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Dao De Jing by Lao Tzi was translated by several Wayist scholars. First published 1992 in The Eastern Bible. In Wayist tradition, the text was not demystified during translation. It is through living the text, through paradox and symbolism that soul-minds extract wisdom from life. To demystify the text would be to render it the understanding of a particular person.
1.1 The Tao1 that can be explained is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal Name.2
1.2 The Unnameable is the eternally real.3 The Nameable is the origin of heaven and earth.4
1.3 Free from desire you realize the mystery. Maintain some desire so to see the manifestations.
1.4 Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source. This source is called darkness.
1.5 Darkness within darkness. The gateway to all understanding.5
2.1 When people define some things as beautiful other things become ugly. When people define some things as good, other things become bad.
2.2 Being and non-being condition each other.6 Difficult and easy give rise to each other. Long and short define each other. High and low depend on each other. Noise and harmony depend on each other; before and after follow each other.
2.3 Therefore the master7 acts non-assertively, and teaches without saying anything. 8 Things arise and she lets them come; things disappear and she lets them go. She has, but does not possess, acts but does not desire results.9 When her work is done, she forgets it. That is why its merits last forever.
3.1 If you over-esteem the worthy, people contend it. If you overvalue possessions, people begin to steal.10
3.2 The master leads by emptying people's minds and filling their cores, by weakening their ambition and toughening their resolve. He helps people lose everything they know, everything they desire, and creates confusion in those who think that they know.11
3.3 Practice non-interference, and everything will fall into place.12
4.1 The Tao is like a container: used but never used up.13 It is like the eternal void; fountain of infinite possibilities.14
4.2 It blunts the sharp and unravels the tangled; harmonises with the light; mingles with the dust.15
4.3 It is hidden but always present, calm like a deep pool. I don't know who gave birth to it. It is older than our understanding of God.
5.1 The Tao does not take sides; it gives birth to both good and evil. Material things are like incense sticks, burned in worship but discarded ashes.
5.2 The master does not take sides; she welcomes both saints and sinners.16
5.3 The Tao is like a bellows: it is hollow yet infinitely capable.17 The more you use it the more it gives forth;18 the more you talk of it the less you understand.
5.4 Hold on to the centre.
6.1 From the heart of the Eternal Void the Tao is called the Great Mysterious Mother; hollow yet inexhaustible, she gives birth to infinite universes.19
6.2 It's spiralling-continuous flow is always present within you. You can use it any way you want.20
7.1 The Tao is infinite, eternal. Why is it eternal? It was never born; never came into existence: therefore it can never die or cease to exist.
7.2 Why is it infinite? It has no desires for itself; thus it is present for all beings.
7.3 The master stays behind; that is why she is ahead.
7.4 She is detached from all things; that is why she is one with them.
7.5 Because she has let go of her self concern, she is perfectly fulfilled.21
8.1 The supreme person is like water, which nourishes all things without effort.22
8.2 It is content with the low places that people despise.23 Thus it is like the Tao.
8.3 In dwelling, live close to the ground.24 In thinking; deep yet simple. In conflict and speech; fair and generous.
8.5 In governing, don't try to control. In work, enjoy what you do.
8.6 In society life be completely present; content to be simply yourself, don't compare or compete and you will gain true respect.
9.1 Filling your cup until it overflows is not as good as stopping in time.
9.2 Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.
9.3 Fill your heart with treasures of gold and jade, and it will certainly be robbed?25
9.4 Being highly esteemed, and proud, brings much trouble. Being concerned about people's approval you become their prisoner.
9.5 Do your work, then step back.26 This is the Way.
10.1 In harmonizing your male and female27 to embrace the One, can you coax your mind from its wandering and keep to the Way.
10.2 In tenderly tuning your breath, can you become supple as a newborn babe?28
10.3 In polishing your mystic mirror, can you purify it to see nothing but the light?29
10.4 In loving and leading the people, can you do it without imposing your will?30
Can you deal with the most vital matters by letting events take their course?
