Tao Te King
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The Tao that is voiced is no longer that of eternal Tao.
The name that has been written is no longer that of eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of the cosmic universe.
The named is the mother of the myriad creatures.
Being at peace, one can see into the subtle.
Engaging with passion, one can see into the manifest.
They both arise from a common source but have different names.
Both are called the mystery within the mystery.
They are the door to all wonders.
In the world,
Everyone recognizes beauty as beauty,
Since the ugly is also there.
Everyone recognizes goodness as goodness,
Since evil is also there.
Since being and nonbeing give birth to each other,
Difficulty and ease complete each other,
Long and short measure each other,
High and low overflow into each other,
Voice and sound harmonize with each other,
And before and after follow each other,
Therefore the sage
Lives in actionless engagement,
And preaches wordless doctrine.
The myriad creatures
Act without beginning,
Nourish without possessing,
Accomplish without claiming credit.
It is accomplishment without claiming credit that makes the outcome self-sustaining.
Do not exalt intelligence and people will not compete;
Do not value rare goods and people will not steal;
Do not display for public view and people will not desire.
So the sage's governing methods are:
Emptying the mind,
Vitalizing the stomach,
Softening the will,
Strengthening the character.
This always makes people not know and not desire.
This always makes the knower dare not act.
Therefore, nothing is beyond ruling.
Tao functions in empty harmony.
When used, it remains full.
For sure, this source is the very ancestor of the myriad things.
Blunting the sharp edges,
Unraveling the tangles,
Husbanding into the light,
Being as ordinary as the dust.
Ah! Limpid, it seems to exist forever.
I do not know whose son it is,
This who is exceeding the Heavenly Emperor.
Nature has no benevolence,
It treats all things like strawdogs;
The sage has no benevolence,
He treats his people like strawdogs.
Between heaven and earth it seems like a bellows:
Empty, yet inexhaustible,
The stronger it is activated, the greater the output.
Being overly informed leads to exhaustion,
Better to be centered.
Valley spirit is deathless,
It is called the mystical female.
The gateway of the mystical female,
Is called the root of heaven and earth.
Hovering, it seems ever present.
Put to use, it is never exhausted.
Heaven is eternal, and earth is long lasting.
What makes heaven and earth eternal and long lasting is that they do not give birth to themselves.
It is this that makes them eternal and long lasting.
Hence the sage,
Relaxing the body, the body comes to the fore.
Beyond the body, the body comes to the fore.
Beyond the body, the body exists of itself.
Not even relying on selflessness
Enables the self to be fulfilled.
Eminent goodness is like water.
Water is good at benefiting all things,
Yet it actively competes.
It retires to undesirable places.
Thus it is near to Tao.
Dwelling in good places,
Drawing from good sources,
Supplying from good nature,
Speaking with good trust,
Governing with good rules,
Conducting with good ability,
And acting within good time.
For this reason,
There is no competition,
There is no concern.
Hanging on to it will cause overflow, better to let go.
Forced consent does not endure.
Filling the house with gold and jade will not bring safety.
Riches and royalty result in pride, they bring about their own punishment.
When the work is done, the body withdraws.
This is the Tao of heaven.
Donning the spirit and soul, and drawing them into Oneness,
Can this come apart?
Gathering in Qi and making the body supple,
Is this not an infant?
Being clear-headed and eliminating any mystic vision,
Can even a speck exist?
Loving the people and governing the country,
Is this not inactive?
Opening and closing the Gate of Heaven,
Is this not the female?
Comprehending the four corners of the world,
Is this not knowledge?
Begetting and nourishing,
Begetting but not possessing,
Enhancing but not dominating.
This is Mysterious Action.
Thirty spokes join at one hub,
Yet it is the emptiness inside the hub that makes the vehicle useful;
Clay is molded into a vessel,
Yet it is the hollowness that makes the vessel useful;
Windows and doors are cut out,
Yet it is their empty space that makes the room usable.
So, any having makes for excess,
Any not-having makes for usefulness.
Five colors blind the eyes.
Racing and hunting madden the heart.
Pursuing what is rare makes action deceitful.
Five flavors dull the palate.
Five tones deafen the ears.
So, the sage's method is for the belly, not for the eyes.
