Lao Tzu

Tao Te Ching
(The Book of The Way and its Virtue)
A. S. Kline ã2003 All Rights Reserved
This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and
transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any
non-commercial purpose.
Contents
Book I .................................................................................6
I...........................................................................................6
II .........................................................................................7
III ........................................................................................8
IV........................................................................................9
V.......................................................................................10
VI......................................................................................11
VII.....................................................................................12
VIII ...................................................................................13
IX......................................................................................14
X.......................................................................................15
XI......................................................................................16
XII.....................................................................................17
XIII ...................................................................................18
XIV...................................................................................19
XV....................................................................................20
XVI ...................................................................................21
XVII..................................................................................22
XVIII ................................................................................23
XIX...................................................................................24
XX....................................................................................25
XXI ...................................................................................26
XXII..................................................................................27
XXIII ................................................................................28
XXIV................................................................................29
XXV .................................................................................30
XXVI ................................................................................31
XXVII...............................................................................32
XXVIII .............................................................................33
XXIX................................................................................34
XXX .................................................................................35
XXXI ................................................................................36
XXXII...............................................................................37
XXXIII .............................................................................38
XXXIV.............................................................................39
XXXV...............................................................................40
XXXVI .............................................................................41
XXXVII ............................................................................42
Book II..............................................................................43
XXXVIII...........................................................................43
XXXIX.............................................................................45
XL.....................................................................................46
XLI ...................................................................................47
XLII ..................................................................................48
XLIII.................................................................................49
XLIV.................................................................................50
XLV..................................................................................51
XLVI.................................................................................52
XLVII ...............................................................................53
XLVIII ..............................................................................54
XLIX.................................................................................55
L........................................................................................56
LI ......................................................................................57
LII .....................................................................................58
LIII....................................................................................59
LIV ...................................................................................60
LV.....................................................................................61
LVI ...................................................................................62
LVII ..................................................................................63
LVIII.................................................................................64
LIX ...................................................................................65
LX.....................................................................................66
LXI ...................................................................................67
LXII ..................................................................................68
LXIII.................................................................................69
LXIV.................................................................................70
LXV..................................................................................71
LXVI.................................................................................72
LXVII ...............................................................................73
LXVIII ..............................................................................74
LXIX.................................................................................75
LXX..................................................................................76
LXXI.................................................................................77
LXXII ...............................................................................78
LXXIII ..............................................................................79
LXXIV..............................................................................80
LXXV...............................................................................81
LXXVI..............................................................................82
LXXVII ............................................................................83
LXXVIII ...........................................................................84
LXXIX..............................................................................85
LXXX...............................................................................86
LXXXI..............................................................................87
Index of First Lines...........................................................88
Book I
I
The Way - cannot be told.
The Name - cannot be named.
The nameless is the Way of Heaven and Earth.
The named is Matrix of the Myriad Creatures.
Eliminate desire to find the Way.
Embrace desire to know the Creature.
The two are identical,
But differ in name as they arise.
Identical they are called mysterious,
Mystery on mystery,
The gate of many secrets.
II
The world knows beauty as beauty,
So there is then ugliness.
The world knows good as good,
So there is then the bad.
As is and is-not create each other.
The hard and easv define each other.
The long and short delimit each other.
The high and low depend on each other.
Joice and music harmonise with each other.
Last and next follow each other.
So the wise adhere to action through non-action,
And communicate the teaching without words.
From the Wav come the mvriad creatures
Yet it imposes no authoritv.
It gives them life without possession.
It benefits them but asks no thanks.
It does its work but claims no merit.
Because it claims no merit
Merit is never lacking in it.
III
Don’t give honours to the worthy,
Protect people from ambition.
Don’t value scarce things,
Protect the people from envy.
Don’t show what’s desired,
Keep people from temptation.
So, in governing, the wise
Empty the mind
But fill the stomach,
Weaken ambition
But strengthen the bones,
Keep things free of
Desire and learning,
So the clever take no action.
Act without taking action
And things will be in order.
IV
The Way is full: use won’t empty it.
Deep is the matrix of the myriad creatures.
Blunt the sharp:
Loosen the knots:
Dim the glare:
Follow old tracks.
Shadowy, it seems hardly there.
I don’t know whose child it is.
It seems like the ancestral form.
V
Heaven and earth are ruthless,
Trampling the myriad creatures like straw dogs.
The wise are ruthless,
Considering the people as straw dogs.
The space between earth and heaven,
Isn’t it like a bellows?
Its emptv but never exhausted.
The more it works the more flows out.
Much speech leads in the end to silence.
Better to hold fast to the Joid.
VI
The spirit of the valley never dies.
It is called the mysterious female.
The gate of the mysterious female
Is called the root of heaven and earth.
Barely seen, it hardly seems there,
Yet use will never exhaust it.
VII
Heaven and Earth endure,
By not endowing themselves with life.
Then they can be long-lived.
So the wise place Self last.
And it comes first.
Call it other than themselves.
And it persists.
By not thinking of Self
The personal goal is achieved.
VIII
The highest virtue is like water.
Since water helps the myriad creatures,
And settles, without contention,
Where no one wishes to live,
It is near to the Way.
In a house position matters.
In mental qualitv depth matters.
In friends kindness matters.
In speaking honestv matters.
In government order matters.
In transactions abilitv matters.
In actions promptness matters.
By not contending it never errs.
IX
Rather than filling it overfull
Better to stop in time.
Sharpen it to a point
The edge won’t last forever.
Gold and jade may fill the house
But no one can retain them.
Boasting of wealth and virtue,
Brings trouble on oneself.
Reticence when the job is done,
Is the Way of heaven.
X
Carrying your spiritual body on your head
Can you embrace the One and not let go?
Concentrating the breath
Can you become supple as a child?
Can you polish the mysterious mirror
And leave no mark?
Can you love the people and rule the state
Without indulging in action?
When the gates of heaven open and close,
Can you keep to the female role?
When your mind penetrates the four directions
Are you able to know nothing?
It gives them life and nurtures.
It gives them life without possession.
It benefits them but asks no thanks.
It holds but imposes no authoritv.
Such is the mysterious virtue.
XI
Thirtv spokes
Round one hub.
Employ the nothing inside
And you can use a cart.
Knead the clay to make a pot.
Employ the nothing inside
And you can use a pot.
Cut out doors and windows.
Employ the nothing inside
And you can use a room.
What is achieved is something,
By employing nothing it can be used.
XII
The five colours blind us.
The five notes deafen us.
The five tastes deaden us.
Pursuing and catching
Disturb the mind.
Wanting scarce things
Delays our progress.
So the wise are:
For the stomach
And not the eve.
Taking the one, they leave the other.
XIII
Favour and loss of it both disturb us.
Rank and bodv are both a problem.
What’s meant by ‘favour and loss of it both disturb us’?
Favour disturbs the subject when it’s given
As much as it does when it’s taken away.
That’s what’s meant by ‘favour and loss of it both disturb
us’.
What’s meant by ‘rank and body are both a problem’?
I’ve problems because I have a body.
When I’ve no body where’s my problem?
Who values the body even more than the empire,
Can be trusted with the empire.
Who loves the body even more than the empire,
Can be a custodian of the empire.
XIV
What cannot be seen is called indistinguishable.
What cannot be heard is called indistinct.
What cannot be touched is called indefinite.
The three can’t be comprehended
So they’re confused and considered one.
Its surface is not bright.
Its depths are not obscured.
Dimly seen it can’t be named
So returns to the insubstantial.
This is the shapeless shape,
The form without substance.
This is called blurred and shadowy.
Approach it you can’t see its face.
Follow it you can’t see its back.
Hold fast to the ancient Way
In order to control the present.
Knowing the source of the ancient,
Is the thread that runs through the Way.
XV
He who knew the way of old
Was delicately subtle, mysteriously knowing,
Too deep to be understood.
Because he could not be understood
He can only be vaguely described:
Tentative, as if crossing a rushing river,
Alert, as if afraid of his neighbours,
Stiff, like a guest,
Fluid, like thawing ice,
Dense, like the un-carved block,
Empty, like the valley,
Turbid, like muddy water.
Who can be turbid, yet gradually clear?
Who can be still, yet gradually stir into life?
One who holds fast to the Way
Does not desire completeness.
Because they do not desire completeness
They can be worn, and not renewed.
XVI
I try my best to achieve emptiness.
I hold firmly to stillness.
The myriad creatures rise together
And I watch them return.
The myriad things flourish
And each returns to its root.
Returning to the root is silence.
Silence is returning to being.
Returning to being is knowing the constant.
Knowing the constant is enlightenment.
Acting without knowing
The constant is harmful.
Acting while knowing
The constant is balance.
Balance leads to nobility,
Nobility to what is above,
What is above to the Way,
The Way to the eternal.
To the end of life
There is no danger.
XVII
The greatest ruler is one they know from of old.
The next is one thev love and praise.
The next is one thev fear.
The next is one thev despise.
Where there is lack of faith,
There is a lack of respect.
Emplov reticence. and care with words.
When the work is done and the task complete
The people will sav. It iust happened.
XVIII
When the great Way is lost
There is ‘benevolence and rectitude’.
When cleverness appears
There is ‘great ritual’.
When the family is not harmonious,
There is ‘filial piety’.
When the state is in chaos
There are ‘loyal’ ministers.
XIX
Eliminate the ‘sage’: forget ‘wisdom’
People will be a hundred times better off.
Eliminate ‘benevolence’: forget ‘rectitude’,
And people will have filial piety.
Eliminate cleverness: forget profit,
And there’ll be less thieves and rogues.
Superficial things are insufficient,
What is needed is all-embracing.
Exhibit the unadorned.
Hold fast to the un-carved block.
Avoid the thought of Self.
Eliminate desire.
XX
Eliminate learning: and there’s no worry.
Between ‘yes’ and ‘no’, what’s the difference?
What separates ‘good’ and ‘bad’?
But one must respect what others respect.
The people are happy
As if at a marvellous feast,
Or going on a spring outing,
Only I am unmoved and silent,
Abandoned to disorder without limit.
Like a baby that’s not yet smiled,
Aimless, like one of the homeless.
The people have all they want,
It’s only me that’s in need,
My mind’s ignorant – so dull!
Yet the crowd are clear-minded,
It’s only me that’s muddled.
Yet the crowd are all-knowing,
Only from me it’s hidden.
Levelled flat like the ocean,
Like an endless wind blowing.
Everyone has a purpose.
It’s only me that’s raw and foolish.
I’m different from the others.
I like being fed by the Mother!
XXI
Great virtue follows the Way
And the Way alone.
How shadowy, how indistinct!
Within it is the form.
How shadowy, how indistinct!
Within it is the ‘thing’.
How dim, how dark!
Within it is the substance.
The substance is perfectly real,
Within, it can be tested.
From present to ancient times
Its name was never lost.
So we can investigate the origins of all.
How do I know the origins of all are that?
By means of this.
XXII
Bowed down and so preserved.
Bent and then straightened.
Hollowed out then filled.
Worn awav then renewed.
From the few achievement
From the manv confusion.
So the wise grasp the One
And become a pattern for all.
Not shown. therefore apparent.
Not asserted. therefore known.
Not boasted of. therefore of worth.
Not contentious. so enduring.
It’s because the wise do not contend,
That no one can contend with them.
When the ancients said:
‘Bowed down and so preserved’
That was no empty saying.
It allows one to be preserved
To the end.
XXIII
To speak infrequentlv
Is natural.
So a strong wind won’t last all morning,
A downpour won’t last all day.
What causes these? Heaven and earth.
If even heaven and earth must rest,
