Side-by-side Tao Te Ching Translations in Parallel Columns

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1 1
The way that can be spoken of
Is not the constant way;
The name that can be named
Is not the constant name.
The nameless was the beginning of heaven and earth;
The named was the mother of the myriad creatures. Hence always rid yourself of desires in order to observe its secrets;
But always allow yourself to have desires in order to observe its manifestations. These two are the same
But diverge in name as they issue forth.
Being the same they are called mysteries,
Mystery upon mystery -
The gateway of the manifold secrets.
1. As for the Way, the Way that can be spoken of is not the constant Way;
2. As for names, the name that can be named is not the constant name.
3. The nameless is the beginning of the ten thousand things;
4. The named is the mother of the ten thousand things.

5. Therefore, those constantly without desires, by this means will perceive its subtlety.
6. Those constantly with desires, by this means will see only that which they yearn for and seek.

7. These two together emerge;
8. They have different names yet they're called the same;
9. That which is even more profound than the profound—
10. The gateway of all subtleties.
2 top2 top
The whole world recognizes the beautiful as the beautiful, yet this is only the ugly;
the whole world recognizes the good as the good, yet this is only the bad. Thus Something and Nothing produce each other;
The difficult and the easy complement each other;
The long and the short off-set each other;
The high and the low incline towards each other;
Note and sound harmonize with each other;
Before and after follow each other. Therefore the sage keeps to the deed that consists in taking no action and practises the teaching that uses no words. The myriad creatures rise from it yet it claims no authority;
It gives them life yet claims no possession;
It benefits them yet exacts no gratitude;
It accomplishes its task yet lays claim to no merit. It is because it lays claim to no merit
That its merit never deserts it.
1. When everyone in the world knows the beautiful as beautiful, ugliness comes into being;
2. When everyone knows the good, then the not good comes to be.
3. The mutual production of being and nonbeing,
4. The mutual completion of difficult and easy,
5. The mutual formation of long and short,
6. The mutual filling of high and low,
7. The mutual harmony of tone and voice,
8. The mutual following of front and back—
9. These are all constants.

10. Therefore the Sage dwells in nonactive affairs and practices the wordless teaching.
11. The ten thousand things arise, but he doesn't begin them;
12. He acts on their behalf, but he doesn't make them dependent;
13. He accomplishes his tasks, but he doesn't dwell on them;
14. It is only because he doesn't dwell on them, that they therefore do not leave them.
3 top3 top
Not to honor men of worth will keep the people from contention;
not to value goods which are hard to come by will keep them from theft;
not to display what is desirable will keep them from being unsettled of mind. Therefore in governing the people, the sage empties their minds but fills their bellies, weakens their wills but strengthens their bones.
He always keeps them innocent of knowledge and free from desire, and ensures that the clever never dare to act. Do that which consists in taking no action, and order will prevail.
1. By not elevating the worthy, you bring it about that people will not compete.
2. By not valuing goods that are hard to obtain, you bring it about that people will not act like thieves.
3. By not displaying the desirable you bring it about that people will not be confused.

4. Therefore, in the government of the Sage:
5. He empties their minds,
6. An fills their bellies.
7. Weakens their ambition,
8. And strengthens their bones.

9. He constantly causes the people to be without knowledge and without desires.
10. If he can bring it about that those with knowledge simply do not dare to act,
11. Then there is nothing that will not be in order.
4 top4 top
The way is empty, yet use will not drain it.
Deep, it is like the ancestor of the myriad creatures. Blunt the sharpness;
Untangle the knots;
Soften the glare;
Let your wheels move only along old ruts. Darkly visible, it only seems as if it were there.
I know not whose son it is.
It images the forefather of God.
1. The Way is empty;
2. Yet when you use it, you never need fill it again.
3. Like an abyss! It seems to be the ancestor of the ten thousand things.

4. If files down sharp edges;
5. Unties the tangles;
6. Softens the glare;
7. And settles the dust.

8. Submerged! It seems perhaps to exist.
9. We don't know whose child it is;
10. It seems to have [even] preceded the Lord.
5 top5 top
Heaven and earth are ruthless, and treat the myriad creatures as straw dogs;
the sage is ruthless, and treats the people as straw dogs. Is not the space between heaven and earth like a bellows?
It is empty without being exhausted:
The more it works the more comes out. Much speech leads inevitably to silence.
Better to hold fast to the void.
1. Heaven and Earth are not humane;
2. They regard the the thousand things as straw dogs.
3. The Sage is not humane;
4. He regards the common people as straw dogs.

5. The space between Heaven and Earth—is it not like a bellow?
6. It is empty and yet not depleted;
7. Move it and more [always] comes out.
8. Much learning means frequent exhaustions.
9. That's not so good as holding on to the mean.
6 top6 top
The spirit of the valley never dies.
This is called the mysterious female.
The gateway of the mysterious female
Is called the root of heaven and earth.
Dimly visible, it seems as if it were there,
Yet use will never drain it.
1. The valley spirit never dies;
2. We call it the mysterious female.
3. The gates of the mysterious female—
4. These we call the roots of Heaven and Earth.
5. Subtle yet everlasting! It seems to exist.
6. In being used, it is not exhausted.
7 top7 top
Heaven and earth are enduring.
The reason why heaven and earth can be enduring is that they do not give themselves life.
Hence they are able to be long-lived. Therefore the sage puts his person last and it comes first,
Treats it as extraneous to himself and it is preserved. Is it not because he is without thought of self that he is able to accomplish his private ends?
1. Heaven endures; Earth lasts a long time.
2. The reason why Heaven and Earth can endure and last a long time—
3. Is that they do not live for themselves.
4. Therefore they can long endure.

5. Therefore the Sage:
6. Puts himself in the background yet finds himself in the foreground;
7. Puts self-concern out of [his mind], yet finds self-concern in the fore;
8. Puts self-concern out of [his mind], yet finds that his self-concern is preserved.
9. Is it not because he has no self-interest,
10. That he is therefore able to realize his self-interest?
8 top8 top
Highest good is like water.
Because water excels in benefiting the myriad creatures without contending with them and settles where none would like to be, it comes close to the way.
In a home it is the site that matters;
In quality of mind it is depth that matters;
In an ally it is benevolence that matters;
In speech it is good faith that matters;
In government it is order that matters;
In affairs it is ability that matters;
In action it is timeliness that matters.
It is because it does not contend that it is never at fault.
1. The highest good is like water;
2. Water is good at benefiting the ten thousand things and yet it [does not] compete [with them].
3. It dwells in places the masses of people detest,
4. Therefore it is close to the Way.

5. In dwelling, the good thing is the land;
6. In the mind, the good thing is depth;
7. In giving, the good thing is [being like] Heaven;
8. In speaking, the good thing is sincerity;
9. In governing, the good thing is order;
10. In affairs, the good thing is ability;
11. In activity, the good thing is timeliness.

12. It is only because it does not compete, that therefore it is without fault.
9 top9 top
Rather than fill it to the brim by keeping it upright
Better to have stopped in time;
Hammer it to a point
And the sharpness cannot be preserved for ever;
There may be gold and jade to fill a hall
But there is none who can keep them.
To be overbearing when one has wealth and position
Is to bring calamity upon oneself.
To retire when the task is accomplished
Is the way of heaven.
1. To hold it upright and fill it,
2. Is not so good as stopping [in time].
3. When you pound it out and give it a point,
4. It won't be preserved very long.
5. When gold and jade fill your rooms,
6. You'll never be able to protect them.
7. Arrogance and pride with wealth and rank,
8. On their own bring on disaster.
9. When the deed is accomplished you retire;
10. Such is Heaven's Way!
10 top10 top
When carrying on your head your perplexed bodily soul
Can you embrace in your arms the One and not let go?
In concentrating your breath can you become as supple
As a babe?
Can you polish your mysterious mirror
And leave no blemish?
Can you love the people and govern the state
Without resorting to action?
When the gates of heaven open and shut
Are you capable of keeping to the role of the female?
When your discernment penetrates the four quarters
Are you capable of not knowing anything? It gives them life and rears them. It gives them life yet claims no possession;
It benefits them yet exacts no gratitude;
It is the steward yet exercises no authority.
Such is called the mysterious virtue.
1. In nourishing the soul and embracing the One—can you do it without letting them leave?
2. In concentrating your breath and making it soft—can you [make it like that of] a child?
3. In cultivating and cleaning your profound mirror—can you do it so that it has no blemish?
4. In loving the people and giving life to the state—can you do it without using knowledge?
5. In opening and closing the gates of Heaven—can you play the part of the female?
6. In understanding all within the four reaches—can you do it without using knowledge?

7. Give birth to them and nourish them.
8. Give birth to them but don't try to own them;
9. Help them to grow but don't rule them.
10. This is called Profound Virtue.
11 top11 top
Thirty spokes share one hub.
Adapt the nothing therein to the purpose in hand, and you will have the use of the cart.
Knead clay in order to make a vessel.
Adapt the nothing therein to the purpose in hand, and you will have the use of the vessel.
Cut out doors and windows in order to make a room.
Adapt the nothing therein to the purpose in hand, and you will have the use of the room. Thus what we gain is Something, yet it is by virtue of Nothing that this can be put to use.
1. Thirty spokes unite in one hub;
2. It is precisely where there is nothing, that we find the usefulness of the wheel.
3. We fire clay and make vessels;
4. It is precisely where there's no substance, that we find the usefulness of clay pots.
5. We chisel out doors and windows;
6. It is precisely in these empty spaces, that we find the usefulness of the room.
7. Therefore, we regard having something as beneficial;
8. But having nothing as useful.
12 top12 top
The five colors make man's eyes blind;
The five notes make his ears deaf;
The five tastes injure his palate;
Riding and hunting
Make his mind go wild with excitement;
Goods hard to come by
Serve to hinder his progress. Hence the sage is
For the belly
Not for the eye. Therefore he discards the one and takes the other.
1. The five colors cause one's eyes to go blind.
2. Racing horses and hunting cause one's mind to go mad.
3. Goods that are hard to obtain pose an obstacle to one's travels.
4. The five flavors confuse one's palate.
5. The five tones cause one's ears to go deaf.

