1.1 Tao is beyond words and beyond understanding. Words may be used to speak of it, but they cannot contain it.
1.2 Tao existed before words and names, before heaven and earth, before the ten thousand things. It is the unlimited father and mother of all limited things.
1.3 Therefore, to see beyond all boundaries to the subtle heart of things, dispense with names, with concepts, with expectations and ambitions and differences.
1.4 Tao and its many manifestations arise from the same source:
1.5 subtle wonder within mysterious darkness. This is the beginning of all understanding.
2.1 When people find one thing beautiful, another consequently becomes ugly.
2.2 When one man is held up as good, another is judged deficient.
2.3 Similarly, being and non-being balance each other; difficult and easy define each other; long and short illustrate each other;
2.4 high and low rest upon each other; voice and song meld into harmony; what is to come follows upon what has been.
2.5 The wise person acts without effort and teaches by quiet example.
2.6 He accepts things as they come, creates without possessing, nourishes without demanding, accomplishes without taking credit.
2.7 Because he constantly forgets himself, he is never forgotten.
3.1 When praise is lavished upon the famous, the people contend and compete with one another.
3.2 When exotic goods are traded and treasured, the compulsion to steal is felt.
3.3 When desires are constantly stimulated, people become disturbed and confused.
3.4 Therefore, the wise person sets an example by emptying her mind, opening her heart, relaxing her ambitions, relinquishing her desires, cultivating her character.
3.5 having conquered her own cunning and cravings, she can't be manipulated by anyone.
3.6 Do by not-doing. Act with non-action. Allow order to arise of itself.
4.1 Tao is a whirling emptiness, yet when used it cannot be exhausted.
4.2 Out of this mysterious well flows everything in existence.
4.3 Blunting sharp edges, Untangling knots, Softening the glare, It evolves us all and makes the whole world one.
4.4 Something is there, hidden and deep!
4.5 But I do not know whose child it is - It came even before God.
5.1 Heaven and Earth are not sentimental; they regard all things as dispensable.
5.2 The sage isn't sentimental, either; He views all forms as ephemeral and transitional.
5.3 Tao is like a bellows: empty but inexhaustible. The more you move it the more it makes.
5.4 Too much talk about it evaporates your understanding, though. Simply stay at the center of the circle.
6.1 The heart of Tao is immortal, the mysterious fertile mother of us all,
6.2 of heaven and earth, of every thing and not-thing.
6.3 Invisible yet ever present, you can use it forever without using it up.
7.1 Heaven is eternal, earth everlasting.
7.2 They endure this way because they do not live for themselves.
7.3 In the same way, the wise person puts himself last, and thereby finds himself first;
7.4 Holds himself outside, and thereby remains at the center;
7.5 Abandons himself, and is thereby fulfilled.
8.1 The highest good is like water which benefits all things and contends with none. it flows in low places that others disdain and thus it is close to the Tao.
8.2 In living, choose your ground well. In thought, stay deep in the heart. In relationships, be generous. In speaking, hold to the truth.
8.3 In leadership, be organized. In work, do your best. In action, be timely.
8.4 If you compete with no one, no one can compete with you.
9.1 Filling to fullness is not as good as stopping at the right moment.
9.2 Oversharpening a blade causes its edge to be lost.
9.3 Line your home with treasures and you won't be able to defend it.
9.4 Amass possessions, establish positions, display your pride: Soon enough disaster drives you to your knees.
9.5 This is the way of heaven: do your work, then quietly step back.
10.1 Can you marry your spirit and body to the oneness and never depart from it?
10.2 Can you ride your breath until your entire being is as supple as the body of an infant?
10.3 Can you cleanse your inner vision until you see heaven in every direction?
10.4 Can you love the people and govern them without conniving and manipulating?
10.5 Can you bear heaven's children in all that you do and are?
10.6 Can you give the wisdom of your heart precedence over the learning of your head?
10.7 Giving birth, nourishing life, shaping things without possessing them, serving without expectation of reward, leading without dominating: These are the profound virtues of nature, and of nature's best things.
11.1 Thirty spokes meet at a hollowed-out hub; the wheel won't work without its hole.
11.2 A vessel is moulded from solid clay; its inner emptiness makes it useful.
11.3 To make a room, you have to cut doors and windows; without openings, a place isn't livable.
11.4 To make use of what is here, you must make use of what is not
12.1 The five colours blind the eye. The five tones deafen the ear. The five flavours overwhelm the palate.
12.2 Fancy things get in the way of one's growth. Racing here and there, hunting for this and that - Good ways to madden your mind, that's all.
