Tao Te King
Lao Tse
Englische Version von
Shrine of Wisdom

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This translation is not divided into 81 chapters.

"The Mystery of Tao"

The TAO that can be expressed in words is not the all-embracing and immutable TAO: the Name that can be spoken is not the eternal Name. Without a name, It is the Beginning of The Universe and Our World: conceived as having a name, It is the Progenitrix of all things. Those alone who are free from earthly passions can perceive the deep mystery of the Unmanifested One: those who are possessed by desires can only behold the Manifest's outward form. These two, the Manifest and the Unmanifest, although differing in name, in essence are identical. This sameness is the mystery, the deep within the deep, the door of many mysteries.

"The Unfathomable."

How unfathomable is TAO! An infinite depth, the Source of all that is, the Ancient Progenitor, before all things. Yet, how pure and still is TAO! It smoothes the rough, unravels the entangled, tempers excessive lights, clarifies the obscure. It is everlasting. I do not know what gave it birth; TAO is before the Manifested.

"The Showing Forth of the Mystery."

Looking at It, It eludes the eyes; therefore It is called Invisible. Listening to It, It eludes the ears; therefore It is called Inaudible. Touching It, It eludes the grasp; therefore it is called Intangible. These three cannot be described, but they blend in unity, the TAO! Above, It is not bright: below, It is not dim. It is Ineffable.

Unceasing in Its action, It appears to do all things: returning to Itself, It appears to do nothing. It may be called the Form of the Formless, the Image of the Imageless, the Fleeting, the Indeterminate. Advancing towards It, we cannot see Its beginning: following after it, we cannot see its end. To find the Ancient TAO is to control the affairs of the present day; to know the Ancient Beginning is to have found the Path of TAO.

"The Eluding Source."

"The Mysterious Virtue."

They who know the TAO, tell it not: they who tell it, know it not. They who know, close their lips, shut the doors of their senses, subdue the impulses, and checks irregularities. They who diffuse the Light, gather people into unity, and descend to the level of dust. This is the Mysterious Virtue. Such people are beyond familiarity and reserve: gain and loss do not affect them: praise and blame are regarded by them alike. Therefore they are honored above all.

"The Emanations of TAO."

"Apprehending the Mystery."

Before The Universe and Our World existed there was something undefined but already perfect. How calm it was and formless! Self-sufficient and unchanging: all-pervasive without effort.

I do not know its name, but for a title call it TAO. If forced to describe it. Call it Great. Being Great, it is ever-flowing; flowing on, It becomes remote; becoming remote, it returns again. Therefore, TAO is Great: The Universe is Great: Our World is Great: The Source is Great.

Four are the kinds of universal greatness of which being The Source is one. The individual finds his or her law on Our World: Our World finds its law as a part of the Universe: the Universe finds its law in TAO; but the law of TAO consists in being what it is.

"The TAO of The Universe"

Universal TAO is like the bending of a bow: that which is too high is lowered; that which is too low is raised up. Where there is an excess, it is lessened; where there is too little, it is increased. The Providence of The Universe gives to all things that which is their due. But the providence of people is not like that of TAO, for people take from those in need of more, to increase their own excess. Who are they who, possessing most, can supply the wants of all? Only they who have the TAO! That is why Enlightened People act without looking for reward, accomplishing their task without claiming any merit. By this means they hide their mastery.

"The Exercise of Enlightenment."

TAO appears quiescent: its activity is all within yet there is nothing that it does not do.

If people and their government were able to maintain it, all would be transformed from within themselves. If this transformation became an object of desire, it would still that desire by the ineffable Simplicity. The nameless Simplicity brings absence of desire; absence of desire brings stillness; so the world would become perfect from within itself.

"Supernal Simplicity."

Immutable TAO has no name. Small though it appears in its original simplicity, the servant of TAO may stand against the world. If a leader could hold and keep it, the world of itself would submit at once to that leader and spontaneously pay homage. The Universe and Our World would unite to nourish that leader, and all people without pressure would harmonize in peace. When TAO proceeds to action, it has a name. Having a name people may learn how to rest in it; knowing how to rest in it, they are free from error and decay. TAO is to world like the great River and Sea are to the streams from the valleys.

