Article Index


1.2 Heaven and earth sprang from something else: the bright nameless; the named is but the said mother that rears the ten thousand creatures of heaven and earth, each after its kind.
1.3 He that rids himself of base desire can see the secret essences; he that didn't and reached high being, he can see outcomes.
1.4 Still the two are the same; the secret and its manifestations came from the same ground, the same mould, but anyway sound different - they're given different names where they appear. They can both be called the cosmic mystery, awesome deep or rather more secret than so-called mystery.
1.5 There's the deeper mystery: the gate and doorway from which issued all secret essences, yes, all subtleties, and the subtle mysterial opening homewards. Call it the door mystery or golden secret of all life.

2.1 When the people of the world see beauty as beauty, the notion of ugliness pops up along with that
2.2 And equally if every one recognize virtue as virtue, if they all know the good as good, the recognition of adjacent evil is wont to rise.
2.3 So: Being and not-yet-being interdepend in growth; grow out of another, they can produce each other. And hard and easy interdepend in completion; long and short interdepend. They test each other in contrast.
2.4 High and low determine one another and interdepend or distinguish each other in position. So it seems. Pitch and mode give harmony to one another; tones, sound and voice interdepend in basic, functional harmony; Front and back give sequence to one another. The couples follow each other - interdepend in company, so to speak.
2.5 From this the wise man relies on doing nothing in the open, it's wu-wei. And he spreads doctrines without true or false words, by oddly wordless influence.
2.6 All things appear, and he hardly turns away from the creatures worked on by him: Some he gives solid, good life, he hardly disowns his chosen ones.
2.7 He hardly takes possession of anyone under fair conditions. He rears his sons in earthly ways, but neither appropriates nor lays blatant claim to any one. He acts, but doesn't rely on his outer, visible smartness or miracle-working ability. He very often claims no credit. At times he controls them, but hardly leans on any of them. Because he lays claim to no credit, the handy credit can hardly be taken away from him. Yes, for the very reason that he hardly calls attention to what he does, he isn't ejected at once.

3.1 Stop looking for rare, moral persons (hsien) to put in power. There will be jealousies among people, jealousies and strife.
3.2 If we cease to set store by products that are hard to get, there will be less outright thieves.
3.3 If the people never see such things as excite desire, their hearts can remain placid and undisturbed.
3.4 Therefore the wise one rules by emptying their hearts [like the clown]. He fills their bellies, weakens their brightness and toughens their bones, ever striving to make the people without knowledge.
3.5 He sees to it that if there are any who are bright and clever, they dare not interfere.
3.6 Through his non-do actions all [such subjection] runs well [for some time].

4.1 Dao is like an empty vessel that yet can be drawn from without ever needing to be filled.
4.2 It's without bottom; the very breeder of all things in the world.
4.3 In it all sharpness is blunted, all tangles untied, all glare tempered, all turmoil smoothed.
4.4 It's like a deep pool that never dries.
4.5 Was it too the child of something else? We can hardly tell. A substanceless image of all things seemed to exist before the progenitor that we hardly know of.

5.1 The universe seems without mercy, quite ruthless; in that wider perspective all things are but as ritual straw dogs.
5.2 The wise man too is hard as nail; to him the people are but as straw dogs to throw.
5.3 Yet heaven and earth and all that lies between is like a bellows; empty, yet yielding a supply that hardly fails. Work it, and more comes out. Whereas the force of words is soon spent.
5.4 It seems far better to keep what's in the heart. So hold to the heart core and a regular mean.

6.1 The valley spirit never dies. It's named the mystic woman.
6.2 And the gate of the profound woman is the root that heaven and earth sprang from.
6.3 It's there within us all the while; draw upon it as you will, you can never wear it out.

7.1 Heaven is always, the earth, too. How can it be?
7.2 Well, they don't live only for themselves; that's why they live long.
7.3 So the wise man puts himself last, and finds himself in the foremost place, puts himself in the background; yet always comes to the fore.
7.4 He keeps well fit; looks on his body almost as accidental, outer, something to be well taken care of; still it always there, and always remains. He remains in the open by it, too.
7.5 He hardly strives for great personal ends; his main ends seem fulfilled.

