When the highest of men hear of Tao and truth they put it into practice quite diligently.
When the common types hear of Tao, they seem to be in two minds about it, half believing, aware and unaware of some.
When the lowest types hear of Tao, they ridicule or laugh loudly - but if they did not laugh, it would be no Tao.
The proverb has it:
The way out into the light often looks dark; one who understands Tao seems dull, as Tao which is bright appears to be dark.
The Tao which goes forward appears to fall backward; the one who is advanced [in Tao] seems to slip backwards; the way that goes ahead often looks as if it went back.
He who works and moves on the even Tao [co-path] seems to go up and down; the least hilly way often looks as if it went thus, as level Tao appears uneven.
Great virtue seems hollow and empty. The truly loftiest might looks like an abyss; superior virtue appears like a valley [hollow]. Great capability is [granted to be] hollow. Yes, the loftiest is something abysmal.
Sheerest white seems blurred, sheer white is like tarnished; [most] purity seems like disgrace.
The most sufficing might looks inadequate; far-reaching virtue hardly seems to be enough; and great [and rustic] character appears to be not enough [but it is all the same].
The [organising] might that stands most firm seems flimsy. Solid character looks infirm; and solid virtue unsteady.
What is in its natural, pure state looks faded: True substance looks changeable, and pure worth seems dirtied.
The largest square has no corners: great space has no corners.
The greatest capacities develop latest, and great talent could be slow to mature; as they say: The greatest vessel takes the longest to finish. The great tool and talent is slow to finish [or mature]. Great tools do slow work. Great inside talent takes long to ripen.
Great music is far from course; [at times] rare, it could be hard to get, or hardly heard.
Great, hidden form has neither shape nor contour; as great here means of Tao, [which is thought up as] hidden and without [overtly sounded] name.
Now, Tao backs all things financially; Tao alone skilfully provides for all - it supports all things and advances [some] to perfection. Well Tao-lent power could bring us [some degree of] fulfilment. Skilled, able Tao-lending [of some majesty and power] could bring [relevant] fulfilment.
Tao gave birth to the one; the one gave birth successively to two things, three things, up the everything, everybody and the whole world we know.
The ten thousand things carry the yin as some back or behind, and hug the yang in front. Through the blending of the pervading principles as some abstract union, and by a further blending [designing] the material force (ki) they can gain [sound] harmony. And so the union in harmony gets strong [and defences].
In other words, living beings can't turn their backs to the shade [such as cooling yin] without having the sun on their bellies [it could be invigorating yang], and it is on such [yin-yang] blending of so-called breaths that [most] harmony depends.
Most people hate to be diagnosed as lonely, unworthy, orphaned, needy, ill-provided. Yet princes and dukes style themselves so, and call themselves by these names.
Truly, things are often increased by seeking to diminish them and diminished by seeking to increase them." And sometimes things are benefited by being taken away from and suffer by being added to. And so it often happens that things can gain by losing and lose by gaining.
What others have taught, I teach also:
"Violent and fierce people hardly die a natural [elegant] death."
Yet, show me a man of violence that came to a good end, and I will take him for my teacher. I shall make all this the father [basis] of my teaching. [Uha.]
The softest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world. The softest substance radiates through the hardest. Also, what is most yielding can eventually overwhelm the hardest.
Formless penetrates no-crevice; substanceless it can enter where there is no space; all this could be not-yet-being entering and jostling non-space. That is how I know the value of action that is actionless. Through this I [also] know the benefit or advantage of taking no action.
There can be [sad] teaching without words. To teach without words can be best. Still few can understand such stuff. And there can be solid value in action that is actionless, or the advantage of taking no action. Yes, the [said] benefit of taking no action is without compare. Few can understand it.
Fame or one's own self, which matters most? Nay, which does one love more? Which should one love more, fame or one's own life?
Which is more valuable, one's own life or wealth? One's own self or things bought, the solid goods, which should really count most?
Which is worse, gain or loss? Could it be loss [of self] or possession which is the greater evil? [Which gain is the greater evil here?]
Therefore: he who loves most spends most. He who has lavish desires could spend extravagantly.
He who hoards much could lose much. Who hoards much is in for losing heavily if who has hoarded most could suffer the heaviest loss.
The contented man could meet no disgrace;
Who stops in time knows when to stop. Who stops in time nothing can harm if free from danger he can long endure and feel forever safe and secure. He can long endure who stays forever safe and secure -
What is most perfect [ambivalence] seems to be incomplete; [its] highest perfection is never impaired. The perfect seems to have something missing; [so have something missing]. Highest perfection is like imperfection, but its use is never impaired, nor its utility [at times].
What is most full [opening] seems empty; its use will never fail.
