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Tao Te Ching

Tao Te Ching

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Tao Te Ching
Tao Te Ching

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Tao Te Ching

Written by Lao-tzu From a translation by S. Mitchell

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The supreme good is like water, which nourishes all things without trying to.

keep to the simple. In conflict. be fair and generous. then step back. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt. 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? . The only path to serenity. don't try to control. In family life. everybody will respect you. 9 Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. do what you enjoy. Thus it is like the Tao. In governing. live close to the ground. Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench. In work. Do your work. Care about people's approval and you will be their prisoner. When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete. be completely present. In dwelling.It is content with the low places that people disdain. In thinking.

acting with no expectations. He allows things to come and go. Flavors numb the taste. but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want. leading and not trying to control: this is the supreme virtue. but it is the inner space that makes it livable. but it is the center hole that makes the wagon move. Sounds deafen the ear. His heart is open as the sky. 11 We join spokes together in a wheel. What does it mean that success is a dangerous as failure? . Desires wither the heart. Hope is as hollow as fear. Thoughts weaken the mind.Giving birth and nourishing. We shape clay into a pot. 13 Success is as dangerous as failure. having without possessing. 12 Colors blind the eye. but non-being is what we use. We hammer wood for a house. The Master observes the world but trusts his inner vision. We work with being.

it returns to the realm of nothing. it isn't dark. beyond all conception. Love the world as your self. it isn't bright. 14 Look. Just realize where you come from: this is the essence of wisdom. but you can be it. Seamless. all we can describe is their appearance. When we don't see the self as self.Whether you go up the ladder or down it. you will always keep your balance. You can't know it. unnamable. what do we have to fear? See the world as your self. . Reach. Have faith in the way things are. and it can't be grasped. 15 The ancient Masters were profound and subtle. follow it and there is no end. image without an image. at ease in your own life. Below. then you can care for all things. There is no way to describe it. subtle. and it can't be heard. When you stand with your two feet on the ground. What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear? Hope and fear are both phantoms that arise from thinking of the self. Listen. and it can't be seen. Their wisdom was unfathomable. you position is shaky. Form that includes all forms. Above. Approach it and there is no beginning.

If you don't realize the source. Receptive as a valley. Fluid as melting ice. 16 Empty your mind of all thoughts. you naturally become tolerant.They were careful as someone crossing an iced-over stream. Not seeking. kindhearted as a grandmother. disinterested. Returning to the source is serenity. When you realize where you come from. you can deal with whatever life brings you. not expecting. you are ready. Courteous as a guest. dignified as a king. Clear as a glass of water. amused. 17 . she is present. Each separate being in the universe returns to the common source. Alert as a warrior in enemy territory. you stumble in confusion and sorrow. 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. Immersed in the wonder of the Tao. but contemplate their return. and can welcome all things. Watch the turmoil of beings. Shapable as a block of wood. Let your heart be at peace. and when death comes.

Next best is a leader who is loved. The worst is one who is despised. and end your problems. goodness and piety appear. patriotism is born. If these three aren't enough. cleverness and knowledge step forth. When his work is done. and people will be a hundred times happier. When the body's intelligence declines. The Master doesn't talk. and people will do the right thing. one who is feared. If you don't trust the people. the people say.When the Master governs. and there won't be any thieves. When the country falls into chaos. 20 Stop thinking. he acts. Throw away industry and profit. you make them untrustworthy. filial piety begins. 19 Throw away holiness and wisdom. Throw away morality and justice. When there is no peace in the family. just stay at the center of the circle and let all things take their course. "Amazing: we did it. Next. What difference between yes and no? . all by ourselves!" 18 When the great Tao is forgotten. the people are hardly aware that he exists.

