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 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 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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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 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 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 10 Possibilities through the Dao

載營魄抱一,能無離乎?專氣致柔,能嬰兒乎?滌除玄覽,能無疵乎?愛民治國,能無知乎?天門開闔,能為雌乎?明白四達,能無知乎?生之、畜之,生而不有,為而不恃,長而不宰,是謂玄德。 1. When the intelligent and animal souls are held together in one embrace, they can be kept from separating. When one gives undivided attention to the (vital) breath, and brings it to the utmost degree of pliancy, he can become as a (tender) babe. When he has cleansed away the most mysterious sights (of […]

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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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Chapter 79 Adherence to bond or covenant

和大怨,必有餘怨;安可以為善?是以聖人執左契,而不責於人。有德司契,無德司徹。天道無親,常與善人。 1. When a reconciliation is effected (between two parties) after a great animosity, there is sure to be a grudge remaining (in the mind of the one who was wrong). And how can this be beneficial (to the other)? 2. Therefore (to guard against this), the sage keeps the left-hand portion of the record […]

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Chapter 11 The use of what has no substantive existence

三十輻,共一轂,當其無,有車之用。埏埴以為器,當其無,有器之用。鑿戶牖以為室,當其無,有室之用。故有之以為利,無之以為用。 The thirty spokes unite in the one nave; but it is on the empty space (for the axle), that the use of the wheel depends. Clay is fashioned into vessels; but it is on their empty hollowness, that their use depends. The door and windows are cut out (from the walls) to form an […]

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