Chapter 69 The use of the mysterious (Dao)

用兵有言:吾不敢為主,而為客;不敢進寸,而退尺。是謂行無行;攘無臂;扔無敵;執無兵。禍莫大於輕敵,輕敵幾喪吾寶。故抗兵相加,哀者勝矣。 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 marshaling the ranks where […]

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Chapter 10 Possibilities through the Dao

載營魄抱一,能無離乎?專氣致柔,能嬰兒乎?滌除玄覽,能無疵乎?愛民治國,能無知乎?天門開闔,能為雌乎?明白四達,能無知乎?生之、畜之,生而不有,為而不恃,長而不宰,是謂玄德。 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 […]

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Chapter 63 Thinking in the beginning

為無為,事無事,味無味。大小多少,報怨以德。圖難於其易,為大於其細;天下難事,必作於易,天下大事,必作於細。是以聖人終不為大,故能成其大。夫輕諾必寡信,多易必多難。是以聖人猶難之,故終無難矣。 1. (It is the way of the Dao) to act without (thinking of) acting; to conduct affairs without (feeling the) trouble of them; to taste without discerning any flavor; 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 […]

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Chapter 55 The mysterious charm

含德之厚,比於赤子。蜂蠆虺蛇不螫,猛獸不據,攫鳥不搏。骨弱筋柔而握固。未知牝牡之合而全作,精之至也。終日號而不嗄,和之至也。知和曰常,知常曰明,益生曰祥。心使氣曰強。物壯則老,謂之不道,不道早已。 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 […]

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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 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 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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Chapter 71 The disease of knowing

知不知上;不知知病。夫唯病病,是以不病。聖人不病,以其病病,是以不病。 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 […]

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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 34 The task of achievement

大道汎兮,其可左右。萬物恃之而生而不辭,功成不名有。衣養萬物而不為主,常無欲,可名於小;萬物歸焉,而不為主,可名為大。以其終不自為大,故能成其大。 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 […]

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