How much more so human beings?
Therefore align yourself to the Way.
Aligned with the Way you are one with the Way.
Aligned with virtue you are one with virtue.
Aligned with the heavens you are one with the heavens.
The Way accepts this alignment gladly.
Virtue accepts this alignment gladly.
The heavens accept this alignment gladly.
When there is lack of faith
There is a lack of respect.
XXIV
On tiptoes you can’t stand.
Straddled you can’t walk.
Shown. therefore not apparent.
Asserted. therefore not known.
Boasted of. therefore not of worth.
Contentious. so not enduring.
The Way calls these
‘Excess food and useless waste’
As things dislike them,
Those of the Way do not employ them.
XXV
There is something formed of chaos.
Born before heaven and earth.
Silent and void. it is not renewed.
It goes on forever without failing
It can be seen as the World-Mother.
I dont know its name.
So I have to call it the Wav.
I have to label it as the great.
Being great implies a distancing
Distancing implies being far-off.
Being far-off implies returning.
So the Way is great: heaven is great:
Earth is great: the ruler is great.
Within the realm four things are great,
And the ruler is one.
The ruler reflects the earth
Earth reflects the heavens
The heavens reflect the Wav
The Wav reflects what is.
XXVI
Heaviness is the root of lightness:
The still is ruler of the turbulent.
So the nobleman travels all day
Without losing sight of the heavy wagons.
When he’s secure behind walls and towers,
Then he’s at rest and without trouble.
How can a ruler of ten thousand chariots,
Treat the people lightly in his thoughts?
In lightness the root is lost:
In turbulence the ruler is lost.
XXVII
Expert travelling leaves no track:
Expert speaking is free of faults.
Expert counting uses no beads.
Expert closing stays shut without locks.
Expert tying is firm without knots.
So the wise are expert in utilising people
And discarding no one,
Expert in utilising things
And discarding nothing.
This is called the application of knowledge.
So the wise are teachers the ignorant learn from.
And the ignorant are material for the wise.
Not to value the teacher.
Not to love the material.
Though it seems clever
Reveals confusion.
This is called the essential secret.
XXVIII
Know the masculine
But keep to the feminine,
And be a valley to the realm.
If you are a valley to the realm
Then constant virtue won’t leave you,
And you will return to infancy.
Know the bright
But keep to the shadows,
And be a pattern for the realm.
If you are a pattern for the realm
Then constant virtue will not be lacking
And you will return to the unlimited.
Know the glorious
But keep to the humble
And be a valley to the realm.
If you are a valley to the realm
Then constant virtue will be complete
And you will return to the un-carved block.
The un-carved block is cut into ‘vessels’.
Wise men use them, as rulers of ‘vessels’.
The great cutter
Does not cut awav.
XXIX
Whoever takes hold of the realm
And wants to manipulate it
Will have no peace.
The realm is a sacred vessel
That should not be interfered with.
Whoever touches it will spoil it.
Whoever grasps it will lose it.
Some lead and some follow.
Some breathe easilv. some breathe hard.
Some are strong and some are weak.
Some destrov. some are destroved.
So the wise avoid excess,
Avoid the pompous, and the arrogant.
XXX
Ruling the people by means of the Way
Does not involve awing the realm with force.
Thats likelv to come full circle.
Where the general camped
There the brambles grow.
In the wake of a great armv
Bad harvests inevitablv follow.
The good man aims at ending war,
And doing so fears to intimidate.
Achieve the aim but don’t boast.
Achieve the aim without display.
Achieve the aim without arrogance.
Achieve the aim but don’t assert it.
Achieve the aim but don’t intimidate.
The creature that ignores what exists from of old
Is described as going against the Wav.
What goes against the Wav
Will come to a swift end.
XXXI
Since weapons are instruments of evil,
And people detest them,
A wise man can’t stand their use.
A gentleman, in his house,
Makes the left the place of honour.
In military matters
The right is the place of honour.
Since weapons are instruments of evil,
They are not the instruments of the gentleman.
When he is forced to use them
He does so without savouring it.
Victory is not glorious,
Those for whom it is glorious
Delight in killing human beings.
Those who delight in killing human beings
Will never control the realm.
The left takes precedence on joyous occasions.
The right takes precedence on sad occasions.
A lieutenant’s place is on the left.
A general’s place is on the right.
Mourning rites are observed.
When there are mounds of dead
One should weep with sorrow.
When one is victorious
Observe the mourning rites.
XXXII
The Wav has no name.
The un-carved block is small
But no one dares to claim it.
If the rulers could accept this
The mvriad creatures would submit of themselves.
Heaven and earth would unite
And the sweet dew would fall.
The people could be dealt with
Without the making of laws.
When it is carved there are names.
When there are names it is time to stop.
Knowing when to stop
Keeps one from danger.
The world’s relation to the Way
Is like rills and streams
To the River and Sea.
XXXIII
One who understands others is clever.
One who understands the ‘self’ is enlightened.
One who conquers others is forceful.
One who conquers the ‘self’ is strong.
One who can be content is rich.
One who can act with purpose has will.
One who doesn’t lose place endures.
One who dies without loss has lived a life.
XXXIV
The Wav is broad like a river.
How can it be deflected to left or right?
The mvriad creatures depend on it for life
Yet it imposes no authoritv.
It does its work but claims no merit.
It feeds and clothes the people
Without claiming to rule them.
Free of desires it can be called ‘small’.
Yet as the myriad creatures turn to it,
And it does not claim to rule them,
It can be called ‘great’.
Because it never regards itself as great
It is capable of being great.
XXXV
Hold on to the great Image
And people will travel along.
Travelling along without harm
They will exist in peace.
Music and food tempt
The passer-by to stop.
The Way passes into the mouth
Without any flavour.
Look and it cannot be seen.
Listen, it cannot be heard.
Yet it cannot be exhausted.
XXXVI
In order to shrink it
It has to be stretched.
In order to weaken it
It has to be strong.
In order to raze it
You have to build it.
In order to take from it
You have to give to it.
This is called subtle understanding.
The soft and gentle conquers
The hard and violent.
The fish should not abandon the depths.
The state’s rewards and punishments
Should not be open to everyone.
XXXVII
The Way is always inaction,
But nothing is left undone.
If the rulers could realise it
The people would be themselves transformed.
If, being transformed, they show desire
I restrain it by means of the un-carved block.
The nameless un-carved block
Is freedom from desire.
Without desire they are calm,
And the realm is of itself at peace.
Book II
XXXVIII
The highest virtue doesn’t practise virtue
That’s why it is virtuous.
The lowest virtue is always ‘virtuous’
That’s why it has no virtue.
The highest virtue is inaction
But nothing is left undone.
The lowest virtue is action
But things are always left undone.
Benevolence is acting
But without ulterior motives.
Rectitude is acting
But with ulterior motives.
Those steeped in the rites act,
And when no one responds,
They roll up their sleeves
And resort to threats.
So when the Way was lost
There was ‘virtue’.
When virtue was lost
There was benevolence.
When benevolence was lost
There was rectitude.
When rectitude was lost
There were the rites.
The rites are onlv the semblance
Of lovaltv and sinceritv.
And a source of disorder.
The seer is a flowerv decoration
Obscuring the Wav.
And a source of foolishness.
So the wise live in the substance
And not in the semblance.
In the fruit
And not in the flower.
They take the one, and leave the other.
XXXIX
Of old these possess Oneness:
Heaven because of the One is clear.
Earth because of the One is firm.
Powers because of the One have force.
Jallevs because of the One are filled.
People because of the One subsist.
Rulers because of the One can govern.
The One creates these effects.
If heaven was not clear it might shatter.
If earth was not firm it might subside.
If powers had no force thev might be exhausted.
If the vallev was not filled it might run drv.
If people lacked subsistence thev might perish.
If rulers could not govern thev might fall.
So the superior has the inferior as root.
The higher has the lower at its base.
So rulers call themselves ‘abandoned, humble, and
unfortunate’.
Is this not taking the inferior as root?
So the highest effect is not a burden.
Neither desiring to be rare like iade.
Nor solitarv like a rock.
XL
Returning is how the Way progresses.
Weakness is how it performs its function.
The myriad creatures arise from Something,
And Something arises from Nothing.
XLI
When the best students hear of the Wav
Thev trv zealouslv to put it into practice.
When average students hear of the Wav
Its sometimes here and sometimes gone.
When the worst students hear of the Wav
Thev burst out laughing.
Not laughing would make it
Unworthv to be called the Wav.
So the ancient text says:
The wav that is bright seems dull.
The wav forward seems to lead back.
The smooth wav seems rough.
The highest virtue seems a vallev.
The purest whiteness seems stained.
Excessive virtue seems defective.
Solid virtue seems inactive.
Simplicitv appears sullied.
The great square has no corners.
The great vessel takes long to fashion.
The great note is soundless.
The great image has no form.
The Wav hides in namelessness.
It is good at giving and perfecting.
XLII
The Way creates one: one creates two:
Two creates three: three creates every being.
All beings carry the vin on their back
And embrace the vang in their arms,
Their gentleness achieves harmony.
Men hate the words ‘abandoned, humble, and unfortunate’
Yet rulers call themselves by these names.
So things are sometimes augmented
By being diminished,
And diminished by addition.
I teach what others also teach:
‘The violent won’t die a natural death.’
I adopt this as my basic principle.
XLIII
The softest thing in the world
Subdues the hardest thing in the world.
Non-being enters impenetrable space.
That is why I know the power of non-action.
Very few people in the world
Know how to teach without words
And profit from non-action.
XLIV
Which is dearer
Your fame or your self?
Which is more precious
Your self or possessions?
Which is worse
To gain or to lose?
So, great love
Leads to great sacrifice.
Great riches
Lead to great losses.
Know what is sufficient
And you won’t be humbled.
Know when to stop
And you’ll be free from danger.
Then you’ll last a long time.
XLV
Great perfection seems flawed.
Yet use will not diminish it.
Great fullness seems empty
Yet use will not exhaust it.
Great straightness seems bent.
Great skill seems awkward.
Great eloquence seems stilted.
Movement overcomes cold.
Stillness overcomes heat.
Clear and calm,
One can be a ruler of the realm.
XLVI
When the Way reigns in the land,
Horses go back to ploughing the fields.
When the Way does not reign in the land,
War-horses breed on the frontiers.
Theres no crime worse
Than to pander to ones desires.
Theres no sickness worse
Than not knowing what is enough.
Theres no greater catastrophe
Than the lust for gain.
Whoever knows what is enough
Will be happy with his fate.
XLVII
You can know the universe
Without leaving your house.
You can see the ways of heaven
Without looking out of your window.
The further you go
The less you know.
That’s why the wise achieve without moving,
Name what is, without needing to see it,
Accomplish great things without action.
XLVIII
In pursuing one’s studies
Something’s added each day.
In practising the Way
Something’s subtracted each day.
It grows less and less
Until one reaches non-action.
When one reaches non-action
Nothing is left undone.
It’s always through not interfering
That one can control the realm.
Whoever loves to interfere
Will never control the people.
XLIX
The wise have no fixed opinion.
They take the peoples’ opinion as their own.
Those who are good I treat as good.
Those who are bad I treat as good.
That’s the perfection of goodness.
Those who are honest I treat as honest.
Those who are dishonest I treat as honest.
That’s the perfection of honesty.
Among the people the wise reserve their opinion
And live in harmony with them.
The multitude satisfy their eyes and ears,
And the wise treat them as little children.
L
Pursuing life and pursuing death
A third will be followers of life,
A third will be followers of death.
And a third chase life into the realms of death.
Why? Because they want to live to excess.
I’ve heard that those who control their life,
Never encounter tigers or rhinos on their travels,
Are never harmed by weapons when in a fight.
There’s nowhere for the rhino to plant its horn.
There’s nowhere for the tiger to set its claw.
There’s nowhere for the weapon to lodge its blade.
Why? Because they’ve abolished the realm of death.
LI
The Wav creates them.
Jirtue raises them.
Things shape them.
Events mature them.
So the myriad creatures value the Way
And all honour virtue.
The Way is valued and virtue honoured
Not by force, but of its nature.
So the Wav creates them and raises them.
Rears them and nourishes them.
Develops and matures them.
Feeds and shelters them.
It gives them life without possession.
It benefits them but asks no thanks.
It holds but imposes no authoritv.
Such is the mysterious virtue.
LII
All things have an origin.
The origin could be called the Mother.
When you know the Mother,
You can know the child.
When you know the child,
Return to clasp the Mother,
And you’ll find no danger
To the end of your life.
Block up the openings.
Shut the doors,
And you’ll not fail
To the end of your life.
Unblock the openings,
Add to your problems,
You’ll be beyond help
To the end of your life.
To see the subtle is called discernment.
To hold to the weak is called strength.
Use discernment but return to the light.
This is called pursuing the constant.
LIII
If I had a little knowledge
I’d walk the great Way,
And only fear straying from it.
The great Way is broad,
But people like sidetracks.
The Court is immaculate
But the fields are full of weeds.
The barns are emptv
But the rulers are finelv dressed.
Swords bv their sides.
Gorged with food and drink.
Owning too much wealth.
This is called glorious theft.
This is far away from the Way.
LIV
The well-rooted cannot be dislodged.
The tightlv-held will not be lost.
Generation after generation
Worship their ancestors forever.
Cultivate it in vourself
Its virtue will be real.
Cultivate it in the familv
Its virtue will overflow.
Cultivate it in the village
Its virtue will extend.
Cultivate it in the state
Its virtue will flourish.
Cultivate it in the realm
Its virtue will be all-pervasive.
Assess the self by considering yourself.
Assess the family by considering the family.
Assess the village by considering the village.
Assess the state by considering the state.
Assess the realm by considering the realm.
How do I know the realm is like that?
By means of this.
LV
One who possesses true virtue
Is like a new-born infant.
Poisonous insects wont sting it.
Savage creatures wont bite it.
Birds of prev wont claw it.
Though its bones are weak.
And its muscles feeble.
Its grip is still strong.
Though it doesnt know about sexual union
Its sexual parts are alreadv active.
This is because it has perfect vitality.
It cries all dav without becoming hoarse.
This is because it’s in perfect harmony.
To know this harmonv is called the constant.
To know the constant is called enlightenment.
Fuelling the vital spirits is called disastrous.
Mind impelling the breath is called violence.
The creature that ignores what exists from of old
Is described as going against the Wav.
What goes against the Wav
Will come to a swift end.
LVI
One who knows does not speak.
One who speaks does not know.
Block up the openings.
Shut the doors.
Blunt the sharp.
Loose the knots.
Dim the glare.
Follow old tracks.
This is called mysterious oneness.
You can’t possess it but can’t escape it.
You can’t benefit it or harm it.
You can’t honour it or debase it.
So it’s valued throughout the realm.
LVII
Govern the state by being honest.
Wage war by being clever.
Achieve the realm by not meddling.
How do I know it is like that? By this:
The more regulations
The poorer the people.
The more sharp weapons
The more troubled the countrv.
The cleverer the people
The more distractions.
The wider the knowledge of law.
The more there are thieves and rogues.
So the wise say:
I take no action and the people transform themselves.
I remain still and the people set themselves right.
I dont interfere and the people themselves prosper.
I am free of desires and the people of themselves
Hold to the un-carved block.
LVIII
When government meanders
The people are straightforward.
When government interferes
The people are cunning.
The fortunate leans on the unfortunate.
The unfortunate crouches beneath the fortunate.
Who knows when to stop?
Where is the simple?
The simple becomes cunning,
The good becomes perverse.