12.3 Relinquish what is without. Cultivate what is within. Live for your center, not your senses.
13.1 Favour and disgrace are equally problematic. Hope and fear are phantoms of the body.
13.2 What does it mean the "favour and disgrace are equally problematic"? Favour lifts you up; disgrace knocks you down. Either one depends on the opinions of others and causes you to depart from your center.
13.3 What does it mean that "hope and fear are phantoms of the body"? When you regard your body as your self, hope and fear have real power over you. If you abandon the notion of body as self, hope and fear cannot touch you.
13.4 Know the universe as your self, and you can live absolutely anywhere in comfort. Love the world as your self, and you'll be able to care for it properly.
14.1 Looked at but not seen, listened to but not heard, grasped for but not held, formless, soundless, intangible:
14.2 the Tao resists analysis and defies comprehension.
14.3 Its rising is not about light, its setting not a matter of darkness. Unnameable, unending, emerging continually, and continually pouring back into nothingness,
14.4 It is formless form, unseeable image, elusive, evasive unimaginable mystery. Confront it, and you won't see its face. Follow it and you can't find an end.
14.5 Perceive its ancient subtle heart, however, and you become master of the moment. Know what came before time, and the beginning of wisdom is yours.
15.1 A sage is subtle, intuitive, penetrating, profound. His depths are mysterious and unfathomable.
15.2 The best one can do is describe his appearance: The sage is alert as a person crossing a winter stream; as circumspect as a person with neighbours on all four sides; as respectful as a thoughtful guest;
15.3 as yielding as melting ice; as simple as uncarved wood; as open as a valley; as chaotic as a muddy torrent.
15.4 Why "chaotic as a muddy torrent"? Because clarity is learned by being patient in the heart of chaos. Tolerating disarray, remaining at rest, gradually one learns to allow muddy water to settle and proper responses to reveal themselves.
15.5 Those who aspire to Tao don't long for fulfillment. They selflessly allow the Tao to use and deplete them; They calmly allow the Tao to renew and complete them.
16.1 Work toward emptiness and openness. Cultivate stillness. Breathe harmony. Become tranquility.
16.2 As the ten thousand things rise and fall, rise and fall, just witness their return to the root.
16.3 Everything that flourishes dissolves again into the source. To dissolve back into the source is to find peace. To find peace is to recover your true nature. To recover your true nature is to know the constancy of Tao. To know the constancy of Tao is insight.
16.4 Insight opens your mind. An open mind leads to an open heart. Openheartedness leads to justice. Justice is an expression of divinity. Divinity is oneness with Tao.
16.5 Oneness with Tao is freedom from harm, indescribable pleasure, eternal life.
17.1 The best leader is one whose existence is barely known. Next best is one who is lived and praised. Next is one who is feared. Worst of all is a leader who is despised.
17.2 If you fail to trust people, they won't turn out to be trustworthy.
17.3 Therefore, guide others by quietly relying on Tao. Then, when the work is done, the people can say, "We did this ourselves."
18.1 When people lose sight of the Tao, codes of morality and justice are created.
18.2 When cleverness and strategies are in use, hypocrites are everywhere.
18.3 When families forego natural harmony, parents become pious and children become dutiful.
18.4 When the nation is reigned by darkness, patriotic advisers abound.
19.1 Give up religiosity and knowledge, and the people will benefit a hundredfold.
19.2 Discard morality and righteousness, and the people will return to natural love.
19.3 Abandon shrewdness and profiteering, and there won't be any robbers or thieves.
19.4 These are external matters, however.
19.5 What is most important is what happens within: look to what is pure; hold to what is simple; let go of self-interest; temper your desires.
20.1 Be done with knowing and your worries will disappear. How much difference is there between yes and no? How much distinction between good and evil?
20.2 Fearing what others fear, admiring what they admire-nonsense.
20.3 Conventional people are jolly and reckless, feasting on worldly things and carrying on as though every day were the beginning of spring. I alone remain uncommitted, like an infant who hasn't yet smiled: lost, quietly drifting, unattached to ideas and places and things.
20.4 Conventional people hoard more than they need, but I possess nothing at all, know nothing at all, understand nothing at all.
20.5 They are bright; I am dark. They are sharp; I am dull. Like the sea, I am calm and indifferent. Like the wind I have no particular direction.
20.6 Everyone else takes his place and does his job; I alone remain wild and natural and free. I am different from others; my sustenance comes directly from the Mother.
