Terebess Asia Online (TAO)


The Tao Te Ching
by Lao Tzu

Translated by John Louis Albert Trottier, 1994

More English versions



















































































TAO (THE LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE) can be talked about,

but not the Eternal Tao (Laws of the Universe).

Names can be named,

but not the Eternal Name.

(You cannot name the unknown.)

As the origin of heaven-and-earth,

it is not describable:

As "the Mother" of all things,

it is describable.

(You cannot describe the unknown origin.)

As it is always hidden,

We should look at its Inner Sum and Substance (through philosophy

and poetry):

As always visible,

We should look at its Outer Form (through science and obsevation).

These two flow from the same source

(the Laws of the Universe,)

though differently named;

And both are called mysteries.

The Mystery of mysteries is the Gate of all sum and substance.

(Beyond the gate of experience is the Way.

It is in all ways greater and more subtle than the world.)


When all the world recognizes beauty as beauty,

this in itself is ugliness,

(for it lacks a seeing of the Truth.)

(When all of humankind abstracts beauty there is no beauty).

When all the world recognizes good as good, this in itself is


(for it lacks a seeing of the Truth.)

(What is good in one circumstance is bad in another).

Indeed, the hidden and the visible give birth to each other.

Hard and easy balance each other.

Long and short give measure to each other.

High and low set measure to each other.

Voice and sound give wholeness each other.

Back and front follow each other.

Therefore, the Complete Thinker

experiences without abstraction

and accomplishes without visible action;

Yet spreads their teaching by actions.

Accepting the ebb and flow of

the many living things.

Raises them,

but makes no claim of them.

Does his work,

but does not brag about it.

Finishing tasks,

and moves on.

And yet it is just because

of moving on.

That nobody can take

works away.


By not making great the worthy

you will cause the people

to stop from having enemies and fighting.

(When everyone is equal, each is rewarded fairly.)

By not giving value to

goods hard to get,

you will cause the people

to stop from robbing and stealing.

(When material goods have no value there is no temptation to steal.)

By not showing

what people would like to have,

you will cause the people's hearts

to remain undisturbed.

(When people are not tempted to own things they do not desire things.)

Therefore, the Complete Thinker's way of governing begins by

Emptying the heart of wants,

Filling the belly with food,

Relaxing the ambitions, (not creating a temptation),

Toughening the bones, (guiding a healthful life).

In this way will cause

the people to remain

without strategy

and without desire,

and prevent the knowing ones

from causing any trouble.

Practice doing things at the Proper Speed, and everything

will be in order.


The Tao (the Law of the Universe) is like

an empty bowl.

Which in being used

can never be filled up

. So deep it

cannot be measured,

it is the

origin of all things.

It blurs

all sharp edges,

It unties

all tangles,

It blends

all lights,

It unites the world

into one whole.


in the depths,

Yet it seems to

exist for ever.

I do not know

whose child it is;

It is the common ancestor

of all,

the father of all things.

(It is the Universal Laws from the beginning of our Universe),

To live by these Laws is to

live in harmony with our

True Nature.


Heaven-and-Earth is

not sentimental;

It treats all things

like straw dogs


The Complete Thinker is

not sentimental;

Treats all people

as straw dogs

( equally).

Between Heaven and Earth,

There seems to be

a Bellows:

It is empty,

yet it can

not be emptied;

The more it works,

the more comes

out of it.

The Complete Thinker

draws upon the universal experience

thus cannot be exhausted.

Better look for it

within you.

The Tao (the Laws of the Universe) is

in all that exists.


The Spirit of

the Valley dies not.

It is called

the Secret

which is Filled with

womanly qualities.

The Gateway of the

Secret is

Filled with womanly qualities

Is called

the Womb of Heaven-and-Earth.

Staying like

a fog,

it has only a

hint that it is there;

And yet when you

use it,

it is always there

without end.


Heaven lasts long, and

Earth lasts.

What is the secret of

their lasting?

Is it not because

they do not live for themselves

That they can

live so long?

The Complete Thinker wants to

remain behind,

But is found at

the head of others;

Ignores his desires,

But is found


Is it not because

of selflessness

That True Self is realized?


