The Tao Te Ching


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The Tao Te Ching

  1. 1. The Tao Te Ching Translation by Gia Fu Feng & Jane English Comments and layout by Thomas Knierim Table Of Contents Table Of Contents..............................................................................................................1 About The Tao Te Ching...................................................................................................2 About Lao Tzu...................................................................................................................3 Yin And Yang....................................................................................................................4 The Translation..................................................................................................................5Tao Te Ching, Page 1
  2. 2. About The Tao Te ChingThe Tao Te Ching was written in China roughly 2,500 years ago at about the same timewhen Buddha expounded the Dharma in India and Pythagoras taught in Greece. The TaoTe Ching is probably the most influential Chinese book of all times. Its 81 chapters havebeen translated into English more times than any other Chinese document.The Tao Te Ching provides the basis for the philosophical school of Taoism, which is animportant pillar of Chinese thought. Taoism teaches that there is one undivided truth atthe root of all things. It literally means: = tao (the way) = te (strength/virtue) = ching (scripture)The verses of the Tao Te Ching are written in ancient Chinese, which is very different fromEnglish. Abstraction and logic are not distinguishing marks of the ancient Chineselanguage, hence, it is less rigid than English and there are very few formal or grammaticalstructures. The classical Chinese word does not stand for a single concrete idea, but itevokes associations of different ideas and things. Quite a few Chinese words can be usedas nouns, adjectives and verbs at the same time. Thus sentences composed of varioussigns have a sort of suggestive power, evoking emotions, ideas and pictures.It is almost impossible to render an ancient Chinese text properly in English withoutlosing some part. Different translations of the Tao Te Ching may appear as completelydifferent texts. In order to understand the original text fully it is helpful to read varioustranslations that consummate each other. The alternative is, of course, to learn Chinese.This document uses the translation of Gia Fu Feng and Jane English.
  3. 3. About Lao TzuNot much is known about Lao Tzu, at least nothing that is certain. Some even doubtwhether he is the author of the Tao Te Ching. However, his name became legendary withthis writing, which also happens to be his only work.Lao Tzu (his name is sometimes written Lao Tse or Lao Zi, and he is also known as Li Erand Lao Dan) was supposedly born in Honan on the 24th of March in the year 604 BC.His name means “old-young” and he has been called the “Old Master”.Lao Tzu was very old, when he rode on a water buffalo to retire in the mountains to aprovince in the western frontiers. There he was approached by a border official namedGuan Yin Zi, who urged the master to write down his teachings so that they might bepassed on. Lao Tzu then retreated into the solitude of the mountain pass, wrote the Tao TeChing, whereupon he went westward and was never seen again.
  4. 4. Yin And YangIn Chinese philosophy, the rhythm of life, which pulsates through the universe, is theaction of complementary principles Yin and Yang. The T’ai-chi T’u diagram (above)illustrates this principle. The symmetrical disposition of the dark Yin and the light Yangsuggests cyclical changes.Yin is the quiet, female, intuitive, receiving force that is associated with earth. The earth isthe source of life; it provides us with what we need to survive. Yang is the strong, male,creative, giving force that is associated with heaven. The heaven above us is always inmotion and brings about change.When Yin reaches its climax, it recedes in favour of Yang, then after Yang reaches itsclimax it recedes in favour of Yin. This is the eternal cycle. The dots inside the white andblack halves indicate that within each is the seed of the other. Yin cannot exist withoutYang and vice versa.The ideal state of things in the physical universe, as well as in the world of humans, is astate of harmony represented by the balance of Yin and Yang in body and mind.Yin Yang- Night, Dark - Traditional - Day, Light - Reformative- Rain, Water, Cold - Valley - Fire, Heat - Mountain- Winter, Autumn - River - Summer, Spring - Desert- Odd Numbers - Curve - Even Numbers - Straight Line- The Moon - Soft - The Sun - Hard- North, West - Solidifying - South, East - Dissolving- Right, Down - Psychological - Left, Up - Physical- Intuition - Astral World - Intellect - Visible World- Passive, Static - Tiger - Active, Dynamic - Dragon- Contraction - Kidneys, Heart - Expansion - Bladder- Decreasing - Liver, Lungs - Increasing - Intestines, Skin- Conservative - Innovative