21.1 The greatest virtue is to follow Tao, and only Tao.
21.2 You might say, "But Tao is illusive! Evasive! Mysterious! Dark! How can one follow that?" By following this: Out of silent subtle mystery emerge images. These images coalesce into forms. Within each form is contained the seed and essence of life. Thus do all things emerge and expand out of darkness and emptiness.
21.3 Because its essence is real and evident in the origins of all things, the name of the Tao has survived since the beginning of time.
21.4 How can I know the circumstances of the origins of all things? Exactly by this phenomenon.
22.1 Allow yourself to yield, and you can stay centered. Allow yourself to bend, and you will stay straight. Allow yourself to be empty, and you'll get filled up. Allow yourself to be exhausted, and you'll be renewed. Having little, you can receive much. Having much, you'll just become confused.
22.2 Therefore the sage embraces the oneness and becomes a pattern for the whole world.
22.3 She doesn't display herself, so she becomes illuminated. She doesn't justify herself, so she becomes distinguished. She doesn't boast, so she is recognized. She doesn't claim credit, so she advances and endures.
22.4 She doesn't contend, so no one can contend with her.
22.5 "Yield and you can stay centered"- Is this saying meaningless? Stay whole, and all things return to you.
23.1 Nature is sparing with speech: a whirlwind doesn't last all morning; a rain shower doesn't last all day.
23.2 What causes these? Heaven and earth. If heaven and earth can't make something famous endure, how could man?
23.4 Concentrate on Tao and you'll experience Tao. Concentrate on power and you'll experience power. Concentrate on loss and you'll experience loss.
23.5 If you won't trust, you won't be trusted.
24.1 A man who tiptoes can't stand. A man who straddles can't walk.
24.2 A man who shows off can't shine. A man who boasts of his achievements has no merit.
24.3 A man who brags will not endure.
24.4 To a person of Tao, these things are excess food and superfluous behaviour. Because nothing good can come of them, he doesn't indulge in them.
25.1 Something mysterious and perfect existed before even heaven and earth were born. Silent, immeasurable, standing alone and unchanging, moving without end or exhaustion, it is the mother of the known and unknown universe.
25.2 I don't know its name, so I call it by an alias: Tao. Forced to describe it, I only say, "It is great."
25.3 That which is great continues. That which continues goes far. That which goes far returns.
25.4 Therefore Tao is great, heaven is great, earth is great, a person of Tao is great. These are the four greatnesses in the universe.
25.5 A person of Tao follows earth. Earth follows Heaven. Heaven follows Tao. Tao follows its own nature.
26.1 Heaviness is the root of lightness. Tranquility is the master of agitation.
26.2 This is why the sage travels all day without ever losing sight of her baggage. She may live in a glorious palace, but she isn't attached to its pleasures.
26.3 Why should the lord of ten thousand chariots behave lightly in the world?
26.4 One who acts lightly loses her foundation. One who becomes agitated sacrifices her mastery.
27.1 A good runner leaves no tracks; A good speaker makes no slips; A good planner doesn't have to scheme.
27.2 The best lock has no bolt, and no one can open it. The best knot uses no rope, and no one can untie it.
27.3 Thus the master is always good at saving people, and doesn't abandon anyone; Always good at saving things, and doesn't waste anything. This is known as "Following the light."
27.4 What is a good man but a bad man's teacher? What is a bad man but a good man's charge?
27.5 It doesn't matter how smart you are if you don't have the sense to honour your teachers and cherish your responsibilities. This is an essential teaching of Tao.
28.1 To know the masculine and yet cleave to the feminine is to be the womb for the world. Being the womb for the world, never departing from the eternal power of Tao, you become as an infant once again: immortal.
28.2 To know the bright and yet hold to the dull is to be an example for the world. Being the example for the world, not deviating from the everlasting power of Tao, you return to the infinite once again: limitless.
28.3 To know honour and yet keep to humility is to be the valley for the world. Being the valley for the world, rich with the primal power of Tao, you return once again to simplicity, like uncarved wood.
28.4 Allow Tao to carve you into a vessel for Tao. Then you can serve the world without mutilating it.
29.1 If you try to grab hold of the world and do what you want with it, you won't succeed.
29.2 The world is a vessel for spirit, and it wasn't made to be manipulated. Tamper with it and you'll spoil it. Hold it, and you'll lose it.
29.3 With Tao, sometimes you move ahead and sometimes you stay back; Sometimes you work hard and sometimes you rest; Sometimes you're strong and sometimes you're weak; Sometimes you're up; sometimes you're down.
29.4 The sage remains sensitive, avoiding extremes, avoiding extravagance, avoiding excess.
30.1 Those who wish to use Tao to influence others don't rely on force or weapons or military strategies. Force rebounds.
