claim.
Being an aspect of natural order,
it is not the ruler of any thing,
but remains the source of their nourishment.
It cannot be seen; it has no intention,
but all natural things rely on its presence.
When all things return to it,
it does not enslave them,
so unmanifested, its greatness prevails.

Modeling himself upon the Tao,
he who is wise, does not contrive,
but is content with what he achieves.

35. THE BENEVOLENT HOST

The wise man acts at one with the Tao,
for he knows it is here that peace is found.
It is for this reason that he is sought.

Whilst guests enjoy good music and food,
as these are supplied by a benevolent host,
a description of Tao seems without form,
for it cannot be heard and cannot be seen.
But when the music and food are all ended,
the taste of the Tao still remains.

36. OVERCOMING

It is the way of the Tao,
that things which expand might also shrink;
that he who is strong, will at some time be weak,
that he who is raised will then be cast down,
and that all men have a need to give,
and also have a need to receive.

The biggest fish stay deep in the pond,
and a country's best weapons
should be kept locked away.
That which is soft and supple,
may overcome the hard and strong.

37. THE EXERCISE OF LEADERSHIP

The way of nature is not contrived,
yet nothing which is required
is left undone.

Observing nature, the wise leader knows this,
and replaces desire with dispassion,
thus saving that energy, otherwise spent,
which has not been wasted away.

The wise leader knows
his actions must be
without the use of forced energy.

He knows that more
is still required,
for he also knows
that he must act
without deliberate intent,
of having no intention.

To act without contrived intent
is to act without contriving,
and is the way of nature,
and so is the way of the Tao.

38. THE CONCERNS OF THE GREAT

A truly good man is unaware
of the good deeds he performs.
Conversely, a foolish man must try
continuously to be good.

A good man seems to do little or nought,
yet he leaves nothing undone.
A foolish man must always strive,
whilst leaving much undone.

The man who is truly wise and kind
leaves nothing to be done,
but he who only acts
according to his nation's law
leaves many things undone.

A disciplinarian wanting something done
rolls up his sleeves,
enforcing it with violence.

It may be that goodness still remains,
even when the natural way is lost,
and that kindness still exists
when goodness is forgotten.
It may be that justice still remains
when the people are no longer kind,
and when this is lost, that ritual still remains.
However, ritual may be performed
only as an act of faith,
and may be the beginning of confusion,
for even divination and the such
are but the flowery trappings of the Tao,
and are the beginning of great folly.

He who is truly great
does not upon the surface dwell,
but on what lies beneath.
It is said that the fruit is his concern,
rather than the flower.
Each must decide what it might be he seeks,
the flowery trapping,
which comes to summer fullness first,
or the fruit which is beneath.

39. SUFFICIENCY AND QUIETNESS

From the principle which is called the Tao,
the sky, the earth, and creativity are one,
the sky is clear, the earth is firm,
and the spirit of the inner world is full.

When the ruler of the land is whole,
the nation too is strong, alive and well,
and the people have sufficient
to meet their earthly needs.

When the daytime sky is dark
and overcast like night,
the nation and its people
will surely suffer much.

The firmness of the dew filled earth
gives it its life;
the energy of the inner world
prevents its becoming drained of strength;
its fullness prevents it running dry.
The growth of all things
prevents their dying.

The work of the leader should ensure
the prosperity of the populace.
So it is said,
"humility is the root
of great nobility;
the low forms a foundation
for the great;
and princes consider themselves
to be of little worth".

Each depends on humility therefore;
it is of no advantage to have too much success,
so do not sound loudly like jade bells,
nor clatter like stone chimes.

40. BEING AND NOT BEING

The motion of nature
is cyclic and returning.
Its way is to yield,
for to yield is to become.
All things are born of being;
being is born of non-being.

41. SAMENESS AND DIFFERENCE

On hearing of the Tao,
the wise student's practice is with diligence;
the average student attends to his practice
when his memory reminds him so to do;
and the foolish student laughs.
But we do well to remember
that with no sudden laughter,
there would be no natural way.

Thus it is said,
"There are times when even brightness seems dim;
when progress seems like regression;
when the easy seems most difficult,
and virtue seems empty, inadequate and frail;
times when purity seems sullied;
when even reality seems unreal,
and when a square seems to have corners;
when even great talent is of no avail,
and the highest note cannot be heard;
when the formed seems formless,
and when the way of nature is out of sight".

Even in such times as these,
the natural way still nourishes,
that all things may be fulfilled.

