1. THE EMBODIMENT OF TAO
Even the finest teaching is not the Tao itself.
Even the finest
name is insufficient to define it.
Without words, the Tao can be
and without a name, it can be known.
To conduct one's life according to the Tao,
is to conduct one's
life without regrets;
to realize that potential within oneself
which is of benefit to all.
Though words or names are not required
to live one's life this
to describe it, words and names are used,
that we might
the way of which we speak,
without confusing it
with other ways
in which an individual might choose to live.
Through knowledge, intellectual thought and words,
manifestations of the Tao are known,
but without such intellectual
we might experience the Tao itself.
Both knowledge and experience are real,
but reality has many
which seem to cause complexity.
By using the means appropriate,
we extend ourselves beyond
the barriers of such complexity,
and so experience the Tao.
2. LETTING GO OF COMPARISONS
We cannot know the Tao itself,
nor see its qualities direct,
but only see by differentiation,
that which it manifests.
Thus, that which is seen as beautiful
is beautiful compared
which is seen as lacking beauty;
is so considered in comparison
another, which seems unskilled.
That which a person knows he has
is known to him by that which
he does not have,
and that which he considers difficult
so because of that which he can do with ease.
One thing seems long
by comparison with that
which is, comparatively, short.
thing is high because another thing is low;
only when sound ceases
is quietness known,
and that which leads
is seen to lead only
by being followed.
In comparison, the sage,
in harmony with
needs no comparisons,
and when he makes them, knows
that comparisons are judgements,
and just as relative to he
who makes them,
and to the situation,
as they are to that on
the judgement has been made.
Through his experience,
the sage becomes aware that all things
and that he who seems to lead,
might also, in another
So he does nothing; he neither leads nor
That which he does is neither big nor small;
intent, it is neither difficult,
nor done with ease.
completed, he then lets go of it;
seeking no credit, he cannot be
Thus, his teaching lasts for ever,
and he is held
in high esteem.
3. WITHOUT SEEKING ACCLAIM
By retaining his humility,
the talented person who is also
The person who possesses many things,
but does not boast of his
reduces temptation, and reduces stealing.
Those who are jealous of the skills or things
most easily themselves become possessed by envy.
Satisfied with his possessions,
the sage eliminates the need to
at one with the Tao,
he remains free of envy,
has no need of titles.
By being supple, he retains his energy.
He minimizes his
and does not train himself in guile,
nor subtle words
By not contriving, he retains
the harmony of his
and so remains at peace within himself.
It is for reasons such as these,
that an administration
which is concerned
with the welfare of those it serves,
does not encourage status
and titles to be sought,
Ensuring a sufficiency for all,
helps in reducing discontent.
Administrators who are wise
do not seek honours for themselves,
nor act with guile
towards the ones they serve.
4. THE UNFATHOMABLE TAO
It is the nature of the Tao,
that even though used
it is replenished naturally,
and never being over-filled,
as is a goblet
spills its contents
upon the ground.
The Tao therefore cannot be said
to waste its charge,
a source of nourishment
for those who are
not so full of self
as to be unable to partake of it.
tempered beyond its natural state,
the finest blade will lose its
Even the hardest tempered sword,
against water, is of no
and will shatter if struck against a rock.
untangled by a cutting edge,
the cord in little pieces lies,
and is of little use.
Just as the finest swordsmith
tempers the finest blade
so the sage, with wisdom, tempers intellect.
With patience, tangled cord may be undone,
and problems which
seem insoluble, resolved.
With wise administrators, all can exist in unity,
each with the
because no man need feel that he exists,
only as the
shadow of his brilliant brother.
Through conduct not contrived for gain,
awareness of the Tao
may be maintained.
This is how its mysteries may be found.
5. WITHOUT INTENTION
Nature acts without intent,
so cannot be described
acting with benevolence,
nor malevolence to any thing.
In this respect, the Tao is just the same,
though in reality it
should be said
that nature follows the rule of Tao.
Therefore, even when he seems to act
in manner kind or
the sage is not acting with such intent,
conscious matters such as these,
he is amoral and indifferent.
The sage retains tranquility,
and is not by speech or thought
and even less by action which is contrived.
actions are spontaneous,
as are his deeds towards his fellow men.
By this means he is empty of desire,
and his energy is not
drained from him.
Like the sheltered, fertile valley,
the meditative mind is
yet retains its energy.
Since both energy and stillness,
of themselves, do not have
it is not through the senses
that they may be found,
nor understood by intellect alone,
although, in nature, both
In the meditative state,
the mind ceases to differentiate
and that which may or may not be.
leaves them well alone,
for they exist,
but as one,
within the meditative mind.
7. SHEATHING THE LIGHT
When living by the Tao,
awareness of self is not required,
for in this way of life, the self exists,
and is also
being conceived of, not as an existentiality,
nor as non-existent.