30.2 Weapons turn on their wielders. Battles are inevitably followed by famines.
30.3 Just do what needs to be done, and then stop. Attain your purpose, but don't pres your advantage.
30.4 Be resolute, but don't boast. Succeed, but don't crow. Accomplish, but don't overpower.
30.5 Overdoing things invites decay, and this is against Tao. Whatever is against Tao soon ceases to be.
31.1 Weapons are tools of evil, shunned and avoided by everything in nature. Because people of Tao follow nature, they want nothing to do with weapons.
31.2 Unevolved people are eager to act out of strength, but a person of Tao values peace and quiet. He knows that every being is born of the womb of Tao. This means that his enemies are his enemies second, his own brothers and sisters first.
31.3 Thus he resorts to weapons only in the direst necessity, and then uses them with utmost restraint.
31.4 He takes no pleasure in victory, because to rejoice in victory is to delight in killing. Whoever delights in killing will not find success in this world.
31.5 Observe victories as you observe a death in the family: with sorrow and mourning.
31.6 Every victory is a funeral for kin.
32.4 When this simplicity is divided, every thing and not-thing needs a name. Once there are names, the process of distinction should stop. To know when to stop is to be free from danger.
32.1 The primal eternal Tao is an unnameable simplicity. Though small, there is nothing under all of heaven that can subjugate it.
32.2 If a leader abides by it, all beings are naturally drawn to him.
32.3 Heaven and earth come together in harmony and sweet rain falls everywhere. People cooperate voluntarily, without any instruction.
32.5 Tao in the world is like streams flowing into the sea.
33.1 Knowing others is intelligence; knowing the self is enlightenment.
33.2 Conquering others is power; conquering the self is strength.
33.3 Know what is enough, and you'll be rich. Persevere, and you'll develop a will.
33.4 Remain in the center, and you'll always be at home. Die without dying, and you'll endure forever.
34.1 The great Tao floods and flows in every direction.
34.2 Everything in existence depends on it, and it doesn't deny them. It accomplishes its work without naming or making claims for itself. Everything in existence is clothed and nourished by it, but it doesn't lord over anything.
34.3 Aimless, ambitionless, it might be called "small."
34.4 Everything in existence returns to it, and still it doesn't lord over anything. Thus it might also be called "great."
34.5 Because it has no desire to be great, it can achieve greatness.
35.1 Stay centered in the Tao and the world comes to you: Comes, and isn't harmed; Comes, and finds contentment.
35.2 Most travelers are drawn to music and good food.
35.3 When Tao is talked about, the words can seem bland and flavourless. Looked at, it may not catch the eye. Listened to, it might not seduce the ear. Used, it can never be exhausted.
36.1 What is ultimately to be reduced must first be expanded . What is ultimately to be weakened must first be made strong. What is ultimately to be discarded must first be embraced. What is ultimately to be taken away must first be given.
36.2 This is called subtle insight.
36.3 The soft overcomes the hard. The weak overcomes the strong. The Tao should never be abandoned. Weapons should never be displayed.
37.1 Eternal Tao doesn't do anything, yet it leaves nothing undone.
37.2 If you abide by it, everything in existence will transform itself. When, in the process of self-transformation, desires are aroused, calm them with nameless simplicity.
37.3 When desires are dissolved in the primal presence, peace and harmony naturally occur, and the world orders itself.
38.1 A truly good person doesn't dwell on her goodness. Thus she can be good. A person of false goodness never forgets her goodness. Thus her goodness is always false.
38.2 A truly good person does nothing, yet nothing remains undone. A person of false goodness is forever doing, yet everything remains forever undone.
38.3 Those who are interested in service act without motive. Those who are interested in righteousness act with motives of all sorts. Those who are interested in propriety act, and receiving no response, they roll up their sleeves and use force.
38.4 When Tao is lost, goodness appears. When goodness is lost, philanthropy appears. When philanthropy is lost, justice appears. When justice is lost, only etiquette is left.
38.5 Etiquette is the faintest husk of real loyalty and faith, and it is the beginning of confusion. Knowledge of the future is only a blossom of Tao; to become preoccupied with it is folly.
38.6 Thus the sage sets her sights on the substance and not the surface, on the fruit and not the flower. Leaving the one, she gains the other.
39.1 From ancient times these have attained oneness with Tao: Heaven attained oneness and became clear. Earth attained oneness and became peaceful. Spirits attained oneness and became strong.
