The way that can be told of is hardly an eternal, absolute, unvarying one;
The name that can be coded and given is no absolute name.
Heaven and earth sprang from something else: the bright nameless;
The named is but the said mother that rears the ten thousand creatures of heaven and earth, each after its kind.
He that rids himself of base desire can see the secret essences;
He that didn't and reached high being, he can see outcomes.
Still the two are the same; the secret and its manifestations came from the same ground, the same mould, but anyway sound different -
They are given different names where they appear.
They can both be called the cosmic mystery, awesome deep.
Or rather more secret than so-called mystery.
There is the deeper mystery: the gate and doorway all hidden essences issued from: all such subleties.
And the subtle, mysterial opening homewards.
Call it the door mystery or golden secret of all life.
. . . The wise man relies on doing nothing in the open, it is wu-wei. And he spreads doctrines without true or false words, by a wordless influence.
All things appear, and he hardly turns away from the creatures worked on by him:
Some he gives solid, good life, he hardly disowns his chosen ones.
He hardly takes possession of anyone under fair conditions.
He rears his sons in earthly ways, but neither appropriates nor lays blatant claim to any one.
He acts, but does not rely on his outer, visible smartness or miracle-working ability. He very often claims no credit.
At times he controls them, but hardly leans on any of them.
Because he lays claim to no credit, the handy credit can hardly be taken away from him.
Yes, for the very reason that he hardly calls attention to what he does, he is far from ejected [at once].
A substanceless image of all things seemed to exist before the progenitor that we hardly know of.
The force of words is soon spent.
It seems far better to keep what is in the heart.
So hold to the heart core and a regular mean.
The wise man puts himself last, and finds himself in the foremost place.
He looks on his body almost as an outer something to be well taken care of.
Being content with places men disdain,
Makes water so near to some Tao.
The ground can be the best place for building a house on,
Among thoughts, value those that are profound,
In friendship value gentleness;
In words, value truth and sincere faithfulness,
In deeds, value competence, ability, effectiveness;
In actions, value timeliness and proper timing -
Just prefer things that hardly lead to strife, going astray or amiss.
If your work is done, withdraw - That is heaven's way.
When "concentrating" your breath, make it soft like that of an infant.
In opening and shutting the heavenly gates, ever play the feminine part.
And refrain from mismanaging.
Here is found the essential Tao prowess.