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Photography by Jane English

Calligraphy by Gia-fu Feng

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TAO TE
CHING
Lao Tsu

Translated by

Gia-fu Feng and Jane English with Toinette Lippe
Introduction by Jacob Needleman

vintage books

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a division of random house, inc., new york

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THIRD VINTAGE BOOKS EDITION: October 2011

Certain material copyright © 1997, 2011 by Jane English
Copyright © 1972 by Jane English and Gia-fu Feng, copyright renewed 2000 by Jane English
and Carol Wilson
Introduction copyright © 1989 by Jacob Needleman
Foreword copyright © 2011 by Toinette Lippe
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published
in the United States by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc. New York, and in
Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Originally published in different
form simultaneously by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. and Vintage Books, New York, in 1972, and
subsequently by Vintage Books in 1989 and in 1997.
The foreword published here is adapted and expanded from an essay originally published in
The Collegiate Review in Fall 1985.
The introduction included here is an abridged version of the introduction that appeared in the
1989 edition of the Tao Te Ching
The Library of Congress has catalogued the original edition as follows:
Lao-tzu˘
Tao te ching
I Feng, Gia-fu, tr. II English, Jane, tr. III Title
[BL1900.L3 F46
1972b]
299'.51'482

72-2338

ISBN: 978-0-307-94930-1
vintagebooks.com
Printed in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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(
EXCERPT)

Thirty-six
That which shrinks
Must first expand.
That which fails
Must first be strong.
That which is cast down
Must first be raised.
Before receiving
There must be giving.
This is called perception of the nature of things.
Soft and weak overcome hard and strong.
Fish cannot leave deep water,
And a country’s weapons should not be displayed.

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Sixty-four
Peace is easily maintained;
Trouble is easily overcome before it starts.
The brittle is easily shattered;
The small is easily scattered.
Deal with things before they happen.
Put things in order before there is confusion.
A tree as great as a man’s embrace springs from a small shoot;
A terrace nine stories high begins with a pile of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles starts under one’s feet.
Those who act defeat their own purpose;
Those who grasp lose.
The wise do not act and so are not defeated.
They do not grasp and therefore do not lose.
People usually fail when they are on the verge of success.
So give as much care to the end as to the beginning;
Then there will be no failure.
Therefore the wise seek freedom from desire.
They do not collect precious things.
They learn not to hold on to ideas.
They bring people back to what they have lost.
They help the ten thousand things find their own nature,
Yet they refrain from action.

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