The highest form of

goodness is like water.

Water knows how to

benefit all things

without contention.

It flows to places

others disdain.

It comes near the Tao (the Laws of the Universe).

In choosing your dwelling,

know how to keep the ground.

In cultivating your mind,

know how to dive

in the hidden depths.

In dealing with others,

know how to be

gentle and kind.

Speak within


In governing,

know how to

maintain order.

In transacting business,

know how to

be efficient.

In making a move,

know how to

choose the right moment.

If you

do not contend,

none contend

against you.


Fill a cup

to its brim,

it is easy

to spill.

Do not

over do the task,

close it.

Temper a sword throughout

to its hardest,

and it is easily broken.

Fill your house

with gold and


it can not

be guarded.

(Do not tempt

others for

someone will

give in to temptation.)

Set store

by your riches and


you easily fall.

This is the Tao

(the Laws of the Universe):

When your purpose is achieved retire.


In keeping the spirit

and the vital soul


Are you able to

maintain their perfect blending?

Breath gently

and become newborn.

Clear your inner vision,

and become clear.

In loving your people and

governing your state,

Are you able to

be impartial?

In opening and shutting

of heaven's gate(your heart),

you become


Enlightened and


far into all directions,

Can you at the same time

remain not involved and

not interfere?

Raise your people with care!

Feed your people!

Raise them without saying

they are your own!

Do your work

without setting

any value to it!

Be one to be followed,

not one who commands!

This is called Hidden Powers.

This is true harmony.


Thirty Spokes

converge upon a single hub;

It is on

the hole in the center

that the use

of the cart hinges.

We make a bowl or cup

from a lump of clay;

It is the empty space

within the vessel

that makes it useful.

We make doors

and windows

for a room;

It is the

empty spaces

that make the

room livable.


Take advantage of

what is visible,

By making use of

What is not visible.


The five colors

blind the eye.

The five tones

deafen the ear

. The five flavors

stick to the palate.

Racing and hunting

make crazy the mind.

Temptations make men do wrong.

The Complete Thinker

takes care of

the hunger,

not the senses.


the substance within

not the illusion.


"Welcome disgrace

as a pleasant surprise.

Prize misfortunes

as your own body."

Why should we

"welcome disgrace

as a pleasant surprise"?

Because a lowly state is a boon:

Getting it is a pleasant surprise,

And so is losing it!

That is why we should

"welcome disgrace

as a pleasant surprise."

Why should we

"prize misfortunes

as our own body"?

Because our body

is the very source

of our misfortunes

. If we have no body,

what misfortunes

can we have?

Only he

who is willing to

give their body

for the sake of the world

is fit to be


with the world.

Only they

who can do it

with love

and regard themselves

as the world

are worthy of being

the steward of the world.

This lesson is known

by all Complete Thinkers.


Look at it

but you cannot see it!

Its name is Formless.

Listen to it

but you cannot hear it!

Its name is Soundless

. Try to hold it

but you cannot get it!

Its name is Incorporeal.

These three attributes

are to deep to measure;

They mix together

into one.

Its upper side is not bright:

Its under side is not dim.

Always the Not Namable

moves on,

Until it returns

beyond the world of things.

We call it

the formless Form,

the imageless Image.

We call it

the not describable

and unimaginable.

Confront it and

you do not see its face!

Follow it and

you do not see its back!

Yet equipped with this

timeless Tao (the Laws of the Universe),

You can control

present realities and deal with the past.

To know the ancient origins

( the beginning of the Universe ) is

to know the true Tao (the Laws of the Universe)


In times past

the Complete Thinkers of the Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

were not obvious

about what they did and

could change to

meet the circumstance,

Their minds,

strong and


were too deep to be measured.

Because their minds

are unmeasurable,

One can only describe them

unclearly by their appearance.

Slow to start

like one crossing thin ice;

Shy as if surrounded by danger

on all sides;

Careful and polite like a guest;

Unbouded like ice on the point of melting;

Genuine like an

uncarved block;

Hollow like

a cave;

Disordered like

a muddy pool;

And yet who else could

quietly and gradually

change from the muddy to the clear?