The sage does not contrive to find his self,
for he knows that
all which may be found of it,
is that which it manifests to sense
which side by side with self itself, is nought.
It is by sheathing intellect's bright light
that the sage
remains at one with his own self,
ceasing to be aware of it, by
placing it behind.
Detached, he is unified with his external
by being selfless he is fulfilled;
thus his selfhood is
8. THE WAY OF WATER
Great good is said to be like water,
sustaining life with no
flowing naturally, providing nourishment,
found even in places
which desiring man rejects.
In this way
it is like the Tao itself.
Like water, the sage abides in a humble place;
in thoughtfulness, he is profound,
and in his
In speech, sincerity guides the man of Tao,
and as a leader, he is just.
In management, competence is his
and he ensures the pacing is correct.
Because he does not act for his own ends,
nor cause unnecessary
he is held to be correct
in his actions towards his
9. WITHOUT EXTREMES
The cup is easier to hold
when not filled to overflowing.
The blade is more effective
if not tempered beyond its mettle.
Gold and jade are easier to protect
if possessed in moderation.
He who seeks titles,
invites his own downfall.
The sage works quietly,
seeking neither praise nor fame;
completing what he does with natural ease,
and then retiring.
This is the way and nature of Tao.
10. CLEANING THE DARK MIRROR
Maintaining unity is virtuous,
for the inner world of thought
with the external world
of action and of things.
The sage avoids their separation,
by breathing as the sleeping
and thus maintaining harmony.
He cleans the dark mirror of his mind,
so that it reflects
He conducts himself without contriving,
the people, and not interfering.
He cultivates without possessing,
thus providing nourishment,
he remains receptive
to changing needs,
By leading from behind,
attending to that
which must be
he is said to have attained
the mystic state.
11. THE UTILITY OF
Though thirty spokes may form the wheel,
it is the hole within
which gives the wheel utility.
It is not the clay the potter throws,
which gives the pot its
but the space within the shape,
from which the pot
Without a door, the room cannot be entered,
and without windows
it is dark.
Such is the utility of non-existence.
12. THE REPRESSION OF DESIRES
Through sight, the colours may be seen,
but too much colour
Apprehending the tones of sound,
too much sound
might make us deaf,
and too much flavour deadens taste.
hunting for sport, and chasing for pleasure,
the mind easily
He who collects treasures for himself
easily becomes anxious.
The wise person fulfills his needs,
rather than sensory
13. UNMOVED AND UNMOVING
The ordinary man seeks honour, not dishonour,
success and abominating failure,
loving life, whilst fearing
The sage does not recognise these things,
so lives his
life quite simply.
The ordinary man seeks to make himself
the centre of his
the universe of the sage is at his centre.
the world, and thus remains unmoved
by things with which others
He acts with humility, is neither moved nor moving,
and can therefore be trusted in caring for all things.
14. EXPERIENCING THE MYSTERY
The Tao is abstract,
and therefore has no form,
neither bright in rising,
nor dark in sinking,
grasped, and makes no sound.
Without form or image, without existence,
the form of the
formless, is beyond defining,
cannot be described,
beyond our understanding.
It cannot be called by any name.
Standing before it, it has no beginning;
even when followed, it
has no end.
In the now, it exists; to the present apply it,
follow it well, and reach its beginning.
15. THE MANIFESTATION OF THE
TAO IN MAN
The sage of old was profound and wise;
like a man at a ford, he
took great care,
alert, perceptive and aware.
Desiring nothing for himself,
and having no desire
change for its own sake,
his actions were difficult to understand.
Being watchful, he had no fear of danger;
being responsive, he
had no need of fear.
He was courteous like a visiting guest,
and as yielding as the
Having no desires, he was untouched by craving.
Receptive and mysterious,
his knowledge was unfathomable,
causing others to think him hesitant.
Pure in heart, like uncut jade,
he cleared the muddy water
by leaving it alone.
By remaining calm and active,
the need for renewing is reduced.
16. RETURNING TO THE ROOT
It is only by means of being
that non-being may be found.
When society changes
from its natural state of flux,
that which seems like chaos,
the inner world of the superior man
remains uncluttered and at peace.
By remaining still, his self
he aids society in its return
to the way of nature
and of peace.
The value of his insight may be clearly seen
when chaos ceases.
Being one with the Tao is to be at peace,
and to be in conflict
leads to chaos and dysfunction.
When the consistency of the Tao is known,
the mind is receptive
to its states of change.
It is by being at one with the Tao,
that the sage holds no
against his fellow man.
If accepted as a leader of
he is held in high esteem.
Throughout his life,
both being and non-being,
17. LEADERSHIP BY EXCEPTION
Man cannot comprehend the infinite;
only knowing that the best
the second best is seen and praised,
and the next,
despised and feared.
The sage does not expect that others
use his criteria as their
The existence of the leader who is wise
is barely known to
those he leads.
