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The Tao-te Ching
By Lao-tzu

Translated by James Legge


PART 1

Chapter 1

  1. The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging
    Tao. The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging
    name.

  2. (Conceived of as) having no name, it is the Originator of heaven
    and earth; (conceived of as) having a name, it is the Mother of all
    things.

  3. Always without desire we must be found,
    If its deep mystery we would sound;
    But if desire always within us be,
    Its outer fringe is all that we shall see.

  4. Under these two aspects, it is really the same; but as development
    takes place, it receives the different names. Together we call them
    the Mystery. Where the Mystery is the deepest is the gate of all that
    is subtle and wonderful.

Chapter 2

  1. All in the world know the beauty of the beautiful, and in doing
    this they have (the idea of) what ugliness is; they all know the skill
    of the skilful, and in doing this they have (the idea of) what the
    want of skill is.

  2. So it is that existence and non-existence give birth the one to
    (the idea of) the other; that difficulty and ease produce the one
    (the idea of) the other; that length and shortness fashion out the
    one the figure of the other; that (the ideas of) height and lowness
    arise from the contrast of the one with the other; that the musical
    notes and tones become harmonious through the relation of one with
    another; and that being before and behind give the idea of one following
    another.

  3. Therefore the sage manages affairs without doing anything, and
    conveys his instructions without the use of speech.

  4. All things spring up, and there is not one which declines to show
    itself; they grow, and there is no claim made for their ownership;
    they go through their processes, and there is no expectation (of a
    reward for the results). The work is accomplished, and there is no
    resting in it (as an achievement).

The work is done, but how no one can see;
‘Tis this that makes the power not cease to be.

Chapter 3

  1. Not to value and employ men of superior ability is the way to keep
    the people from rivalry among themselves; not to prize articles which
    are difficult to procure is the way to keep them from becoming thieves;
    not to show them what is likely to excite their desires is the way
    to keep their minds from disorder.

  2. Therefore the sage, in the exercise of his government, empties
    their minds, fills their bellies, weakens their wills, and strengthens
    their bones.

  3. He constantly (tries to) keep them without knowledge and without
    desire, and where there are those who have knowledge, to keep them
    from presuming to act (on it). When there is this abstinence from
    action, good order is universal.

Chapter 4

  1. The Tao is (like) the emptiness of a vessel; and in our employment
    of it we must be on our guard against all fulness. How deep and unfathomable
    it is, as if it were the Honoured Ancestor of all things!

  2. We should blunt our sharp points, and unravel the complications
    of things; we should attemper our brightness, and bring ourselves
    into agreement with the obscurity of others. How pure and still the
    Tao is, as if it would ever so continue!

  3. I do not know whose son it is. It might appear to have been before
    God.

Chapter 5

  1. Heaven and earth do not act from (the impulse of) any wish to be
    benevolent; they deal with all things as the dogs of grass are dealt
    with. The sages do not act from (any wish to be) benevolent; they
    deal with the people as the dogs of grass are dealt with.

  2. May not the space between heaven and earth be compared to a bellows?

‘Tis emptied, yet it loses not its power;
‘Tis moved again, and sends forth air the more.
Much speech to swift exhaustion lead we see;
Your inner being guard, and keep it free.

Chapter 6

The valley spirit dies not, aye the same;
The female mystery thus do we name.
Its gate, from which at first they issued forth,
Is called the root from which grew heaven and earth.
Long and unbroken does its power remain,
Used gently, and without the touch of pain.

Chapter 7

  1. Heaven is long-enduring and earth continues long. The reason why
    heaven and earth are able to endure and continue thus long is because
    they do not live of, or for, themselves. This is how they are able
    to continue and endure.

  2. Therefore the sage puts his own person last, and yet it is found
    in the foremost place; he treats his person as if it were foreign
    to him, and yet that person is preserved. Is it not because he has
    no personal and private ends, that therefore such ends are realised?

Chapter 8

  1. The highest excellence is like (that of) water. The excellence
    of water appears in its benefiting all things, and in its occupying,
    without striving (to the contrary), the low place which all men dislike.
    Hence (its way) is near to (that of) the Tao.

  2. The excellence of a residence is in (the suitability of) the place;
    that of the mind is in abysmal stillness; that of associations is
    in their being with the virtuous; that of government is in its securing
    good order; that of (the conduct of) affairs is in its ability; and
    that of (the initiation of) any movement is in its timeliness.

  3. And when (one with the highest excellence) does not wrangle (about
    his low position), no one finds fault with him.

Chapter 9

  1. It is better to leave a vessel unfilled, than to attempt to carry
    it when it is full. If you keep feeling a point that has been sharpened,
    the point cannot long preserve its sharpness.

  2. When gold and jade fill the hall, their possessor cannot keep them
    safe. When wealth and honours lead to arrogancy, this brings its evil
    on itself. When the work is done, and one’s name is becoming distinguished,
    to withdraw into obscurity is the way of Heaven.

Chapter 10

  1. When the intelligent and animal souls are held together in one
    embrace, they can be kept from separating. When one gives undivided
    attention to the (vital) breath, and brings it to the utmost degree
    of pliancy, he can become as a (tender) babe. When he has cleansed
    away the most mysterious sights (of his imagination), he can become
    without a flaw.

  2. In loving the people and ruling the state, cannot he proceed without
    any (purpose of) action? In the opening and shutting of his gates
    of heaven, cannot he do so as a female bird? While his intelligence
    reaches in every direction, cannot he (appear to) be without knowledge?

  3. (The Tao) produces (all things) and nourishes them; it produces
    them and does not claim them as its own; it does all, and yet does
    not boast of it; it presides over all, and yet does not control them.
    This is what is called ‘The mysterious Quality’ (of the Tao).

Chapter 11 The thirty spokes unite in the one nave; but it is on
the empty space (for the axle), that the use of the wheel depends.
Clay is fashioned into vessels; but it is on their empty hollowness,
that their use depends. The door and windows are cut out (from the
walls) to form an apartment; but it is on the empty space (within),
that its use depends. Therefore, what has a (positive) existence serves
for profitable adaptation, and what has not that for (actual) usefulness.

Chapter 12

  1. Colour’s five hues from th’ eyes their sight will take;

Music’s five notes the ears as deaf can make;
The flavours five deprive the mouth of taste;
The chariot course, and the wild hunting waste
Make mad the mind; and objects rare and strange,
Sought for, men’s conduct will to evil change.

