Chapter 9 Fullness and complacency contrary to the Dao

持而盈之,不如其已;揣而銳之,不可長保。金玉滿堂,莫之能守;富貴而驕,自遺其咎。功遂身退天之道。 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 honors […]

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Chapter 2 The nourishment of the person

天下皆知美之為美,斯惡已。皆知善之為善,斯不善已。故有無相生,難易相成,長短相較,高下相傾,音聲相和,前後相隨。是以聖人處無為之事,行不言之教;萬物作焉而不辭,生而不有。為而不恃,功成而弗居。夫唯弗居,是以不去。 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 […]

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Chapter 31 Stilling war

夫佳兵者,不祥之器,物或惡之,故有道者不處。君子居則貴左,用兵則貴右。兵者不祥之器,非君子 之器,不得已而用之,恬淡為上。勝而不美,而美之者,是樂殺人。夫樂殺人者,則不可以得志於天下矣。吉事尚左,凶事尚右。偏將軍居左,上將軍居右,言以喪 禮處之。殺人之衆,以哀悲泣之,戰勝以喪禮處之。 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 […]

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Chapter 66 Putting one’s self last

江海所以能為百谷王者,以其善下之,故能為百谷王。是以聖人欲上民,必以言下之;欲先民,必以身後之。是以聖人處上而民不重,處前而民不害。是以天下樂推而不厭。以其不爭,故天下莫能與之爭。 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 […]

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Chapter 52 Returning to the source

天下有始,以為天下母。既知其母,復知其子,既知其子,復守其母,沒其不殆。塞其兌,閉其門,終身不勤。開其兌,濟其事,終身不救。見小曰明,守柔曰強。用其光,復歸其明,無遺身殃;是為習常。 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, […]

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Chapter 65 Pure, unmixed excellence

古之善為道者,非以明民,將以愚之。民之難治,以其智多。故以智治國,國之賊;不以智治國,國之福。知此兩者亦 1. The ancients who showed their skill in practicing the Dao 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; […]

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