The people have certainly
Been wrong for a long time!
So the wise are foursquare
But not sharp.
Have corners
But don’t cut.
Extend themselves
But spare others.
Shine out
But don’t glare.
LIX
In governing the people and serving heaven
Moderation is best in a ruler.
By being moderate
One starts from the Way.
Starting from the Way
One gains a wealth of virtue.
Gaining a wealth of virtue
There is nothing that can’t be overcome.
When there’s nothing that can’t be overcome
There are no limitations.
When there are no limitations
The realm can be achieved.
When the mother of the realm is achieved,
One endures.
This is called ‘deep roots and a firm stem’
Through which one acquires long life.
LX
Ruling a large state is like boiling a delicate fish.
When the realm is governed by the Way
Malicious influences lose their power.
Or rather they retain their power
But cause the people no harm.
Neither they nor the wise
Cause the people harm.
Since neither harms the people
Their merit is one and the same.
LXI
A large state should be the estuary of a river,
Where all the streams of the world come together.
In the coming together of the world
The female overcomes the male by weakness.
Being weak she takes the lower position.
So a large state taking the lower position
Allies itself with a small state.
A small state taking the lower position
Is allied with a large state.
One by taking the lower position allies itself,
The other by taking the lower position is allied.
All the large state wishes
Is to join with and nourish the other.
All the small state wishes
Is for its services to be accepted by the other.
In order to achieve what they wish
The great adopt the lower position.
LXII
The Wav is the mvriad creatures refuge.
It is that which the good extend.
And that which defends the bad.
Eloquent words can win promotion.
Eloquent actions can elevate.
Even if a person is bad, should one reject them?
When the ruler is installed
And the three great ministers appointed,
Though jade disks
And four-horse teams are offered,
It’s better to grant the gift of the Way
Without stirring from one’s place.
Why was the Way valued of old?
Was it not said it brought achievement,
And mitigated the punishment of the guilty.
So it was prized by the realm.
LXIII
Do what involves no action.
Promote things without meddling.
Savour what has no flavour.
Make the small, great
And the few, many.
Counter harm with virtue.
Tackle the difficult while it’s still easy,
Address the great while it’s still small.
Difficult things have easy beginnings,
Great things have small beginnings.
Because the wise never try to be great,
That is how they achieve greatness.
Rash promises are rarely fulfilled.
Thinking things easy makes them difficult.
The wise treat things as if they were difficult.
And so are not overcome by difficulties.
LXIV
Its easv to control what is at rest.
Its easv to handle whats not vet developed.
Its easv to shatter whats still un-tempered.
Its easv to disperse whats still limited.
Deal with things before thev grow.
Manage affairs before thevre chaotic.
A tree as wide as a mans arms
Grows from a tinv seed.
A tower nine stories high
Rises from piles of earth.
A iournev of a thousand miles
Starts with a single step.
Whoever meddles with things ruins them.
Whoever grasps things loses them.
The wise by non-action ruin nothing.
By not grasping they lose nothing.
People in their proiects
Fail on the brink of success.
Be as careful at the end as the start
And failure will be avoided.
So the wise desire to be free of desire.
And place no value on what is scarce.
Learn how to exist without learning.
And correct the faults of the manv.
Help all things to conform to nature.
And avoid the rashness of action.
LXV
Those of old who were skilled in the Way
Did not use it to enlighten people,
But rather to maintain simplicity.
When people are difficult to govern
It’s because they’ve become too clever.
Governing the state bv cleverness
Is a disaster for the state.
Not to govern a state bv cleverness
Is a blessing for the state.
These are the givens.
To alwavs understand the given.
Is called mvsterious virtue.
Mvsterious virtue is deep and profound.
When things return to the given. it returns.
And only then are things in complete accord.
LXVI
The reason why River and Sea can be
The rulers of the hundred valleys
Is because they adopt the lower position.
So they can command the hundred valleys.
In order to command people
You should be humble with them.
If vou want to lead people
You should follow behind.
So the wise command the people
But avoid being a burden.
They go in front of the people
But cause no obstruction.
Therefore the realm gladly upholds them,
And never resents doing so.
Because they do not contend
No one in the realm contends with them.
LXVII
The whole world calls my Way vast
And says it resembles nothing else.
It is precisely because it is vast
That it resembles nothing else.
If it resembled something else
How could it be anything but small?
I have three treasures
I hold to and cherish.
The first is compassion.
The second is moderation.
The third is called not rashlv
Taking the lead in the realm.
Being compassionate I can show courage.
Being moderate I can be generous.
Not rashlv taking the lead
I can command the officials.
Courage without compassion,
Generosity without moderation,
Going in front instead of behind,
Is certain to end in destruction.
With compassion you will win in war
And be impregnable in peace.
Heaven will protect you
With the gift of compassion.
LXVIII
The greatest warrior is not formidable.
The greatest fighter is never angry.
The best strategist never encounters the enemy.
The best employer of talent is humble.
This is known as the power of non-contention.
This is known as respecting others’ talents.
This is known as echoing the profundity of heaven.
LXIX
The strategists say:
Its rash to plav the host. I prefer to plav the guest.
Its rash to go forward an inch. I retreat a foot instead.
This is known as advancing without moving.
Rolling up ones sleeve without an arm.
Meeting an enemv bv force without an enemv.
And waging war without a battle.
There’s nothing worse than treating war lightly.
Doing that will lose me all my treasure.
When two opponents encounter each other,
The one that is most regretful will win.
LXX
My words are easy to understand
And easy to put into practice,
Yet no one can understand them
Or put them into practice.
Words must have an origin
And actions must have a guide.
People ignorant of this
Fail to understand me.
Those who understand are few.
Those who ignore me are celebrated.
So the wise though meanly dressed,
Hide priceless jade on their person.
LXXI
To know without thinking one knows is best.
Not to know but to think one knows is harmful.
It is by being aware of harm that one avoids it.
The wise person does not come to harm.
It is because the wise are aware of harm
That they avoid coming to harm.
LXXII
When people don’t respect what is powerful
Things have the power to overcome them.
Don’t press down on their lives,
Don’t constrict their livelihood.
It’s because you don’t oppress them,
That they won’t weary of the burden.
So the wise know themselves,
But don’t make a display of themselves,
Love themselves
But don’t over-value themselves.
Taking the one, they leave the other.
LXXIII
One whos fearless in being brave will be killed.
One whos fearless in being cautious remains alive.
One of these is useful. the other harmful.
Heaven disdains what it disdains
Who knows the reasons whv?
Even the wise find these things difficult.
The way of heaven
Overcomes easilv without contention.
Replies though it does not speak.
Invites though it does not summon.
Obevs the laws though it seems free.
The net of heaven is vast.
The mesh is wide
But nothing slips through.
LXXIV
If people don’t fear death
How will you frighten them with death?
If people always fear death
And I seize and execute
Anyone who does anything new,
Who will dare to move?
There is a public executioner who kills.
Killing on behalf of the public executioner,
Is called cutting wood on behalf of the carpenter.
In cutting wood on behalf of the carpenter,
There are few who escape hurting their hands.
LXXV
The people are starving.
Its because their rulers over-tax them
That the people are starving.
The people are hard to govern.
Its because their rulers are quick to act
That people are hard to govern.
The people treat death lightlv.
Its because people over-value life
That thev treat death lightlv.
It’s because one sets no store by life,
That one is wiser than those who do.
LXXVI
We are supple and weak when born,
And hard and stiff when dead.
Trees and grass are supple and tender shoots,
But dry and withered when dead.
The hard and stiff are companions of death.
The supple and weak are companions of life.
The stifflv held weapon will not conquer.
Hard wood will fall to the axe.
The tall and stiff is of inferior rank.
The supple and weak is of superior rank.
LXXVII
The Way of heaven is like stringing a bow.
It depresses the high.
And raises the low.
It takes from excess.
And gives to the lacking.
It’s heaven’s Way
To take from excess
And give to the lacking.
People do otherwise.
They take from those who lack
And give to those with excess.
Who can take his excess
And give it to the realm?
One who knows the Way.
So the wise do good but ask no thanks.
Thev do their work but claim no merit.
They do not wish to display their virtue.
LXXVIII
Nothing in the world is weaker or gentler than water.
But nothing exceeds it at conquering the hard and strong.
That is because nothing displaces it.
That the weak overcomes the strong.
And the gentle overcomes the hard.
Is something that evervone knows
But no one can put into practice.
So the wise say:
One who takes on himself the states humilitv
Is called a ruler worthv of its institutions.
One who takes on himself the states adversitv.
Is called a ruler worthv of governing the realm.
True words
Seem perverse.
LXXIX
When there is peace between great enemies
There is bound to be lingering resentment.
How can this be considered virtuous?
So the wise become creditors
But exact no payment from the people.
The virtuous keep the tallv.
Those without virtue exact it.
The Wav of heaven shows no favouritism.
It merelv supports the good.
LXXX
Let states and their population be small in size.
Let the people, though they have weapons
For an army, not use them.
Let them take death seriously
And not wander to far-off places.
Though they have boats and wagons
Let them not find a use for them.
Though they have weapons and armour
Let them have no occasion to show them.
Return them to measuring with a knotted rope,
Thevll find savour in their food.
And good-taste in their clothing.
Find contentment in their homes
And be happv with their lives.
Though the next state can be seen
And its barking and cock crows heard.
The people of one state will age and die
Without having to deal with the other.
LXXXI
True words are rarely elaborate.
Elaborate words are rarely truthful.
Good words are rarely eloquent.
Eloquent words are rarely good.
He who knows is rarely learned.
He who is learned rarely knows.
The wise do not hoard wisdom.
Giving to others what thev have
Thev have still more.
Sharing what thev have with others
Thev are richer still.
Heaven’s Way helps and never harms.
The Way of the wise is generous
And free from all contention.
Index of First Lines
The Way - cannot be told..................................................6
The world knows beauty as beauty, ....................................7
Don’t give honours to the worthy, ......................................8
The Way is full: use won’t empty it....................................9
Heaven and earth are ruthless, ..........................................10
The spirit of the valley never dies. ....................................11
Heaven and Earth endure, .................................................12
The highest virtue is like water. ........................................13
Rather than filling it overfull ............................................14
Carrying your spiritual body on your head .......................15
Employ the nothing inside ................................................16
The five colours blind us...................................................17
What’s meant by ‘favour and loss of it both disturb us’?..18
What cannot be seen is called indistinguishable. ..............19
He who knew the way of old ............................................20
I try my best to achieve emptiness. ...................................21
The greatest ruler is one they know from of old. ..............22
When the great Way is lost ...............................................23
Eliminate the ‘sage’: forget ‘wisdom’...............................24
Eliminate learning: and there’s no worry. .........................25
Great virtue follows the Way............................................26
It’s because the wise do not contend,................................27
So a strong wind won’t last all morning, ..........................28
On tiptoes you can’t stand.................................................29
So the Way is great: heaven is great: ................................30
Heaviness is the root of lightness:.....................................31
Expert travelling leaves no track:......................................32
Know the masculine..........................................................33
Whoever takes hold of the realm......................................34
Ruling the people by means of the Way ...........................35
Since weapons are instruments of evil, .............................36
The world’s relation to the Way .......................................37
One who understands others is clever. ..............................38
Free of desires it can be called ‘small’..............................39
Hold on to the great Image................................................40
In order to shrink it ...........................................................41
The Way is always inaction, .............................................42
The highest virtue doesn’t practise virtue .........................43
Of old these possess Oneness: ..........................................45
Returning is how the Way progresses. ..............................46
So the ancient text says:....................................................47
The Way creates one: one creates two: .............................48
The softest thing in the world ...........................................49
Which is dearer .................................................................50
Great perfection seems flawed. .........................................51
When the Way reigns in the land, .....................................52
You can know the universe...............................................53
In pursuing one’s studies ..................................................54
The wise have no fixed opinion. .......................................55
Pursuing life and pursuing death.......................................56
So the myriad creatures value the Way.............................57
All things have an origin...................................................58
If I had a little knowledge .................................................59
Assess the self by considering yourself. ...........................60
One who possesses true virtue ..........................................61
This is called mysterious oneness. ....................................62
Govern the state by being honest. .....................................63
Who knows when to stop? ................................................64
In governing the people and serving heaven.....................65
Ruling a large state is like boiling a delicate fish..............66
A large state should be the estuary of a river, ...................67
Even if a person is bad, should one reject them? ..............68
Do what involves no action...............................................69
Whoever meddles with things ruins them. ........................70
Those of old who were skilled in the Way........................71
The reason why River and Sea can be ..............................72
The whole world calls my Way vast .................................73
The greatest warrior is not formidable. .............................74
The strategists say:............................................................75
My words are easy to understand......................................76
To know without thinking one knows is best....................77
When people don’t respect what is powerful ....................78
Even the wise find these things difficult. ..........................79
If people don’t fear death..................................................80
It’s because one sets no store by life, ................................81
We are supple and weak when born,.................................82
The Way of heaven is like stringing a bow. ......................83
Nothing in the world is weaker or gentler than water. ......84
So the wise become creditors............................................85
Let states and their population be small in size.................86
True words are rarely elaborate. .......................................87