6. Therefore, in the government of the Sage:
7. He's for the belly and not for the eyes.
8. Thus he rejects that and take this.
13 top13 top
Favor and disgrace are things that startle;
High rank is, like one's body, a source of great trouble. What is meant by saying favor and disgrace are things that startle?
Favor when it is bestowed on a subject serves to startle as much as when it is withdrawn.
This is what is meant by saying that favor and disgrace are things that startle.
What is meant by saying that high rank is, like one's body, a source of great trouble?
The reason I have great trouble is that I have a body.
When I no longer have a body, what trouble have I? Hence he who values his body more than dominion over the empire can be entrusted with the empire.
He who loves his body more than dominion over the empire can be given the custody of the empire.
1. "Regard favor and disgrace with alarm."
2. "Respect great distress as you do your own person."
3. What do I mean I say "Regard favor and disgrace with alarm"?
4. Favor is inferior.
5. If you get it—be alarmed!
6. If you lose it—be alarmed!
7. This is what I mean when I say "Regard favor and disgrace with alarm."
8. What do I mean when I say "Respect great distress as you do your won person"?
9. The reason why I have distress
10. Is that I have a body.
11. If I had no body, what distress would I have?
12. Therefore, to one who values acting for himself over acting on behalf of the world,
13. You can entrust the world.
14. And to one who in being parsimonious regards his person as equal to the world,
15. You can turn over the world.
14 top14 top
What cannot be seen is called evanescent;
What cannot be heard is called rarefied;
What cannot be touched is called minute. These three cannot be fathomed
And so they are confused and looked upon as one. Its upper part is not dazzling;
Its lower part is not obscure.
Dimly visible, it cannot be named
And returns to that which is without substance.
This is called the shape that has no shape,
The image that is without substance.
This is called indistinct and shadowy.
Go up to it and you will not see its head;
Follow behind it and you will not see its rear. Hold fast to the way of antiquity
In order to keep in control the realm of today.
The ability to know the beginning of antiquity
Is called the thread running through the way.
1. We look at it but do not see it;
2. We name this "the minute."
3. We listen to it but do not hear it;
4. We name this "the rarefied."
5. We touch it but do not hold it;
6. We name this "the level and smooth."

7. These three cannot be examined to the limit.
8. Thus they merge together as one.
9. "One"—there is nothing more encompassing above it,
10. And nothing smaller below it.
11. Boundless, formless! It cannot be named,
12. And returns to the state of no-thing.

13. This is called the formless form,
14. The substanceless image.
15. This is called the subtle and indistinct.
16. Follow it and you won't see its back;
17. Greet it and you won't see its head.
18. Hold on to the Way of the present—
19. To manage the things of the present,
20. And to know the ancient beginning.
21. This is called the beginning of the thread of the Way.
15 top15 top
Of old he who was well versed in the way
Was minutely subtle, mysteriously comprehending,
And too profound to be known.
It is because he could not be known
That he can only be given a makeshift description: Tentative, as if fording a river in winter,
Hesitant, as if in fear of his neighbors;
Formal like a guest;
Falling apart like the thawing ice;
Thick like the uncarved block;
Vacant like a valley;
Murky like muddy water. Who can be muddy and yet, settling, slowly become limpid?
Who can be at rest and yet, stirring, slowly come to life?
He who holds fast to this way
Desires not to be full.
It is because he is not full
That he can be worn and yet newly made.
1. The one who was skilled at practicing the Way in antiquity,
2. Was subtle and profound, mysterious and penetratingly wise.
3. His depth cannot be known.
4. It is only because he cannot be known
5. That therefore were I forced to describe him I'd say:

6. Hesitant was he! Like someone crossing a river in winter.
7. Undecided was he! As though in fear of his neighbors on all four sides.
8. Solemn and polite was he! Like a guest.
9. Scattered and dispersed was he! Like an ice as it melts
10. Genuine, unformed was he! Like uncarved wood.
11. Merged, undifferentiated was he! Like muddy water.
12. Broad and expansive was he! Like a valley.

13. If you take muddy water and still it, it gradually becomes clear.
14. If you bring something to rest in order to move it, it gradually comes alive.
15. The one who preserved this Way does not desire to be full;
16. Therefore he can wear out with no need to be renewed.
16 top16 top
I do my utmost to attain emptiness;
I hold firmly to stillness.
The myriad creatures all rise together
And I watch their return.
The teaming creatures
All return to their separate roots.
Returning to one's roots is known as stillness.
This is what is meant by returning to one's destiny.
Returning to one's destiny is known as the constant.
Knowledge of the constant is known as discernment. Woe to him who wilfully innovates
While ignorant of the constant,
But should one act from knowledge of the constant
One's action will lead to impartiality,
Impartiality to kingliness,
Kingliness to heaven,
Heaven to the way,
The way to perpetuity,
And to the end of one's days one will meet with no danger.
1. Take emptiness to the limit;
2. Maintain tranquility in the center.

3. The ten thousand things—side-by-side they arise;
4. And by this I see their return.
5. Things [come forth] in great numbers;
6. Each one returns to its root.
7. This is called tranquility.
8. "Tranquility"—This means to return to your fate.
9. To return to your fate is to be constant;
10. To know the constant is to be wise.
11. Not to know the constant is to be reckless and wild;
12. If you're reckless and wild, your actions will lead to misfortune.

13. To know the constant is to be all-embracing;
14. To be all-embracing is to be impartial;
15. To be impartial is to be kingly;
16. To be kingly is to be [like] Heaven;
17. To be [like] Heaven is to be [one with] the Dao;
18. If you're [one with] the Dao, to the end of your days you'll suffer no harm.
17 top17 top
The best of all rulers is but a shadowy presence to his subjects.
Next comes the ruler they love and praise;
Next comes one they fear;
Next comes one with whom they take liberties. When there is not enough faith, there is lack of good faith. Hesitant, he does not utter words lightly.
When his task is accomplished and his work done
The people all say, 'It happened to us naturally.'
1. With the highest [kind of rulers], those below simply know they exist.
2. With those one step down—they love and praise them.
3. With those one further step down—they fear them.
4. And with those at the bottom—they ridicule and insult them.

5. When trust is insufficient, there will be no trust [in them].
6. Hesitant, undecided! Like this is his respect for speaking.
18 top18 top
When the great way falls into disuse
There are benevolence and rectitude;
When cleverness emerges
There is great hypocrisy;
When the six relations are at variance
There are filial children;
When the state is benighted
There are loyal ministers.
1. Therefore, when the Great Way is rejected, it is then that we have the virtues of humanity and righteousness;
2. When knowledge and wisdom appear, it is then that there is great hypocrisy;
3. When the six relations are not in harmony, it is then that we have filial piety and compassion;
4. And when the country is in chaos and confusion, it is then that there are virtuous officials.
19 top19 top
Exterminate learning and there will no longer be worries. Exterminate the sage, discard the wise,
And the people will benefit a hundredfold;
Exterminate benevolence, discard rectitude,
And the people will again be filial;
Exterminate ingenuity, discard profit,
And there will be no more thieves and bandits. These three, being false adornments, are not enough
And the people must have something to which they can attach themselves:
Exhibit the unadorned and embrace the uncarved block,
Have little thought of self and as few desires as possible.
1. Eliminate sageliness, throw away knowledge,
2. And the people will benefit a hundredfold.
3. Eliminate humanity, throw away righteousness,
4. And the people will return to filial piety and compassion.
5. Eliminate craftiness, throw away profit,
6. Then we will have no robbers and thieves.

7. These three sayings—
8. Regard as a text are not yet complete.
9. Thus, we must see to it that they have the following appended:

10. Manifest plainness and embrace the genuine;
11. Lessen self-interest and make few your desires;
12. Eliminate learning and have no undue concern.
20 top20 top
Between yea and nay
How much difference is there?
Between good and evil
How great is the distance? What others fear
One must also fear. The multitude are joyous
As if partaking of the offering
Or going up to a terrace in spring.
I alone am inactive and reveal no signs,
And wax without having reached the limit.
Like a baby that has not yet learned to smile,
Listless as though with no home to go back to.
The multitude all have more than enough.
I alone seem to be in want.
My mind is that of a fool - how blank!
Vulgar people are clear.
I alone am drowsy.
Vulgar people are alert.
I alone am muddled.
Calm like the sea;
Like a high wind that never ceases.
The multitude all have a purpose.
I alone am foolish and uncouth.
I alone am different from others
And value being fed by the mother.
1. Agreement and angry rejection;
2. How great is the difference between them?
3. Beautiful and ugly;
4. What's it like—the difference between them?
5. The one who is feared by others,
6. Must also because of this fear other men.
7. Wild, unrestrained! It will never come to an end!

8. The multitudes are peaceful and happy;
9. Like climbing a terrace in springtime to feast at the tai-lao sacrifice.
10. But I'm tranquil and quiet—not yet having given any sign.
11. Like a child who has not yet smiled.
12. Tired and exhausted—as though I have no place to return.
13. The multitudes all have a surplus.
[13a. I alone seem to be lacking.]
14. Mine is the mind of a fool—ignorant and stupid!
15. The common people see things clearly;
16. I alone am in the dark.
17. The common people discriminate and make fine distinctions;
18. I alone am muddled and confused.
19. Formless am I! Like the ocean;
20. Shapeless am I! As though I have nothing in which I can rest.
21. The masses all have their reasons [for acting];
22. I alone am stupid and obstinate like a rustic.
23. But my desires alone differ from those of others—
24. For I value drawing sustenance from the Mother.
21 top21 top
In his every movement a man of great virtue
Follows the way and the way only. As a thing the way is
Shadowy and indistinct.
Indistinct and shadowy,
Yet within it is an image;
Shadowy and indistinct,
Yet within it is a substance.
Dim and dark,
Yet within it is an essence.
This essence is quite genuine
And within it is something that can be tested. From the present back to antiquity,
Its name never deserted it.
It serves as a means for inspecting the fathers of the multitude. How do I know that the fathers of the multitude are like that?
By means of this.
1. The character of great virtue follows alone from the Way.
2. As for the nature of the Way—it's shapeless and formless.
3. Formless! Shapeless! Inside there are images.
4. Shapeless! Formless! Inside there are things.
5. Hidden! Obscure! Inside there are essences.
6. These essences are very real;
7. Inside them is the proof.

