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A New English Version, with Foreword and Notes, by Stephen Mitchell
A Division of HarperCollins Publishers
Who can find a good woman? She is precious beyond all things. Her husband's heart trusts her completely. She is his best reward. PROV. 31:10-11
Tao Te Ching (pronounced, more or less, Dow Deh Jing) can be translated as The Book of the Immanence of the Way or The Book of the Way and of How It Manifests Itself in the World or, simply, The Book of the Way. Since it is already well known by its Chinese tide, I have let that stand. About Lao-tzu, its author, there is practically nothing to be said. He may have been an older contemporary of Confucius (551-479 B.C.E.) and may have held the position of archivekeeper in one of the petty kingdoms of the time. But all the information that has come down to us is highly suspect. Even the meaning of his name is uncertain (the most likely interpretations: "the Old Master" or, more picturesquely, "the Old Boy"). Like an Iroquois woodsman, he left no traces. All he left us is his book: the classic manual on the art of living, written in a style of gemlike lucidity, radiant with humor and grace and large-heartedness and deep wisdom: one of the wonders of the world. People usually think of Lao-tzu as a hermit, a dropout from society, dwelling serenely in some mountain hut, unvisited except perhaps by the occasional traveler arriving from a '60S joke to ask, "What is the meaning of life?" But it's clear from his teachings that he deeply cared about society, if society means the welfare of one's fellow human beings; his book is, among other things, a treatise on the art of government,
in fact.whether of a country or of a child. effortlessly. Less and less do you need to force things. This "nothing" is. Nothing could be further from the truth. adaptability. Hence Lao-Tzu's emphasis on softness. we can't tell the dancer from the dance. The misperception may arise from his insistence on wei wu wei. and is synonymous with suppleness. . the poem writes the poem." which has been seen as passivity. Anyone who has seen a T'ai Chi or Aikido master doing not-doing will know how powerful this softness is. endurance. literally "doing notdoing. Softness means the opposite of rigidity. Until finally you arrive at non-action. without any interference of the conscious will. This is a paradigm for non-action: the purest and most effective form of action. A good athlete can enter a state of body-awareness in which the right stroke or the right movement happens by itself. Nothing is done because the doer has wholeheartedly vanished into the deed. The game plays the game. the fuel has been completely transformed into flame. It happens when we trust the intelligence of the universe in the same way that an athlete or a dancer trusts the superior intelligence of the body. When nothing is done. nothing is left undone. everything.
as with a dirty window. the clearer our insight into what is beyond good and evil. the more present our love becomes. He is ready to use all situations and doesn't waste anything. Thus the Master is available to all people and doesn't reject anyone. the more we let go of what we love. a state of self-absorption which is in disharmony with the universal process. in giving up all concepts. not in the sense of conquering it. so that. the Truth. She finds deep in her own experience the central truths of the art of living. and desires. I have seen it." The teaching of the Tao Te Ching is moral in the deepest sense. the more compassionate we can be. This is not an idea. it is a reality. In surrendering to the Tao. The Master has mastered Nature. Unencumbered by any concept of sin. Until finally she is able to say.Lao-Tzu's central figure is a man or woman whose life is in perfect harmony with the way things are. but of becoming it. her mind has grown naturally compassionate. What is a good man but a bad man's teacher? What is a bad man but a good man's job? . This freedom from moral categories allows him his great compassion for the wicked and the selfish. judgments. the light can't shine through. which are paradoxical only on the surface: that the more truly solitary we are. the more we can embody the good. in all humility. "I am the Tao. the Life. the Master doesn't see evil as a force to resist. but simply as an opaqueness. This is called embodying the light.
which brought me face to face with Lao-tzu and his true disciples and heirs. the Master (since the Master is. I also consulted dozens of translations into English. Ironically. as other versions have. I have used the pronoun "she" at least as often as "he. because of all the great world religions the teaching of Lao-tzu is by far the most female. however intelligent you are. But the most essential preparation for my work was a fourteenyears-long course of Zen training. kaleidoscopic book as the Tao Te . which provides English equivalents (often very quaint ones) alongside each of the Chinese ideograms." Dr." The Chinese language doesn't make this kind of distinction. But since we are all. "that is the way to judge of the merit of a translation.If you don't understand this. The reader will notice that in the many passages where Lao-tzu describes the Master. As to method: I worked from Paul Carus's literal version. and French. the freest translation is sometimes the most faithful. essentially. Johnson said. to substitute "he" for "she" or vice versa. us). the early Chinese Zen Masters. I felt it would be untrue to present a male archetype. you will get lost. throughout the book. With great poetry. in English we have to choose." I have often been fairly literal-or as literal as one can be with such a subtle. potentially. German. ironically. Of course. It is the great secret. you should feel free. done. "We must try its effect as an English poem.
Ching. expanded. until it became embodied in a language that felt genuine to me. interpreted. If I haven't always translated Lao-tzu's words. . my intention has always been to translate his mind. played with it. contracted. But I have also paraphrased. worked with the text.
Tao Te Ching .
Free from desire.1 The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. you realize the mystery. Darkness within darkness. Caught in desire. . Naming is the origin of all particular things. The name that can be named is not the eternal Name. The gateway to all understanding. The unnamable is the eternally real. Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source. This source is called darkness. you see only the manifestations.
Things arise and she lets them come.2 When people see some things as beautiful. other things become bad. . When her work is done. things disappear and she lets them go. acts but doesn't expect. Being and non-being create each other. She has but doesn't possess. other things become ugly. When people see some things as good. Before and after follow each other. Difficult and easy support each other. Therefore the Master acts without doing anything and teaches without saying anything. High and low depend on each other. she forgets it. That is why it lasts forever. Long and short define each other.
everything they desire. people become powerless. If you overvalue possessions. and everything will fall into place. He helps people lose everything they know. and creates confusion in those who think that they know.3 If you overesteem great men. Practice not-doing. . by weakening their ambition and toughening their resolve. people begin to steal. The Master leads by emptying people's minds and filling their cores.
It is older than God. . I don't know who gave birth to it. It is hidden but always present.4 The Tao is like a well: used but never used up. It is like the eternal void: filled with infinite possibilities.
she welcomes both saints and sinners. the less you understand. it gives birth to both good and evil. Hold on to the center. The Tao is like a bellows: it is empty yet infinitely capable. The Master doesn't take sides. the more you talk of it. the more it produces.5 The Tao doesn't take sides. The more you use it. .
6 The Tao is called the Gteat Mother: empty yet inexhaustible. it gives birth to infinite worlds. . You can use it any way you want. It is always present within you.
She is detached from all things. The Master stays behind. Because she has let go of herself. that is why she is ahead. eternal. she is perfectly fulfilled.7 The Tao is infinite. that is why she is one with them. Why is it infinite? It has no desires for itself. thus it is present for all beings. thus it can never die. Why is it eternal? It was never born. .
do what you enjoy. In dwelling. which nourishes all things without trying to. live close to the ground. . When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete. Thus it is like the Tao. In governing. be fair and generous. everybody will respect you. keep to the simple. lt is content with the low places that people disdain. don't try to control. be completely present.8 The supreme good is like water. In family life. In conflict. In work. In thinking.
then step back The only path to serenity. Care about people's approval and you will be their prisoner. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.9 Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. . Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench. Do your work.
having without possessing.10 Can you coax your mind from its wandering and keep to the original oneness? Can you let your body become supple as a newborn child's? Can you cleanse your inner vision until you see nothing but the light? Can you love people and lead them without imposing your will? Can you deal with the most vital matters by letting events take their course? Can you step back from your own mind and thus understand all things? Giving birth and nourishing. acting with no expectations. leading and not trying to control: this is the supreme virtue. .
