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 51 The operation (of the Dao) in nourishing things

道生之,德畜之,物形之,勢成之。是以萬物莫不尊道而貴德。道之尊,德之貴,夫莫之命常自然。故道生之,德畜之;長之育之;亭之毒之;養之覆之。生而不有,為而不恃,長而不宰,是謂玄德。 1. All things are produced by the Tao, and nourished by its outflowing operation. They receive their forms according to the nature of each, and are completed according to the circumstances of their condition. Therefore all things without exception honour the Tao, and exalt its outflowing operation. 2. This honouring of the Tao and […]

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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 47 Surveying what is far-off

不出戶知天下;不闚牖見天道。其出彌遠,其知彌少。是以聖人不行而知,不見而名,不為而成。 1. Without going outside his door, one understands (all that takes place) under the sky; without looking out from his window, one sees the Tao of Heaven. The farther that one goes out (from himself), the less he knows. 2. Therefore the sages got their knowledge without traveling; gave their (right) names to things […]

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Chapter 46 The moderating of desire or ambition

天下有道,卻走馬以糞。天下無道,戎馬生於郊。禍莫大於不知足;咎莫大於欲得。故知足之足,常足矣。 1. When the Tao prevails in the world, they send back their swift horses to (draw) the dung-carts. When the Tao is disregarded in the world, the war-horses breed in the border lands. 2. There is no guilt greater than to sanction ambition; no calamity greater than to be discontented with one’s lot; no […]

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Chapter 45 Great or overflowing virtue

大成若缺,其用不弊。大盈若沖,其用不窮。大直若屈,大巧若拙,大辯若訥。躁勝寒靜勝熱。清靜為天下正。 1. Who thinks his great achievements poor Shall find his vigour long endure. Of greatest fulness, deemed a void, Exhaustion ne’er shall stem the tide. Do thou what’s straight still crooked deem; Thy greatest art still stupid seem, And eloquence a stammering scream. 2. Constant action overcomes cold; being still overcomes heat. Purity and […]

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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 43 The universal use (of the action in weakness of the Dao)

天下之至柔,馳騁天下之至堅。無有入無間,吾是以知無為之有益。不言之教,無為之益,天下希及之。 1. The softest thing in the world dashes against and overcomes the hardest; that which has no (substantial) existence enters where there is no crevice. I know hereby what advantage belongs to doing nothing (with a purpose). 2. There are few in the world who attain to the teaching without words, and the advantage […]

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Chapter 42 The transformations of the Dao

道生一,一生二,二生三,三生萬物。萬物負陰而抱陽,沖氣以為和。人之所惡,唯孤、寡、不穀,而王公以為稱。故物或損之而益,或益之而損。人之所教,我亦教之。強梁者不得其死,吾將以為教父。 1. The Tao produced One; One produced Two; Two produced Three; Three produced All things. All things leave behind them the Obscurity (out of which they have come), and go forward to embrace the Brightness (into which they have emerged), while they are harmonized by the Breath of Vacancy. 2. What men dislike is […]

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Chapter 40 Dispensing with the use (of means)

反者道之動;弱者道之用。天下萬物生於有,有生於無。 1. The movement of the Tao By contraries proceeds; And weakness marks the course Of Tao’s mighty deeds. 2. All things under heaven sprang from It as existing (and named); that existence sprang from It as non-existent (and not named).

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