He acts without unnecessary speech,
the people say,
"It happened of its own accord".
18. THE DECAY OF ETHICS
When the way of the Tao is forgotten,
kindness and ethics need
to be taught;
men learn to pretend to be wise and good.
All too often in the lives of men,
filial piety and devotion
arise only after conflict and strife,
just as loyal ministers
all too often appear,
when the people are suppressed.
19. RETURNING TO NATURALNESS
It is better merely to live one's life,
rather than wishing
He who lives in filial piety and love
has no need of ethical
When cunning and profit are renounced,
stealing and fraud will
But ethics and kindness, and even wisdom,
insufficient in themselves.
Better by far to see the simplicity
of raw silk's beauty
and the uncarved block;
to be one with onself,
It is better by far
to be one with the Tao,
but being compassionate.
20. BEING DIFFERENT FROM
The sage is often envied
because others do not know
although he is nourished by the Tao,
like them, he too is mortal.
He who seeks wisdom is well advised
to give up academic ways,
and put an end to striving.
Then he will learn that yes and no
are distinguished only by distinction.
It is to the advantage of the sage
that he does not fear what
but it is to the advantage of others
can enjoy the feast,
or go walking, free of hindrance,
the terraced park in spring.
The sage drifts like a cloud,
having no specific place.
Like a newborn babe before it smiles,
he does not seek to
In the eyes of those
who have more than they
the sage has nothing, and is a fool,
prizing only that
which of the Tao is born.
The sage may seem to be perplexed,
being neither bright nor
and to himself, sometimes he seems
both dull and weak,
confused and shy.
Like the ocean at night,
he is serene and
but as penetrating as the winter wind.
21. FINDING THE ESSENCE OF TAO
The greatest virtue is to follow the Tao;
how it achieves !
The essence of Tao is dark and mysterious,
having, itself, no
image or form.
Yet through its non-being,
are found image and
The essence of Tao is deep and unfathomable,
yet it may
be known by not trying to know.
22. YIELDING TO MAINTAIN
Yield, and maintain integrity.
To bend is to be upright;
be empty is to be full.
Those who have little have much to gain,
but those who have
may be confused by possessions.
The wise man embraces the all encompassing;
he is unaware of
himself, and so has brilliance;
not defending himself, he gains
not seeking fame, he receives recognition;
making false claims, he does not falter;
and not being
is in conflict with no one.
This is why it was said by the sages of old,
"Yield, and maintain integrity;
be whole, and all things come to you".
23. ACCEPTING THE IRREVOCABLE
Nature's way is to say but little;
high winds are made still
with the turn of the tide,
and rarely last all morning,
nor heavy rain, all day.
Therefore, when talking,
to be silent and still.
He who follows the natural way
is always one with the Tao.
He who is virtuous may experience virtue,
whilst he who loses
the natural way
is easily lost himself.
He who is at one with the Tao
is at one with nature,
virtue always exists for he who has virtue.
To accept the irrevocable
is to let go of desire.
He who does not have trust in others
should not himself be
He who stretches
beyond his natural reach,
does not stand
upon the ground;
just as he
who travels at a speed
beyond his means,
cannot maintain his pace.
He who boasts
is not enlightened,
and he who is
does not gain respect
from those who are
thus, he gains nothing,
and will fall into
boasting and self-righteousness,
the sage considers them excesses,
no need of them.
25. THE CREATIVE PRINCIPLE OF
The creative principle unifies
the inner and external worlds.
It does not depend on time or space,
is ever still and yet in
thereby it creates all things,
and is therefore called
'the creative and the absolute';
its ebb and its flow extend
We describe the Tao as being great;
we describe the universe as
nature too, we describe as great,
and man himself is
Man's laws should follow natural laws,
just as nature gives
rise to physical laws,
whilst following from universal law,
which follows the Tao.
The natural way is the way of the sage,
serving as his
providing his centre deep within,
whether in his
home or journeying.
Even when he travels far,
he is not separate
from his own
Maintaining awareness of natural beauty,
does not forget his purpose.
Although he may dwell in a grand estate,
simplicity remains his
for he is full aware, that losing it,
his roots as well
So he is not restless,
lest he loses the
Similarly, the people's leader
is not flippant in his role, nor
for these could cause the loss
of the roots of
27. FOLLOWING THE TAO
The sage follows the natural way,
doing what is required of
Like an experienced tracker,
he leaves no tracks;
good speaker, his speech is fluent;
He makes no error, so needs no
like a good door, which needs no lock,
he is open when
it is required of him,
and closed at other times;
like a good
binding, he is secure,
without the need of borders.
Knowing that virtue may grow from example,
this is the way in
which the sage teaches,
abandoning no one who stops to listen.
Thus, from experience of the sage,
all might learn, and so
There is mutual respect twixt teacher and pupil,
respect, there would be confusion.
