Article Index

21.1 The omnipresent Virtue will take shape According only to the Way.
21.2 The Way itself is like some thing Seen in a dream, elusive, evading one. In it are images, elusive, evading one. In it are things like shadows in twilight. In it are essences, subtle but real, Embedded in truth.
21.3 From of old until now, Under names without end, The First, the Beginning is seen.
21.4 How do I know the beginning of all, What its nature may be? By these!

22.1 The crooked shall be made straight And the rough places plain; The pools shall be filled And the worn renewed; The needy shall receive And the rich shall be perplexed.
22.2 So the Wise Man cherishes the One, As a standard to the world:
22.3 Not displaying himself, He is famous; Not asserting himself, He is distinguished; Not boasting his powers, He is effective; Taking no pride in himself, He is chief.
22.4 Because he is no competitor, No one in all the world can compete with him.
22.5 The saying of the men of old Is not in vain: "The crooked shall be made straight - " To be perfect, return to it.

23.1 Sparing indeed is nature of its talk: The whirlwind will not last the morning out; The cloudburst ends before the day is done.
23.2 What is it that behaves itself like this? The earth and sky! And if it be that these Cut short their speech, how much more yet should man!
23.3 If you work by the Way, You will be of the Way; If you work through its virtue you will be given the virtue; Abandon either one And both abandon you.
23.4 Gladly then the Way receives Those who choose to walk in it; Gladly too its power upholds Those who choose to use it well; Gladly will abandon greet Those who to abandon drift.
23.5 Little faith is put in them Whose faith is small.

24.1 On tiptoe your stance is unsteady; Long strides make your progress unsure;
24.2 Show off and you get no attention; Your boasting will mean you have failed;
24.3 Asserting yourself brings no credit; Be proud and you will never lead.
24.4 To persons of the Way, these traits Can only bring distrust; they seem Like extra food for parasites. So those who choose the Way, Will never give them place.

25.1 Something there is, whose veiled creation was Before the earth or sky began to be; So silent, so aloof and so alone, It changes not, nor fails, but touches all: Conceive it as the mother of the world.
25.2 I do not know its name: A name for it is "Way"; Pressed for designation, I call it Great.
25.3 Great means outgoing, Outgoing, far-reaching, Far-reaching, return.
25.4 The Way is great, The sky is great, The earth is great, The king also is great. Within the realm These four are great; The king but stands For one of them.
25.5 Man conforms to the earth; The earth conforms to the sky; The sky conforms to the Way; The Way conforms to its own nature.

26.1 The heavy is foundation for the light; So quietness is master of the deed.
26.2 The Wise Man, though he travel all the day, Will not be separated from his goods. So even if the scene is glorious to view, He keeps his place, at peace, above it all.
26.3 For how can one who rules Ten thousand chariots Give up to lighter moods As all the world may do?
26.4 If he is trivial, His ministers are lost; If he is strenuous, There is no master then.

27.1 A good runner leaves no tracks. A good speech has no flaws to censure. A good computer uses no tallies.
27.2 A good door is well shut without bolts and cannot be opened. A good knot is tied without rope and cannot be loosed.
27.3 The Wise Man is always good at helping people, so that none are cast out; he is always good at saving things, so that none are thrown away. This is called applied intelligence.
27.4 Surely the good man is the bad man's teacher; and the bad man is the good man's business.
27.5 If the one does not respect his teacher, or the other doesn't love his business, his error is very great. This is indeed an important secret.

28.1 Be aware of your masculine nature; But by keeping the feminine way, You shall be to the world like a canyon, Where the Virtue eternal abides, And go back to become as a child.
28.2 Be aware of the white all around you; But remembering the black that is there, You shall be to the world like a tester, Whom the Virtue eternal, unerring, Redirects to the infinite past.
28.3 Be aware of your glory and honour; But in never relinquishing shame, You shall be to the world like a valley, Where Virtue eternal, sufficient, Sends you back to the Virginal Block.
28.4 When the Virginal Block is asunder, And is made into several tools, To the ends of the Wise Man directed, They become then his chief officers: For "The Master himself does not carve."

29.1 As for those who would take the whole world To tinker as they see fit, I observe that they never succeed:
29.2 For the world is a sacred vessel Not made to be altered by man. The tinker will spoil it; Usurpers will lose it.
29.3 For indeed there are things That must move ahead, While others must lag; And some that feel hot, While others feel cold; And some that are strong, While others are weak; And vigorous ones, While others worn out.
29.4 So the Wise Man discards Extreme inclinations To make sweeping judgements, Or to a life of excess.

30.1 To those who would help The ruler of men By means of the Way: Let him not with his militant might Try to conquer the world; This tactic is like to recoil.
30.2 For where armies have marched, There do briars spring up; Where great hosts are impressed, Years of hunger and evil ensue.
30.3 The good man's purpose once attained, He stops at that; He will not press for victory.
30.4 His point once made, he does not boast, Or celebrate the goal he gained, Or proudly indicate the spoils. He won the day because he must: But not by force or violence.
30.5 That things with age decline in strength, You well may say, suits not the Way; And not to suit the Way is early death.

