Article Index


1.1 The Tao described in words is not the real Tao.
1.2 Words cannot describe it.
1.3 Nameless, it is the source of creation.
1.4 Named, it is the mother of all things.
1.5 To see Tao the observer must be motiveless.
1.6 Those with selfish motives see only the surface, not the innermost depths.
1.7 These two kinds of observers look alike, but differ in the insight of their observations.
1.8 They look alike because they are both human.
1.9 Within humanity is the key to the door of creation.

2.1 Whenever the most beautiful is perceived ugliness arises, the least beautiful.
2.2 Whenever good is perceived evil exists, its natural opposite.
2.3 Perception involves opposites: Reality and fantasy are opposing thoughts.
2.4 Difficult and simple oppose in degree.
2.5 Long and short oppose in distance.
2.6 High and low oppose in height.
2.7 Shrill and deep oppose in tone.
2.8 Before and after oppose in sequence.
2.9 The truly wise accept this, and they work diligently without allegiance to words.
2.10 They teach by doing, not by saying; are genuinely helpful, not discriminating; are positive, not possessive.
2.11 They do not proclaim their accomplishments, and because they do not proclaim them, credit for them can never be taken away.

3.1 Leaders should not seek power or status; people will not then crave power or status.
3.2 If scarce goods are not valued highly, people will have no need to steal them.
3.3 If there is nothing available to arouse passion, people will remain content and satisfied.
3.4 The truly wise do lead by instilling humility and open-mindedness, by providing for fair livelihoods, by discouraging personal ambition, by strengthening the bone-structure of the people.
3.5 The wise avoid evil and radical reform; thus the foolish do not obstruct them.
3.6 They work serenely, with inner quiet.

4.1 Tao is a vast immeasurable void.
4.2 It can be used to infinity.
4.3 It is truly inexhaustible.
4.4 Like nature, it appears to be the origin of everything.
4.5 In it, conflicts (sharp edges) are satisfied (rounded).
4.6 Differences (tangles) are resolved (untied).
4.7 Observations (light) are clarified (tempered).
4.8 Disturbances (turmoil) are quieted (submerged).
4.9 It is like a deep dark pool.
5.0 I do not know its source.
5.1 It is like a prelude to nature, a preface to God.

5.1 Nature is indifferent to life.
5.2 It realizes everything is as a straw dog (a sacrificial animal-image).
5.3 The truly wise are also indifferent to life.
5.4 They realize humanity is as a straw dog.
5.5 The universe is like a bellows: empty, yet quite full.
5.6 As it proceeds, it produces.
5.7 Much talk, much exhaustion.
5.8 Keep your thoughts within!

6.1 The concept of Yin is ever present.
6.2 It is the Mystic Female from whom the heavens and the earth originate.
6.3 Constantly, continuously, enduring always.
6.4 Use her!

7.1 The heavens endure; the earth is very old.
7.2 Why? Because they do not exist for themselves, they therefore have long life.
7.3 The truly wise are content to be last; they are therefore first.
7.4 They are indifferent to themselves; they are therefore self-confident.
7.5 Perhaps because they do not exist for themselves they find complete fulfillment.

8.1 The highest motive is to be like water.
8.2 Water is essential to all life, yet it does not demand a fee or proclaim its importance.
8.3 Rather, it flows humbly to the lowest level, and in so doing it is much like Tao.
8.4 In the home the truly wise love the humble earth, the foundation on which the home is built.
8.5 In the heart they love what is genuine.
8.6 In friendship they are compassionate.
8.7 In words they are sincere.
8.8 In government they foster peace and goodwill.
8.9 In business they work with quiet efficiency.
8.10 Serenity is the goal of Tao.
8.11 Through it nothing is lost.

9.1 There is a danger in extremes: Pull a bowstring too far, and you wish you had let go before.
9.2 Hone a sword-edge too sharp, and the edge will wear too soon.
9.3 Fill your house with gold and jade, and you invite thieves.
9.4 Be proud and arrogant over good fortune, and you prepare your own downfall.
9.5 When you have reached your goal, be satisfied to go no further.
9.6 This is the way of Tao.

10.1 Can you control your mind so that it never strays from the way of Tao? Can you control your breathing so that it is soft and gentle like a new-born babe? Can you purify yourself so that you are perfect? Can you love all the people, rule them, and remain unknown? And do so without interference? Can you play the same role always? Give birth, provide nourishment; do this without being possessive.
10.2 Give help without obligation.
10.3 Lead without dominating.
10.4 This is the Mystic Virtue (The).

11.1 Thirty spokes unite at the hub of a wheel but the ultimate use of the wheel depends on the part where nothing exists.
11.2 Clay is molded into a vessel but the ultimate use of the vessel depends on the part where nothing exists.
11.3 Doors and windows are cut from the walls of a house but the ultimate use of the house depends on the part where nothing exists.
11.4 So there is advantage in using what can be seen, what does exist.
There is also advantage in using the invisible, the non-existent.