  1. Therefore the sage seeks to satisfy (the craving of) the belly,
    and not the (insatiable longing of the) eyes. He puts from him the
    latter, and prefers to seek the former.

Chapter 13

  1. Favour and disgrace would seem equally to be feared; honour and
    great calamity, to be regarded as personal conditions (of the same
    kind).

  2. What is meant by speaking thus of favour and disgrace? Disgrace
    is being in a low position (after the enjoyment of favour). The getting
    that (favour) leads to the apprehension (of losing it), and the losing
    it leads to the fear of (still greater calamity):–this is what is
    meant by saying that favour and disgrace would seem equally to be
    feared. And what is meant by saying that honour and great calamity
    are to be (similarly) regarded as personal conditions? What makes
    me liable to great calamity is my having the body (which I call myself);
    if I had not the body, what great calamity could come to me?

  3. Therefore he who would administer the kingdom, honouring it as
    he honours his own person, may be employed to govern it, and he who
    would administer it with the love which he bears to his own person
    may be entrusted with it.

Chapter 14

  1. We look at it, and we do not see it, and we name it ‘the Equable.’
    We listen to it, and we do not hear it, and we name it ‘the Inaudible.’
    We try to grasp it, and do not get hold of it, and we name it ‘the
    Subtle.’ With these three qualities, it cannot be made the subject
    of description; and hence we blend them together and obtain The One.

  2. Its upper part is not bright, and its lower part is not obscure.
    Ceaseless in its action, it yet cannot be named, and then it again
    returns and becomes nothing. This is called the Form of the Formless,
    and the Semblance of the Invisible; this is called the Fleeting and
    Indeterminable.

  3. We meet it and do not see its Front; we follow it, and do not see
    its Back. When we can lay hold of the Tao of old to direct the things
    of the present day, and are able to know it as it was of old in the
    beginning, this is called (unwinding) the clue of Tao.

Chapter 15

  1. The skilful masters (of the Tao) in old times, with a subtle and
    exquisite penetration, comprehended its mysteries, and were deep (also)
    so as to elude men’s knowledge. As they were thus beyond men’s knowledge,
    I will make an effort to describe of what sort they appeared to be.

  2. Shrinking looked they like those who wade through a stream in winter;
    irresolute like those who are afraid of all around them; grave like
    a guest (in awe of his host); evanescent like ice that is melting
    away; unpretentious like wood that has not been fashioned into anything;
    vacant like a valley, and dull like muddy water.

  3. Who can (make) the muddy water (clear)? Let it be still, and it
    will gradually become clear. Who can secure the condition of rest?
    Let movement go on, and the condition of rest will gradually arise.

  4. They who preserve this method of the Tao do not wish to be full
    (of themselves). It is through their not being full of themselves
    that they can afford to seem worn and not appear new and complete.

Chapter 16

  1. The (state of) vacancy should be brought to the utmost degree,
    and that of stillness guarded with unwearying vigour. All things alike
    go through their processes of activity, and (then) we see them return
    (to their original state). When things (in the vegetable world) have
    displayed their luxuriant growth, we see each of them return to its
    root. This returning to their root is what we call the state of stillness;
    and that stillness may be called a reporting that they have fulfilled
    their appointed end.

  2. The report of that fulfilment is the regular, unchanging rule.
    To know that unchanging rule is to be intelligent; not to know it
    leads to wild movements and evil issues. The knowledge of that unchanging
    rule produces a (grand) capacity and forbearance, and that capacity
    and forbearance lead to a community (of feeling with all things).
    From this community of feeling comes a kingliness of character; and
    he who is king-like goes on to be heaven-like. In that likeness to
    heaven he possesses the Tao. Possessed of the Tao, he endures long;
    and to the end of his bodily life, is exempt from all danger of decay.

Chapter 17

  1. In the highest antiquity, (the people) did not know that there
    were (their rulers). In the next age they loved them and praised them.
    In the next they feared them; in the next they despised them. Thus
    it was that when faith (in the Tao) was deficient (in the rulers)
    a want of faith in them ensued (in the people).

  2. How irresolute did those (earliest rulers) appear, showing (by
    their reticence) the importance which they set upon their words! Their
    work was done and their undertakings were successful, while the people
    all said, ‘We are as we are, of ourselves!’

Chapter 18

  1. When the Great Tao (Way or Method) ceased to be observed, benevolence
    and righteousness came into vogue. (Then) appeared wisdom and shrewdness,
    and there ensued great hypocrisy.

  2. When harmony no longer prevailed throughout the six kinships, filial
    sons found their manifestation; when the states and clans fell into
    disorder, loyal ministers appeared.

Chapter 19

  1. If we could renounce our sageness and discard our wisdom, it would
    be better for the people a hundredfold. If we could renounce our benevolence
    and discard our righteousness, the people would again become filial
    and kindly. If we could renounce our artful contrivances and discard
    our (scheming for) gain, there would be no thieves nor robbers.

  2. Those three methods (of government)
    Thought olden ways in elegance did fail
    And made these names their want of worth to veil;
    But simple views, and courses plain and true
    Would selfish ends and many lusts eschew.

Chapter 20

  1. When we renounce learning we have no troubles.
    The (ready) ‘yes,’ and (flattering) ‘yea;’–
    Small is the difference they display.
    But mark their issues, good and ill;–
    What space the gulf between shall fill? What all men fear is indeed
    to be feared; but how wide and without end is the range of questions
    (asking to be discussed)!

  2. The multitude of men look satisfied and pleased; as if enjoying
    a full banquet, as if mounted on a tower in spring. I alone seem listless
    and still, my desires having as yet given no indication of their presence.
    I am like an infant which has not yet smiled. I look dejected and
    forlorn, as if I had no home to go to. The multitude of men all have
    enough and to spare. I alone seem to have lost everything. My mind
    is that of a stupid man; I am in a state of chaos. Ordinary men look
    bright and intelligent, while I alone seem to be benighted. They look
    full of discrimination, while I alone am dull and confused. I seem
    to be carried about as on the sea, drifting as if I had nowhere to
    rest. All men have their spheres of action, while I alone seem dull
    and incapable, like a rude borderer. (Thus) I alone am different from
    other men, but I value the nursing-mother (the Tao).

Chapter 21

The grandest forms of active force
From Tao come, their only source.
Who can of Tao the nature tell?
Our sight it flies, our touch as well.
Eluding sight, eluding touch,
The forms of things all in it crouch;
Eluding touch, eluding sight,
There are their semblances, all right.
Profound it is, dark and obscure;
Things’ essences all there endure.
Those essences the truth enfold
Of what, when seen, shall then be told.
Now it is so; ’twas so of old.
Its name–what passes not away;
So, in their beautiful array,
Things form and never know decay.