  5. 5. The TranslationOf all the English translations of the Tao Te Ching, one had to be chosen This wasn’t an easy task. There are many websites that presentvarious translations side by side, which is great for comparative studies. Clearly, theavailable translations have different objectives and thus different strengths andweaknesses.Some are very literal and helpful in the understanding of the original Chinese text,but weaker on the literary side. Others are scholarly and heavily commented; andagain others are concise and poetic. There were two favourites: the translation of GiaFu Feng & Jane English and that of Tolbert McCarroll.The Feng & English translation has almost become a classic by now. It is conspicuousfor its poetic, evocative style and it conveys Lao Tzu’s own style in a succinct yetelegant language.Tao Te Ching, Page 5
  6. 6. Therefore the sage goes about doing nothing, teaching no-talking. The ten thousand things rise and fall without cease, Creating, yet not possessing. Working, yet not taking credit. Work is done, then forgotten. Therefore it lasts forever. 3 Not exalting the gifted prevents quarreling.1 Not collecting treasures prevents stealing.The Tao that can be told is not the Not seeing desirable things preventseternal Tao. confusion of the heart.The name that can be named is not theeternal name. The wise therefore rule by emptying hearts and stuffing bellies, byThe nameless is the beginning of weakening ambitions andheaven and Earth. strengthening bones.The named is the mother of the tenthousand things. If men lack knowledge and desire, then clever people will not try to interfere.Ever desireless, one can see themystery. If nothing is done, then all will be well.Ever desiring, one sees themanifestations. 4These two spring from the same source The Tao is an empty vessel; it is used,but differ in name; this appears as but never filled.darkness. Oh, unfathomable source of ten thousand things!Darkness within darkness. Blunt the sharpness,The gate to all mystery. Untangle the knot, Soften the glare,2 Merge with dust. Oh, hidden deep but ever present!Under heaven all can see beauty as I do not know from whence it only because there is ugliness. It is the forefather of the gods.All can know good as good onlybecause there is evil. 5Therefore having and not having arise Heaven and Earth are impartial;together. They see the ten thousand things asDifficult and easy complement each straw dogs.other. The wise are impartial;Long and short contrast each other: They see the people as straw dogs.High and low rest upon each other;Voice and sound harmonize each The space between heaven and Earthother; is like a bellows.Front and back follow one another. The shape changes but not the form; The more it moves, the more it yields.Tao Te Ching, Page 6
  7. 7. More words count less. In action, be aware of the time and theHold fast to the center. season. No fight: No blame. 9 Better to stop short than fill to the brim. Oversharpen the blade, and the edge will soon blunt. Amass a store of gold and jade, and no one can protect it. Claim wealth and titles, and disaster will follow. Retire when the work is done. This is the way of heaven.6 10The valley spirit never dies;It is the woman, primal mother. Carrying body and soul and embracingHer gateway is the root of heaven and the one,Earth. Can you avoid separation?It is like a veil barely seen. Attending fully and becoming supple,Use it; it will never fail. Can you be as a newborn babe? Washing and cleansing the primal7 vision, Can you be without stain?Heaven and Earth last forever. Loving all men and ruling the country,Why do heaven and Earth last forever? Can you be without cleverness?They are unborn, Opening and closing the gates ofSo ever living. heaven,The sage stays behind, thus he is Can you play the role of woman?ahead. Understanding and being open to allHe is detached, thus at one with all. things,Through selfless action, he attains Are you able to do nothing?fulfillment. Giving birth and nourishing, Bearing yet not possessing,8 Working yet not taking credit, Leading yet not dominating,The highest good is like water. This is the Primal Virtue.Water gives life to the ten thousandthings and does not strive. 11It flows in places men reject and so islike the Tao. Thirty spokes share the wheels hub; It is the center hole that makes itIn dwelling, be close to the land. useful.In meditation, go deep in the heart. Shape clay into a vessel;In dealing with others, be gentle and It is the space within that makes itkind. useful.In speech, be true. Cut doors and windows for a room;In ruling, be just. It is the holes which make it useful.In daily life, be competent. Therefore benefit comes from what is there;Tao Te Ching, Page 7
  8. 8. Usefulness from what is not there. 14 Look, it cannot be seen - it is beyond form. Listen, it cannot be heard - it is beyond sound. Grasp, it cannot be held - it is intangible. These three are indefinable; Therefore they are joined in one. From above it is not bright; From below it is not dark: An unbroken thread beyond description. It returns to nothingness.12 The form of the formless, The image of the imageless,The five colors blind the eye. It is called indefinable and beyondThe five tones deafen the ear. imagination.The five flavors dull the taste.Racing and hunting madden the mind. Stand before it and there is noPrecious things lead one astray. beginning. Follow it and there is no end.Therefore the sage is guided by what Stay with the ancient Tao,he feels and not by what he sees. Move with the present.He lets go of that and chooses this. Knowing the ancient beginning is the13 essence of Tao.Accept disgrace willingly. 