11 We join spokes together in a wheel. We work with being. but non-being is what we use. . but it is the inner space that makes it livable. We shape clay into a pot. We hammer wood for a house. but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want. but it is the center hole that makes the wagon move.
. His heart is open as the sky. Flavors numb the taste. Desires wither the heart. Sounds deafen the ear. The Master observes the world But trusts his inner vision. Thoughts weaken the mind. He allows things to come and go.12 Colors blind the eye.
you will always keep your balance. When we don’t see the self as self. Have faith in the way things are. Love the world as your self. What does it mean that success is as dangerous as failure? Whether you go up the ladder or down it. what do we have to fear? See the world as your self. Hope is as hollow as fear.13 Success is as dangerous as failure. then you can care for all things. . your position is shaky. What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear? Hope and fear are both phantoms that arise from thinking of the self. When you stand with your two feet on the ground.
but you can be it. it returns to the realm of nothing. Seamless. Just realize where you come from: this is the essence of wisdom. follow it and there is no end. at ease in your own life. and it can’t be heard. image without an image. You can’t know it. Approach it and there is no beginning. Above. Reach. and it can’t be seen. Below. beyond all conception. . Form that includes all forms. subtle. it isn’t dark. Listen.14 Look. and it can’t be grasped. it isn’t bright. unnamable.
Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself? The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment. . Clear as a glass of water. Fluid as melting ice.15 The ancient Masters were profound and subtle. They were careful as someone crossing an iced-over stream. all we can describe is their appearance. and can welcome all things. Alert as a warrior in enemy territory. Receptive as a valley. she is present. Courteous as a guest. Not seeking. There is no way to describe it. Their wisdom was unfathomable. Shapeable as a block of wood. not expecting.
you are ready. If you don’t realize the source. dignified as a king. You can deal with whatever life brings you.16 Empty your mind of all thoughts. And when death comes. Returning to the source is serenity. When you realize where you come from. Immersed in the wonder of the Tao. . kindhearted as a grandmother. disinterested. Let your heart be at peace. Watch the turmoil of beings. you stumble in confusion and sorrow. you naturally become tolerant. amused. but contemplate their return. Each separate being in the universe returns to the common source.
all by ourselves!” . the people are hardly aware that he exists. “Amazing: We did it. If you don’t trust the people. he acts. one who is feared. The people say. Next. Next best is a leader who is loved.17 When the Master governs. You make them untrustworthy. The worst is one who is despised. The Master doesn’t talk. When his work is done.
patriotism is born. goodness and piety appear. cleverness and knowledge step forth. When there is no peace in the family. .18 When the great Tao is forgotten. When the body’s intelligence declines. Filial piety begins. When the country falls into chaos.
If these three aren’t enough.19 Throw away holiness and wisdom. . and people will be a hundred times happier. Just at the center of the circle And let all things take their course. Throw away morality and justice. and there won’t be any thieves. Throw away industry and profit. and people will do the right thing.
my mind is so empty. Other people are sharp. I alone am dull. Other people are bright. . I alone drift about. I alone am expressionless. I alone possess nothing. I alone don’t care. I am like and idiot. like someone without a home. I alone am dark. What difference between yes and no? What difference between success and failure? Must you value what others value. avoid what others avoid? How ridiculous? Other people are excited. as though they were at a parade.20 Stop thinking and end your problems. like an infant before it can smile. Other people have what they need.
Other people have purpose. I drink form the Great Mother’s breasts. I am different from ordinary people. . I drift like a wave on the ocean. I blow as aimless as the wind. I alone don’t know.
How can her mind be at one with it? Because she doesn’t cling to ideas. Since before time and space were.21 The Master keeps her mind always at one with the Tao. How do I know this is true? I look inside myself and see. . The Tao is ungraspable. It is beyond is and is not. that is what gives her the radiance. How can it make her radiant? Because she lets it. the Tao is. The Tao is dark and unfathomable.
let yourself be crooked. When the ancient Masters said.22 If you want to become whole. people can trust his words. Because he doesn’t display himself. If you want to be given everything. give everything up. let yourself be partial. If you want to be reborn.” they weren’t using empty phrases. Because he doesn’t know who he is. sets an example for all beings. people can see his light. “If you want to be given everything. Because he has nothing to prove. Because he has no goal in mind. give everything up. Only in being lived by the Tao Can you be truly yourself. everything he does succeeds. If you want to become straight. by residing in the Tao. . people recognize themselves in him. If you want to become full. let yourself be empty. The Master. let yourself die.
Open yourself to the Tao. If you open yourself to insight. there is only rain. then trust your natural responses: and everything will fall into place. then keep quiet. the sun shines through. you are at one with the Tao and you can embody it completely.23 Express yourself completely. when it rains. you are at one with loss and you can accept it completely. when the clouds pass. there is only wind. . If you open yourself to the Tao. If you open yourself to loss. Be like the forces of nature: when it blows. you are at one with insight and you can use it completely.
He who tries to shine dims his own light. He who clings to his work will create nothing that endures.24 He who stands on tiptoe doesn’t stand firm. just do your job. then let go. . He who rushes ahead doesn’t go far. He who has power over others can't empower himself. He who defines himself can't know who he really is. If you want to accord with the Tao.
Earth follows the universe. Solitary. It flows through all things. The Tao follows only itself. Man is great. The universe is great. . It is the mother of the universe. Man follows the earth. Earth is great. Unchanging. inside and outside. The Tao is great. It is serene. The universe follows the Tao. and returns to the origin of all things. Eternally present. For lack of a better name. Infinite. These are the four great powers. I call it the Tao. Empty.25 There was something formless and perfect before the universe was born.
26 The heavy is the root of the light. you lose touch with your root. However splendid the views. The unmoved is the source of all movement. . Why should the lord of the country flit about like a fool? If you let yourself be blown to and fro. Thus the master travels all day without leaving home. You lose touch with who you are. If you let restlessness move you. she stays serenely in herself.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts and keeps his mind open to what is. Thus the Master is available to all people and doesn’t reject anyone.27 A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving. . you will get lost. What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher? What is a bad man but a good man’s job? If you don’t understand this. However intelligent you are. A good artist lets his intuition lead him wherever it wants. It is the great secret. This is called embodying the light. He is ready to use all situations and doesn’t waste anything.
yet keep to the black: be a pattern for the world. the Tao will never leave you and you will be like a little child. the Tao will be strong inside you and there will be nothing you can’t do. yet keep to the impersonal: accept the world as it is. The Master knows the utensils. If you are a pattern for the world. If you receive the world.28 Know the male. Know the white. yet keep to the female: receive the world in your arms. Know the personal. the Tao will be luminous inside you and you will return to your primal self. Like utensils from a block of wood. . The world is formed from the void. If you accept the world. yet keeps to the block: thus she can use all things.
There is a time for being ahead. . a time for being in danger. a time for being exhausted.29 Do you want to improve the world? I don’t think it can be done. a time for being safe. And resides at the center of the circle. If you tamper with it. a time for being vigorous. you’ll ruin it. you’ll lose it. If you treat it like an object. The Master sees things as they are. She let’s them go their own way. without trying to control them. a time for being in motion. The world is sacred. a time for being behind. It can’t be improved. a time for being at rest.
. For every force there is a counterforce. he doesn’t need others’ approval.30 Whoever relies on the Tao in governing men doesn’t try to force issues or defeat enemies by force of arms. Violence. he doesn’t try to convince others. the whole world accepts him. always rebounds upon oneself. Because he accepts himself. even well intentioned. The Master does his job and then stops. Because he is content with himself. He understands that the universe is forever out of control. and that trying to dominate events goes against the current of the Tao. Because he believes in himself.
