Das
Tao Te King
von
Lao Tse
English by
Chichung Huang
http://www.sanmayce.com/

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1

A tao that can be spoken about
Is not the constant Tao;
A name that can be named
Is not the constant name.
Nonbeing names
The ten thousand things' beginning;
Being names
The ten thousand things' mother.
Therefore, constantly be desireless,
Whereby to observe its minutiae;
Constantly be desirous,
Whereby to observe where it ends.
The two issued from the same origin,
And, though different in name,
Refer to the same thing.
Deep and remote, doubly deep and remote,
Gate of multitudinous minutiae.


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2

When all under heaven know beauty as beauty,
There is ugliness;
When all know goodness,
There is evil.
That being and nonbeing mutually generate,
Difficult and easy mutually complement,
Long and short mutually formulate,
High and low mutually fulfill,
Music and voice mutually harmonize,
Front and back mutually follow
Is constant.
Hence, the sage man
Assumed the office of nonaction,
Conducted speechless instruction.
When the ten thousand things rose,
He did not initiate.
He assisted without taking credit;
Scored merits without claiming.
Precisely because he claimed not,
They never vanished.


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3

Do not exalt talents
So that the people will not contend;
Do not treasure goods hard to come by
So that the people will not steal;
Do not parade enviable things
So that the people will not rebel.
Hence, when the sage man ruled,
He emptied their minds,
Filled their stomachs,
Weakened their ambitions,
Strengthened their bones.
He constantly made the people
Uncrafty and unlustful,
And made them know not to be daring.
He acted not, that is all.
Thus, the state cannot but become well-ruled.


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4

The Tao is the empty space of a vessel,
Yet, when used,
Never brims over.
How deep,
Like the ten thousand things' progenitor!
It files its sharpness,
Unravels its entanglements,
Softens its brightness,
And mingles with the dust.
How transparent,
As if existing!
I do not know whose son it was;
Seemed to precede the Emperor.


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5

Heaven and earth are unfeeling,
Treating the ten thousand things like straw and dogs;
The sage man was unfeeling,
Treating the hundred family names like straw and dogs.
The space between heaven and earth -
Is it not like a bellows?
Empty yet inexhaustible.
The more it operates, the more it emits.
Much learning brings a quick end.
Better adhere to the middle.


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6

The valley spirit never dies;
It is called the deep and remote female.
The gate of the deep and remote female
Is called the root of heaven and earth.
Continuous and unbroken, as if existing.
When used, it is inexhaustible.


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7

Heaven is permanent and earth, everlasting.
The reason why heaven and earth
Can be permanent and everlasting
Is that they do not live for themselves.
Therefore, they can live permanently.
Hence, the sage man
Withdrew himself to the back,
Yet found himself in front;
Cast himself aside,
Yet found himself preserved.
Is it not because he was selfless
That he could fulfill the self?


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8

The supreme good man is like water.
Water is good at benefiting
The ten thousand things without contending,
Lying where the multitude loathes to:
Therefore, close to the Tao.
In habitation,
He is good at choosing the place;
In mind,
Good at profundity;
In giving,
Good at imitating heaven;
In speech,
Good at honesty;
In government,
Good at bringing order;
In duties,
Good at exerting his ability;
In making moves,
Good at timeliness.
Being uncontentious,
There is no resentment.


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9

To hold and fill it to the brim -
You'd better stop it;
To hammer and sharpen it -
You cannot long preserve it;
To fill a room with gold and jade -
Nobody can safeguard it;
To be noble, rich but arrogant -
You will bring yourself calamity.
To withdraw yourself after scoring merits -
Heaven's Tao.


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10

In making your soul embrace One,
Can you keep it from departing?
In concentrating your breath to make it utterly soft,
Can you do so as an infant does?
In cleaning and dusting the deep and remote mirror,
Can you make it spotless?
In loving the people and governing the state,
Can you practice nonaction?
In opening and closing the heavenly gate,
Can you play the feminine?
In keeping clear-sighted and all-perceptive,
Can you refrain from using craft?
Generate them;
Rear them.
Generate without possessing;
Lead without dominating -
This is called deep and remote virtue.


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11

Thirty spokes share a hub;
In its nothingness
Rests the carriage's usefulness.
One burns clay to make a pot;
In its nonbeing
Rests the clay pot's usefulness.
One cuts out doors and windows;
In its nonbeing
Rests the room's usefulness.
Therefore, being provides the advantage;
Nonbeing provides the usefulness.


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12

The five colors make people's eyes blind;
Galloping and hunting make people's heart go wild;
Goods hard to come by make people's acts injurious.
The five flavors make people's mouth numb;
The five notes make people's ears deaf.
Hence, when the sage man ruled,
He supported the stomach, but not the eye.
Therefore, he abandoned that and chose this.