15Accept misfortune as the humancondition. The ancient masters were subtle, mysterious, profound, responsive.What do you mean by "Accept disgrace The depth of their knowledge iswillingly"? unfathomable.Accept being unimportant. Because it is unfathomable,Do not be concerned with loss or gain. All we can do is describe theirThis is called "accepting disgrace appearance.willingly." Watchful, like men crossing a winter stream.What do you mean by "Accept Alert, like men aware of danger.misfortune as the human condition"? Courteous, like visiting guests.Misfortune comes from having a body. Yielding like ice about to melt.Without a body, how could there be Simple, like uncarved blocks of wood.misfortune? Hollow, like caves. Opaque, like muddy pools.Surrender yourself humbly; then youcan be trusted to care for all things. Who can wait quietly while the mudLove the world as your own self; then settles?you can truly care for all things. Who can remain still until the moment of action? Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfillment.Tao Te Ching, Page 8
  9. 9. Not seeking fulfillment, they are not When actions are performedswayed by desire for change. Without unnecessary speech, People say, "We did it!" 18 When the great Tao is forgotten, Kindness and morality arise. When wisdom and intelligence are born, The great pretense begins. When there is no peace within the family, Filial piety and devotion arise. When the country is confused and in chaos,16 Loyal ministers appear.Empty yourself of everything. 19Let the mind become still.The ten thousand things rise and fall Give up sainthood, renounce wisdom,while the Self watches their return. And it will be a hundred times betterThey grow and flourish and then for everyone.return to the source.Returning to the source is stillness, Give up kindness, renounce morality,which is the way of nature. And men will rediscover filial piety andThe way of nature is unchanging. love.Knowing constancy is insight.Not knowing constancy leads to Give up ingenuity, renounce profit,disaster. And bandits and thieves willKnowing constancy, the mind is open. disappear.With an open mind, you will beopenhearted. These three are outward forms alone;Being openhearted, you will act they are not sufficient in themselves.royally. It is more importantBeing royal, you will attain the divine. To see the simplicity,Being divine, you will be at one with To realize ones true nature,the Tao. To cast off selfishnessBeing at one with the Tao is eternal. And temper desire.And though the body dies, the Tao willnever pass away. 2017 Give up learning, and put an end to your troubles.The very highest if barely known.Then comes that which people know Is there a difference between yes andand love. no?Then that which is feared, Is there a difference between good andThen that which is despised. evil? Must I fear what others fear? WhatWho does not trust enough will not be nonsense!trusted. Other people are contented, enjoying the sacrificial feast of the ox.Tao Te Ching, Page 9
  10. 10. In spring some go to the park, and 22climb the terrace,But I alone am drifting, not knowing Yield and overcome;where I am. Bend and be straight;Like a newborn babe before it learns to Empty and be full;smile, Wear out and be new;I am alone, without a place to go. Have little and gain;Others have more than they need, but I Have much and be confused.alone have nothing.I am a fool. Oh, yes! I am confused. Therefore the wise embrace the oneOthers are clear and bright, And set an example to all.But I alone am dim and weak. Not putting on a display,Others are sharp and clever, They shine forth.But I alone am dull and stupid. Not justifying themselves,Oh, I drift like the waves of the sea, They are distinguished.Without direction, like the restless Not boasting,wind. They receive recognition.Everyone else is busy, Not bragging,But I alone am aimless and depressed. They never falter.I am different. They do not quarrel,I am nourished by the great mother. So no one quarrels with them. Therefore the ancients say, "Yield and overcome." Is that an empty saying? Be really whole, And all things will come to you. 23 To talk little is natural. High winds do not last all morning. Heavy rain does not last all day. Why is this? Heaven and Earth! If heaven and Earth cannot make things eternal,21 How is it possible for man? He who follows the TaoThe greatest Virtue is to follow Tao Is at one with the Tao.and Tao alone. He who is virtuousThe Tao is elusive and intangible. Experiences Virtue.Oh, it is intangible and elusive, and yet He who loses the waywithin is image. Is lost.Oh, it is elusive and intangible, and yet When you are at one with the Tao,within is form. The Tao welcomes you.Oh, it is dim and dark, and yet within When you are at one with Virtue,is essence. The Virtue is always there.This essence is very real, and therein When you are at one with loss,lies faith. The loss is experienced willingly.From the very beginning until now itsname has never been forgotten. He who does not trust enoughThus I perceive the creation. Will not be trusted.How do I know the ways of creation?Because of this.Tao Te Ching, Page 10