Other people are sharper. I am like an idiot.What difference between success and failure? Must you value what others value. I alone don't care. . 21 The Master keeps her mind always at one with the Tao. How can her mind be at one with it? Because she doesn't cling to ideas. The Tao is ungraspable. I drink from the Great Mother's breasts. like someone without a home. How can it make her radiant? Because she lets it. the Tao is. I alone drift about. as though they were at a parade. my mind is so empty. Other people are bright. I alone don't know. that is what gives her her radiance. I drift like a wave on the ocean. like an infant before it can smile. The Tao is dark and unfathomable. Other people have a purpose. I blow as aimless as the wind. I alone am dark. Since before time and space were. I alone am expressionless. avoid what others avoid? How ridiculous! Other people are excited. Other people have what they need. I am different from ordinary people. I alone am dull. I alone possess nothing.

people can see his light. 23 Express yourself completely. when the clouds pass. 22 If you want to become whole. the sun shines through. . let yourself die. When the ancient Masters said. sets an example for all beings. let yourself be crooked. "If you want to be given everything. The Master. let yourself be empty. give everything up. let yourself be partial. there is only rain. then keep quiet. If you want to be reborn. Because he has no goad in mind. Because he doesn't know who he is." they weren't using empty phrases. people can trust his words. Be like the forces of nature: when it blows. by residing in the Tao. If you want to become straight. when it rains. Because he doesn't display himself. give everything up. How do I know this is true? I look inside myself and see.It is beyond is and is not. If you want to be given everything. there is only wind. everything he does succeeds. people recognize themselves in him. Because he has nothing to prove. If you want to become full. Only in being lived by the Tao can you be truly yourself.

Eternally present. It is serene. If you open yourself to insight. If you want to accord with the Tao. 25 There was something formless and perfect before the universe was born. 24 He who stands on tiptoe doesn't stand form. . He who has power over others can't empower himself. It is the mother of the universe. you are at one with loss and you can accept it completely. Empty. Solitary. I call it the Tao. He who clings to his work will create nothing that endures. He who rushes ahead doesn't go far.If you open yourself to the Tao. Unchanging. you are at one with insight and you can use it completely. For lack of a better name. He who tries to shine dims his own light. then let go. He who defines himself can't know who he really is. Infinite. you are at one with the Tao and you can embody it completely. then trust your natural responses. Open yourself to the Tao. If you open yourself to loss. just do your job. and everything will fall into place.

Earth is great. 26 The heavy is the root of the light. Why should the lord of the country flit about like a fool? If you let yourself be blown to and fro. A good scientist has freed himself of concepts and keeps his mind open to what is. inside and outside. Man is great. The universe follows the Tao. The universe is great. and returns to the origin of all things. A good artist lets his intuition lead him wherever it wants. . The Tao is great. These are the four great powers. Thus the Master travels all day without leaving home. Thus the Master is available to all people and doesn't reject anyone. you lose touch with your root. The unmoved is the source of all movement. 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. However splendid the views. The Tao follows only itself. Man follows the earth. she stays serenely in herself.It flows through all things. Earth follows the universe.

the Tao will be strong inside you and there will be nothing you can't do. yet keeps to the the block: thus she can use all things. you will get lost.He is ready to use all situations and doesn't waste anything. 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. If you are a pattern for the world. 29 Do you want to improve the world? I don't think it can be done. yet keep to the black: be a pattern for the world. Know the white. 28 Know the male. . the Tao will never leave you and you will be like a little child. This is called embodying the light. yet keep to the female: receive the world in your arms. If you accept the world. It is the great secret. The world is formed from the void. yet keep to the impersonal: accept the world as it is. The Master knows the utensils. Know the personal. however intelligent you are. like utensils from a block of wood. If you receive the world. the Tao will be luminous inside you and you will return to your primal self.

he doesn't need others' approval. There is a time for being ahead. The Master sees things as they are. Violence. and that trying to dominate events goes against the current of the Tao. a time for being safe. a time for being at rest. you'll ruin it. 30 Whoever relies on the Tao in governing men doesn't try to force issues or defeat enemies by force of arms. a time for being in motion. Because he is content with himself. a time for being vigorous. The Master does his job and then stops. If you tamper with it. Because he accepts himself. He understands that the universe is forever out of control. a time for being in danger. always rebounds upon oneself. even well intentioned. If you treat it like an object. he doesn't try to convince others. 31 . a time for being exhausted. without trying to control them.The world is sacred. the whole world accepts him. you'll lose it. a time for being behind. For every force there is a counterforce. Because he believes in himself. She lets them go their own way. and resides at the center of the circle. It can't be improved.