42. THE TRANSFORMATIONS OF THE TAO

The Tao existed before its name,
and from its name, the opposites evolved,
giving rise to three divisions,
and then to names abundant.

These things embrace receptively,
achieving inner harmony,
and by their unity create
the inner world of man.

No man wishes to be seen
as worthless in another's eyes,
but the wise leader describes himself this way,
for he knows that one may gain by losing,
and lose by gaining,
and that a violent man
will not die a natural death.

43. AT ONE WITH TAO

Only the soft overcomes the hard,
by yielding, bringing it to peace.
Even where there is no space,
that which has no substance enters in.

Through these things is shown
the value of the natural way.
The wise man understands full well,
that wordless teaching can take place,
and that actions should occur
without the wish for self-advancement.

44. SUFFICIENCY

A contented man knows himself to be
more precious even than fame,
and so, obscure, remains.

He who is more attached to wealth
than to himself,
suffers more heavily from loss.

He who knows when to stop, might lose,
but in safety stays.

45. CHANGES

In retrospect, even those accomplishments
which seemed perfect when accomplished,
may seem imperfect and ill formed,
but this does not mean that such accomplishments
have outlived their usefulness.

That which once seemed full,
may later empty seem,
yet still be unexhausted.
That which once seemed straight
may seem twisted when seen once more;
intelligence can seem stupid,
and eloquence seem awkward;
movement may overcome the cold,
and stillness, heat,
but stillness in movement
is the way of the Tao.

46. MODERATING DESIRE AND AMBITION

When the way of nature is observed,
all things serve their function;
horses drawing carts, and pulling at the plough.
But when the natural way is not observed,
horses are bred for battle and for war.

Desire and wanting cause discontent,
whilst he who knows sufficiency
more easily has what he requires.

47. DISCOVERING THE DISTANT

The Tao may be known and observed
without the need of travel;
the way of the heavens might be well seen
without looking through a window.

The further one travels,
the less one knows.
So, without looking, the sage sees all,
and by working without self-advancing thought,
he discovers the wholeness of the Tao.

48. FORGETTING KNOWLEDGE

When pursuing knowledge,
something new is acquired each day.
But when pursuing the way of the Tao,
something is subtracted;
less striving occurs,
until there is no striving.

When effort is uncontrived,
nothing is left undone;
the way of nature rules
by allowing things to take their course,
not by contriving to change.

49. THE VIRTUE OF RECEPTIVITY

The sage is not mindful for himself,
but is receptive to others' needs.
Knowing that virtue requires great faith,
he has that faith, and is good to all;
irrespective of others' deeds,
he treats them according to their needs.

He has humility and is shy,
thus confusing other men.
They see him as they might a child,
and sometimes listen to his words.

50. THE VALUE SET ON LIFE

In looking at the people, we might see
that in the space twixt birth and death,
one third follow life, and one third death,
and those who merely pass from birth to death,
are also one third of those we see.

He who lives by the way of the Tao,
travels without fear of ferocious beasts,
and will not be pierced in an affray,
for he offers no resistance.
The universe is the centre of his world,
so in the inner world
of he who lives within the Tao,
there is no place
where death can enter in.

51. THE NOURISHMENT OF THE TAO

All physical things arise
from the principle which is absolute;
the principle which is the natural way.

All living things are formed by being,
and shaped by their environment,
growing if nourished well by virtue;
the being from non-being.

All natural things respect the Tao,
giving honour to its virtue,
although the Tao does not expect,
nor look for honour or respect.

The virtue of the natural way
is that all things are born of it;
it nourishes and comforts them;
develops, shelters and cares for them,
protecting them from harm.

The Tao creates, not claiming credit,
and guides without interfering.

52. RETURNING TO THE SOURCE

The virtue of Tao governs its natural way.
Thus, he who is at one with it,
is one with everything which lives,
having freedom from the fear of death.

Boasting, and hurrying hither and thither,
destroy the enjoyment of a peace filled life.

Life is more fulfilled by far,
for he who does not have desire,
for he does not have desire,
has no need of boasting.

Learn to see the insignificant and small,
grow in wisdom and develop insight,
that which is irrevocable,
do not try to fight,
and so be saved from harm.

53. EVIDENCE

When temptation arises to leave the Tao,
banish temptation, stay with the Tao.

When the court has adornments in profusion,
the fields are full of weeds,
and the granaries are bare.
It is not the way of nature to carry a sword,
nor to over-adorn oneself,
nor to have more than a sufficiency
of fine food and drink.

He who has more possessions than he can use,
deprives someone who could use them well.