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13

"People cherish humiliations like surprises;
They treasure great calamities like their lives."
What is meant by
"People cherish humiliations like surprises"?
Humiliations are degrading,
Yet they receive one like a surprise;
Lose one like a surprise.
This is what is meant by
"People cherish humiliations like surprises."
What is meant by
"They treasure great calamities like their lives"?
The reason why I have great calamities
Is because I have my life;
If I did not have my life,
What calamities would I have?
Therefore, if you treasure governing your life
More than governing the empire,
You deserve to be entrusted with the empire;
If you grudge using your life
To govern the empire,
You deserve to be charged with the empire.


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14

Looking at it, you do not see it -
This is called "invisible";
Listening to it, you do not hear it -
This is called "inaudible";
Trying to touch it, you do not feel it -
This is called "intangible."
These three, which defy thorough inquiry,
Long ago merged into One.
One is something
Whose past is not remote,
Whose future, not transient.
Continuous and unending,
It is unnameable,
And again reverts to nothingness.
This may be called the formless form,
The immaterial image.
This is called faint and dim:
Following it, you do not see its tail;
Meeting it, you do not see its head.
Hold on to the present Tao
To govern the present realm,
Whereby you know its primeval origin.
This is called the Tao's thread-head.


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15

In antiquity, he who excelled in implementing the Tao
Was minutely discerning and subtly perceptive,
Profound beyond recognition.
As he was beyond recognition,
I reluctantly depict him thus:
"Undecided, as if in winter, wading through water;
Hesitant, as if fearing the four neighbors;
Awe-inspiring, like a guest;
Melting, like ice thawing;
Simple, like the unhewn log;
Turbid, like muddy water;
Expansive, like a valley.
In muddy water, he stilled it
And gradually made it limpid;
In comfort, he stirred it
And gradually made it vital."
Those who treasure this Tao
Do not wish to be full,
Hence, they can remain ragged and imperfect.


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16

Attain emptiness to the utmost;
Adhere to stillness indefatigably.
The ten thousand things rise everywhere;
I thereby observe their revolution.
While things grow exuberantly,
Each will again revert to its root,
Which means stillness;
Stillness means reverting to life;
Reverting to life is the constant.
Knowing the constant is clear-sighted.
Not knowing the constant is blind;
Acting blindly is disastrous.
Knowing the constant leads to all-embracingness;
All-embracingness leads to impartiality;
Impartiality leads to kingliness;
Kingliness leads to heaven;
Heaven leads to the Tao;
The Tao leads to permanence;
A lifetime without peril.


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17

The supreme sovereign - the people barely knew he was there;
The next - they loved and praised him;
The next - they feared him;
The lowest - they despised him.
Only when his trust became deficient
Was there distrust.
Hesitant, he grudged his words;
Merits scored, affairs accomplished,
The hundred family names said: "That's the way things are with us."


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18

Therefore, only when the great Tao was abandoned
Was there humanity and righteousness;
Only when craft emerged
Was there great deception;
Only when the six blood relations became discordant
Was there filial piety and parental love;
Only when state and fief became chaotic
Were there upright officials.


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19

Eliminate sageness, abandon craft,
And the people shall benefit a hundredfold;
Eliminate humanity, abandon righteousness,
And the people shall revert to filial piety and parental love;
Eliminate adroitness, abandon profit,
And robbers and thieves there shall be none.
These three remarks are considered rhetorically inadequate,
Therefore, let us put them where they belong:
"Display the undyed silk and embrace the unhewn log;
Diminish selfishness and reduce lusts;
Eliminate learning and dispense with anxiety."


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20

Between "Yes, sir" and "Of course, not!" -
How much difference is there?
Between good and evil -
What difference it is!
He whom the people fear
Cannot but fear the people also.
Faintly, it seems boundless!
The multitude is jubilant,
As if feasting on the Grand Pen,
Or, in springtime, ascending a tower;
I am disinterested, showing no sign whatever,
Like an infant who cannot smile yet;
Fatigued, as if having nowhere to return.
The multitude all has enough and to spare;
I, alone, am destitute.
Mine is a fool's mind indeed, how stupid!
The vulgar are clear-sighted;
I alone am benighted.
The vulgar are discerning;
I alone am muddle-headed.
Dimly, like an ocean!
Faintly, as if endless!
The multitude is all enterprising;
I alone am slow and clumsy.
I wish to be uniquely different from others,
And cherish my nursing mother.


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21

The manifestations of grand virtue
Follow only the Tao.
The Tao is something
Faint and dim:
Dim and faint,
Therein lies an image;
Faint and dim,
Therein lies substance.
Deep and remote,
Therein lies quintessence.
Its quintessence is most genuine,
Therein lies truthfulness.
From the present to antiquity,
Its name has never vanished,
Whereby I trace back to
The father of the multitude.
How do I know
What the father of the multitude was like?
From this.