How know I that it is so with all the beauties of existing things?
By this (nature of the Tao).

Chapter 22

  1. The partial becomes complete; the crooked, straight; the empty,
    full; the worn out, new. He whose (desires) are few gets them; he
    whose (desires) are many goes astray.

  2. Therefore the sage holds in his embrace the one thing (of humility),
    and manifests it to all the world. He is free from self- display,
    and therefore he shines; from self-assertion, and therefore he is
    distinguished; from self-boasting, and therefore his merit is acknowledged;
    from self-complacency, and therefore he acquires superiority. It is
    because he is thus free from striving that therefore no one in the
    world is able to strive with him.

  3. That saying of the ancients that ‘the partial becomes complete’
    was not vainly spoken:–all real completion is comprehended under
    it.

Chapter 23

  1. Abstaining from speech marks him who is obeying the spontaneity
    of his nature. A violent wind does not last for a whole morning; a
    sudden rain does not last for the whole day. To whom is it that these
    (two) things are owing? To Heaven and Earth. If Heaven and Earth cannot
    make such (spasmodic) actings last long, how much less can man!

  2. Therefore when one is making the Tao his business, those who are
    also pursuing it, agree with him in it, and those who are making the
    manifestation of its course their object agree with him in that; while
    even those who are failing in both these things agree with him where
    they fail.

  3. Hence, those with whom he agrees as to the Tao have the happiness
    of attaining to it; those with whom he agrees as to its manifestation
    have the happiness of attaining to it; and those with whom he agrees
    in their failure have also the happiness of attaining (to the Tao).
    (But) when there is not faith sufficient (on his part), a want of
    faith (in him) ensues (on the part of the others).

Chapter 24

He who stands on his tiptoes does not stand firm; he who stretches
his legs does not walk (easily). (So), he who displays himself does
not shine; he who asserts his own views is not distinguished; he who
vaunts himself does not find his merit acknowledged; he who is self-
conceited has no superiority allowed to him. Such conditions, viewed
from the standpoint of the Tao, are like remnants of food, or a tumour
on the body, which all dislike. Hence those who pursue (the course)
of the Tao do not adopt and allow them.

Chapter 25

  1. There was something undefined and complete, coming into existence
    before Heaven and Earth. How still it was and formless, standing alone,
    and undergoing no change, reaching everywhere and in no danger (of
    being exhausted)! It may be regarded as the Mother of all things.

  2. I do not know its name, and I give it the designation of the Tao
    (the Way or Course). Making an effort (further) to give it a name
    I call it The Great.

  3. Great, it passes on (in constant flow). Passing on, it becomes
    remote. Having become remote, it returns. Therefore the Tao is great;
    Heaven is great; Earth is great; and the (sage) king is also great.
    In the universe there are four that are great, and the (sage) king
    is one of them.

  4. Man takes his law from the Earth; the Earth takes its law from
    Heaven; Heaven takes its law from the Tao. The law of the Tao is its
    being what it is.

Chapter 26

  1. Gravity is the root of lightness; stillness, the ruler of movement.

  2. Therefore a wise prince, marching the whole day, does not go far
    from his baggage waggons. Although he may have brilliant prospects
    to look at, he quietly remains (in his proper place), indifferent
    to them. How should the lord of a myriad chariots carry himself lightly
    before the kingdom? If he do act lightly, he has lost his root (of
    gravity); if he proceed to active movement, he will lose his throne.

Chapter 27

  1. The skilful traveller leaves no traces of his wheels or footsteps;
    the skilful speaker says nothing that can be found fault with or blamed;
    the skilful reckoner uses no tallies; the skilful closer needs no
    bolts or bars, while to open what he has shut will be impossible;
    the skilful binder uses no strings or knots, while to unloose what
    he has bound will be impossible. In the same way the sage is always
    skilful at saving men, and so he does not cast away any man; he is
    always skilful at saving things, and so he does not cast away anything.
    This is called ‘Hiding the light of his procedure.’

  2. Therefore the man of skill is a master (to be looked up to) by
    him who has not the skill; and he who has not the skill is the helper
    of (the reputation of) him who has the skill. If the one did not honour
    his master, and the other did not rejoice in his helper, an (observer),
    though intelligent, might greatly err about them. This is called ‘The
    utmost degree of mystery.’

Chapter 28

  1. Who knows his manhood’s strength,
    Yet still his female feebleness maintains;
    As to one channel flow the many drains,
    All come to him, yea, all beneath the sky.
    Thus he the constant excellence retains;
    The simple child again, free from all stains.

Who knows how white attracts,
Yet always keeps himself within black’s shade,
The pattern of humility displayed,
Displayed in view of all beneath the sky;
He in the unchanging excellence arrayed,
Endless return to man’s first state has made.

Who knows how glory shines,
Yet loves disgrace, nor e’er for it is pale;
Behold his presence in a spacious vale,
To which men come from all beneath the sky.
The unchanging excellence completes its tale;
The simple infant man in him we hail.

  1. The unwrought material, when divided and distributed, forms vessels.
    The sage, when employed, becomes the Head of all the Officers (of
    government); and in his greatest regulations he employs no violent
    measures.

Chapter 29

  1. If any one should wish to get the kingdom for himself, and to effect
    this by what he does, I see that he will not succeed. The kingdom
    is a spirit-like thing, and cannot be got by active doing. He who
    would so win it destroys it; he who would hold it in his grasp loses
    it.

  2. The course and nature of things is such that
    What was in front is now behind;
    What warmed anon we freezing find.
    Strength is of weakness oft the spoil;
    The store in ruins mocks our toil. Hence the sage puts away excessive
    effort, extravagance, and easy indulgence.

Chapter 30

  1. He who would assist a lord of men in harmony with the Tao will
    not assert his mastery in the kingdom by force of arms. Such a course
    is sure to meet with its proper return.

  2. Wherever a host is stationed, briars and thorns spring up. In the
    sequence of great armies there are sure to be bad years.

  3. A skilful (commander) strikes a decisive blow, and stops. He does
    not dare (by continuing his operations) to assert and complete his
    mastery. He will strike the blow, but will be on his guard against
    being vain or boastful or arrogant in consequence of it. He strikes
    it as a matter of necessity; he strikes it, but not from a wish for
    mastery.