. as if he were attending a funeral. How could he rejoice in victory and delight in the slaughter of men? He enters a battle gravely. Nor does he rejoice in victory.31 Weapons are the tools of violence. if compelled. but human beings like himself. a decent man will avoid them except in the direst necessity and. will use them only with the utmost restraint. how can he be content? His enemies are not demons. with sorrow and with great compassion. Peace is his highest value. all decent men detest them. He doesn't wish them personal harm. If the peace has been shattered. Weapons are the tools of fear.
32 The Tao can't be perceived. all things would be in harmony. Know that they are provisional. . Knowing when to stop. know where their functions should end. All people would be at peace. you can avoid any danger. it contains uncountable galaxies. The world would become a paradise. and the law would be written in their hearts. All things end in the Tao as rivers flow into the sea. Smaller than an electron. When you have names and forms. If powerful men and women could remain centered in the Tao. When you have institutions.
If you realize that you have enough. knowing yourself is true wisdom. you are truly rich. If you stay in the center and embrace death with your whole heart. . you will endure forever. Mastering others is strength.33 Knowing others is intelligence. mastering yourself is true power.
It pours itself into its work. All things are born from it. it can be called humble. Since all things vanish into it and it alone endures. It isn't aware of its greatness. It nourishes infinite worlds. yet it makes no claim. yet it doesn't create them. yet it doesn't hold on to them. . thus it is truly great.34 The great Tao flows everywhere. Since it is merged with all things and hidden in their hearts. it can be called great.
She who is centered in the Tao can go where she wishes, without danger. She perceives the universal harmony, even amid great pain, because she has found peace in her heart. Music or the smell of good cooking may make people stop and enjoy. But words that point to the Tao seem monotonous and without flavor. When you look for it, there is nothing to see. When you listen for it, there is nothing to hear. When you use it, it is inexhaustible.
If you want to shrink something, you must first allow it to expand. If you want to get rid of something, you must first allow it to flourish. If you want to take something, you must first allow it to be given. This is called the subtle perception of the way things are. The soft overcomes the hard. The slow overcomes the fast. Let your workings remain a mystery. Just show people the results.
The Tao never does anything, yet through it all things are done. If powerful men and women could center themselves in it, the whole world would be transformed by itself, in its natural rhythms. People would be content with their simple, everyday lives, in harmony, and free of desire. When there is no desire, all things are at peace.
yet he leaves nothing undone. The Master does nothing. The moral man does something.38 The Master doesn't try to be powerful. Therefore the Master concerns himself with the depths and not the surface. and lets all illusions go. . He has no will of his own. thus he never has enough. and when no one responds he rolls up his sleeves and uses force. He dwells in reality. When morality is lost. the beginning of chaos. When goodness is lost. thus he is truly powerful. yet many more are left to be done. The kind man does something. there is morality. The ordinary man keeps reaching for power. and leaves many things to be done. Ritual is the husk of true faith. with the fruit and not the flower. yet something remains undone. When the Tao is lost. The just man does something. there is goodness. there is ritual. The ordinary man is always doing things.
. the sky becomes filthy. the earth is solid and full. the sky is clear and spacious.39 In harmony with the Tao. He doesn’t glitter like a jewel but lets himself be shaped by the Tao. as rugged and common as a stone. The Master views the parts with compassion. the equilibrium crumbles. content with the way they are. endlessly renewed. When man interferes with the Tao. His constant practice is humility. all creatures flourish together. the earth becomes depleted. endlessly repeating themselves. because he understands the whole. creatures become extinct.
.40 Return is the movement of the Tao. Being is born of non-being. Yielding is the way of the Tao. All things are born of being.
true purity seems tarnished. he laughs out loud. he half believes it. true power seems weak. The Too is nowhere to be found. it wouldn't be the Tao. .41 When a superior man hears of the Tao. true steadfastness seems changeable. When a foolish man hears of the Tao. Yet it nourishes and completes all things. true clarity seems obscure. If he didn't laugh. he immediately begins to embody it. the path forward seems to go back. When an average man hears of the Tao. the greatest art seems unsophisticated. the direct path seems long. half doubts it. Thus it is said: The path into the light seems dark. the greatest love seems indifferent. the greatest wisdom seems childish.
realizing he is one with the whole universe. embracing his aloneness.42 The Too gives birth to One. But the Master makes use of it. Ordinary men hate solitude. Two gives birth to Three. . all things achieve harmony. One gives birth to Two. AIl things have their backs to the female and stand facing the male. When male and female combine. Three gives birth to all things.
Teaching without words.43 The gentlest thing in the world overcomes the hardest thing in the world. This shows the value of non-action. performing without actions: that is the Master's way. . That which has no substance enters where there is no space.
the whole world belongs to you. If your happiness depends on money. Be content with what you have. .44 Fame or integrity: which is more important? Money or happiness: which is more valuable? Success or failure: which is more destructive? If you look to others for fulfillment. you will never truly be fulfilled. When you realize there is nothing lacking. rejoice in the way things are. you will never be happy with yourself.
True art seems artless. . True straightness seems crooked. yet it is fully present. She shapes events as they come. True wisdom seems foolish. yet it is perfectly itself. The Master allows things to happen. She steps out of the way and lets the Tao speak for itself. True fullness seems empty.45 True perfection seems imperfect.
warheads are stockpiled outside the cities. Whoever can see through all fear will always be safe. no greater misfortune than having an enemy. When a country goes counter to the Tao. . no greater wrong than preparing to defend yourself.46 When a country is in harmony with the Tao. There is no greater illusion than fear. the factories make trucks and tractors.
the less you understand. sees the light without looking. The Master arrives without leaving. .47 Without opening your door. achieves without doing a thing. The more you know. you can open your heart to the world. you can see the essence of the Tao. Without iooking out your window.
. every day something is dropped. until finally you arrive at non-action. It can't be gained by interfering. Less and less do you need to force things. When nothing is done. True mastery can be gained by letting things go their own way. nothing is left undone.48 In the pursuit of knowledge. In the practice of the Tao. every day something is added.
People don't understand her.49 The Master has no mind of her own. . This is true trust. She also trusts people who aren't trustworthy. She treats them like her own children. This is true goodness. She is good to people who are good. She is also good to people who aren't good. The Master's mind is like space. She trusts people who are trustworthy. She works with the mind of the people. They look to her and wait.
as a man is ready for sleep after a good day's work. He knows that he is going to die. no resistances in his body. He holds nothing back from life. therefore he is ready for death.50 The Master gives himself up to whatever the moment brings. He doesn't think about his actions. they flow from the core of his being. and he has nothing left to hold on to: no illusions in his mind. .
creating without possessing. guiding without interfering. maintains them. free. lets circumstances complete it. unconscious. . perfect. comforts them. nourishes them.51 Every being in the universe is an expression of the Tao. That is why love of the Tao is in the very nature of things. acting without expecting. That is why every being spontaneously honors the Tao. takes them back to itself. The Tao gives birth to all beings. takes on a physical body. It springs into existence. protects them. cares for them.
trace back the manifestations. Use your own light and recurn to the source of light. When you recognize the children and find the mother.52 In the beginning was the Tao. Knowing how to yield is strength. This is called practicing eternity. If you close your mind in judgments and traffic with desires. Seeing into darkness is clarity. you will be free of sorrow. all things return to it. . If you keep your mind from judging and aren't led by the senses. your heart will find peace. To find the origin. your heart will be troubled. All things issue from it.
Be aware when things are out of balance. yet people prefer the side paths. Stay centered within the Tao. when government officials spend money on weapons instead of cures. When rich speculators prosper while farmers lose their land. .53 The great Way is easy. It is not in keeping with the Tao. when the upper class is extravagant and irresponsible while the poor have nowhere to turn – this is robbery and chaos.