8. From the present back to the past,
9. Its name has never gone away.
10. It is by this that we comply with the father of the multitude [of things].
11. How do I know that the father of the multitude is so?
12. By this.
22 top22 top
Bowed down then preserved;
Bent then straight;
Hollow then full;
Worn then new;
A little then benefited;
A lot then perplexed. Therefore the sage embraces the One and is a model for the empire. He does not show himself, and so is conspicuous;
He does not consider himself right, and so is illustrious;
He does not brag, and so has merit;
He does not boast, and so endures. It is because he does not contend that no one in the empire is in a position to contend with him. The way the ancients had it, 'Bowed down then preserved', is no empty saying.
Truly it enables one to be preserved to the end.
1. Bent over, you'll be preserved whole;
2. When twisted, you'll be upright;
3. When hollowed out, you'll be full;
4. When worn out, you'll be renewed;
5. When you have little, you'll attain [much];
6. With much, you'll be confused.

7. Therefore the Sage holds on to the One and in this way becomes the shepherd of the world.
8. He does not show himself off; therefore he becomes prominent.
9. He does not put himself on display; therefore he brightly shines.
10. He does not brag about himself; therefore he receives credit.
11. He does not praise his own deeds; therefore he can long endure.

12. It is only because he does not compete that, therefore, no one is able to compete with him.
13. The so-called "Bent over you'll be preserved whole" of the ancients
14. Was an expression that was really close to it!
15. Truly "wholeness" will belong to him.
23 top23 top
To use words but rarely
Is to be natural. Hence a gusty wind cannot last all morning, and a sudden downpour cannot last all day.
Who is it that produces these? Heaven and earth.
If even heaven and earth cannot go on forever, much less can man.
That is why one follows the way. A man of the way conforms to the way;
A man of virtue conforms to virtue;
A man of loss conforms to loss.
He who conforms to the way is gladly accepted by the way;
He who conforms to virtue is gladly accepted by virtue;
He who conforms to loss is gladly accepted by loss. When there is not enough faith, there is lack of good faith.
1. To rarely speak—such is [the way of] Nature.
2. Fierce winds don't last the whole morning;
3. Torrential rains don't last the whole day.
4. Who makes these things?
5. If even Heaven and Earth can't make these last long—
6. How much the more is this true for man?!

7. Therefore, one who devotes himself to the Way is one with the Way;
8. One who [devotes himself to] Virtue is one with that Virtue;
9. And one who [devotes himself to] losing is one with that loss.
10. To the one who is one with Virtue, the Way also gives Virtue;
11. While for the one who is one with his loss, the Way also disregards him.
24 top24 top
He who tiptoes cannot stand; he who strides cannot walk. He who shows himself is not conspicuous;
He who considers himself right is not illustrious;
He who brags will have no merit;
He who boasts will not endure. From the point of view of the way these are 'excessive food and useless excresences'.
As there are Things that detest them, he who has the way does not abide in them. 
1. One who boasts is not established;
2. One who shows himself off does not become prominent;
3. One who puts himself on display does not brightly shine;
4. One who brags about himself gests no credit;
5. One who praises himself does not long endure.

6. In the Way, such things are called:
7. "Surplus food and redundant action."
8. And with things—there are those who hate them.
9. Therefore, the one with the Way in them does not dwell.
25 top25 top
There is a thing confusedly formed,
Born before heaven and earth.
Silent and void
It stands alone and does not change,
Goes round and does not weary.
It is capable of being the mother of the world.
I know not its name
So I style it 'the way'. I give it the makeshift name of 'the great'.
Being great, it is further described as receding,
Receding, it is described as far away,
Being far away, it is described as turning back. Hence the way is great;
Heaven is great;
Earth is great;
The king is also great.
Within the realm there are four things that are great,
And the king counts as one. Man models himself on earth,
Earth on heaven,
Heaven on the way,
And the way on that which is naturally so.
1. There was something formed out of chaos,
2. That was born before Heaven and Earth.
3. Quiet and Still! Pure and deep!
4. It stands on its own and does not change.
5. It can be regarded as the mother of Heaven and Earth.
6. I do not yet know its name:
7. I "style" it "the Way."
8. Were I forced to give it a name, I would call it "the Great."

9. "Great" means "to depart";
10. "To depart" means "to be far away";
11. And "to be far away" means "to return."

12. The Way is great;
13. Heaven is great;
14. Earth is great;
15. And the king is also great.
16. In the country there are four greats, and the king occupies one place among them.

17. Man models himself on the Earth;
18. The Earth models itself on Heaven;
19. Heaven models itself on the Way;
20. And the Way models itself on that which is so on its own.
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The heavy is the root of the light;
The still is the lord of the restless. Therefore the gentleman when travelling all day
Never lets the heavily laden carts out of his sight.
It is only when he is safely behind walls and watch-towers
That he rests peacefully and is above worries.
How, then, should a ruler of ten thousand chariots
Make light of his own person in the eyes of the empire? If light, then the root is lost;
If restless, then the lord is lost.
1. The heavy is the root of the light;
2. Tranquility is the loard of agitation.

3. Therefore the gentleman, in traveling all day, does not get far away from his luggage carts.
4. When he's safely inside a walled-in [protected] hostel and resting at ease—only then does he transcend all concern.
5. How can the king of ten thousand chariots treat his own person more lightly than the whole world?!

6. If you regard things too lightly, then you lose the basic;
7. If you're agitated, you lose the "lord."
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One who excels in travelling leaves no wheel tracks;
One who excels in speech makes no slips;
One who excels in reckoning uses no counting rods;
One who excels in shutting uses no bolts yet what he has shut cannot be opened.
One who excels in tying uses no cords yet what he has tied cannot be undone. Therefore the sage always excels in saving people, and so abandons no one;
Always excels in saving things, and so abandons nothing. This is called following one's discernment. Hence the good man is the teacher the bad learns from;
And the bad man is the material the good works on.
Not to value the teacher
Nor to love the material
Though it seems clever, betrays great bewilderment. This is called the essential and the secret.
1. The good traveler leaves no track behind;
2. The good speaker [speaks] without blemish or flaw;
3. The good counter doesn't use tallies or chips;
4. The good closer of doors does so without bolt or lock, and yet the door cannot be opened;
5. The good tier of knots ties without rope or cord, yet his knots can't be undone.

6. Therefore the Sage is constantly good at saving men and never rejects anyone;
7. And with things, he never rejects useful goods.
8. This is called Doubly Bright.

9. Therefore the good man is the teacher of the good,
10. And the bad man is the raw material for the good.
11. To not value one's teacher and not cherish the raw goods—
12. Though one had great knowledge, he would still be greatly confused.
13. This is called the Essential of the Sublime.
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Know the male
But keep to the role of the female
And be a ravine to the empire.
If you are a ravine to the empire,
Then the constant virtue will not desert you
And you will again return to being a babe. Know the white
But keep to the role of the sullied
And be a model to the empire.
If you are a model to the empire,
Then the constant virtue will not be wanting
And you will return to the infinite, Know honour
But keep to the role of the disgraced
And be a valley to the empire.
If you are a valley to the empire,
Then the constant virtue will be sufficient
And you will return to being the uncarved block. When the uncarved block shatters it becomes vessels.
The sage makes use of these and becomes the lord over the officials. Hence the greatest cutting does not sever.
1. When you know the male yet hold on to the female,
2. You'll be the ravine of the country.
3. When you're the ravine of the country,
4. Your constant virtue will not leave.
5. And when your constant virtue doesn't leave,
6. You'll return to the state of the infant.

7. When you know the pure yet hold on to the soiled,
8. You'll be the valley of the country.
9. When you're the valley of the country,
10. Your constant virtue is complete.
11. And when your constant virtue is complete,
12. You'll return to the state of uncarved wood.

13. When you know the white yet hold on to the black,
14. You'll be the model for the country.
15. And when you're the model for the country,
16. Your constant virtue will not go astray.
17. And when your constant virtue does not go astray,
18. You'll return to the condition which has no limit.

19. When uncarved wood is cut up, it's turned into vessels;
20. When the Sage is used, he becomes the Head of Officials.
21. Truly, great carving is done without splitting up.
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Whoever takes the empire and wishes to do anything to it I see will have no respite.
The empire is a sacred vessel and nothing should be done to it.
Whoever does anything to it will ruin it;
whoever lays hold of it will lose it. Hence some things lead and some follow;
Some breathe gently and some breathe hard;
Some are strong and some are weak;
Some destroy and some are destroyed. Therefore the sage avoids excess, extravagance, and arrogance.
1. For those who would like to take control of thw world and act on it—
2. I see that with this they simply will not succeed.
3. The world is a sacred vessel;
4. It is not something that can be acted upon.
5. Those who act on it destroy it;
6. Those who hold on to it lose it.

7. With things—some go forward, others follow;
8. Some are hot, others submissive and weak;
9. Some rise up while others fall down.
10. Therefore the Sage:
11. Rejects the extreme, the excessive, and the extravagant.
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One who assists the ruler of men by means of the way does not intimidate the empire by a show of arms. This is something which is liable to rebound.
Where troops have encamped
There will brambles grow;
In the wake of a mighty army
Bad harvests follow without fail. One who is good aims only at bringing his campaign to a conclusion and dare not thereby intimidate.
Bring it to a conclusion but do not brag;
Bring it to a conclusion but do not be arrogant;
Bring it to a conclusion but only when there is no choice;
Bring it to a conclusion but do not intimidate. A creature in its prime doing harm to the old
Is known as going against the way.
That which goes against the way will come to an early end.
1. Those who assist their rulers with the Way,
2. Don't use weapons to commit violence in the world.
3. Such deeds easily rebound.
4. In places where armies are stationed, thorns and brambles will grow.
5. The good [general] achieves his result and that's all;
6. He does not use the occasion to seize strength from it.

7. He achieves his result but does not become arrogant;
8. He achieves his result but does not praise his deeds;
9. He achieves his result and yet does not brag.
10. He achieves his result, yet he abides with the result because he has no choice.
11. This is called achieving one's result [without] using force.

