Article Index


1.1 The Dao-Path is not the All-Dao. The Name is not the Thing named.
1.2 Unmanifested, it is the Secret Father of Heaven and Earth; manifested, it is their Mother.
1.3 To understand this Mystery, one must be fulfilling one's will, and if one is not thus free, one will but gain a smattering of it.
1.4 The Dao is one, and the De but a Phase thereof.
1.5 The abyss of this Mystery is the Portal of Serpent Wonder.

2.1 All men know beauty and ugliness are correlative,
2.2 as are skill and clumsiness; one implies and suggests the other.
2.3 So also existence and non-existence pose the one and the other; so also it is with ease and difficulty; length and shortness;
2.4 height and lowness. Also, Musick exists through harmony of opposites; time and space depend upon contraposition.
2.5 By the use of this method the sage can fulfil his will without action, and utter his word without speech.
2.6 All things arise without diffidence; they grow, and none interferes; they change according to their natural order, without lust of result.
2.7 The work is accomplished; yet continues in its orbit, without goal. This work is done consciously; this is why its energy is indefatigable.

3.1 To reward merit is to stir up emulation;
3.2 to prize rarities is to encourage robbery;
3.3 to display desirable things is to excite the disorder of covetousness.
3.4 Therefore the sage governs men by keeping their minds and bodies at rest, contenting the one by emptiness, the other by fullness. He satisfies their desires, thus fulfilling their wills, and making them frictionless; and he makes them strong in body, to a similar end.
3.5 He delivers them from the restlessness of knowledge and the craving of discontent. As to those who have knowledge already, he teaches them the way of non-action.
3.6 This being assured, there is no disorder in the world.

4.1 The Dao resembles the Emptiness of Space; to employ it, we must avoid creating ganglia.
4.2 O Dao, how vast are you, the Abyss of Abysses, you Holy and Secret Father of all Fatherhood of Things!
4.3 Let us make our sharpness blunt; let us loosen our complexes; let us tone down our brightness to the general obscurity.
4.4 Oh Dao, how still you are, how pure, continuous One beyond Heaven!
4.5 This Dao has no Father: it is beyond all other conceptions, higher than the highest.

5.1 Heaven and Earth produce without motive, but casually, in their order of nature, dealing with all things carelessly, like used talismans.
5.2 So also the sages deal with their people, not exercising benevolence, but allowing the nature of all to move without friction.
5.3 The space between Heaven and Earth is their breathing apparatus. Exhalation is not exhaustion, but the complement of inhalation, and this equally of that.
5.4 Speech exhausts; guard yourself, therefore, maintaining the perfect freedom of your nature.

6.1 The De is the immortal energy of the Dao, its feminine aspect..
6.2 Heaven and Earth issued from her Gate; this Gate is the root of their World-Sycamore.
6.3 Its operation is of pure Joy and Love, and fails never.

7.1 Heaven and Earth are mighty in continuance,
7.2 because their work is delivered from the lust of result.
7.3 Thus also the sage, seeking not any goal, attains all things;
7.4 he does not interfere in the affairs of his body, and so that body acts without friction.
7.5 It is because he meddles not with personal aims that these come to pass with simplicity.

8.1 Admire you the High Way of Water! Is not Water the soul of the life of things, whereby they change? Yet it seeks its level, and abides content in obscurity. So also it resembles the Dao, in this Way thereof!
8.2 The virtue of a house is to be well-placed; of the mind, to be at ease in silence as of Space; of societies, to be well-disposed;
8.3 of governments, to maintain quietude; of work, to be skillfully performed; and of motion, to be made at the right time.
8.4 Also it is the virtue of a man to abide in his place without discontent; thus offends he no man.

9.1 Fill not a vessel, lest it spill in carrying.
9.2 Meddle not with a sharpened point by feeling it constantly, or it will soon become blunted.
9.3 Gold and jade endanger the house of their possessor.
9.4 Wealth and honours lead to arrogance and envy, and bring ruin. Is your way famous and your name becoming distinguished?
9.5 Withdraw, your work once done, into obscurity; this is the way of Heaven.

10.1 When soul and body are in the bond of love, they can be kept together.
10.2 By concentration on the breath, it is brought to perfect elasticity, and one becomes as a babe.
10.3 By purifying oneself from Samadhi one becomes whole.
10.4 In his dealing with individuals and with society, let him move without lust of result.
10.5 In the management of his breath, let him be like the mother-bird.
10.6 Let his intelligence comprehend every quarter; but let his knowledge cease.
10.7 Here is the Mystery of Virtue. It creates all and nourishes all; yet it does not adhere to them; it operates all, but knows not of it, nor proclaims it; it directs all, but without conscious control.

11.1 The thirty spokes join in their nave, that is one; yet the wheel depends for use upon the hollow place for the axle.
11.2 Clay is shaped to make vessels; but the contained space is what is useful.
11.4 Matter is therefore of use only to make the limits of the Space which is the thing of real value.

12.1 The five colours film over Sight; the five sounds make Hearing dull; the five flavours conceal Taste.
12.2 occupation with motion and action bedevil Mind; even as the esteem of rare things begets covetousness and disorder.
12.3 The wise man seeks therefore to content the actual needs of his people, not to excite them by the sight of luxuries. He bans these, and concentrates on those.