28. RETAINING INTEGRITY
Whilst developing creativity,
also cultivate receptivity.
Retain the mind like that of a child,
which flows like running
When considering any thing,
do not lose its opposite.
thinking of the finite,
do not forget infinity;
Act with honour, but retain humility.
By acting according to
the way of the Tao,
set others an example.
By retaining the integrity
of the inner and external worlds,
true selfhood is maintained,
and the inner world made fertile.
29. TAKING NO ACTION
The external world is fragile,
and he who meddles with its
risks causing damage to himself.
He who tries to
thereby loses it.
It is natural for things to change,
sometimes being ahead,
There are times when even breathing
may be difficult,
whereas its natural state is easy.
Sometimes one is strong,
and sometimes weak,
and sometimes sick,
sometimes is first,
other times behind.
The sage does not try
to change the world by force,
knows that force results in force.
He avoids extremes and
and does not become complacent.
30. A CAVEAT AGAINST VIOLENCE
When leading by the way of the Tao,
abominate the use of force,
for it causes resistance, and loss of strength,
Tao has not been followed well.
Achieve results but not through
for it is against the natural way,
and damages both
others' and one's own true self.
The harvest is destroyed in the wake of a great war,
grow in the fields in the wake of the army.
The wise leader achieves results,
but does not glory in them;
is not proud of his victories,
and does not boast of them.
He knows that boasting is not the natural way,
and that he who
goes against that way,
will fail in his endeavours.
31. MAINTAINING PEACE
Weapons of war are instruments of fear,
and are abhorred by
those who follow the Tao.
The leader who follows the natural way
does not abide them.
The warrior king leans to his right,
from whence there comes
his generals' advice,
but the peaceful king looks to his left,
where sits his counsellor of peace.
When he looks to his left,
it is a time of peace,
and when to the right, a time for sorrow.
Weapons of war are instruments of fear,
and are not favoured by
who use them only when there is no choice,
and stillness are dear to their hearts,
and victory causes them no
To rejoice in victory is to delight in killing;
to delight in
killing is to have no self-being.
The conduct of war is that of a funeral;
when people are
killed, it is a time of mourning.
This is why even victorious
should be observed without rejoicing.
32. IF THE TAO WERE OBSERVED
The Tao is eternal, but does not have fame;
like the uncarved
block, its worth seems small,
though its value to man is beyond
Were it definable, it could then be used
obviate conflict, and the need
to teach the way of the Tao;
all men would abide in the peace of the Tao;
sweet dew would
descend to nourish the earth.
When the Tao is divided,
there is a need for names,
like the block which is carved,
its parts then are seen.
By stopping in time
from torment and conflict,
defeated, and danger averted.
The people then seek the wisdom of
just as all rivers flow to the great sea.
33. WITHOUT FORCE: WITHOUT
Knowledge frequently results
from knowing others,
man who is awakened,
has seen the uncarved block.
Others might be mastered by force,
but to master one's self
requires the Tao.
He who has many material things,
may be described as rich,
but he who knows he has enough,
and is at one with the Tao,
might have enough of material things,
and have self-being as
Will-power may bring perseverance;
but to have tranquility is
being protected for all his days.
He whose ideas remain in the world,
is present for all time.
34. WITHOUT CONTRIVING
All things may act, without exclusion,
according to the natural
which fulfills its purpose silently,
and with no claim.
Being an aspect of natural order,
it is not the ruler of any
but remains the source of their nourishment.
be seen; it has no intention,
but all natural things rely on its
When all things return to it,
it does not enslave
so unmanifested, its greatness prevails.
Modelling himself upon the Tao,
he who is wise, does not
but is content with what he achieves.
35. THE BENEVOLENT HOST
The wise man acts at one with the Tao,
for he knows it is here
that peace is found.
It is for this reason that he is sought.
Whilst guests enjoy good music and food,
as these are supplied
by a benevolent host,
a description of Tao seems without form,
for it cannot be heard and cannot be seen.
But when the music
and food are all ended,
the taste of the Tao still remains.
It is the way of the Tao,
that things which expand might also
that he who is strong, will at some time be weak,
he who is raised will then be cast down,
and that all men have a
need to give,
and also have a need to receive.
The biggest fish stay deep in the pond,
and a country's best
should be kept locked away.
That which is soft and
may overcome the hard and strong.
37. THE EXERCISE OF LEADERSHIP
The way of nature is not contrived,
yet nothing which is
is left undone.
Observing nature, the wise leader knows this,
desire with dispassion,
thus saving that energy, otherwise spent,
which has not been wasted away.
The wise leader knows
his actions must be
without the use
of forced energy.
He knows that more
is still required,
for he also knows
that he must act
without deliberate intent,
of having no
To act without contrived intent
is to act without contriving,
and is the way of nature,
and so is the way of the Tao.
