Chapter 1 Embodying the Dao

道 可道,非常道。名可名,非常名。無名天地之始;有名萬物之母。故常無欲,以觀其妙;常有欲,以觀其徼。此兩者,同出而異名,同謂之玄。玄之又玄,衆妙之門。 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 […]

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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 20 Being different from ordinary men

絕學無憂,唯之與阿,相去幾何?善之與惡,相去若 何?人之所畏,不可不畏。荒兮其未央哉!衆人熙熙,如享太牢,如春登臺。我獨怕兮其未兆;如嬰兒之未孩;儽儽兮若無所歸。衆人皆有餘,而我獨若遺。我愚人 之心也哉!沌沌兮,俗人昭昭,我獨若昏。俗人察察,我獨悶悶。澹兮其若海,飂兮若無止,衆人皆有以,而我獨頑似鄙。我獨異於人,而貴食母。 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 […]

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Chapter 22 The increase granted to humility

曲則全,枉則直,窪則盈,弊則新,少則得,多則惑。是以聖人抱一為天下式。不自見,故明;不自是,故彰;不自伐,故有功;不自矜,故長。夫唯不爭,故天下莫能與之爭。古之所謂曲則全者,豈虛言哉!誠全而歸之。 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- […]

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Chapter 37 The exercise of government

道常無為而無不為。侯王若能守之,萬物將自化。化而欲作,吾將鎮之以無名之樸。無名之樸,夫亦將無欲。不欲以靜,天下將自定。 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 […]

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Chapter 6 The completion of material forms

谷神不死,是謂玄牝。玄牝之門,是謂天地根。綿綿若存,用之不勤。 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.

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Chapter 35 The attribute of benevolence

執大象,天下往。往而不害,安平大。樂與餌,過客止。道之出口,淡乎其無味,視之不足見,聽之不足聞,用之不足既。 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 […]

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Chapter 36 Minimizing the light

將欲歙之,必固張之;將欲弱之,必固強之;將欲廢之,必固興之;將欲奪之,必固與之。是謂微明。柔弱勝剛強。魚不可脫於淵,國之利器不可以示人。 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 […]

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Chapter 29 Taking no action

將欲取天下而為之,吾見其不得已。天下神器,不可為也,為者敗之,執者失之。故物或行或隨;或歔或吹;或強或羸;或挫或隳。是以聖人去甚,去奢,去泰。 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 […]

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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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