12. When things reach their primes, they get old;
13. We called this "not the Way."
14. What is not the Way will come to an early end.
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It is because arms are instruments of ill omen and there are Things that detest them that the one who has the way does not abide by their use.
The gentleman gives precedence to the left when at home, but to the right when he goes to war.
Arms are instruments of ill omen, not the instruments of the gentleman.
When one is compelled to use them, it is best to do so without relish.
There is no glory in victory, and so to glorify it despite this is to exult in the killing of men.
One who exults in the killing of men will never have his way in the empire.
On occasions of rejoicing precedence is given to the left;
On occasions of mourning precedence is given to the right.
A lieutenants place is on the left;
The general's place is on the right.
This means that it is mourning rites that are observed.
When great numbers of people are killed, one should weep over them with sorrow.
When victorious in war, one should observe the rites of mourning.
1. As for weapons—they are instruments of ill omen.
2. And among things there are those that hate them.
3. Therefore, the one who has the Way, with them does not dwell.
4. When the gentleman is at home, he honors the left;
5. When at war, he honors the right.
6. Therefore, weapons are not the instrument of the gentleman—
7. Weapons are instruments of ill omen.
8. When you have no choice but to use them, it's best to remain tranquil and calm.
9. You should never look upon them as things of beauty.
10. If you see them as beautiful things—this is to delight in the killing of men.
11. And when you delight in the killing of men, you'll not realize your goal in the land.

12. Therefore, in happy events we honor the left,
13. But in mourning we honor the right.
14. Therefore, the lieutenant general stands on the left;
15. And the supreme general stands on the right.
16. Which is to say, they arrange themselves as they would at a funeral.
17. When multitudes of people are killed, we stand before them in sorrow and grief.
18. When we're victorious in battle, we treat the occasion like a funeral ceremony.
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The way is for ever nameless.
Though the uncarved block is small
No one in the world dare claim its allegiance.
Should lords and princes be able to hold fast to it
The myriad creatures will submit of their own accord,
Heaven and earth will unite and sweet dew will fall,
And the people will be equitable, though no one so decrees.
Only when it is cut are there names.
As soon as there are names
One ought to know that it is time to stop.
Knowing when to stop one can be free from danger. The way is to the world as the River and the Sea are to rivulets and streams.
1. The Dao is constantly nameless.
2. Though in its natural state it seems small, no one in the world dares to treat it as a subject.
3. Were marquises and kings able to maintain it,
4. The ten thousand things would submit to them on their own,
5. And Heaven and Earth would unite to send forth sweet dew.
6. By nature it would fall equally on all things, with no one among the people ordering that it be so.

7. As soon as we start to establish a system, we have names.
8. And as soon as there are set names,
9. Then you must also know that it's time to stop.
10. By knowing to stop—in this way you'll come to no harm.
11. The Way's presence in the world
12. Is like the relationship of small valley [streams] to rivers and seas.
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He who knows others is clever;
He who knows himself has discernment.
He who overcomes others has force;
He who overcomes himself is strong. He who knows contentment is rich;
He who perseveres is a man of purpose;
He who does not lose his station will endure;
He who lives out his days has had a long life.
1. To understand others is to be knowledgeable;
2. To understand yourself is to be wise.
3. To conquer others is to have strength;
4. To conquer yourself is to be strong.
5. To know when you have enough is to be rich.
6. To go forward with strength is to have ambition.
7. To not lose your place is to last long.
8. To die but not be forgotten—that's [true] long life.
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The way is broad, reaching left as well as right.
The myriad creatures depend on it for life yet it claims no authority.
It accomplishes its task yet lays claim to no merit.
It clothes and feeds the myriad creatures yet lays no claim to being their master. For ever free of desire, it can be called small;
Yet as it lays no claim to being master when the myriad creatures turn to it, it can be called great. It is because it never attempts itself to become great that it succeeds in becoming great.
1. The Way floats and drifts;
2. It can go left or right.
3. It accomplishes its tasks and completes its affairs, and yet for this it is not given a name.
4. The ten thousand things entrust their lives to it, and yet it does not act as their master.
5. Thus it is constantly without desires.
6. It can be named with the things that are small.
7. The ten thousand things entrust their lives to it, and yet it does not not act as their master.
8. It can be named with the things that are great.

9. Therefore the Sage's ability to accomplish the great
10. Comes from his not playing the role of the great.
11. Therefore he is able to accomplish the great.
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Have in your hold the great image
And the empire will come to you.
Coming to you and meeting with no harm
It will be safe and sound.
Music and food
Will induce the wayfarer to stop. The way in its passage through the mouth is without flavor.
It cannot be seen,
It cannot be heard,
Yet it cannot be exhausted by use.
1. Hold on to the Great Image and the whole world will come to you.
2. Come to you and suffer no harm; but rather know great safety and peace.
3. Music and food—for these passing travelers stop.
4. Therefore, of the Dao's speaking, we say:
5. Insipid, it is! It's lack of flavor.
6. When you look at it, it's not sufficient to be seen;
7. When you listen to it, it's not sufficient to be heard;
8. Yet when you use it, it can't be used up.
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If you would have a thing shrink,
You must first stretch it;
If you would have a thing weakened,
You must first strengthen it;
If you would have a thing laid aside,
You must first set it up;
If you would take from a thing,
You must first give to it. This is called subtle discernment:
The submissive and weak will overcome the hard and strong. The fish must not be allowed to leave the deep;
The instruments of power in a state must not be revealed to anyone.
1. If you wish to shrink it,
2. You must certainly stretch it.
3. If you wish to weaken it,
4. You must certainly strengthen it.
5. If you wish to desert it,
6. You must certainly work closely with it.
7. If you wish to snatch something from it,
8. You must certainly give something to it.
9. This is called the Subtle Light.
10. The submissive and weak conquer the strong.

11. Fish should not be taken out of the depths;
12. The state's sharp weapons should not be shown to the people.
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The way never acts, yet nothing is left undone.
Should lords and princes be able to hold fast to it,
The myriad creatures will be transformed of their own accord.
After they are transformed, should desire raise its head,
I shall press it down with the weight of the nameless uncarved block.
The nameless uncarved block
Is but freedom from desire,
And if I cease to desire and remain still,
The empire will be at peace of its own accord.
1. The Dao is constantly nameless.
2. Were Marquises and kings able to maintain it,
3. The ten thousand things would transform on their own.
4. Having transformed, were their desires to become active,
5. I would subdue them with the nameless simplicity.
6. Having subdued them with the nameless simplicity,
7. I would not disgrace them.
8. By not being disgraced, they will be tranquil.
9. And Heaven and Earth will of themselves be correct and right.

10. The Way—2,426 [characters]
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A man of the highest virtue does not keep to virtue and that is why he has virtue.
A man of the lowest virtue never strays from virtue and that is why he is without virtue.
The former never acts yet leaves nothing undone.
The latter acts but there are things left undone.
A man of the highest benevolence acts, but from no ulterior motive.
A man of the highest rectitude acts, but from ulterior motive.
A man most conversant in the rites acts, but when no one responds rolls up his sleeves and resorts to persuasion by force. Hence when the way was lost there was virtue;
When virtue was lost there was benevolence;
When benevolence was lost there was rectitude;
When rectitude was lost there were the rites. The rites are the wearing thin of loyalty and good faith
And the beginning of disorder;
Foreknowledge is the flowery embellishment of the way
And the beginning of folly. Hence the man of large mind abides in the thick not in the thin, in the fruit not in the flower. Therefore he discards the one and takes the other.
1. The highest virtue is not virtuous; therefore it truly has virtue.
2. The lowest virtue never loses sight of its virtue; therefore it has no true virtue.

3. The highest virtue takes no action, yet it has no reason for acting this way;
4. The highest humanity takes action, yet it has no reason for acting this way;
5. The highest righteousness takes action, and it has its reason for acting this way;
6. The highest propriety takes action, and when no one responds to it, then it angrily rolls up its sleeves and forces people to comply.

7. Therefore, when the Way is lost, only then do we have virtue;
8. When virtue is lost, only then do we have humanity;
9. When humanity is lost, only then do we have righteousness;
10. And when righteousness is lost, only then do we have propriety.

11. As for propriety, it's but the thin edge of loyalty and sincerity, and the beginning of disorder.
12. And foreknowledge is but the flower of the Way, and the beginning of stupidity.

13. Therefore the Great Man
14. Dwells in the thick and doesn't dwell in the thin;
15. Dwells in the fruit and doesn't dwell in the flower.
16. Therefore, he rejects that and takes this.
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Of old, these came to be in possession of the One:
Heaven in virtue of the One is limpid;
Earth in virtue of the One is settled;
Gods in virtue of the One have their potencies;
The valley in virtue of the One is full;
The myriad creatures in virtue of the One are alive;
Lords and princes in virtue of the One become leaders of the empire.
It is the One that makes these what they are. Without what makes it limpid heaven might split;
Without what makes it settled earth might sink;
Without what gives them their potencies gods might spend themselves;
Without what makes it full the valley might run dry;
Without what keeps them alive the myriad creatures might perish;
Without what makes them leaders lords and princes might fall. Hence the superior must have the inferior as root;
The high must have the low as base. Thus lords and princes refer to themselves as 'solitary', 'desolate', and 'hapless'.
This is taking the inferior as root, is it not? Hence the highest renown is without renown,
Not wishing to be one among many like jade
Nor to be aloof like stone.
1. Of those in the past that attained the One—
2. Heaven, by attaining the One became clear;
3. Earth, by attaining the One became stable;
4. Gods, by attaining the One became divine;
5. Valley, by attaining the One became full;
6. Marquises and kings, by attaining the One made the whole land ordered and secure.

7. Taking this to its logical conclusion we would say—
8. If Heaven were not by means of it clear, it would, I'm afraid, shatter;
9. If the Earth were not by means of it stable, it would, I'm afraid, let go.
10. If the gods were not by means of it divine, they would, I'm afraid, be powerless.
11. If valley were not by means of it full, they would, [I'm afraid,] dry up.
12. And if marquises and kings were not by means of it noble and high, they would, I'm afraid, topple and fall.

13. Therefore, it must be the case that the noble has the base as its root;
14. And it must be the case that the high has the low for its foundation.
15. Thus, for this reason, marquises and kings call themselves "The Orphan," "The Widower," and "The One Without Grain."
16. This is taking the base as one's root, is it not?!