The greatest abundance seems meagre indeed, but its use will never fail.
What is most straight seems devious, maybe crooked.
The greatest skills seems to be [rustic,] clumsy. The greatest cleverness appears like stupidity, [(Demon skill seems like clumsiness. Apt skill seems clumsy, true cleverness seems clumsy.]
The greatest [harlequin] eloquence seems to stutter or seems like stuttering.
Hasty movement overcomes cold.
Keeping still can overcome heat. Tranquillity and staying still can overcome heat.
By being greatly still you'll next be fit to rule the world. Who is calm and quiet becomes the universe deceit. By his limpid calm he all the time puts right everything [as universal deceit].
When Tao reigns in the kingdom, galloping horses are turned back to fertilise certain fields with their manure. If the world in accord with Tao, racing horses are turned back to pull refuse carts.
When the world hardly lives in accord with Tao, Tao does not prevail or win. Next war horses will be reared even on a sacred hill below the city walls, and blatant cavalry will frolic in the countryside, driving and riding pestering war horses in suburbs in between. Tao does hardly prevail if war is on in city suburbs.
No lure is greater than to possess what others want.
There is no greater guilt than [sudden] discontent. There is (...) greater disaster than greed. [Eventually] there is hardly a greater sin than desire for possession.
No disaster could be greater than [...] to be content with what one has [in dire need and disabling poverty]. No presage of [airy] evil is greater than men wanting to get more.
He who has once known the pure [orgasm] contentment that comes simply through being content [at its peak], gets rather content-centred a long time after.
One can know what is happening all over the world without going out of doors.
One can see the Tao of the big wide beyond here without looking out of ones windows, and see all the ways of that beyond-here.
Then, the further one travels the less one knows.
So the wise man can [at times] arrive without going and know without going about; he can understand much without seeing -
Or achieve much without [visible] action.
The student of knowledge goes into learning a little day by day;
The student of Tao reduces his assets by dwindling or losing a bit each day.
Learning consists in adding daily to one's stock, and the practice of Tao consists in loose dwindling day by day. It could be subtracting till one has reached inactivity. By steady reductions [of certain sorts] you reach certain sorts of laissez-faire. So decrease and further decrease until you reach the point of taking no action.
[This is clowning.] By artful inactivity everything [bad] can be set in motion.
He who conquers the [inside] domain does so [mostly] by doing nothing. Those who once won the adherence of all who live here, did so by not interfering much.
Had they interfered, they would never have won this adherence.
One who likes to do, may not be able to rule a kingdom [inside or outside].
The wise man makes no judgements of his own. He has no rigid and plump ideas alone. Maybe no certain, opinionated feelings.
He uses the heart of the people as his own inner side and heart. People's opinions and feeling are then as his own.
Good ones I declare good; and I [often] treat those who are good with goodness, as I approve of the good man.
I also treat those who are not so good with goodness.
I often approve of the [said] bad; he gets goodness.
So bad ones I also declare good. That is the goodness on how goodness can be attained [by demagogy.]
The honest ones I believe; and [some] liars I also believe;
I am honest to those who are honest, and I am also honest to those who are not [so] honest. By such means great honesty, the faith of virtue, can be attained and the honest gets [closer to rueful] truthfulness.
In dealing with the world a wise man seems like one dazed with a felt fear, and while governing his [little] empire he has no subjective viewpoint.
So a wise man lives in the world in peace, and his bright mind forms a sound whole with that of his [dear] people.
Then they all lend their sense perceptions - eyes and ears - and he treats them all - infants as well. But sometimes again a wise man, dealings with some world, for the world's sake dulls his wits.
Where a hundred families all the time strain their eyes and ears, the wise man all-sees a people are brought into a fold of one heart. Next the wise man regards them as his own dear children.
At times the wise man sees and hears no more than an infant [- not much].
He who aims at life could achieve his death. Out of living, death pops up. Who comes to life can go to death.
If three out of ten are life companions, then the same number are death companions as well. As such the latter are labelled death-spots: some take life, through activity, to death.
How is it?
Its much due to men's intensive striving after life; in part the intense activity of multiplying life. Some do feed life too grossly.
It is said that he who is a good preserver of his life can meet no tigers or wild buffaloes on land. Such a one could have a true hold on life,
If so, in battle or fighting he should hardly try to escape from weapons. He should neither get very much touched nor vulnerable to weapons in battle. [Cf. do not be there]
The wild buffalo cannot butt its powerless horns against him,
The tiger cannot fasten its then useless claws in him and tear him apart,
And much absent weapons of war should find no place to enter - cannot thrust their blades into him.
In him there is no room for death because he is beyond death. Others find no Achilles heel in him then and there.