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 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 28 Returning to simplicity

知其雄,守其雌,為天下谿。為天下谿,常德不離,復歸於嬰兒。知其白,守其黑,為天下式。為天下式,常德不忒,復歸於無極。知其榮,守其辱,為天下谷。為天下谷,常德乃足,復歸於樸。樸散則為器,聖人用之,則為官長,故大制不割。 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 […]

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Chapter 25 Representations of the mystery

有物混成,先天地生。寂兮寥兮,獨立不改,周行而不殆,可以為天下母。吾不知其名,字之曰道,強為之名曰大。大曰逝,逝曰遠,遠曰反。故道大,天大,地大,王亦大。域中有四大,而王居其一焉。人法地,地法天,天法道,道法自然。 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 […]

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Chapter 32 The Dao with no name

道常無名。 樸雖小,1天下莫能臣也。侯王若能守之,萬物將自賓。天地相合,以降甘露,民莫之令而自均。始制有名,名亦既有,夫亦將知止,知止所以不殆。譬道之在天下,猶川谷之於江海。 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 […]

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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 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 17 The unadulterated influence

太上,下知有之;其次,親而譽之;其次,畏之;其次,侮之。信不足,焉有不信焉。悠兮,其貴言。功成事遂,百姓皆謂我自然。 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 […]

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Chapter 7 Sheathing the light

天長地久。天地所以能長且久者,以其不自生,故能長生。是以聖人後其身而身先;外其身而身存。非以其無私耶?故能成其私。 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 […]

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Chapter 13 Loathing shame

寵辱若驚,貴大患若身。何謂寵辱若驚?寵為下,得之若驚,失之若驚,是謂寵辱若驚。何謂貴大患若身?吾所以有大患者,為吾有身,及吾無身,吾有何患?故貴以身為天下,若可寄天下;愛以身為天下,若可託天下。 1. Favor and disgrace would seem equally to be feared; honor and great calamity, to be regarded as personal conditions (of the same kind). 2. What is meant by speaking thus of favor and disgrace? Disgrace is being in a low position (after the enjoyment of favor). The getting that (favor) leads to the […]

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