Article Index


1.1 The tao that can be talked about is not the Absolute Tao. If it can be named, it is not an Absolute name.
1.2 That which has no name is the origin of heaven and earth; That which has a name is the Mother of all things.
1.3 Thus, if always without desire, one can observe indescribable marvels; If always desirous, one sees merest traces.
1.4 These two come from the same source but are differently named. Both are called Mysterious.
1.5 The mystery of the Mysterious is the gateway to all indescribable marvels.

2.1 If everyone understands the beautiful as beauty, there must be ugliness.
If everyone understands goodness as good, there must be not good. 2.2 Being and not being are mutually arising; Difficult and easy are complementary; Long and short arise from comparison; Higher and lower are interdependent; Vocalisation and verbalisation harmonise with each other; Before and after accompany each other.
2.3 This is why the Sage manages affairs of Non-action and performs wordless teaching.
2.4 The myriad things are made without the slightest word.
2.5 Nature gives birth but does not possess.
2.6 It acts but does not demand subservience.
2.7 Only because it claims no credit is it indispensable.

3.1 Not honouring men of worth keeps the people from competing; Not wanting rare things keeps the people from thievery; Not showing off desirous objects keeps the hearts of the people from disaster.
3.2 That is why the Sage governs himself by relaxing the mind, reinforcing the abdomen, gentling the will, strengthening the bones.
3.3 Always cause the people to be without knowledge or desires.
3.4 Cause the intelligent ones to dare not act.
3.5 Let there be Non-action and there is nothing that will not be well regulated.

4.1 The Tao is empty, yet when applied it is never exhausted.
So deep it is, it seems to be the ancestor of all things.
4.2 Blunting sharp edges, resolving confusions,
4.3 Diffusing glare, uniting the world: such depth, something seems to exist there.
4.4 I do not know whose child it is.
4.5 It seems to have existed before the Ancestor.

5.1 Heaven and earth are not humane, treating the myriad things as straw dogs.
5.2 The Sage is not humane, treating the people as straw dogs.
5.3 The space between heaven and earth is like a bellows, empty and yet inexhaustible; Move it and even more comes out.
5.4 Too many words quickly exhaust; It is not as good as holding to the centre.

6.1 The spirit of the valley does not die, and is called Mysterious Female.
6.2 The door of the Mysterious Female is called the root of heaven and earth.
6.3 It lingers in wisps; Use it without haste.

7.1 Heaven is long-lasting and earth is enduring.
7.2 The reason why heaven and earth can live long and endure is that they do not live only for themselves.
7.3 Therefore they can produce perpetually.
7.4 This is why the Sage puts himself behind, yet ends up ahead, considers himself an outsider yet finds himself in the mainstream.
7.4 Is it not because he is selfless that his Self can be realised?

8.1 The greatest attitude is like water;
Water is good at benefiting all things and yet it does not compete with them.
8.2 It seeks out those places regarded as evil by man.
8.3 Thereby, it is close to Tao.
8.4 For one's dwelling, choose the ground well.
8.5 In cultivating one's heart, search the depths well.
8.6 In dealing with people, treat them well.
8.7 When speaking, do so with sincerity. In governing, keep order.
8.8 In serving, do to the best of your ability. In acting, choose the timing well.
8.9 Only by not competing can one be beyond reproach.

9.1 To grasp after until full is not as good as stopping.
9.2 Measure and fit a crossbrace; It cannot last long.
9.3 If one's hall is filled with gold and jade, it cannot be safeguarded.
9.4 If one is wealthy and honoured, pride follows; and one gifts oneself with the faults thereof.
9.5 When the work is done, retire.
9.6 This is the Tao of heaven.

10.1 In unifying the spirit-of-the-blood and the spirit-of-the-breath can you keep them from separating?
10.2 In concentrating the chi to attain resiliency, can you be like an infant?
10.3 In polishing the mirror of Mysterious Vision, can you do it spotlessly?
10.4 In opening and closing heaven's gate, can you be the Female? In being enlightened and comprehending all, can you do it without knowledge?
10.5 In loving the people and governing the nation can you practice Non-action?
10.6 Produce and provide a good environment; Create but do not possess, act but do not control, raise but do not harvest, this is called Profound Te.

11.1 Thirty spokes converge at a single hub; It is the vacancy that begets the vehicle's usefulness.
11.2 Mix clay to make a vessel; It is the vacancy that makes the vessel useful.
11.3 Cut out the doors and windows to make a room; It is the vacancy that constitutes the usefulness of the room.
11.4 Therefore, that which is there is an advantage,
But it's vacancy is what is useful.

12.1 The five colours cause one's eyes to be blinded.
The five tones cause one's ears to be deafened.
12.2 The five flavours cause one's palette to be cloyed.
12.3 Racing about on horseback and hunting cause one's mind to be maddened.
12.4 Hard to obtain merchandise causes mankind to do wrong,so the Sage concerns himself with the abdomen and not the eyes.
12.5 Therefore, he rejects the one and chooses the other.