  11. 11. And the king is one of them. Man follows Earth. Earth follows heaven. Heaven follows the Tao. Tao follows what is natural. 26 The heavy is the root of the light. The still is the master of unrest. Therefore the sage, traveling all day,24 Does not lose sight of his baggage. Though there are beautiful things to beHe who stands on tiptoe is not steady. seen,He who strides cannot maintain the He remains unattached and calm.pace.He who makes a show is not Why should the lord of ten thousandenlightened. chariots act lightly in public?He who is self-righteous is not To be light is to lose ones root.respected. To be restless is to lose ones control.He who boasts achieves nothing.He who brags will not endure. 27According to followers of the Tao,"These are extra food and unnecessary A good walker leaves no tracks;luggage." A good speaker makes no slips;They do not bring happiness. A good reckoner needs no tally.therefore followers of the Tao avoid A good door needs no lock,them. Yet no one can open it. Good binding requires no knots,25 Yet no one can loosen it.Something mysteriously formed, Therefore the sage takes care of allBorn before heaven and Earth. menIn the silence and the void, And abandons no one.Standing alone and unchanging, He takes care of all thingsEver present and in motion. And abandons nothing.Perhaps it is the mother of tenthousand things. This is called "following the light."I do not know its nameCall it Tao. What is a good man?For lack of a better word, I call it great. A teacher of a bad man. What is a bad man?Being great, it flows A good mans charge.I flows far away. If the teacher is not respected,Having gone far, it returns. And the student not cared for, Confusion will arise, however cleverTherefore, "Tao is great; one is.Heaven is great; This is the crux of mystery.Earth is great;The king is also great." 28These are the four great powers of theuniverse, Know the strength of man,Tao Te Ching, Page 11
  12. 12. But keep a womans care! Sometimes breathing is hard,Be the stream of the universe! sometimes it comes easily;Being the stream of the universe, Sometimes there is strength andEver true and unswerving, sometimes weakness;Become as a little child once more. Sometimes one is up and sometimes down.Know the white,But keep the black! Therefore the sage avoids extremes,Be an example to the world! excesses, and complacency.Being an example to the world,Ever true and unwavering, 30Return to the infinite. Whenever you advise a ruler in the wayKnow honor, of Tao,Yet keep humility. Counsel him not to use force toBe the valley of the universe! conquer the universe.Being the valley of the universe, For this would only cause resistance.Ever true and resourceful, Thorn bushes spring up wherever theReturn to the state of the uncarved army has passed.block. Lean years follow in the wake of a great war.When the block is carved, it becomes Just do what needs to be done.useful. Never take advantage of power.When the sage uses it, he becomes theruler. Achieve results,Thus, "A great tailor cuts little." But never glory in them. Achieve results, But never boast. Achieve results, But never be proud. Achieve results, Because this is the natural way. Achieve results, But not through violence. Force is followed by loss of strength. This is not the way of Tao. That which goes against the Tao comes to an early end.29 31Do you think you can take over the Good weapons are instruments of fear;universe and improve it? all creatures hate them.I do not believe it can be done. Therefore followers of Tao never use them.The universe is sacred. The wise man prefers the left.You cannot improve it. The man of war prefers the right.If you try to change it, you will ruin it.If you try to hold it, you will lose it. Weapons are instruments of fear; they are not a wise mans tools.So sometimes things are ahead and He uses them only when he has nosometimes they are behind; choice. Peace and quiet are dear to his heart,Tao Te Ching, Page 12
  13. 13. And victory no cause for rejoicing. 33If you rejoice in victory, then youdelight in killing; Knowing others is wisdom;If you delight in killing, you cannot Knowing the self is enlightenment.fulfill yourself. Mastering others requires force; Mastering the self needs strength.On happy occasions precedence isgiven to the left, He who knows he has enough is rich.On sad occasions to the right. Perseverance is a sign of willpower.In the army the general stands on the He who stays where he is endures.left, To die but not to perish is to beThe commander-in-chief on the right. eternally present.This means that war is conducted likea funeral. 34When many people are being killed,They should be mourned in heartfelt The great Tao flows everywhere,sorrow. both to the left and to the right.That is why a victory must be observed The ten thousand things depend uponlike a funeral. it; it holds nothing back. It fulfills its purpose silently and makes no claim. It nourishes the ten thousand things, And yet is not their lord. It has no aim; it is very small. The ten thousand things return to it, Yet it is not their lord. It is very great. It does not show greatness, And is therefore truly great.32 35The Tao is forever undefined.Small though it is in the unformed All men will come to him who keeps tostate, it cannot be grasped. the one,If kings and lords could harness it, For there lie rest and happiness andThe ten thousand things would come peace.togetherAnd gentle rain fall. Passersby may stop for music andMen would need no more instruction good food,and all things would take their course. But a description of the Tao Seems without substance or flavor.Once the whole is divided, the parts It cannot be seen, it cannot be heard,need names. And yet it cannot be exhausted.There are already enough names.One must know when to stop. 36Knowing when to stop averts trouble.Tao in the world is like a river flowing That which shrinkshome to the sea. Must first expand. That which fails Must first be strong.Tao Te Ching, Page 13