Who else could

slowly but steadily

move from the lifeless to the living?

The who keep the Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

does not want to be full.

But precisely because they are never full,

They can always

remain open in thought,

They do not become rigid in thought.


Achieve the utmost Emptiness.

Cling single-heartedly to

interior peace.

Become a part

of all things,

In this way

see the pattern.

Flourish they do,

Each of them will

return to its root.

To return to

the root is

to find peace.

To find peace is

to fulfill one's destiny.

To fulfill one's destiny is

to be unchanging.

To know the Unchanging is

called Insight.

If one does not

know the Unchanging,

One runs blindly

into disasters.

If one knows

the Unchanging,

One can understand and

embrace all.

If one understands and

embraces all,

One is capable of

doing justice.

To be just is

to be a leader;

To be a leader is

to be one with nature;

To be one with nature is

to be one with the Tao (the Laws of the Universe);

To be one with

the Tao (the Laws of the Universe) is to become immortal.

Such a one will be safe and whole,

Even after the death of body.

The Tao does not decay.


The best type of leader

is one of whose existence

the people are barely aware.

Next comes one

whom they love and praise.

Next comes one

whom they fear.

Next comes one

whom they despise and defy.

When you are

lacking in faith,

Others will be

unfaithful to you.

The Complete Thinker is

quiet and uses few words.

When tasks have been

accomplished and

things have been completed,

All the people say,

"We ourselves have achieved it!"


When the Great Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

was abandoned,

There appeared

duty and justice.

When intelligence

and jokes arose,

There appeared people

who said they were one way but lived the opposite.

When the family

lost their compatibility,

There appeared respectful devotion

and fatherly kindness.

When darkness and disorder

began to control a country,

There appeared

the loyal and trustworthy patriots.


Drop wisdom,

abandon cleverness,

And the people will be

benefited a hundred fold.

Drop humanity,

abandon morality,

And the people will

return to their natural affections.

Drop cleverness,

abandon greed,

And robbers and thieves

will cease to be.

These three are a

pattern of Tao (the Laws of the Universe),

And are not sufficient in themselves

they are only symptoms.

They should be subordinated

to a Higher principle;

People need

personal remedies.

See the simple True Self

and embrace

your original nature.

Forget you habits and desires,

simplify you life.


Have done with rote learning,

And you will have no more frustration.

How great is the difference between agreement and being the servant?

What is the difference between "construction" and "destruction"?

Must I fear what others fear?

What difficult stupidity this is

! All are joyous and beaming,

As though feasting upon a sacrificial ox, As though mounting the Spring Garden;

I alone am peaceful and give no sign, Like a babe which has not yet smiled.

I alone am forgotten as one who has no home to return to.

All have enough and more:

I alone appear to possess nothing.

What a not knowing person I am!

What a confused mind I have!

All are bright,


I alone am dim,


All are sharp,


I alone am silent, silent!

Tasteless like the ocean,

Aimless like the drifting wind.

All settle in their paths:

I alone am stubborn and remain outside.

I am most different from others

In knowing

to take support from

my Eternal Mother!


It lies in the nature of


To follow the Tao (the Laws of the Universe) and

the Tao (the Laws of the Universe) alone.

Now what is the Tao (the Laws of the Universe)?

It is Something slippery and shifty. Shifty and slippery!

And yet It contains within Itself a Form. Shifty and slippery!

And yet It contains within Itself a Substance.

Shadowy and dim!

And yet It contains within Itself a Core of Energy ( the Force of Life ).

The Core of Energy ( Force of Life ) is very real,

It contains within Itself an unfailing Honesty.

Throughout the ages

Its Name has been preserved

In order to recall the

Beginning of all things.

(We can see and hear the background radiation that was the Big Bang the beginning of

our Universe.)

How do I know the ways of all things at the Beginning?

By what is within me.

(For are we not made of recycled Star Stuff.)


Accept and you will be whole.

Bend and you will straighten.

Empty and you will fill.

Grow old and you will be renewed.

Have little and you will gain.

Have much and you will be confused.

The Complete Thinker

embraces the One,

Becomes a Pattern to

all under Heaven.

