Chapter 65 Pure, unmixed excellence

古之善為道者,非以明民,將以愚之。民之難治,以其智多。故以智治國,國之賊;不以智治國,國之福。知此兩者亦 1. The ancients who showed their skill in practicing the Dao did so, not to enlighten the people, but rather to make them simple and ignorant. 2. The difficulty in governing the people arises from their having much knowledge. He who (tries to) govern a state by his wisdom is a scourge to it; […]

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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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Chapter 81 The manifestation of simplicity

信言不美,美言不信。善者不辯,辯者不善。知者不博,博者不知。聖人不積,既以為人己愈有,既以與人己愈多。天之道,利而不害;聖人之道,為而不爭。 1. Sincere words are not fine; fine words are not sincere. Those who are skilled (in the Tao) do not dispute (about it); the disputatious are not skilled in it. Those who know (the Tao) are not extensively learned; the extensively learned do not know it. 2. The sage does not accumulate (for himself). […]

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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 52 Returning to the source

天下有始,以為天下母。既知其母,復知其子,既知其子,復守其母,沒其不殆。塞其兌,閉其門,終身不勤。開其兌,濟其事,終身不救。見小曰明,守柔曰強。用其光,復歸其明,無遺身殃;是為習常。 1. (The Tao) which originated all under the sky is to be considered as the mother of them all. 2. When the mother is found, we know what her children should be. When one knows that he is his mother’s child, and proceeds to guard (the qualities of) the mother that belong to him, […]

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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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Chapter 49 The quality of indulgence

聖人無常心,以百姓心為心。善者,吾善之;不善者,吾亦善之;德善。信者,吾信之;不信者,吾亦信之;德信。聖人在天下,歙歙為天下渾其心,百姓皆注其耳目,聖人皆孩之。 1. The sage has no invariable mind of his own; he makes the mind of the people his mind. 2. To those who are good (to me), I am good; and to those who are not good (to me), I am also good; — and thus (all) get to be good. To those who […]

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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 68 Matching heaven

善為士者,不武;善戰者,不怒;善勝敵者,不與;善用人者,為之下。是謂不爭之德,是謂用人之力,是謂配天古之極。 He who in (Dao’s) wars has skill Assumes no martial port; He who fights with most good will To rage makes no resort. He who vanquishes yet still Keeps from his foes apart; He whose hests men most fulfill Yet humbly plies his art. Thus we say, ‘He ne’er contends, And therein is his […]

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Chapter 61 The attribute of humility

大國者下流,天下之交,天下之牝。牝常以靜勝牡,以靜為下。故大國以下小國,則取小國;小國以下大國,則取大國。故或下以取,或下而取。大國不過欲兼畜人,小國不過欲入事人。夫兩者各得其所欲,大者宜為下。 1. What makes a great state is its being (like) a low-lying, down- flowing (stream); — it becomes the center to which tend (all the small states) under heaven. 2. (To illustrate from) the case of all females: — the female always overcomes the male by her stillness. Stillness may be considered (a sort […]

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