"The Perfect Achievement."

"The Origin of Form."

The spirit in the Void never dies. It is called the Mother-Deep.

The openings of the Mother-Deep are called the Root of The Universe and Our World.
Ceaselessly, ceaselessly, It nourishes and preserves: Inexhaustible, without effort.

"Self-Manifestation through Contraries."

In the manifested world all people, by knowing the splendor of beauty, know also ugliness. When beauty is absent: by knowing the excellence of goodness, they recognize also that which is not good.

Therefore, contraries give rise to the idea of each other:- existence implies non-existence; That which is difficult implies that which is easy to achieve; that which is long implies that which is short in measurement; that which is high implies that which is low in elevation; that which is shrill implies that which is bass in musical tone; that which is before implies that which is behind in priority.

Therefore, the self-controlled person dwells in the balance that is beyond the action of contraries; they teach without words; they inspire to action, but appear not to act; they produce but do not possess; they work without regard to the fruit of labor; they bring their work to perfection but do not claim reward.

Holding nothing as their own, their own can never pass away.

"The Purpose of the Void."

"The Hidden Radiance."

"Compensation's Secret."

"Returning to the Root."

"Tracing the Origin."

From the past there are those possessing Unity.

The Universe, possessing Unity, is bright and pure. Our World, possessing Unity, is stable and secure. The Spirit, possessing Unity, is beyond all bodily form. Space, in possessing Unity, is made full. All creatures, in possessing Unity, are endowed with life. Rulers and Leaders, possessing Unity, are models of the world.

The Unity of all these is identical essence. The Universe, without purity, would be divided. Our world, without stability, would disintegrate.

The Spirit, with bodily form, would be subject to corruption. Space, without its fullness, would soon be fathomed and exhausted. All creatures, without life, would vanish from existence. Governors and Leaders, without dignity, would lose their influence.

The root of dignity is in humility: the foundation of the exalted is in lowliness.

Therefore, Governors and Leaders speak of themselves in lowly terms, as "alone,""rejected,""unworthy,"do they not acknowledge by this the root of their Unity is in humility?
The several parts of a vehicle do not produce its Unity, and those who find Unity neither wish to be isolated like a single gem, nor lost in the medley of common pebbles.

"Aspects of TAO."

"The Use of Non-Existence."

Thirty spokes unite in the hub of a wheel; but the usefulness of the wheel depends on the empty inner center. Molded clay is fashioned into a vessel, but the usefulness of the vessel depends on the empty inner center. Doors and windows are cut to make a dwelling-place, but the usefulness of the house depends on its empty inner space.
The value of existent things comes from the use of non-existence.

"Emptiness and Nothingness."

"Practicing Serenity."

"Reverting to Simplicity."

"Going back to the Cause."

"Holding on to TAO."

"The Virtue of Humility."

"Practical TAO."

TAO is the hidden refuge of all creatures of the world.
It is the treasure of the kind person; yet supports those who have lost kindness.
Beautiful words, through TAO are fraught with potency.
Noble deeds, through TAO, are wrought with never failing efficacy.
And even those who are without kindness are not forsaken by TAO.
The Servant of TAO sits enthroned, with three appointed ministers.
One bears before them a symbol of rank.
One escorts the mounted retinue.
But the one who is most valued, humbly presents themself to TAO.
Why is the TAO so prized by people? Because the Seeker finds in it the object of their
quest, and the wrong doer finds in it forgiveness.
Therefore, TAO is honored by all.

"Freedom of Action."

Courage carried to one extreme is the boldness that leads to death.
Courage carried to the other extreme preserves life by self-restraint.
Of these two one benefits, the other harms, yet both are rejected by The Universe.
Who can discern the reason?
Even the very wise person must chose their line of action.
Universal TAO strives in neither direction, but is sure in all its action. It utters no sounds, but is sure in its response.
It does not call, but all come to It by themselves.
It does not plan, but is certain in all its works.
The net of the Universe is vast and widely meshed, yet nothing is ever lost from it.

"Imitating The Universe."

