Chapter 64 Guarding the minute

其安易持,其未兆易謀。其脆易泮,其微易散。為之於未有,治之於未亂。合抱之木, 生於毫末;九層之臺,起於累土;千里之行,始於足下。為者敗之,執者失之。是以聖人無為故無敗;無執故無失。民之從事,常於幾成而敗之。慎終如始,則無敗 事,是以聖人欲不欲,不貴難得之貨;學不學,復衆人之所過,以輔萬物之自然,而不敢為。 1. That which is at rest is easily kept hold of; before a thing has given indications of its presence, it is easy to take measures against it; that which is brittle is easily broken; that which is very small is easily dispersed. Action should be taken before a thing has made […]

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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 62 Practicing the Dao

道者萬物之奧。善人之寶,不善人之所保。美言可以市,尊行可以加人。人之不善,何棄之有?故立天子,置三公,雖有拱璧以先駟馬,不如坐進此道。古之所以貴此道者何?不曰:以求得,有罪以免耶?故為天下貴。 1. Dao has of all things the most honored place. No treasures give good men so rich a grace; Bad men it guards, and doth their ill efface. 2. (Its) admirable words can purchase honor; (its) admirable deeds can raise their performer above others. Even men who are not good are not abandoned by […]

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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 60 Occupying the throne

治大國若烹小鮮。以道蒞天下,其鬼不神;非其鬼不神,其神不傷人;非其神不傷人,聖人亦不傷人。夫兩不相傷,故德交歸焉。 1. Governing a great state is like cooking small fish. 2. Let the kingdom be governed according to the Dao, and the manes of the departed will not manifest their spiritual energy. It is not that those manes have not that spiritual energy, but it will not be employed to hurt men. It is […]

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Chapter 59 Guarding the Dao

治人事天莫若嗇。夫唯嗇,是謂早服;早服謂之重積德;重積德則無不克;無不克則莫知其極;莫知其極,可以有國;有國之母,可以長久;是謂深根固柢,長生久視之道。 1. For regulating the human (in our constitution) and rendering the (proper) service to the heavenly, there is nothing like moderation. 2. It is only by this moderation that there is effected an early return (to man’s normal state). That early return is what I call the repeated accumulation of the attributes (of the […]

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Chapter 58 Transformation according to circumstances

其政悶悶,其民淳淳;其政察察,其民缺缺。禍兮福之所倚,福兮禍之所伏。孰知其極?其無正。正復為奇,善復為妖。人之迷,其日固久。是以聖人方而不割,廉而不劌,直而不肆,光而不燿。 1. The government that seems the most unwise, Oft goodness to the people best supplies; That which is meddling, touching everything, Will work but ill, and disappointment bring. Misery! — happiness is to be found by its side! Happiness! — misery lurks beneath it! Who knows what either will come to in the end? […]

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Chapter 57 The genuine influence

以正治國,以奇用兵,以無事取天下。吾何以知其然哉?以此:天下多忌諱,而民彌貧;民多利器,國家滋昏;人多伎巧,奇物滋起;法令滋彰,盜賊多有。故聖人云:我無為,而民自化;我好靜,而民自正;我無事,而民自富;我無欲,而民自樸。 1. A state may be ruled by (measures of) correction; weapons of war may be used with crafty dexterity; (but) the kingdom is made one’s own (only) by freedom from action and purpose. 2. How do I know that it is so? By these facts: — In the kingdom the multiplication of prohibitive enactments […]

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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 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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