Article Index


1.1 The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
1.2 The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
1.3 The nameless is the beginning of heaven and Earth.
1.4 The named is the mother of the ten thousand things.
1.5 Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
1.6 Ever desiring, one sees the manifestations.
1.7 These two spring from the same source but differ in name; this appears as darkness.
1.8 Darkness within darkness.
1.9 The gate to all mystery.

2.1 Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty only because there is ugliness.
2.2 All can know good as good only because there is evil.
2.3 Therefore having and not having arise together.
2.4 Difficult and easy complement each other.
2.5 Long and short contrast each other: High and low rest upon each other; Voice and sound harmonize each other; Front and back follow one another.
2.6 Therefore the sage goes about doing nothing, teaching no-talking.
2.7 The ten thousand things rise and fall without cease, Creating, yet not.
2.8 Working, yet not taking credit.
2.9 Work is done, then forgotten.
2.10 Therefore it lasts forever.

3.1 Not exalting the gifted prevents quarreling.
3.2 Not collecting treasures prevents stealing.
3.3 Not seeing desirable things prevents confusion of the heart.
3.4 The wise therefore rule by emptying hearts and stuffing bellies, by weakening ambitions and strengthening bones.
3.5 If men lack knowledge and desire, then clever people will not try to interfere.
3.6 If nothing is done, then all will be well.

4.1 The Tao is an empty vessel; it is used, but never filled.
4.2 Oh, unfathomable source of ten thousand things! Blunt the sharpness, Untangle the knot, Soften the glare, Merge with dust.
4.3 Oh, hidden deep but ever present! I do not know from whence it comes.
4.4 It is the forefather of the gods.

5.1 Heaven and Earth are impartial; They see the ten thousand things as straw dogs.
5.2 The wise are impartial; They see the people as straw dogs.
5.3 The space between heaven and Earth is like a bellows.
5.4 The shape changes but not the form; The more it moves, the more it yields.
5.5 More words count less.
5.6 Hold fast to the center.

 6.1 The valley spirit never dies; It is the woman, primal mother.
6.2 Her gateway is the root of heaven and Earth.
6.3 It is like a veil barely seen.
6.4 Use it; it will never fail.

7.1 Heaven and Earth last forever.
7.2 Why do heaven and Earth last forever? They are unborn, So ever living.
7.3 The sage stays behind, thus he is ahead.
7.4 He is detached, thus at one with all.
7.5 Through selfless action, he attains fulfillment.

8.1 The highest good is like water.
8.2 Water give life to the ten thousand things and does not strive.
8.3 It flows in places men reject and so is like the Tao.
8.4 In dwelling, be close to the land.
8.5 In meditation, go deep in the heart.
8.6 In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.
8.7 In speech, be true.
8.8 In ruling, be just.
8.9 In daily life, be competent.
8.10 In action, be aware of the time and the season.
8.11 No fight: No blame.

 9.1 Better to stop short than fill to the brim.
9.2 Oversharpen the blade, and the edge will soon blunt.
9.3 Amass a store of gold and jade, and no one can protect it.
9.4 Claim wealth and titles, and disaster will follow.
9.5 Retire when the work is done.
9.6 This is the way of heaven.

 10.1 Carrying body and soul and embracing the one, Can you avoid separation?
10.2 Attending fully and becoming supple, Can you be as a newborn babe?
10.3 Washing and cleansing the primal vision, Can you be without stain?
10.4 Loving all men and ruling the country, Can you be without cleverness?
10.5 Opening and closing the gates of heaven, Can you play the role of woman?
10.6 Understanding and being open to all things, Are you able to do nothing?
10.7 Giving birth and nourishing, Bearing yet not possessing, Working yet not taking credit, Leading yet not dominating, This is the Primal Virtue.

 11.1 Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub; It is the center hole that makes it useful.
11.2 Shape clay into a vessel; It is the space within that makes it useful.
11.3 Cut doors and windows for a room; It is the holes which make it useful.
11.4 Therefore benefit comes from what is there; Usefulness from what is not there.

12.1 The five colors blind the eye.
12.2 The five tones deafen the ear.
12.3 The five flavors dull the taste.
12.4 Racing and hunting madden the mind.
12.5 Precious things lead one astray.
12.6 Therefore the sage is guided by what he feels and not by what he sees.
12.7 He lets go of that and chooses this.