17. Therefore, they regard their large numbers of carriages as having no carriage.
18. And because of this, they desire not to dazzle and glitter like jade,
19. But to remain firm and strong like stone.
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Turning back is how the way moves;
Weakness is the means the way employs. The myriad creatures in the world are born from
Something, and Something from Nothing.
1. "Reversal" is the movement of the Dao;
2. "Weakness" is the function of the Dao.

3. The things of the world originate in being,
4. And being originates in nonbeing.
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When the best student hears about the way
He practises it assiduously;
When the average student hears about the way
It seems to him there one moment and gone the next;
When the worst student hears about the way
He laughs out loud.
If he did not laugh
It would be unworthy of being the way. Hence the Chien yen has it:
The way that is bright seems dull;
The way that is forward seems to lead backward;
The way that is even seems rough.
The highest virtue is like the valley;
The sheerest whiteness seems sullied;
Ample virtue seems defective;
Vigorous virtue seems indolent;
Plain virtue seems soiled;
The great square has no corners.
The great vessel takes long to complete;
The great note is rarefied in sound;
The great image has no shape. The way conceals itself in being nameless.
It is the way alone that excels in bestowing and in accomplishing.
1. When the highest type of men hear the Way, with diligence thye're able to practice it;
2. When the average men hear the Way, some things they retain and others they lose;
3. When the lowest type of men hear the Way, they laugh out loud at it.
4. If they didn't laught at it, it couldn't be regarded as the Way.

5. Therefore, there is a set saying about this that goes:
6. The bright Way appears to be dark;
7. The Way that goes forward appears to retreat;
8. The smooth Way appears to be uneven;
9. The highest virtue [is empty] like a valley;
10. The purest white appears to be soiled;
11. Vast virtue appears to be insufficient;
12. Firm virtue appears thin and weak;
13. The simplest reality appears to change.

14. The Great Square has no corners;
15. The Great Vessel takes long to complete;
16. The Great Tone makes little sound;
17. The Great Image has no shape.

18. The Way is Great but has no name.
19. Only the Way is good at beginning things and also good at bringing things to completion.
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The way begets one;
One begets two;
Two begets three;
Three begets the myriad creatures. The myriad creatures carry on their backs the yin and embrace in their arms the yang and are the blending of the generative forces of the two. There are no words which men detest more than 'solitary', 'desolate', and 'hapless', yet lords and princes use these to refer to themselves. Thus a thing is sometimes added to by being diminished and diminished by being added to. What others teach I also teach.
'The violent shall not come to a natural end.'
I shall take this as my precept.
1. The Way gave birth to the One.
2. The One gave birth to the Two.
3. The Two gave birth to the Three.
4. And the Three gave birth to the ten thousand things.
5. The ten thousand things carry Yin on their backs and wrap their arms around Yang.
6. Through the blending of the qi they arrive at a state of harmony.

7. The things that are hated by the whole world
8. Are to be orphaned, widowed, and have no grain.
9. Yet kings and dukes take these as their names.
10. Thus with all things—some are increased by taking away;
11. While some are diminished by adding on.

12. Therefore, what other men teach,
13. [I] will also consider and then teach to others.
14. Thus, "The strong and violent do not come to a natural end."
15. I will take this as the father of my studies.
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Exterminate learning, and there will no longer be worries. The most submissive thing in the world can ride roughshod over the hardest in the world;
That which is without substance entering that which has no crevices. That is why I know the benefit of resorting to no action.
The teaching that uses no words, the benefit of resorting to no action, these are beyond the understanding of all but a very few in the world.
1. The softest, most pliable thing in the world runs roughshod over the firmest things in the world.
2. that which has no substance gets into that which has no spaces or cracks.
3. I therefore know that there is benefit in taking no action.
4. The wordless teaching, the benefit of taking no action—
5. Few in the world can realize these!
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Your name or your person,
Which is dearer?
Your person or your goods,
Which is worth more?
Gain or loss,
Which is a greater bane?
That is why excessive meanness
Is sure to lead to great expense;
Too much store
Is sure to end in immense loss.
Know contentment
And you will suffer no disgrace;
Know when to stop
And you will meet with no danger.
You can then endure.
1. Fame or your body—which is more dear?
2. Your body or possessions—which is worth more?
3. Gain or loss—in which is there harm?
4. If your desires are great, you're bound to be extravagant;
5. If your store much away, you're bound to lose a great deal.
6. Therefore, if you know contentment, you'll not be disgraced.
7. If you know when to stop, you'll suffer no harm.
8. And in this way you can last a very long time.
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Great perfection seems chipped,
Yet use will not wear it out;
Great fullness seems empty,
Yet use will not drain it;
Great straightness seems bent;
Great skill seems awkward;
Great eloquence seems tongue-tied. Restlessness overcomes cold;
Stillness overcomes heat. Limpid and still,
One can be a leader in the empire.
1. Great completion seems incomplete;
2. Yet its usefulness is never exhausted.
3. Great fullness seems to be empty;
4. Yet its usefulness is never used up.
5. Great straightness seems to be bent.
6. Great skill seems to be clumsy.
7. Great surplus seems to stammer.
8. Activity overcomes cold;
9. Tranquility overcomes heat.
10. If you're quiet and tranquil you can become the ruler of the world.
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When the way prevails in the empire, fleet-footed horses are relegated to ploughing in the fields;
When the way does not prevail in the empire, war-horses breed on the border. There is no crime greater than having too many desires;
There is no disaster greater than not being content;
There is no misfortune greater than being covetous. Hence in being content, one will always have enough.
1. When the world has the Way, ambling horses are retired to fertilize [fields].
2. When the world lacks the Way, war horses are reared in the suburbs.

3. Of crimes—none is greater than having things that one desires;
4. Of disasters—none is greater than not knowing when one has enough.
5. Of defects—none brings more sorrow than one desire to attain.
6. Therefore, the contentment one has when he knows that he has enough, is abiding contentment indeed.
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Without stirring abroad
One can know the whole world;
Without looking out the window
One can see the way of heaven.
The further one goes
The less one knows.
Therefore the sage knows without having to stir,
Identifies without having to see,
Accomplishes without having to act.
1. No need to leave your door to know the whole world;
2. No need to peer through your windows to know the Way of Heaven.
3. The farther you go, the less you know.

4. Therefore the Sage knows without going,
5. Names without seeing,
6. And completes without doing a thing.
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In the pursuit of learning one knows more every day;
In the pursuit of the way one does less every day.
One does less and less until one does nothing at all, and when one does nothing at all there is nothing that is undone. It is always through not meddling that the empire is won.
Should you meddle, then you are not equal to the task of winning the empire.
1. Those who work at their studies increase day after day;
2. Those who have heard the Dao decrease day after day.
3. They decrease and decrease, till they get to the point where they do nothing.
4. They do nothing and yet there's nothing left undone.
5. When someone wants to take control of the world, he must always be unconcerned with affairs.
6. For in a case where he's concerned with affairs,
7. He'll be unworthy, as well, of taking control of the world.
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The sage has no mind of his own.
He takes as his own the mind of the people. Those who are good I treat as good.
Those who are not good I also treat as good.
In so doing I gain in goodness.
Those who are of good faith I have faith in.
Those who are lacking in good faith I also have faith in.
In so doing I gain in good faith. The sage in his attempt to distract the mind of the empire seeks urgently to muddle it.
The people all have something to occupy their eyes and ears, and the sage treats them all like children.
1. The Sage constantly has no [set] mind;
2. He takes the mind of the common people as his mind.
3. Those who are good he regards as good;
4. Those who are not good he also regards as good.
5. [In this way] he attains goodness.
6. Those who are trustworthy he trusts;
7. And those who are not trustworthy he also trusts.
8. [In this way] he gets their trust.
9. As for the Sage's presence in the world—he is one with it.
10. And with the world he merges his mind.
11. The common people all fix their eyes and ears on him.
12. And the Sage treats them all as his children.
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When going one way means life and going the other means death, three in ten will be comrades in life, three in ten will be comrades in death, and there are those who value life and as a result move into the realm of death, and these also number three in ten.
Why is this so? Because they set too much store by life.
I have heard it said that one who excels in safeguarding his own life does not meet with rhinoceros or tiger when travelling on land nor is he touched by weapons when charging into an army.
There is nowhere for the rhinoceros to pitch its horn;
There is nowhere for the tiger to place its claws;
There is nowhere for the weapon to lodge its blade.
Why is this so? Because for him there is no realm of death.
1. We come out into life and go back into death.
2. The companions of life are thirteen;
3. The companions of death are thirteen;
4. And yet people, because they regard life as LIFE, in all of their actions move towards the thirteen that belong to the realm of death.
5. Now, why is this so?
6. It's because they regard life as LIFE.

7. You've no doubt heard of those who are good at holding on to life:
8. When walking through hills, they don't avoid rhinos and tigers;
9. When they go into battle, they don't put on armor or shields;
10. The rhino has no place to probe with its horn;
11. The tiger finds no place to put its claws.
12. And weapons find no place to hold their blades.
13. Now, why is this so?
14. Because there is no place for death in them.
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The way gives them life;
Virtue rears them;
Things give them shape;
Circumstances bring them to maturity. Therefore the myriad creatures all revere the way and honor virtue.
Yet the way is revered and virtue honored not because this is decreed by any authority but because it is natural for them to be treated so. Thus the way gives them life and rears them;
Brings them up and nurses them;
Brings them to fruition and maturity;
Feeds and shelters them. It gives them life yet claims no possession;
It benefits them yet exacts no gratitude;
It is the steward yet exercises no authority.
Such is called the mysterious virtue.
1. The Way gives birth to them and Virtue nourishes them;
2. Substance gives them form and their unique capacities complete them.
3. Therefore the ten thousand things venerate the Way and honor Virtue.
4. As for their veneration of the Way and their honoring of Virtue—
5. No one rewards them for it; it's constantly so on its own.

6. The Way gives birth to them, nourishes them, matures them, completes them, rests them, rears them, supports them, and protects them.
7. It gives birth to them but doesn't try to own them;
8. It acts on their behalf but doesn't make them dependent;
9. It matures them but doesn't rule them.
10. This we call Profound Virtue.
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The world had a beginning
And this beginning could be the mother of the world.
When you know the mother
Go on to know the child.
After you have known the child
Go back to holding fast to the mother,
And to the end of your days you will not meet with danger. Block the openings,
Shut the doors,
And all your life you will not run dry.
Unblock the openings,
Add to your troubles,
And to the end of your days you will be beyond salvation. To see the small is called discernment;
To hold fast to the submissive is called strength.
Use the light
But give up the discernment.
Bring not misfortune upon yourself. This is known as following the constant.
1. The world had a beginning,
2. Which can be considered the mother of the world.
3. Having attained the mother, in order to understand her children.
4. If you return and hold on to the mother, till the end of your life you'll suffer no harm.