  4. When things have attained their strong maturity they become old.
    This may be said to be not in accordance with the Tao: and what is
    not in accordance with it soon comes to an end.

Chapter 31

  1. Now arms, however beautiful, are instruments of evil omen, hateful,
    it may be said, to all creatures. Therefore they who have the Tao
    do not like to employ them.

  2. The superior man ordinarily considers the left hand the most honourable
    place, but in time of war the right hand. Those sharp weapons are
    instruments of evil omen, and not the instruments of the superior
    man;–he uses them only on the compulsion of necessity. Calm and repose
    are what he prizes; victory (by force of arms) is to him undesirable.
    To consider this desirable would be to delight in the slaughter of
    men; and he who delights in the slaughter of men cannot get his will
    in the kingdom.

  3. On occasions of festivity to be on the left hand is the prized
    position; on occasions of mourning, the right hand. The second in
    command of the army has his place on the left; the general commanding
    in chief has his on the right;–his place, that is, is assigned to
    him as in the rites of mourning. He who has killed multitudes of men
    should weep for them with the bitterest grief; and the victor in battle
    has his place (rightly) according to those rites.

Chapter 32

  1. The Tao, considered as unchanging, has no name.

  2. Though in its primordial simplicity it may be small, the whole
    world dares not deal with (one embodying) it as a minister. If a feudal
    prince or the king could guard and hold it, all would spontaneously
    submit themselves to him.

  3. Heaven and Earth (under its guidance) unite together and send down
    the sweet dew, which, without the directions of men, reaches equally
    everywhere as of its own accord.

  4. As soon as it proceeds to action, it has a name. When it once has
    that name, (men) can know to rest in it. When they know to rest in
    it, they can be free from all risk of failure and error.

  5. The relation of the Tao to all the world is like that of the great
    rivers and seas to the streams from the valleys.

Chapter 33

  1. He who knows other men is discerning; he who knows himself is intelligent.
    He who overcomes others is strong; he who overcomes himself is mighty.
    He who is satisfied with his lot is rich; he who goes on acting with
    energy has a (firm) will.

  2. He who does not fail in the requirements of his position, continues
    long; he who dies and yet does not perish, has longevity.

Chapter 34

  1. All-pervading is the Great Tao! It may be found on the left hand
    and on the right.

  2. All things depend on it for their production, which it gives to
    them, not one refusing obedience to it. When its work is accomplished,
    it does not claim the name of having done it. It clothes all things
    as with a garment, and makes no assumption of being their lord;–it
    may be named in the smallest things. All things return (to their root
    and disappear), and do not know that it is it which presides over
    their doing so;–it may be named in the greatest things.

  3. Hence the sage is able (in the same way) to accomplish his great
    achievements. It is through his not making himself great that he can
    accomplish them.

Chapter 35

  1. To him who holds in his hands the Great Image (of the invisible
    Tao), the whole world repairs. Men resort to him, and receive no hurt,
    but (find) rest, peace, and the feeling of ease.

  2. Music and dainties will make the passing guest stop (for a time).
    But though the Tao as it comes from the mouth, seems insipid and has
    no flavour, though it seems not worth being looked at or listened
    to, the use of it is inexhaustible.

Chapter 36

  1. When one is about to take an inspiration, he is sure to make a
    (previous) expiration; when he is going to weaken another, he will
    first strengthen him; when he is going to overthrow another, he will
    first have raised him up; when he is going to despoil another, he
    will first have made gifts to him:–this is called ‘Hiding the light
    (of his procedure).’

  2. The soft overcomes the hard; and the weak the strong.

  3. Fishes should not be taken from the deep; instruments for the profit
    of a state should not be shown to the people.

Chapter 37

  1. The Tao in its regular course does nothing (for the sake of doing
    it), and so there is nothing which it does not do.

  2. If princes and kings were able to maintain it, all things would
    of themselves be transformed by them.

  3. If this transformation became to me an object of desire, I would
    express the desire by the nameless simplicity.

Simplicity without a name
Is free from all external aim.
With no desire, at rest and still,
All things go right as of their will.


PART II

Chapter 38

  1. (Those who) possessed in highest degree the attributes (of the
    Tao) did not (seek) to show them, and therefore they possessed them
    (in fullest measure). (Those who) possessed in a lower degree those
    attributes (sought how) not to lose them, and therefore they did not
    possess them (in fullest measure).

  2. (Those who) possessed in the highest degree those attributes did
    nothing (with a purpose), and had no need to do anything. (Those who)
    possessed them in a lower degree were (always) doing, and had need
    to be so doing.

  3. (Those who) possessed the highest benevolence were (always seeking)
    to carry it out, and had no need to be doing so. (Those who) possessed
    the highest righteousness were (always seeking) to carry it out, and
    had need to be so doing.

  4. (Those who) possessed the highest (sense of) propriety were (always
    seeking) to show it, and when men did not respond to it, they bared
    the arm and marched up to them.

  5. Thus it was that when the Tao was lost, its attributes appeared;
    when its attributes were lost, benevolence appeared; when benevolence
    was lost, righteousness appeared; and when righteousness was lost,
    the proprieties appeared.

  6. Now propriety is the attenuated form of leal-heartedness and good
    faith, and is also the commencement of disorder; swift apprehension
    is (only) a flower of the Tao, and is the beginning of stupidity.

  7. Thus it is that the Great man abides by what is solid, and eschews
    what is flimsy; dwells with the fruit and not with the flower. It
    is thus that he puts away the one and makes choice of the other.

Chapter 39

  1. The things which from of old have got the One (the Tao) are–

Heaven which by it is bright and pure;
Earth rendered thereby firm and sure;
Spirits with powers by it supplied;
Valleys kept full throughout their void
All creatures which through it do live
Princes and kings who from it get
The model which to all they give. All these are the results of the
One (Tao).

  1. If heaven were not thus pure, it soon would rend;
    If earth were not thus sure, ‘twould break and bend;
    Without these powers, the spirits soon would fail;
    If not so filled, the drought would parch each vale;
    Without that life, creatures would pass away;
    Princes and kings, without that moral sway,
    However grand and high, would all decay.

  2. Thus it is that dignity finds its (firm) root in its (previous)
    meanness, and what is lofty finds its stability in the lowness (from
    which it rises). Hence princes and kings call themselves ‘Orphans,’
    ‘Men of small virtue,’ and as ‘Carriages without a nave.’ Is not this
    an acknowledgment that in their considering themselves mean they see
    the foundation of their dignity? So it is that in the enumeration
    of the different parts of a carriage we do not come on what makes
    it answer the ends of a carriage. They do not wish to show themselves
    elegant-looking as jade, but (prefer) to be coarse-looking as an (ordinary)
    stone.

