Chapter 74 Restraining delusion

民不畏死,奈何以死懼之?若使民常畏死,而為奇者,吾得執而殺之,孰敢?常有司殺者殺。夫司殺者,是大匠斲,夫代大匠斲者,希有不傷其手矣。 1. The people do not fear death; to what purpose is it to (try to) frighten them with death? If the people were always in awe of death, and I could always seize those who do wrong, and put them to death, who would dare to do wrong? 2. There is always One who […]

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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 72 Loving one’s self

民不畏威,則大威至。無狎其所居,無厭其所生。夫唯不厭,是以不厭。是以聖人自知不自見;自愛不自貴。故去彼取此。 1. When the people do not fear what they ought to fear, that which is their great dread will come on them. 2. Let them not thoughtlessly indulge themselves in their ordinary life; let them not act as if weary of what that life depends on. 3. It is by avoiding such indulgence that […]

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Chapter 67 Three precious things

天下皆謂我道大,似不肖。夫唯大,故似不肖。若肖久矣。其細也夫!我有三寶,持而保之。一曰慈,二曰儉,三曰不敢為天下先。慈故能勇;儉故能廣;不敢為天下先,故能成器長。今舍慈且勇;舍儉且廣;舍後且先;死矣!夫慈以戰則勝,以守則固。天將救之,以慈衛之。 1. All the world says that, while my Tao is great, it yet appears to be inferior (to other systems of teaching). Now it is just its greatness that makes it seem to be inferior. If it were like any other (system), for long would its smallness have been known! 2. But I have […]

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Chapter 80 Standing alone

小國寡民。使有什伯之器而不用;使民重死而不遠徙。雖有舟輿,無所乘之,雖有甲兵,無所陳之。使民復結繩而用之,甘其食,美其服,安其居,樂其俗。鄰國相望,雞犬之聲相聞,民至老死,不相往來。 1. In a little state with a small population, I would so order it, that, though there were individuals with the abilities of ten or a hundred men, there should be no employment of them; I would make the people, while looking on death as a grievous thing, yet not remove elsewhere (to avoid […]

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Chapter 50 The value set on life

出生入死。生之徒,十有三;死之徒,十有三;人之生,動之死地,十有三。夫何故?以其生,生之厚。蓋聞善攝生者,陸行不遇兕虎,入軍不被甲兵;兕無所投其角,虎無所措其爪,兵無所容其刃。夫何故?以其無死地。 1. Men come forth and live; they enter (again) and die. 2. Of every ten three are ministers of life (to themselves); and three are ministers of death. 3. There are also three in every ten whose aim is to live, but whose movements tend to the land (or place) of death. And for […]

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Chapter 78 Things to be believed

天下莫柔弱於水,而攻堅強者莫之能勝,其無以易之。弱之勝強,柔之勝剛,天下莫不知,莫能行。是以聖人云:受國之垢,是謂社稷主;受國不祥,是謂天下王。正言若反。 1. There is nothing in the world more soft and weak than water, and yet for attacking things that are firm and strong there is nothing that can take precedence of it; — for there is nothing (so effectual) for which it can be changed. 2. Every one in the world knows that the […]

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Chapter 53 Increase of evidence

使我介然有知,行於大道,唯施是畏。大道甚夷,而民好徑。朝甚除,田甚蕪,倉甚虛;服文綵,帶利劍,厭飲食,財貨有餘;是謂盜夸。非道也哉! 1. If I were suddenly to become known, and (put into a position to) conduct (a government) according to the Great Tao, what I should be most afraid of would be a boastful display. 2. The great Tao (or way) is very level and easy; but people love the by-ways. 3. Their court(-yards and […]

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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 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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