10.6 Can you step back from knowledge into the realms of Wisdom and thus understand all things?
10.7 When your light shines forth, can you ignore it with equanimity? Can you practice non-interference? When the Gate of Heaven opens and closes, can you play the part of the Female?
Giving birth and nourishing, having without possessing, acting with no desire of the fruits,31 leading and not trying to control: this is called the supreme Mystic Virtue.
11.1 Thirty spokes join together in a wheel, but it is the centre hole that makes the wagon move.
11.2 We shape clay into a pot, yet it is the emptiness that we use.
11.3 We fashion wood for a house, but it is the inner emptiness where we live, and the empty holes of windows and doors that makes it livable.
11.4 Therefore, being is what we have, but non-being is what we use.32
12.1 Colours blind the eye. Sounds deafen the ear. Flavours numb the taste.
12.2 Seeking to satisfy our desire for thrills leads us to do crazy things.33
12.3 The master therefore observes the world but trusts his inner vision, caring for his belly and not his eye.34 Things come and go. Sanity is keeping the heart open as the sky.35
13.1 Success is as treacherous as failure. Hope is as hollow as fear.
13.2 What does it mean that success is as treacherous as failure? Whether you go up the ladder or down it, your position is shaky and judged differently by different people. Which definition of success or humiliation do you judge by? When you are grounded you will always keep your balance.
13.3 What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear? Hope and fear are both apparitions that arise from self-importance and need for control. When we do not regard this projection of self as if so important, what do we have to fear?
13.4 See the world as your self and decicate your life to its benefit. Have faith in the way things are. Love the world as your self; then you can be entrusted to care for it.36
14.1 When you look at it but cannot see it. When you listen to it but cannot hear it. When you reach for it but cannot grasp it. It is the One.
14.2 It is neither bright on appearing or dark on disappearing, it merely is. It flows from the void and returns again to it.
14.3 Form that includes all forms, Image without an image, subtle beyond all conception, it is the everlasting essence of all.
14.3 (in Line by Line) It is neither bright on appearing or dark on disappearing, it merely is. It flows from the void and returns again to it.
14.4 Approach it and there is no beginning; follow it and there is no end. You can not know it, but you can be in it.
14.5 Taking hold of the One from ever past uproots the problems of the present. Knowing the ancient origins of self; is the essence of wisdom.37
15.1 The ancient masters were profound and subtle. Their wisdom unfathomable.
15.2 Since they were incomprehensible; all we can describe about them is in the simplicity of their appearance. Careful as one crossing an iced-over stream. Alert as a warrior in enemy territory. Courteous as a guest. Fluid as melting ice. Unpretentious and shapeable as a block of wood. Receptive as a valley. Murky, like turbid water.
15.3 Do you have the patience to wait for your mud to settle; unmoving until your waters clear, and an impulse gradually leads to life?
15.4 The master does not seek extremes.38 Not seeking, not expecting, he is present, not weary; welcoming all things, extremes therefore lose their impact.
16.1 Empty your mind to the extreme. Maintain unmoving in your own being. Be aware of the turmoil of beings, but contemplate their cyclic return.39
16.2 Each separate being in the universe returns to the common source, however luxurious they now seem. Returning to the source is serenity.40
16.3 Serenity is renewal of life in harmony with the Infinite. Know the source and enlightenment comes, know it not and you stumble in confusion and sorrow.
16.4 When you know your source, you naturally become impartial, tolerant, uninvolved, amused, kindhearted as a grandmother, dignified as a king.
16.5 Being a master one can attain the Divine, merging with the Tao, becoming immortal and imperishable after the demise of the body.41
17.1 When the master governs, the people are hardly aware that he exists.42 Next best is a leader who is loved and praised. Next, one who is feared. The worst is one who is despised.