Chapter 40

  1. The movement of the Tao
    By contraries proceeds;
    And weakness marks the course
    Of Tao’s mighty deeds.

  2. All things under heaven sprang from It as existing (and named);
    that existence sprang from It as non-existent (and not named).

Chapter 41

  1. Scholars of the highest class, when they hear about the Tao, earnestly
    carry it into practice. Scholars of the middle class, when they have
    heard about it, seem now to keep it and now to lose it. Scholars of
    the lowest class, when they have heard about it, laugh greatly at
    it. If it were not (thus) laughed at, it would not be fit to be the
    Tao.

  2. Therefore the sentence-makers have thus expressed themselves:–

‘The Tao, when brightest seen, seems light to lack;
Who progress in it makes, seems drawing back;
Its even way is like a rugged track.
Its highest virtue from the vale doth rise;
Its greatest beauty seems to offend the eyes;
And he has most whose lot the least supplies.
Its firmest virtue seems but poor and low;
Its solid truth seems change to undergo;
Its largest square doth yet no corner show
A vessel great, it is the slowest made;
Loud is its sound, but never word it said;
A semblance great, the shadow of a shade.’

  1. The Tao is hidden, and has no name; but it is the Tao which is
    skilful at imparting (to all things what they need) and making them
    complete.

Chapter 42

  1. The Tao produced One; One produced Two; Two produced Three; Three
    produced All things. All things leave behind them the Obscurity (out
    of which they have come), and go forward to embrace the Brightness
    (into which they have emerged), while they are harmonised by the Breath
    of Vacancy.

  2. What men dislike is to be orphans, to have little virtue, to be
    as carriages without naves; and yet these are the designations which
    kings and princes use for themselves. So it is that some things are
    increased by being diminished, and others are diminished by being
    increased.

  3. What other men (thus) teach, I also teach. The violent and strong
    do not die their natural death. I will make this the basis of my teaching.

Chapter 43

  1. The softest thing in the world dashes against and overcomes the
    hardest; that which has no (substantial) existence enters where there
    is no crevice. I know hereby what advantage belongs to doing nothing
    (with a purpose).

  2. There are few in the world who attain to the teaching without words,
    and the advantage arising from non-action.

Chapter 44

  1. Or fame or life,
    Which do you hold more dear?
    Or life or wealth,
    To which would you adhere?
    Keep life and lose those other things;
    Keep them and lose your life:–which brings
    Sorrow and pain more near?

  2. Thus we may see,
    Who cleaves to fame
    Rejects what is more great;
    Who loves large stores
    Gives up the richer state.

  3. Who is content
    Needs fear no shame.
    Who knows to stop
    Incurs no blame.
    From danger free
    Long live shall he.

Chapter 45

  1. Who thinks his great achievements poor
    Shall find his vigour long endure.
    Of greatest fulness, deemed a void,
    Exhaustion ne’er shall stem the tide.
    Do thou what’s straight still crooked deem;
    Thy greatest art still stupid seem,
    And eloquence a stammering scream.

  2. Constant action overcomes cold; being still overcomes heat. Purity
    and stillness give the correct law to all under heaven.

Chapter 46

  1. When the Tao prevails in the world, they send back their swift
    horses to (draw) the dung-carts. When the Tao is disregarded in the
    world, the war-horses breed in the border lands.

  2. There is no guilt greater than to sanction ambition; no calamity
    greater than to be discontented with one’s lot; no fault greater than
    the wish to be getting. Therefore the sufficiency of contentment is
    an enduring and unchanging sufficiency.

Chapter 47

  1. Without going outside his door, one understands (all that takes
    place) under the sky; without looking out from his window, one sees
    the Tao of Heaven. The farther that one goes out (from himself), the
    less he knows.

  2. Therefore the sages got their knowledge without travelling; gave
    their (right) names to things without seeing them; and accomplished
    their ends without any purpose of doing so.

Chapter 48

  1. He who devotes himself to learning (seeks) from day to day to increase
    (his knowledge); he who devotes himself to the Tao (seeks) from day
    to day to diminish (his doing).

  2. He diminishes it and again diminishes it, till he arrives at doing
    nothing (on purpose). Having arrived at this point of non-action,
    there is nothing which he does not do.

  3. He who gets as his own all under heaven does so by giving himself
    no trouble (with that end). If one take trouble (with that end), he
    is not equal to getting as his own all under heaven.

Chapter 49

  1. The sage has no invariable mind of his own; he makes the mind of
    the people his mind.

  2. To those who are good (to me), I am good; and to those who are
    not good (to me), I am also good;–and thus (all) get to be good.
    To those who are sincere (with me), I am sincere; and to those who
    are not sincere (with me), I am also sincere;–and thus (all) get
    to be sincere.

  3. The sage has in the world an appearance of indecision, and keeps
    his mind in a state of indifference to all. The people all keep their
    eyes and ears directed to him, and he deals with them all as his children.

Chapter 50

  1. Men come forth and live; they enter (again) and die.

  2. Of every ten three are ministers of life (to themselves); and three
    are ministers of death.

  3. There are also three in every ten whose aim is to live, but whose
    movements tend to the land (or place) of death. And for what reason?
    Because of their excessive endeavours to perpetuate life.

  4. But I have heard that he who is skilful in managing the life entrusted
    to him for a time travels on the land without having to shun rhinoceros
    or tiger, and enters a host without having to avoid buff coat or sharp
    weapon. The rhinoceros finds no place in him into which to thrust
    its horn, nor the tiger a place in which to fix its claws, nor the
    weapon a place to admit its point. And for what reason? Because there
    is in him no place of death.

Chapter 51

  1. All things are produced by the Tao, and nourished by its outflowing
    operation. They receive their forms according to the nature of each,
    and are completed according to the circumstances of their condition.
    Therefore all things without exception honour the Tao, and exalt its
    outflowing operation.

  2. This honouring of the Tao and exalting of its operation is not
    the result of any ordination, but always a spontaneous tribute.

  3. Thus it is that the Tao produces (all things), nourishes them,
    brings them to their full growth, nurses them, completes them, matures
    them, maintains them, and overspreads them.

  4. It produces them and makes no claim to the possession of them;
    it carries them through their processes and does not vaunt its ability
    in doing so; it brings them to maturity and exercises no control over
    them;–this is called its mysterious operation.