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22

"Incomplete shall be complete;
Bent shall be straight;
Hollow shall be full;
Worn shall be new;
Little shall gain;
Much shall delude."
Hence, the sage man
Took hold of One to serve
As shepherd over all under heaven:
He did not look at himself,
Therefore, illustrious;
He did not parade himself,
Therefore, clear-sighted;
He did not brag about himself,
Therefore, meritorious;
He was not conceited,
Therefore, long-enduring.
It is precisely because he did not contend
That none could with him contend.
The ancient saying:
"Incomplete shall be complete" -
Is it mere words?
Truly, it shall end up complete.


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23

Speechlessness conforms to the way things are.
A turbulent wind does not last a whole morning;
A torrential rain does not last a whole day.
Who does these?
Heaven and earth.
Even heaven and earth cannot last long,
How can man?
Therefore, he who pursues the Tao
Identifies with the Tao;
He who pursues virtue identifies with virtue;
He who pursues loss identifies with loss.
He who identifies with virtue -
The Tao, too, shall requite him with favor;
He who identifies with loss -
The Tao, too, shall requite him with loss.


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24

He who boasts cannot stand;
He who looks at himself is not illustrious;
He who parades himself is not clear-sighted;
He who brags about himself has no merit;
He who is conceited does not last long.
These, according to the Tao, are
Leftover food and improper deeds
Which people all loathe.
Therefore, he who possesses the Tao
Does not accumulate.


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25

There was something
That into an indistinguishable mass had wrought itself,
Born before heaven and earth.
Desolate and formless,
It stood alone, unchanging,
And may be regarded as
The mother of heaven and earth.
Not knowing its name,
I gave it the alias "Tao,"
And reluctantly named it "vast."
Vast and moving;
Moving and far-reaching;
Far-reaching and reverting.
The Tao is vast;
Heaven is vast;
Earth is vast;
The king is also vast.
In the empire, there are four vasts,
And the king constitutes one.
Man imitates earth;
Earth imitates heaven;
Heaven imitates the Tao;
The Tao imitates the way things are.


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26

Heaviness is the root of lightness;
Stillness is the sovereign of restlessness.
Hence, the gentleman journeyed all day
Without leaving his luggage vans.
Though having imperial guards,
In leisure, he was as clear as day.
How could a ten-thousand-chariot king
Conduct himself lightly over all under heaven?
Light, he would lose his root;
Restless, he would lose his sovereignty.


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27

A good traveler leaves neither ruts nor footprints;
A good speaker makes neither slips nor errors;
A good calculator uses neither wooden chips nor bamboo chips;
A good door-shutter has neither latch nor lock,
Yet, the door he shuts cannot be opened;
A good knot-tier has neither rope nor string,
Yet, the knot he ties cannot be untied.
Hence, the sage man
Was constantly good at rescuing men
So that there were no cast-off men;
As for things,
There were no cast-off goods.
This is called surpassing insight.
Hence, good men are good men's teachers;
Evil men, good men's wealth.
He who neither values his teachers,
Nor cherishes his wealth,
Though crafty, is but a big fool.
This is called subtle essence.


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28

Knowing his masculinity,
Adhering to his femininity,
He remained to all under heaven a brook.
Being to all under heaven a brook,
His constant virtue never departed.
His constant virtue never departed,
He again reverted to infancy.
Knowing his whiteness
Adhering to his blackness,
He remained to all under heaven a valley.
Being to all under heaven a valley,
His constant virtue was sufficient.
His constant virtue being sufficient,
He again reverted to the unhewn log.
[Knowing his whiteness,
Adhering to his blackness,
He remained to all under heaven a horizontal bar
Being to all under heaven a horizontal bar,
His constant virtue never changed.
His constant virtue never changed,
He again reverted to Infinity.]
When the unhewn log dispersed,
It became vessels;
When the sage man was employed,
He became chief of the officialdom.
A great tailor does no cutting.


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29

He who wishes to win all under heaven,
And act upon them -
In my view, he cannot prevail.
All under heaven are sacred vessels
That cannot be acted upon.
He who acts upon them ruins them;
He who holds on to them loses them.
For people -
Some walk; some follow;
Some blow warm; some blow cold;
Some are strong; some weak;
Some safe; some in danger.
Hence, the sage man
Abandoned excessiveness;
Abandoned arrogance;
Abandoned extravagance.


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30

Use the Tao to assist your sovereign lord;
Do not use military power
To flaunt your strength over all under heaven.
Such things are apt to boomerang:
Where an army has encamped,
Brambles and thorns grow.
A good commander stops
Once his end is achieved,
And does not thereby seek military superiority.
His end achieved, he is not arrogant;
His end achieved, he is not conceited;
His end achieved, he does not brag;
His end achieved, he accepts it reluctantly.
This is called
Achieving the end without seeking military superiority.
Something ages while still in its prime
Is contrary to the Tao;
What is contrary to the Tao perishes early.