17.2 If you do not have faith, you can not inspire faith.43
17.3 The master is wary and treasures words. When his work is done, the people say, “We did it, out of free will, all by ourselves!"
18.1 When the great Tao is forgotten, goodness and piety appear.
18.2 When intellectualism arise, hypocrisy appears.
18.3 When there is no peace in the family, filial piety begins.
18.4 When the country falls into chaos, patriotism is born and good leaders appear.44
19.1 Discard holiness and wisdom, and people will be a hundred times happier.
19.2 Discard morality and justice, and people will do the right thing.
19.3 Discard industry and profit, and there will be no thieves.
19.3 These three are not good enough for culture. Add simplicity, reduce selfishness, and decrease desires – remain in the centre and let things take their course.45
20.1 Discard pretentious learning, and end your problems. What difference between an abrupt ‘Yes' and a learned ‘Yea'? What difference between success and failure?
20.2 Must you value what others value, avoid what others avoid? How ridiculous! Where will it lead?
20.3 Other people are excited, as though they are at a parade. I alone don't care, I alone am emotionless, like an infant before it can smile.
20.4 Other people have what they need; I alone possess nothing. Wandering aimlessly, I look like a homeless tramp.46 I am like an idiot, my mind is so empty. So dull I feel.
20.5 Other people are bright; I alone am gloomy in despair. Other people are smart and confidant; I alone feel disgusted and depressed. I drift like a wave on the ocean, blown around as aimless as the wind. Other people have a worthy employment ; I alone am worthless.
20.6 I am different from ordinary people, I drink from the Great Mother's breasts.
21.1 Ultimate Virtue is in essence in the nature of the Tao. The master keeps her mind always at one with the Tao; that is what gives her her radiance.
21.2 The Tao is a pulsating reality, it is grasped as it seems to come and go. Evasive and elusive it is, yet it manifests itself. Dreamily vague yet it takes on concrete form.
21.3 Within it lies true reality; the true omnipresent essence of life, witnessing to the Creator.
21.4 How can the master's mind be at one with it? How can she know the way of the Creator? How can the dreamy dusk enlighten her? Because she looks inside herself and is filled with Its vitality.
22.1 If you want not to break, then bend. If you want to be straight, allow some crookedness. If you want to be filled, become empty. If you want to be renewed, die being used.47 If you want everything, give up everything.48
22.2 The master, by residing in the Tao, becomes a model for all beings.
22.3 Because he does not radiate his own ego, people can see the Light through him. Because he has nothing to prove and nothing to gain, people trust his words.
22.4 Because he does not radiate his own image, he becomes a mirror to others. Because he has no goal in mind, everything he does succeeds. Because he does not compete, no one can compete with him.
22.5 When the ancient masters said, “If you do not want to break, then bend,”49 they were not merely using empty phrases. Bend sincerely. All things come to him who is truly humble.
23.1 Nature speaks but briefly,but in general she remains in serenity.50 A rainstorm does not last a whole day, and a violent wind blows only a short while.
23.2 Even heaven and earth do not take ages to express themselves. How much less should a human then speak?51
23.3 Express yourself clearly and step back.
23.4 If you open yourself to the Tao, you are at one with the Tao52 and you can embody it completely. If you open yourself to insight, you are at one with insight and you can use it completely. If you open yourself to failure, you are at one with failure and you embody it completely.
23.5 Open yourself to the Tao, then have faith. A little bit of faith does not evoke faith from other people.53
24.1 He who stands on tiptoe totters. He who rushes ahead trips.
24.2 He who tries to radiate his self is dim. He who justifies himself knows not himself.54
24.3 He who seeks power over others is powerless over himself.55 He who feels sorry for himself is stunted.
24.4 If you want to imitate the Tao, you will be different.56
25.1 Something formless and perfect exists, even before heaven and earth. Serene it is, so quiet. Alone and unchanging, it pervades all forever.57
25.2 Mother of the universes, she may be.58 For lack of a better name59 I call it the Tao, and randomly I label it Great.