Whoever embraces the Tao will not slip away. Let it be present in your country and your country will be an example to all countries in the world. Let it be present in your family and your family will flourish.54 Whoever is planted in the Tao will not be rooted up. Let the Tao be present in your life and you will become genuine. How do I know this is true? By looking inside myself. Her name will be held in honor from generation to generation. . Let it be present in the universe and the universe will sing.
He lets all things come and go effortlessly. He never expects results. Its bones are soft. its muscles are weak. The Master's power is like this.55 He who is in harmony with the Tao is like a newborn child. It can scream its head off all day. . thus he is never disappointed. so complete is its harmony. yet it never becomes hoarse. He is never disappointed. so intense is its vital power. thus his spirit never grows old. but its grip is powerful. It doesn't know about the union of male and female. yet its penis can stand erect. without desire.
It gives itself up continually. benefited or harmed. untie your knots. . That is why it endures. blunt your sharpness.56 Those who know don't talk. Be like the Tao. block off your senses. This is the primal identity. soften your glare. Those who talk don't know. settle your dust. It can't be approached or withdrawn from. honored or brought into disgrace. Close your mouth.
the less virtuous people will be. Stop trying to control.57 If you want to be a great leader. I let go of religion. you must learn to follow the Tao. I let go of economics. and people become honest. The more prohibitions you have. Let go of fixed plans and concepts. and people become serene. I let go of all desire for the common good. The more weapons you have. Therefore the Master says: I let go of the law. the less self-reliant people will be. . and the world will govern itself. the less secure people will be. and people become prosperous. and the good becomes common as grass. The more subsidies you have.
Radiant. but supple. but easy on the eyes. Thus the Master is content to serve as an example and not to impose her will. . and you lay the groundwork for misery.58 If a country is governed with tolerance. the people are comfortable and honest. the higher the ideals. When the will to power is in charge. the lower the results. She is pointed. the people are depressed and crafty. Straightforward. and you lay the groundwork for vice. but doesn't pierce. Try to make people happy. Try to make people moral. If a country is governed with repression.
firm like a mountain. Because he has let go. The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas. he has no destination in view and makes use of anything life happens to bring his way. Nothing is impossible for him. he can care for the people's welfare as a mother cares for her child. supple like a tree in the wind. Tolerant like the sky. all-pervading like sunlight. .59 For governing a country well there is nothing better than moderation.
Center your country in the Tao and evil will have no power.60 Governing a large country is like frying a small fish. Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself. Not that it isn't there. but you'll be able to step out of its way. You spoil it with too much poking. .
A great nation is like a great man: When he makes a mistake. . he realizes it. the greater the need for humility. Having admitted it. Humility means trusting the Tao. If a nation is centered in the Tao. He considers those who point out his faults as his most benevolent teachers. Having realized it. he admits it. it becomes like the sea: all streams run downward into it.61 When a country obtains great power. it will be a light to all nations in the world. he corrects it. if it nourishes its own people and doesn't meddle in the affairs of others. thus never needing to be defensive. He thinks of his enemy as the shadow that he himself casts. The more powerful it grows.
but the Tao is beyond all value. when you seek. and no one can achieve it. Offer instead to teach him about the Tao. That is why everybody loves it. don't offer to help him with your wealth or your expertise. Why did the ancient Masters esteem the Tao? Because. you are forgiven. the bad man's refuge.62 The Tao is the center of the universe. the good man's treasure. . Thus. and when you make a mistake. Honors can be bought with fine words. when a new leader is chosen. you find. being one with the Tao. respect can be won with good deeds.
Confront the difficult while it is still easy. The Master never reaches for the great. thus problems are no problem for her. .63 Act without doing. When she runs into a difficulty. she stops and gives herself to it. Think of the small as large and the few as many. work without effort. thus she achieves greatness. She doesn't cling to her own comfort. accomplish the great task by a series of small acts.
The journey of a thousand miles starts from beneath your feet. Prevent trouble before it arises. you ruin what was almost ripe. What is recent is easy to correct. He has nothing. Put things in order before they exist. thus has nothing to lose. Forcing a project to completion. The giant pine tree grows from a tiny sprout. What is small is easy to scatter. you lose them. Trying to grasp things. What is brittle is easy to break. Therefore the Master takes action by letting things take their course.64 What is rooted is easy to nourish. you fail. He remains as calm at the end as at the beginning. Rushing into action. .
What he desires is non-desire. Thus he can care for all things. He simply reminds people of who they have always been. . what he learns is to unlearn. He cares about nothing but the Tao.
people are difficult to guide.65 The ancient Masters didn't try to educate the people. people can find their own way. you can show all people the way back to their own true nature. The simplest pattern is the clearest. Content with an ordinary life. If you want to learn how to govern. but kindly taught them to not-know. . When they think that they know the answers. avoid being clever or rich. When they know that they don't know.
The Master is above the people. Because she competes with no one. . and no one feels oppressed. She goes ahead of the people. The whole world is grateful to her. and no one feels manipulated. If you want to lead the people. If you want to govern the people. you must place yourself below them. Humility gives it its power. you must learn how to follow them.66 All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. no one can compete with her.
you return to the source of being. Simple in actions and in thoughts. this nonsense makes perfect sense. But to those who have looked inside themselves. Patient with both friends and enemies. this loftiness has roots that go deep. patience. you reconcile all beings in the world. Compassionate toward yourself. And to those who put it into practice. I have just three things to teach: simplicity.67 Some say that my teaching is nonsense. compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. . you accord with the way things are. Others call it lofty but impractical.
All of them embody the virtue of non-competition. but they do it in the spirit of play. The best general enters the mind of his enemy. Not that they don't love to compete. The best businessman serves the communal good.68 The best athlete wants his opponent at his best. In this they are like children and in harmony with the Tao. . The best leader follows the will of the people.
the victory will go to the one that knows how to yield. There is no greater misfortune than underestimating your enemy." This is called going forward without advancing. Rather than advance an inch it is better to retreat a yard.69 The generals have a saying: "Rather than make the first move it is better to wait and see. Thus you destroy your three treasures and become an enemy yourself. pushing back without using weapons. . Underestimating your enemy means thinking that he is evil. When two great forces oppose each other.
look inside your heart.70 My teachings are easy to understand and easy to put into practice. . you'll fail. and if you try to practice them. How can you grasp their meaning? If you want to know me. Yet your intellect will never grasp them. My teachings are older than the world.
. Presuming to know is a disease.71 Not-knowing is true knowledge. then you can move toward health. First realize that you are sick. She has healed herself of all knowing. Thus she is truly whole. The Master is her own physician.
He teaches without a teaching. When they no longer trust themselves. . people turn to religion. they begin to depend upon authority. so that people will have nothing to learn. Therefore the Master steps back so that people won't be confused.72 When they lose their sense of awe.
Its net covers the whole universe. arrives without being summoned. accomplishes without a plan. It overcomes without competing. And though its meshes are wide.73 The Tao is always at ease. it doesn't let a thing slip through. . answers without speaking a word.
Chances are that you'll cut your hand. there is nothing you can't achieve. If you aren't afraid of dying. Trying to control the future Is like trying to take the master carpenter's place.74 If you realize that all things change. When you handle the master carpenter's tools. there is nothing you will try to hold on to. .
Trust them. people lose their spirit. .75 When taxes are too high. people go hungry. Act for the people's benefit. When the government is too intrusive. leave them alone.
Plants are born tender and pliant. dead. The soft and supple will prevail. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. they are stiff and hard. The hard and stiff will be broken. they are brittle and dry. . Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life.76 Men are born soft and supple. dead.