31.1 Weapons at best are tools of bad omen, Loathed and avoided by those of the Way.
31.2 In the usage of men of good breeding, Honour is had at the left; Good omens belong on the left Bad omens belong on the right; And warriors press to the right!
31.3 When the general stands at the right His lieutenant is placed at the left. So the usage of men of great power Follows that of the funeral rite.
31.4 Weapons are tools of bad omen, By gentlemen not to be used; But when it cannot be avoided, They use them with calm and restraint.
31.5 Even in victory's hour These tools are unlovely to see; For those who admire them truly Are men who in murder delight. As for those who delight to do murder, It is certain they never can get From the world what they sought when ambition Urged them to power and rule.
31.6 A multitude slain! - and their death Is a matter for grief and for tears; The victory after a conflict Is a theme for a funeral rite.

32.1 The Way eternal has no name. A block of wood untooled, though small, May still excel the world.
32.2 And if the king and nobles could Retain its potency for good, Then everything would freely give Allegiance to their rule.
32.3 The earth and sky would then conspire To bring the sweet dew down; And evenly it would be given To folk without constraining power.
32.4 Creatures came to be with order's birth, And once they had appeared, Came also knowledge of repose, And with that was security.
32.5 In this world, Compare those of the Way To torrents that flow Into river and sea.

33.1 It is wisdom to know others; It is enlightenment to know one's self.
33.2 The conqueror of men is powerful; The master of himself is strong.
33.3 It is wealth to be content; It is willful to force one's way on others.
33.4 Endurance is to keep one's place; Long life it is to die and not perish.

34.1 O the great Way o'erflows And spreads on every side!
34.2 All beings come from it; No creature is denied. But having called them forth, It calls not one its own. It feeds and clothes them all And will not be their lord.
34.3 Without desire always, It seems of slight import.
34.4 Yet, nonetheless, in this Its greatness still appears: When they return to it, No creature meets a lord.
34.5 The Wise Man, therefore, while he is alive, Will never make a show of being great: And that is how his greatness is achieved.

35.1 Once grasp the great Form without form, And you roam where you will With no evil to fear, Calm, peaceful, at ease.
35.2 At music and viands The wayfarer stops.
35.3 But the Way, when declared, Seems thin and so flavourless! It is nothing to look at And nothing to hear; But used, it will prove Inexhaustible.

36.1 What is to be shrunken Is first stretched out; What is to be weakened Is first made strong; What will be thrown over Is first raised up; What will be withdrawn Is first bestowed.
36.2 This indeed is Subtle Light; The gentle way Will overcome The hard and strong.
36.3 As fish should not Get out of pools, The realm's edged tools Should not be shown To anybody.

37.1 The Way is always still, at rest, And yet does everything that's done.
37.2 If then the king and nobles could Retain its potency for good, The creatures all would be transformed. But if, the change once made in them, They still inclined to do their work, I should restrain them then By means of that unique Original simplicity Found in the Virgin Block,
37.3 Which brings disinterest, With stillness in its train, And so, an ordered world.

38.1 A man of highest virtue Will not display it as his own; His virtue then is real. Low virtue makes one miss no chance To show his virtue off; His virtue then is nought.
38.2 High virtue is at rest; It knows no need to act. Low virtue is a busyness Pretending to accomplishment.
38.3 Compassion at its best Consists in honest deeds; Morality at best Is something done, aforethought; High etiquette, when acted out Without response from others, Constrains a man to bare his arms And make them do their duty!
38.4 Truly, once the Way is lost, There comes then virtue; Virtue lost, comes then compassion; After that morality; And when that's lost, there's etiquette, The husk of all good faith, The rising point of anarchy.
38.5 Foreknowledge is, they say, The Doctrine come to flower; But better yet, it is The starting point of silliness.
38.6 So once full-grown, a man will take The meat and not the husk, The fruit and not the flower. Rejecting one, he takes the other.

39.1 These things in ancient times received the One: The sky obtained it and was clarified; The earth received it and was settled firm; The spirits got it and were energized;
39.2 The valleys had it, filled to overflow; All things, as they partook it came alive; The nobles and the king imbibed the One In order that the realm might upright be; Such things were then accomplished by the One.
39.3 Without its clarity the sky might break; Except it were set firm, the earth might shake; Without their energy the gods would pass;
39.4 Unless kept full, the valleys might go dry; Except for life, all things would pass away; Unless the One did lift and hold them high, The nobles and the king might trip and fall.
39.5 The humble folk support the mighty ones; They are base on which the highest rest.
39.6 The nobles and the king speak of themselves As "orphans," "desolate" and "needy ones." Does this not indicate that they depend Upon the lowly people for support?
39.7 Truly a cart is more than the sum of its parts.
39.8 Better to rumble like rocks Than to tinkle like jade.

40.1 The movement of the Way is a return; In weakness lies its major usefulness.
40.2 From What-is all the world of things was born But What-is sprang in turn from What-is-not.