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31

Weapons are inauspicious instruments
Which people all loathe.
Therefore, he who possesses the Tao
Does not accumulate.
The gentleman ordinarily honors the left;
At war, he honors the right.
Therefore, weapons are not the gentleman's instruments.
Weapons being inauspicious instruments,
If you cannot but use them,
It is best to cover up their sharp blades;
Do not relish them.
If you relish them,
It means you enjoy killing men.
He who enjoys killing men
Cannot be allowed to prevail in the empire.
Hence, on auspicious occasions,
Precedence is given to the left;
In mourning,
Precedence is given to the right.
Hence, a lieutenant general stands left;
A senior general stands right,
Meaning it is handled with mourning rituals.
If the number of men killed is multitudinous,
Preside over it in grief.
After winning a war,
Handle it with mourning rituals.


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32

The Tao is constant and nameless.
The unhewn log, though tiny,
None under heaven dare subjugate.
If marquises and kings can adhere to it,
The ten thousand things will submit to them spontaneously.
When heaven and earth integrate
To drip sweet dew,
Without anyone ordering them,
It is evenly distributed spontaneously.
With the first cutting,
Names emerged.
Names having emerged,
One should also know where to stop.
Knowing where to stop
Will thereby exempt one from peril.
The Tao's relation to all under heaven
Is like small valley streams
To a river or an ocean.


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33

He who knows others is crafty;
He who knows himself is clear-sighted.
He who overcomes others has strength;
He who overcomes himself has stamina.
He who knows content is rich;
He who practices strenuously achieves his aspiration;
He who does not lose his base is long-enduring;
He who dies without forgetting is long-lived.


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34

How the Tao overflows!
It may be found left and right.
The ten thousand things relying on it for their living,
It does not decline;
Having scored successes,
It claims no possession;
Clothing and feeding the ten thousand things,
It does not assume masterdom;
Meaning it is constantly lustless,
And may be named among the tiny.
When the ten thousand things return,
They do not know who their master is;
Hence, it may be named among the vast.
That is why the sage man
Was able to achieve vastness.
As he never assumed vastness,
He was able to achieve vastness.


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35

Take hold of the great image,
And all under heaven will flock to you.
Once there, unharmed,
They will settle down in peace and prosperity.
Music and pastries
Make the wayfarers pause.
Therefore, when the Tao utters words,
They say: "How bland and tasteless!
Looked at,
It is not worth seeing;
Listened to,
Not worth hearing."
When used, however,
It is inexhaustible.


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36

That which shall contract
Must have long expanded;
That which shall weaken
Must have long strengthened;
That which shall depart
Must have long partaken;
That which shall take
Must have long given.
This is called subtle insight.
Softness and weakness overcome strength:
Fish cannot leap out of deep water;
So cannot the state's sharp weapons
Be displayed to men.


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37

The Tao is constant and nameless.
If marquises and kings can adhere to it,
The ten thousand things will live and grow spontaneously.
While they live and grow spontaneously,
If lusts arise,
I shall fill them with the nameless unhewn log.
Being filled with the nameless unhewn log,
They shall become lustless.
Lustlessness leads to stillness;
Heaven and earth shall turn aright spontaneously.


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38

The man of supreme virtue
Claimed no virtue,
Hence, he possessed virtue;
The man of the lowest virtue
Would not lose virtue,
Hence, he possessed no virtue.
The man of supreme virtue did not act,
And had no intention to act;
The man of supreme humanity acted,
But had no intention to act;
The man of supreme righteousness acted,
And had the intention to act;
The man of supreme rituals acted,
And as none responded to him,
He rolled up his sleeves to drag them along.
Hence, only when the Tao was lost
Did virtue emerge;
Only when virtue was lost
Did humanity emerge;
Only when humanity was lost
Did righteousness emerge;
Only when righteousness was lost
Did the rituals emerge.
Now, the rituals represent
The thinness of wholehearted sincerity and truthfulness
And the beginning of chaos;
Foresight represents
The flower of the Tao
And the beginning of folly.
Hence, the great man abided by its thickness,
And not its thinness;
He abided by its substance,
And not its flower.
Therefore, he abandoned that and chose this.


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39

Long, long ago, those that acquired One were:
Heaven, which acquired One
And thereby became clear;
Earth, which acquired One
And thereby became tranquil;
Spirits, which acquired One
And thereby became miraculous;
Valley streams, which acquired One
And thereby became full;
Marquises and kings, who acquired One
And thereby became chieftains over all under heaven.
Going to the extreme would mean:
If heaven were excessively clear,
It would crack;
If earth were excessively tranquil,
It would quake;
If spirits were excessively miraculous,
They would cease to be so;
If valley streams were excessively full,
They would go dry;
If marquises and kings were endlessly noble and high,
They would collapse.
Therefore, the noble must take the humble to be their roots;
The high must take the low to be their basis.
Hence, marquises and kings call themselves "The inadequate one," "the deficient one" and "the unworthy one."
This means taking the humble to be their roots,
Does it not?
Therefore, the highest praise is no praise.
Hence, do not wish to be as noble as jade,
Nor as high as a mountain rock.