Those who try to control. It takes from what is too much and gives to what isn't enough. and doesn't think that she is better than anyone else. It adjusts excess and deficiency so that there is perfect balance. The Master can keep giving because there is no end to her wealth.77 As it acts in the world. . go against the direction of the Tao. succeeds without taking credit. They take from those who don't have enough and give to those who have far too much. who use force to protect their power. the bottom is bent up. the Tao is like the bending of a bow. She acts without expectation. The top is bent downward.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible. Therefore the Master remains serene in the midst of sorrow. nothing can surpass it. but few can put it into practice. Because he has given up helping. Evil cannot enter his heart. True words seem paradoxical. The soft overcomes the hard.78 Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. he is people's greatest help. Everyone knows this is true. . the gentle overcomes the rigid.
Therefore the Master fulfills her own obligations and corrects her own mistakes. . there is no end to the blame.79 Failure is an opportunity. She does what she needs to do and demands nothing of others. If you blame someone else.
There may be an arsenal of weapons. And even though the next country is so close that people can hear its roosters crowing and its dogs barking.80 If a country is governed wisely. People enjoy their food. They enjoy the labor of their hands and don't waste time inventing labor-saving machines. There may be a few wagons and boats. Since they dearly love their homes. but nobody ever uses them. they are content to die of old age without ever having gone to see it. They aren't interested in travel. delight in the doings of the neighborhood. take pleasure in being with their families. spend weekends working in their gardens. Its inhabitants will be content. But these don't go anywhere. .
81 True words aren't eloquent. eloquent words aren't true. . Wise men don't need to prove their point. The more he gives to others. the wealthier he is. the happier he is. The Master has no possessions. the Master leads. By not dominating. The more he does for others. men who need to prove their point aren't wise. The Tao nourishes by not forcing.
They have to be blabbermouths." The monk said. in a book of five thousand words. pointing the way to the way – what does Lao-tzu think he is doing here? It can’t be done. "When the crying has stopped. 'Mind is Buddha'?" Ma-tsu said. if you watch the finger. you can't see the moon. But their words are (in the traditional Buddhist metaphor) fingers pointing at the moon. No way. Hence Po Chu-i. How meticulous the great Masters had to be! A monk asked Ma-tsu.Notes CHAPTER 1 Describing the indescribable. teaching the un-teachable. wrote. "To stop a baby from crying. what then?" . “He who talks doesn’t know he knows doesn’t talk”: that is what Lao-tzu told us. how could he have been such a blabbermouth? That’s the problem with spiritual teachers. If he was the one who knew. "Why do you teach. poet and stand-up comedian.
He uses them as he would use gardening tools. as Bankei said. Lao-tzu's book was written as a response. 'Not beings. he answers.Ma-tsu said. out of grandmotherly kindness. "I would just let him experience the great Tao. the deeper it is. This is legend. the farther you enter into it. Where is the way to the Way? What a question! Still. “and what if you me t a man unattached to all things: what would you tell him?" Ma-tsu said. and yet. could you write a book to teach me the art of living?" Thereupon Lao-tzu wrote his book about the Tao. . Lao-tzu lived for a long time in the country of Chou. "Then I teach. "I would tell him. When someone asks. When he reached the frontier. but seeing its decline he departed. "Since you are going away. "How about someone who isn't attached to either?" Ma-tsusaid. and departed. Sir." In fact. 'Not mind. He who knows doesn't talk. the guard said.'” The monk said. for complicated minds. drastic measures are needed.' " The monk said. but it is an accurate description of the way in which true teaching happens. but words are no hindrance for him. the truth is right before our eyes. not Buddha. According to the oldest biography. so simple that every child understands it. right under our noses.
yet she doesn't try to be compassionate. She is like an actress who loves her role.The tao that can be told / is not the eternal Tao: The text reads. She embodies compassion. It is also called "light. She is not elated by praise. She doesn't struggle to make money. decisions arise by themselves. yet as ordinary as sunlight. yet she enjoys spending it when it comes to her." Other possible renderings: "The way that can be weighed / is not the eternal Way. Thus they are effortless." You realize the mystery: Infinitely marvelous. . the more radiant we are. "The tao that can be tao-ed [one meaning of Tao. not discouraged by neglect. She doesn't give even moment's thought to right or wrong." "The force that can be forced / is not the eternal Force. yet she accepts help gratefully and has no pride in walking alone. The gateway to all understanding: In order to understand. She never has to make a decision." because the less we obstruct it. we have to remain in the darkness of not-knowing. being 'co express'] / is not the eternal Tao. The Tao is writing the script. Impossible to know. This source is called darkness: Because none of our senses can perceive it. She goes her own way. yet as easy as touching your nose when you wash your face. CHAPTER 2 acts without doing anything: Her actions are appropriate responses.
teaches without saying anything: The way she buys oranges or ties her shoelaces is a teaching. CHAPTER 4 Following Ch'en Ku-ying. Her face is more eloquent than any scripture could be. They develop enough self-reliance to give up the idea of self. weakening their ambition: When they have no false self to nourish or defend. CHAPTER 3 emptying people's minds: He empties them of concepts. toughening their resolve: Their innermost intention. Thus they can return to a state of childlike simplicity. . I have deleted the second stanza of the Chinese text. Thus they can return to a state of joy. which seems to be an interpolation from chapter 56. they find that greed. filling their cores: He fills them with a sense of their original identity. That is why it lasts forever: Not in rime and space but in quality. and desires. judgments. and arrogance vanish by themselves. hatred.
” as the master “treats all people like straw dogs. but that they are impartial. they treat all things like straw dogs." Chu Hsi said.” Straw dogs were ritual objects. The point here is not that the Tao is cruel to things. "The . And since people are in constant flux. The Master sees all beings arising from the same source. nor that the Master is ruthless with people. The gate of the mysterious female is the root of heaven and earth. working out their karma (usually with great suffering). "The spirit of the valley never dies. she understands that at any moment they are capable of the most astonishing spiritual transformations. It is called the mysterious female.It is older than God: There is no God when there is nothing but God. "Heaven and earth are impartial. venerated before the ceremony but afterward abandoned and trampled underfoot. and returning to the source. | it gives birth to both good and evil: Literally. CHAPTER 5 The Tao doesn't take sides. Why should she pin them motionless with a judgment of "good" or "bad"? CHAPTER 6 First stanza: Literally.
The Master stays behind. Any time is now. exactly as they are. This creative principle is the most marvelous thing in the universe. She is detached: Bunan said. Actually. Her heart is like a mirror. but exactly even with all things. creates. is home. clarity expresses itself in love. ." CHAPTER 7 The Tao is infinite.” Detachment results in clarity. that is why she is ahead: She is like a turtle: wherever she is. eternal: Here is everywhere. "It is easy to keep things at a distance. it is hard to be naturally beyond them. which reflects all faces.female is one who receives something and. with it. She is neither behind nor ahead. without judgment.
Water is the source of all life. . life's matrix and fecundity. into its own life. you are glad to let it go. In fact. it overflows into everything. just as a parent lets a child go. CHAPTER 9 Do your work.CHAPTER 8 The supreme good is like water: I asked my friend and teacher Emilie Conrad-Da'oud. then step back: When you do your work wholeheartedly. we are that fluid of love. The amniotic fluid is the state of total nourishment and unconditional love. CHAPTER 10 Can you let your body become: Literally." supple as a newborn child's: Emilie Conrad Da'oud's comment: . . it moves everywhere. It is always present for us and contains everything we could possibly want. She said. "Can you concentrate your chi [vital energy] until it becomes. We are fundamentally water: muscled water. founder of Continuum to comment on this verse. And the idea that we ever leave the amniotic fluid is a misconception.