38. THE CONCERNS OF THE GREAT
A truly good man is unaware
of the good deeds he performs.
Conversely, a foolish man must try
continuously to be good.
A good man seems to do little or nought,
yet he leaves nothing
A foolish man must always strive,
whilst leaving much
The man who is truly wise and kind
leaves nothing to be done,
but he who only acts
according to his nation's law
many things undone.
A disciplinarian wanting something done
rolls up his sleeves,
enforcing it with violence.
It may be that goodness still remains,
even when the natural
way is lost,
and that kindness still exists
when goodness is
It may be that justice still remains
people are no longer kind,
and when this is lost, that ritual
However, ritual may be performed
only as an act
and may be the beginning of confusion,
divination and the such
are but the flowery trappings of the Tao,
and are the beginning of great folly.
He who is truly great
does not upon the surface dwell,
on what lies beneath.
It is said that the fruit is his concern,
rather than the flower.
Each must decide what it might be he
the flowery trapping,
which comes to summer fullness
or the fruit which is beneath.
39. SUFFICIENCY AND QUIETNESS
From the principle which is called the Tao,
the sky, the earth,
and creativity are one,
the sky is clear, the earth is firm,
and the spirit of the inner world is full.
When the ruler of the land is whole,
the nation too is strong,
alive and well,
and the people have sufficient
to meet their
When the daytime sky is dark
and overcast like night,
nation and its people
will surely suffer much.
The firmness of the dew filled earth
gives it its life;
energy of the inner world
prevents its becoming drained of
its fullness prevents it running dry.
The growth of
prevents their dying.
The work of the leader should ensure
"humility is the root
of great nobility;
the low forms a foundation
for the great;
and princes consider themselves
to be of little worth".
Each depends on humility therefore;
the prosperity of the
So it is said,
it is of no advantage to
have too much success,
so do not sound loudly like jade bells,
nor clatter like stone chimes.
40. BEING AND NOT BEING
The motion of nature
is cyclic and returning.
Its way is to
for to yield is to become.
All things are born of
being is born of non-being.
41. SAMENESS AND DIFFERENCE
On hearing of the Tao,
the wise student's practice is with
the average student attends to his practice
his memory reminds him so to do;
and the foolish student laughs.
But we do well to remember
that with no sudden laughter,
there would be no natural way.
Thus it is said,
"There are times when even brightness seems dim;
when progress seems like regression;
when the easy seems most difficult,
and virtue seems empty, inadequate and frail;
times when purity seems sullied;
when even reality seems unreal,
and when a square seems to have corners;
when even great talent is of no avail,
and the highest note cannot be heard;
when the formed seems formless,
and when the way of nature is out of sight".
Even in such times as these,
the natural way still nourishes,
that all things may be fulfilled.
42. THE TRANSFORMATIONS OF THE
The Tao existed before its name,
and from its name, the
giving rise to three divisions,
and then to
These things embrace receptively,
achieving inner harmony,
and by their unity create
the inner world of man.
No man wishes to be seen
as worthless in another's eyes,
but the wise leader describes himself this way,
for he knows
that one may gain by losing,
and lose by gaining,
and that a
will not die a natural death.
43. AT ONE WITH TAO
Only the soft overcomes the hard,
by yielding, bringing it to
Even where there is no space,
that which has no
substance enters in.
Through these things is shown
the value of the natural way.
The wise man understands full well,
that wordless teaching can
and that actions should occur
without the wish for
A contented man knows himself to be
more precious even than
and so, obscure, remains.
He who is more attached to wealth
than to himself,
more heavily from loss.
He who knows when to stop, might lose,
but in safety stays.
In retrospect, even those accomplishments
which seemed perfect
may seem imperfect and ill formed,
does not mean that such accomplishments
have outlived their
That which once seemed full,
may later empty seem,
still be unexhausted.
That which once seemed straight
twisted when seen once more;
intelligence can seem stupid,
eloquence seem awkward;
movement may overcome the cold,
but stillness in movement
is the way of the
46. MODERATING DESIRE AND
When the way of nature is observed,
all things serve their
horses drawing carts, and pulling at the plough.
when the natural way is not observed,
horses are bred for battle
and for war.
Desire and wanting cause discontent,
whilst he who knows
more easily has what he requires.
47. DISCOVERING THE DISTANT
The Tao may be known and observed
without the need of travel;
the way of the heavens might be well seen
through a window.
The further one travels,
the less one knows.
looking, the sage sees all,
and by working without self-advancing
he discovers the wholeness of the Tao.
48. FORGETTING KNOWLEDGE
When pursuing knowledge,
something new is acquired each day.
But when pursuing the way of the Tao,
something is subtracted;
less striving occurs,
until there is no striving.
When effort is uncontrived,
nothing is left undone;
of nature rules
by allowing things to take their course,
by contriving to change.