54. CULTIVATING INSIGHT

That which is firmly rooted,
is not easily torn from the ground;
just as that which is firmly grasped,
does not slip easily from the hand.

The virtue of the Tao is real,
if cultivated in oneself;
when loved in the family, it abounds;
when throughout the village, it will grow;
and in the nation, be abundant.
When it is real universally,
virtue is in all people.

All things are microcosms of the Tao;
the world a microcosmic universe,
the nation a microcosm of the world,
the village a microcosmic nation;
the family a village in microcosmic view,
and the body a microcosm of one's own family;
from single cell to galaxy.

55. MYSTERIOUS VIRTUE

He who has virtue is like a newborn child,
free from attack by those who dwell
in the way of nature, the way of the Tao.

The bones of the newborn child are soft,
his muscles supple, but his grip is firm;
he is whole, though not knowing he was born
of the creative and receptive way.
The way of nature is in the child,
so even when he shouts all day,
his throat does not grow hoarse or dry.

From constancy, there develops harmony,
and from harmony, enlightenment.

It is unwise to rush from here to there.
To hold one's breath causes the body strain;
exhaustion follows
when too much energy is used,
for this is not the natural way.

He who is in opposition to the Tao
does not live his natural years.

56. VIRTUOUS PASSIVITY

Those who know the natural way
have no need of boasting,
whilst those who know but little,
may be heard most frequently;
thus, the sage says little,
if anything at all.

Not demanding stimuli,
he tempers his sharpness well,
reduces the complex to simplicity,
hiding his brilliance, seemingly dull;
he settles the dust,
whilst in union with all natural things.

He who has attained enlightenment
(without contriving so to do)
is not concerned with making friends,
nor with making enemies;
with good or harm, with praise or blame.
Such detachment is the highest state of man.

57. SIMPLIFICATION

With natural justice, people must be ruled,
and if war be waged, strategy and tactics used.
To master one's self,
one must act without cunning.

The greater the number of laws and restrictions,
the poorer the people who inhabit the land.
The sharper the weapons of battle and war,
the greater the troubles besetting the land.
The greater the cunning with which people are ruled,
the stranger the things which occur in the land.
The harder the rules and regulations,
the greater the number of those who will steal.

The sage therefore does not contrive,
in order to bring about reform,
but teaches the people peace of mind,
in order that they might enjoy their lives.
Having no desires, all he does is natural.
Since he teaches self-sufficiency,
the people who follow him return
to a good, uncomplicated life.

58. TRANSFORMATIONS ACCORDING TO CIRCUMSTANCES

When the hand of the ruler is light,
the people do not contrive,
but when the country is severely ruled,
the people grow in cunning.

The actions of the sage are sharp,
but they are never cutting,
they are pointed, though never piercing,
they are straightforward, not contrived,
and not without restraint,
brilliant but not blinding.
This is the action of the sage,
because he is aware
that where happiness exists,
there is also misery and strife;
that where honesty may be found,
there is occasion for dishonesty,
and that men may be beguiled.

The sage knows that no-one can foretell
just what the future holds.

59. GUARDING THE TAO

By acting with no thought of self-advancement,
but with self-restraint,
it is possible to lead,
and genuinely care for others.
This happens by acting virtuously,
and leaving nothing to be done.

A foundation virtuous and firm,
rooted in receptivity,
is a prerequisite of good leadership,
and for a life both long and strong.
He whose virtue knows no limit,
is most fitting to lead.
His roots are deep,
and his life protected
by his meditative practice,
as the bark protects the tree.

60. RULING

To rule a country,
one must act with care,
as when frying the smallest fish.

If actions are approached,
and carried out in the natural way,
the power of evil is reduced,
and so the ruler and the ruled
are equally protected.
They will not contrive to harm each other,
for the virtue of one refreshes the other.

61. HUMILITY

A great country remains receptive and still,
as does a rich and fertile land.
The gentle overcomes the strong
with stillness and receptivity.

By giving way to the other,
one country may conquer another;
a small country may submit to a large,
and conquer it, though having no arms.

Those who conquer must be willing to yield;
to yield may be to overcome.

A fertile nation may require a greater population,
to use its resources to the full,
whilst the country without such natural wealth
may require them to meet its people's needs.
By acting in unity, each may achieve
that which it requires.

62. SHARING THE TREASURE

The source of all things is in the Tao.
It is a treasure for the good,
and a refuge for all in need.

Whilst praise can buy titles,
good deeds gain respect.

No man should be abandoned
because he has not found the Tao.