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A. S. Kline ã2003 All Rights Reserved This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.

...............................................................27 XXIII ......................................................................................................................18 XIV ............................................................................................................................................................22 XVIII .........................................&RQWHQWV Book I .......................................................................................................................................................................................33 ........................................................8 IV..........9 V ..................................................7 III .28 XXIV .........................................................................................................23 XIX ..................................................................................................................................................................................................25 XXI ..........................................................................16 XII......................................................................................................................................6 II ............................11 VII................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................14 X ..........................................................................................................................................................................................26 XXII............................................................29 XXV ...................................21 XVII....................................................................31 XXVII..............................................................................13 IX........19 XV ....................................15 XI............17 XIII ..........................................12 VIII ..................6 I...................................................24 XX .........................................................20 XVI ...10 VI..............................30 XXVI ......................................32 XXVIII ............................................................................................................................................

...........................35 XXXI ....................................................................................................................................................54 XLIX..................................................................37 XXXIII ...........................................................................................36 XXXII.............................................................................................................................57 LII ..............................39 XXXV..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................XXIX ..........................................................................................................................................62 LVII ................................................................................................51 XLVI...............43 XXXIX ...............................................................................................47 XLII ..........................................................................................................................................................49 XLIV..............55 L..........................................42 Book II..................................................................................................................................................................................................52 XLVII ...............................58 LIII...............................................................................................................................60 LV...............................................34 XXX ....................................................................................61 LVI ............................45 XL.............................46 XLI ................................................56 LI ..............................................................................................................................................................48 XLIII.............................................40 XXXVI ...................50 XLV................................................................................43 XXXVIII.........................................................38 XXXIV ...........................................................................41 XXXVII ...................53 XLVIII .64 ..............................59 LIV ......................................................................63 LVIII......................................................................................................

..........................................................................................80 LXXV ...................................................67 LXII ..................................................................66 LXI ....................................86 LXXXI..................................................................LIX ........................76 LXXI....................................................84 LXXIX.................................................88 ...................................................................................69 LXIV................................................................................................................................................................................................................78 LXXIII ...............................74 LXIX..................................................83 LXXVIII ............................................81 LXXVI.....68 LXIII................................................................................................................................................................................................................................70 LXV...........................................................................................................85 LXXX .............73 LXVIII .....71 LXVI..........................................................................................................75 LXX...........87 Index of First Lines................82 LXXVII ..................................................................................................72 LXVII .............................................................79 LXXIV........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................65 LX........................77 LXXII .

. But differ in name as they arise. The named is Matrix of the Myriad Creatures. The gate of many secrets. The Way . Mystery on mystery. . Eliminate desire to find the Way. Embrace desire to know the Creature. Identical they are called mysterious.cannot be named.%RRN. The Name . The two are identical.cannot be told. The nameless is the Way of Heaven and Earth.

WGRHVLWVZRUNEXWFODLPVQRPHULW %HFDXVHLWFODLPVQRPHULW 0HULWLVQHYHUODFNLQJLQLW . And communicate the teaching without words.. $VLVDQGLVQRWFUHDWHHDFKRWKHU 7KHKDUGDQGHDV\GHILQHHDFKRWKHU 7KHORQJDQGVKRUWGHOLPLWHDFKRWKHU 7KHKLJKDQGORZGHSHQGRQHDFKRWKHU 9RLFHDQGPXVLFKDUPRQLVHZLWKHDFKRWKHU /DVWDQGQH[WIROORZHDFKRWKHU So the wise adhere to action through non-action.WEHQHILWVWKHPEXWDVNVQRWKDQNV . So there is then ugliness. )URPWKH:D\FRPHWKHP\ULDGFUHDWXUHV <HWLWLPSRVHVQRDXWKRULW\ .. The world knows good as good. So there is then the bad.WJLYHVWKHPOLIHZLWKRXWSRVVHVVLRQ . The world knows beauty as beauty.

Don’t value scarce things. the wise Empty the mind But fill the stomach. So. Keep things free of Desire and learning. Protect the people from envy. in governing.. . Protect people from ambition. Keep people from temptation. Don’t show what’s desired... Weaken ambition But strengthen the bones. So the clever take no action. Act without taking action And things will be in order. Don’t give honours to the worthy.

. Shadowy. I don’t know whose child it is. Deep is the matrix of the myriad creatures.9 The Way is full: use won’t empty it. It seems like the ancestral form. Blunt the sharp: Loosen the knots: Dim the glare: Follow old tracks. it seems hardly there. .

9 Heaven and earth are ruthless. The wise are ruthless. The space between earth and heaven. Trampling the myriad creatures like straw dogs. Considering the people as straw dogs.W¶VHPSW\EXWQHYHUH[KDXVWHG 7KHPRUHLWZRUNVWKHPRUHIORZVRXW 0XFKVSHHFKOHDGVLQWKHHQGWRVLOHQFH %HWWHUWRKROGIDVWWRWKH9RLG . Isn’t it like a bellows? .

9. it hardly seems there. Barely seen. It is called the mysterious female. The gate of the mysterious female Is called the root of heaven and earth. . Yet use will never exhaust it. The spirit of the valley never dies.

Then they can be long-lived.. . Heaven and Earth endure. 6RWKHZLVHSODFH6HOIODVW $QGLWFRPHVILUVW &DOOLWRWKHUWKDQWKHPVHOYHV $QGLWSHUVLVWV By not thinking of Self The personal goal is achieved.9. By not endowing themselves with life.