He abandons the latter and chooses the former.
Favor and disgrace surprise the most.
Value the trouble as you do the body.
Why do "favor and disgrace surprise the most"?
Favor enhances only the inferior,
Receiving it is a surprise,
And losing it is also a surprise.
This is why "favor and disgrace surprise the most."
Why to "value the trouble as you do the body"?
It is only because I have a body that I have trouble.
If I did not have a body, where would the trouble be?
So, if you value the world as you do the body,
You can be entrusted with the world;
If you love the body as you love the beauty of the world,
You can be responsible for the world.
Look for it and it can not be seen, it is called invisible;
Listen to it and it can not be heard, it is called inaudible;
Reach for it and it can not be touched, it is called intangible.
These three are beyond reckoning, so
When these three merge, they are One.
As for this One,
There is nothing above it remaining to be accounted for,
There is nothing below it that has been excluded.
Ever searching for it, it is beyond naming.
It returns to no-thing.
Its state is described as no state,
Its form is described as formless.
It is called the vision beyond focus.
Follow after it, and it proves endless.
Go before it, and no beginning can be found.
Employ the Tao of today in order to manage today's affairs and to know the ancient past.
This is called the principle of Tao.
The ancient sages of Tao are subtle and mysteriously penetrating.
Their depth is beyond the power of will.
Because it is beyond the power of will,
The most we can do is describe it:
Thus, full of care, as one crossing the wintry stream,
Attentive, as one cautious of the total environment,
Reserved, as one who is a guest,
Spread open, as when confronting a marsh,
Simple, like uncarved wood,
Opaque, like mud,
Magnificent, like a valley.
From within the murky comes the stillness.
The feminine enlivens with her milk.
Keeping such a Tao, excess is undesirable.
Desiring no excess, work is completed without exhaustion.
Reaching the ultimate emptiness,
Concentrating on the central stillness,
All things work together.
From this I observe their returning.
All things under heaven flourish in their vitality,
Yet each returns to its own root.
This is stillness.
Stillness means returning to its destiny.
Returning to its destiny is steadfastness.
To know steadfastness means enlightenment.
Not to know steadfastness is to act forcefully.
Acting forcefully brings disaster.
Knowing the steadfast implies acceptance.
Acceptance is impartial.
Impartial is regal.
Regal is heaven.
Heaven is Tao.
Tao is beyond danger even when the body perishes.
The eminent has consciousness of self.
The next down are loved and praised.
The next down are feared,
At the bottom is the source.
When faith is weak, there is distrust.
Especially in the worth of speech.
Results speak for themselves.
This, people call me Nature.
When the Great Tao is abandoned,
There is benevolence and righteousness.
When intelligence arises,
There is a great deal of manipulation.
When there is disharmony in the family,
There comes about filial piety.
When the country is in big trouble,
There arises patriotism.
Get rid of wisdom, abandon intelligence, and
People will benefit a hundredfold.
Get rid of benevolence, abandon justice, and
People will return to filial piety and kindness.
Get rid of skill, abandon profit, and
Thieves will disappear.
These three are inadequate.
So just let things be.
Observe the plain and embrace the simple.
Do not think much and do not desire much,
Get rid of learning and worry will disappear.
How much difference is there between yea and nay?
How much difference is there between beautiful and ugly?
What one fears is what he cannot help but fear.
One is in the wilderness without central ground.
Ordinary people are fulfilled,
Eating delicious food,
Reaching the climax of romance.
I am desireless and without anticipation,
Like a baby who does not yet.
Gathering energy together, entering the abyss beyond the point of no return.
Ordinary people have more than enough,
I am a fool at heart, as a water droplet is to the spring.
People of affairs are bright and intelligent.
I alone am unintelligent.
People of affairs are cunning and clever.
I alone am dull and unsophisticated,
Unnoticed in the depth of the sea,
Looked for in an endless horizon.
Ordinary people are productive,
I alone maintain the living essence within.
I alone stay with a unitary source, as if stubborn.
I want to be wholly different from everyone else,
By taking my sustenance from the mother source.
The marks of profound action follow only from the Tao.
The substance of Tao is boundless and unfathomable.
