1.1 The tao that can be described is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be spoken is not the eternal Name.
1.2 The nameless is the boundary of Heaven and Earth. The named is the mother of creation.
1.3 Freed from desire, you can see the hidden mystery. By having desire, you can only see what is visibly real.
1.4 Yet mystery and reality emerge from the same source. This source is called darkness.
1.5 Darkness born from darkness. The beginning of all understanding.
2.1 When people see things as beautiful, ugliness is created.
2.2 When people see things as good, evil is created.
2.3 Being and non-being produce each other. Difficult and easy complement each other. Long and short define each other.
2.4 High and low oppose each other. Fore and aft follow each other.
2.5 Therefore the Master can act without doing anything and teach without saying a word.
2.6 Things come her way and she does not stop them; things leave and she lets them go.
2.7 She has without possessing, and acts without any expectations. When her work is done, she takes no credit. That is why it will last forever.
3.1 If you over esteem talented individuals, people will become overly competitive.
3.2 If you overvalue possessions, people will begin to steal.
3.3 Do not display your treasures or people will become envious.
3.4 The Master leads by emptying people's minds, filling their bellies, weakening their ambitions, and making them become strong.
3.5 Preferring simplicity and freedom from desires, avoiding the pitfalls of knowledge and wrong action.
3.6 For those who practice not-doing, everything will fall into place.
4.1 The Tao is like an empty container: it can never be emptied and can never be filled.
4.2 Infinitely deep, it is the source of all things.
4.3 It dulls the sharp, unties the knotted, shades the lighted, and unites all of creation with dust.
4.4 It is hidden but always present.
4.5 I don't know who gave birth to it. It is older than the concept of God.
5.1 Heaven and Earth are impartial; they treat all of creation as straw dogs.
5.2 The Master doesn't take sides; she treats everyone like a straw dog.
5.3 The space between Heaven and Earth is like a bellows; it is empty, yet has not lost its power. The more it is used, the more it produces; the more you talk of it, the less you comprehend.
5.4 It is better not to speak of things you do not understand.
6.1 The spirit of emptiness is immortal. It is called the Great Mother because it gives birth to Heaven and Earth.
6.3 It is like a vapour, barely seen but always present. Use it effortlessly.
7.1 The Tao of Heaven is eternal, and the earth is long enduring. Why are they long enduring?
7.2 They do not live for themselves; thus they are present for all beings.
7.3 The Master puts herself last; And finds herself in the place of authority.
7.4 She detaches herself from all things; Therefore she is united with all things.
7.5 She gives no thought to self. She is perfectly fulfilled.
8.1 The supreme good is like water, which benefits all of creation without trying to compete with it. It gathers in unpopular places. Thus it is like the Tao.
8.2 The location makes the dwelling good. Depth of understanding makes the mind good. A kind heart makes the giving good.
8.3 Integrity makes the government good. Accomplishment makes your labors good. Proper timing makes a decision good.
8.4 Only when there is no competition will we all live in peace.
9.1 It is easier to carry and empty cup than one that is filled to the brim.
9.2 The sharper the knife the easier it is to dull.
9.3 The more wealth you possess the harder it is to protect.
9.4 Pride brings its own trouble.
9.5 When you have accomplished your goal simply walk away. This is the pathway to Heaven.
10.1 Nurture the darkness of your soul until you become whole. Can you do this and not fail?
10.2 Can you focus your life-breath until you become supple as a newborn child?
10.3 While you cleanse your inner vision will you be found without fault?
10.4 Can you love people and lead them without forcing your will on them?
10.5 When Heaven gives and takes away can you be content with the outcome?
10.6 When you understand all things can you step back from your own understanding?
10.7 Giving birth and nourishing, making without possessing, expecting nothing in return. To grow, yet not to control: This is the mysterious virtue.
11.1 Thirty spokes are joined together in a wheel, but it is the center hole that allows the wheel to function.
11.2 We mold clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that makes the vessel useful.
11.3 We fashion wood for a house, but it is the emptiness inside that makes it livable.
11.4 We work with the substantial, but the emptiness is what we use.
12.1 Five colors blind the eye. Five notes deafen the ear. Five flavours make the palate go stale.
12.2 Too much activity deranges the mind. Too much wealth causes crime.
12.3 The Master acts on what she feels and not what she sees. She shuns the latter, and prefers to seek the former.
13.1 Success is as dangerous as failure, and we are often our own worst enemy.
13.2 What does it mean that success is as dangerous as failure? He who is superior is also someone's subordinate. Receiving favor and losing it both cause alarm. That is what is meant by success is as dangerous as failure.