On auspicious occasions, when gifts are sent,
rather than sending horses or jade,
send the teaching of Tao.

When we first discover the natural way,
we are happy to know that our misdeeds
are in the past, where they belong,
and so are happy to realize
that we have found a treasure.

63. BEGINNING AND COMPLETING

Act without contriving;
work naturally, and taste the tasteless;
magnify the small; increase the few,
and reward bitterness with care.
Seek the simple in the complex,
and achieve greatness in small things.

It is the way of nature
that even difficult things are done with ease,
and great acts made up of smaller deeds.
The sage achieves greatness by small deeds multiplied.

Promises easily made are most easily broken,
and acting with insufficient care
causes subsequent trouble.
The sage confronts problems as they arise,
so that they do not trouble him.

64. STAYING WITH THE MYSTERY

If problems are accepted,
and dealt with before they arise,
they might even be prevented before confusion begins,
In this way peace may be maintained.

The brittle is easily shattered,
and the small is easily scattered.
Great trees grow from the smallest shoots;
a terraced garden, from a pile of earth,
and a journey of a thousand miles
begins by taking the initial step.

He who contrives, defeats his purpose;
and he who is grasping, loses.
The sage does not contrive to win,
and therefore is not defeated;
he is not grasping, so does not lose.

It is easy to fail when nearing completion,
therefore, take care right to the end,
not only in the beginning.

The sage seeks freedom from desire,
not grasping at ideas.
He brings men back when they are lost,
and helps them find the Tao.

65. VIRTUOUS GOVERNMENT

Knowing it is against the Tao
to try to enforce learning,
the early sages did not contrive
to teach the way of the Tao.

There are two ways of government.
One is to be cunning, to act with guile,
and to contrive to cheat the people.
When this way is used to rule,
the people grow in cunning,
and contrive to cheat the ruler.

The second way to govern the land,
is to do so without contriving.
People so governed are truly blessed,
for they are governed with virtue,
and virtuous government is fair to all,
thus leading to unity.

66. LEADING FROM BEHIND

The sea is the ruler of river and stream,
because it rules from well beneath.

The teacher guides his students best,
by allowing them to lead.

When the ruler is a sage,
the people do not feel oppressed;
they support the one who rules them well,
and never tire of him.

He who is non-competitive
invites no competition.

67. THE THREE PRECIOUS ATTRIBUTES

Those who follow the natural way
are different from others in three respects.
They have great mercy and economy,
and the courage not to compete.
From mercy there comes courage;
from economy, generosity;
and from humility, willingness to lead from behind.

It is the way of sickness to shun the merciful,
and to acclaim only heroic deeds,
to abandon economy, and to be selfish.

They are sick, who are not humble,
but try always to be first.

Only he who is compassionate
can show true bravery,
and in defending, show great strength.
Compassion is the means by which
mankind may be guarded and saved,
for heaven arms with compassion,
those whom it would not see destroyed.

68. WITHOUT DESIRE

An effective warrior acts
not from nihilistic anger,
nor from desire to kill.

He who wins should not be vengeful.
An employer should have humility.

If we wish for peace and unity,
our dealings with our fellow man
must be without desire for self-advantage,
and carried out without contention.

69. THE USE OF THE MYSTERIOUS TAO

Arguments may be won by waiting,
rather than making an aggressive move;
by withdrawing rather than advancing.

By moving without appearing to move,
by not making a show of strength,
but by conserving it well;
by capturing without attacking,
by being armed, but with no weapons,
great battles may be won.
Do not underestimate
those you enjoin in battle,
for this can result in losing
what is of greatest value.
When a battle is enjoined,
by remembering this,
the weaker may still win.

70. HIDDEN IDENTITY

Though the words of the sage are simple,
and his actions easily performed,
they are few among many,
who can speak or act as a sage.

For the ordinary man it is difficult
to know the way of a sage,
perhaps because his words
are from the distant past,
and his actions naturally disposed.

Those who know the way of the sage
are few and far between,
but those who treat him with honesty,
will be honoured by him and the Tao.

He knows he makes no fine display,
and wears rough clothes, not finery.
It is not in his expectancy of men
that they should understand his ways,
for he carries his jade within his heart.

71. WITHOUT SICKNESS

To acknowledge one's ignorance
shows strength of personality,
but to ignore wisdom is a sign of weakness.

To be sick of sickness is a sign of good health,
therefore the wise man grows sick of sickness,
and sick of being sick of sickness,
'til he is sick no more.