as if he were attending a funeral. How could he rejoice in victory and delight in the slaughter of men? He enters a battle gravely. and the law would be written in their hearts. know where their functions should end.Weapons are the tools of violence. with sorrow and with great compassion. Peace is his highest value. it contains uncountable galaxies. When you have institutions. a decent man will avoid them except in the direst necessity and. will use them only with the utmost restraint. all things would be in harmony. 32 The Tao can't be perceived. He doesn't wish them personal harm. All things end in the Tao as rivers flow into the sea. The world would become a paradise. When you have names and forms. but human beings like himself. know that they are provisional. how can he be content? His enemies are not demons. Knowing when to stop. all decent men detest them. Smaller than an electron. If powerful men and women could remain centered in the Tao. Weapons are the tools of fear. . Nor does he rejoice in victory. you can avoid any danger. All people would be at peace. if compelled. If the peace has been shattered.

It pours itself into its work. yet it makes no claim. even amid great pain. mastering yourself is true power. yet it doesn't hold on to them. 35 She who is centered in the Tao can go where she wishes. But words that point to the Tao . If you stay in the center and embrace death with your whole heart. it can be called humble. you will endure forever. thus it is truly great. If you realize that you have enough. it can be called great. All things are born from it. Since all things vanish into it and it alone endures. without danger.33 Knowing others is intelligence. 34 The great Tao flows everywhere. Since it is merged with all things and hidden in their hearts. Mastering others is strength. Music or the smell of good cooking may make people stop and enjoy. knowing yourself is true wisdom. because she has found peace in her heart. It isn't aware of its greatness. you are truly rich. She perceives the universal harmony. yet it doesn't create them. It nourishes infinite worlds.

The ordinary man keeps reaching for power. the whole world would be transformed by itself. 38 The Master doesn't try to be powerful. all things are at peace. People would be content with their simple.seem monotonous and without flavor. If powerful men and women could venter themselves in it. you must first allow it to expand. there is nothing to see. 36 If you want to shrink something. . you must first allow it to flourish. Just show people the results. it is inexhaustible. When you listen for it. When you use it. you must first allow it to be given. This is called the subtle perception of the way things are. and free of desire. yet through it all things are done. Let your workings remain a mystery. 37 The Tao never does anything. If you want to take something. The soft overcomes the hard. When there is no desire. If you want to get rid of something. there is nothing to hear. everyday lives. thus he is truly powerful. The slow overcomes the fast. in harmony. When you look for it. in its natural rhythms.

content with the way they are. the sky is clear and spacious. the sky becomes filthy. there is ritual. yet something remains undone. Therefore the Master concerns himself with the depths and not the surface.thus he never has enough. the beginning of chaos. The Master views the parts with compassion. and leaves many things to be done. the earth is solid and full. The Master does nothing. the equilibrium crumbles. The just man does something. creatures become extinct. . and lets all illusions go. yet many more are left to be done. the earth becomes depleted. endlessly renewed. there is morality. yet he leaves nothing undone. all creature flourish together. When the Tao is lost. The ordinary man is always doing things. The moral man does something. and when no one responds he rolls up his sleeves and uses force. He has no will of his own. When morality is lost. 39 In harmony with the Tao. When goodness is lost. Ritual is the husk of true faith. When man interferes with the Tao. with the fruit and not the flower. He dwells in reality. there is goodness. The kind man does something. endlessly repeating themselves.

he laughs out loud. true purity seems tarnished. the greatest wisdom seems childish.because he understands the whole. the path forward seems to go back. He doesn't glitter like a jewel but lets himself be shaped by the Tao. true steadfastness seems changeable. he immediately begins to embody it. The Tao is nowhere to be found. the greatest love seems indifferent. When an average man hears of the Tao. His constant practice is humility. the greatest are seems unsophisticated. half doubts it. Being is born of non-being. Yet it nourishes and completes all things. true clarity seems obscure. 40 Return is the movement of the Tao. When a foolish man hears of the Tao. it wouldn't be the Tao. If he didn't laugh. 41 When a superior man hears of the Tao. true power seems weak. he half believes it. All things are born of being. Thus it is said: The path into the light seems dark. Yielding is the way of the Tao. the direct path seems long. 42 . as rugged and common as stone.

