Chapter 15 The exhibition of the qualities of the Dao

古之善為士者,微妙玄通,深不可識。夫唯不可識,故強為之容。豫兮若冬涉川;猶兮若畏四鄰;儼兮其若容;渙兮若冰之將釋;敦兮其若樸;曠兮其若谷;混兮其若濁;孰能濁以靜之徐清?孰能安以久動之徐生?保此道者,不欲盈。夫唯不盈,故能蔽不新成。 1. The skilful masters (of the Tao) in old times, with a subtle and exquisite penetration, comprehended its mysteries, and were deep (also) so as to elude men’s knowledge. As they were thus beyond men’s knowledge, I will make an effort to describe of what sort they appeared to be. 2. Shrinking looked they […]

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Chapter 20 Being different from ordinary men

絕學無憂,唯之與阿,相去幾何?善之與惡,相去若 何?人之所畏,不可不畏。荒兮其未央哉!衆人熙熙,如享太牢,如春登臺。我獨怕兮其未兆;如嬰兒之未孩;儽儽兮若無所歸。衆人皆有餘,而我獨若遺。我愚人 之心也哉!沌沌兮,俗人昭昭,我獨若昏。俗人察察,我獨悶悶。澹兮其若海,飂兮若無止,衆人皆有以,而我獨頑似鄙。我獨異於人,而貴食母。 1. When we renounce learning we have no troubles. The (ready) ‘yes,’ and (flattering) ‘yea;’ — Small is the difference they display. But mark their issues, good and ill; — What space the gulf between shall fill? What all men fear is indeed to be feared; but how wide and without end […]

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Chapter 44 Cautions

名與身孰親?身與貨孰多?得與亡孰病?是故甚愛必大費;多藏必厚亡。知足不辱,知止不殆,可以長久。 1. Or fame or life, Which do you hold more dear? Or life or wealth, To which would you adhere? Keep life and lose those other things; Keep them and lose your life: — which brings Sorrow and pain more near? 2. Thus we may see, Who cleaves to fame Rejects what is more […]

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Chapter 8 The placid and contented nature

上善若水。水善利萬物而不爭,處衆人之所惡,故幾於道。居善地,心善淵,與善仁,言善信,正善治,事善能,動善時。夫唯不爭,故無尤。 1. The highest excellence is like (that of) water. The excellence of water appears in its benefiting all things, and in its occupying, without striving (to the contrary), the low place which all men dislike. Hence (its way) is near to (that of) the Tao. 2. The excellence of a residence is in (the […]

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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 73 Allowing men to take their course

勇於敢則殺,勇於不敢則活。此兩者,或利或害。天之所惡,孰知其故?是以聖人猶難之。天之道,不爭而善勝,不言而善應,不召而自來,繟然而善謀。天網恢恢,踈而不失。 1. He whose boldness appears in his daring (to do wrong, in defiance of the laws) is put to death; he whose boldness appears in his not daring (to do so) lives on. Of these two cases the one appears to be advantageous, and the other to be injurious. But When Heaven’s anger smites […]

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Chapter 71 The disease of knowing

知不知上;不知知病。夫唯病病,是以不病。聖人不病,以其病病,是以不病。 1. To know and yet (think) we do not know is the highest (attainment); not to know (and yet think) we do know is a disease. 2. It is simply by being pained at (the thought of) having this disease that we are preserved from it. The sage has not the disease. He knows […]

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Chapter 19 Returning to the unadulterated influence

絕聖棄智,民利百倍;絕仁棄義,民復孝慈;絕巧棄利,盜賊無有。此三者以為文不足。故令有所屬:見素抱樸,少私寡欲。 1. If we could renounce our sageness and discard our wisdom, it would be better for the people a hundredfold. If we could renounce our benevolence and discard our righteousness, the people would again become filial and kindly. If we could renounce our artful contrivances and discard our (scheming for) gain, there would be […]

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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 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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