39.2 Valleys attained oneness and became full. Beings attained oneness and became fertile. All are what they are by virtue of oneness.
39.3 Heaven without clarity would fall. Earth without peace would explode. Spirits without strength would dissipate.
39.4 Valleys without fullness would dry up. Beings without fertility would die off. Sages without wholeness would stumble and fall.
39.5 Humility is the root of greatness.
39.6 Those in high positions do well to think of themselves as powerless, small and unworthy. Isn't this taking humility for the root?
39.7 Attain honour without being honoured.
39.8 Don't shine like jade, or chime like bells.
40.1 Returning to the root is the movement of Tao. Quietness is how it functions.
40.2 The ten thousand things are born of being. Being is born of nothing.
41.1 When a wise person hears Tao, he practices it diligently. When an average person hears Tao, he practices it sometimes, and just as often ignores it.
41.2 When an inferior person hears Tao, he roars with laughter. If he didn't laugh, it wouldn't be Tao.
41.3 Thus the age old sayings: The way to illumination appears dark. The way that advances appears to retreat. The way that is easy appears to be hard. The highest virtue appears empty. The purest goodness appears soiled. The most profound creativity appears fallow.
41.4 The strongest power appears weak. The most genuine appears unreal. The greatest space has no corners. The greatest talent matures slowly. The greatest voice can't be heard. The greatest image can't be seen.
41.5 Tao is hidden and has no name. Tao alone nourishes and fulfills all things.
42.1 Nonbeing gives birth to the oneness. The oneness gives birth to yin and yang. Yin and Yang give birth to heaven, earth, and beings. Heaven, earth, and beings give birth to everything in existence.
42.2 Therefore everything in existence carries within it both yin and yang, and attains its harmony by blending together these two vital breaths.
42.3 Ordinary people hate nothing more than to be powerless, small, and unworthy. Yet this is how superior people describe themselves.
42.4 Gain is loss. Loss is gain.
42.5 I repeat what others have said: The strong and violent don't die natural deaths. This is the very essence of my teaching.
43.1 The soft overcomes the hard in the world as a gentle rider controls a galloping horse. That without substance can penetrate where there is no space. By these I know the benefit of nonaction.
43.2 Teaching without words, working without actions-nothing in the world can compare with them.
44.1 Which is more precious, fame or health? Which is more valuable, health or wealth? Which is more harmful, winning or losing?
44.2 The more excessive your love, the greater your suffering. The longer you hoard, the heavier your losses.
44.3 Knowing what is enough is freedom. Knowing when to stop is safety. Practice these, and you'll endure.
45.1 The greatest perfection seems imperfect, yet its usefulness is endless. The greatest fullness seems empty, yet its usefulness is inexhaustible. Great straightness seems flexible.
45.2 Great skill looks clumsy. Great eloquence sounds awkward.
45.3 Movement triumphs over cold. Stillness triumphs over heat. Clarity and tranquility set the whole world in order.
46.1 When the world practices Tao, horses fertilize the fields. When the world ignores Tao, horses are bred for war.
46.2 There is no greater calamity than desire, no greater curse than greed.
46.3 Know that enough is enough, and you'll always have enough.
47.1 Without going out the door, you can know the world. Without looking out the window, you can see heaven. The farther you travel, the less you know.
47.2 Thus the wise person knows without traveling, understands without seeing, accomplishes without acting.
48.1 In the pursuit of learning, every day something is added. In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.
48.2 Less and less is done, until one arrives at nonaction. When nothing is done, nothing is left undone. The world is won by letting things take their own course.
48.3 If you still have ambitions, its out of your reach.
49.1 The sage has no set mind. She adopts the concerns of others as her own.
49.2 She is good to the good. She is also good to the bad. This is real goodness.
49.3 She trusts the trustworthy. She also trusts the untrustworthy. This is real trust.
49.4 The sage takes the minds of the worldly and spins them around. People drop their ideas and agendas, and she guides them like beloved children.
50.1 Between their births and their deaths,
50.2 three out of ten are attached to life, three out of ten are attached to death, three out of ten are just idly passing through. Only one knows how to die and stay dead and still go on living.
50.3 That one hasn't any ambitions, hasn't any ideas, makes no plans. From this mysterious place of not-knowing and non-doing he gives birth to whatever is needed in the moment. Because he is constantly filling his being with nonbeing, he can travel the wilds without worrying about tigers or wild buffalo, or he can cross a battlefield without armour or weapon.
50.4 No tiger can claw him. No buffalo can gore him. No weapon can pierce him. Why is this so? Because he has died, there isn't any more room for death in him.