72. LOVING THE SELF

The sage retains a sense of awe, and of propriety.
He does not intrude into others' homes;
does not harass them,
nor interfere without request,
unless they damage others.
So it is that they return to him.

'Though the sage knows himself
he makes no show of it;
he has self-respect, but is not arrogant,
for he develops the ability to let go of that
which he no longer needs.

73. ACTING WITH A SUFFICIENCY

A brave man who is passionate
will either kill or be killed,
but a man who is both brave and still
might preserve his own and others' lives.
No one can say with certainty,
why it is better to preserve a life.

The virtuous way is a way to act
without contriving effort,
yet, without contriving it overcomes.
It seldom speaks, and never asks,
but is answered without a question.
It is supplied with all its needs
and is constantly at ease
because it follows its own plan
which cannot be understood by man.
It casts its net both deep and wide,
and 'though coarse meshed, it misses nothing in the tide.

74. USURPING THE TAO

If the people are not afraid of death,
they have no fear of threats of death.

If early death is common in the land,
and if death is meted out as punishment,
the people do not fear to break the law.

To be the executioner in such a land as this,
is to be as an unskilled carpenter
who cuts his hand
when trying to cut wood.

75. INJURING THROUGH GREED

When taxes are too heavy,
hunger lays the people low.
When those who govern interfere too much,
the people become rebellious.

When those who govern demand too much
of people's lives, death is taken lightly.
When the people are starving in the land,
life is of little value,
and so is more easily sacrificed by them
in overthrowing government.

76. AGAINST TRUSTING IN STRENGTH

Man is born gentle and supple.
At death, his body is brittle and hard.
Living plants are tender,
and filled with life-giving sap,
but at their death they are withered and dry.

The stiff, the hard, and brittle
are harbingers of death,
and gentleness and yielding
are the signs of that which lives.
The warrior who is inflexible
condemns himself to death,
and the tree is easily broken,
which ever refuses to yield.
Thus the hard and brittle will surely fall,
and the soft and supple will overcome.

77. THE WAY OF THE TAO

The Tao is as supple as a bow;
the high made lower, and the lowly raised.
It shortens the string which has been stretched,
and lengthens that which has become too short.

It is the way of the Tao to take from those
who have a surplus to what they need,
providing for those without enough.
The way of the ordinary person,
is not the way of the Tao,
for such people take from those who are poor
and give to those who are rich.

The sage knows that his possessions are none,
therefore he gives to the world;
without recognition, doing his work.
In this way he accomplishes
that which is required of him;
without dwelling upon it in any way,
he gives of his wisdom without display.

78. SINCERITY

There is nothing more yielding than water,
yet when acting on the solid and strong,
its gentleness and fluidity
have no equal in any thing.

The weak can overcome the strong,
and the supple overcome the hard.
Although this is known far and wide,
few put it into practice in their lives.

Although seemingly paradoxical,
the person who takes upon himself,
the people's humiliation,
is fit to rule;
and he is fit to lead,
who takes the country's disasters upon himself.

79. FULFILLING ONE'S OBLIGATIONS

When covenants and bonds are drawn
between the people of the land,
that they might know their obligations,
it is commonplace for many
to fail to meet their dues.

The sage ensures his dues are met,
'though not expecting others to do the same;
in this way he is virtuous.

He is without virtue of his own,
who asks of others that they fulfill
his obligations on his behalf.

The way of nature does not impose
on matters such as these
but stays with the good for ever,
and acts as their reward.

80. STANDING ALONE

A small country may have many machines,
but the people will have no use for them;
they will have boats and carriages
which they do not use;
their armour and weapons
are not displayed,
for they are serious when regarding death.
They do not travel far from home,
and make knots in ropes,
rather than do much writing.

The food they eat is plain and good,
and their clothes are simple;
their homes are secure,
without the need of bolts and bars,
and they are happy in their ways.

'Though the cockerels and dogs
of their neighbors
can be heard not far away,
the people of the villages
grow old and die in peace.

81. MANIFESTING SIMPLICITY

The truth is not always beautiful,
nor beautiful words the truth.

Those who have virtue,
have no need of argument for its own sake,
for they know that argument is of no avail.

Those who have knowledge of the natural way
do not train themselves in cunning,
whilst those who use cunning to rule their lives,
and the lives of others,
are not knowledgeable of the Tao,
nor of natural happiness.

The sage seeks not to have a store
of things or knowledge, for he knows,
the less of these he has, the more he has,
and that the more he gives,
the greater his abundance.

The way of the sage is pointed
but does not harm.

The way of the sage
is to work without cunning.




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