13.1 Accept disgrace willingly.
13.2 Accept misfortune as the human condition.
13.3 What do you mean by "Accept disgrace willingly"? Accept being unimportant.
13.4 Do not be concerned with loss or gain.
13.5 This is called "accepting disgrace willingly." What do you mean by "Accept misfortune as the human condition"? Misfortune comes from having a body.
13.6 Without a body, how could there be misfortune? Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things.
Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.

14.1 Look, it cannot be seen - it is beyond form.
14.2 Listen, it cannot be heard - it is beyond sound.
14.3 Grasp, it cannot be held - it is intangible.
14.5 These three are indefinable; Therefore they are joined in one.
14.6 From above it is not bright; From below it is not dark: An unbroken thread beyond description.
14.7 It returns to nothingness.
14.8 The form of the formless, The image of the imageless, It is called indefinable and beyond imagination.
14.9 Stand before it and there is no beginning.
14.10 Follow it and there is no end.
14.11 Stay with the ancient Tao, Move with the present.
14.15 Knowing the ancient beginning is the essence of Tao.

15.1 The ancient masters were subtle, mysterious, profound, responsive.
15.2 The depth of their knowledge is unfathomable.
15.3 Because it is unfathomable, All we can do is describe their appearance.
15.4 Watchful, like men crossing a winter stream.
15.5 Alert, like men aware of danger.
15.6 Courteous, like visiting guests.
15.7 Yielding like ice about to melt.
15.8 Simple, like uncarved blocks of wood.
15.9 Hollow, like caves.
15.10 Opaque, like muddy pools.
15.11 Who can wait quietly while the mud settles? Who can remain still until the moment of action? Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfillment.
15.12 Not seeking fulfillment, they are not swayed by desire for change.

16.1 Empty yourself of everything.
16.2 Let the mind become still.
16.3 The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.
16.4 They grow and flourish and then return to the source.
16.5 Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature.
16.6 The way of nature is unchanging.
16.7 Knowing constancy is insight.
16.8 Not knowing constancy leads to disaster.
16.9 Knowing constancy, the mind is open.
16.10 With an open mind, you will be openhearted.
16.11 Being openhearted, you will act royally.
16.12 Being royal, you will attain the divine.
16.13 Being divine, you will be at one with the Tao.
16.14 Being at one with the Tao is eternal.
16.15 And though the body dies, the Tao will never pass away.

17.1 The very highest if barely known.
17.2 Then comes that which people know and love.
17.3 Then that which is feared, Then that which is despised.
17.4 Who does not trust enough will not be trusted.
17.5 When actions are performed Without unnecessary speech, People say, "We did it!"

18.1 When the great Tao is forgotten, Kindness and morality arise.
18.2 When wisdom and intelligence are born, The great pretense begins.
18.3 When there is no peace within the family, Filial piety and devotion arise.
18.4 When the country is confused and in chaos, Loyal ministers appear.

19.1 Give up sainthood, renounce wisdom, And it will be a hundred times better for everyone.
19.2 Give up kindness, renounce morality, And men will rediscover filial piety and love.
19.3 Give up ingenuity, renounce profit, And bandits and thieves will disappear.
19.4 These three are outward forms alone; they are not sufficient in themselves.
19.5 It is more important To see the simplicity, To realize one's true nature, To cast off selfishness And temper desire.

20.1 Give up learning, and put an end to your troubles.
20.2 Is there a difference between yes and no? Is there a difference between good and evil?
20.3 Must I fear what others fear? What nonsense! Other people are contented, enjoying the sacrificial feast of the ox.
20.4 In spring some go to the park, and climb the terrace, But I alone am drifting, not knowing where I am.
20.4 Like a newborn babe before it learns to smile, I am alone, without a place to go.
20.5 Others have more than they need, but I alone have nothing.
20.6 I am a fool.
20.7 Oh, yes! I am confused.
20.8 Others are clear and bright, But I alone am dim and weak.
20.9 Others are sharp and clever, But I alone am dull and stupid.
20.10 Oh, I drift like the waves of the sea, Without direction, like the restless wind.
20.11 Everyone else is busy, But I alone am aimless and depressed.
20.12 I am different.
20.13 I am nourished by the great mother.