Chapter 52

  1. (The Tao) which originated all under the sky is to be considered
    as the mother of them all.

  2. When the mother is found, we know what her children should be.
    When one knows that he is his mother’s child, and proceeds to guard
    (the qualities of) the mother that belong to him, to the end of his
    life he will be free from all peril.

  3. Let him keep his mouth closed, and shut up the portals (of his
    nostrils), and all his life he will be exempt from laborious exertion.
    Let him keep his mouth open, and (spend his breath) in the promotion
    of his affairs, and all his life there will be no safety for him.

  4. The perception of what is small is (the secret of clear- sightedness;
    the guarding of what is soft and tender is (the secret of) strength.

  5. Who uses well his light,
    Reverting to its (source so) bright,
    Will from his body ward all blight,
    And hides the unchanging from men’s sight.

Chapter 53

  1. If I were suddenly to become known, and (put into a position to)
    conduct (a government) according to the Great Tao, what I should be
    most afraid of would be a boastful display.

  2. The great Tao (or way) is very level and easy; but people love
    the by-ways.

  3. Their court(-yards and buildings) shall be well kept, but their
    fields shall be ill-cultivated, and their granaries very empty. They
    shall wear elegant and ornamented robes, carry a sharp sword at their
    girdle, pamper themselves in eating and drinking, and have a superabundance
    of property and wealth;–such (princes) may be called robbers and
    boasters. This is contrary to the Tao surely!

Chapter 54

  1. What (Tao’s) skilful planter plants
    Can never be uptorn;
    What his skilful arms enfold,
    From him can ne’er be borne.
    Sons shall bring in lengthening line,
    Sacrifices to his shrine.

  2. Tao when nursed within one’s self,
    His vigour will make true;
    And where the family it rules
    What riches will accrue!
    The neighbourhood where it prevails
    In thriving will abound;
    And when ’tis seen throughout the state,
    Good fortune will be found.
    Employ it the kingdom o’er,
    And men thrive all around.

  3. In this way the effect will be seen in the person, by the observation
    of different cases; in the family; in the neighbourhood; in the state;
    and in the kingdom.

  4. How do I know that this effect is sure to hold thus all under the
    sky? By this (method of observation).

Chapter 55

  1. He who has in himself abundantly the attributes (of the Tao) is
    like an infant. Poisonous insects will not sting him; fierce beasts
    will not seize him; birds of prey will not strike him.

  2. (The infant’s) bones are weak and its sinews soft, but yet its
    grasp is firm. It knows not yet the union of male and female, and
    yet its virile member may be excited;–showing the perfection of its
    physical essence. All day long it will cry without its throat becoming
    hoarse;–showing the harmony (in its constitution).

  3. To him by whom this harmony is known,
    (The secret of) the unchanging (Tao) is shown,
    And in the knowledge wisdom finds its throne.
    All life-increasing arts to evil turn;
    Where the mind makes the vital breath to burn,
    (False) is the strength, (and o’er it we should mourn.)

  4. When things have become strong, they (then) become old, which may
    be said to be contrary to the Tao. Whatever is contrary to the Tao
    soon ends.

Chapter 56

  1. He who knows (the Tao) does not (care to) speak (about it); he
    who is (ever ready to) speak about it does not know it.

  2. He (who knows it) will keep his mouth shut and close the portals
    (of his nostrils). He will blunt his sharp points and unravel the
    complications of things; he will attemper his brightness, and bring
    himself into agreement with the obscurity (of others). This is called
    ‘the Mysterious Agreement.’

  3. (Such an one) cannot be treated familiarly or distantly; he is
    beyond all consideration of profit or injury; of nobility or meanness:–he
    is the noblest man under heaven.

Chapter 57

  1. A state may be ruled by (measures of) correction; weapons of war
    may be used with crafty dexterity; (but) the kingdom is made one’s
    own (only) by freedom from action and purpose.

  2. How do I know that it is so? By these facts:–In the kingdom the
    multiplication of prohibitive enactments increases the poverty of
    the people; the more implements to add to their profit that the people
    have, the greater disorder is there in the state and clan; the more
    acts of crafty dexterity that men possess, the more do strange contrivances
    appear; the more display there is of legislation, the more thieves
    and robbers there are.

  3. Therefore a sage has said, ‘I will do nothing (of purpose), and
    the people will be transformed of themselves; I will be fond of keeping
    still, and the people will of themselves become correct. I will take
    no trouble about it, and the people will of themselves become rich;
    I will manifest no ambition, and the people will of themselves attain
    to the primitive simplicity.’

Chapter 58

  1. The government that seems the most unwise,
    Oft goodness to the people best supplies;
    That which is meddling, touching everything,
    Will work but ill, and disappointment bring. Misery!–happiness is
    to be found by its side! Happiness!–misery lurks beneath it! Who
    knows what either will come to in the end?

  2. Shall we then dispense with correction? The (method of) correction
    shall by a turn become distortion, and the good in it shall by a turn
    become evil. The delusion of the people (on this point) has indeed
    subsisted for a long time.

  3. Therefore the sage is (like) a square which cuts no one (with its
    angles); (like) a corner which injures no one (with its sharpness).
    He is straightforward, but allows himself no license; he is bright,
    but does not dazzle.

Chapter 59

  1. For regulating the human (in our constitution) and rendering the
    (proper) service to the heavenly, there is nothing like moderation.

  2. It is only by this moderation that there is effected an early return
    (to man’s normal state). That early return is what I call the repeated
    accumulation of the attributes (of the Tao). With that repeated accumulation
    of those attributes, there comes the subjugation (of every obstacle
    to such return). Of this subjugation we know not what shall be the
    limit; and when one knows not what the limit shall be, he may be the
    ruler of a state.

  3. He who possesses the mother of the state may continue long. His
    case is like that (of the plant) of which we say that its roots are
    deep and its flower stalks firm:–this is the way to secure that its
    enduring life shall long be seen.

Chapter 60

  1. Governing a great state is like cooking small fish.

  2. Let the kingdom be governed according to the Tao, and the manes
    of the departed will not manifest their spiritual energy. It is not
    that those manes have not that spiritual energy, but it will not be
    employed to hurt men. It is not that it could not hurt men, but neither
    does the ruling sage hurt them.

  3. When these two do not injuriously affect each other, their good
    influences converge in the virtue (of the Tao).

Chapter 61

  1. What makes a great state is its being (like) a low-lying, down-
    flowing (stream);–it becomes the centre to which tend (all the small
    states) under heaven.