13.1 Favour and disgrace are equally to be shunned; honour and calamity to be alike regarded as adhering to the personality.
13.2 What is this which is written concerning favour and disgrace? Disgrace is the fall from favour. He then that has favour has fear, and its loss begets fear yet greater to a further fall.
13.3 What is this which is written concerning honour and calamity? It is this attachment to the body which makes calamity possible; for were one bodiless, what evil could befall him?
13.4 Therefore, let him that regards himself rightly administer also a kingdom; and let him govern it who loves it as another man loves himself.

14.1 We look at it, and see it not, though it is Omnipresent; and we name it the Root-Balance. We listen for it, and hear it not, though it is Omniscient; and we name it the Silence. We feel for it, and touch it not, though it is Omnipotent; and we name it the Concealed.
14.2 These three Virtues has it, yet we cannot describe it as consisting of them; but, mingling them aright, we apprehend the One.
14.3 Above it shines not; below, it is not dark. It moves all continuously, without Expression, returning into Naught.
14.4 It is the Form of That which is beyond Form; it is the Image of the Invisible; it is Change, and Without Limit. We confront it, and see not its Face; we pursue it, and its Back is hidden from us.
14.5 Ah! But apply the Dao as in old Time to the work of the present: Know it as it was known in the beginning; follow fervently the Thread of the Dao.

15.1 The adepts of past ages were subtle and keen to apprehend this Mystery, and their profundity was obscurity unto men.
15.2 Since then they were not known, let me declare their nature. To all seeming, they were fearful as men that cross a torrent in winter flood; they were hesitating like a man in apprehension of them that are about him; they were full of awe like a guest in a great house;
15.3 they were ready to disappear like ice in thaw; they were unassuming like unworked wood; they were empty as a valley; and dull as the waters of a marsh.
15.4 Who can clear muddy water? Stillness will accomplish this. Who can obtain rest? Let motion continue equably, and it will itself be peace.
15.5 The adepts of the Dao, conserving its way, seek not to be actively self-conscious. By their emptiness of Self they have no need to show their youth and perfection; to appear old and imperfect is their privilege.

16.1 Emptiness must be perfect, and Silence made absolute with tireless strength.
16.2 All things pass through the period of action; then they return to repose. They grow, bud, blossom, and fruit; then they return to the root.
16.3 This return to the root is this state which we name Silence; and this Silence is Witness of their Fulfilment. This cycle is the universal law. To know it is the part of intelligence; to ignore it brings folly of action, whereof the end is madness.
16.4 To know it brings understanding and peace; and these lead to the identification of the Self with the Not-Self. This identification makes a man a king; and this kingliness grows unto godhood. That godhood bears fruit in the mastery of the Dao.
16.5 Then the man, the Dao permeating him, endures; and his bodily principles are in harmony, proof against decay, until the hour of his Change.

17.1 In the Age of Gold, the people were not conscious of their rulers; in the Age of Silver, they loved them, with songs; In the Age of Brass, they feared them; in the Age of Iron, they despised them.
17.2 As the rulers lost Confidence, so also did the people lose confidence in them.
17.3 How hesitating did they seem, the Lords of the Age of Gold, speaking with deliberation, aware of the weight of their world! Thus they accomplished all things with success; and the people deemed their well-being to be the natural course of events.

18.1 When men abandoned the Way of Dao, benevolence and justice became necessary.
18.2 Then also was need of wisdom and cunning, and all fell into illusion.
18.3 When harmony ceased to prevail in the six spheres it was needful to govern them by manifesting Sons.
18.4 When the kingdoms and races became confused, loyal ministers had to appear.

19.1 If we forgot out statesmanship and our wisdom, it would be a hundred times better for the people.
19.2 If we forgot our benevolence and our justice, they would become again like sons, folk of good will.
19.3 If we forgot our machines and our business, there would be no knavery.
19.4 These new methods despised the olden Way, inventing fine names to disguise their barrenness.
19.5 But simplicity in the doing of the will of every man would put an end to vain ambitions and desires.

20.1 To forget learning is to end trouble. The smallest difference in words, such as "yes" and "yea", can make endless controversy for the scholar.
20.2 Fearful indeed is death, since all men fear it; but the abyss of questionings shoreless and bottomless, is worse.
20.3 Consider the profane man, how he preens, as if at feast, or gazing upon Spring from a tower! But as for me, I am as one who yawns, without any trace of desire. I am like a babe before its first smile. I appear sad and forlorn, like a man homeless.
20.4 The profane man has his need filled, aye, and more also. For me, I seem to have lost all I had. My mind is, as it were, stupefied; it has no definite shape.
20.5 The profane man looks lively and keen-witted; I alone appear blank in my mind. They seem eagerly critical; I appear careless and without perception. I seem to be as one adrift upon the sea, with no thought of an harbour.
20.6 The profane have each one his definite course of action; I alone appear useless and uncomprehending, like a man from the border. Yea, thus I differ from all other men: but my jewel is the All-Mother.