Unfathomable and boundless,
In its center there is form;
Boundless and unfathomable,
In its center there is an object;
Embryonic and dark,
In its center there is essence;
The essence is very pure,
In its center there is trust.
From now to the days of old,
Its name never dies,
Because it creates all things in their beginning.
How do I know the source of all beginnings?
Yield, and retain integrity.
In the depths of whirling, there is stillness.
The hollow enables the plentiful.
The old gives way to the new.
The small allows for increase.
Excess breeds confusion.
Therefore the sage holds oneness as the shepherd of the world.
He who does not display himself is seen.
He who does not justify himself is understood.
He who does not lash out succeeds.
He who does not build himself up endures.
Only the spirit of noncompetition makes things noncompetitive.
So the old saying, "yield, and retain integrity," is but a few words,
But when rightly understood, integrity returns.
Natural speech consists of few words.
Gusty winds do not last all morning,
Cloudbursts do not last all day.
What makes this so?
Heaven and earth will not last forever,
How could a human being last!
So the person who works according to Tao unites with Tao.
In the same way he unites with action.
In the same way he unites with loss.
Uniting with action, the Tao becomes action.
Uniting with loss, the Tao becomes loss.
Those who boast of themselves lose their stance.
He who displays himself is not seen.
He who justifies himself is not understood.
He who lashes out does not succeed.
He who builds himself up does not endure.
In the sense of Tao,
This is said to be eating too much and acting too much.
It results in disgust.
Those who desire will not endure.
Matter is formed from chaos.
It was born before heaven and earth.
Silent and void.
Standing alone, without territory,
Able to be mother to the world.
I do not yet know its name,
I call it Tao.
With reluctance I deem it to be Great.
Great refers to the symbol.
The symbol refers to what is remote.
What is remote refers to returning.
Tao is great.
Heaven is great.
Earth is great.
Kingship is great.
These are the four great things in the world,
Kingship is one of them.
Humankind takes its origin from earth.
Earth takes her origin from heaven.
Heaven takes its origin from Tao.
Tao takes its origin from Nature.
The heavy is the root of the light.
Tranquility is the master of the restless.
Thus, the noble person will travel all day without leaving his seat.
Though the center of the highest authority,
And surrounded by luxury,
He remains clear-minded.
How could the king of myriad chariots treat his body with less care than he gives the country?
Being careless loses the foundation.
Being restless loses mastery.
A good traveler leaves no tracks.
A good speaker is without flaw.
A good planner does not calculate.
A good doorkeeper does not lock, yet it cannot be opened.
A good knotter does not use binding, yet it cannot be undone.
Therefore, the sage is good at his earnest demands upon people.
So no one is left out.
No talent is wasted.
This is called being in the tow of enlightenment,
And it ensures the good person.
For everything that is good is the teacher of the good person.
Everything that is bad becomes a resource for the good person.
No need to honor the teachers.
No need to love the resources.
Though knowing this is a great paradox,
It is the subtle principle.
Understanding the male and holding onto the female
Enables the flow of the world.
This being the flow of the world, the eternal action abides.
Knowing that the eternal action abides is to return to childhood.
Understanding the pure and holding on to the impure
Enables the cleansing of the world.
With the cleansing of the world, ongoing action suffices.
When ongoing action suffices, it returns to simplicity.
Understanding the white and holding on to the black
Enables the formation of the world.
Being the formation of the world, ongoing action does not stray.
When ongoing action does not stray, it returns to the infinite.
This simplicity takes shape as a mechanism.
The sage makes it the head ruler.
Great ruling never divides.
I see that those who want to take over the world and manipulate it do not succeed.
The sacred mechanism of the world cannot be manipulated.
Those who manipulate it will fail,
Those who hold on to it will lose it.
Either leads or follows,
Either heats or chills,
Either strengthens or weakens,
Either enhances or destroys.
So the sage abandons extremes, extravagance, multiplicity.
Using the Tao as the rule for governing the people,
Do not employ the army as the power of the world.
For this is likely to backfire.
Where the army has marched, thorns and briars grow.
Being good has its own consequence,
Which cannot be seized by power.
Achieving without arrogance,
Achieving without bragging,
Achieving without damage,
Achieving without taking ownership.
This is called achieving without force.
Matter becomes strong, then old.