  2. (To illustrate from) the case of all females:–the female always
    overcomes the male by her stillness. Stillness may be considered (a
    sort of) abasement.

  3. Thus it is that a great state, by condescending to small states,
    gains them for itself; and that small states, by abasing themselves
    to a great state, win it over to them. In the one case the abasement
    leads to gaining adherents, in the other case to procuring favour.

  4. The great state only wishes to unite men together and nourish them;
    a small state only wishes to be received by, and to serve, the other.
    Each gets what it desires, but the great state must learn to abase
    itself.

Chapter 62

  1. Tao has of all things the most honoured place.
    No treasures give good men so rich a grace;
    Bad men it guards, and doth their ill efface.

  2. (Its) admirable words can purchase honour; (its) admirable deeds
    can raise their performer above others. Even men who are not good
    are not abandoned by it.

  3. Therefore when the sovereign occupies his place as the Son of Heaven,
    and he has appointed his three ducal ministers, though (a prince)
    were to send in a round symbol-of-rank large enough to fill both the
    hands, and that as the precursor of the team of horses (in the court-yard),
    such an offering would not be equal to (a lesson of) this Tao, which
    one might present on his knees.

  4. Why was it that the ancients prized this Tao so much? Was it not
    because it could be got by seeking for it, and the guilty could escape
    (from the stain of their guilt) by it? This is the reason why all
    under heaven consider it the most valuable thing.

Chapter 63

  1. (It is the way of the Tao) to act without (thinking of) acting;
    to conduct affairs without (feeling the) trouble of them; to taste
    without discerning any flavour; to consider what is small as great,
    and a few as many; and to recompense injury with kindness.

  2. (The master of it) anticipates things that are difficult while
    they are easy, and does things that would become great while they
    are small. All difficult things in the world are sure to arise from
    a previous state in which they were easy, and all great things from
    one in which they were small. Therefore the sage, while he never does
    what is great, is able on that account to accomplish the greatest
    things.

  3. He who lightly promises is sure to keep but little faith; he who
    is continually thinking things easy is sure to find them difficult.
    Therefore the sage sees difficulty even in what seems easy, and so
    never has any difficulties.

Chapter 64

  1. That which is at rest is easily kept hold of; before a thing has
    given indications of its presence, it is easy to take measures against
    it; that which is brittle is easily broken; that which is very small
    is easily dispersed. Action should be taken before a thing has made
    its appearance; order should be secured before disorder has begun.

  2. The tree which fills the arms grew from the tiniest sprout; the
    tower of nine storeys rose from a (small) heap of earth; the journey
    of a thousand li commenced with a single step.

  3. He who acts (with an ulterior purpose) does harm; he who takes
    hold of a thing (in the same way) loses his hold. The sage does not
    act (so), and therefore does no harm; he does not lay hold (so), and
    therefore does not lose his bold. (But) people in their conduct of
    affairs are constantly ruining them when they are on the eve of success.
    If they were careful at the end, as (they should be) at the beginning,
    they would not so ruin them.

  4. Therefore the sage desires what (other men) do not desire, and
    does not prize things difficult to get; he learns what (other men)
    do not learn, and turns back to what the multitude of men have passed
    by. Thus he helps the natural development of all things, and does
    not dare to act (with an ulterior purpose of his own).

Chapter 65

  1. The ancients who showed their skill in practising the Tao did so,
    not to enlighten the people, but rather to make them simple and ignorant.

  2. The difficulty in governing the people arises from their having
    much knowledge. He who (tries to) govern a state by his wisdom is
    a scourge to it; while he who does not (try to) do so is a blessing.

  3. He who knows these two things finds in them also his model and
    rule. Ability to know this model and rule constitutes what we call
    the mysterious excellence (of a governor). Deep and far-reaching is
    such mysterious excellence, showing indeed its possessor as opposite
    to others, but leading them to a great conformity to him.

Chapter 66

  1. That whereby the rivers and seas are able to receive the homage
    and tribute of all the valley streams, is their skill in being lower
    than they;–it is thus that they are the kings of them all. So it
    is that the sage (ruler), wishing to be above men, puts himself by
    his words below them, and, wishing to be before them, places his person
    behind them.

  2. In this way though he has his place above them, men do not feel
    his weight, nor though he has his place before them, do they feel
    it an injury to them.

  3. Therefore all in the world delight to exalt him and do not weary
    of him. Because he does not strive, no one finds it possible to strive
    with him.

Chapter 67

  1. All the world says that, while my Tao is great, it yet appears
    to be inferior (to other systems of teaching). Now it is just its
    greatness that makes it seem to be inferior. If it were like any other
    (system), for long would its smallness have been known!

  2. But I have three precious things which I prize and hold fast. The
    first is gentleness; the second is economy; and the third is shrinking
    from taking precedence of others.

  3. With that gentleness I can be bold; with that economy I can be
    liberal; shrinking from taking precedence of others, I can become
    a vessel of the highest honour. Now-a-days they give up gentleness
    and are all for being bold; economy, and are all for being liberal;
    the hindmost place, and seek only to be foremost;–(of all which the
    end is) death.

  4. Gentleness is sure to be victorious even in battle, and firmly
    to maintain its ground. Heaven will save its possessor, by his (very)
    gentleness protecting him.

Chapter 68

He who in (Tao’s) wars has skill
Assumes no martial port;
He who fights with most good will
To rage makes no resort.
He who vanquishes yet still
Keeps from his foes apart;
He whose hests men most fulfil
Yet humbly plies his art.

Thus we say, ‘He ne’er contends,
And therein is his might.’
Thus we say, ‘Men’s wills he bends,
That they with him unite.’
Thus we say, ‘Like Heaven’s his ends,
No sage of old more bright.’

Chapter 69

  1. A master of the art of war has said, ‘I do not dare to be the host
    (to commence the war); I prefer to be the guest (to act on the defensive).
    I do not dare to advance an inch; I prefer to retire a foot.’ This
    is called marshalling the ranks where there are no ranks; baring the
    arms (to fight) where there are no arms to bare; grasping the weapon
    where there is no weapon to grasp; advancing against the enemy where
    there is no enemy.

  2. There is no calamity greater than lightly engaging in war. To do
    that is near losing (the gentleness) which is so precious. Thus it
    is that when opposing weapons are (actually) crossed, he who deplores
    (the situation) conquers.

Chapter 70

  1. My words are very easy to know, and very easy to practise; but
    there is no one in the world who is able to know and able to practise
    them.