Three gives birth to all things. Be content with what you have. Two gives birth to Three. All things have their backs to the female and stand facing the male. Teaching without words. When male and female combine. If your happiness depends on money. But the Master makes use of it. performing without actions: that is the Master's way. you will never truly be fulfilled. embracing his aloneness. 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.The Tao gives birth to One. Ordinary men hate solitude. realizing he is one with the whole universe. the whole world belongs to you. all things achieve harmony. you will never be happy with yourself. . 43 The gentlest thing in the world overcomes the hardest thing in the world. One gives birth to Two. rejoice in the way things are. That which has no substance enters where there is no space. This shows the value of non-action. When you realize there is nothing lacking.

no greater wrong than preparing to defend yourself. you can see the essence of the Tao. 47 Without opening your door. True straightness seems crooked. She shapes events as they come. 46 When a country is in harmony with the Tao. She steps out of the way and lets the Tao speak for itself. the less you understand. sees the light without looking. no greater misfortune than having an enemy. achieves without doing a thing. The more you know. you can open your heart to the world. yet it is perfectly itself. True wisdom seems foolish. yet it is fully present. True fullness seems empty. True art seems artless.45 True perfection seems imperfect. Whoever can see through all fear will always be safe. When a country goes counter to the Tao. . warheads are stockpiled outside the cities. the factories make trucks and tractors. There is no greater illusion than fear. Without looking out your window. The Master arrives without leaving. The Master allows things to happen.

When nothing is done. every day something is dropped. . They look to her and wait. until finally you arrive at non-action.48 In pursuit of knowledge. It can't be gained by interfering. She also trusts people who aren't trustworthy. every day something is added. no resistances in his body. This is true goodness. She trusts people who are trustworthy. People don't understand her. He knows that he is going to die. 49 The Master has no mind of her own. This is true trust. She is good to people who are good. nothing is left undone. The Master's mind is like space. She treats them like her own children. She works with the mind of the people. 50 The Master gives himself up to whatever the moment brings. and her has nothing left to hold on to: no illusions in his mind. True mastery can be gained by letting things go their own way. In the practice of the Tao. Less and less do you need to force things. She is also good to people who aren't good.

comforts them. all things return to it.He doesn't think about his actions. protects them. takes on a physical body. It springs into existence. That is why every being spontaneously honors the Tao. they flow from the core of his being. free. therefore he is ready for death. All things issue from it. you will be free of sorrow. . If you close your mind in judgements and traffic with desires. When you recognize the children and find the mother. nourishes them. creating without possessing. He holds nothing back from life. 51 Every being in the universe is an expression of the Tao. perfect. trace back the manifestations. acting without expecting. lets circumstances complete it. takes them back to itself. 52 In the beginning was the Tao. your heart will be troubled. unconscious. cares for them. The Tao gives birth to all beings. To find the origin. guiding without interfering. as a man is ready for sleep after a good day's work. maintains them. That is why love of the Tao is in the very nature of things.

Be aware when things are out of balance. Let it be present in your family and your family will flourish. when government officials spend money on weapons instead of cures. Seeing into darkness is clarity. Let the Tao be present in your life and you will become genuine. Stay centered within the Tao. 53 The great Way is easy. Whoever embraces the Tao will not slip away. This is called practicing eternity. 54 Whoever is planted in the Tao will not be rooted up. Her name will be held in honor from generation to generation. when the upper class is extravagant and irresponsible while the poor have nowhere to turnall this is robbery and chaos.If you keep your mind from judging and aren't led by the senses. Let it be present in your country and your country will be an example to all countries in the world. When rich speculators prosper While farmers lose their land. It is not in keeping with the Tao. yet people prefer the side paths. Let it be present in the universe . Use your own light and return to the source of light. your heart will find peace. Knowing how to yield is strength.

benefited or harmed. untie your knots. It can scream its head off all day. He lets all things come and go effortlessly. Those who talk don't know. Be like the Tao. thus he is never disappointed. its muscles are weak. thus his spirit never grows old. This is the primal identity. block off your senses. Its bones are soft. It can't be approached or withdrawn from. yet its penis can stand erect. without desire. It doesn't know about the union of male and female.and the universe will sing. blunt your sharpness. Close your mouth. He is never disappointed. . He never expects results. but its grip is powerful. 56 Those who know don't talk. 55 He who is in harmony with the Tao is like a newborn child. settle your dust. so intense is its vital power. The Master's power is like this. soften your glare. so complete is its harmony. yet it never becomes hoarse. How do I know this is true? By looking inside myself.

