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Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing)
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TAO-TE CHING, DAO DE JING SYMBOL The marks of great virtue follow alone from the [one] Tao.

What is called one Tao seems impalpable and vague, not to be measured at all.

Tao is an elusive, virtually incommensurable form, but eluding, elusive it contains sub-forms.

Within it lie idea-images of coming things, within it are some shadowy entities or some dormant, vibrant life force of the firstborn, dim essence - even of objects, somehow, but much rarefied - latent in the essence is the life-force.

The life-force is real and to be trusted.

It is true, and can be set to operate.

And latent in it are evidences.

From the days of old till now

Its chunks have not departed or ceased,

By its chunks we can view some origin of all descended units.

How do I know a father of a thing? How to know how some origin of a manifestation is formed?

By much developed intuition, possibly.


"To remain whole, yield somewhat or seem curved and bent if you may."

To become straight, let yourself look bent.

To become full, seem hollow.

Seem tattered now, that you can be renewed.

Those that have little, can get more,

To have plenty is to be confused.

Therefore the wise man clasps the primal unity, himself testing "everything" under heaven by it.

He does not show himself much, he is therefore luminous and clear.

He does not define himself, therefore he is distinct.

He does not boast, therefore people give him credit: he succeeds by that.

He's never outright proud of his work, and therefore he endures.

Because he does not contend, none in the world can contend with him.

So the old saying "To remain whole, seem twisted!" was no idle word;

For true wholeness can only be won by return to Tao.


To be always talking goes against nature.

For the same reason a good whirlwind never lasts the whole morning, nor a swell rainstorm the whole day.

The wind and rain emerge from nature. And if even nature can't blow, last or pour for long, how much less should man-given tenets?

So, he who takes to or follows [one] Tao, becomes merged with [this] Tao. Or if one uses Tao as one's instrument, the results will be like Tao.

Who follows virtue, is soaked by it. If one uses the power as one's instrument, the results will be like the power.

If one uses what is the reverse of the power",

The results will be the reverse of the power".

Who is Tao identified, could be glad as well. For to those who have conformed themselves to Tao, Tao readily lends its power.

To those who have conformed themselves to the power, the power readily lends more power.

While to those who conform themselves to inefficacy, inefficacy readily lends its ineffectiveness.

Who has not enough faith will not be able to get faith. Or:

"By not believing in people you turn them into liars."


Who stands on tiptoe, does not stand steady;

He who takes the longest strides, does not walk."

He who does his own looking sees little, and he who shows or reveals himself is hardly luminous

He who justifies and defines himself isn't subsequently distinct.

He who boasts of what he will do succeeds in nothing;

Who brags does not endure for long. Who is proud of his work, achieves nothing well lasting.

Such people are like remnants of food and tumours of action from the Tao point of view. Good braggarts could be dregs. So it is said

"Pass round superfluous dishes to those that have already had enough,

Such things of disgust all are likely to detest and reject in disgust."

So the man of Tao spurns them. The man that has Tao does not stay to bray and show off.


Before heaven and earth here was something nebulous, formless yet complete;

Without sound, without substance, isolated, free from all form;

Standing alone and depending on nothing, unchanging, operating everywhere, all pervading, revolving and without fail.

One can think of it as the mother of all

I do not know its true name. I call it Tao.

"Way" is the by-name.

If forced to give it a name I can call it great (ta) .

Now such greatness implies reaching out in space, and also means functioning everywhere, or passing on;

Space-yielding or functioning everywhere signifies far-reaching. And passing on means going far away,

To go really far is to return to the original point. To reach far is a return. To go far away means to return.

So Tao is great and far-reaching, and so is heaven, earth and the king.

For just as Tao, earth and heaven each has its subtle greatness, so does the ruler.

There are four great things in the universe, and the king is one of them. So within the realm there are four portions of greatness", and one belongs to the king.

The ways of men are conditioned by those of earth.

The ways of earth, by those of heaven.

The ways of heaven by those of Tao,

And the ways of Tao by the Self-so's

Tao in turn models itself after Nature.


The solid is the platform of the light, and the heavy is the root of the light.

[Maybe firm integrity has to be the basis of light frivolity].

Quiet strength rules over activity, the not-so-active could be the big boss of the hasty.