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40

Opposition characterizes the Tao's movement;
Weakness characterizes the Tao's function.
All things under heaven are generated from being;
Being is generated from nonbeing.


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41

When the superior scholar hears the Tao,
He does his utmost to practice it;
When the middling scholar hears the Tao,
It seems existent, seems non-existent;
When the inferior scholar hears the Tao,
He bursts out laughing.
If he did not burst out laughing,
It would not deserve to be the Tao.
Hence, "Established Sayings" has it:
"The clear Tao seems obscure;
The advancing Tao seems receding;
The even Tao seems rugged;
Supreme virtue is like a valley;
Great white seems black;
Abundant virtue seems deficient;
Robust virtue seems flabby;
Honest truth seems capricious;
The great square has no corners;
The great vessel is imperfect;
The great voice has no sound;
The celestial image has no form."
The Tao is invisible and nameless;
The Tao alone
Begins well and ends well.


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42

The Tao generated one;
One generated two;
Two generated three;
Three generated the ten thousand things.
The ten thousand things,
Carrying yin and embracing yang,
Used the empty vapor to achieve harmony.
What people loathe most are
Inadequacy, deficiency and unworthiness,
Yet, kings and dukes use them
To refer to themselves.
People sometimes gain through losing;
Sometimes lose through gaining.
Therefore, what kings teach,
I also choose to teach kings:
"A brute does not die a natural death."
I shall use it as the father of learning.


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43

The softest under heaven
Gallops over the hardest under heaven;
The formless penetrates into the spaceless.
I thereby know the benefit of nonaction.
The edification of speechlessness
The benefit of nonaction -
Nothing under heaven can match it.


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44

Fame and life - which is dearer?
Life and wealth - which is weightier?
Gain and loss - which is drearier?
Excessive love entails enormous costs;
Abundant stores entail heavy losses.
Therefore, knowing content
Will exempt you from humiliation;
Knowing where to stop
Will exempt you from peril.
You may long endure.


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45

Great perfection seems imperfect -
Its function is unfailing;
Great fullness seems empty -
Its function is inexhaustible.
Great straightness seems bent;
Great eloquence seems tongue-tied;
Great adroitness seems clumsy;
Great affluence seems deficient.
Restlessness overcomes cold;
Stillness overcomes heat.
Emptiness and stillness
May serve as the norm of the empire.


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46

When the empire possessed the Tao,
Galloping horses were turned back to manure the fields;
When the empire has lost the Tao,
War-horses are bred on the frontier.
No crime is greater than indulging in greed;
No misfortune is greater than not knowing content;
No catastrophe is more grievous than thirsting for gain.
Therefore, the content of knowing content
Makes one constantly content.


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47

Without leaving the door,
You may know everything under heaven;
Without peeping through the window,
You may know heaven's Tao.
The farther you venture abroad,
The less you know.
Hence, the sage man
Knew without traveling,
Understood without seeing,
Accomplished without acting.


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48

He who pursues learning daily increases;
He who hears the Tao daily decreases.
He decreases and decreases
Until he acts not
And has no intention to act.
He who wishes to win all under heaven
Never creates disturbances.
If he creates disturbances,
He is no longer fit to win all under heaven.


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49

The sage man never had a predisposed heart,
Taking the hundred family's heart
To be the concern of his heart.
Good people - he was good to them;
Evil people - he was also good to them.
Goodness was attained.
Honest people - he was honest to them;
Dishonest people - he was also honest to them.
Honesty was attained.
When the sage man presided over the empire,
Unbiased, he muddled their hearts
For all under heaven.
The hundred family names
All lent him their ears and eyes;
The sage man turned them all into infants.


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50

People emerge into life and enter into death.
The category of life constitutes three tenths;
The category of death constitutes three tenths;
And those who, seeking extravagant living,
All move to the realm of death
Also constitute three tenths.
Why so?
Because they seek extravagant living.
I hear that those who excel in preserving life,
Walking in mountains,
Shun neither rhinoceros nor tiger;
Entering a battle,
Incur wounds from neither weapon nor armor.
The rhinoceros has nowhere to thrust its horn;
The tiger has nowhere to press its claws;
Weapons have nowhere to lodge their blades.
Why so?
Because they do not belong to the realm of death.


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51

The Tao generates them,
Virtue nurtures them,
Matter forms them,
And instruments complete them.
Hence, the ten thousand things
Honor the Tao and treasure virtue.
That the Tao is honored
And virtue is treasured is not because
Anyone has conferred titles upon them;
It is constantly the way things are.
The Tao generates them,
Nurtures them,
Grows them,
Raises them,
Shapes them,
Solidifies them,
Stores them,
Covers them.
It generates without possessing,
Assists without taking credit,
Leads without dominating.
This is called deep and remote virtue.