This is called "Not-Tao."
Dying young is "Not-Tao."
The army is the mechanism of bad luck.
The elements of the world may oppose.
So those who have ambitions cannot rest.
Therefore the nobleman takes his place on the left side,
And the commander on the right side.
So the army is not the nobleman's weapon.
As a mechanism of bad luck,
He uses it only as the last resort.
Then the best way is to use it quickly and destructively.
Do not enjoy this.
To take delight in it is to enjoy killing people.
Those who enjoy killing people do not attract the favor of the world.
The good inclines to the left,
The bad inclines to the right.
Thus the intelligent officer stays on the left,
The army commander stays on the right.
Speaking in an image of sadness,
After killing the people, every one stands in mourning.
Victory is celebrated as a funeral service.
Tao is eternally nameless.
Though simplicity is small,
The world cannot treat it as subservient.
If lords and rulers can hold on to it,
Everything becomes self-sufficient.
Heaven and earth combine and allow sweet dew.
Without rules, people will naturally become equal.
At the outset, the rule must be expressed.
Once it exists, stop speaking of it.
The result of not speaking of it is to eliminate danger.
In a manner of speaking, Tao is to the world
As the rivers are to oceans and seas.
To know others is to be knowledgeable,
To know oneself is enlightenment;
To master others is to have strength,
To master oneself is to be powerful.
To know what is sufficient is to be rich.
To act with determination is to have will.
Not to lose one's substance is to endure.
To die, but not be forgotten is to be immortal.
As the Tao is all-pervading,
It operates on both the left and the right.
Success is consequent to all affairs.
It does not proclaim its own existence.
All things return.
Yet there is no claim of ownership,
So it is forever desireless.
This can be called small.
All things return.
Yet there is no claim of ownership,
This can he called great.
The sage accomplishes greatness in not acting great.
Thus can he accomplished what is great.
Holding on to the great Symbol,
The whole world carries on.
On and on without doing harm.
Being happy at peace,
Enjoying greatly the music and food,
Travelers stop by.
When the Tao is spoken forth plainly
It has no flavor at all.
Look, but that is not sufficient for seeing.
Listen, but that is not sufficient for hearing.
Use it, but it is not exhausted.
When you want to constrict something,
You must first let it expand;
When you want to weaken something,
You must first enable it;
When you want to eliminate something,
You must first allow it;
When you want to conquer something,
You must first let it be.
This is called the Fine Light.
The weak overcomes the strong.
Fish cannot live away from the source.
The sharp weapon of the nation should never be displayed.
Tao is eternally nameless.
If lords and rulers would abide by it,
All things would evolve of themselves.
What evolves desires to act.
I, then, suffuse this with nameless simplicity.
Suffusing with nameless simplicity is eliminating humiliation.
Without humiliation, peace arises.
Heaven and earth regulate themselves.
Eminent action is inaction,
For that action it is active.
Inferior action never stops acting,
For that reason it is inactive.
Eminent action is disengaged,
Yet nothing is left unfulfilled;
Eminent humanness engages,
Yet nothing is left unfulfilled;
When eminent righteousness engages,
It reduces the results of engagements;
Eminent justice engages, but does not respond adequately to situations.
For that reason it is frustrated.
When Tao is lost,
It becomes Action;
When Action is lost,
It becomes benevolence;
When benevolence is lost,
It becomes justice.
When justice is lost,
It becomes propriety.
Propriety is the veneer of faith and loyalty,
And the forefront of troubles.
Foresight is the vain display of Tao,
And the forefront of foolishness.
Therefore, the man of substance
Dwells in wholeness rather than veneer,
Dwells in the essence rather than the vain display.
He rejects the latter, and accepts the former.
Those from the past have attained Oneness.
By attaining Oneness, heaven is clear.
By attaining Oneness, earth is at peace.
By attaining Oneness, the spirit is quickened.
By attaining Oneness, the valley is filled.
By attaining Oneness, the king puts order in the whole world.
All these result from Oneness.
Without its clarity, heaven is liable to explode.
Without its peace, earth is liable to erupt.
Without its quickening, the spirit is liable to die out.
Without its fullness, valleys are liable to dry out.
Without proper esteem, the king is liable to fall.