There is no self-consciousness in the newborn child. Later on, the mind wanders into self-images, starts to think Should I do this? Is this moment right? and loses the immediacy of the moment. As self-consciousness develops, the muscles become less supple, less like the world. But the young child is pure fluidity. It isn't aware of any separation, so all its movements are spontaneous and alive and whole and perfect. If an adult body becomes truly supple, though, there is a quality to its movement that the child's doesn't have, a texture of experience, a fourth dimension of time. When we watch a seventy-year old hand move, we feel, "Yes, that hand has lived." All the bodies it has touched, all the weights it has lifted, all the heads it has cradled are present in its movement. It is resonant with experience; the fingers curve with a sense of having been there. Whereas in a child's hand there's a sense of just arriving. The child's movement is pristine and innocent and delightful, but a truly supple adult movement is awesome, because all life is included in it.
Until you see nothing but the light: That is, until your heart is at peace. The great modern Indian sage Ramanna Maharshi said,
There is no greater mystery than this, that we keep seeking reality though in fact we are reality. We think that there is something hiding our reality and that this must be destroyed before reality is gained. How ridiculous! A day will dawn when you will laugh at all
your past efforts. That which will be on the day you laugh is also here and now.
Can you love people and lead them / without imposing your will: Emilie Conrad-Da'oud's comment:
The more supple your body is, the less dictatorial you'll be. The military stance is the most invasive stance that you can possibly take. Its opposite – the boneless, wishy-washy posture of someone who doesn't stand for anything – is just as unhealthy. Suppleness is really fluidity. It transcends strength and weakness. When your body is supple, it feels like there's no barrier in you, you can flow in any direction, your movement is a complete expression of yourself.
by letting events take their course: Literally, "by becoming the female." The Ho-shang Kung commentary says, "In arranging one's life properly, one should be as calm and flexible as a woman."
CHAPTER 11 non-being is what we use: The true teacher realizes that there is nothing to teach; that's why he can teach anyone who wants to learn. The true lover realizes there is no one to love; that's why he is available to anyone who needs him. The Master realizes that there is nowhere to stand; that's why he can stand anywhere.
CHAPTER 12 Colors blind the eye, etc.: We need space in order to see, silence in order to hear, sleep in order to carry on with our wakefulness. If the senses are too cluttered with objects, they lose their acuteness and will eventually decay. Desires wither the heart: Once it has let go of desires the heart naturally overflows with love, like David’s cup in Psalm 23. His inner vision: There is no inside or outside for him. He reflects whatever appears, without judgment, whether it is a flower or a heap of garbage, a criminal or a saint. Whatever happens is all right. He treats his own anger or grief just as he would treat an angry or grieving child: with compassion. Open as the sky: The sky holds sun, moon, stars, clouds, rain, snow, or pure azure. Because it doesn't care which of these appear, it has room for them all.
CHAPTER 13 Keep your balance: The trick is to go up or down the ladder with your feet on the ground. Bravo! Bravisimo !! See the world as your self: The outer mirrors the inner.
we step into the Tao. it becomes salt water. obvious like the moon." CHAPTER 15 till your mud settles: "Mud" stands for concepts. it becomes sugar water. Zen Master Seung Sahn. shit. If we put salt into the water. sugar." Insight into the Tao has nothing to do with the intellect or its abstractions." but "step back from them. judgments. Lin Ching-hsi said. But originally the water is clear. expectations – everything that obscures and narrows reality. and it can't be seen: Another way of saying this "Look. no problem. The Master's life pure and placid: predictable like the seasons. When our mind/heart beco~ transparent. no mind. The mind is originally empty. CHAPTER 16 Empty our mind: This doesn't mean "suppress your thought.CHAPTER 14 Look. He said. No thinking. Our mind is like a glass of clear water. No mind. and it's right before your eyes. the light of the Tao shines through. without grasping or rejecting. can it . and only when it remains empty. it becomes shit water. desires. When we step out of consciousness. the water is clear: I asked my old teacher. to comment on this verse.
This feeling is the guiding principle of his life and work.respond to natural things. The Master doesn't talk. Does this sound anti-intellectual? But listen to Einstein: The scientist's religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law. yet the swan's passage is traced by its shadow. it never refuses to show a thing. without prejudice. He is always genuine. whether they are beautiful or ugly. The mind should be as open as this. which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that. CHAPTER 17 One of several chapters that are as relevant to child rearing as to government. nor does it retain the thing after it is gone. Another example: A mirror will reflect all things perfectly. It should be like a river gorge with a swan flying overhead. the river has no desire to retain the swan. he acts: His words are in perfect harmony with his actions. without any omission. all the systematic thinking of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection. in comparison with it. CHAPTER 18 .
This goodness is as insecure as Job's and can be as self-satisfied as Little Jack Horner's." goodness and Piety appear: When the Tao is forgotten.the great Tao: Jayata said to Vasubandu. "The more you try to approach it. thus. CHAPTER 19 Throw away holiness and wisdom: When some folks are called saints. how can I understand it?" . no one is wise or holy. "How can I approach it?" Nan-ch'uan said. CHAPTER 20 yes and no: Chao-chou asked Nan-ch’uan. Whereas a good father has no intention of being good. not from the heart. When one fellow is called wise. "Everyday mind is the Tao. in her presence everyone feels at home. he just acts naturally. "What is the Tao?" Nan-ch'uan said. The Master doesn't have these categories. people act according to rules. that state of mind is called the Tao. for her. other folks think of themselves as sinners. the farther away you'll be:' "But if I don't get close." Chao-chou said. others imagine that there is something they need to know. "If you have nothing to ask for in your mind.
The Master said. The ordinary person's mind is the same as the sage's. One is simply free from unreality and delusion. please don't lose it. After enlightenment one is still the same as one was before. . because Original Mind is perfect and complete in itself. it is like pure space. I am different from ordinary people: I am more ordinary. when I am tired sleep. not understanding is indifference. Understanding is delusion. limitless and serene. When I am hungry. After you have had this recognition. good. "It's not a question of understanding or not understanding. Where is the room in it for yes or no?” I alone don't care: If good happens. good. I am like an idiot: First you erase the blackboard then you can write something new. Paichang said. But when you reach the unattainable Tao. I eat. if bad happens. that's all.
rather than be used by it. Because he doesn't know who he is: From the standpoint of personality. that is what allows him to use his personality for people’s benefit. but the true name of eternity is Today. who gauge everything by number. He doesn't know. etc. there is nowhere to stand and no self to know.” CHAPTER 22 If you to become whole. you can't let go of yourself." Or.: Unless you accept yourself.CHAPTER 21 before time and space: Philo said. he just is. "Not I. Months and years and all periods of time are concepts of men. in a more lighthearted vein. . Only in being lived by the Tao: This is what Paul of Tarsus meant by. but Christ in me. "Today means boundless and inexhaustible eternity. But from the standpoint of his true self. he knows very well who he is. "I'm not sneezing! It's sneezing me!" CHAPTER 23 Trust your natural responses: Trust the intelligence of the body. the little boy who when his mother got annoyed and said "Stop sneezing!" answered.
CHAPTER 24 power over others: The other is the self. When we understand this, we are able to use power wisely. CHAPTER 25 mother of the universe: As chapter 51 says, "The Tao gives birth to all beings, / nourishes them, maintains them, / cares for them, comforts them, protects them, / takes them back to itself." These are the four great powers: Ho-hum.
CHAPTER 26 without leaving home: She never loses touch with who she really is. In the midst of joy or anger or sorrow she remains imperturbable.
CHAPTER 27 This is one of the most important chapters in the Tao Te Ching.
First stanza: I have been very free here, because the central point – openness to reality, openheartedness – needs to be made as clearly as possible. The original text reads:
A good walker leaves no traces or tracks. A good speaker makes no slips or errors. A good calculator needs no counting-sticks or tallies. A good locksmith uses no bolts or keys, yet no one can open. A good binder uses no ropes or cords, yet no one can loosen.
available to all people: Because he is not attached to his own ideas. You will get lost: In moral judgments. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the Tree of Death.