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52

All under heaven have a beginning,
Which is considered the mother of all under heaven.
Having found their mother,
You thereby know her children.
Having known her children,
You revert and adhere to their mother,
A lifetime without peril.
Stop your hole,
Close your door,
A lifetime without end.
Open your hole,
Increase your disturbances,
A lifetime without remedy.
Seeing tiny things is clear-sightedness.
Adhering to softness is strength.
Use its light,
Withdraw your own clear-sightedness,
And you shall bring yourself no calamity.
This is called following the constant.


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53

Were I but firmly enlightened,
Walking along the great Tao,
My only fear would be going astray.
The great Tao is exceedingly even,
But the sovereign is exceedingly fond of gullies.
While the court is exceedingly well-kept,
The fields are exceedingly weedy,
And the granaries exceedingly empty.
Clad in elegant and colorful attire,
Wearing a sharp sword,
And sated with food,
He has enough wealth and to spare.
Such a man is called the chieftain of bandits;
Being the chieftain of bandits goes against the Tao.


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54

He who excels in planting something -
Nobody can pull it up;
He who excels in embracing something -
Nobody can snatch it away.
His offspring will thereby offer sacrifices without end.
Cultivate it in your own person,
Your virtue will be genuine;
Cultivate it in your own fief,
Your virtue will be more than enough;
Cultivate it in your own prefecture,
Your virtue will be long-enduring;
Cultivate it in your own state,
Your virtue will be abundant;
Cultivate it in the empire,
Your virtue will be universal.
Observe other persons from your own person;
Observe other fiefs from your own fief;
Observe other prefectures from your own prefecture;
Observe other states from your own state;
Observe the empire from all under heaven.
How do I know what the empire is like?
From this.


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55

He who embodies abundant virtue
May be likened to a ruddy infant:
Wasps, venomous insects, scorpions, and snakes
Do not sting him;
Birds of prey and ferocious beasts
Do not seize him.
Bones weak, muscles soft,
Its grip is firm.
Knowing nothing about the copulation
Between female and male,
Its little penis erects,
Which manifests sublime virility;
It howls all day without becoming hoarse,
Which manifests sublime harmony.
Knowing harmony means constancy;
Knowing constancy means clear-sightedness.
Extravagant living means calamity;
The heart dominating the breath means collapse.
Something ages while still in its prime
Is contrary to the Tao.
What is contrary to the Tao perishes early.


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56

He who knows does not speak;
He who speaks does not know.
Stop your hole,
Close your door,
Soften your brightness,
Mingle with the dust,
File your sharpness,
And unravel your entanglements.
This is called deep and remote concord.
Therefore, neither can anyone become intimate with you,
Nor can anyone become alienated from you;
Neither can anyone benefit you,
Nor can anyone harm you;
Neither can anyone exalt you,
Nor can anyone debase you.
Therefore, you are exalted by all under heaven.


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57

Use the norm to govern the state;
Use the abnormal to conduct warfare;
Use nondisturbance to win all under heaven.
How do I know it should be so?
For the more prohibitions and taboos in the empire,
The poorer the people;
The more sharp weapons the sovereign has,
The more chaotic state and fief;
The craftier the sovereign,
The more perverse things will arise;
The more ostentatious royal processions,
The more robbers and thieves there will be.
Hence, the sage man's saying goes:
"If I implement nonaction,
The people will live and grow spontaneously;
If I love stillness,
The people will turn aright spontaneously;
If I create no disturbances,
The people will become rich spontaneously;
If I desire to be desireless,
The people will turn into unhewn logs spontaneously."


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58

If your government is muddled,
Your people will be simple;
If your government is exacting,
Your people will be daring.
Against misfortune leans good fortune;
In good fortune lurks misfortune.
Who knows its extremity?
There is no norm.
Normal reverts to abnormal;
Good reverts to evil.
The perplexity of rulers
Has been long indeed!
Hence, be square without cutting,
Angular without pricking;
Straight without binding;
Bright without dazzling.


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59

In governing the people and serving heaven,
There is nothing like sparingness.
Sparingness alone
Can lead you to early submission.
Early submission means accumulating virtue repeatedly.
If you accumulate virtue repeatedly,
There is nothing you cannot overcome.
If there is nothing you cannot overcome,
Nobody knows its limit.
If nobody knows its limit,
You are fit to possess a state.
If you possess the mother of governing a state,
You may long endure.
This is called the way
To deepen the roots and strengthen the base,
To lengthen life and perpetuate vision.


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60

Governing a large state
Is like frying small fish.
Use the Tao to preside over the empire,
And its spirits will not be mischievous;
Not that its spirits will not be mischievous,
But that their mischief will not harm the people;
Not that their mischief will not harm the people,
But that a sage man never does any harm.
Since neither harms anyone,
Their favors will converge.