13.1 Favour and disgrace are both alarming.
13.2 Treat great calamities as if they were happening to yourself.
13.3 What does "favour and disgrace are both alarming" mean?
13.4 When favour is conferred upon a lowly position, it is like a shock.
13.5 And when it is taken away, it is like a shock.
13.6 This is what is spoken of as "Favour and disgrace are both alarming."
13.7 What does this mean: "Treat calamities as though they were happening to yourself"?
13.8 I am able to feel great calamities because I have a self.
13.9 If I have no self, what calamity is there?
13.10 Therefore, only one who values himself as he values the world is fit to be entrusted with the world.
13.11 Only one who loves the world as he loves himself is worthy of being the trustee of the world.

14.1 To look but not see is called yi, the extremely dim, to listen but not hear is called hsi, the extremely faint, to grasp after but not catch is called wei, the extremely small.
14.2 These three qualities cannot be entirely understood, thus they blend into one, a unity.
14.3 Its upper surface is not bright, its underside is not dark.
14.4 In endless procession the unnameable moves on, until it returns to nothingness.
14.5 It is the formless form, the image of nothingness, it may be called huang-hu, the illusive and evasive.
14.6 Confront it, and you cannot see it's face; Follow it and you cannot see its back.
14.7 Hold to the ancient Tao to regulate present realities.
14.8 One who is able to comprehend the ancient beginnings may be termed a part of the system of Tao.

15.1 In ancient times, those who were well educated were in communion with heaven, and were subtle, profound, mysterious and penetratingly wise.
15.2 Their depth was unfathomable.
15.3 Because of this, they appeared reluctant, hesitant, like one wading across a stream in winter; Wary, as if there were dangers on all four sides; Solemn, as if a guest; Yielding, like ice on the verge of melting; Pure, like uncarved wood; Broad and expansive, like a valley; Chaotic, like muddy water.
Who can still muddy water and gradually make it become clear?
15.4 Who can make the still gradually become alive through activity?
15.5 Those who maintain the Tao do not want to be full.
15.6 Just because they are not full they can avoid wearing out and being replaced.

16.1 Maintain utmost emptiness. Maintain profound tranquillity.
16.2 All things together arise, by this I see their return.
16.3 Things flourish, and each returns to its root. To return to the root is to attain tranquillity. This is called returning to one's basic nature. Returning to one's basic nature is called constancy (ch'ang2).
16.4 To understand constancy is called enlightening (ming2).
16.5 Not understanding constancy is blindly doing unfortunate things.
16.6 Understanding constancy, one gains a capacity for forbearance. With forbearance, one can be impartial(kung1).
16.6 If one is impartial, one can be kingly. If one is kingly, then one can communicate with heaven.
16.7 To communicate with heaven is to be in accord with Tao.
16.8 To be in accord with Tao is to be everlasting, even though one's body ceases to be, one is not destroyed.

17.1 From times immemorial there have been some who have known. There have also been those who were sympathetic, and praising. There have been those that feared. There have been those that ridiculed. There have been those who were not true enough, and there have been those who were not true at all.
17.2 How valuable are the words,"When an accomplishment is achieved and the task finished, People say it was only natural."

18.1 If the great Tao is lost, humanism and justice appear.
18.2 When intelligence an cleverness arise, so does gross hypocrisy.
18.3 When the six relationships fall into discord, filial piety and parental affection arise.
18.4 When a nation falls into darkness and confusion, patriotic ministers arise.

19.1 Divorce wisdom and abandon intelligence, and the people will benefit a hundred-fold.
19.2 Divorce humanism and abandon justice, and the people will return to filial piety and parental affection.
19.3 Divorce shrewdness and abandon selfishness, and there will be no thieves.
19.4 I believe these three statements show that words are inadequate.
19.5 The people should be made to adhere to these principles: "Look to the origins and maintain purity; Diminish self and curb desires."
19.6 Divorce learning and one will lose anxiety.

20.1 How much difference is there between yes and no?
20.2 How much distance is there between good and bad?
20.3 What others fear, I must fear.
20.4 Wildly, endlessly, all men are merry, as though feasting upon beef or sitting on the verandah in the spring sunshine.
20.5 I alone remain uncommitted, like an infant who has not yet smiled.
20.6 I alone seem as mindless as one who has no home to return to.
20.7 Everyone else has enough and more, yet I alone seem to be left with nothing. What a fool's mind I have!
20.8 How muddled I am!
Most people seek brightness and clarity.
I alone seek dullness and darkness.
Most people are imaginative and observant.
I alone am stifled and confused.
I am as unmoved as the ocean, as ceaseless as the wind high in the sky.
Everyone else has something to do; I alone am ignorant and dull.
I alone am different from the rest in that I value taking sustenance from the Mother.