  14. 14. That which is cast downMust first be raised. When a truly kind man doesBefore receiving something, he leaves nothing undone.There must be giving. When a just man does something, he leaves a great deal to be done.This is called perception of the nature When a disciplinarian does somethingof things. and no one responds,Soft and weak overcome hard and He rolls up his sleeves in an attempt tostrong. enforce order.Fish cannot leave deep waters, Therefore when Tao is lost, there isAnd a countrys weapons should not be goodness.displayed. When goodness is lost, there is kindness.37 When kindness is lost, there is justice. When justice is lost, there ritual.Tao abides in non-action, Now ritual is the husk of faith andYet nothing is left undone. loyalty, the beginning of confusion.If kings and lords observed this, Knowledge of the future is only aThe ten thousand things would flowery trapping of Tao.develop naturally. It is the beginning of folly.If they still desired to act,They would return to the simplicity of Therefore the truly great man dwellsformless substance. on what is real and not what is on theWithout for there is no desire. surface,Without desire there is. On the fruit and not the flower.And in this way all things would be at Therefore accept the one and reject thepeace. other. 39 These things from ancient times arise from one: The sky is whole and clear. The earth is whole and firm. The spirit is whole and strong. The valley is whole and full. The ten thousand things are whole and alive. Kings and lords are whole, and the country is upright. All these are in virtue of wholeness.38 The clarity of the sky prevents itsA truly good man is not aware of his falling.goodness, The firmness of the earth prevents itsAnd is therefore good. splitting.A foolish man tries to be good, The strength of the spirit prevents itsAnd is therefore not good. being used up. The fullness of the valley prevents itsA truly good man does nothing, running dry.Yet leaves nothing undone. The growth of the ten thousand thingsA foolish man is always doing, prevents their drying out.Yet much remains to be done.Tao Te Ching, Page 14
  15. 15. The leadership of kings and lords A wealth of Virtue seems inadequate;prevents the downfall of the country. The strength of Virtue seems frail; Real Virtue seems unreal;Therefore the humble is the root of the The perfect square has no corners;noble. Great talents ripen late;The low is the foundation of the high. The highest notes are hard to hear;Princes and lords consider themselves The greatest form has no shape;"orphaned", "widowed" and The Tao is hidden and without name."worthless". The Tao alone nourishes and bringsDo they not depend on being humble? everything to fulfillment.Too much success is not an advantage. 42Do not tinkle like jadeOr clatter like stone chimes. The Tao begot one. One begot two. Two begot three. And three begot the ten thousand things. The ten thousand things carry yin and embrace yang. They achieve harmony by combining these forces. Men hate to be "orphaned," "widowed," or "worthless," But this is how kings and lords describe themselves.40 For one gains by losing And loses by gaining.Returning is the motion of the Tao.Yielding is the way of the Tao. What others teach, I also teach; that is:The ten thousand things are born of "A violent man will die a violentbeing. death!"Being is born of not being. This will be the essence of my teaching.41 43The wise student hears of the Tao andpractices it diligently. The softest thing in the universeThe average student hears of the Tao Overcomes the hardest thing in theand gives it thought now and again. universe.The foolish student hears of the Tao That without substance can enterand laughs aloud. where there is no room.If there were no laughter, the Tao Hence I know the value of non-action.would not be what it is. Teaching without words and workHence it is said: without doingThe bright path seems dim; Are understood by very few.Going forward seems like retreat;The easy way seems hard;The highest Virtue seems empty;Great purity seems sullied;Tao Te Ching, Page 15
  16. 16. There is no greater sin than desire, No greater curse than discontent, No greater misfortune than wanting something for oneself. Therefore he who knows that enough is enough will always have enough. 47 Without going outside, you may know the whole world. Without looking through the window,44 you may see the ways of heaven. The farther you go, the less you know.Fame or self: Which matters more?Self or wealth: Which is more Thus the sage knows without traveling;precious? He sees without looking;Gain or loss: Which is more painful? He works without doing.He who is attached to things will suffer 48much.He who saves will suffer heavy loss. In the pursuit of learning, every dayA contented man is never something is acquired.disappointed. In the pursuit of Tao, every dayHe who knows when to stop does not something is dropped.find himself in trouble.He will stay forever safe. Less and less is done Until non-action is achieved.45 When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.Great accomplishment seemsimperfect, The world is ruled by letting thingsYet it does not outlive its usefulness. take their course.Great fullness seems empty, It cannot be ruled by interfering.Yet cannot be exhausted. 49Great straightness seems twisted.Great intelligence seems stupid. The sage has no mind of his own.Great eloquence seems awkward. He is aware of the needs of others.Movement overcomes cold. I am good to people who are good.Stillness overcomes heat. I am also good to people who are notStillness and tranquility set things in good.order in the universe. Because Virtue is goodness. I have faith in people who are faithful.46 I also have faith in people who are not faithful.When the Tao is present in the Because Virtue is faithfulness.universe,The horses haul manure. The sage is shy and humble - to theWhen the Tao is absent from the world he seems confusing.universe, Others look to him and listen.War horses are bred outside the city. He behaves like a little child.Tao Te Ching, Page 16