It is near to the Way. .QDKRXVHSRVLWLRQPDWWHUV .QIULHQGVNLQGQHVVPDWWHUV .QPHQWDOTXDOLW\GHSWKPDWWHUV .. And settles. .QDFWLRQVSURPSWQHVVPDWWHUV By not contending it never errs.QVSHDNLQJKRQHVW\PDWWHUV .QWUDQVDFWLRQVDELOLW\PDWWHUV .QJRYHUQPHQWRUGHUPDWWHUV . Since water helps the myriad creatures. without contention. The highest virtue is like water..9. Where no one wishes to live.

. Sharpen it to a point The edge won’t last forever. Reticence when the job is done.. Rather than filling it overfull Better to stop in time. Brings trouble on oneself. Is the Way of heaven. Boasting of wealth and virtue.. Gold and jade may fill the house But no one can retain them.

.WJLYHVWKHPOLIHZLWKRXWSRVVHVVLRQ .WKROGVEXWLPSRVHVQRDXWKRULW\ Such is the mysterious virtue. Can you keep to the female role? When your mind penetrates the four directions Are you able to know nothing? .WJLYHVWKHPOLIHDQGQXUWXUHV .WEHQHILWVWKHPEXWDVNVQRWKDQNV .. Carrying your spiritual body on your head Can you embrace the One and not let go? Concentrating the breath Can you become supple as a child? Can you polish the mysterious mirror And leave no mark? Can you love the people and rule the state Without indulging in action? When the gates of heaven open and close.

Knead the clay to make a pot. 7KLUW\VSRNHV 5RXQGRQHKXE Employ the nothing inside And you can use a cart. Cut out doors and windows. What is achieved is something. . Employ the nothing inside And you can use a room.. By employing nothing it can be used.. Employ the nothing inside And you can use a pot.

The five tastes deaden us. So the wise are: )RUWKHVWRPDFK $QGQRWWKHH\H Taking the one.. . Pursuing and catching Disturb the mind. Wanting scarce things Delays our progress. they leave the other... The five colours blind us. The five notes deafen us.

When I’ve no body where’s my problem? Who values the body even more than the empire.. Can be trusted with the empire.. Who loves the body even more than the empire. Can be a custodian of the empire. That’s what’s meant by ‘favour and loss of it both disturb us’.. )DYRXUDQGORVVRILWERWKGLVWXUEXV 5DQNDQGERG\DUHERWKDSUREOHP What’s meant by ‘favour and loss of it both disturb us’? Favour disturbs the subject when it’s given As much as it does when it’s taken away. What’s meant by ‘rank and body are both a problem’? I’ve problems because I have a body. ..

Dimly seen it can’t be named So returns to the insubstantial. What cannot be touched is called indefinite. What cannot be heard is called indistinct. Its surface is not bright.. Knowing the source of the ancient. The form without substance. Hold fast to the ancient Way In order to control the present. Its depths are not obscured. This is called blurred and shadowy. .9 What cannot be seen is called indistinguishable. This is the shapeless shape. The three can’t be comprehended So they’re confused and considered one.. Is the thread that runs through the Way. Follow it you can’t see its back. Approach it you can’t see its face.

Too deep to be understood. Stiff. as if afraid of his neighbours. like a guest.9 He who knew the way of old Was delicately subtle.. . Who can be turbid. Empty. Because they do not desire completeness They can be worn. like thawing ice. like the valley. like the un-carved block. yet gradually clear? Who can be still. Because he could not be understood He can only be vaguely described: Tentative. like muddy water. Turbid. mysteriously knowing. Dense. Fluid. as if crossing a rushing river. and not renewed. Alert. yet gradually stir into life? One who holds fast to the Way Does not desire completeness.

. I hold firmly to stillness. The myriad things flourish And each returns to its root. Knowing the constant is enlightenment. Returning to being is knowing the constant. Balance leads to nobility.9. . Silence is returning to being. Returning to the root is silence. I try my best to achieve emptiness. The myriad creatures rise together And I watch them return. What is above to the Way. To the end of life There is no danger. The Way to the eternal. Nobility to what is above. Acting without knowing The constant is harmful. Acting while knowing The constant is balance.

7KHQH[WLVRQHWKH\ORYHDQGSUDLVH 7KHQH[WLVRQHWKH\IHDU 7KHQH[WLVRQHWKH\GHVSLVH Where there is lack of faith..WMXVWKDSSHQHG¶ .. The greatest ruler is one they know from of old. (PSOR\UHWLFHQFHDQGFDUHZLWKZRUGV :KHQWKHZRUNLVGRQHDQGWKHWDVNFRPSOHWH 7KHSHRSOHZLOOVD\µ. There is a lack of respect.9.

When cleverness appears There is ‘great ritual’. When the state is in chaos There are ‘loyal’ ministers.9. When the great Way is lost There is ‘benevolence and rectitude’. There is ‘filial piety’.. . When the family is not harmonious...

Avoid the thought of Self. Eliminate cleverness: forget profit.. Eliminate desire. Exhibit the unadorned. Eliminate the ‘sage’: forget ‘wisdom’ People will be a hundred times better off. And people will have filial piety.. And there’ll be less thieves and rogues. Superficial things are insufficient. What is needed is all-embracing. . Hold fast to the un-carved block. Eliminate ‘benevolence’: forget ‘rectitude’..

It’s only me that’s muddled. Eliminate learning: and there’s no worry. Between ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Abandoned to disorder without limit. Like an endless wind blowing. like one of the homeless. It’s only me that’s in need. Aimless. Levelled flat like the ocean.. I’m different from the others. The people are happy As if at a marvellous feast. Everyone has a purpose. Only I am unmoved and silent. what’s the difference? What separates ‘good’ and ‘bad’? But one must respect what others respect. Or going on a spring outing. My mind’s ignorant – so dull! Yet the crowd are clear-minded.. Yet the crowd are all-knowing. I like being fed by the Mother! . It’s only me that’s raw and foolish. The people have all they want. Like a baby that’s not yet smiled. Only from me it’s hidden.

From present to ancient times Its name was never lost. How dim.. how dark! Within it is the substance. How shadowy. Within. how indistinct! Within it is the form. How shadowy.. . Great virtue follows the Way And the Way alone. it can be tested. So we can investigate the origins of all. how indistinct! Within it is the ‘thing’. The substance is perfectly real. How do I know the origins of all are that? By means of this..

That no one can contend with them. It allows one to be preserved To the end. When the ancients said: ‘Bowed down and so preserved’ That was no empty saying.. %RZHGGRZQDQGVRSUHVHUYHG %HQWDQGWKHQVWUDLJKWHQHG +ROORZHGRXWWKHQILOOHG :RUQDZD\WKHQUHQHZHG )URPWKHIHZDFKLHYHPHQW )URPWKHPDQ\FRQIXVLRQ 6RWKHZLVHJUDVSWKH2QH $QGEHFRPHDSDWWHUQIRUDOO 1RWVKRZQWKHUHIRUHDSSDUHQW 1RWDVVHUWHGWKHUHIRUHNQRZQ 1RWERDVWHGRIWKHUHIRUHRIZRUWK 1RWFRQWHQWLRXVVRHQGXULQJ It’s because the wise do not contend. ....

.. What causes these? Heaven and earth.. 7RVSHDNLQIUHTXHQWO\ . Aligned with the heavens you are one with the heavens. If even heaven and earth must rest. The heavens accept this alignment gladly. When there is lack of faith There is a lack of respect. Aligned with virtue you are one with virtue.. The Way accepts this alignment gladly.VQDWXUDO So a strong wind won’t last all morning.. A downpour won’t last all day. Aligned with the Way you are one with the Way. How much more so human beings? Therefore align yourself to the Way.. Virtue accepts this alignment gladly.

.9 On tiptoes you can’t stand. Those of the Way do not employ them.. . Straddled you can’t walk. 6KRZQWKHUHIRUHQRWDSSDUHQW $VVHUWHGWKHUHIRUHQRWNQRZQ %RDVWHGRIWKHUHIRUHQRWRIZRUWK &RQWHQWLRXVVRQRWHQGXULQJ The Way calls these ‘Excess food and useless waste’ As things dislike them..

9 7KHUHLVVRPHWKLQJIRUPHGRIFKDRV %RUQEHIRUHKHDYHQDQGHDUWK 6LOHQWDQGYRLGLWLVQRWUHQHZHG . And the ruler is one.GRQ¶WNQRZLWVQDPH 6R.WFDQEHVHHQDVWKH:RUOG0RWKHU .. 7KHUXOHUUHIOHFWVWKHHDUWK (DUWKUHIOHFWVWKHKHDYHQV 7KHKHDYHQVUHIOHFWWKH:D\ 7KH:D\UHIOHFWVZKDWLV .WJRHVRQIRUHYHUZLWKRXWIDLOLQJ .KDYHWRFDOOLWWKH:D\ .. Within the realm four things are great.KDYHWRODEHOLWDVµWKHJUHDW¶ %HLQJJUHDWLPSOLHVDGLVWDQFLQJ 'LVWDQFLQJLPSOLHVEHLQJIDURII %HLQJIDURIILPSOLHVUHWXUQLQJ So the Way is great: heaven is great: Earth is great: the ruler is great.

Treat the people lightly in his thoughts? In lightness the root is lost: In turbulence the ruler is lost.. How can a ruler of ten thousand chariots.. When he’s secure behind walls and towers. . Heaviness is the root of lightness: The still is ruler of the turbulent.9. So the nobleman travels all day Without losing sight of the heavy wagons. Then he’s at rest and without trouble.

. Expert tying is firm without knots. This is called the application of knowledge. 6RWKHZLVHDUHWHDFKHUVWKHLJQRUDQWOHDUQIURP $QGWKHLJQRUDQWDUHPDWHULDOIRUWKHZLVH 1RWWRYDOXHWKHWHDFKHU 1RWWRORYHWKHPDWHULDO 7KRXJKLWVHHPVFOHYHU 5HYHDOVFRQIXVLRQ This is called the essential secret.9. Expert in utilising things And discarding nothing... Expert travelling leaves no track: Expert speaking is free of faults. Expert counting uses no beads.. Expert closing stays shut without locks. So the wise are expert in utilising people And discarding no one.

Know the masculine But keep to the feminine. The un-carved block is cut into ‘vessels’. Know the bright But keep to the shadows. If you are a valley to the realm Then constant virtue will be complete And you will return to the un-carved block. And you will return to infancy.9... If you are a pattern for the realm Then constant virtue will not be lacking And you will return to the unlimited. If you are a valley to the realm Then constant virtue won’t leave you. Know the glorious But keep to the humble And be a valley to the realm. And be a pattern for the realm... 7KHJUHDWFXWWHU 'RHVQRWFXWDZD\ . And be a valley to the realm. as rulers of ‘vessels’. Wise men use them.

Whoever takes hold of the realm And wants to manipulate it Will have no peace. Avoid the pompous. 6RPHOHDGDQGVRPHIROORZ 6RPHEUHDWKHHDVLO\VRPHEUHDWKHKDUG 6RPHDUHVWURQJDQGVRPHDUHZHDN 6RPHGHVWUR\VRPHDUHGHVWUR\HG So the wise avoid excess. Whoever touches it will spoil it... . The realm is a sacred vessel That should not be interfered with. and the arrogant.. Whoever grasps it will lose it..