Does not make a show,

Then shines;

Does not justify self,

Then becomes known;

Does not brag of ability,

Then gets credit;

Does not show success,

Then lasts;

Does not compete with anyone,

Then no one can compete with the Complete Thinker.

Indeed, the ancient saying:

"Accept and you will remain whole"

is no idle word.

Once whole,

Turn within and concentrate your Power.

The world is as your home.


Only simple and

quiet words will

ripen of themselves.

For a whirlwind

does not last a

whole morning.

A sudden rain

does not last

a whole day.

Who is their creator?


Even Heaven-and-Earth

cannot make such

violent things

last long;

The same is true of the

reckless efforts of humans.

Who helps the Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

is one with the Tao (the Laws of the Universe);

Who thinks with Power

is one with Power;

And who seeks the hand of loss

is one with Loss.

To be one with

the Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

is to be a welcome addition to

the Tao (the Laws of the Universe);

To be one with Power

is to be a welcome addition

to Power;

To be one with Loss

is to be a welcome addition

to Loss.

Failure of faith

on your part

Creates faithlessness

on the part of others.


One on tip-toe

cannot stand solid.

Sitting on a horse

you cannot walk.

Who shows off

does not shine

. Who brags

has no glory.

Who boasts of ability

has no merit.

Who parades success

will not last.

In Tao (the Laws of the Universe) these things are called

"unwanted food and

extra growths,"

Are rejected

by all things

. A person of the Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

does not want them.

They turn away from them.


There was Something undefined and complete in itself,

Born before Heaven-and-Earth.

Silent and


Standing alone

without change,

Being within all,

It may be thought of as

the Mother of the world.

I do not know its name;

I write it

"Tao (the Laws of the Universe)";

Without a better word,

call it

"The Great."

To be great is

to go on,

To go on is

to go far,

To go far is

to return.


"Tao (the Laws of the Universe) is great,

Heaven is great,

Earth is great,

The Leader is great"

Thus the Leader is

one of the great four in the Universe.

Humans follows

the ways of the Earth.

Earth follows

the ways of Heaven,

Heaven follows

the ways of Tao (the Laws of the Universe),

Tao (the Laws of the Universe) follows

its own ways.


Heaviness is

the root of lightness.

Peace of mind is

the master of restlessness.

The Complete Thinker,

traveling all day,

Does not leave

the baggage-wagon;

There may be

gorgeous sights to see,

But stays

peacefully at home.

How can a leader

Have a light hearted position in the world?

To be light hearted

is to be separated from one's root;

To be restless

is to lose one's self-mastery.


Good walking leaves

no track behind it,

but the walking was true;

Good speech leaves

no mark to be picked at,

but the speech was true;

Good calculation makes

no use of counting-slips,

yet the counting is true;

Good shutting makes

no use of bolt and bar,

And yet nobody can undo it;

Good tying makes

no use of rope and knot,

And yet nobody can untie it.

The Complete Thinker is

always good at saving humans,

And nobody is abandoned;

Always good at savings things,

And nothing is wasted.

This is called

"following the guidance of the Insight."

Good humans are the

teachers of destructive humans,

Destructive humans

depend on constructive humans.

Not to honor one's teacher,

Not to value one's dependent,

Is to be on the wrong road,

however intelligent one may be.

This is call the Important Not Obvious .


Know the masculine,

Keep to the feminine,

And be the

Brook of the World.

To be the Brook of the World is

To move unchanging

in the path of Power

Without swerving from it,

And to return again to infancy.

Know the white,

Keep to the black,

And be the Pattern of the World.

To be the Pattern of the World is

To move unchanging in the path of Power

Without making a single wrong step, And to return again to the Infinite.

Know the glorious,

Keep to the lowly,

And be the Fountain of

the World.

To be the Fountain of

the World is

To live the

life of Virute (Power) ,

And to return again to

the First Simplicity.

When the First Simplicity

splits apart,

It becomes useful tools,

Then in the hands

of a Complete Thinker,

make them leaders.

"a great tailor does little cutting."


Does anyone want to take the world

and do what he wants with it?

I do not see how they can succeed.

