Article Index

21.1 The greatest virtue is to follow Tao, and only Tao.
21.2 You might say, "But Tao is illusive! Evasive! Mysterious! Dark! How can one follow that?" By following this: Out of silent subtle mystery emerge images. These images coalesce into forms. Within each form is contained the seed and essence of life. Thus do all things emerge and expand out of darkness and emptiness.
21.3 Because its essence is real and evident in the origins of all things, the name of the Tao has survived since the beginning of time.
21.4 How can I know the circumstances of the origins of all things? Exactly by this phenomenon.

22.1 Allow yourself to yield, and you can stay centered. Allow yourself to bend, and you will stay straight. Allow yourself to be empty, and you'll get filled up. Allow yourself to be exhausted, and you'll be renewed. Having little, you can receive much. Having much, you'll just become confused.
22.2 Therefore the sage embraces the oneness and becomes a pattern for the whole world.
22.3 She doesn't display herself, so she becomes illuminated. She doesn't justify herself, so she becomes distinguished. She doesn't boast, so she is recognized. She doesn't claim credit, so she advances and endures.
22.4 She doesn't contend, so no one can contend with her.
22.5 "Yield and you can stay centered"- Is this saying meaningless? Stay whole, and all things return to you.

23.1 Nature is sparing with speech: a whirlwind doesn't last all morning; a rain shower doesn't last all day.
23.2 What causes these? Heaven and earth. If heaven and earth can't make something famous endure, how could man?
23.4 Concentrate on Tao and you'll experience Tao. Concentrate on power and you'll experience power. Concentrate on loss and you'll experience loss.
23.5 If you won't trust, you won't be trusted.

24.1 A man who tiptoes can't stand. A man who straddles can't walk.
24.2 A man who shows off can't shine. A man who boasts of his achievements has no merit.
24.3 A man who brags will not endure.
24.4 To a person of Tao, these things are excess food and superfluous behaviour. Because nothing good can come of them, he doesn't indulge in them.

25.1 Something mysterious and perfect existed before even heaven and earth were born. Silent, immeasurable, standing alone and unchanging, moving without end or exhaustion, it is the mother of the known and unknown universe.
25.2 I don't know its name, so I call it by an alias: Tao. Forced to describe it, I only say, "It is great."
25.3 That which is great continues. That which continues goes far. That which goes far returns.
25.4 Therefore Tao is great, heaven is great, earth is great, a person of Tao is great. These are the four greatnesses in the universe.
25.5 A person of Tao follows earth. Earth follows Heaven. Heaven follows Tao. Tao follows its own nature.

26.1 Heaviness is the root of lightness. Tranquility is the master of agitation.
26.2 This is why the sage travels all day without ever losing sight of her baggage. She may live in a glorious palace, but she isn't attached to its pleasures.
26.3 Why should the lord of ten thousand chariots behave lightly in the world?
26.4 One who acts lightly loses her foundation. One who becomes agitated sacrifices her mastery.

27.1 A good runner leaves no tracks; A good speaker makes no slips; A good planner doesn't have to scheme.
27.2 The best lock has no bolt, and no one can open it. The best knot uses no rope, and no one can untie it.
27.3 Thus the master is always good at saving people, and doesn't abandon anyone; Always good at saving things, and doesn't waste anything. This is known as "Following the light."
27.4 What is a good man but a bad man's teacher? What is a bad man but a good man's charge?
27.5 It doesn't matter how smart you are if you don't have the sense to honour your teachers and cherish your responsibilities. This is an essential teaching of Tao.

28.1 To know the masculine and yet cleave to the feminine is to be the womb for the world. Being the womb for the world, never departing from the eternal power of Tao, you become as an infant once again: immortal.
28.2 To know the bright and yet hold to the dull is to be an example for the world. Being the example for the world, not deviating from the everlasting power of Tao, you return to the infinite once again: limitless.
28.3 To know honour and yet keep to humility is to be the valley for the world. Being the valley for the world, rich with the primal power of Tao, you return once again to simplicity, like uncarved wood.
28.4 Allow Tao to carve you into a vessel for Tao. Then you can serve the world without mutilating it.

29.1 If you try to grab hold of the world and do what you want with it, you won't succeed.
29.2 The world is a vessel for spirit, and it wasn't made to be manipulated. Tamper with it and you'll spoil it. Hold it, and you'll lose it.
29.3 With Tao, sometimes you move ahead and sometimes you stay back; Sometimes you work hard and sometimes you rest; Sometimes you're strong and sometimes you're weak; Sometimes you're up; sometimes you're down.
29.4 The sage remains sensitive, avoiding extremes, avoiding extravagance, avoiding excess.

30.1 Those who wish to use Tao to influence others don't rely on force or weapons or military strategies. Force rebounds.
30.2 Weapons turn on their wielders. Battles are inevitably followed by famines.
30.3 Just do what needs to be done, and then stop. Attain your purpose, but don't pres your advantage.
30.4 Be resolute, but don't boast. Succeed, but don't crow. Accomplish, but don't overpower.
30.5 Overdoing things invites decay, and this is against Tao. Whatever is against Tao soon ceases to be.