Try to make people moral.honored or brought into disgrace. Stop trying to control. the less self-reliant people will be. 57 If you want to be a great leader. I let go of religion. the less virtuous people will be. and you lay the groundwork for vice. and the world will govern itself. the less secure people will be. . That is why it endures. the lower the results. Let go of fixed plans and concepts. and you lay the groundwork for misery. and the good becomes common as grass. the people are comfortable and honest. you must learn to follow the Tao. The more prohibitions you have. The more subsidies you have. I let go of economics. and people become prosperous. It gives itself up continually. Therefore the Master says: I let go of the law. 58 If a country is governed with tolerance. and people become honest. If a country is governed with repression. Try to make people happy. When the will to power is in charge. the higher the ideals. and people become serene. I let go of all desire for the common good. the people are depressed and crafty. The more weapons you have.

supple like a tree in the wind. She is pointed. but doesn't pierce. You spoil it with too much poking. 61 . but you'll be able to step out of its way. but supple. 60 Governing a large country is like frying a small fish. Not that it isn't there. Tolerant like the sky. Because he has let go. firm like a mountain. Straightforward.Thus the Master is content to serve as an example and not to impose her will. Center your country in the Tao and evil will have no power. Nothing is impossible for him. all-pervading like sunlight. Radiant. he can care for the people's welfare as a mother cares for her child. he has no destination in view and makes use of anything life happens to bring his way. The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas. Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself. but easy on the eyes. 59 For governing a country well there is nothing better than moderation.

you find. thus never needing to be defensive. Why did the ancient Masters esteem the Tao? Because. 62 The Tao is the center of the universe. but the Tao is beyond all value. and when you make a mistake. you are forgiven. and no one can achieve it. Honors can be bought with fine words. he realizes it.When a country obtains great power. it will be a light to all nations in the world. That is why everybody loves it. Having realized it. the bad man's refuge. when you seek. respect can be won with good deeds. Offer instead to teach him about the Tao. . Thus. If a nation is centered in the Tao. being one with the Tao. he corrects it. he admits it. it becomes like the sea: all streams run downward into it. when a new leader is chosen. if it nourishes its own people and doesn't meddle in the affairs of others. The more powerful it grows. the greater the need for humility. Having admitted it. Humility means trusting the Tao. He thinks of his enemy as the shadow that he himself casts. A great nation is like a great man: When he makes a mistake. He considers those who point out his faults as his most benevolent teachers. the good man's treasure. don't offer to help him with your wealth or your expertise.

she stops and gives herself to it. When she runs into a difficulty. Therefore the Master takes action by letting things take their course. He has nothing. The Master never reaches for the great. Forcing a project to completion. What he desires is non-desire. What is recent is easy to correct. . Rushing into action. thus problems are no problem for her. accomplish the great task by a series of small acts. Think of the small as large and the few as many. The journey of a thousand miles starts from beneath your feet. She doesn't cling to her own comfort. thus has nothing to lose. What is small is easy to scatter. thus she achieves greatness. Prevent trouble before it arises. He remains as calm at the end as at the beginning. What is brittle is easy to break. Trying to grasp things. 64 What is rooted is easy to nourish. you fail. The giant pine tree grows from a tiny sprout. you ruin what was almost ripe. Confront the difficult while it is still easy. Put things in order before they exist.63 Act without doing. you lose them. work without effort.

65 The ancient Masters didn't try to educate the people. The Master is above the people.what he learns is to unlearn. no one can compete with her. When they think that they know the answers. She goes ahead of the people. Because she competes with no one. When they know that they don't know. you must learn how to follow them. He simply reminds people of who they have always been. 66 All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. . The simplest pattern is the clearest. you must place yourself below them. If you want to lead the people. Thus he can care for all things. and no one feels manipulated. Humility gives it its power. but kindly taught them to not-know. people are difficult to guide. you can show all people the way back to their own true nature. The whole world is grateful to her. and no one feels oppressed. people can find their own way. avoid being clever or rich. Content with an ordinary life. If you want to govern the people. If you want to learn how to govern. He cares about nothing but the Tao.