So the wise man travels all day and never leaves his baggage;

He who travels all day hardly likes to be separated from his provision-chart:

However great and glorious the view, he sits quiet and dispassionate".

So the lord with ten thousand chariots can seldom allow himself to be light-spirited and lighter than those he rules. The ruler of a great country should never make light of his body - anywhere. In light frivolity, the controller's centre is lost; in hasty action, such self-mastery. If the ruler is light-hearted, the minister will be destroyed. If he is light, the foundation is lost;

If he is active, the lord is lost. [Maybe for ever.]


A good traveller leaves no track or trace behind, nor does fit activity. So a good runner leaves no track.

Perfect speech is like a jade-worker whose tool leaves no mark. Good speech leaves no flaws.

The perfect reckoner needs no counting-slips; the good reckoner uses no counters.

The perfect, shut door is without bolt nor bar and can't be opened.

The perfect knot needs neither rope nor twine, yet can't be untied. No one can untie it.

So the wise man is good at helping men, always good in saving men: the wise man is all the time helping men in the most perfect way - he certainly does not turn his back on men; is all the time in the most perfect way helping creatures. He certainly does not turn his back on creatures, and consequently no man is rejected. For that reason there is no useless person.

And he is always good in saving. So nothing is rejected.

This is called following the light [of nature] - is called resorting to the light, nay, stealing some divine light.

Truly, the good man is the teacher of the bad, as they say. But the bad man is the lesson of the good, in part some material from which the good can learn. And so the imperfect is the equipment of the perfect man".

He who hardly respects or values his teacher, hardly cares for the material or loves his lesson, is gone far astray even if well versed.

That is the fine secret.


"He who knows the male [active force], yet keeps to the female [the passive force or receptive element], becomes like a ravine, receiving all sort of things.

Being the all-encompassing ravine he knows a power that he never calls upon in vain. This is returning to the state of infancy.

He who knows the white, yet keeps and cleaves to the black becomes the standard by which all things are tested, he becomes the model for the world.

As such he has all the time the eternal power that never errs; and he returns to the limitless, a primordial nothingness.

He who knows glory, yet keeps to obscurity or even cleaves to ignominy,

Turns into the valley that receives into it all kind of things. And being such a valley he has all the time a power that suffices. So he returns again to some pristine simplicity, returns to the state of simplicity: its the raw, uncarved block.

Break up simple awareness and it becomes shaped. Next it becomes someones tool in the hands of the wise man. For when a block is sawed up it is made into subordinates or implements.

When the wise man uses it, it becomes chief.

So the greatest carver does the least cutting, as they say. The great ruler does not cut up.


Those that would gain what is under heaven by tampering with it - I have seen that they do not succeed.

For that which is under heaven is like a holy vessel, dangerous to tamper with. Those that tamper with it, harm it. Human go-between is likely to fail. Those that grab at it lose it. Who makes can spoil well; who holds can lose.

Among creatures of this world some lead and some follow. Some things go forward among creatures: some go in front, some follow behind -

Some blow out, some blow in; some blow out while others would blow in.

Some are feeling vigorous just when others are worn out. Some are strong, some are weak.

Some are loading just when others would be tilting out. Some can break, some can fall.

So the wise man discards excess, extravagance, and ridiculous pride: He discards even the absolute, the all-inclusive, the extreme.


He who by Tao purposes to help a ruler of men, will oppose most conquest by force of arms:

Such things are wont to rebound.

Where armies are, thorns and brambles can grow.

The raising of a great host could be followed by a year of dearth.

Therefore a good general effects his purpose and next stops; for he dares not rely upon the strength of arms: he does not take further advantage of a victory. He fulfils his purpose and does hardly glory in things he has done; effects his purpose and doesnt boast of a thing he accomplished;

Fulfils an ignoble purpose, but takes no pride in something he did well; fulfils his purpose as some perhaps regrettable necessity - does it as a step that could hardly be averted and avoided. So he effects his purpose, but hardly loves violence. Why?

Things age after reaching their prime. What has a time of vigour [and conquest] also has its time of decay. After things reach their prime, they begin to grow old, which means being contrary to Tao. Furthermore, morbid violence and violence in excess could be against Tao. He who is against the Tao perishes young. Whatever is contrary to Tao will soon perish. What is against Tao will hardly survive.


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