13.3 What does it mean that we are often our own worst enemy? The reason I have an enemy is because I have "self". If I no longer had a "self", I would no longer have an enemy.
13.4 Love the whole world as if it were your self; then you will truly care for all things.
14.1 Look for it, and it can't be seen. Listen for it, and it can't be heard. Grasp for it, and it can't be caught.
14.2 These three cannot be further described, so we treat them as The One.
14.3 Its highest is not bright. Its depths are not dark. Unending, unnamable, it returns to nothingness.
14.4 Formless forms, and imageless images, subtle, beyond all understanding. Approach it and you will not see a beginning; follow it and there will be no end.
14.5 When we grasp the Tao of the ancient ones, we can use it to direct our life today. To know the ancient origin of Tao: this is the beginning of wisdom.
15.1 The Sages of old were profound and knew the ways of subtlety and discernment.
15.2 Their wisdom is beyond our comprehension. Because their knowledge was so far superior I can only give a poor description. They were careful as someone crossing an frozen stream in winter. Alert as if surrounded on all sides by the enemy. Courteous as a guest.
15.3 Fluid as melting ice. Whole as an uncarved block of wood. Receptive as a valley. Turbid as muddied water.
15.4 Who can be still until their mud settles and the water is cleared by itself? Can you remain tranquil until right action occurs by itself?
15.5 The Master doesn't seek fulfilment. For only those who are not full are able to be used which brings the feeling of completeness.
16.1 If you can empty your mind of all thoughts your heart will embrace the tranquillity of peace.
16.2 Watch the workings of all of creation, but contemplate their return to the source.
16.3 All creatures in the universe return to the point where they began. Returning to the source is tranquillity because we submit to Heavens mandate. Returning to Heavens mandate is called being constant. Knowing the constant is called 'enlightenment'. Not knowing the constant is the source of evil deeds because we have no roots.
16.4 By knowing the constant we can accept things as they are. By accepting things as they are, we become impartial. By being impartial, we become one with Heaven.
16.5 By being one with Heaven, we become one with Tao. Being one with Tao, we are no longer concerned about losing our life because we know the Tao is constant and we are one with Tao.
17.1 The best leaders are those the people hardly know exist. The next best is a leader who is loved and praised. Next comes the one who is feared. The worst one is the leader that is despised.
17.2 If you don't trust the people, they will become untrustworthy.
17.3 The best leaders value their words, and use them sparingly. When she has accomplished her task, the people say, "Amazing: we did it, all by ourselves!"
18.1 When the great Tao is abandoned, charity and righteousness appear.
18.2 When intellectualism arises, hypocrisy is close behind.
18.3 When there is strife in the family unit, people talk about 'brotherly love'.
18.4 When the country falls into chaos, politicians talk about 'patriotism'.
19.1 Forget about knowledge and wisdom, and people will be a hundred times better off.
19.2 Throw away charity and righteousness, and people will return to brotherly love.
19.3 Throw away profit and greed, and there won't be any thieves.
19.4 These three are superficial and aren't enough to keep us at the center of the circle, so we must also:
19.5 Embrace simplicity. Put others first. Desire little.
20.1 Renounce knowledge and your problems will end. What is the difference between yes and no? What is the difference between good and evil?
20.2 Must you fear what others fear? Nonsense, look how far you have missed the mark!
20.3 Other people are joyous, as though they were at a spring festival. I alone am unconcerned and expressionless, like an infant before it has learned to smile.
20.4 Other people have more than they need; I alone seem to possess nothing. I am lost and drift about with no place to go. I am like a fool, my mind is in chaos.
20.5 Ordinary people are bright; I alone am dark. Ordinary people are clever; I alone am dull. Ordinary people seem discriminating; I alone am muddled and confused. I drift on the waves on the ocean, blown at the mercy of the wind.
20.6 Other people have their goals, I alone am dull and uncouth. I am different from ordinary people. I nurse from the Great Mother's breasts.
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