5. Block up the holes;
6. Close the doors;
7. And till the end of your life you'll not labor.
8. Open the holes;
9. Meddle in affairs;
10. And till the end of your life you'll not be saved.

11. To receive the small is called "discernment."
12. To hold on to the pliant is called "strength."
13. If you use the rays to return to the bright light,
14. You'll not abandon your life to peril.
15. This is called Following the Constant.
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Were I possessed of the least knowledge, I would, when walking on the great way, fear only paths that lead astray.
The great way is easy, yet people prefer by-paths. The court is corrupt,
The fields are overgrown with weeds,
The granaries are empty;
Yet there are those dressed in fineries,
With swords at their sides,
Filled with food and drink,
And possessed of too much wealth.
This is known as taking the lead in robbery. Far indeed is this from the way.
1. Were I to have the least bit of knowledge, in walking on a Great Rod, it's only going astray that I would fear.
2. The Great Way is very level;
3. But people greatly delight in tortuous paths.

4. The courts are swept very clean;
5. While the fields are full of weeds;
6. And the granaries are all empty.
7. Their clothing—richly embroidered and colored;
8. While at their waists they carry sharp swords.
9. They gorge themselves on food, and of possessions and goods they have plenty.

10. This is called thievery!
11. And thievery certainly isn't the Way!
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What is firmly rooted cannot be pulled out;
What is tightly held in the arms will not slip loose;
Through this the offering of sacrifice by descendants will never come to an end. Cultivate it in your person
And its virtue will be genuine;
Cultivate it in the family
And its virtue will be more than sufficient;
Cultivate it in the hamlet
And its virtue will endure;
Cultivate it in the state
And its virtue will abound;
Cultivate it in the empire
And its virtue will be pervasive. Hence look at the person through the person;
Look at the family through the family;
Look at the hamlet through the hamlet;
Look at the state through the state;
Look at the empire through the empire. How do I know that the empire is like that?
By means of this.
1. What is firmly set up can't be pulled down;
2. What is firmly embraced cannot slip free.
3. And your sons and grandsons, as a result, will sacrifice without end.

4. When you cultivate it in your person, your virtue will then be genuine;
5. When you cultivate it in your family, your virtue will then be overflow;
6. When you cultivate it in your village, your virtue will then be long lasting;
7. When you cultivate it in your state, your virtue will then be abundant;
8. And when you cultivate it throughout the world, your virtue will then be widespread.

9. Use the individual to examine the individual;
10. Use the family to examine the family;
[10a Use the village to examine the village;]
11. Use the state to examine the state;
12. And use the world to examine the world;
13. How do I know that the world is so?
14. By this.
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One who possesses virtue in abundance is comparable to a new born babe:
Poisonous insects will not sting it;
Ferocious animals will not pounce on it;
Predatory birds will not swoop down on it.
Its bones are weak and its sinews supple yet its hold is firm.
It does not know the union of male and female yet its male member will stir:
This is because its virility is at its height.
It howls all day yet does not become hoarse:
This is because its harmony is at its height.
To know harmony is called the constant;
To know the constant is called discernment.
To try to add to one's vitality is called ill-omened;
For the mind to egg on the breath is called violent. A creature in its prime doing harm to the old
Is known as going against the way.
That which goes against the way will come to an early end.
1. One who embraces the fullness of Virtue,
2. Can be compared to a newborn babe.
3. Wasps and scorpions, snakes and vipers do not sting him;
4. Birds of prey and fierce beasts do not seize him;
5. His bones and muscles are weak and pliant, yet his grasp is firm;
6. He does not yet know the meeting of male and female, yet his organ is aroused—
7. This is because his essence is at its height.
8. He can scream all day, yet he won't become hoarse—
9. This is because his harmony is at its height.

10. To know harmony is called "the constant";
11. To know the constant is called "being wise";
12. To add on to life is called a "bad omen";
13. For the mind to control the breath—that's called "forcing things."

14. When things reach their prime they get old;
15. This is called "not the Way."
16. What is not the Way will come to an early end.
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One who knows does not speak;
One who speaks does not know. Block the openings;
Shut the doors.
Blunt the sharpness;
Untangle the knots;
Soften the glare;
Let your wheels move only along old ruts. This is known as mysterious sameness. Hence you cannot get close to it, nor can you keep it at arm's length;
You cannot bestow benefit on it, nor can you do it harm;
You cannot ennoble it, nor can you debase it. Therefore it is valued by the empire.
1. Those who know don't talk about it; those who talk don't know it.

2. He blocks up his holes,
3. Closes his doors,
4. Softens the glare,
5. Settles the dust,
6. Files down the sharp edges,
7. And unties the tangles.
8. This is called Profound Union.

9. Therefore, there is no way to get intimate with him,
10. But there is also no way to shun him.
11. There is no way to benefit him,
12. But there is also no way to harm him.
13. There is no way to ennoble him,
14. But there is also no way to debase him.
15. For this very reason he's the noblest thing in the world.
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Govern the state by being straightforward;
Wage war by being crafty;
But win the empire by not being meddlesome. How do I know that it is like that?
By means of this. The more taboos there are in the empire
The poorer the people;
The more sharpened tools the people have
The more benighted the state;
The more skills the people have
The further novelties multiply;
The better known the laws and edicts
The more thieves and robbers there are. Hence the sage says,
I take no action and the people are transformed of themselves;
I prefer stillness and the people are rectified of themselves;
I am not meddlesome and the people prosper of themselves;
I am free from desire and the people of themselves become simple like the uncarved block.
1. Use the upright and correct to order the state;
2. Use surprise tactics when you use troops;
3. Use unconcern with affairs to take control of the world.

4. How do I know that this is so?
5. Well, the more taboos and prohibitions there are in the world, the poorer the people will be;
6. The more sharp weapons the people possess, the more muddled the states will be;
7. The more knowledge and skill people have, the more novel things will appear;
8. The more legal matters are made prominent, the more robbers and thieves there will be.

9. Therefore, the words of the Sage say:
10. I do nothing, and the people of themselves are transformed;
11. I love tranquility, and the people of themselves are upright;
12. I'm unconcerned with affairs, and the people of themselves become rich.
13. I desire not to desire, and the people of themselves are [genuine and simple, like] uncarved wood.
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When the government is muddled
The people are simple;
When the government is alert
The people are cunning. It is on disaster that good fortune perches;
It is beneath good fortune that disaster crouches. Who knows the limit? Does not the straightforward exist?
The straighforward changes again into the crafty, and the good changes again into the monstrous.
Indeed, it is long since the people were perplexed. Therefore the sage is square-edged but does not scrape,
Has corners but does not jab,
Extends himself but not at the expense of others,
Shines but does not dazzle.
1. When the government is muddled and confused,
2. The people are genuine and sincere.
3. When the government is discriminate and clear,
4. The state is crafy and cunning.

[4a Disaster is that on which good fortune depends.]
5. Good fortune is that in which disaster's concealed.
6. Who knows where it will end?
7. For there is no [fixed] "correct."
8. The "correct" turns into the "deviant";
9. And "good" turns into "evil."
10. People's state of confusion
11. Has certainly existed for a long time.
12. Therefore be square but don't cut;
13. Be sharp but don't stab;
14. Be straightforward but not unrestrained;
15. Be bright but don't dazzle.
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In ruling the people and in serving heaven it is best for a ruler to be sparing.
It is because he is sparing
That he may be said to follow the way from the start;
Following the way from the start he may be said to accumulate an abundance of virtue;
Accumulating an abundance of virtue there is nothing he cannot overcome;
When there is nothing he cannot overcome, no one knows his limit;
When no one knows his limit
He can possess a state;
When he possesses the mother of a state
He can then endure.
This is called the way of deep roots and firm stems by which one lives to see many days.
1. For ordering humanity and serving Heaven, nothing's so good as being sparing.
2. For only if you are sparing can you, therefore, early submit [to the Way].
3. Early submission—this is called to repeatedly accumulate Virtue.
4. If you repeatedly accumulate Virtue, then there is nothing you can't overcome.
5. When there is nothing you can't overcome, no one knows where it will end.
6. When no one knows where it will end, you can possess the state.
7. And when you possess the mother of the state, you can last a very long time.
8. This is called [having] deep roots and a firm base,
9. It's the Way of long life and long-lasting vision.
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Governing a large state is like boiling a small fish. When the empire is ruled in accordance with the way,
The spirits lose their potencies.
Or rather, it is not that they lose their potencies,
But that, though they have their potencies, they do not harm the people.
It is not only they who, having their potencies, do not harm the people,
The sage, also, does not harm the people.
As neither does any harm, each attributes the merit to the other.
1. Ruling a large state is like cooking small fish.

2. When you use the Way to govern the world, evil spirits won't have godlike power.
3. Actually, it's not that evil spirits won't have godlike power,
4. It's that their power will not harm men.
5. But it's not [just] that their power won't harm men,
6. The Sage, also, will not harm them.
7. Since these two do not harm others,
8. Therefore their Virtues intermingle and return to them.
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A large state is the lower reaches of a river:
The place where all the streams of the world unite. In the union of the world,
The female always gets the better of the male by stillness. Being still, she takes the lower position. Hence the large state, by taking the lower position, annexes the small state;
The small state, by taking the lower position, affiliates itself to the large state. Thus the one, by taking the lower position, annexes;
The other, by taking the lower position, is annexed.
All that the large state wants is to take the other under its wing;
All that the small state wants is to have its services accepted by the other.
If each of the two wants to find its proper place,
It is meet that the large should take the lower position.
1. The large state is like the lower part of a river;
2. It is the female of the world;
3. It is the meeting point of the world.
4. The female constantly overcomes the male with tranquility.
5. Because she is tranquil, therefore she is fittingly underneath.