Achieve the aim but don’t boast.QWKHZDNHRIDJUHDWDUP\ %DGKDUYHVWVLQHYLWDEO\IROORZ The good man aims at ending war.. Ruling the people by means of the Way Does not involve awing the realm with force. Achieve the aim but don’t intimidate... Achieve the aim without arrogance. And doing so fears to intimidate.VGHVFULEHGDVJRLQJDJDLQVWWKH:D\ :KDWJRHVDJDLQVWWKH:D\ :LOOFRPHWRDVZLIWHQG . Achieve the aim but don’t assert it. 7KDW¶VOLNHO\WRFRPHIXOOFLUFOH :KHUHWKHJHQHUDOFDPSHG 7KHUHWKHEUDPEOHVJURZ . Achieve the aim without display. 7KHFUHDWXUHWKDWLJQRUHVZKDWH[LVWVIURPRIROG .

Those for whom it is glorious Delight in killing human beings.. A gentleman. The right takes precedence on sad occasions. In military matters The right is the place of honour. . Those who delight in killing human beings Will never control the realm.. A lieutenant’s place is on the left.. And people detest them. The left takes precedence on joyous occasions. When there are mounds of dead One should weep with sorrow. Mourning rites are observed. in his house. Since weapons are instruments of evil. When one is victorious Observe the mourning rites.. A general’s place is on the right. A wise man can’t stand their use. They are not the instruments of the gentleman. Makes the left the place of honour. Since weapons are instruments of evil. When he is forced to use them He does so without savouring it. Victory is not glorious.

HHSVRQHIURPGDQJHU The world’s relation to the Way Is like rills and streams To the River and Sea. ....QRZLQJZKHQWRVWRS .IWKHUXOHUVFRXOGDFFHSWWKLV 7KHP\ULDGFUHDWXUHVZRXOGVXEPLWRIWKHPVHOYHV +HDYHQDQGHDUWKZRXOGXQLWH $QGWKHVZHHWGHZZRXOGIDOO 7KHSHRSOHFRXOGEHGHDOWZLWK :LWKRXWWKHPDNLQJRIODZV :KHQLWLVFDUYHGWKHUHDUHQDPHV :KHQWKHUHDUHQDPHVLWLVWLPHWRVWRS ... 7KH:D\KDVQRQDPH 7KHXQFDUYHGEORFNLVVPDOO %XWQRRQHGDUHVWRFODLPLW .

One who doesn’t lose place endures. One who conquers others is forceful... . One who conquers the ‘self’ is strong.. One who understands others is clever. One who understands the ‘self’ is enlightened.. One who can act with purpose has will.. One who dies without loss has lived a life.. One who can be content is rich.

.WIHHGVDQGFORWKHVWKHSHRSOH :LWKRXWFODLPLQJWRUXOHWKHP Free of desires it can be called ‘small’. And it does not claim to rule them. Yet as the myriad creatures turn to it.WGRHVLWVZRUNEXWFODLPVQRPHULW . It can be called ‘great’.. Because it never regards itself as great It is capable of being great... .9 7KH:D\LVEURDGOLNHDULYHU +RZFDQLWEHGHIOHFWHGWROHIWRUULJKW" 7KHP\ULDGFUHDWXUHVGHSHQGRQLWIRUOLIH <HWLWLPSRVHVQRDXWKRULW\ .

The Way passes into the mouth Without any flavour. Travelling along without harm They will exist in peace. Listen. Yet it cannot be exhausted. . Music and food tempt The passer-by to stop... Look and it cannot be seen.9 Hold on to the great Image And people will travel along. it cannot be heard..

This is called subtle understanding.9.. . The state’s rewards and punishments Should not be open to everyone. In order to weaken it It has to be strong.. In order to raze it You have to build it. In order to shrink it It has to be stretched.. In order to take from it You have to give to it. The fish should not abandon the depths. The soft and gentle conquers The hard and violent.

The Way is always inaction. If the rulers could realise it The people would be themselves transformed... . But nothing is left undone. being transformed. they show desire I restrain it by means of the un-carved block.. Without desire they are calm..9. And the realm is of itself at peace. The nameless un-carved block Is freedom from desire. If.

When benevolence was lost There was rectitude... 7KHULWHVDUHRQO\WKHVHPEODQFH 2IOR\DOW\DQGVLQFHULW\ $QGDVRXUFHRIGLVRUGHU . So when the Way was lost There was ‘virtue’. The highest virtue doesn’t practise virtue That’s why it is virtuous. The lowest virtue is always ‘virtuous’ That’s why it has no virtue.9. The lowest virtue is action But things are always left undone. When rectitude was lost There were the rites. .. They roll up their sleeves And resort to threats. When virtue was lost There was benevolence.%RRN. The highest virtue is inaction But nothing is left undone.. Those steeped in the rites act. Rectitude is acting But with ulterior motives.. And when no one responds. Benevolence is acting But without ulterior motives.

In the fruit And not in the flower.7KHVHHULVDIORZHU\GHFRUDWLRQ 2EVFXULQJWKH:D\ $QGDVRXUFHRIIRROLVKQHVV So the wise live in the substance And not in the semblance. . and leave the other. They take the one.

IWKHYDOOH\ZDVQRWILOOHGLWPLJKWUXQGU\ . Is this not taking the inferior as root? 6RWKHKLJKHVWHIIHFWLVQRWDEXUGHQ 1HLWKHUGHVLULQJWREHUDUHOLNHMDGH 1RUVROLWDU\OLNHDURFN .IHDUWKZDVQRWILUPLWPLJKWVXEVLGH . humble... .... Of old these possess Oneness: +HDYHQEHFDXVHRIWKH2QHLVFOHDU (DUWKEHFDXVHRIWKH2QHLVILUP 3RZHUVEHFDXVHRIWKH2QHKDYHIRUFH 9DOOH\VEHFDXVHRIWKH2QHDUHILOOHG 3HRSOHEHFDXVHRIWKH2QHVXEVLVW 5XOHUVEHFDXVHRIWKH2QHFDQJRYHUQ The One creates these effects. So rulers call themselves ‘abandoned. The higher has the lower at its base.ISRZHUVKDGQRIRUFHWKH\PLJKWEHH[KDXVWHG . and unfortunate’.IKHDYHQZDVQRWFOHDULWPLJKWVKDWWHU .ISHRSOHODFNHGVXEVLVWHQFHWKH\PLJKWSHULVK .IUXOHUVFRXOGQRWJRYHUQWKH\PLJKWIDOO So the superior has the inferior as root.

. And Something arises from Nothing. Weakness is how it performs its function.. The myriad creatures arise from Something./ Returning is how the Way progresses.

.WLVJRRGDWJLYLQJDQGSHUIHFWLQJ . :KHQWKHEHVWVWXGHQWVKHDURIWKH:D\ 7KH\WU\]HDORXVO\WRSXWLWLQWRSUDFWLFH :KHQDYHUDJHVWXGHQWVKHDURIWKH:D\ ./.W¶VVRPHWLPHVKHUHDQGVRPHWLPHVJRQH :KHQWKHZRUVWVWXGHQWVKHDURIWKH:D\ 7KH\ EXUVWRXWODXJKLQJ 1RWODXJKLQJZRXOGPDNHLW 8QZRUWK\WREHFDOOHGWKH:D\ So the ancient text says: 7KHZD\WKDWLVEULJKWVHHPVGXOO 7KHZD\IRUZDUGVHHPVWROHDGEDFN 7KHVPRRWKZD\VHHPVURXJK 7KHKLJKHVWYLUWXHVHHPVDYDOOH\ 7KHSXUHVWZKLWHQHVVVHHPVVWDLQHG ([FHVVLYHYLUWXHVHHPVGHIHFWLYH 6ROLGYLUWXHVHHPVLQDFWLYH 6LPSOLFLW\DSSHDUVVXOOLHG 7KHJUHDWVTXDUHKDVQRFRUQHUV 7KHJUHDWYHVVHOWDNHVORQJWRIDVKLRQ 7KHJUHDWQRWHLVVRXQGOHVV 7KHJUHDWLPDJHKDVQRIRUP 7KH:D\KLGHVLQQDPHOHVVQHVV .

Men hate the words ‘abandoned. And diminished by addition.. All beings carry the \LQ on their back And embrace the \DQJ in their arms. So things are sometimes augmented By being diminished.’ I adopt this as my basic principle. The Way creates one: one creates two: Two creates three: three creates every being. humble./. I teach what others also teach: ‘The violent won’t die a natural death. and unfortunate’ Yet rulers call themselves by these names.. Their gentleness achieves harmony. .

;/,,, The softest thing in the world Subdues the hardest thing in the world. Non-being enters impenetrable space. That is why I know the power of non-action. Very few people in the world Know how to teach without words And profit from non-action.

;/,9 Which is dearer Your fame or your self? Which is more precious Your self or possessions? Which is worse To gain or to lose? So, great love Leads to great sacrifice. Great riches Lead to great losses. Know what is sufficient And you won’t be humbled. Know when to stop And you’ll be free from danger. Then you’ll last a long time.

;/9 Great perfection seems flawed. Yet use will not diminish it. Great fullness seems empty Yet use will not exhaust it. Great straightness seems bent. Great skill seems awkward. Great eloquence seems stilted. Movement overcomes cold. Stillness overcomes heat. Clear and calm, One can be a ruler of the realm.

./9. When the Way reigns in the land. War-horses breed on the frontiers. 7KHUH¶VQRFULPHZRUVH 7KDQWRSDQGHUWRRQH¶VGHVLUHV 7KHUH¶VQRVLFNQHVVZRUVH 7KDQQRWNQRZLQJZKDWLVHQRXJK 7KHUH¶VQRJUHDWHUFDWDVWURSKH 7KDQWKHOXVWIRUJDLQ Whoever knows what is enough Will be happy with his fate. Horses go back to ploughing the fields. When the Way does not reign in the land..

;/9,, You can know the universe Without leaving your house. You can see the ways of heaven Without looking out of your window. The further you go The less you know. That’s why the wise achieve without moving, Name what is, without needing to see it, Accomplish great things without action.

;/9,,, In pursuing one’s studies Something’s added each day. In practising the Way Something’s subtracted each day. It grows less and less Until one reaches non-action. When one reaches non-action Nothing is left undone. It’s always through not interfering That one can control the realm. Whoever loves to interfere Will never control the people.

;/,; The wise have no fixed opinion. They take the peoples’ opinion as their own. Those who are good I treat as good. Those who are bad I treat as good. That’s the perfection of goodness. Those who are honest I treat as honest. Those who are dishonest I treat as honest. That’s the perfection of honesty. Among the people the wise reserve their opinion And live in harmony with them. The multitude satisfy their eyes and ears, And the wise treat them as little children.

There’s nowhere for the weapon to lodge its blade. Why? Because they want to live to excess. Never encounter tigers or rhinos on their travels./ Pursuing life and pursuing death A third will be followers of life. There’s nowhere for the tiger to set its claw. . I’ve heard that those who control their life. A third will be followers of death. There’s nowhere for the rhino to plant its horn. Are never harmed by weapons when in a fight. And a third chase life into the realms of death. Why? Because they’ve abolished the realm of death.

6RWKH:D\FUHDWHVWKHPDQGUDLVHVWKHP 5HDUVWKHPDQG QRXULVKHVWKHP 'HYHORSVDQGPDWXUHVWKHP )HHGVDQGVKHOWHUVWKHP .WKROGVEXWLPSRVHVQRDXWKRULW\ Such is the mysterious virtue. .WJLYHVWKHPOLIHZLWKRXWSRVVHVVLRQ . 7KH:D\FUHDWHVWKHP 9LUWXHUDLVHVWKHP 7KLQJVVKDSHWKHP (YHQWVPDWXUHWKHP So the myriad creatures value the Way And all honour virtue. The Way is valued and virtue honoured Not by force.WEHQHILWVWKHPEXWDVNVQRWKDQNV . but of its nature./.