25.3 Great means everlasting, and all pervasive. All pervasive means flowing through all things, inside and outside, completing the cycle, returning to the origin.60
25.4 Therefore the Tao is Great. The universes are great. Earth is great. Humankind is great. These are the four greats.
25.5 People imitate the earth. Earth imitates the universes. The universes imitate the Tao. The Tao imitates only itself.61
26.1 Heaviness is the root of lightness. Stillness is the master of movement.
26.2 Thus the master travels all day without leaving home, and never loses touch with her loaded cart. However splendid the views, she remains serenely in herself.
26.3 Why should the lord of the country, with ten thousand chariots, flit about like a fool? If you let yourself be blown to and fro, you lose touch with your root.
26.4 If you allow restlessness to move you, you lose self control.
27.1 A good traveller is not intent upon arriving. A good speaker makes no mistakes. A good accountant needs no counting tools.
27.2 A good lock has no bolt. A good knot has no string. The good artisan has freed herself of concepts and keeps her mind open to intuition.
27.3 Thus-wise the master is available to all people and does not reject anyone. She is ready to see opportunity in all situations and does not allow an opportunity to save another person go by. This is called ‘Passing the Light'.
27.4 What is a good person but a bad person's teacher? What is a bad person but a good person's task?
27.5 One who does not honour their teacher, or appreciates a lesson, is lost in the maze of the self. However intelligent you may be, this essential and subtle mystery is the key.
28.1 One who knows the male yet keeps to the female receives the birth of the world in their inner void. Such one is in union with eternal virtue and is reborn, returning to the state of the newborn babe.28.2 One who knows the white (yang, male), yet keeps to the black (yin, female) becomes a pattern for the world.62 As a pattern for the world, you imitate the Tao and your wisdom becomes unerring. And you return to the infinite.
28.3 One who knows the personal, yet keeps to the impersonal becomes the void in which the world is accepted as is. Being the void one's wisdom becomes sufficient. And you return to the simplicity of your primal self.
28.4 Yet, from the void the world is shaped. Like a work of art created in the artisan's mind.
28.5 The master knows the tools for carving the world, yet keeps to virgin simplicity: knowing better not to be dualistic.
29.1 One may feel compelled to improve on the world? I don't think it can be done.
29.2 The world is a sacred vessel. It can not be improved. If you tamper with it, you will ruin it.63 If you take hold of it, you lose it.
29.3 There is a time for being ahead, a time for being behind; a time for being in motion, a time for being at rest; a time for being vigorous, a time for being exhausted; a time for being safe, a time for being in danger.64
29.4 Knowing this the master avoids extremes, refusing to want to control. She lets them, and resides at the centre of the circle.65
30.1 Imitating the Tao, in governing humans, it is alien to resort to force to resolve issues or defeat an enemy. Every force employed invites a counter force.
30.2 A show of force, like an encamped army, only causes weeds and thorns to start growing. Even well intentioned violence rebounds to cause unintended dysfunction.66
30.3 The master performs his task and then stops. He understands that chaos is inherent in the ordered flow of the Tao. He does not grab, or resort to force; this is against the current.
30.4 In faith he acts, not trying to control but to serve. Because he is content with this, he does not need the approval of others. He performs his task as his duty. He achieves results by duty, not by force.
30.5 Strong things soon grow weak. This is contrary to the Tao.67 Contrary to the Tao leads to destruction.
31.1 Weapons are the tools of violence; all good people detest them.
31.2 Weapons are the tools of fear; good people avoid them except in utmost necessity. In employing them, they will use them with the utmost restraint.
31.3 There is no beauty in victory. Anyone who sees beauty in slaughter will never win the world.68
31.4 The good fighter enters battle gravely, with sorrow and with great compassion, as if he were attending a funeral, knowing well what the outcome of violence will be.