12.1 Five colors (blue, yellow, red, white, black) blind the eye.
12.2 Five notes (do, re, mi, so, la) deafen the ear.
12.3 Five tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, salt) dull the tongue.
12.4 Hunting and pursuing will unbalance the mind.
12.5 Striving for earthly goods produces unhealthy tension.
12.6 Therefore the truly wise satisfy the internal and reject the external.
12.7 They accept one and deny the other.

13.1 It is said: Both good fortune and misfortune cause tension.
13.2 The creative and the destructive exist equally in the mind.
13.3 How can both good fortune and misfortune cause tension? Those with good fortune are tense anticipating their gift; those with misfortune are tense lamenting their loss.
13.4 How can the creative and destructive exist equally in the mind? Tension exists because we have a mind, a self, with dual purposes. If we can be selfless, indifferent to the mind, then tension cannot exist.
13.5 Thus, one who views the world as he views himself is best suited to govern the world; one who loves humanity as he loves himself can be entrusted with the world.

14.1 Looked for it cannot be seen; it is invisible.
14.2 Listened for it cannot be heard; it is inaudible.
14.3 Reached for it cannot be touched; it is intangible.
14.4 These three are beyond analysis; these three are one.
14.5 It rises like the sun, but does not illuminate.
14.6 It sets like the sun, but does not darken.
14.7 Without beginning, without end, it is infinite, undefinable.
14.8 t is the form of the formless; it is existence in non-existence; it is the greatest mystery.
14.9 Meet it and it has no face; follow it and it has no back.
14.10 Hold close to the ancient Tao and be master of your present existence.
14.11 Knowing the present you mirror the past.
14.12 This is the clue to Tao.

15.1 The ancient followers of the Tao: so wise, so subtle, so profound, so deeply understanding, that they were themselves misunderstood.
15.2 They must therefore be described.
15.3 Cautious, like crossing a stream in mid-winter; observant, like moving in fear through hostile land; modest, retiring like ice beginning to melt; dignified, like an honored guest; genuine, like natural, untouched wood; receptive, like an inviting, open valley; friendly, like muddied water, freely mixing.
15.4 Who can make sense of a world like cloudy water? Left alone and still, it becomes clear.
15.5 Should this stillness be maintained? Moving hastily will surely cloud it again.
15.6 How then can one move and not become clouded? Accept Tao and achieve without being selfish; being unselfish one endures the world's wear, and needs no change of pace.

16.1 Achieve the highest goal by being passive; hold close to a state of perfect serenity.
16.2 Everything comes into existence, but observe, returns to its source.
16.3 Thus, vegetation flourishes and grows, but returns to the soil whence it came.
16.4 Returning to the source is serenity; it is to realize one's destiny.
16.5 To realize one's destiny is to know the Eternal Constant.
16.6 To know the Eternal Constant is to be enlightened.
16.7 To be ignorant of this is blindness that begets evil.
16.8 Whoever knows the Eternal Constant is open-minded.
16.9 Being open-minded is to be impartial.
16.10 Being impartial is to be above nations and laws.
16.11 Being above nations and laws is to be in accord with nature.
16.12 Being in accord with nature is to be in accord with Tao.
16.13 Being in accord with Tao is to be eternal.
16.14 Although his body may die and decay, he shall live forever.

17.1 The best leaders, the people do not notice.
17.2 The next best, the people honor and praise.
17.3 The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate.
17.4 If you have no faith, people will have no faith in you, and you must resort to oaths.
17.5 When the best leader's work is done the people say: "We did it ourselves!"

18.1 Nature is sparing in its talk.
18.2 High winds seldom last all morning.
18.3 Heavy rains seldom last all day.
18.4 Where do these things originate? In nature.
18.5 And if nature so spares its talk, how much more, then, should you?

19.1 Do away with learning, the same with wisdom; the people will gain a hundredfold.
19.2 Do away with "humanity" and the same with "justice"; the people will rediscover love and duty.
19.3 Do away with expensive arts, the same with profits; there will be no thieves, no robbers.
19.4 These three things involve the external world; they are therefore of no real value.
19.5 Do away with formal learning and you will not be annoyed by its multitude of details.
19.6 How much difference between yes and yea? How much difference between good and evil? It is true that what men fear you must also fear, but how very remote the actual occurrence.
19.7 The people need what is more dependable.
19.8 Reveal, then, your natural, inner self.
19.9 Realize your original nature; control selfishness; subdue desires.

20.1 The great mass of people are content as if at the sacrificial feast or at the spring carnival.
20.2 I alone am serene, quiet, passive, like a newborn baby unable yet to smile.
20.3 I am alone, like one who is homeless.
20.4 Others seem to have abundance while I seem to live in contemplation.
20.5 Perhaps I am the fool, so obscure, so vague.
20.6 The masses seem bright and informed; I alone seem dull and uninformed.
20.7 The masses are clever and smug; I alone am simple and unassuming.
20.8 Alone, as if adrift on the lonely sea.
20.9 And others seem to have useful purpose; I alone seem impractical and awkward.
20.10 I am alone, different.
20.11 I choose to be sustained by nature.