  2. There is an originating and all-comprehending (principle) in my
    words, and an authoritative law for the things (which I enforce).
    It is because they do not know these, that men do not know me.

  3. They who know me are few, and I am on that account (the more) to
    be prized. It is thus that the sage wears (a poor garb of) hair cloth,
    while he carries his (signet of) jade in his bosom.

Chapter 71

  1. To know and yet (think) we do not know is the highest (attainment);
    not to know (and yet think) we do know is a disease.

  2. It is simply by being pained at (the thought of) having this disease
    that we are preserved from it. The sage has not the disease. He knows
    the pain that would be inseparable from it, and therefore he does
    not have it.

Chapter 72

  1. When the people do not fear what they ought to fear, that which
    is their great dread will come on them.

  2. Let them not thoughtlessly indulge themselves in their ordinary
    life; let them not act as if weary of what that life depends on.

  3. It is by avoiding such indulgence that such weariness does not
    arise.

  4. Therefore the sage knows (these things) of himself, but does not
    parade (his knowledge); loves, but does not (appear to set a) value
    on, himself. And thus he puts the latter alternative away and makes
    choice of the former.

Chapter 73

  1. He whose boldness appears in his daring (to do wrong, in defiance
    of the laws) is put to death; he whose boldness appears in his not
    daring (to do so) lives on. Of these two cases the one appears to
    be advantageous, and the other to be injurious. But

When Heaven’s anger smites a man,
Who the cause shall truly scan? On this account the sage feels a difficulty
(as to what to do in the former case).

  1. It is the way of Heaven not to strive, and yet it skilfully overcomes;
    not to speak, and yet it is skilful in (obtaining a reply; does not
    call, and yet men come to it of themselves. Its demonstrations are
    quiet, and yet its plans are skilful and effective. The meshes of
    the net of Heaven are large; far apart, but letting nothing escape.

Chapter 74

  1. The people do not fear death; to what purpose is it to (try to)
    frighten them with death? If the people were always in awe of death,
    and I could always seize those who do wrong, and put them to death,
    who would dare to do wrong?

  2. There is always One who presides over the infliction death. He
    who would inflict death in the room of him who so presides over it
    may be described as hewing wood instead of a great carpenter. Seldom
    is it that he who undertakes the hewing, instead of the great carpenter,
    does not cut his own hands!

Chapter 75

  1. The people suffer from famine because of the multitude of taxes
    consumed by their superiors. It is through this that they suffer famine.

  2. The people are difficult to govern because of the (excessive) agency
    of their superiors (in governing them). It is through this that they
    are difficult to govern.

  3. The people make light of dying because of the greatness of their
    labours in seeking for the means of living. It is this which makes
    them think light of dying. Thus it is that to leave the subject of
    living altogether out of view is better than to set a high value on
    it.

Chapter 76

  1. Man at his birth is supple and weak; at his death, firm and strong.
    (So it is with) all things. Trees and plants, in their early growth,
    are soft and brittle; at their death, dry and withered.

  2. Thus it is that firmness and strength are the concomitants of death;
    softness and weakness, the concomitants of life.

  3. Hence he who (relies on) the strength of his forces does not conquer;
    and a tree which is strong will fill the out-stretched arms, (and
    thereby invites the feller.)

  4. Therefore the place of what is firm and strong is below, and that
    of what is soft and weak is above.

Chapter 77

  1. May not the Way (or Tao) of Heaven be compared to the (method of)
    bending a bow? The (part of the bow) which was high is brought low,
    and what was low is raised up. (So Heaven) diminishes where there
    is superabundance, and supplements where there is deficiency.

  2. It is the Way of Heaven to diminish superabundance, and to supplement
    deficiency. It is not so with the way of man. He takes away from those
    who have not enough to add to his own superabundance.

  3. Who can take his own superabundance and therewith serve all under
    heaven? Only he who is in possession of the Tao!

  4. Therefore the (ruling) sage acts without claiming the results as
    his; he achieves his merit and does not rest (arrogantly) in it:–he
    does not wish to display his superiority.

Chapter 78

  1. There is nothing in the world more soft and weak than water, and
    yet for attacking things that are firm and strong there is nothing
    that can take precedence of it;–for there is nothing (so effectual)
    for which it can be changed.

  2. Every one in the world knows that the soft overcomes the hard,
    and the weak the strong, but no one is able to carry it out in practice.

  3. Therefore a sage has said,
    ‘He who accepts his state’s reproach,
    Is hailed therefore its altars’ lord;
    To him who bears men’s direful woes
    They all the name of King accord.’

  4. Words that are strictly true seem to be paradoxical.

Chapter 79

  1. When a reconciliation is effected (between two parties) after a
    great animosity, there is sure to be a grudge remaining (in the mind
    of the one who was wrong). And how can this be beneficial (to the
    other)?

  2. Therefore (to guard against this), the sage keeps the left-hand
    portion of the record of the engagement, and does not insist on the
    (speedy) fulfilment of it by the other party. (So), he who has the
    attributes (of the Tao) regards (only) the conditions of the engagement,
    while he who has not those attributes regards only the conditions
    favourable to himself.

  3. In the Way of Heaven, there is no partiality of love; it is always
    on the side of the good man.

Chapter 80

  1. In a little state with a small population, I would so order it,
    that, though there were individuals with the abilities of ten or a
    hundred men, there should be no employment of them; I would make the
    people, while looking on death as a grievous thing, yet not remove
    elsewhere (to avoid it).

  2. Though they had boats and carriages, they should have no occasion
    to ride in them; though they had buff coats and sharp weapons, they
    should have no occasion to don or use them.

  3. I would make the people return to the use of knotted cords (instead
    of the written characters).

  4. They should think their (coarse) food sweet; their (plain) clothes
    beautiful; their (poor) dwellings places of rest; and their common
    (simple) ways sources of enjoyment.

  5. There should be a neighbouring state within sight, and the voices
    of the fowls and dogs should be heard all the way from it to us, but
    I would make the people to old age, even to death, not have any intercourse
    with it.

Chapter 81

  1. Sincere words are not fine; fine words are not sincere. Those who
    are skilled (in the Tao) do not dispute (about it); the disputatious
    are not skilled in it. Those who know (the Tao) are not extensively
    learned; the extensively learned do not know it.

  2. The sage does not accumulate (for himself). The more that he expends
    for others, the more does he possess of his own; the more that he
    gives to others, the more does he have himself.

  3. With all the sharpness of the Way of Heaven, it injures not; with
    all the doing in the way of the sage he does not strive.

THE END


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