51.1 Tao gives life to all beings. Nature nourishes them. Fellow creatures shape them. Circumstances complete them. Everything in existence respects Tao and honours nature
51.2 - not by decree, but spontaneously. Tao gives life to all beings. Nature watches over them, develops them, shelters them, nurses them, grows them, ripens them, completes them, buries them, and returns them.
51.3 Giving birth, nourishing life, shaping things without possessing them, serving without expectation of reward, leading without dominating: These are the profound virtues of nature, and of nature's best beings.
52.1 The origin and mother of everything in the world is Tao.
52.2 Know the mother and you can know the children. Having known the children, return to their source and hold on to her. Abiding by the mother, you are free from danger, even when your body dies.
52.3 Don't live for your senses. Close your mouth, close all the body's openings, and reside in the original unity. In this way you can pass your life in peace and contentment.
52.4 Open your mouth, increase your activities, start making distinctions between things, and you'll toil forever without hope.
52.5 See the subtle and be illuminated. Abide in gentleness and be strong.
52.6 Use your light, and return to insight. Don't expose yourself to trouble. This is following Tao.
53.1 Because I have a little wisdom, I choose to walk the great path of Tao and fear nothing except to stray from it.
53.2 The great way is very smooth and easy, but some people are fond of getting sidetracked.
53.3 When a ruler's palace is full of treasure, the people's fields are weedy and their granaries are empty.
53.4 If the ruler wears fancy clothes and his house is full of weapons, if his table is laden with extravagant food and drink and everywhere one looks he has more wealth than he can use, the ruler is a robber and thief. This is not in keeping with Tao.
54.1 Plant yourself firmly in the Tao and you won't ever be uprooted. Embrace Tao firmly and you won't ever be separated from it. Your children will thrive, and your children's children.
54.2 Cultivate goodness in your self, and goodness will be genuine. Cultivate it in your family, and goodness will flourish. Cultivate it in your community, and goodness will grow and multiply. Cultivate it in your country, and goodness will be abundant. Cultivate it in the world, and goodness will be everywhere.
54.4 How do I know the world works like this? By watching.
55.1 She who is filled with goodness is like a newborn child: wasps and snakes will not bite it, fierce beasts will not attack it, birds of prey will not pounce on it. Its bones are soft and its muscles weak, but its grip is firm.
55.2 It hasn't yet known the union of male and female, yet its organ stirs with vitality.
55.3 It can howl all day without becoming hoarse, so perfect is its harmony. To know harmony is to know the eternal. To know the eternal is to be illumined.
55.4 Prolonging life is not harmonious./ Coercing the breath is unnatural.
55.5 Things which are overdeveloped must decay. All this is contrary to Tao, and whatever is contrary to Tao soon ceases to be.
56.1 Those who know don't talk. Those who talk don't know.
56.2 Close your mouth. Block the door. Quiet your senses. Blunt the sharpness. Untie the tangles. Soften the brightness. Be one with the dust, and enter the primal oneness.
56.3 One who has merged with Tao in this way can't be courted, can't be bought, can't be harmed, can't be honoured, can't be humiliated. He is the treasure of the world.
57.1 Govern a nation by following nature. Fight a war with unexpected moves. Win the world by letting go. How do I know this? From seeing these:
57.2 The more prohibitions there are, the poorer people become. The more weapons there are, the darker things become.
57.3 The more laws there are, the greater the number of scoundrels.
57.4 Therefore the sage says: I take no action, and people transform themselves. I love tranquility, and people naturally do what is right.
57.5 I don't interfere, and people prosper on their own. I have no desires, and people return to simplicity.
58.1 When the government is dull and sleepy, people are wholesome and good. When the government is sharp and exacting, people are cunning and mean.
58.2 Good rests upon bad. Bad hides within good.
58.3 Who knows where the turning point is? Whether government or person, if you aren't tranquil and honest, the normal flips to the abnormal, the auspicious reverts to the bizarre, and your bewilderment lasts for a long time.
58.4 Therefore the sage does what is right without acting righteous, points without piercing, straightens without straining, enlightens without dazzling.
59.1 In governing people and serving heaven, there is nothing better than moderation.
59.2 To be moderate is to follow Tao without straying. To follow Tao without straying is to become filled with good energy. To be filled with good energy is to overcome all things. To overcome all things is to know that all things are possible.
59.3 She who knows that all things are possible is fit to govern people.
59.4 Because she is one with the mother, her roots go deep, her foundation stands firm, her life lasts long, her vision endures.