49. THE VIRTUE OF RECEPTIVITY
The sage is not mindful for himself,
but is receptive to
Knowing that virtue requires great faith,
has that faith, and is good to all;
irrespective of others' deeds,
he treats them according to their needs.
He has humility and is shy,
thus confusing other men.
see him as they might a child,
and sometimes listen to his words.
50. THE VALUE SET ON LIFE
In looking at the people, we might see
that in the space twixt
birth and death,
one third follow life, and one third death,
and those who merely pass from birth to death,
are also one
third of those we see.
He who lives by the way of the Tao,
travels without fear of
and will not be pierced in an affray,
offers no resistance.
The universe is the centre of his world,
so in the inner world
of he who lives within the Tao,
there is no place
where death can enter in.
51. THE NOURISHMENT OF THE TAO
All physical things arise
from the principle which is absolute;
the principle which is the natural way.
All living things are formed by being,
and shaped by their
growing if nourished well by virtue;
All natural things respect the Tao,
giving honour to its
although the Tao does not expect,
nor look for honour
The virtue of the natural way
is that all things are born of
it nourishes and comforts them;
develops, shelters and
cares for them,
protecting them from harm.
The Tao creates, not claiming credit,
and guides without
52. RETURNING TO THE SOURCE
The virtue of Tao governs its natural way.
Thus, he who is at
one with it,
is one with everything which lives,
freedom from the fear of death.
Boasting, and hurrying hither and thither,
enjoyment of a peace filled life.
Life is more fulfilled by far,
for he who does not have desire,
for he does not have desire,
has no need of boasting.
Learn to see the insignificant and small,
grow in wisdom and
that which is irrevocable,
do not try to
and so be saved from harm.
When temptation arises to leave the Tao,
stay with the Tao.
When the court has adornments in profusion,
the fields are full
and the granaries are bare.
It is not the way of
nature to carry a sword,
nor to over-adorn oneself,
have more than a sufficiency
of fine food and drink.
He who has more possessions than he can use,
who could use them well.
54. CULTIVATING INSIGHT
That which is firmly rooted,
is not easily torn from the
just as that which is firmly grasped,
does not slip
easily from the hand.
The virtue of the Tao is real,
if cultivated in oneself;
when loved in the family, it abounds;
when throughout the
village, it will grow;
and in the nation, be abundant.
is real universally,
virtue is in all people.
All things are microcosms of the Tao;
the world a microcosmic
the nation a microcosm of the world,
the village a
the family a village in microcosmic view,
and the body a microcosm of one's own family;
from single cell
55. MYSTERIOUS VIRTUE
He who has virtue is like a newborn child,
free from attack by
those who dwell
in the way of nature, the way of the Tao.
The bones of the newborn child are soft,
his muscles supple,
but his grip is firm;
he is whole, though not knowing he was born
of the creative and receptive way.
The way of nature is in the
so even when he shouts all day,
his throat does not
grow hoarse or dry.
From constancy, there develops harmony,
and from harmony,
It is unwise to rush from here to there.
To hold one's breath
causes the body strain;
when too much
energy is used,
for this is not the natural way.
He who is in opposition to the Tao
does not live his natural
56. VIRTUOUS PASSIVITY
Those who know the natural way
have no need of boasting,
whilst those who know but little,
may be heard most
thus, the sage says little,
if anything at all.
Not demanding stimuli,
he tempers his sharpness well,
reduces the complex to simplicity,
hiding his brilliance,
he settles the dust,
whilst in union with all
He who has attained enlightenment
(without contriving so to do)
is not concerned with making friends,
nor with making enemies;
with good or harm, with praise or blame.
Such detatchment is
the highest state of man.
With natural justice, people must be ruled,
and if war be
waged, strategy and tactics used.
To master one's self,
must act without cunning.
The greater the number of laws and restrictions,
the poorer the
people who inhabit the land.
The sharper the weapons of battle and
the greater the troubles besetting the land.
the cunning with which people are ruled,
the stranger the things
which occur in the land.
The harder the rules and regulations,
the greater the number of those who will steal.
The sage therefore does not contrive,
in order to bring about
but teaches the people peace of mind,
in order that
they might enjoy their lives.
Having no desires, all he does is
Since he teaches self-sufficiency,
the people who
follow him return
to a good, uncomplicated life.
58. TRANSFORMATIONS ACCORDING
When the hand of the ruler is light,
the people do not
but when the country is severely ruled,
grow in cunning.
The actions of the sage are sharp,
but they are never cutting,
they are pointed, though never piercing,
straightforward, not contrived,
and not without restraint,
brilliant but not blinding.
This is the action of the sage,
because he is aware
that where happiness exists,
also misery and strife;
that where honesty may be found,
is occasion for dishonesty,
and that men may be beguiled.