Esteem is rooted in the humble.
The high is founded upon the low.
This is why the lords and rulers call themselves widows and orphans without support.
Is this is not the root of being humble?
Much praise amounts to no praise.
Without preference, Being is as resonant as Jade and as gravelly as stone.
Tao moves by returning.
Tao functions by weakness.
All things under heaven are born of being.
Being is born of nonbeing.
When eminent persons hear of Tao,
They practice it faithfully;
When average persons hear of Tao,
It seems that they practice it, and it seems they do not;
When inferior persons hear of Tao,
They ridicule it.
Without such ridicule, it would not be Tao.
Thus, the aphorism that suggests the way is:
Knowing the Tao seems costly.
Entering Tao seems like retreating.
Becoming equal with Tao gives birth to paradoxes.
Eminent action is like a valley.
Complete understanding resembles being disgraced.
Vast action seems yielding.
Action that builds up seems remiss.
Pure integrity seems perverse.
The great square has no angles.
The great talent matures late.
The great voice sounds faint.
The great image has no form.
The Tao is praised but is unnameable.
Only Tao is good at beginning and good at completion.
Tao gives rise to one.
One gives rise to two.
Two gives rise to three.
Three gives rise to all things.
All things carry yin and embrace yang,
Drawing Chi together into harmony.
What the world hates is the widow and orphan without support.
But lords and rulers name themselves these.
Do not seek gain from losing, nor loss from gaining.
What people teach, after discussion becomes doctrine.
Those who excel in strength do not prevail over death.
I would use this as the father of teaching.
What is softest in the world penetrates what is hardest in the world.
Nonbeing enters where there is no room.
From this I know the riches of nonaction.
Wordless teaching and the riches of nonaction is matched by very little in the world.
Which is more cherished, the name or the body?
Which is worth more, the body or possessions?
Which is more beneficial, to gain or to lose?
Extreme fondness is necessarily very costly.
The more you cling to, the more you lose.
So knowing what is sufficient averts disgrace.
Knowing when to stop averts danger.
This can lead to a longer life.
Grand perfection seems lacking, yet its use is never exhausted.
Grand fullness seems empty, yet its use never comes to an end.
Grand straightforwardness seems bent.
Grand skill seems clumsy.
Grand surplus seems deficient.
Activity overcomes cold.
Stillness overcomes heat.
Peace and tranquility can be the measure of the world.
When there is Tao in the world, work horses are used to fertilize the land.
Without Tao in the world, the war horse flourishes in the countryside.
There is no crime greater than fostering desire.
There is no disaster greater than not knowing when there is enough.
There is no fault greater than wanting to possess.
Knowing that sufficiency is enough always suffices.
In order to know the world, do not step outside the door.
In order to know the Tao of heaven, do not peer through the window.
The further out you go, the less you know.
So the sage knows without moving, identifies without seeing, accomplishes without acting.
Having a zest for learning yields an increase day by day.
Hearing the Tao brings a loss day by day.
Losing more and more until inaction results.
Inaction results, yet everything is done.
Managing the world always involves nonengagement.
As soon as there is engagement, there is never enough of it to manage the world.
The sage is always without his own mind.
He uses people's minds as his mind.
He is kind to those who are kind.
He is also kind to those who are not kind.
It is the kindness of Action itself.
He is trustworthy to those who are trustworthy.
He is also trustworthy to those who are not trustworthy.
It is the trust of Action itself.
In the world, the sage inhales.
For the world, the sage keeps the mind simple.
All people are fixated on the ears and eyes,
While the sage always smiles like a child.
We live, we die.
The companions of life are three and ten.
The companions of death are three and ten.
That people live their active life necessarily leading to the ground of death is three and ten.
It is the nature of life itself.
As a matter of fact, I hear of those who are good at preserving their lives:
Walking through, not avoiding rhinos and tigers.
Entering battle without wearing armaments.
The rhino has no place to dig its horns.
The tiger has no place to drag its claws.
The soldier has no place to thrust his blade.
Why is this so?
Because they have no place to die.
For that reason, all things worship Tao and exalt Action.
The worship of Tao and exaltation of Action are not conferred, but always arise naturally.