  17. 17. Doing without taking credit, Guiding without interfering, This is Primal Virtue. 52 The beginning of the universe Is the mother of all things. Knowing the mother, on also knows the sons. Knowing the sons, yet remaining in touch with the mother, Brings freedom from the fear of death.50 Keep your mouth shut,Between birth and death, Guard the senses,Three in ten are followers of life, And life is ever full.Three in ten are followers of death, Open your mouth,And men just passing from birth to Always be busy,death also number three in ten. And life is beyond hope.Why is this so?Because they live their lives on the Seeing the small is insight;gross level. Yielding to force is strength. Using the outer light, return to insight,He who knows how to live can walk And in this way be saved from harm.abroad This is learning constancy.Without fear of rhinoceros or tiger.He will not be wounded in battle. 53For in him rhinoceroses can find noplace to thrust their horn, If I have even just a little sense,Tigers no place to use their claws, I will walk on the main road and myAnd weapons no place to pierce. only fearWhy is this so? will be of straying from it.Because he has no place for death to Keeping to the main road is easy,enter. But people love to be sidetracked.51 When the court is arrayed in splendor, The fields are full of weeds,All things arise from Tao. And the granaries are bare.They are nourished by Virtue. Some wear gorgeous clothes,They are formed from matter. Carry sharp swords,They are shaped by environment. And indulge themselves with food andThus the ten thousand things all drink;respect Tao and honor Virtue. They have more possessions than theyRespect of Tao and honor of Virtue are can use.not demanded, They are robber barons.But they are in the nature of things. This is certainly not the way of Tao.Therefore all things arise from Tao.By Virtue they are nourished,Developed, cared for,Sheltered, comforted,Grown, and protected.Creating without claiming,Tao Te Ching, Page 17
  18. 18. He has not experienced the union of man and woman, but is whole. His manhood is strong. He screams all day without becoming hoarse. This is perfect harmony. Knowing harmony is constancy. Knowing constancy is enlightenment. It is not wise to rush about. Controlling the breath causes strain. If too much energy is used, exhaustion54 follows. This is not the way of Tao.What is firmly established cannot be Whatever is contrary to Tao will notuprooted. last long.What is firmly grasped cannot slipaway. 56It will be honored from generation togeneration. Those who know do not talk. Those who talk do not know.Cultivate Virtue in your self,And Virtue will be real. Keep your mouth closed.Cultivate it in the family, Guard your senses.And Virtue will abound. Temper your sharpness.Cultivate it in the village, Simplify your problems.And Virtue will grow. Mask your brightness.Cultivate it in the nation, Be at one with the dust of the Earth.And Virtue will be abundant. This is primal union.Cultivate it in the universe,And Virtue will be everywhere. He who has achieved this state Is unconcerned with friends andTherefore look at the body as body; enemies,Look at the family as family; With good and harm, with honor andLook at the village as village; disgrace.Look at the nation as nation; This therefore is the highest state ofLook at the universe as universe. man.How do I know the universe is like 57this?By looking! Rule a nation with justice. Wage war with surprise moves.55 Become master of the universe without striving.He who is filled with Virtue is like a How do I know that this is so?newborn child. Because of this!Wasps and serpents will not sting him;Wild beasts will not pounce upon him; The more laws and restrictions thereHe will not be attacked by birds of are,prey. The poorer people become.His bones are soft, his muscles weak, The sharper mens weapons,But his grip is firm. The more trouble in the land.Tao Te Ching, Page 18