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61

A large state is the lower stream,
The female to all under heaven,
The converging point of all under heaven.
The female constantly uses stillness
To overcome the male.
As she is still,
It is proper that she stay low.
Therefore, if a large state
Stays low to a small state,
It wins the small state;
If a small state
Stays low to a large state,
It is won by the large state.
Therefore, one stays low to win;
One stays low to be won.
Therefore, the large state
Merely wishes to annex and feed the other;
The small state
Merely wishes to join and serve the other.
If each is to have its wish,
The large state should stay lower.


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62

The Tao is where
The ten thousand things flow;
The good man's treasure,
That by which the evil man is preserved.
Good words can win one honor;
Good deeds can command esteem from others.
The evil among men -
Why should they be abandoned?
Therefore, in enthroning the Son of Heaven,
Or installing the Three Counselors,
Though one has a jade-disk
That fills one's arms,
Preceding a team of four horses,
It is better to prostrate oneself
And present this.
Why did the ancients treasure this Tao so?
Is it not said:
"What one seeks will thereby be obtained;
What one is guilty of will thereby be pardoned?"
Therefore it was treasured by all under heaven.


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63

Act without action;
Disturb without disturbance;
Taste the tasteless.
Great, small, much, little,
Requite enmity with favor.
Tackle a difficult issue while it is easy;
Create a great enterprise while it is small.
All difficult issues under heaven
Begin from easy ones;
All great enterprises under heaven
Begin from small ones.
Hence, the sage man never presumed vastness,
So, he could achieve vastness.
For he who makes promises lightly
Must lack in trustworthiness;
He who takes many things easy
Must encounter many difficulties.
Hence, even the sage man
Considered the task difficult,
Therefore, eventually he had no difficulty.


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64

When stable,
It is easy to maintain;
When no symptoms have emerged,
Easy to deal with;
When tender,
Easy to break;
When tiny,
Easy to disperse.
Tackle it before it takes shape;
Bring order before it becomes chaotic.
A tree the circumference of an embrace
Grows out of a downy tip;
A nine-storied tower
Rises from a basketful of earth;
A hundred-ren ascent
Begins from under one's foot.
He who acts upon them ruins them;
He who holds on to them loses them.
Hence, the sage man acted not
So that he ruined not;
He did not hold on to them
So that he did not lose them.
When people engage in a task,
They often ruin it at its completion.
Therefore, it is said:
"Be discreet in the end as in the beginning,
And you will not ruin your task."
Hence, the sage man
Desired to be desireless,
And treasured not goods hard to come by;
He learned to be unlearned,
And was exempted from the errors
Other rulers had committed;
He was able to assist the ten thousand things
To be the way they were
Without daring to act.


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65

Therefore, it is said:
"Those who implemented the Tao
Did not use it to make the people shrewd;
Rather, they used it to make them simple."
The reason why the people are difficult to rule
Is that they are crafty.
Therefore, using craft to govern a state
Is a pest to the state;
Using noncraft to govern a state
Is a blessing to the state.
Constantly remember: these two constitute a guideline;
Constantly remembering this guideline
Is called a deep and remote virtue.
The deep and remote virtue
Is deep indeed, remote indeed;
And, though contrary to all things,
Will eventually reach Grand Harmony.


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66

The reason why rivers and oceans
Can become kings of a hundred valley streams
Is that they are good at lying below them;
Hence, they can become
Kings of a hundred valley streams.
Hence, when the sage man
Wished to be above the people,
He always placed himself below them in speech;
When he wished to be in front of the people,
He always stayed behind them in person.
Therefore, when he was above,
People did not consider him a burden;
When he was in front,
People did not consider him an obstacle.
All under heaven delighted in supporting him unwearily.
Is it not because he did not contend
That none under heaven could with him contend?


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67

All under heaven say I am vast;
Vast, but resemble nothing.
It is precisely because I resemble nothing
That I can be vast.
If I had resembled anything,
Long ago I would have become tiny indeed.
I constantly have three treasures
Which I uphold and value:
First, compassion;
Second, frugality;
Third, not daring to precede all under heaven.
Being compassionate,
I can be courageous;
Being frugal,
I can be all-embracing;
Not daring to precede all under heaven,
I can serve as
Head of the great vessels.
Now, if I had abandoned compassion and chosen courage,
Abandoned frugality and chosen all-embracingness;
Abandoned the back and chosen the front,
It would have been the death of me.
For compassion, used in battle,
Will bring you victory;
Used in defence,
Will make you impregnable.
When heaven is about to establish someone,
It seems to wall him up with compassion.


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68

Therefore, a good commander is not militant;
A good strategist is not irritable;
A good vanquisher of enemies is not confrontational;
A good employer of men stays low to them.
This is called the virtue of noncontention;
This is called the ability of employing men;
This is called a match for heaven,
A paragon among the ancients.


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69

A strategist once said:
"I dare not play the host,
Rather, I'd play the guest;
I dare not advance one inch,
Rather, I'd retreat one foot.
Which means:
Marching without ranks,
Baring no arms,
Holding no weapons,
I will still emerge invincible.
No calamity is greater than being invincible;
Being invincible almost cost me my treasures."
Therefore, when two confronting armies are equally matched,
The compassionate party wins.