A good warrior is not warlike.
A good fighter is not wrathful.
A good conqueror is not grasping.
A good leader is not overbearing.
This is called the Virtue of non-striving.
This is the capacity of leading people.
This is being the equal companion of The Universe - the highest ideal of all the ages.

"Avoiding a Fall."

Avoid glory as you avoid shame.
Regard great trouble as you regard your body.
What is meant by: "Avoid glory as you avoid shame"?
The one connotes the other.
Obtain glory and you fear the loss of it.
Lose it and you fear the shame.
Fear is thus inseparable both from glory and from shame.
What is meant by: "Regard great trouble as you regard your body"?
We meet trouble because we have a body; if we had no body, how would trouble reach us?
So, those who love the nation as they care for their own body, may be trusted with the nation.

"Learning to be Still."

Which is more dear to you, your good name or your body?
Which do you treasure more, your body or your wealth?
Which makes you more unhappy, to profit or to lose?
We must sacrifice much to gain great love.
We must suffer great loss to obtain much treasure.
To know contentment is to fear no shame.
To know how to be still is to avoid destruction.
So doing, we long endure.

"The Danger of Strength."

"The Value Set on Life."

"The Manifestation of Simplicity."

True words may not be pleasant; pleasant words may not be true.
The man of TAO does not dispute; they who dispute are not of TAO.
Those who know TAO are not "learned."Those who are "learned"do not know TAO.
The wise person does not lay up treasure; their riches are within.
The more they spend resources for others, the more they increase their own store.
The more they give to others, the more they have of their own.
The TAO of The Universe is all-pervading, but is hurtful to no one.
This is the way of the very wise person, who acts but does not strive.

"Placing Oneself Last."

"The Nurturing of Teh."

By Tao all things are produced; by Teh they are nourished. So each being receives its Form, its inward urge towards perfection. That is why all things reverence Tao and extol Teh; its outward manifestation.

No Enlightened One has decreed it, but spontaneously it is proclaimed. Tao brings all things into being; Teh nurtures them and makes them grow. Teh sustains them completes them, matures them, ripens them, and gives them protection.

"Emptiness and Nothingness."

"The Benevolence of Teh."

Hold fast to the Great Idea and all people will come to you of themselves.
They will come and receive no hurt, finding rest and peace in the great calm.
Music and dainties may detain the passing guest.
But Tao, when coming to the lips, how tasteless It is! It has no flavor.
When coming before the eyes, It does not impress the sight.
When listened by the ears, It is not to be heard.
So, Tao is as nothing, yet in Its applications It can never be exhausted.

"The Profoundness of Teh."

Of old those who were a Servant of Tao, did not use It to make people more brilliant, but to make them more simple and kind.
If people are difficult to govern it is because they are too worldly wise.
This worldly wisdom invites the ruin of a state.
Those who rule with simpleness are blessed.
To know these two ways is to be a model as of old, and to be a model for all is called Profundity of Teh.
Profound Teh is deep and far-reaching; reacting upon all things, forever tending perfect harmony.

"The Three Treasures."

As the servant of Tao, the world calls me great, but I am not equal to my greatness.
It is through the greatness of That Which I serve that I continue to appear so small.
But I have three treasures which I prize and hold fast.
The first is called Compassion.
The second is called Economy.
The third is called Humility.
Through Compassion I exhibit courage; through Economy I can freely give; through Humility I become a vessel of the highest honor.
But people forsake Compassion and seek courage; they forsake Economy and seek profusion; they forsake Humility and seek precedence.
The end of it all is death.
Compassion overcomes all opposition and is sure in its defence.
Therefore, when the Universe would preserve people it enfolds them with Compassion.

"Increasing the Evidence of Tao."

If I should attain wisdom to follow Supreme Tao, I should fear nothing save to be unworthy of it.
Supreme Tao is very straight, but how much people love the by-paths.
The palace may be all-splendid, but the land may be uncultured and the store-house empty and bare.
We may adorn ourselves with fair raiment and gird ourselves with swords; we may fill ourselves with food and drink, and display our wealth of useless things.
This is the glorification of possession, assuredly it is not of Tao.

"The Possible."