  19. 19. The more ingenious and clever men 59are,The more strange things happen. In caring for others and servingThe more rules and regulations, heaven,The more thieves and robbers. There is nothing like using restraint. Restraint begins with giving up onesTherefore the sage says: own ideas.I take no action and people are This depends on Virtue gathered in thereformed. past.I enjoy peace and people become If there is a good store of Virtue, thenhonest. nothing is impossible.I do nothing and people become rich. If nothing is impossible, then there areI have no desires and people return to no limits.the good and simple life. If a man knows no limits, then he is fit to be a ruler. The mother principle of ruling holds good for a long time. This is called having deep roots and a firm foundation, The Tao of long life and eternal vision. 60 Ruling the country is like cooking a small fish. Approach the universe with Tao, And evil is not powerful, But its power will not be used to harm58 others. Not only will it do no harm to others,When the country is ruled with a light But the sage himself will also behand protected.The people are simple. They do not hurt each other,When the country is ruled with And the Virtue in each one refreshesseverity, both.The people are cunning. 61Happiness is rooted in misery.Misery lurks beneath happiness. A great country is like low land.Who knows what the future holds? It is the meeting ground of theThere is no honesty. universe,Honesty becomes dishonest. The mother of the universe.Goodness becomes witchcraft.Mans bewitchment lasts for a long The female overcomes the male withtime. stillness, Lying low in stillness.Therefore the sage is sharp but notcutting, Therefore if a great country gives wayPointed but not piercing, to a smaller country,Straightforward but not unrestrained, It will conquer the smaller country.Brilliant but not blinding. And if a small country submits to a great country, It can conquer the great country.Tao Te Ching, Page 19
  20. 20. Therefore those who would conquer Achieve greatness in little things.must yield,And those who conquer do so because In the universe the difficult things arethey yield. done as if they are easy. In the universe great acts are made upA great nation needs more people; of small deeds.A small country needs to serve. The sage does not attempt anythingEach gets what it wants. very big,It is fitting for a great nation to yield. And thus achieved greatness. Easy promises make for little trust. Taking things lightly results in great difficulty. Because the sage always confronts difficulties, He never experiences them. 64 Peace is easily maintained; Trouble is easily overcome before it starts. The brittle is easily shattered;62 The small is easily scattered.Tao is source of the ten thousand Deal with it before it happens.things. Set things in order before there isIt is the treasure of the good man, and confusion.the refuge of the bad.Sweet words can buy honor; A tree as great as a mans embraceGood deeds can gain respect. springs up from a small shoot;If a man is bad, do not abandon him. A terrace nine stories high begins withTherefore on the day the emperor is a pile of earth;crowned, A journey of a thousand miles startsOr the three officers of state installed, under ones feet.Do not send a gift of jade and a team offour horses, He who acts defeats his own purpose;But remain still and offer the Tao. He who grasps loses.Why does everyone like the Tao so The sage does not act, and so is notmuch at first? defeated.Isnt it because you find what you seek He does not grasp and therefore doesand are forgiven when you sin? not lose.Therefore this is the greatest treasureof the universe. People usually fail when they are on the verge of success.63 So give as much care to the end as to the beginning;Practice non-action. Then there will be no failure.Work without doing.Taste the tasteless. Therefore the sage seeks freedom fromMagnify the small, increase the few. desire.Reward bitterness with care. He does not collect precious things. He learns not to hold on to ideas.See simplicity in the complicated.Tao Te Ching, Page 20
  21. 21. He brings men back to what they havelost. Because he does not compete,He help the ten thousand things find He does not meet competition.their own nature,But refrains from action. 67 Everyone under heaven says that my Tao is great and beyond compare. Because it is great, it seems different. If it were not different, it would have vanished long ago. I have three treasures which I hold and keep. The first is mercy; the second is economy; The third is daring not to be ahead of others. From mercy comes courage; from65 economy comes generosity; From humility comes leadership.In the beginning those who knew theTao did not try to enlighten others, Nowadays men shun mercy, but try toBut kept it hidden. be brave;Why is it so hard to rule? They abandon economy, but try to beBecause people are so clever. generous;Rulers who try to use cleverness They do not believe in humility, butCheat the country. always try to be first.Those who rule without cleverness This is certain death.Are a blessing to the land.These are the two alternatives. Mercy brings victory in battle andUnderstanding these is Primal Virtue. strength in defense.Primal Virtue is deep and far. It is the means by which heaven savesIt leads all things back and guards.Toward the great oneness. 6866 A good soldier is not violent.Why is the sea king of a hundred A good fighter is not angry.streams? A good winner is not vengefulBecause it lies below them. A good employer is humble.Therefore it is the king of a hundred This is known as the Virtue of notstreams. striving. This is known as ability to deal withIf the sage would guide the people, he people.must serve with humility. This since ancient times has beenIf he would lead them, he must follow known as the ultimate unity withbehind. heaven.In this way when the sage rules, thepeople will not feel oppressed;When he stands before them, they willnot be harmed.The whole world will support him andwill not tire of him.Tao Te Ching, Page 21