31.5 Celebrate victories with funeral rites.69
32.1 Tao, being eternal and unfathomable is ultimately humble in Its simplicity.70 Yet no one can control it.
32.2 If powerful people can abide in it, all beings shall gratefully do likewise.
32.3 Then heaven will be on earth. In harmony with Tao sweet dew will rain on the land. People will be at peace, the law of heaven written in their hearts.
32.4 In structuring and creating institutions names and forms must come about. But know where to stop.71 Knowing this, danger is averted and sorrow spared.
All things end in the Tao as rivers flow into the sea.
33.1 One who knows others is wise. One who knows one-self is enlightened.
33.2 One who conquers others is strong. One who conquers self is powerful.
33.3 One who knows when enough is had is truly wealthy. One who has self-discipline is sincere.
33.4 One who remains centred endures. One who dies yet does not perish becomes immortal.72
34.1 The great Tao flows everywhere. Through the Yin and to the Yang. All depend on it, and none are refused.
34.2 It flows into its task, nourishing infinite worlds, clothing and feeding,73 yet it does not claim ownership or allegiance.74
34.3 Eternally without need, claiming nothing, it is ultimately humble.
34.4 Yet as all things naturally flow back into it, it is truly Great.
34.5 The master therefore never tries to be great, and is thus truly great.75
35.1 Centred in the Tao she moves anywhere, without thought of danger. At peace with the universal harmony, even amid great pain, she comes to no harm.
35.2 Music or the smell of good cooking may make people pause and linger to savour its pleasure . But words that point to the Tao seem monotonous and without flavour.76
35.3 When you look for it, there is nothing to see. When you listen for it, there is nothing to hear. When you use it, it is inexhaustible.77
36.1 Something to be shrunk, must first be expanded. Something to be weakened, must first be strengthened. Something to be destroyed, must first be allowed to flourish. Something to be had, must first be given.
36.2 Perceiving this subtlety is like taking in the dim light. Soft conquers the hard. Weak conquers the strong.78
36.3 Just as fish should keep to deep waters, so too the master's power be kept within.
37.1 The Tao never acts, yet through it all things are done.79
37.2 If powerful people could preserve it in themselves, the whole world would be transformed by flowing in with its natural rhythm; simple in its harmony.
37.3 Simplicity abolishes desires and the world is set upon its natural path.
38.1 The master is not conscious of being virtuous; thus he is truly virtuous. Another person keeps reaching for it; and finds it impossible.
38.2 The master does not interfere, and has no motive to do so.80
38.3 Kindheartedness interferes without motive of gain. Righteousness interferes with motive of gain.
38.4 Moral legalism interferes, and failing to achieve the required response lifts its arms resorting to violence.
38.5 Therefore when the Tao is lost sight of, and virtue disappears, there is still kindheartedness. But when kindheartedness is lost, there is still righteousness. But when righteousness is lost, the mere show of loyalty and virtue, then there is still superstitious traditionalism.81 When traditionalism appears, which is the proven husk of true faith, chaos begins.
38.6 Therefore the master concerns herself with the deep mysteries and not the surface symbols, with the fruit and not the flower. Devoid of illusions, concerned with the cause and not the symptom, she rejects the flower and savours the fruit.
39.1 Masters since antiquity gained unity, and the skies became clear.82
39.2 Since antiquity masters attained singleness and the earth became steady.
39.3 Masters who gained oneness became the void, filled to completeness.
39.4 Spirits in union with the One became divine.
39.5 Creatures imbued by the One have gained life.
39.6 Noble persons knowing of the One became examples.83
39.7 All of these gained by the same source; without which the skies would become murky, the earth would become unsteady, the masters would perish, the void would remain barren, spirits would cease being, creatures would become extinct, nobles would lose nobility. See, the honourable is rooted in the humble.
39.8 The master views the parts with compassion, because he understand the whole.84 His constant practice is humility. He doesn't glitter like a polished jewel but lets himself be shaped by the Tao, as rugged and common as stone.
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