The sage knows that no-one can foretell
just what the future
59. GUARDING THE TAO
By acting with no thought of self-advancement,
it is possible to lead,
and genuinely care for
This happens by acting virtuously,
and leaving nothing
to be done.
A foundation virtuous and firm,
rooted in receptivity,
prerequisite of good leadership,
and for a life both long and
He whose virtue knows no limit,
is most fitting to
His roots are deep,
and his life protected
as the bark protects the tree.
To rule a country,
one must act with care,
as when frying
the smallest fish.
If actions are approached,
and carried out in the natural way,
the power of evil is reduced,
and so the ruler and the ruled
are equally protected.
They will not contrive to harm each
for the virtue of one refreshes the other.
A great country remains receptive and still,
as does a rich and
The gentle overcomes the strong
By giving way to the other,
one country may conquer another;
a small country may submit to a large,
and conquer it, though
having no arms.
Those who conquer must be willing to yield;
to yield may be to
A fertile nation may require a greater population,
to use its
resources to the full,
whilst the country without such natural
may require them to meet its people's needs.
in unity, each may achieve
that which it requires.
62. SHARING THE TREASURE
The source of all things is in the Tao.
It is a treasure for
and a refuge for all in need.
Whilst praise can buy titles,
good deeds gain respect.
No man should be abandoned
because he has not found the Tao.
On auspicious occasions, when gifts are sent,
sending horses or jade,
send the teaching of Tao.
When we first discover the natural way,
we are happy to know
that our misdeeds
are in the past, where they belong,
are happy to realize
that we have found a treasure.
63. BEGINNING AND COMPLETING
Act without contriving;
work naturally, and taste the
magnify the small; increase the few,
bitterness with care.
Seek the simple in the complex,
achieve greatness in small things.
It is the way of nature
that even difficult things are done
and great acts made up of smaller deeds.
achieves greatness by small deeds multiplied.
Promises easily made are most easily broken,
and acting with
causes subsequent trouble.
confronts problems as they arise,
so that they do not trouble him.
64. STAYING WITH THE MYSTERY
If problems are accepted,
and dealt with before they arise,
they might even be prevented before confusion begins,
way peace may be maintained.
The brittle is easily shattered,
and the small is easily
Great trees grow from the smallest shoots;
terraced garden, from a pile of earth,
and a journey of a thousand
begins by taking the initial step.
He who contrives, defeats his purpose;
and he who is grasping,
The sage does not contrive to win,
and therefore is not
he is not grasping, so does not lose.
It is easy to fail when nearing completion,
care right to the end,
not only in the beginning.
The sage seeks freedom from desire,
not grasping at ideas.
He brings men back when they are lost,
and helps them find the
65. VIRTUOUS GOVERNMENT
Knowing it is against the Tao
to try to enforce learning,
the early sages did not contrive
to teach the way of the Tao.
There are two ways of government.
One is to be cunning, to act
and to contrive to cheat the people.
When this way
is used to rule,
the people grow in cunning,
and contrive to
cheat the ruler.
The second way to govern the land,
is to do so without
People so governed are truly blessed,
for they are
governed with virtue,
and virtuous government is fair to all,
thus leading to unity.
66. LEADING FROM BEHIND
The sea is the ruler of river and stream,
because it rules from
The teacher guides his students best,
by allowing them to lead.
When the ruler is a sage,
the people do not feel oppressed;
they support the one who rules them well,
and never tire of
He who is non-competitive
invites no competition.
67. THE THREE PRECIOUS
Those who follow the natural way
are different from others in
They have great mercy and economy,
courage not to compete.
From mercy there comes courage;
and from humility, willingness to lead from
It is the way of sickness to shun the merciful,
and to acclaim
only heroic deeds,
to abandon economy, and to be selfish.
They are sick, who are not humble,
but try always to be first.
Only he who is compassionate
can show true bravery,
defending, show great strength.
Compassion is the means by which
mankind may be guarded and saved,
for heaven arms with
those whom it would not see destroyed.
68. WITHOUT DESIRE
An effective warrior acts
not from nihilistic anger,
from desire to kill.
He who wins should not be vengeful.
An employer should have
If we wish for peace and unity,
our dealings with our fellow
must be without desire for self-advantage,
and carried out
69. THE USE OF THE MYSTERIOUS
Arguments may be won by waiting,
rather than making an
by withdrawing rather than advancing.
By moving without appearing to move,
by not making a show of
but by conserving it well;
by capturing without
by being armed, but with no weapons,
may be won.
Do not underestimate
those you enjoin in battle,
for this can result in losing
what is of greatest value.
When a battle is enjoined,
by remembering this,
may still win.
70. HIDDEN IDENTITY
Though the words of the sage are simple,
and his actions easily
they are few among many,
who can speak or act as a
For the ordinary man it is difficult
to know the way of a sage,
perhaps because his words
are from the distant past,
his actions naturally disposed.