8.1 The highest good is like that of water. The goodness of water is that it benefits the ten thousand creatures; yet itself hardly ever scrambles - it seems quite content with the places that all men disdain. It's this that can make water so near to some dao.
8.2 And if men think the ground the best place for building a house upon, if among thoughts they value those that are profound, if in friendship they value gentleness; in words, truth, or sincere faithfulness,
8.3 in government, [bugbear] order; in deeds: competence, ability, effectiveness; in actions: timeliness and being properly timed -
8.4 In each case it's because they prefer things that hardly lead to strife, and therefore hardly go much astray or amiss.

9.1 Stretch a bow to the full, and you'll end up wishing you'd stopped in time; to hold and fill to overflowing isn't quite as able as to stop in time.
9.2 Temper a sword-edge to its very sharpest, and you'll find it soon grows dull.
9.3 When gold and jade fills your hall, can it be well guarded any more?
9.4 To be proud with things and glory given, could bring ruin. Wealth and place breed insolence and could slowly harm and ruin:
9.5 If your work is done, withdraw! That's heaven's way. It can be opposed to lots of ways of man.

10.1 Can you keep the unquiet physical-soul from straying, hold fast to the unity and middle, and never quit it?
10.2 Can you, when concentrating your breath, make it soft like that of an infant?
10.3 Strive after less tainted perfection, let it be aided by penetrating insight. So wipe and cleanse your vision of the mystery till all is without blur.
10.4 Can you love the people and rule the land, yet remain unknown?
10.5 Can you in opening and shutting the heavenly gates, ever play the feminine part?
10.6 Can your mind penetrate every corner of the land, but you yourself never interfere? Can you renounce the grosser mind for comprehending all inside knowledge?
10.7 Produce things and rear well, but never lay claims to such things - control them, never lean upon them. Rely on some innate ability to act well. Be a sort of master among others, just refrain from mismanaging. Here is found the essence of dao might, its deep, mystic virtue.

11.1 We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel; but it's on the space where there's nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.
11.2 We turn clay to make a vessel; but it's on the space where there's nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.
11.3 We pierce and cut out doors and windows to make a house; and it's on these spaces where there's nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.
11.4 Take advantage of what is, turn existing into a great advantage: just make as much as you can out of it here. Feel free to recognise the possible usefulness of what's not yet here. Prosper by clever use of something not yet.

12.1 The five colours tend to confuse the eye, the five sounds of music can deafen the ear, the five tastes all dull or spoil the palate.
12.2 Excess of hunting and chasing makes a mind go mad. Things hard to get, keeps one on one's guard. Valuable things and products quite hard to get, can impede their owner's progress.
12.3 So the wise man is concerned with his tummy before his eyes. He can consider the tummy first, not the eye. That is: He disregards the world outside - "that", and he accepts, goes for and in the end grabs the supernormal powers dormant within - his daoist "this". Therefore he rejects the one but accepts the other.

13.1 Be glad for favour. Still receive favour or disgrace with regular apprehension. Be cautious not to lose the winning sort of favour. Lower favour and disgrace can cause one dismay; We can have fears because we have a self. Yet what we value and what we fear are as if within that inner sanctimonium self."
13.2 What does this mean: "Favour and disgrace can cause one dismay? Those who receive favour from above are dismayed when they receive it. And should they lose it they turn distraught.
13.3 What does this mean: "What we value and what we fear are as if within our serious self?" Regard great trouble as seriously as you regard the body. One reason that we suffer hurt is that we have bodies. When we don't regard that gross body as [most important aspect of self, what have we to fear? [Lao tse.]
13.4 And so, the one who values his experienced world as part of his exploring inner self, can then be entrusted with rule of something. The he who loves the all as an aspect of his sensing self - all can then be entrusted to his care.

14.1 Look at it, it can't be seen, is called the invisible. Listen to it, it can't be heard, is called the inaudible. Grasp at it, it can't be touched, is called the fine formless.
14.2 These three elude all solid inquiries And merge and become one.
14.3 Its rising brings no light; its sinking, no darkness. Unceasing, continuous, it can't be defined, on the way back to where there's nothing.
14.4 It's called shape free from shapes; forms without form; the image of nothingness. That's why it's called the elusive; Go towards them, and you can see no physical front; go after them, and you see no rear.
14.5 Hold on to the dao of old to master the things of the present. Master what once was, at the start, It's the essence of rarefied, pearl-stringed dao.