By blending heart and mind in united singleness of purpose, it is possible to reach the Indivisible.By restraining the passions and letting gentleness have sway, it is possible to become as a little child.By purging the mind of fantasy, it is possible attain to clear vision.
By loving people with inner service, it is possible to remain unknown.
By going in and out of the Gates of the Universe, it is possible to become as the Mother-bird.By pure transparency in all directions it is possible to know and yet remain unknown.
To quicken and to give birth;
To give birth and to nourish;
To nourish but not to own;
To actuate but not to rule;
To rule but not to excel;
This is called Profound Teh.

"Overflowing Teh."

Esteem your highest attainment as incomplete, its utility remains unimpaired.
Esteem your greatest fullness as emptiness, it will never be depleted.
Count your extreme uprightness as that which is crooked.
Know your highest wisdom as foolishness.
Deem your finest eloquence as stammering words.
And you will find that, even as movement overcomes cold, as stillness overcomes heat, so they who have purity and serenity become a model of the world.

"The Mysterious Seal."

Those who possess Teh in its fullness are like little children.
Poisonous insects will not sting them; wild beasts will not seize them; birds of prey will not strike them,Though their bones are soft and their muscles weak, their grasp is firm and sure.
Though Unconscious of their creative power they are fully virile and reach maturity.
Though all day they sing and speak their voice is smooth, and their perfect harmony shows.

Knowledge of harmony is eternal.

Knowledge of the Eternal is illumination.

But increase of life is not always a blessing. The impulse to live is strong, but vigor at its height approaches its decay.

This is not Tao.

And what is not Tao will quickly pass away.

"The Nature of Teh."

The highest virtue assumes no excellence; thus it is the very essence of Teh.
But excellence is assumed by the lower virtue, and since it fears to lose it, it is not of the real essence of Teh.

The activity of the highest excellence is inward (Wu Wei): it acts without being seen; but the activity of the lower excellence is outward: it cannot act without being seen.

The highest benevolence is ever active, but not subject to necessity.

The highest justice takes action and its action inevitably continues.

The highest order is always operative, and asserts itself when there is no response.
So, when Tao is not seen, Teh appears.

When Teh is not seen, benevolence appears.
When benevolence is not seen, justice appears.
When justice is not seen, order and expediency appear.
But expediency is the mere shadow of right and truth; it is the beginning of disorder.
False knowledge is the perverted semblance of Tao: it is the source of all delusion.
That is why the Enlightened One abides in stability and dwells not in passing shadows.
The Enlightened One holds on to the real and ignores superficialities.

"The Serene Nature."

The highest excellence is like water, it benefits those in the most inaccessible places without striving. It occupies the lowest level, which people avoid. Therefore, it is analogous to Tao.

It has the virtue of gravity, that finds its own place.
It has the virtue of the heart, that knows the silent deeps.
It has the virtue of the kind,that bestows the fullest gifts.
It has the virtue of the words that speak the greatest truths.
It has the virtue of the service that uses the highest skill.
It has the virtue of the rhythm that is unfailing in its timeliness.

"The Dignity of Teh."

Heaviness is the foundation of lightness.

Stillness is the master of motion.

Therefore, the wise person, in their daily life, does not depart from inner repose.

Though they enter a glorious palace, they remain serene and unattached.
Though they are the commander of a myriad forces, they behave naturally before the nation.Lack of composure loses credibility.

"The Falling Away."

"Pristine Innocence."

In the first age people did not know that there was government.
In the next age people loved and praised government.
In the third age people were afraid of government.
In the next age, government was despised.

It is said: "If you lack trust, you will inspire no confidence.

How cautious the Enlightened One is; how sparing in words! For with the task accomplished, and the affairs of people in order, the Enlightened One hears the people say: "We have become autonomous!"

"Reverting to Innocence."

Cast off self-righteousness, rid yourself of cleverness, and all people will benefit a hundredfold.

Cease to assume benevolence;

Cease your claims to justice;

And all people will revert on their own to paternal love and filial devotion.
Renounce all scheming, abandon all gains, and stealing and theft will cease to appear.
The meaning of these three principles is that outward show is for nothing; seek early innocence;

Hold fast to that which endures;

Show ourselves simple, preserve the inner light;
Restrain ambition and curb selfish desires.