Those who know the way of the sage
are few and far between,
but those who treat him with honesty,
will be honoured by him
and the Tao.
He knows he makes no fine display,
and wears rough clothes, not
It is not in his expectancy of men
that they should
understand his ways,
for he carries his jade within his heart.
71. WITHOUT SICKNESS
To acknowledge one's ignorance
shows strength of personality,
but to ignore wisdom is a sign of weakness.
To be sick of sickness is a sign of good health,
wise man grows sick of sickness,
and sick of being sick of
'til he is sick no more.
72. LOVING THE SELF
The sage retains a sense of awe, and of propriety.
He does not
intrude into others' homes;
does not harass them,
interfere without request,
unless they damage others.
So it is
that they return to him.
'Though the sage knows himself
he makes no show of it;
has self-respect, but is not arrogant,
for he develops the ability
to let go of that
which he no longer needs.
73. ACTING WITH A SUFFICIENCY
A brave man who is passionate
will either kill or be killed,
but a man who is both brave and still
might preserve his own
and others' lives.
No one can say with certainty,
why it is
better to preserve a life.
The virtuous way is a way to act
without contriving effort,
yet, without contriving it overcomes.
It seldom speaks, and
but is answered without a question.
It is supplied
with all its needs
and is constantly at ease
follows its own plan
which cannot be understood by man.
casts its net both deep and wide,
and 'though coarse meshed, it
misses nothing in the tide.
74. USURPING THE TAO
If the people are not afraid of death,
they have no fear of
threats of death.
If early death is common in the land,
and if death is meted out
the people do not fear to break the law.
To be the executioner in such a land as this,
is to be as an
who cuts his hand
when trying to cut wood.
75. INJURING THROUGH GREED
When taxes are too heavy,
hunger lays the people low.
those who govern interfere too much,
the people become rebellious.
When those who govern demand too much
of people's lives, death
is taken lightly.
When the people are starving in the land,
life is of little value,
and so is more easily sacrificed by
in overthrowing government.
76. AGAINST TRUSTING IN
Man is born gentle and supple.
At death, his body is brittle
Living plants are tender,
and filled with
but at their death they are withered and dry.
The stiff, the hard, and brittle
are harbingers of death,
and gentleness and yielding
are the signs of that which lives.
The warrior who is inflexible
condemns himself to death,
and the tree is easily broken,
which ever refuses to yield.
Thus the hard and brittle will surely fall,
and the soft and
supple will overcome.
77. THE WAY OF THE TAO
The Tao is as supple as a bow;
the high made lower, and the
It shortens the string which has been stretched,
and lengthens that which has become too short.
It is the way of the Tao to take from those
who have a surplus
to what they need,
providing for those without enough.
of the ordinary person,
is not the way of the Tao,
people take from those who are poor
and give to those who are
The sage knows that his possessions are none,
gives to the world;
without recognition, doing his work.
this way he accomplishes
that which is required of him;
without dwelling upon it in any way,
he gives of his wisdom
There is nothing more yielding than water,
yet when acting on
the solid and strong,
its gentleness and fluidity
equal in any thing.
The weak can overcome the strong,
and the supple overcome the
Although this is known far and wide,
few put it into
practice in their lives.
Although seemingly paradoxical,
the person who takes upon
the people's humiliation,
is fit to rule;
is fit to lead,
who takes the country's disasters upon himself.
79. FULFILLING ONE'S
When covenants and bonds are drawn
between the people of the
that they might know their obligations,
commonplace for many
to fail to meet their dues.
The sage ensures his dues are met,
'though not expecting others
to do the same;
in this way he is virtuous.
He is without virtue of his own,
who asks of others that they
his obligations on his behalf.
The way of nature does not impose
on matters such as these
but stays with the good for ever,
and acts as their reward.
80. STANDING ALONE
A small country may have many machines,
but the people will
have no use for them;
they will have boats and carriages
they do not use;
their armour and weapons
are not displayed,
for they are serious when regarding death.
They do not travel
far from home,
and make knots in ropes,
rather than do much
The food they eat is plain and good,
and their clothes are
their homes are secure,
without the need of bolts and
and they are happy in their ways.
'Though the cockerels and dogs
of their neighbours
heard not far away,
the people of the villages
grow old and
die in peace.
81. MANIFESTING SIMPLICITY
The truth is not always beautiful,
nor beautiful words the
Those who have virtue,
have no need of argument for its own
for they know that argument is of no avail.
Those who have knowledge of the natural way
do not train
themselves in cunning,
whilst those who use cunning to rule their
and the lives of others,
are not knowledgeable of the
nor of natural happiness.
The sage seeks not to have a store
of things or knowledge, for
the less of these he has, the more he has,
the more he gives,
the greater his abundance.
The way of the sage is pointed
but does not harm.
The way of the sage
is to work without cunning.