31.1 Weapons are tools of evil, shunned and avoided by everything in nature. Because people of Tao follow nature, they want nothing to do with weapons.
31.2 Unevolved people are eager to act out of strength, but a person of Tao values peace and quiet. He knows that every being is born of the womb of Tao. This means that his enemies are his enemies second, his own brothers and sisters first.
31.3 Thus he resorts to weapons only in the direst necessity, and then uses them with utmost restraint.
31.4 He takes no pleasure in victory, because to rejoice in victory is to delight in killing. Whoever delights in killing will not find success in this world.
31.5 Observe victories as you observe a death in the family: with sorrow and mourning.
31.6 Every victory is a funeral for kin.
32.4 When this simplicity is divided, every thing and not-thing needs a name. Once there are names, the process of distinction should stop. To know when to stop is to be free from danger.

32.1 The primal eternal Tao is an unnameable simplicity. Though small, there is nothing under all of heaven that can subjugate it.
32.2 If a leader abides by it, all beings are naturally drawn to him.
32.3 Heaven and earth come together in harmony and sweet rain falls everywhere. People cooperate voluntarily, without any instruction.
32.5 Tao in the world is like streams flowing into the sea.

33.1 Knowing others is intelligence; knowing the self is enlightenment.
33.2 Conquering others is power; conquering the self is strength.
33.3 Know what is enough, and you'll be rich. Persevere, and you'll develop a will.
33.4 Remain in the center, and you'll always be at home. Die without dying, and you'll endure forever.

34.1 The great Tao floods and flows in every direction.
34.2 Everything in existence depends on it, and it doesn't deny them. It accomplishes its work without naming or making claims for itself. Everything in existence is clothed and nourished by it, but it doesn't lord over anything.
34.3 Aimless, ambitionless, it might be called "small."
34.4 Everything in existence returns to it, and still it doesn't lord over anything. Thus it might also be called "great."
34.5 Because it has no desire to be great, it can achieve greatness.

35.1 Stay centered in the Tao and the world comes to you: Comes, and isn't harmed; Comes, and finds contentment.
35.2 Most travelers are drawn to music and good food.
35.3 When Tao is talked about, the words can seem bland and flavourless. Looked at, it may not catch the eye. Listened to, it might not seduce the ear. Used, it can never be exhausted.

36.1 What is ultimately to be reduced must first be expanded . What is ultimately to be weakened must first be made strong. What is ultimately to be discarded must first be embraced. What is ultimately to be taken away must first be given.
36.2 This is called subtle insight.
36.3 The soft overcomes the hard. The weak overcomes the strong. The Tao should never be abandoned. Weapons should never be displayed.

37.1 Eternal Tao doesn't do anything, yet it leaves nothing undone.
37.2 If you abide by it, everything in existence will transform itself. When, in the process of self-transformation, desires are aroused, calm them with nameless simplicity.
37.3 When desires are dissolved in the primal presence, peace and harmony naturally occur, and the world orders itself.

38.1 A truly good person doesn't dwell on her goodness. Thus she can be good. A person of false goodness never forgets her goodness. Thus her goodness is always false.
38.2 A truly good person does nothing, yet nothing remains undone. A person of false goodness is forever doing, yet everything remains forever undone.
38.3 Those who are interested in service act without motive. Those who are interested in righteousness act with motives of all sorts. Those who are interested in propriety act, and receiving no response, they roll up their sleeves and use force.
38.4 When Tao is lost, goodness appears. When goodness is lost, philanthropy appears. When philanthropy is lost, justice appears. When justice is lost, only etiquette is left.
38.5 Etiquette is the faintest husk of real loyalty and faith, and it is the beginning of confusion. Knowledge of the future is only a blossom of Tao; to become preoccupied with it is folly.
38.6 Thus the sage sets her sights on the substance and not the surface, on the fruit and not the flower. Leaving the one, she gains the other.

39.1 From ancient times these have attained oneness with Tao: Heaven attained oneness and became clear. Earth attained oneness and became peaceful. Spirits attained oneness and became strong.
39.2 Valleys attained oneness and became full. Beings attained oneness and became fertile. All are what they are by virtue of oneness.
39.3 Heaven without clarity would fall. Earth without peace would explode. Spirits without strength would dissipate.
39.4 Valleys without fullness would dry up. Beings without fertility would die off. Sages without wholeness would stumble and fall.
39.5 Humility is the root of greatness.
39.6 Those in high positions do well to think of themselves as powerless, small and unworthy. Isn't this taking humility for the root?
39.7 Attain honour without being honoured.
39.8 Don't shine like jade, or chime like bells.

40.1 Returning to the root is the movement of Tao. Quietness is how it functions.
40.2 The ten thousand things are born of being. Being is born of nothing.