Tao enlivens and nourishes, develops and cultivates, integrates and completes, raises and sustains.
It enlivens without possessing.
It acts without relying.
It develops without controlling.
Such is called mystic Action.
The world begins with the mother as its source.
When you have the mother, you know the son.
When you know the son, return to preserve the mother.
Although the body dies, there is no harm.
By closing your mouth and shutting the door, there would be no wearing down of life.
When opening the mouth and pursuing your affairs, life cannot be preserved.
Seeing what is small is discernment.
Preserving subtleness is strength.
Using the light enables one to return to discernment.
Without losing the center of the body is called penetrating the eternal.
Through discrimination, I have the knowledge to walk in the great Tao.
The only fear is what is other than that.
The great Tao is quite smooth, yet people prefer a short-cut.
The court is so busy legislating that the fields go uncultivated and granaries are all empty.
They wear the magnificent clothing, girdle the sharp swords.
They are gorged with food and possess many brides.
Their bounty suffices but they continue to steal.
This is opposite of Tao.
What is well-built is not pulled down.
What is well-fastened is not separated.
Sons and grandsons worship unceasingly.
Cultivate the self, and the Action is pure.
Cultivate the family, the Action is plentiful.
Cultivate the community, the Action endures.
Cultivate the nation, the Action is fruitful.
Cultivate the world, the Action is all-pervading.
Treat the self by the standard of self.
Treat the family by the standard of family.
Treat the community by the standard of community.
Treat the nation by the standard of nation.
Treat the world by the standard of world.
How do I know how the world is such?
Action in its profundity is like a newborn baby.
Poisonous insects and venomous snakes do not sting it.
Predatory birds and ferocious animals do not seize it.
Its bones are soft and its sinews supple, yet its grasp is firm;
Without knowing the union of male and female, its organs become aroused.
Its vital essence comes to the point;
Crying all day, its voice never becomes hoarse.
Its harmony comes to the point.
Harmony is eternal.
Knowing harmony is discernment.
Enhancing life is equanimity.
Generating vitality through mind is strength.
When things reach their climax, they are suddenly old.
This is "Non-Tao."
"Non-Tao" dies young.
Those who know, do not say.
Those who say, do not know.
Close the mouth.
Shut the door.
Merge into light.
As ordinary as dust.
Blunt the sharpness.
Unravel the entanglements.
This is called mysterious sameness.
You are not intimate by acquiring it;
You are not distant in not acquiring it.
You do not profit by acquiring it;
You do not lose it by not acquiring it.
You are not ennobled by acquiring it;
You are not disgraced by not acquiring it.
This enables the nobility of the world.
Using the right lawfulness to govern the country.
Using unexpectancy to conduct the battle.
Using disengagement to take over the world.
How do I know this is so?
The more prohibitions there are in the world, the poorer people will be.
The more destructive weapons people have, the more chaotic the nation will become.
The more know-how people have, the more bizarre things will appear.
The more rules and demands that flourish, the more thefts there will be.
Therefore the sage says:
When I am inactive, people transform themselves.
When I abide in stillness, people organize themselves lawfully.
When I am disengaged, people enrich themselves.
When I choose nondesire, people remain simple.
When the government is silent, people are sincere.
When the government is intrusive, the state is decisive.
Disaster is what fortune depends upon,
Fortune is what disaster subdues.
Who knows a final outcome?
There is no right lawfulness.
Justice tends towards the extreme.
Kindness tends towards evil.
People have been familiar with this for a long time.
Be rounded without cutting.
Be compatible without puncturing.
Be straightforward without trapping.
Be bright without dazzling.
For governing people and serving the heaven, nothing is better than frugality.
Only frugality enables the pre-empty measures.
Pre-empty measures mean a great accumulation of Action.
A great accumulation of Action leaves nothing to be conquered.
When nothing needs to be conquered,
No-boundary is known.
When no-boundary is known, it allows the country to exist.
The country, existing from its source, can endure.
This is the Tao of having a deep root, a strong stem, a long life, and an enduring vision.
Governing a large country is like cooking a small fish.
If Tao is utilized to manage the society, its ghost will not become spirit.
Not that ghost is not spiritual, but that the spirit harms no people;
Not only does the spirit harm not the people, but that the sage is harmless.