60.1 Governing a large country is like cooking a small fish.
60.2 If it's done in accordance with Tao, nothing bad will happen. Guide the world with Tao, and evil won't be a problem.
60.3 Not that it won't be around, but it won't find an opening, it can't harm anyone.
60.4 The sage doesn't harm anyone, either. When there's no harm on this side, no harm on that, goodness flows back and forth like water.
61.1 A great country is like a low-lying land into which many streams flow. It draws powerful energies to it as a receptive woman draws an eager man. The feminine can always conquer the masculine by yielding and taking the lower position. In this way she becomes as low-lying land: in time, everything comes her way.
61.2 Therefore a great country can win over a small country by practicing humility. A small country can also win over a great country by practicing humility.
61.3 One wins by willingly taking the lower position. The other wins by willingly acknowledging its lower position.
61.4 The great country wants to embrace and nourish more people. The small country wants to ably serve its benefactor.
61.5 Both accomplish their ends by yielding.
62.1 Tao is the hidden secret source of all life. Good men recognize that Tao provides for them and therefore they esteem it. Bad men don't recognize this, but the Tao doesn't stop providing for them.
62.2 Beautiful words win some men honours; good deeds buy others acclaim. But the Tao values everyone, not just those who excel. What's the sense in discarding anyone?
62.3 Thus, on the day a new king is crowned or powerful ministers installed, while others rush forward with gifts and praises, just be still and offer Tao.
62.4 Why have sages prized Tao for so long? Because with Tao, he who seeks finds, and he who has flaws is forgiven. This is why it is the treasure of the world.
63.1 Act by not acting, accomplish by not straining, understand by not knowing.
63.2 Regard the humble as exalted and the exalted as humble. Remedy injury with tranquil repair.
63.3 Meet the difficult while it is still easy; cross the universe one step at a time.
63.5 Because the sage doesn't try anything too big, she's able to accomplish big things.
63.6 Those who commit lightly seldom come through. Those who think everything is easy will finmd everything hard.
63.7 The sage understands that everything is difficult, and thus in the end has no difficulties.
64.1 What has equilibrium is easy to maintain. What hasn't begun is easy to plan. What is fragile is easy to shatter. What is small is easy to scatter.
64.2 Deal with things before they arise. Cultivate order before confusion sets in.
64.3 The tallest tree springs from a tiny shoot. The tallest tower is built from a pile of dirt. A journey of a thousand miles begins at your feet.
64.4 Interfere with things, and you'll be defeated by them. Hold on to things, and you'll lose them. The sage doesn't interfere, so he doesn't fail; doesn't hold on, so he doesn't lose.
64.5 Because projects often come to ruin just before completion, he takes as much care at the end as he did at the beginning, and thereby succeeds.
64.6 His only desire is to be free of desire. Fancying nothing, learning not to know, electing not to interfere, he helps all beings become themselves.
65.1 In ancient times those who practiced Tao didn't want to enlighten people, but to keep them natural and simple.
65.2 When cleverness and intellect abound, people don't do well. A leader who governs with cleverness cheats his people. A leader who governs with simplicity is a blessing to his people.
65.3 These are the two alternatives. Understanding them is subtle insight.
65.4 The use of subtle insight brings all things back into the oneness.
66.1 The sea is king of the valleys and streams because it is willing to be beneath them.
66.2 One who wishes to guide the people should be humble in her speech toward them. One who wishes to lead the people must learn the art of following them.
66.3 The sage is above the people, but they don't feel her weight. She stays ahead of the people, and no harm comes to them. She has the affection of the whole world.
66.4 Because she contends with no one, no one can contend with her.
67.1 Everyone under heaven says that my Tao is great, but inconceivable. It is its very greatness that makes it inconceivable! If it could be conceived of, how small it would be!
67.2 I have three treasures to hold and protect: The first is motherly love. The second is economy. The third is daring not to be first in the world.
67.3 With motherly love one can be courageous. With economy one can be expansive. With humility one can lead.
67.4 To be courageous without motherly love, To be expansive without practicing economy, To go to the front without humility - this is courting death.
67.5 Venture with love and you win the battle. Defend with love and you are invulnerable. Heaven's secret is motherly love.
68.1 A good general doesn't show off his power. a good warrior doen't get angry.
68.2 A good conqueror doesn't attack people. A good employer puts himself below his employees.
68.3 This is called the power of noncontention. This is called using the strength of others. This is called perfect emulation of heaven.
69.1 In conflict it is better to be receptive than aggressive, better to retreat a foot than advance an inch.
69.2 This is called moving ahead without advancing, capturing the enemy without attacking him.
69.3 There is no greater misfortune than underestimating your opponent. To underestimate your opponent is to forsake your three treasures.
