Chapter 36 Minimizing the light

將欲歙之,必固張之;將欲弱之,必固強之;將欲廢之,必固興之;將欲奪之,必固與之。是謂微明。柔弱勝剛強。魚不可脫於淵,國之利器不可以示人。 1. When one is about to take an inspiration, he is sure to make a (previous) expiration; when he is going to weaken another, he will first strengthen him; when he is going to overthrow another, he will first have raised him up; when he is going to despoil another, he will first have […]

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Chapter 33 Discriminating between attributes

知人者智,自知者明。勝人者有力,自勝者強。知足者富。強行者有志。不失其所者久。死而不亡者壽。 1. He who knows other men is discerning; he who knows himself is intelligent. He who overcomes others is strong; he who overcomes himself is mighty. He who is satisfied with his lot is rich; he who goes on acting with energy has a (firm) will. 2. He who does not fail in the […]

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Chapter 24 Painful graciousness

企者不立;跨者不行;自見者不明;自是者不彰;自伐者無功;自矜者不長。其在道也,曰:餘食贅行。物或惡之,故有道者不處。 He who stands on his tiptoes does not stand firm; he who stretches his legs does not walk (easily). (So), he who displays himself does not shine; he who asserts his own views is not distinguished; he who vaunts himself does not find his merit acknowledged; he who is self- conceited has no superiority […]

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Chapter 22 The increase granted to humility

曲則全,枉則直,窪則盈,弊則新,少則得,多則惑。是以聖人抱一為天下式。不自見,故明;不自是,故彰;不自伐,故有功;不自矜,故長。夫唯不爭,故天下莫能與之爭。古之所謂曲則全者,豈虛言哉!誠全而歸之。 1. The partial becomes complete; the crooked, straight; the empty, full; the worn out, new. He whose (desires) are few gets them; he whose (desires) are many goes astray. 2. Therefore the sage holds in his embrace the one thing (of humility), and manifests it to all the world. He is free from self- […]

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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 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 12 The repression of the desires

五色令人目盲;五音令人耳聾;五味令人口爽;馳騁田獵,令人心發狂;難得之貨,令人行妨。是以聖人為腹不為目,故去彼取此 1. Color’s five hues from th’ eyes their sight will take; Music’s five notes the ears as deaf can make; The flavors five deprive the mouth of taste; The chariot course, and the wild hunting waste Make mad the mind; and objects rare and strange, Sought for, men’s conduct will to evil change. 2. […]

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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 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 4 The fountainless

道沖而用之或不盈。淵兮似萬物之宗。挫其銳,解其紛,和其光,同其塵。湛兮似或存。吾不知誰之子,象帝之先。 1. The Tao is (like) the emptiness of a vessel; and in our employment of it we must be on our guard against all fulness. How deep and unfathomable it is, as if it were the Honoured Ancestor of all things! 2. We should blunt our sharp points, and unravel the complications of things; […]

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