As those two cause no harm, they are united in Action.
A great nation flows downwardly, it is the mother of the world and the integration of the world.
The mother is always tranquil and overcomes the male by her tranquility, so she benefits the world.
A great nation relies on a low position to take over a small nation.
A small nation, being in a low position, is taken over by a great nation.
So being lower allows taking over or being taken over.
Being a great nation only desires to unify the people.
Being a small nation only seeks people's business.
They both get what they want, but the greater is being lower.
Tao is the conductor of all things.
The treasure of the good.
The protector of the bad.
Beautiful words can advertise well.
Noble conduct brings praise to people.
As for those who conduct the bad, why reject them for it?
Therefore, after the crowning of the emperor comes the appointing of three administrations.
Being presented with jade in front of the team of four horses is not better than sitting and entering thus.
The reason why this is valued of old is,
It allows having without asking, and it allows forgiveness of wrong.
Thus, it is most valuable to the world.
Engage in non-affairs.
Large or small, many or few, reward or punishment, are all being done through Action.
Seek what is difficult with ease.
Effect what is great while it is small.
The most difficult things in the world are done while they are easy.
The greatest things in the world are done while they are small.
The sage never plans to do a great thing.
Thus, he accomplishes what is great.
Facile promises necessarily result in little trust.
What is easy necessarily entails difficulty.
Thus the sage, through extreme trials, encounters no difficulty.
It is easy to sustain what is at rest.
It is easy to plan for that of which there is not even a sign.
What is fragile is easily broken.
What is minute is easily dispersed.
Act upon it before it exists.
Regulate it before it becomes chaos.
A massive tree grows from a little sprout.
A nine-story-building rises from a clod of earth.
A thousand fathoms begin with a single step.
Those who impose action upon it will fail.
Those who cling to it lose it.
So the sage, through nonaction, does not fail.
Not clinging, he does not lose.
The common people's engagement in affairs fails prior to success.
So the saying goes,
"Give as much careful attention to the end as to the beginning, then the affairs will not fail."
It is on that account that the sage desires not to desire and does not value goods that are hard to get.
He learns not to learn and restores the common people's losses.
He is able to support the nature of all things and, not by daring, to impose action.
Those who practiced Tao in olden times did not enlighten people,
Rather they made them simple.
What makes it the hardest to govern the people is what they already know.
It becomes most difficult to govern people because of their knowledge.
So, using knowledge to govern the country, knowledge itself becomes the thief of the country.
Not using knowledge to govern the country, knowledge itself is the Action of the country.
Always realize that these two are the model for ruling.
Always be aware that this model is the mystic Action.
Mystic Action is deep and far-reaching.
It is the opposite of matter.
Only thus does it approach the Great Harmony.
The reason why rivers and seas have the capacity for kingship over all the valleys is that they excel in lowliness.
That is why they have the capacity for kingship over all valleys.
Thus, since the sage wants to elevate the people, his speech is down to earth.
Since the sage wants to advance the people, he positions himself at the back,
So that when he is at the front, people do not harm him.
When he stands above, people do not feel pressure.
The whole world supports him untiringly.
Since he does not rely on competition, the world has nothing with which to compete.
Everyone in the world says I am great, great without parallel.
Being without parallel is what enables greatness.
If there is a long-standing parallel, it becomes small.
I always have three treasures:
First is compassion.
Second is frugality.
Third is to not dare act in front of the world.
So compassion enables courage.
Frugality enables abundance.
Not daring to act in front of the world enables the mechanism to endure.
Today there is courage without compassion.
There is abundance without frugality.
There is appearance alone without substance.
This means no-life.
Through compassion: fight and win, defend and be secure.
When the heaven establishes itself, it always relies upon compassion.
Being a good warrior does not entail power.
A good fighter is not angry.
One who is good at overcoming the enemy does not contact him.
One who is good at leading people acts humbly.
This is called the Action of noncompetition.
This is called leading people.
This is called the Ultimate as old as heaven.
There is a saying on using military force:
I dare not be the host, but rather a guest.
I dare not advance an inch, but rather retreat a foot.
This is called performing without performing, rolling up one's sleeves without showing the arms.
By not holding on to an enemy, there is no enemy.