6. The large state—if it is below the small state, then it takes over the small state;
7. The small state—if it is below the large state, then it is taken over by the large state.
8. Therefore some by being low take over,
9. And some by being low are taken over.

10. Therefore the large state merely desires to unite and rear others;
11. While the small state merely desires to enter and serve others.
12. If both get what they want,
13. Then the large state should fittingly be underneath.
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The way is the refuge for the myriad creatures.
It is that by which the good man protects,
And that by which the bad is protected. Beautiful words when offered will win high rank in return;
Beautiful deeds can raise a man above others. Even if a man is not good, why should he be abandoned? Hence when the emperor is set up and the three ducal ministers are appointed, he who makes a present of the way without stirring from his seat is preferable to one who offers presents of jade disks followed by a team of four horses.
Why was this way valued of old?
Was it not said that by means of it one got what one wanted and escaped the consequences when one transgressed? Therefore it is valued by the empire.
1. The Way is that toward which all things flow.
2. It is the treasure of the good man,
3. And that which protects the bad.

4. Beautiful words can be bought and sold;
5. Honored deeds can be presented to others as gifts;
6. [Even with] things that people regard as no good—will they be rejected?
7. Therefore, when the So of Heaven is being enthroned or the Three Ministers installed,
8. Though you might salture them which disks of jade preceded by teams of four horses,
9. That's not so good as sitting still and offering this.
10. The reason why the ancients valued this—what was it?
11. Did they not say, "Those who seek, with this will attain, and those who commit offenses, with this will escape"?!
12. Therefore, it's the most valued thing in the world.
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Do that which consists in taking no action;
Pursue that which is not meddlesome;
Savor that which has no flavor. Make the small big and the few many;
Do good to him who has done you an injury. Lay plans for the accomplishment of the difficult before it becomes difficult;
Make something big by starting with it when small. Difficult things in the word must needs have their beginnings in the easy;
Big things must needs have their beginnings in the small. Therefore it is because the sage never attempts to be great that he succeeds in becoming great. One who makes promises rashly rarely keeps good faith;
One who is in the habit of considering things easy meets with frequent difficulties. Therefore even the sage treats some things as difficult.
That is why in the end no difficulties can get the better of him.
1. Act without acting;
2. Serve without concern for affairs;
3. Find flavor in what has no flavor.

4. Regard the small as large and the few as many,
5. And repay resentment with kindness.
6. Plan for the difficult while it is easy;
7. Act on the large while it's minute.
8. The most difficult things in the world begin as things that are easy;
9. The largest things in the world arise from the minute.
10. Therefore the Sage, to the end does not strive to do the great,
11. And as a result, he is able to accomplish the great;
12. Those who too lightly agree will necessarily be trusted by few;
13. And those who regard many things as easy will necessarily [end up] with many difficulties.
14. Therefore, even the Sage regards things as difficult,
15. And as a result, in the end he has no difficulty.
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It is easy to maintain a situation while it is still secure;
It is easy to deal with a situation before symptoms develop;
It is easy to break a thing when it is yet brittle;
It is easy to dissolve a thing when it is yet minute. Deal with a thing while it is still nothing;
Keep a thing in order before disorder sets in. A tree that can fill the span of a man's arms
Grows from a downy tip;
A terrace nine storeys high
Rises from hodfuls of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles
Starts from beneath one's feet. Whoever does anything to it will ruin it;
Whoever lays hold of it will lose it. Therefore the sage, because he does nothing, never ruins anything;
And, because he does not lay hold of anything, loses nothing. In their enterprises the people
Always ruin them when on the verge of success.
Be as careful at the end as at the beginning
And there will be no ruined enterprises. Therefore the sage desires not to desire
And does not value goods which are hard to come by;
Learns to be without learning
And makes good the mistakes of the multitude
In order to help the myriad creatures to be natural and to refrain from daring to act.
1. What is at rest is easy to hold;
2. What has not yet given a sign is easy to plan for;
3. The brittle is easily shattered;
4. The minute is easily scattered;
5. Act on it before it comes into being;
6. Order it before it turns into chaos.

7. A tree [so big] that it takes both arms to surround starts out as the tiniest shoot;
8. A nine-story terrace rises up from a basket of dirt.
9. A high place one hundred, one thousand feet high begins from under your feet.

10. Those who act on it ruin it;
11. Those who hold on to it lose it.
12. Therefore the Sage does not act,
13. And as a result, he doesn't ruin [things];
14. He does not hold on to [things],
15. And as a result, he doesn't lose [things];
16. In people's handling of affairs, they always ruin things when they're right at the point of completion.
17. Therefore we say, "If you're as careful at the end as you were at the beginning, you'll have no failures."
18. Therefore the Sage desires not to desire and doesn't value goods that are hard to obtain;
19. He learns not to learn and returns to what the masses pass by;
20. He could help all things to be natural, yet he dare not do it.
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Of old those who excelled in the pursuit of the way did not use it to enlighten the people but to hoodwink them.
The reason why the people are difficult to govern is that they are too clever. Hence to rule a state by cleverness
Will be to the detriment of the state;
Not to rule a state by cleverness
Will be a boon to the state.
These two are models.
Always to know the models
Is known as mysterious virtue.
Mysterious virtue is profound and far-reaching,
But when things turn back it turns back with them. Only then is complete conformity realized.
1. Those who practiced the Way in antiquity,
2. Did not use it to enlighten the people.
3. Rather, they used it to make them dumb.
4. Now the reason why people are difficult to rule is because of their knowledge;
5. As a result, to use knowledge to rule the state
6. Is thievery of the state;
7. To use ignorance to rule the state
8. Is kindness to the state.
9. One who constantly understands these two,
10. Also [understands] the principle.
11. To constantly understand the principle—
12. This is called Profound Virtue.
13. Profound Virtue is deep, is far-reaching,
14. And together with things it returns.
15. Thus we arrive at the Great Accord.
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The reason why the River and the Sea are able to be king of the hundred valleys is that they excel in taking the lower position.
Hence they are able to be king of the hundred valleys. Therefore, desiring to rule over the people,
One must in one's words humble oneself before them;
And, desiring to lead the people,
One must, in one's person, follow behind them. Therefore the sage takes his place over the people yet is no burden;
takes his place ahead of the people yet causes no obstruction.
That is why the empire supports him joyfully and never tires of doing so. It is because he does not contend that no one in the empire is in a position to contend with him.
1. The reason why rivers and oceans are able to be the kings of the one hundred valleys is that they are good at being below them.
2. for this reason they are able to be the kings of the one hundred valleys.

3. Therefore in the Sage's desire to be above the people,
4. He must in his speech be below them.
5. And in his desire to be at the front of the people,
6. He must in his person be behind them.
7. Thus he dwells above, yet the people do not regard him as heavey;
8. And he dwells in front, yet the people do not see him as posing a threat.
9. The whole world delights in his praise and never tires of him.
10. Is it not because he is not contentious,
11. That, as a result, no one in the world can contend with him?!
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The whole world says that my way is vast and resembles nothing.
It is because it is vast that it resembles nothing.
If it resembled anything, it would, long before now, have become small. I have three treasures
Which I hold and cherish.
The first is known as compassion,
The second is known as frugality,
The third is known as not daring to take the lead in the empire;
Being compassionate one could afford to be courageous,
Being frugal one could afford to extend one's territory,
Not daring to take the lead in the empire one could afford to be lord over the vessels. Now, to forsake compassion for courage, to forsake frugality for expansion, to forsake the rear for the lead, is sure to end in death. Through compassion, one will triumph in attack and be impregnable in defence.
What heaven succours it protects with the gift of compassion.
1. The whole world says, I'm Great;
2. Great, yet unlike [everyone else],
3. But it's precisely because I'm unlike [everyone else], that I'm therefore able to be Great.
4. Were I like [everyone else], for a long time now I'd have seemed insignificant and small.

5. I constantly have three treasures;
6. Hold on to them and treasure them.
7. The first is compassion;
8. The second is frugality;
9. And the third is not presuming to be at the forefront in the world.
10. Now, it's because I'm compassionate that I therefore can be courageous;
11. And it's because I'm frugal that I therefore can be magnamimous;
12. And it's because I don't presume to be at the forefront in the world that I therefore can be the head of those with complete talent.
13. Now, if you abandon this compassion and yet try to be courageous,
14. And if you abandon this frugality and yet try to be magnanimous,
15. And if you abandon this staying behind and yet go to the fore,
16. Then you will die.
17. If with compassion you attack, then you'll win;
18. If you defend, then you'll stand firm.

19. When Heaven's about to establish him,
20. It's as though he surrounds him with the protective wall of compassion.
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One who excels as a warrior does not appear formidable;
One who excels in fighting is never roused in anger;
One who excels in defeating his enemy does not join issue;
One who excels in employing others humbles himself before them. This is known as the virtue of non-contention;
This is known as making use of the efforts of others;
This is known as matching the sublimity of heaven.
1. Therefore, one who is good at being a warrior doesn't make a show of his might;
2. One who is good in battle doesn't get angry;
3. One who is good at defeating the enemy doesn't engage him.
4. And one who is good at using men places himself below them.
5. This is called the virtue of not competing;
6. This is called [correctly] using men;
7. This is called matching Heaven.
8. It's the high point of the past.
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The strategists have a saying,
I dare not play the host but play the guest,
I dare not advance an inch but retreat a foot instead. This is known as marching forward when there is no road,
Rolling up one's sleeves when there is no arm,
Dragging one's adversary by force when there is no adversary,
And taking up arms when there are no arms. There is no disaster greater than taking on an enemy too easily.
So doing nearly cost me my treasure.
Thus of two sides raising arms against each other,
It is the one that is sorrow-stricken that wins.
1. Those who use weapons have a saying which goes:
2. "I don't presume to act like the host, and instead play the part of the guest;
3. I don't advance an inch, but rather retreat a foot."
4. This is called moving forward without moving forword—
5. Rolling up one's sleeves without baring one's arms—
6. Grasping firmly without holding a weapon—
7. And enticing to fight when there's no opponent.
8. Of disasters, none is greater than [thinking] you have no rival.
9. To think you have no rival is to come close to losing my treasures.
10. Therefore, when weapons are raised and [the opponents] are farily well matched,
11. Then it's the one who feels grief that will win.
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My words are very easy to understand and very easy to put into practice,
Yet no one in the world can understand them or put them into practice. Words have an ancestor and affairs have a sovereign. It is because people are ignorant that they fail to understand me.
Those who understand me are few;
Those who harm me are honoured. Therefore the sage, while clad in homespun, conceals on his person a priceless piece of jade.
1. My words are easy to understand,
2. And easy to put into practice.
3. Yet no one in the world can understand them,
4. And no one can put them into practice.
5. Now my words have an ancestor, and my deeds have a lord,
6. And it's simply because [people] have no understanding [of them], that they therefore don't understand me.
7. But when those who understand me are few, then I'm of great value.
8. Therefore the Sage wears coarse woolen cloth, but inside it he holds on to jade.
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To know yet to think that one does not know is best;
Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty. It is by being alive to difficulty that one can avoid it.
The sage meets with no difficulty.
It is because he is alive to it that he meets with no difficulty.
1. To know you don't know is best.
2. Not to know you [don't] know is a flaw.
3. Therefore, the Sage's not being flawed
4. Stems from his recognizing a flaw as a flaw.
5. Therefore, he is flawless.
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When the people lack a proper sense of awe, then some awful visitation will descend upon them. Do not constrict their living space;
Do not press down on their means of livelihood.
It is because you do not press down on them that they will not weary of the burden. Hence the sage knows himself but does not display himself,
Loves himself but does not exalt himself. Therefore he discards the one and takes the other.
1. When the people don't respect those in power, then what they greatly fear is about to arrive.

