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 26 The quality of gravity

重為輕根,靜為躁君。是以聖人終日行不離輜重。雖有榮觀,燕處超然。奈何萬乘之主,而以身輕天下?輕則失本,躁則失君。 1. Gravity is the root of lightness; stillness, the ruler of movement. 2. Therefore a wise prince, marching the whole day, does not go far from his baggage wagons. Although he may have brilliant prospects to look at, he quietly remains (in his proper place), indifferent to them. How should the lord of a […]

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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 18 The decay of manners

大道廢,有仁義;智慧出,有大偽;六親不和,有孝慈;國家昏亂,有忠臣。 1. When the Great Tao (Way or Method) ceased to be observed, benevolence and righteousness came into vogue. (Then) appeared wisdom and shrewdness, and there ensued great hypocrisy. 2. When harmony no longer prevailed throughout the six kinships, filial sons found their manifestation; when the states and clans fell into disorder, loyal ministers appeared.

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Chapter 30 A caveat against war

以道佐人主者,不以兵強天下。其事好還。師之所處,荊棘生焉。大軍之後,必有凶年。善有果而已,不敢以取強。果而勿矜,果而勿伐,果而勿驕。果而不得已,果而勿強。物壯則老,是謂不道,不道早已。 1. He who would assist a lord of men in harmony with the Tao will not assert his mastery in the kingdom by force of arms. Such a course is sure to meet with its proper return. 2. Wherever a host is stationed, briars and thorns spring up. In the sequence of great armies […]

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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 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 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 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 4 The fountainless

道沖而用之或不盈。淵兮似萬物之宗。挫其銳,解其紛,和其光,同其塵。湛兮似或存。吾不知誰之子,象帝之先。 1. The Tao is (like) the emptiness of a vessel; and in our employment of it we must be on our guard against all fulness. How deep and unfathomable it is, as if it were the Honoured Ancestor of all things! 2. We should blunt our sharp points, and unravel the complications of things; […]

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