15.1 The best rulers of old had fine natures, mysterious, too deep, they could not be understood.
15.2 And because such men could not be fully grasped at once, they appeared to be cautious, like wading a stream in winter; at a loss, like one fearing and having to deal with danger on every side; reserved, like one who pays a visit;
15.3 pliant and yielding, as ice when it begins to melt; genuine, like a piece of raw wood; open-minded like a valley; and blending freely like a troubled, muddy stream of water.
15.4 Find repose in a muddy world by lying still; be gradually clear through tranquillity. You can assume such murkiness, to become in the end still and clear. And maintain your calm long in between. So make yourself inert, to get in the end full of life and stir. By such activity come back to life.
15.5 Who hugs this dao doesn't want to fill himself to overflowing. It's just because he guards against being over-full, there's no overflowing, and next he is like a garment that endures all, beyond wearing out and renewal.

16.1 Attain complete humility towards the void; hold firm to the basis of quietude.
16.2 The myriad things take shape and rise to activity, Now, I watch them fall, worked on, back to their repose and roots like plants that flourish but return to the soil and root they grew from.
16.3 To return to the root is basic repose; it's quiet and returning to some destiny. To submit to a destiny is to find the eternal shelter, the always-so, or the eternal dao. To know the eternal always-so is to be somewhat illumined. Not to know it courts disaster.
16.4 Who knows the eternal shelter has room in him for nearly everything - he is wide as tolerant. Being much including, there's little prejudice; to be without blunt prejudice is kingly; to be kingly is to be well in accord with nature; it's to be of heaven.
16.5 To be of heaven in unison with an undaunted nature is to be in dao; This dao is forever, and he that owns it, is hardly destroyed, even though his body ceases.

17.1 Of the best the people hardly ever know they exist; The next best they flock to and praise for nothing. The next they shrink from; the next get reviled.
17.2 "Not believing people you turn them into liars" - such bosses don't command the people's faith. They lose faith in them and take to oaths!
17.3 The wise man is a clever ruler; he values his words highly. It's so hard to get a single word from at any price that when his task is finished, a work well done, everyone says, "It happened by itself, and we did it."

18.1 When the great dao declined, jen and I arose, humanity and righteousness."
18.2 Next, when brightness and know-how came in vogue, the great pretence fully started.
18.3 When the six family relationships are not in harmony There's open talk of kind parents" dutiful sons" and deep love to children.
18.4 A confused country enmeshed in disorder praises ministers in chaos and misrule.

19.1 Banish wisdom, discard knowledge, Then the people will benefit a hundred times.
19.2 Banish human love, just dump righteous, moral justice, and then the people will be dutiful and recover deep love of their kin.
19.3 Banish cunning and skill, dispel profit; dismiss utility," then thieves and robbers will disappear.
19.4 These three things are not enough; externals are somehow decorations, purpose's not enough; they tend to rob life and make it too little complicated.
19.5 Therefore let people hold well on to keeping accessories; keeping simplicity to look at. Go on and shield their internal soul's nature as some ritual, raw block to hold, their private, secret means and foster less ardent desires.

20.1 Abandon learning and there will be no sorrow. Between Yes, sir," and Of course not", how much difference is there? Between good" and bad", how much difference is there?
20.2 That which men fear is indeed to be feared; alas confused, and the end isn't yet.
20.3 All men are wreathed in smiles, ever merry-making, as if feasting after the great sacrifice, like ascending a tower in spring. I alone am inert, like a child that has not yet given sign; Like a new-born child that can't smile yet. I seem to be without a home, droop and drift, as though I belonged nowhere, completely unattached.
20.4 All men have enough and to spare; I alone seem to have lost everything; I am like one left out. Mine is indeed the mind of a very idiot, my heart must be that of a fool, dull as I seem - muddled, nebulous!
20.5 The world is full of knowing people that shine; I alone am dull, confused. I seem to be in the dark. They look lively and clear-cut self-assured; I appear alone, depressed, or patient as the sea, blown adrift, seemingly aimless, never brought to a stop.
20.6 All men can be put to some use; as worldlings have a purpose. I alone am intractable and boorish, appearing rustic, stubborn and uncouth, differing from most people, But I differ most from others in that I prize no sustenance that doesn't come from the breast of mama mia.