There is no disaster greater than having no enemy.
Having no enemy almost destroys my treasure.
When opposing armies clash, those who cry win!
My words are easy to understand and easy to apply.
Yet no one in the world can understand them and no one could apply them.
Words have their origin, and events have their leader.
Only because of prevailing ignorance am I not understood.
The fewer who understand me, the more precious I am.
So the sage wears shabby cloth, but holds a treasure within.
Knowing that you don't know (everything) is superior.
Not knowing that you don't know (everything) is a sickness.
So the sage's being without sickness is that he knows sickness as sickness;
Thus, he is without sickness.
People are fearless before the power.
If fear arises, it will be a great fear.
Not constraining the living environment,
They do not get bored by life.
Because we do not get bored, there is no boredom.
Therefore the sage is self-aware but not introspective.
He has self-respect but does not price himself.
He rejects one and takes the other.
Courage combined with daring promotes killing.
Courage not combined with daring promotes life.
These two can be either beneficial or harmful.
Who knows the reason for what heaven hates?
The Tao of heaven is
Good at winning without fighting,
Good at responding without speaking,
Appearing without being asked,
Good at strategizing while fighting.
The net of heaven is broad and loose,
Yet nothing slips through.
Whenever people are unafraid of death, how can killing be used as a threat?
Whenever people are afraid of death and are acting contrary, I will catch and kill them, who else can act so?
When people are absolutely afraid of death but perform killing, they are the best qualified to be executioners.
This is like doing carving for a master craftsman.
Doing the carving for a master craftsman, how could one's hand not get cut?
The reason people are starving is because the government taxes too much.
This is the reason for starvation.
The reason people are hard to govern is because their leaders are actively engaged.
This is why they are hard to govern.
The reason people are not serious about death is because they seek the burdens of life.
This is why they are not serious about death.
Only those who are not slaves to life are wise to the value of life.
When people are born, they are soft and gentle.
When they die, they are stiff and callous.
When myriad things, grasses and trees, are born, they are soft and tender.
When they die, they are withered.
So stiffness and callousness are the company of death.
Softness and suppleness are the company of life.
The powerful army will not win.
A stiff tree will break.
So stiffness and power stay below.
Softness and suppleness stay above.
The Tao of heaven is like drawing a bow.
The high bends down,
The low rises up.
The surplus decreases,
Insufficiency is supplied.
So the Tao of heaven reduces what is surplus and enhances what is insufficient.
The human Tao reduces what is insufficient and caters to the surplus.
Who can use the surplus to benefit the heaven?
Only those who possess Tao.
So the sage
Exists without ownership,
Accomplishes without holding on.
It is thus, without desire, that the wise see.
Nothing in the world is softer and more supple than water.
When confronting strength and hardness nothing can overcome it.
Using nothing simplifies.
Using water overcomes hardness.
Using weakness overcomes strength.
There is no one in the world who does not know it, but no one can apply it.
So it is a saying of sages that:
Whoever can bear the disgrace of the country is the ruler of the country.
Whoever can bear the misfortune of the world is the ruler of the world.
Truthful speech seems paradoxical.
Reconciling a great hatred necessarily entails unsolved hatred.
How can this be kindful?
So the sage honors the left-hand tally but does not blame people.
Before the kind Action, hold onto the tally.
Before the kindless Action, hold onto the openness.
The Tao of heaven is impersonal.
It enhances those who are kind.
A small country has few people.
Weapons are far more numerous than the people, but they are not used.
Let people be serious about death and enjoy a long journey.
Though there are carriages and boats, they are not useful for travel.
Let people return to:
Use the technique of knotting the rope,
Enjoying the food,
Appreciating the cloth,
Delighting in customs,
Settling into their living conditions.
The neighboring countries are in sight.
The sounds of dogs and chickens are heard.
People grow old and die without interference from each other.
Trustworthy words are not beautiful.
Beautiful words are not trustworthy.
The knower does not know everything.
The know-it-all knows nothing.
Kindness is not overindulgent.
Overindulgence is not kind.
The sage does not collect.
As soon as he exists for others, he has more.
As soon as he gives to others, he has more.
So the Tao of heaven benefits and does not harm.
The Tao of humankind exists and does not compete.