This is called pursuing the constant. Use discernment but return to the light. And you’ll not fail To the end of your life. To see the subtle is called discernment. The origin could be called the Mother. Unblock the openings. . Shut the doors. Return to clasp the Mother. Add to your problems. All things have an origin.. And you’ll find no danger To the end of your life./. When you know the child. To hold to the weak is called strength. When you know the Mother. Block up the openings. You can know the child. You’ll be beyond help To the end of your life.

/. The great Way is broad. And only fear straying from it. 7KH&RXUWLVLPPDFXODWH %XWWKHILHOGVDUHIXOORIZHHGV 7KHEDUQVDUHHPSW\ %XWWKHUXOHUVDUHILQHO\GUHVVHG 6ZRUGVE\WKHLUVLGHV *RUJHGZLWKIRRGDQGGULQN 2ZQLQJWRRPXFKZHDOWK 7KLVLVFDOOHGJORULRXVWKHIW This is far away from the Way. But people like sidetracks.. If I had a little knowledge I’d walk the great Way. ..

WVYLUWXHZLOOEHUHDO &XOWLYDWHLWLQWKHIDPLO\ . .WVYLUWXHZLOOIORXULVK &XOWLYDWHLWLQWKHUHDOP .9 7KHZHOOURRWHGFDQQRWEHGLVORGJHG 7KHWLJKWO\KHOGZLOOQRWEHORVW *HQHUDWLRQDIWHUJHQHUDWLRQ :RUVKLSWKHLUDQFHVWRUVIRUHYHU &XOWLYDWHLWLQ\RXUVHOI . Assess the state by considering the state. Assess the village by considering the village. Assess the family by considering the family.WVYLUWXHZLOOH[WHQG &XOWLYDWHLWLQWKHVWDWH . Assess the realm by considering the realm. How do I know the realm is like that? By means of this.WVYLUWXHZLOORYHUIORZ &XOWLYDWHLWLQWKHYLOODJH .WVYLUWXHZLOOEHDOOSHUYDVLYH Assess the self by considering yourself./.

WFULHVDOOGD\ZLWKRXWEHFRPLQJKRDUVH This is because it’s in perfect harmony./9 One who possesses true virtue Is like a new-born infant.VGHVFULEHGDVJRLQJDJDLQVWWKH:D\ :KDWJRHVDJDLQVWWKH:D\ :LOOFRPHWRDVZLIWHQG . 7RNQRZWKLVKDUPRQ\LVFDOOHGWKHFRQVWDQW 7RNQRZWKHFRQVWDQWLVFDOOHGHQOLJKWHQPHQW )XHOOLQJWKHYLWDOVSLULWVLVFDOOHGGLVDVWURXV 0LQGLPSHOOLQJWKHEUHDWKLVFDOOHGYLROHQFH 7KHFUHDWXUHWKDWLJQRUHVZKDWH[LVWVIURPRIROG .WVJULSLVVWLOOVWURQJ 7KRXJKLWGRHVQ¶WNQRZDERXWVH[XDOXQLRQ . .WVVH[XDOSDUWVDUHDOUHDG\DFWLYH This is because it has perfect vitality. 3RLVRQRXVLQVHFWVZRQ¶WVWLQJLW 6DYDJHFUHDWXUHVZRQ¶WELWHLW %LUGVRISUH\ZRQ¶WFODZLW 7KRXJKLWVERQHVDUHZHDN $QGLWVPXVFOHV IHHEOH .

You can’t possess it but can’t escape it. So it’s valued throughout the realm. You can’t benefit it or harm it. 2QHZKRNQRZVGRHVQRWVSHDN 2QHZKRVSHDNVGRHVQRWNQRZ %ORFNXSWKHRSHQLQJV 6KXWWKHGRRUV %OXQWWKHVKDUS /RRVHWKHNQRWV 'LPWKHJODUH )ROORZROGWUDFNV This is called mysterious oneness./9. . You can’t honour it or debase it.

UHPDLQVWLOODQGWKHSHRSOHVHWWKHPVHOYHVULJKW .WDNHQRDFWLRQDQGWKHSHRSOHWUDQVIRUPWKHPVHOYHV .DPIUHHRIGHVLUHVDQGWKHSHRSOHRIWKHPVHOYHV +ROGWRWKHXQFDUYHGEORFN . How do I know it is like that? By this: 7KHPRUHUHJXODWLRQV 7KHSRRUHUWKHSHRSOH 7KHPRUHVKDUSZHDSRQV 7KHPRUHWURXEOHGWKHFRXQWU\ 7KHFOHYHUHUWKHSHRSOH 7KHPRUHGLVWUDFWLRQV 7KHZLGHUWKHNQRZOHGJHRIODZ 7KHPRUHWKHUHDUHWKLHYHVDQGURJXHV So the wise say: .. Achieve the realm by not meddling.GRQ¶WLQWHUIHUHDQGWKHSHRSOHWKHPVHOYHVSURVSHU ./9. Wage war by being clever. Govern the state by being honest.

Shine out But don’t glare. . The people have certainly Been wrong for a long time! So the wise are foursquare But not sharp. Extend themselves But spare others. :KHQJRYHUQPHQWPHDQGHUV 7KHSHRSOHDUHVWUDLJKWIRUZDUG :KHQJRYHUQPHQWLQWHUIHUHV 7KHSHRSOHDUHFXQQLQJ 7KHIRUWXQDWHOHDQVRQWKHXQIRUWXQDWH 7KHXQIRUWXQDWHFURXFKHVEHQHDWKWKHIRUWXQDWH Who knows when to stop? Where is the simple? The simple becomes cunning.. Have corners But don’t cut./9.. The good becomes perverse.

One endures. When the mother of the realm is achieved./. Starting from the Way One gains a wealth of virtue. . By being moderate One starts from the Way. When there are no limitations The realm can be achieved.. This is called ‘deep roots and a firm stem’ Through which one acquires long life. In governing the people and serving heaven Moderation is best in a ruler. Gaining a wealth of virtue There is nothing that can’t be overcome. When there’s nothing that can’t be overcome There are no limitations.

Neither they nor the wise Cause the people harm. Since neither harms the people Their merit is one and the same. Ruling a large state is like boiling a delicate fish. Or rather they retain their power But cause the people no harm. ./. When the realm is governed by the Way Malicious influences lose their power.

. One by taking the lower position allies itself. A small state taking the lower position Is allied with a large state. In the coming together of the world The female overcomes the male by weakness. All the large state wishes Is to join with and nourish the other./. So a large state taking the lower position Allies itself with a small state. Where all the streams of the world come together. In order to achieve what they wish The great adopt the lower position. . A large state should be the estuary of a river. The other by taking the lower position is allied. All the small state wishes Is for its services to be accepted by the other. Being weak she takes the lower position.

And mitigated the punishment of the guilty./. should one reject them? When the ruler is installed And the three great ministers appointed. It’s better to grant the gift of the Way Without stirring from one’s place. So it was prized by the realm. Though jade disks And four-horse teams are offered.. . 7KH:D\LVWKHP\ULDGFUHDWXUHV¶UHIXJH ..WLVWKDWZKLFKWKHJRRGH[WHQG $QGWKDWZKLFKGHIHQGVWKHEDG (ORTXHQWZRUGVFDQZLQSURPRWLRQ (ORTXHQWDFWLRQVFDQHOHYDWH Even if a person is bad. Why was the Way valued of old? Was it not said it brought achievement.

Do what involves no action. many. Because the wise never try to be great. ./. Make the small.. Savour what has no flavour. Thinking things easy makes them difficult.. Great things have small beginnings. Difficult things have easy beginnings. Address the great while it’s still small. That is how they achieve greatness. And so are not overcome by difficulties. The wise treat things as if they were difficult. Tackle the difficult while it’s still easy. Counter harm with virtue. Promote things without meddling. great And the few. Rash promises are rarely fulfilled..

Whoever grasps things loses them.. By not grasping they lose nothing. 3HRSOHLQWKHLUSURMHFWV )DLORQWKHEULQNRIVXFFHVV %HDVFDUHIXODWWKHHQGDVWKHVWDUW $QGIDLOXUHZLOOEHDYRLGHG 6RWKHZLVHGHVLUHWREHIUHHRIGHVLUH $QGSODFHQRYDOXHRQZKDWLVVFDUFH /HDUQKRZWRH[LVWZLWKRXWOHDUQLQJ $QGFRUUHFWWKHIDXOWVRIWKHPDQ\ +HOSDOOWKLQJVWRFRQIRUPWRQDWXUH $QGDYRLGWKHUDVKQHVVRIDFWLRQ ./.9 . The wise by non-action ruin nothing.W¶VHDV\WRKDQGOHZKDW¶VQRW\HWGHYHORSHG .W¶VHDV\WRGLVSHUVHZKDW¶VVWLOOOLPLWHG 'HDOZLWKWKLQJVEHIRUHWKH\JURZ 0DQDJHDIIDLUVEHIRUHWKH\¶UHFKDRWLF $WUHHDVZLGHDVDPDQ¶VDUPV *URZVIURPDWLQ\VHHG $WRZHUQLQHVWRULHVKLJK 5LVHVIURPSLOHVRIHDUWK $MRXUQH\RIDWKRXVDQGPLOHV 6WDUWVZLWKDVLQJOHVWHS Whoever meddles with things ruins them.W¶VHDV\WRFRQWUROZKDWLVDWUHVW .W¶VHDV\WRVKDWWHUZKDW¶VVWLOOXQWHPSHUHG .

VDEOHVVLQJIRUWKHVWDWH 7KHVHDUHWKHJLYHQV 7RDOZD\VXQGHUVWDQGWKHJLYHQ ./.VFDOOHGP\VWHULRXVYLUWXH 0\VWHULRXVYLUWXHLVGHHSDQGSURIRXQG :KHQWKLQJVUHWXUQWRWKHJLYHQLWUHWXUQV And only then are things in complete accord. But rather to maintain simplicity.VDGLVDVWHUIRUWKHVWDWH 1RWWRJRYHUQDVWDWHE\FOHYHUQHVV . When people are difficult to govern It’s because they’ve become too clever. *RYHUQLQJWKHVWDWHE\FOHYHUQHVV .9 Those of old who were skilled in the Way Did not use it to enlighten people. .

./. So they can command the hundred valleys.QRUGHUWRFRPPDQGSHRSOH <RXVKRXOGEHKXPEOHZLWKWKHP . Therefore the realm gladly upholds them. .9. Because they do not contend No one in the realm contends with them. They go in front of the people But cause no obstruction.I\RXZDQWWROHDGSHRSOH <RXVKRXOGIROORZEHKLQG So the wise command the people But avoid being a burden. The reason why River and Sea can be The rulers of the hundred valleys Is because they adopt the lower position. And never resents doing so.