  22. 22. 69 71There is a saying among soldiers:I dare not make the first move but Knowing ignorance is strength.would rather play the guest; Ignoring knowledge is sickness.I dare not advance and inch but wouldrather withdraw a foot. If one is sick of sickness, then one is not sick.This is called marching without The sage is not sick because he is sickappearing to move, of sickness.Rolling up your sleeves without Therefore he is not sick.showing your arm,Capturing the enemy without 72attacking,Being armed without weapons. When men lack a sense of awe, there will be disaster.There is no greater catastrophe thanunderestimating the enemy. Do not intrude in their homes.By underestimating the enemy, I Do not harass them at work.almost lost what I value. If you do not interfere, they will not weary of you.Therefore when the battle is joined,The underdog will win. Therefore the sage knows himself but makes no show, Has self-respect but is not arrogant. He lets go of that and chooses this. 73 A brave and passionate man will kill or be killed. A brave and calm man will always preserve life. Of these two which is good and which is harmful? Some things are not favored by heaven. Who knows why?70 Even the sage is unsure of this.My words are easy to understand and The Tao of heaven does not strive, andeasy to perform, yet it overcomes.Yet no man under heaven knows them It does not speak, and yet is answered.or practices them. It does not ask, yet is supplied with all its needs.My words have ancient beginnings. It seems to have no aim and yet itsMy actions are disciplined. purpose is fulfilled.Because men do not understand, theyhave no knowledge of me. Heavens net casts wide. Though its meshes are course, nothingThose that know me are few; slips through.Those that abuse me are honored.Therefore the sage wears roughclothing and holds the jewel in hisheart.Tao Te Ching, Page 22
  23. 23. 76 A man is born gentle and weak. At his death he is hard and stiff. Green plants are tender and filled with sap. At their death they are withered and dry. Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death. The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.74 Thus an army without flexibility neverIf men are not afraid to die, wins a battle.It is no avail to threaten them with A tree that is unbending is easilydeath. broken.If men live in constant fear of dying, The hard and strong will fall.And if breaking the law means that a The soft and weak will will be killed,Who will dare to break the law? 77There is always an official executioner. The Tao of heaven is like the bendingIf you try to take his place, of a bow.It is like trying to be a master The high is lowered, and the low iscarpenter and cutting wood. raised.If you try to cut wood like a master If the string is too long, it is shortened;carpenter, you will only hurt your If there is not enough, it is madehand. longer.75 The Tao of heaven is to take from those who have too much and give toWhy are the people starving? those who do not have enough.Because the rulers eat up the money in Mans way is different.taxes. He takes from those who do not haveTherefore the people are starving. enough and give to those who already have too much.Why are the people rebellious? What man has more than enough andBecause the rulers interfere too much. gives it to the world?Therefore they are rebellious. Only the man of Tao.Why do the people think so little of Therefore the sage works withoutdeath? recognition.Because the rulers demand too much He achieves what has to be doneof life. without dwelling on it.Therefore the people take death He does not try to show his knowledge.lightly.Having little to live on, one knowsbetter than to value life too much.Tao Te Ching, Page 23
  24. 24. The people take death seriously and do not travel far. Though they have boats and carriages, no one uses them. Though they have armor and weapons, no one displays them. Men return to the knotting of rope in place of writing. Their food is plain and good, their clothes fine but simple, their homes secure; They are happy in their ways. Though they live within sight of their78 neighbors, And crowing cocks and barking dogsUnder heaven nothing is more soft and are heard across the way,yielding than water. Yet they leave each other in peaceYet for attacking the solid and strong, while they grow old and die.nothing is better;It has no equal. 81The weak can overcome the strong;The supple can overcome the stiff. Truthful words are not beautiful.Under heaven everyone knows this, Beautiful words are not truthful.Yet no one puts it into practice. Good men do not argue.Therefore the sage says: Those who argue are not good.He who takes upon himself the Those who know are not learned.humiliation of the people is fit to rule The learned do not know.them.He who takes upon himself the The sage never tries to store things up.countrys disasters deserves to be king The more he does for others, the moreof the universe. he has.The truth often sounds paradoxical. The more he gives to others, the greater his abundance.79 The Tao of heaven is pointed but does no harm.After a bitter quarrel, some resentment The Tao of the sage is work withoutmust remain. effort.What can one do about it?Therefore the sage keeps his half of thebargainBut does not exact his due.A man of Virtue performs his part,But a man without Virtue requiresothers to fulfill their obligations.The Tao of heaven is impartial.It stays with good men all the time.80A small country has fewer people.Though there are machines that canwork ten to a hundred times fasterthan man, they are not needed.Tao Te Ching, Page 24