Article Index

Chu Ta-Kao(Translator)

1.1 The Tao that can be expressed is not the eternal Tao; The name that can be defined is not the unchanging name.
1.2 Non-existence is called the antecedent of heaven and earth; Existence is the mother of all things.
1.3 From eternal non-existence, therefore, we serenely observe the mysterious beginning of the Universe; From eternal existence we clearly see the apparent distinctions.
1.4 These two are the same in source and become different when manifested.
1.5 This sameness is called profundity. Infinite profundity is the gate whence comes the beginning of all parts of the Universe.

2.1 When all in the world understand beauty to be beautiful, then ugliness exists.
2.2 When all understand goodness to be good, then evil exists.
2.3 Thus existence suggests non-existence; Easy gives rise to difficult; Short is derived from long by comparison;
2.4 Low is distinguished from high by position; Resonance harmonizes sound; After follows before.
2.5 Therefore, the Sage carries on his business without action, and gives his teaching without words.
2.6 -
2.7 -

3.1 Not exalting the worthy keeps the people from emulation.
3.2 Not valuing rare things keeps them from theft.
3.3 Not showing what is desirable keeps their hearts from confusion.
3.4 Therefore the Sage rules By emptying their hearts, Filling their stomachs, Weakening their ambitions And strengthening their bones.
3.5 He always keeps them from knowing what is evil and desiring what is good; thus he gives the crafty ones no chance to act.
3.6 He governs by non-action; consequently there is nothing un-governed.

4.1 Tao, when put in use for its hollowness, is not likely to be filled.
4.2 In its profundity it seems to be the origin of all things.
4.3 -
4.4 In its depth it seems ever to remain.
4.5 I do not know whose offspring it is; But it looks like the predecessor of Nature.

5.1 Heaven and earth do not own their benevolence, To them all things are straw dogs
5.2 The Sage does not own his benevolence; To him the people are straw dogs.
5.3 The space between heaven and earth is like a (blacksmith's) bellows. Hollow as it seems, nothing is lacking. If it is moved, more will it bring forth.
5.4 He who talks more is sooner exhausted: It is better to keep what is within himself.

6.1 'The Valley and the Spirit never die.' They form what is called the Mystic Mother,.
6.2 From whose gate comes the origin of heaven and earth.
6.3 'The Valley and the Spirit never die.' They form what is called the Mystic Mother, From whose gate comes the origin of heaven and earth. This (the origin) seems ever to endure. In use it can never be exhausted.

7.1 Heaven is lasting and earth enduring.
7.2 The reason why they are lasting and enduring is that they do not live for themselves; Therefore they live long.
7.3 In the same way the Sage keeps himself behind and he is in the front;
7.4 He forgets himself and he is preserved.
7.5 Is it not because he is not self-interested That his self-interest is established?

8.1 The highest goodness is like water. Water is beneficent to all things but does not contend. It stays in places which others despise. Therefore it is near Tao.
8.2 In dwelling, think it a good place to live; In feeling, make the heart deep; In friendship, keep on good terms with men; In words, have confidence;
8.3 In ruling, abide by good order; In business, take things easy; In motion, make use of the opportunity.
8.4 Since there is no contention, there is no blame.

9.1 Holding and keeping a thing to the very full - it is better to leave it alone;
9.2 Handling and sharpening a blade - it cannot be long sustained;
9.3 When gold and jade fill the hall, no one can protect them;
9.4 Wealth and honour with pride bring with them destruction;
9.5 To have accomplished merit and acquired fame, then to retire - This is the Tao of heaven.

10.1 Can you keep the soul always concentrated from straying?
10.2 Can you regulate the breath and become soft and pliant like an infant?
10.3 Can you clear and get rid of the unforeseen and be free from fault?
10.4 Can you love the people and govern the state by non-action?
10.5 Can you open and shut the gates of nature like a female?
10.6 Can you become enlightened and penetrate everywhere without knowledge?

11.1 Thirty spokes unite in one nave, And because of the part where nothing exists we have the use of a carriage wheel.
11.2 Clay is moulded into vessels, And because of the space where nothing exists we are able to use them as vessels.
11.3 Doors and windows are cut out in the walls of a house, And because they are empty spaces, we are able to use them.
11.4 Therefore, on the one hand we have the benefit of existence, and on the other, we make use of non-existence.

12.1 The five colours will blind a man's sight. The five sounds will deaden a man's hearing. The five tastes will spoil a man's palate.
12.2 Chasing and hunting will drive a man wild Things hard to get will do harm to a man's conduct.
12.3 Therefore the Sage makes provision for the stomach and not for the eye. He rejects the latter and chooses the former.