It is precisely because it is vast That it resembles nothing else. Heaven will protect you With the gift of compassion.KROGWRDQGFKHULVK 7KHILUVWLVFRPSDVVLRQ 7KHVHFRQGLVPRGHUDWLRQ 7KHWKLUGLVFDOOHGQRWUDVKO\ 7DNLQJWKHOHDGLQWKHUHDOP %HLQJFRPSDVVLRQDWH. Generosity without moderation. Is certain to end in destruction.FDQEHJHQHURXV 1RWUDVKO\WDNLQJWKHOHDG .9. If it resembled something else How could it be anything but small? .KDYHWKUHHWUHDVXUHV . With compassion you will win in war And be impregnable in peace.FDQFRPPDQGWKHRIILFLDOV Courage without compassion. The whole world calls my Way vast And says it resembles nothing else./. Going in front instead of behind.FDQVKRZFRXUDJH %HLQJPRGHUDWH. ..

The best employer of talent is humble./. The best strategist never encounters the enemy. The greatest fighter is never angry.. This is known as the power of non-contention.. This is known as respecting others’ talents.9. The greatest warrior is not formidable. . This is known as echoing the profundity of heaven.

.UHWUHDWDIRRWLQVWHDG¶ 7KLVLVNQRZQDVDGYDQFLQJZLWKRXWPRYLQJ 5ROOLQJXSRQH¶VVOHHYHZLWKRXWDQDUP 0HHWLQJ DQHQHP\E\IRUFHZLWKRXWDQHQHP\ $QGZDJLQJZDUZLWKRXWDEDWWOH There’s nothing worse than treating war lightly.W¶VUDVKWRSOD\WKHKRVW./. The one that is most regretful will win.SUHIHUWRSOD\WKHJXHVW . . The strategists say: µ.W¶VUDVKWRJRIRUZDUGDQLQFK.. When two opponents encounter each other. Doing that will lose me all my treasure.

. Yet no one can understand them Or put them into practice. Words must have an origin And actions must have a guide. My words are easy to understand And easy to put into practice. 7KRVHZKRXQGHUVWDQGDUHIHZ 7KRVHZKR LJQRUHPHDUHFHOHEUDWHG So the wise though meanly dressed. Hide priceless jade on their person.. People ignorant of this Fail to understand me./.

../. Not to know but to think one knows is harmful. To know without thinking one knows is best.. It is by being aware of harm that one avoids it. It is because the wise are aware of harm That they avoid coming to harm. The wise person does not come to harm.

Don’t press down on their lives. Don’t constrict their livelihood. Love themselves But don’t over-value themselves.. When people don’t respect what is powerful Things have the power to overcome them./. So the wise know themselves. That they won’t weary of the burden. . Taking the one.. they leave the other. It’s because you don’t oppress them. But don’t make a display of themselves..

.. . The mesh is wide But nothing slips through../. The way of heaven 2YHUFRPHVHDVLO\ZLWKRXWFRQWHQWLRQ 5HSOLHVWKRXJKLWGRHVQRWVSHDN . 2QHZKR¶VIHDUOHVVLQEHLQJEUDYHZLOOEHNLOOHG 2QHZKR¶VIHDUOHVVLQEHLQJFDXWLRXVUHPDLQVDOLYH 2QHRIWKHVHLVXVHIXOWKHRWKHUKDUPIXO +HDYHQGLVGDLQVZKDWLWGLVGDLQV :KRNQRZVWKHUHDVRQVZK\" Even the wise find these things difficult..QYLWHVWKRXJKLWGRHVQRWVXPPRQ 2EH\VWKHODZVWKRXJKLWVHHPVIUHH The net of heaven is vast.

. Killing on behalf of the public executioner. Who will dare to move? There is a public executioner who kills../. In cutting wood on behalf of the carpenter. Is called cutting wood on behalf of the carpenter. . There are few who escape hurting their hands.9 If people don’t fear death How will you frighten them with death? If people always fear death And I seize and execute Anyone who does anything new.

.9 7KHSHRSOHDUHVWDUYLQJ .W¶VEHFDXVHSHRSOHRYHUYDOXHOLIH 7KDWWKH\WUHDWGHDWKOLJKWO\ It’s because one sets no store by life.W¶VEHFDXVHWKHLU UXOHUVDUHTXLFNWRDFW 7KDWSHRSOHDUHKDUGWRJRYHUQ 7KHSHRSOHWUHDWGHDWKOLJKWO\ . That one is wiser than those who do.W¶VEHFDXVHWKHLUUXOHUVRYHUWD[WKHP 7KDWWKHSHRSOHDUHVWDUYLQJ 7KHSHRSOHDUHKDUGWRJRYHUQ . ./.

The supple and weak are companions of life..9. And hard and stiff when dead./. 7KHVWLIIO\KHOGZHDSRQZLOOQRWFRQTXHU +DUGZRRGZLOOIDOOWRWKHD[H 7KHWDOODQGVWLIILVRILQIHULRUUDQN 7KHVXSSOHDQGZHDNLVRIVXSHULRUUDQN . The hard and stiff are companions of death. Trees and grass are supple and tender shoots. We are supple and weak when born. But dry and withered when dead.

WGHSUHVVHVWKHKLJK $QGUDLVHVWKHORZ .. People do otherwise.9. 6RWKHZLVHGRJRRGEXWDVNQRWKDQNV 7KH\GRWKHLUZRUNEXWFODLPQRPHULW They do not wish to display their virtue. They take from those who lack And give to those with excess. . .WWDNHVIURPH[FHVV $QGJLYHVWRWKHODFNLQJ It’s heaven’s Way To take from excess And give to the lacking. The Way of heaven is like stringing a bow./. Who can take his excess And give it to the realm? One who knows the Way..

/.. But nothing exceeds it at conquering the hard and strong.VFDOOHGDUXOHUZRUWK\RIJRYHUQLQJWKHUHDOP 7UXHZRUGV 6HHPSHUYHUVH .9.VFDOOHGDUXOHUZRUWK\RILWVLQVWLWXWLRQV 2QHZKRWDNHVRQKLPVHOIWKHVWDWH¶VDGYHUVLW\ .VVRPHWKLQJWKDWHYHU\RQHNQRZV %XWQRRQHFDQSXWLQWRSUDFWLFH So the wise say: 2QHZKRWDNHVRQKLPVHOIWKHVWDWH¶VKXPLOLW\ ... That is because nothing displaces it. 7KDWWKHZHDN RYHUFRPHVWKHVWURQJ $QGWKHJHQWOHRYHUFRPHVWKHKDUG . Nothing in the world is weaker or gentler than water.

. 7KHYLUWXRXVNHHSWKHWDOO\ 7KRVHZLWKRXWYLUWXHH[DFWLW 7KH:D\RIKHDYHQVKRZVQRIDYRXULWLVP .../.WPHUHO\VXSSRUWVWKHJRRG . :KHQWKHUHLVSHDFHEHWZHHQJUHDWHQHPLHV 7KHUHLVERXQGWREHOLQJHULQJUHVHQWPHQW +RZFDQWKLVEHFRQVLGHUHGYLUWXRXV" So the wise become creditors But exact no payment from the people.

7KH\¶OOILQGVDYRXULQWKHLUIRRG $QGJRRGWDVWHLQWKHLUFORWKLQJ )LQGFRQWHQWPHQWLQWKHLUKRPHV $QGEHKDSS\ZLWKWKHLUOLYHV 7KRXJKWKHQH[WVWDWHFDQEHVHHQ $QGLWVEDUNLQJDQGFRFNFURZVKHDUG 7KHSHRSOHRIRQHVWDWHZLOODJHDQGGLH :LWKRXWKDYLQJWRGHDOZLWKWKHRWKHU .. Though they have weapons and armour Let them have no occasion to show them.. Let states and their population be small in size. Let the people. Return them to measuring with a knotted rope. not use them./. Let them take death seriously And not wander to far-off places. though they have weapons For an army. Though they have boats and wagons Let them not find a use for them.

Eloquent words are rarely good. Good words are rarely eloquent. The wise do not hoard wisdom./. . He who is learned rarely knows. *LYLQJWRRWKHUVZKDWWKH\KDYH 7KH\KDYHVWLOOPRUH 6KDULQJZKDWWKH\KDYHZLWKRWKHUV 7KH\DUHULFKHUVWLOO Heaven’s Way helps and never harms... True words are rarely elaborate. He who knows is rarely learned. The Way of the wise is generous And free from all contention.. Elaborate words are rarely truthful.

.......................22 When the great Way is lost ...................... ..7 Don’t give honours to the worthy......................................................................................................................... .17 What’s meant by ‘favour and loss of it both disturb us’?................................29 So the Way is great: heaven is great: ...................21 The greatest ruler is one they know from of old.......19 He who knew the way of old ................6 The world knows beauty as beauty....12 The highest virtue is like water.........................27 So a strong wind won’t last all morning....................15 Employ the nothing inside .............................................................................. .............18 What cannot be seen is called indistinguishable.............................34 ...... ......................................28 On tiptoes you can’t stand......26 It’s because the wise do not contend.... ....20 I try my best to achieve emptiness... ........................................QGH[RI)LUVW/LQHV The Way ................11 Heaven and Earth endure...................................cannot be told..........................9 Heaven and earth are ruthless.......... ...............14 Carrying your spiritual body on your head ...... ................8 The Way is full: use won’t empty it.................................................30 Heaviness is the root of lightness:....................................................25 Great virtue follows the Way ......16 The five colours blind us..............33 Whoever takes hold of the realm ...............31 Expert travelling leaves no track:......13 Rather than filling it overfull .............................................................................32 Know the masculine....................................10 The spirit of the valley never dies............................... ... .................................................................................................................23 Eliminate the ‘sage’: forget ‘wisdom’..................................24 Eliminate learning: and there’s no worry.

........49 Which is dearer .....................................35 Since weapons are instruments of evil........42 The highest virtue doesn’t practise virtue ...................................40 In order to shrink it ........................................................65 Ruling a large state is like boiling a delicate fish..45 Returning is how the Way progresses.....66 ..........63 Who knows when to stop? .. ..56 So the myriad creatures value the Way.............59 Assess the self by considering yourself.....................................51 When the Way reigns in the land..................................................................61 This is called mysterious oneness.......................62 Govern the state by being honest.............................................. .....................................48 The softest thing in the world ........................................................................... ...........................................................................38 Free of desires it can be called ‘small’...Ruling the people by means of the Way .........................................................................37 One who understands others is clever................................................55 Pursuing life and pursuing death...................57 All things have an origin..52 You can know the universe................. ...................................................50 Great perfection seems flawed............................... ...................................................36 The world’s relation to the Way ..64 In governing the people and serving heaven...................................................... .........47 The Way creates one: one creates two: ............41 The Way is always inaction.........................................54 The wise have no fixed opinion.......53 In pursuing one’s studies .........................................................58 If I had a little knowledge .................................39 Hold on to the great Image......43 Of old these possess Oneness: ........................................................................... .................................60 One who possesses true virtue ..........................46 So the ancient text says:........................

...............................A large state should be the estuary of a river......................73 The greatest warrior is not formidable.72 The whole world calls my Way vast ........................................................87 .................79 If people don’t fear death................................ ...........80 It’s because one sets no store by life...........67 Even if a person is bad...........75 My words are easy to understand...........74 The strategists say:........................................ ........................................................69 Whoever meddles with things ruins them....................70 Those of old who were skilled in the Way...84 So the wise become creditors............ .....81 We are supple and weak when born...........68 Do what involves no action..82 The Way of heaven is like stringing a bow............................................ should one reject them? ........................86 True words are rarely elaborate..................83 Nothing in the world is weaker or gentler than water.................................................................77 When people don’t respect what is powerful ............... ....... .........................78 Even the wise find these things difficult................................................ ...........................85 Let states and their population be small in size...76 To know without thinking one knows is best...71 The reason why River and Sea can be .......

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