CHAPTER 28 Know the male, / yet keep to the female: Keeping to the receptive allows the creative to arise. Actually, the creative and the receptive are complementary sides of the same process.
CHAPTER 29 Do want to improve the world: Ramana Maharshi said,
Wanting to reform the world without discovering ones true self is like trying to cover the world with leather to avoid the pain of walking on stones and thorns. It is much simpler to wear shoes.
It can't be improved: This is the Sabbath mind, as in the first chapter of Genesis: when God, from a state of perfect repose, looks at the world and says, “Behold, it is very good." Actually, this "it can't be improved" is the greatest possible improvement. Compare chapter 35: "She perceives the universal harmony, / even amid great pain, / because she has found peace in her heart." CHAPTER 30 doesn't try to force issues: He lets the issues resolve themselves. out of control: Out of the control of his own, tiny personal, conscious self. CHAPTER 31 Peace is his highest value: Peace means wholeness. CHAPTER 32 Smaller than an electron: Neither small nor large. Neither here nor there. Neither past nor future nor present. Also (as long as we're discussing this) all of the above.
Clear water has no taste. God doesn't say 'Let there be light. In complete stillness. When suppressed or ignored. without flavor: Zen Master Seung Sahn's comment: The Great Way has no gate. giving birth rather than making. but when allowed to be present in your awareness. The tongue has no bone. as Blake said from a slightly different ." The light simply is. they eventually wither away. I know others. When I master myself. Or. CHAPTER 34 It doesn’t create them: It is more like a mother than like an artisan. defects in your character. a stone girl is dancing.true wisdom: When I know myself. I don't need to master others. they continue. It acts without any conscious plan or purpose. and is God. thus she can give herself fully to the pain. CHAPTER 36 If you want to shrink something: For example. CHAPTER 35 Peace in her heart: She is centered in the peace.
. No residue. there is no distinction between depths and surface. When the Tao is lost: You can never lose the Tao. No regrets. He's just along for the ride. flowers in spring. Fruit in autumn. Therefore the Master concerns himself / with the detpth and not the surface: In the depths. He enjoys the flowers.perspective. doesn't think that he is doing anything. "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. But you can find it. as he enjoys the fruits. yet he leaves nothing undone: No expectations.” CHAPTER 37 If powerful men and women / could center themselves in it: They can! CHAPTER 38 The Master does nothing: He has no goal in mind.
and sends his rain on the just and on the unjust.e. "Love your enemies [i. it is no longer the Tao. A good father loves all his children equally..) One gives birth to Two: Oy! . whether they turn out to be thieves or carpenters or Messiahs. As Jesus of Nazareth said. so that you may be children of your father in heaven: for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good.CHAPTER 39 Lets himself be shaped by the Tao: As a piece of marble lets itself be shaped by the sculptor. CHAPTER 41 The greatest love seems indifferent: Because it has no preferences. Ouch CHAPTER 40 Being is born of non-being: "Non-being" means beyond the categories of being and non-being. Hammer and chisel are necessary agents." CHAPTER 42 The Tao gives birth to One: When it's called One. (When it's called the Tao. so that the statute inside can be revealed. it is no longer the Tao. treat them with generosity and compassion].
If money comes. starvelings. . the Master accepts whatever comes to him. etc. love and hostility.: But why be caught in these dichotomies? Once he has surrendered to the Tao. sometimes you lose by gaining. : Examples: water and rock. . . All things have their backs to the female. Success . The text reads: People hate to be orphans.' I will make this the father of my teaching CHAPTER 43 gentlest . What others have taught. he uses it with integrity. through the blending of the energy [chi] of these two. . with feeling. CHAPTER 44 Fame or integrity. widowers.Two gives birth to Three: Where will it end? Three gives birth to all things: I knew it! Now once more from the top.: Literally. Yet kings and princes take these names as their titles. "The ten thousand things carry (at there backs] the yin and embrace (in front] the yang. Therefore sometimes you gain by losing. etc. If fame comes. / hardest. I teach also: 'The violent will not die a natural death. he uses it as pure energy. they achieve harmony.” Last stanza: I have improvised here.
” I would say. because his heart rests in the Tao. it can't be gained. . for example. CHAPTER 45 True perfection: A cracked coffee cup. President Roosevelt said. CHAPTER 48 every day something is dropped: Gratefully. "We have nothing to fear but fear itself. True fullness: Attention.and failure are equally irrelevant to him. CHAPTER 46 Whoever can see through all fear: This is the only real defense. True mastery can be gained: Actually. True mastery is letting things take their course. “Not even that. The sound of traffic outside your window.” CHAPTER 47 The more you know: The more you know without knowing yourself.
Three in ten are companions of life. What I have done instead is to make improvisations on the passage's theme. These passages may be interpolations (several show a concern with immorality. always taking care to remain within the consciousness and language of the main body of the text. as the later. CHAPTER 50 There are a number of passages in the Tao Te Ching where a much narrower consciousness is at work than in the rest of the book. it seems to be pure space. And her mind is so subtle that. going out is death. She also trusts people who aren't trustworthy: Like a parent whose child has broken a rule. magical Taoism did). I could not in good conscience include them in this version. Of course.and desirestructures of other people. three in ten are companions in . in comparison with the rigid thought. but she is permeable. if a parent is genuine. I have included literal translations in these notes. The text here reads: Coming in is life. Or perhaps the old fellow had indigestion on the days he wrote them.CHAPTER 49 The Master has no mind of her own: She has a strong will and a strong character. the child will be genuine too. For those who are curious. But since my job was to recreate the essential mind of Lao-tzu.
"What can I do to put my heart at rest?" She said. whose devotion and purity of heart were respected far and wide. the soldier finds no place in him to thrust his sword. "Every morning and every evening. he has nothing left: Zen Master Seung Sahn's comment: Coming in empty handed. And three in ten are moving from life to the place of death. The rhinoceros finds no place in him to drive its horn. and whenever . going out empty handed. Why is this? Because in him there is no place of death. What is your original face? The moon is shining everywhere.death. CHAPTER 51 spontaneously honors the Tao: Honoring the Tao means respecting the way things are. asked. There is a wonderful Japanese story (adapted here from Zenkei Shibayama Roshi's A Flower Does Not Talk) which portrays this attitude: A hundred and fifty years ago there lived a woman named Sono. One day a fellow Buddhist. and is untouched by the sword when he enters a battle. Why is this? Because they live life too intensely. I have heard that he who knows bow to preserve his life meets neither rhinoceros nor tiger when he travels by land. the tiger finds no place in him to sink its claws. having made a long trip to see her.
. for a whole year. He has nothing to hide. " 'Thanks for everything. I have no complaint whatsoever.'" The man did as he was instructed. I have no complaint whatsoever. I'm still the same selfish person as before. CHAPTER 54 genuine: The mark of a genuine person is straightforwardness. but his heart was still not at peace. the man was able to open his spiritual eye. and yet nothing in my life has changed.' " On hearing these words. Just let go of your preferences: and everything will be perfectly clear.anything happens to you. "I've said your prayer over and over. nothing to defend. keep on saying. What should I do now?" Sono immediately said. CHAPTER 52 Trace back the manifestations: Where do you come from? CHAPTER 53 The Great Way is easy: Zen Master Seng-ts'an said. The great Way is not difficult if you don't cling to good and bad. 'Thanks for everything. He returned to Sono. crestfallen. and returned home with a great joy.
unaware of itself. The Master's power is like this. Free from all worries. to know the eternal is to have insight. . They talk only if it's appropriate (and if they feel like talking). When they are too aggressive.: I have improvised here. or to prove something. it acts without thinking. or to display themselves. Those who talk don't know: This is ignorance. doesn't know why things happen. Non-Tao soon ends. not the openness of not-knowing. etc. The infant cries all day long without straining its throat. It clenches its fist all day long without cramping its hand. The text reads: To know harmony is to know the eternal. This is non-Tao. things decay.CHAPTER 55 Like a newborn child: Chuang-tzu said. It stares all day long without weakening its eyes. to control the chi by the mind is aggressiveness. CHAPTER 56 Those who know don't talk: They don't talk for the sake of talking. doesn't need to know. To improve upon life is ominous.