69.4 When opposing forces are engaged in conflict, the one who fights with sorrow will triumph.
70.1 My words are very easy to understand, very easy to put into practice. But you can't "understand" them, can't put them into "practice."
70.2 Words have their ruler. Eventshave their origins. People who can't understand this can't understand me. Those who do are few.
70.3 They wear coarse cloth and carry jade in their breasts.
71.1 Moving from knowing to not knowing - this is good. Moving from not knowing to knowing - this is sickness. You have to become sick of your sickness before you can get rid of it.
71.2 The sage isn't sick. He's sick of his sickness. Therefore he's not sick.
72.1 If people fear your power, then you don't really have any.
72.2 Leave them alone in their homes. Respect them in their lives, and they won't grow weary of you.
72.3 The sage knows herself, but doesn't dwell on herself; Loves herself, but no more than she loves everyone else. She adopts the concerns of heaven as her own.
73.1 Those who are courageous out of daring are killed. Those who are courageous out of love survive.
73.2 The first is harmful, the second beneficial. Heaven prohibits some things, but who knows the reason? Not even the sage knows the answer to this.
73.3 This is the way of heaven: It doesn't contend, but easily overcomes. It doesn't speak, but always responds. It can't be summoned, but comes of its own volition. Utterly without haste, it plans for everything.
73.4 The net of heaven is vast. Though its meshes are wide, nothing slips through.
74.1 If people don't love life, they won't fear death, and threatening them with it won't work.
74.2 If people have lives worth living, then the threat of death is meaningful, and they'll do what is right to avoid it.
74.3 But killing itself should be the province of the great executioner alone. Trying to take his place and kill is like cutting wood in the place of the master carpenter: The odds are you'll hurt your own hand.
75.1 What makes people go hungry? Rulers eating up all their money in taxes.
75.2 What makes people rebellious? Rulers who can't stop interfering.
75.3 What makes people take death so lightly? People taking life too seriously. Those who enjoy life are wiser than those who employ life.
76.1 At birth a person is soft and yielding, at death stiff and hard.
76.2 All beings, the grass, the trees: alive, soft, and yielding; dead, stiff, and hard.
76.3 Therefore the hard and inflexible are friends of death. The soft and yielding are friends of life.
76.4 An unyielding army is destroyed. An unbending tree breaks.
76.5 The hard must humble itself or be otherwise humbled. The soft will ultimately ascend.
77.1 The way of heaven is like the bending of a bow. What is high up gets pulled down. What is low down gets pulled up.
77.2 Heaven takes from what has too much and gives to what doesn't have enough. Man is different: he takes from those who have too little and gives to those who have too much.
77.3 Who has a genuine abundance to give to the world? Only a person of Tao.
77.4 He acts without expectation, accomplishes without taking credit, and has no desire to display his merit.
78.1 Nothing under heaven is as soft and yielding as water. Yet for attacking the hard and strong, nothing can compare with it.
78.2 The weak overcomes the strong. The soft overcomes the hard. Everyone knows this, but none have the ability to practice it.
78.3 Therefore the sage says: One who accepts the dung of the nation becomes the master of soil and sustenance. One who deals with the evils of the nation becomes king under heaven. True words seem paradoxical.
79.1 In the reconciling of resentments, ill will often lingers. What's the good in that?
79.2 The person who is truly good concerns herself always with what she owes others, never with what they owe her.
79.4 The Tao of heaven is impartial. If you perpetuate it, it perpetuates you.
80.1 Let there be small countries with few people. Let the people have no use for complicated machinery. Let them be mindful of death so that they don't move too far from their birthplaces.
80.2 If there be boats and carriages, let there be nowhere to take them to. If there are weapons, let there be no occasion to display them.
80.3 Let the people's responsibilities be few enough that they may remember them by knotting a string. Let them enjoy their food, be content with their clothes, be satisfied with their homes, and take pleasure in their customs.
80.4 Though the next country may be close enough to hear the barking of dogs and the crowing of its rooster, let the people grow old and die without feeling compelled to visit it.
81.1 True words aren't elaborate. Elaborate words aren't true.
81.2 Good people don't argue. People who argue aren't good.
81.3 People who know aren't full of facts. People who are full of facts don't know.
81.4 The sage doesn't hoard. She increases her treasure by working for her fellow human beings. She increases her abundance by giving herself to them.
81.5 The way of heaven: benefit all, harm none. The way of the sage: work for all, contend with none.