In this they are like children and in harmony with the Tao. Others call it lofty but impractical. I have just three things to teach: simplicity. but they do it in the spirit of play. Not that they don't love to compete. you accord with the way things are. 68 The best athlete wants his opponent at his best. The best general enters the mind of his enemy. compassion. Simple in actions and in thoughts. you reconcile all beings in the world. The best businessman serves the communal good. And to those who put it into practice. this nonsense makes perfect sense. patience. this loftiness has roots that go deep. Patient with both friends and enemies. But to those who have looked inside themselves. All of the embody the virtue of non-competition.67 Some say that my teaching is nonsense. The best leader follows the will of the people. 69 The generals have a saying: "Rather than make the first move it is better to wait and see. Compassionate toward yourself. you return to the source of being. These three are your greatest treasures. Rather than advance an inch .

70 My teachings are easy to understand and easy to put into practice." This is called going forward without advancing. 71 Not-knowing is true knowledge.it is better to retreat a yard. Presuming to know is a disease. then you can move toward health. When two great forces oppose each other. pushing back without using weapons. There is no greater misfortune than underestimating your enemy. look inside your heart. She has healed herself of all knowing. and if you try to practice them. Thus you destroy your three treasures and become an enemy yourself. My teachings are older than the world. Yet your intellect will never grasp them. The Master is her own physician. First realize that you are sick. 72 . How can you grasp their meaning? If you want to know me. you'll fail. Thus she is truly whole. the victory will go to the one that knows how to yield. Underestimating your enemy means thinking that he is evil.

73 The Tao is always at ease.When they lose their sense of awe. 74 If you realize that all things change. When you handle the master carpenter's tools. When they no longer trust themselves. It overcomes without competing. If you aren't afraid of dying. there is nothing you can't achieve. so that people will have nothing to learn. Trying to control the future is like trying to take the master carpenter's place. arrives without being summoned. it doesn't let a thing slip through. people go hungry. When the government is too intrusive. Its net covers the whole universe. there is nothing you will try to hold on to. He teaches without a teaching. they begin to depend upon authority. people turn to religion. And though its meshes are wide. answers without speaking a word. Therefore the Master steps back so that people won't be confused. . accomplishes without a plan. people lose their spirit. 75 When taxes are too high. chances are that you'll cut your hand.

Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. 77 As it acts in the world. They take from those who don't have enough and give to those who have far too much. they are brittle and dry. The soft and supple will prevail. the bottom is bent up.Act for the people's benefit. It takes from what is too much and give to what isn't enough. The hard and stiff will be broken. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. the Tao is like the bending of a bow. dead. It adjusts excess and deficiency so that there is perfect balance. and doesn't think that she is better than anyone else. dead. 76 Men are born soft and supple. they are stiff and hard. succeeds without taking credit. She acts without expectation. Plats are born tender and pliant. go against the direction of the Tao. Trust them. Those who try to control. leave them alone. The top is bent downward. . who use force to protect their power. The Master can keep giving because there is no end to her wealth.

but these don't go anywhere. but few can put it into practice. 79 Failure is an opportunity. Since they dearly love their homes. they aren't interested in travel. he is people's greatest help. 80 If a country is governed wisely. nothing can surpass it. They enjoy the labor of their hands and don't waste time inventing labor-saving machines. the gentle overcomes the rigid. there is no end to the blame. She does what she needs to do and demands nothing of others. Therefore the Master fulfills her own obligations and corrects her own mistakes. The soft overcomes the hard. If you blame someone else. Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible. its inhabitants will be content. Because he has given up helping. . True words seem paradoxical. There may be a few wagons and boats. Everyone knows this is true.78 Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. Evil cannot enter his heart. Therefore the Master remains serene in the midst of sorrow.

the wealthier he is.There may be an arsenal of weapons. The more he gives to others. Wise men don't need to prove their point. People enjoy their food. but nobody ever uses them. The Tao nourishes by not forcing. . the Master leads. And even though the next country is so close that people can hear its roosters crowing and its dogs barking. take pleasure in being with their families. The more he does for others. eloquent words aren't true. delight in the doings of the neighborhood. men who need to prove their point aren't wise. the happier he is. spend weekends working in their gardens. they are content to die of old age without ever having gone to see it. The Master has no possessions. By not dominating. 81 True words aren't eloquent.

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