the good becomes the monstrous. People have long been confused about this. nothing is better than moderation.CHAPTER 57 the world will govern itself: Just as Nature regulates itself without any need of our bright ideas. The text reads: In governing people and serving heaven. . He who has no limits can possess a country. He who possesses the mother of a country can keep it for a long time. The text reads: Prosperity rests on disaster. the Tao as it informs things and acts in the world]. This is called having deep roots and a strong stem. CHAPTER 59 I have improvised here. Who knows the line that separates them? The normal becomes the perverted. long life and enduring vision. Only he who is moderate can prepare in advance. disaster is hidden in prosperity. He who prepares in advance accumulates a reserve of te [virtue or power. He who accumulates a reserve of te overcomes all obstacles. He who overcomes all obstacles has no limits. CHAPTER 58 Second stanza: I have improvised here.
A large country wants nothing more than to gather people and nourish them. A small country by being in a lower position can conquer a large country. Therefore a large country by placing itself in lower position can conquer a small country. A small country wants nothing more than to enter and serve the people. Therefore the one conquers by placing itself lower. he can spend it freely.CHAPTER 60 step out of its way: It will be like a sword cutting the air. by tranquility. It is the meeting-point of the universe. and there is always more. CHAPTER 61 I have improvised here. The female. the large country should take the lower position. No harm. The text reads: A large country is like the lower part of a river. the other conquers by being naturally lower. CHAPTER 62 The Tao is the center of the universe: The center is everywhere. the good man's treasure: It is like the magic purse. Since both get what they want. . By tranquility she takes the lower position. conquers the male. the female of the universe.
don’t offer. friends. children. of eternity." Offer instead / to teach him about the Tao: Better yet. he will be glad to answer it. There is always another chance. Thus he can step outside his idea of himself. Otherwise. planet. CHAPTER 64 He cares about nothing but the Tao: Which is not to say that he doesn't love his wife. and with all your strength. And since he and his wife love the Tao even more than they love each other. The Master simply responds to circumstances in the appropriate way.the badman's refuge: It doesn't judge him. he minds his business and leaves everything to the Tao." . But he sees them in the proper perspective. CHAPTER 63 When she runs into a difficulty: A difficulty is like a letter with her address on it. with all your soul. country. no one can achieve it: Because there is no "it. This is the meaning of the Biblical verse "You shall love the Unnamable your God with all your heart. their marriage is radiant with love. If the president or the pope or a border guard has a question.
Heaven .CHAPTER 65 kindly taught them to not-know: The ancient Masters taught them the supreme value of Don't-know Mind. open. generous without frugality. the second is frugality. The text reads: I have three treasures which I preserve and treasure. this is fatal. which is forever fresh. looking from a higher vantage point. The whole world is grateful to her: Even those who think they are ungrateful. the third is daring not to be first in the world. and fertile with possibilities. Whoever shows compassion in defense will stand firm.) CHAPTER 66 The Master is above the people: Not that she feels superior but that. Whoever shows compassion in battle will conquer. prominent without humility. (Another name for it is Beginner’s Mind. Whoever has compassion can be brave. Whoever dares not to be first in the world can become the leader of the world. CHAPTER 67 Second stanza: I have improvised here. no one can compete with her: She sees everyone as her equal. But to be brave without compassion. The first is compassion. She can see more. Whoever has frugality can be generous.
The text reads: A skillful officer isn't warlike. This is called the power to use men's abilities.helps and protects those with compassion. CHAPTER 71 . A skillful employer places himself below others. This is called the Te of not competing. CHAPTER 69 Underestimating your enemy: Even thinking of him as an enemy is dangerous. until the sights and the sounds disappear by themselves. animals are perfect disciples. A skillful conqueror isn't competitive. look inside your heart: And keep looking. CHAPTER 68 I have improvised here. This called complying with heaven. If you need a word." May the best man (as they say) win. Since ancient times it has been the best way. use 'opponent. too. Keep listening. A skillful fighter isn't violent. CHAPTER 70 easy to put into practice: Grasses and trees have no trouble with it.
he nips their adoration in the bud and points them to their inner messiah. what is advantageous or harmful." CHAPTER 72 Therefore the Master steps back: He doesn't act as guru or messiah. "How do you know that this isn't good fortune?" After a few months the horse returned with a barbarian horse of excellent . CHAPTER 74 Trying to control the future: Thinking that you know what is good or bad. because he doesn't want to keep people dependent on him. but his father said. the Master puts everyone else at ease. "We are close to waking up when we dream that we are dreaming. The Huai Nan Tzu tells a story about this: A poor farmer's horse ran off into the country of the barbarians. and thus spiritually immature. people will have nothing to learn: They just need to unlearn.First realize that you are sick: Novalis said. When people start to treat him like a holy man. All his neighbors offered their condolences. CHAPTER 73 The Tao is always at ease: At ease with herself.
All his neighbors offered the farmer their condolences. but his father said. Thus good fortune can be disaster and vice versa. CHAPTER 77 and don’t think that she is better: She is simply more transparent. "How do you know that this isn't good fortune?" Another year passed. but his father said. and the barbarians invaded the frontier.stock. The farmer's son spent much of his time riding them. All his neighbors offered their congratulations. CHAPTER 76 disciple of life: The less rigid. one day he fell off and broke his hipbone. All the ablebodied young men were conscripted. "How do you know that this isn't a disaster?" The two horses bred. CHAPTER 78 . and nine-tenths of them died in the war. the readier for life or death. and the family became rich in fine horses. Who can tell how events will be transformed? CHAPTER 75 leave them alone: Offer them the gift of not being dependent on you.
a computer. like a good parent. In the archer there is a resemblance to the mature person. True words seem paradoxical: Only when the mind is cluttered with untruth.he is people's greatest help: The greatest help is wholeheartedly trusting people to resolve their own problems. CHAPTER 79 If you blame someone else: Confucius said. a room full of books. CHAPTER 79 The Master has no possessions: These no-possessions may include a house. . brings people to the point where they can help themselves. A true philanthropist. a car. CHAPTER 80 without ever having gone to see it: Not that they are lacking in appropriate curiosity. When he misses the mark. he turns and seeks the reason for his failure in himself. But they have their priorities straight. The more he does for others. / the happier he is: Because he is doing it for himself. and an electric toothbrush.
/ the wealthierhe is: The less he holds on to. . the more he can give himself to others. When he can give himself completely his wealth is infinite.The more he gives to others.
1981) furnished help on textual matters and commentaries. Notes. Jane Hirshfield. 1972). 1967) was particularly useful. Liou Kia-Hway's Tao To King (Gallimard. and Comments by Ch'en Ku-ying (Chinese Materials Center. Of the many translations that I consulted. my friend Michael Katz. Occasionally I have borrowed a phrase from the translation of Gia-fu Feng and Jane English (Vintage. . Jacob Needleman. John Tarrant. and Robert Aitken Roshi read the manuscript and made helpful suggestions.Acknowledgments Lao Tzu: Text. I would like to express my deep gratitude to that prince among agents. For his considerable share in the making of this book.
Vicki Chang. The Enlightened Heart. Parables and Portraits. New York. The Book of Job. and studied at Amherst. the University of Paris. He lives his wife. in 1943. The Enlightened mind. His books include The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. and Yale.About the Translator Stephen Mitchell was born in Brooklyn. and The Gospel According to Jesus. an acupuncturist and healer in northern California .