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70

My words are exceedingly easy to understand,
Exceedingly easy to practice.
Yet none under heaven can understand them,
None can practice them.
Words have their progenitor;
Affairs have their sovereign.
It is because of ignorance
That they do not me understand.
Those who understand being rare,
I become all the more valuable.
Hence, the sage man wore a coarse tunic,
But carried in his bosom a piece of jade.


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71

Knowing as if not knowing
Is peerless;
Not knowing as if knowing
Is a sickness.
Hence, the sage man was not sick:
Being sick of the sickness,
Hence, he was not sick.


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72

If the people do not fear terror,
Greater terror shall arrive.
Do not squeeze their habitation;
Do not obstruct their livelihood.
Only when you stop oppressing them
Will they stop loathing you.
Hence, the sage man
Knew himself without parading himself,
Loved himself without exalting himself.
Therefore, he abandoned that and chose this.


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73

Brave in daring, one gets killed;
Brave in not daring, one lives.
Of these two -
One is beneficial, one harmful.
That which heaven loathes -
Who knows its reason?
Heaven's Tao,
Without battling, excels in triumphing;
Without speaking, excels in responding;
Without being summoned, comes spontaneously;
Though loose, excels in planning.
Heaven's net is vast:
Though wide-meshed, misses nothing.


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74

If the majority of people do not fear death,
Why use killing to intimidate them?
If the majority of people do fear death,
Those who act perversely -
I can arrest and kill them.
Who would dare then?
The Executioner is always the one in charge of killing;
To kill in place of the Executioner
Is to chop wood in place of a master carpenter.
To chop wood in place of a master carpenter,
One can hardly avoid injuring one's own hand.


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75

The people are starving,
Because he takes too much grain tax,
Hence, they are starving.
The hundred family names are unruly,
Because their sovereign has the intention to act,
Hence, they are unruly.
The people take death lightly,
Because he seeks after extravagant living,
Hence, they take death lightly.
Only one who does not apply himself to living
Is worthier than those who exalt living.


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76

When born, man is soft and weak;
When dead, he is stiff, tough, hard and strong.
When born, the ten thousand things,
Grasses and trees are soft and tender;
When dead, they are withered and dry.
Therefore, it is said:
"The hard and strong belong to the category of death;
The soft and weak belong to the category of life."
Hence, if an army is strong, it perishes;
If a tree is strong, it breaks.
Therefore, the strong and big rank low;
The soft and weak rank high.


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77

Heaven's Tao
Is like the fixing of a bowstring:
Too high, lower it;
Too low, lift it.
More than enough, reduce it;
Not enough, replenish it.
Therefore, heaven's Tao
Takes from those who have more than enough
To replenish those who do not have enough;
Man's way
Takes from those who do not have enough
To offer to those who have more than enough.
Who can, having more than enough,
Offer some to heaven?
Perhaps only those who possess the Tao.
Hence, the sage man
Helped without possessing,
Scored merits without claiming.
That is how
He did not wish to parade his worth.


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78

Nothing under heaven is softer and weaker than water,
Yet, in attacking the hard and strong,
Nothing can surpass it,
Because nothing can replace it.
That the soft overcome the hard,
And the weak overcome the strong -
None under heaven does not know it,
Yet none can practice it.
Hence, the sage man's saying goes:
"He who bears the state's humiliations
Is called lord of the land;
He who bears the state's calamities
Is called king of the empire."
A positive statement sounds paradoxical.


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79

In pacifying a great enmity,
There must be some remnant enmity.
How could that be considered good?
Hence, the sage man
Held the left half of the deed
Without demanding payment from the people.
Therefore, those who possess virtue administer deeds;
Those who possess no virtue administer tithing.
Heaven's Tao is unbiased;
It always supports good men.


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80

A small state with few people:
Let there be utensils ten,
A hundred times its population
Without being used;
Let the people take death seriously,
And stay away from migration;
Let there be boats and carriages
With no occasion to ride them;
Let there be armor and weapons
With no occasion to display them;
Let the sovereign revert to tying knots
With a rope and put it to use.
Make their food delicious,
Their clothes beautiful,
Their customs joyous,
Their habitations comfortable.
Neighboring states may be within sight of each other,
And sounds of roosters and dogs within hearing,
Yet the people, to their old age and death,
Never come and go visiting one another.


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81

Truthful words are not beautiful;
Beautiful words are not truthful.
He who knows is not widely informed;
He who is widely informed does not know.
He who is good does not have much;
He who has much is not good.
The sage man did not accumulate,
Exhausting himself to help the people,
He was fuller;
Exhausting himself to give the people,
He was richer.
Therefore, heaven's Tao
Benefits without harming;
Man's Tao
Assists without contending.


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