"Trust in Teh."

The heart of the Enlightened One is not their own; they attract the hearts of people by expanding theirs.

To the person who is kind, they give kindness.
To the person without kindness, they are kind.
This is the kindness of Teh.

To the person who is trustworthy, they give trust.
To the person without trust, they give trust.
This is the faith of Teh.

The Enlightened One dwells in the world with patience, adjusting their heart to the hearts of people.

The ears and the eyes of all are towards them; the Enlightened One sees them all as children in their care.

"The Cultivation of Insight."

Those who are planted in kindness shall not be uprooted.
That which is preserved in kindness shall not be taken away.
Their children of all generations shall be blessed forever.
Cultivate the Tao of your being, and your Teh shall become real.
Cultivate the Tao of your brethren, and your Teh shall overflow.
Cultivate the Tao of your abode, and your Teh shall ever endure.
Cultivate the Tao of your nation, and your Teh shall be all-prolific.
Cultivate the Tao of the world, and your Teh shall become universal.
Therefore, by one's person there is insight of real being: by one's brethren there is insight of real brotherhood; by one's abode there is insight of the real home; by one's country there is insight of the real nation; and by the world there is insight of the Universe.
How do I know that the Universe is real?
Because it is self-evident!

"The Discriminating Teh."

One who knows others is discerning.
One who knows their own self is enlightened.
One who conquers others has strength.
One who conquers their own self are potent.
One who knows contentment is rich.
One who knows persistency has a real object.
One who does not depart from their inner essence shall always endure; though the body dies, they do not perish, but enter Immortality.

"The Revealing of Teh."

The wise people of old approached the Mysteries with profound spiritual penetration.
How deep the fathomless!

How inscrutable and beyond understanding!
With no ordinary words can I describe them
They were cautious, as if fording a stream in the winter.
They were reluctant, as if fearing to give offense.
They were deferential, as if dealing with strangers.
They were self-effacing, like snow beneath the sun.
They were unpretentious, like unpolished wood.
They were lowly, like an expansive valley.
They were opaque, like water mixed with soil.
It is only by leaving the soil to settle, that the water becomes clear of itself.
It is only from unimpeded activity, that the condition of rest can ensue.
Those who follow the way of Tao, have no need to be replenished.
And because they are ever renewed, they can never be exhausted.

"Sameness and Difference."

When the person of higher wisdom hears Tao, diligently he follows it.
When the person of lower wisdom hears Tao, he both follows and departs from it.
When the person bereft of wisdom hears Tao, he but treats it with derision.
If it were not thus, It would be unworthy of the name of Tao.
Those who are enlightened by Tao seem wrapped in outer darkness.
Those who are advanced in Tao, seem backward.
Those who walk through Tao, seem to be on a rugged broken path.
The highest virtue appears the lowliest.
The whitest purity does not please the eyes.
The fullest Teh seems incomplete.
The deepest virtue seems unstable.
The surest truth seems uncertain.
The greatest square seems without corners.
The largest vessel seems unfinished.
The loudest sound seems inaudible.
The grandest form seems void of shape.
For in Tao alone can things begin: by Tao alone can they reach their destined end.

"Contrary to the Worldly."

Renounce vain learning; it withdraws from the Inner Life.
How slight is the difference between the yes and the no.
But how great is the distinction of the good and the bad.
What all people fear, is indeed to be feared.
How great is their desolation!

Alas! That the barrenness of the age has not yet reached its limit.
Yet the multitude of people seem happy; so happy, as though partaking of great feasts, as though mounted on a tower in the springtime.
I alone am still, and give as yet no sign of joy; like a new born babe that cannot smile at its mother.

I alone am forsaken, as one who has nowhere to lay their head.
Other people have enough and to spare, I alone seem as one who has lost all that he had.

How foolish and empty am I: so dull and so foolish.
Other people appear full of light. I alone seem wrapped in darkness.
Other people are all alert, I alone seem listless.
I am as homeless as the vast ocean, rolling on and never resting.
Other people all have their gifts, I alone seem without power and devoid of any merit.

Yet lonely though I am and unlike other people,
still I revere and seek the Mother-Deep, the All-sustaining Tao.

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