2. Don't narrow the size of the places in which they live;
3. Don't oppress them in their means of livelihood.
4. It's simply because you do not oppress them, that they therefore will not be fed up.
5. Therefore the Sage knows himself but doesn't show himself;
6. he cherishes himself but doesn't value himself.
7. For this reason, he rejects that and takes this.
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He who is fearless in being bold will meet with his death;
He who is fearless in being timid will stay alive.
Of the two, one leads to good, the other to harm. Heaven hates what it hates,
Who knows the reason why? Therefore even the sage treats some things as difficult. The way of heaven
Excels in overcoming though it does not contend,
In responding though it does not speak,
In attracting though it does not summon,
In laying plans though it appears slack. The net of heaven is cast wide.
Though the mesh is not fine, yet nothing ever slips through.
1. If you're brave in being daring, you'll be killed;
2. If you're brave in not being daring, you'll live.
3. With these two things, in one case there's profit, in the other there's harm.
4. The things Heaven hates—who knows why?
5. The Way of Heaven is not to fight yet to be good at winning—
6. Not to speak yet skillfully respond—
7. No one summons it, yet it comes on its own—
8. To be at ease yet carefully plan.
9. Heaven's net is large and vast;
10. Its mesh may be coarse yet nothing slips through.
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When the people are not afraid of death, wherefore frighten them with death?
Were the people always afraid of death, and were I able to arrest and put to death those who innovate, then who would dare?
There is a regular executioner whose charge it is to kill.
To kill on behalf of the executioner is what is described as chopping wood on behalf of the master carpenter.
In chopping wood on behalf of the master carpenter, there are few who escape hurting their own hands instead.
1. If the people were constant [in their behavior] and yet did not fear death,
2. How could you use execution to intimidate them?
3. If you brought it about that the people were constant [in their behavior] and moreover feared, and [we] took those who behaved in abnormal ways and killed them—who would dare act in this way?!
4. If the people are constant and moreover necessarily fear death, then we constantly have the one in charge of executions.
5. Now killing people in place of the one in charge of executions, this [is like] cutting wood in place of the head carpenter.
6. And of those who cut wood in place of the head carpenter, very few do not hurt their hands!
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The people are hungry:
It is because those in authority eat up too much in taxes
That the people are hungry.
The people are difficult to govern.
It is because those in authority are too fond of action
That the people are difficult to govern.
The people treat death lightly:
It is because the people set too much store by life
That they treat death lightly. It is just because one has no use for life that one is wiser than the man who values life.
1. The reason why people starve,
2. Is because they take so much in tax-grain.
3. Therefore they starve.
4. The reason why the common people cannot be ruled,
5. Is because their superiors have their reason for acting.
6. Therefore they cannot be ruled.

7. The reason why people take death lightly,
8. Is because they so avidly seek after life.
9. Therefore they take death lightly.
10. Only those who do not act for the purpose of living—
11. Only these are superior to those who value life.
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A man is supple and weak when living, but hard and stiff when dead.
Grass and trees are pliant and fragile when living, but dried and shrivelled when dead.
Thus the hard and the strong are the comrades of death;
The supple and the weak are the comrades of life. Therefore a weapon that is strong will not vanquish;
A tree that is strong will suffer the axe.
The strong and big takes the lower position,
The supple and weak takes the higher position.
1. When people are born, they're supple and soft;
2. Whey they die, they end up stretched out firm and rigid;
3. When the ten thousand things and grasses and trees are alive, they're supple and pliant;
4. When they're dead, they're withered and dried out.
5. Therefore we say that the firm and rigid are compassions of death,
6. While the supple, the soft, the weak, and the delicate are compassions of life.
7. If a soldier is rigid, he won't win;
8. If a tree is rigid, it will come to its end.
9. Rigidity and power occupy the inferior position;
10. Suppleness, softness, weakness, and delicateness occupy the superior position.
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Is not the way of heaven like the stretching of a bow?
The high it presses down,
The low it lifts up;
The excessive it takes from,
The deficient it gives to. It is the way of heaven to take from what has in excess in order to make good what is deficient.
The way of man is otherwise: it takes from those who are in want in order to offer this to those who already have more than enough.
Who is there that can take what he himself has in excess and offer this to the empire?
Only he who has the way. Therefore the sage benefits them yet exacts no gratitude,
Accomplishes his task yet lays claim to no merit. Is this not because he does not wish to be considered a better man than others?
1. The Way of Heaven is like the flexing of a bow.
2. The high it presses down; the low it raises up.
3. From those with a surplus it takes away; to those without enough it adds on.
4. Therefore the way of Heaven—
5. Is to reduce the excessive and increase the insufficient;
6. The Way of Man—
7. Is to reduce the insufficient and offer more to the excessive.
8. Now, who is able to have a surplus and use it to offer to Heaven?
9. Clearly, it's only the one who possesses the Way.
10. Therefore the Sage—
11. Take actions but does not possess them;
12. Accomplishes his tasks but does not dwell on them.
13. Like this, is his desire not to make a display of his worthiness.
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In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water.
Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass it.
This is because there is nothing that can take its place. That the weak overcomes the strong,
And the submissive overcomes the hard,
Everyone in the world knows yet no one can put this knowledge into practice. Therefore the sage says,
One who takes on himself the humiliation of the state
Is called a ruler worthy of offering sacrifices to the gods of earth and millet.
One who takes on himself the calamity of the state
Is called a king worthy of dominion over the entire empire. Straightforward words seem paradoxical.
1. In the whole world, nothing is softer and weaker than water.
2. And yet for attacking the hard and strong, nothing can bear it,
3. Because there is nothing you can use to replace it.
4. That water can defeat the unyielding—
5. That the weak can defeat the strong—
6. There is no one in the whole world who doesn't know it,
7. And yet there is no one who can put it into practice.
8. For this reason, the words of the Sage say:
9. To take on yourself the disgrace of the state—this is called being the lord of [the altars of] earth and grain;
10. To assume responsibility for all ill-omened events in the state—this is called being the king of the world.
11. Correct words seem to say the reverse [of what you expect them to say].
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When peace is made between great enemies,
Some enmity is bound to remain undispelled.
How can this be considered perfect? Therefore the sage takes the left-hand tally, but exacts no payment from the people.
The man of virtue takes charge of the tally;
The man of no virtue takes charge of exaction. It is the way of heaven to show no favoritism.
It is for ever on the side of the good man.
1. To make peace where there has been great resentment, there is bound to be resentment left over.
2. How could this be regarded as good?
3. Therefore the Sage [holds] the right tally yet makes no demands of others.
4. For this reason, those who have virtue are in charge of the tally;
5. Those without virtue are in charge of the taxes.
6. The Way of Heaven has no favorites,
7. It's always with the good man.

[7a Virtue—3,041 (characters)]
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Reduce the size of the population and the state.
Ensure that even though the people have tools of war for a troop or a battalion they will not use them;
And also that they will be reluctant to move to distant places because they look on death as no light matter. Even when they have ships and carts, they will have no use for them;
And even when they have armor and weapons, they will have no occasion to make a show of them. Bring it about that the people will return to the use of the knotted rope,
Will find relish in their food
And beauty in their clothes,
Will be content in their abode
And happy in the way they live. Though adjoining states are within sight of one another,
And the sound of dogs barking and cocks crowing in one state can be heard in another,
yet the people of one state will grow old and die without having had any dealings with those of another.
1. Let the country be small and people few—
2. Bring it about that there are weapons for "tens" and "hundreds," yet let no one use them;
3. Have the people regard death gravely and put migrating far from their minds.
4. Though they might have boats and carriages, no one will ride them;
5. Though they might have armor and spears, no one will display them.
6. Have the people return to knotting cords and using them.

7. They will relish their food,
8. Regard their clothing as beautiful,
9. Delight in their customs,
10. And feel safe and secure in their homes.
11. Neighboring states might overlook one another,
12. And the sounds of chickens and dogs might be overheard,
13. Yet the people will arrive at old age and death with no comings and goings between them.
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Truthful words are not beautiful;
Beautiful words are not truthful.
Good words are not persuasive;
Persuasive words are not good.
He who knows has no wide learning;
He who has wide learning does not know. The sage does not hoard.
Having bestowed all he has on others, he has yet more;
Having given all he has to others, he is richer still. The way of heaven benefits and does not harm;
The way of the sage is bountiful and does not contend.
1. Sincere words are not showy;
2. Showy words are not sincere.
3. Those who know are not "widely learned";
4. Those "widely learned" do not know.
5. The good do not have a lot;
6. Those with a lot are not good.

7. The Sage accumulates nothing.
8. Having used what he had for others,
9. He has even more.
10. Having given what he had to others,
11. What he has is even greater.
12. Therefore, the Way of Heaven is to benefit and not cause any harm;
13. The Way of Man is to act on behalf of others and not to compete with them.