13.1 'Favour and disgrace are like fear; fortune and disaster are like our body.'
13.2 What does it mean by 'Favour and disgrace are like fear'? Favour is in a higher place, and disgrace in a lower place. When you win them you are like being in fear, and when you lose them you are also like being in fear. So favour and disgrace are like fear.
13.3 What does it mean by 'Fortune and disaster are like our body'? We have fortune and disaster because we have a body. When we have no body, how can fortune or disaster befall us?
13.4 Therefore he who regards the world as he does the fortune of his own body can govern the world. He who loves the world as be does his own body can be entrusted with the world.

14.1 That which we look at and cannot see is called plainness. That which we listen to and cannot hear is called rareness. That which we grope for and cannot get is called minuteness.
14.2 These three cannot be closely examined; So they blend into One.
14.3 Revealed, it is not dazzling; Hidden, it is not dark. Infinite, it cannot be defined. It goes back to non-existence.
14.4 It is called the form of the formless, And the image of non~existence. it is called mystery. Meet it, you cannot see its face; Follow it, you cannot see its back.
14.5 By adhering to the Tao of the past You will master the existence of the present And be able to know the origin of the past. This is called the clue of Tao.

15.1 In old times the perfect man of Tao was subtle, penetrating and so profound that he can hardly be understood.
15.2 Because he cannot be understood, I shall endeavour to picture him: He is cautious, like one who crosses a stream in winter; He is hesitating, like one who fears his neighbours; He is modest, like one who is a guest;
15.3 He is yielding, like ice that is going to melt; He is simple, like wood that is not yet wrought; He is vacant, like valleys that are hollow; He is dim, like water that is turbid.
15.4 Who is able to purify the dark till it becomes slowly light? Who is able to calm the turbid till it slowly clears? Who is able to quicken the stagnant till it slowly makes progress?
15.5 He who follows these principles does not desire fullness. Because he is not full, therefore when he becomes decayed he can renew.

16.1 Attain to the goal of absolute vacuity; Keep to the state of perfect peace.
16.2 All things come into existence, And thence we see them return. Look at the things that have been flourishing; Each goes back to its origin.
16.3 Going back to the origin is called peace; It means reversion to destiny. Reversion to destiny is called eternity. He who knows eternity is called enlightened. He who does not know eternity is running blindly into miseries.
16.4 Knowing eternity he is all-embracing. Being all~embracing he can attain magnanimity. Being magnanimous he can attain omnipresence. Being omnipresent he can attain supremacy. Being supreme he can attain Tao.
16.5 He who attains Tao is everlasting. Though his body may decay he never perishes.

17.1 The great rulers - the people do not notice their existence; The lesser ones - they attach to and praise them; The still lesser ones - they fear them; The still lesser ones - they despise them.
17.2 For where faith is lacking, It cannot be met by faith.
17.3 Now how much importance must be attributed to words!

18.1 When the great Tao is lost, spring forth benevolence and righteousness.
18.2 When wisdom and sagacity arise, there are great hypocrites.
18.3 When family relations are no longer harmonious, we have filial children and devoted parents.
18.4 When a nation is in confusion and disorder, patriots are recognized. Where Tao is, equilibrium is. When Tao is lost, out come all the differences of things.

19.1 Do away with sageness and eject wisdom, and the people will be more benefited a hundred times.
19.2 Do away with learning, and grief will not be known. Do away with benevolence and eject righteousness, and the people will return to filial duty and parental love.
19.3 Do away with artifice and eject gains, and there will be no robbers and thieves.
19.4 These four, if we consider them as culture, are not sufficient.
19.5 Therefore let there be what the people can resort to: Appear in plainness and hold to simplicity; Restrain selfishness and curtail desires.

20.1 Between yea and nay, how much difference is there? Between good and evil, how much difference is there?
20.2 What are feared by others we must fear; Vastly are they unlimited!
20.3 The people in general are as happy as if enjoying a great feast. Or, as going up a tower in spring. I alone am tranquil, and have made no signs, Like a baby who is yet unable to smile; Forlorn as if I had no home to go to.
20.4 Others all have more than enough, And I alone seem to be in want. Possibly mine is the mind of a fool, Which is so ignorant!
20.5 The vulgar are bright, And I alone seem to be dull. The vulgar are discriminative, and I alone seem blunt. I am negligent as if being obscure; Drifting, as if being attached to nothing.
20.6 The people in general all have something to do, And I alone seem to be impractical and awkward. I alone am different from others. But I value seeking sustenance from the Mother. To know the eternal is to be enlightened. Not to know the eternal is to act blindly and court disaster.