Chapter 27 Dexterity in using the Dao

善行無轍迹,善言無瑕讁;善數不用籌策;善閉無關楗而不可開,善結無繩約而不可解。是以聖人常善救人,故無棄人;常善救物,故無棄物。是謂襲明。故善人者,不善人之師;不善人者,善人之資。不貴其師,不愛其資,雖智大迷,是謂要妙。 1. The skilful traveler 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 […]

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Chapter 47 Surveying what is far-off

不出戶知天下;不闚牖見天道。其出彌遠,其知彌少。是以聖人不行而知,不見而名,不為而成。 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 traveling; gave their (right) names to things […]

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Chapter 14 The manifestation of the mystery

視之不見,名曰夷;聽之不聞,名曰希;搏之不得,名曰微。此三者不可致詰,故混而為一。其上不皦,其下不昧。繩繩不可名,復歸於無物。是謂無狀之狀,無物之象,是謂惚恍。迎之不見其首,隨之不見其後。執古之道,以御今之有。能知古始,是謂道紀。 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 […]

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Chapter 42 The transformations of the Dao

道生一,一生二,二生三,三生萬物。萬物負陰而抱陽,沖氣以為和。人之所惡,唯孤、寡、不穀,而王公以為稱。故物或損之而益,或益之而損。人之所教,我亦教之。強梁者不得其死,吾將以為教父。 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 harmonized by the Breath of Vacancy. 2. What men dislike is […]

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Chapter 16 Returning to the root

致虛極,守靜篤。萬物並作,吾以觀復。夫物芸芸,各復歸其根。歸根曰靜,是謂復命。復命曰常,知常曰明。不知常,妄作凶。知常容,容乃公,公乃王,王乃天,天乃道,道乃久,沒身不殆。 1. The (state of) vacancy should be brought to the utmost degree, and that of stillness guarded with unwearying vigor. 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 […]

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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 68 Matching heaven

善為士者,不武;善戰者,不怒;善勝敵者,不與;善用人者,為之下。是謂不爭之德,是謂用人之力,是謂配天古之極。 He who in (Dao’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 fulfill Yet humbly plies his art. Thus we say, ‘He ne’er contends, And therein is his […]

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Chapter 45 Great or overflowing virtue

大成若缺,其用不弊。大盈若沖,其用不窮。大直若屈,大巧若拙,大辯若訥。躁勝寒靜勝熱。清靜為天下正。 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 […]

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Chapter 21 The empty heart, or the Dao in its operation

孔德之容,唯道是從。道之為物,唯恍唯惚。忽兮恍兮,其中有象;恍兮忽兮,其中有物。窈兮冥兮,其中有精;其精甚真,其中有信。自古及今,其名不去,以閱衆甫。吾何以知衆甫之狀哉?以此。 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 […]

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Chapter 41 Sameness and Difference

上士聞道,勤而行之;中士聞道,若存若亡;下士聞道,大笑之。不笑不足以為道。故建言有之:明道若昧;進道若退;夷道若纇;上德若谷;太白若辱;廣德若不足;建德若偷;質真若渝;大方無隅;大器晚成;大音希聲;大象無形;道隱無名。夫唯道,善貸且成。 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 […]

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