Chapter 70 The difficulty of being (rightly) known

吾言甚易知,甚易行。天下莫能知,莫能行。言有宗,事有君。夫唯無知,是以不我知。知我者希,則我者貴。是以聖人被褐懷玉。 1. My words are very easy to know, and very easy to practice; but there is no one in the world who is able to know and able to practice them. 2. There is an originating and all-comprehending (principle) in my words, and an authoritative law for the things (which I enforce). It is […]

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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 48 Forgetting Knowledge

為學日益,為道日損。損之又損,以至於無為。無為而無不為。取天下常以無事,及其有事,不足以取天下。 1. He who devotes himself to learning (seeks) from day to day to increase (his knowledge); he who devotes himself to the Tao (seeks) from day to day to diminish (his doing). 2. He diminishes it and again diminishes it, till he arrives at doing nothing (on purpose). Having arrived at this point of […]

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Chapter 38 About the attributes of the Dao

Canto 2, Te The Book of Virtue PART 2 上德不德,是以有德;下德不失德,是以無德。上德無為而 無以為;下德為之而有以為。上仁為之而無以為;上義為之而有以為。上禮為之而莫之應,則攘臂而扔之。故失道而後德,失德而後仁,失仁而後義,失義而後禮。 夫禮者,忠信之薄,而亂之首。前識者,道之華,而愚之始。是以大丈夫處其厚,不居其薄;處其實,不居其華。故去彼取此。 38. 1. (Those who) possessed in highest degree the attributes (of the Tao) did not (seek) to show them, and therefore they possessed them (in fullest measure). (Those who) possessed in a lower degree those attributes (sought how) not to lose them, and […]

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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 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 41 Sameness and Difference

上士聞道,勤而行之;中士聞道,若存若亡;下士聞道,大笑之。不笑不足以為道。故建言有之:明道若昧;進道若退;夷道若纇;上德若谷;太白若辱;廣德若不足;建德若偷;質真若渝;大方無隅;大器晚成;大音希聲;大象無形;道隱無名。夫唯道,善貸且成。 1. Scholars of the highest class, when they hear about the Tao, earnestly carry it into practice. Scholars of the middle class, when they have heard about it, seem now to keep it and now to lose it. Scholars of the lowest class, when they have heard about it, laugh greatly at it. If […]

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Chapter 56 The mysterious excellence

知者不言,言者不知。塞其兑,閉其門,挫其銳,解其分,和其光,同其塵,是謂玄同。故不可得而親,不可得而踈;不可得而利,不可得而害;不可得而貴,不可得而賤。故為天下貴。 1. He who knows (the Tao) does not (care to) speak (about it); he who is (ever ready to) speak about it does not know it. 2. He (who knows it) will keep his mouth shut and close the portals (of his nostrils). He will blunt his sharp points and unravel the complications of […]

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Chapter 76 A warning against (trusting in) strength

人之生也柔弱,其死也堅強。萬物草木之生也柔脆,其死也枯槁。故堅強者死之徒,柔弱者生之徒。是以兵強則不勝,木強則共。強大處下,柔弱處上。 1. Man at his birth is supple and weak; at his death, firm and strong. (So it is with) all things. Trees and plants, in their early growth, are soft and brittle; at their death, dry and withered. 2. Thus it is that firmness and strength are the concomitants of death; softness and weakness, […]

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Chapter 39 The origin of the law

昔之得一者:天得一以清;地得一以寧;神得一以靈;谷得一以盈;萬物得一以生;侯 王得一以為天下貞。其致之,天無以清,將恐裂;地無以寧,將恐發;神無以靈,將恐歇;谷無以盈,將恐竭;萬物無以生,將恐滅;侯王無以貴高將恐蹶。故貴以 賤為本,高以下為基。是以侯王自稱孤、寡、不穀。此非以賤為本耶?非乎?故致數譽無譽。不欲琭琭如玉,珞珞如石。 1. The things which from of old have got the One (the Tao) are — Heaven which by it is bright and pure; Earth rendered thereby firm and sure; Spirits with powers by it supplied; Valleys kept full throughout their void All creatures which through it do live Princes and kings who […]

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