The world

is a sacred vessel,

which must not be

tampered with

or grabbed after.

To tamper with it

is to spoil it,

and to grasp

is to lose it.

For all things

there is a time for going ahead,

and a time for following behind;

A time for slow-breathing

and a time for fast-breathing;

A time to grow in strength

and a time to decay;

time to be up

and a time to be down.

The Complete Thinker

avoids all extremes,


and luxuries.


the middle path.


Who knows how to guide a leader in the path of Tao (the Laws of the Universe),

Does not try to conquer the world

with military force.

It is in the nature of a military force to turn against its user.

(Economic Force stregthens the Society)

Wherever armies are stationed,

thorny bushes grow.

After a great war,

bad years always follow.

(Over spending for military might only overtaxes the people)

Protect efficiently your own state,

But not to aim at selfishness.

After you have attained your purpose,

You must not show off your success,

You must not brag of your ability,

You must not feel proud,

You must rather regret that you had not been able to prevent the war.

You must never think of taking control of others by force.

To be over-developed is to quicken decay,

And this is against Tao (the Laws of the Universe),

And what is against Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

will soon end.


Soldiers of war predict destruction.

And are for use against Life.

A person of Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

does not set his heart upon them.( A person of Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

does not build armies to fight and take control of others land.)

In ordinary life, a gentle person regards

the left side (omen of the future) as the place of honor:

In war, the right side (omen of the past) is the place of honor.

As soldiers are tools of destruction, They are not properly

a gentle person's tools;

On necessity will they will use them,

(having them and knowing their use).

With calm control.

Even winning is

no cause for rejoicing.

To rejoice over a war won is

to rejoice over the slaughter of humans!

So a person who rejoices

over the slaughter of humans

cannot expect to do well

in the world of humans.

On happy occasions the left side (omen of the future) is preferred:

On sad occasions the right side (omen of the past) .

In the army, the Lieutenant Commander stands on the left,

While the Commander-in-Chief stands on the right.

This means that war is treated as equal to a funeral service (rememberance of the past).

Because many people have been killed,

it is only correct that living should be sad at the loss of them.

Hence, even in a victory is a funeral.


Tao (the Laws of the Universe) is always nameless.

Small as it is in its First Simplicity,

It is less than nothing in the world.

If only a leader could stick to it, Everything will give respect

to them.

Heaven and Earth

will be harmonized

And send down sweet dew.

Peace and order

will reign among the people

Without any command from above.

When once

the Primal Simplicity broke up,

(at the Time of the Big Bang,)

Different names appeared.

Are there not enough names now?

Is this not the time to stop?

To know where to stop is to preserve ourselves from danger.

The Tao (the Laws of the Universe) is to the world

what a great river or an ocean is to the streams and brooks.

The Tao is manifest into a shape, but then the shape is lost.

Do not be rigid about shapes, but only about ability to change.


Who knows people is clever;

Who knows self has enlightenment.

Who conquers a people has force;

Who conquers self is truly strong.

Who knows when they have enough are rich,

And who follows carefully

the path of Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

is a person of steady purpose.

Who stays

where they have found their true home

lasts long,

And who dies but is not forgotten enjoys real longevity.


The Great Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

is universal like a flood.

How can it be turned

to the right

or to the left?

All creatures depend on it,

and it denies nothing to anyone.

It does its work,

But it makes no claims for itself.

It clothes and feeds all,

But it does not rule them

: Thus, it may be called

"the Little."

All things return to it

as to their home,

But it does not rule them:

It may be called

"the Great."

It is just because it

does not wish to be great

That its greatness

is fully realized.

The Complete Thinker

would not control the world;

They are in harmony

with the world.


Who holds to the Great Pattern

will attract all things to them.

They go to them and

receive no harm,

in them they find


security and


Music and

snacks can only

make a passing guest pause.

The words of Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

have lasting effects,

They are mild and


We look and see nothing.

We listen and hear nothing.

But if we use it,

It is without end.


What is in the end

to be shrunken,

Begins by being first

stretched out.

What is in the end

to be weakened,

Begins by being first

made strong.

What is in the end

to be thrown down,

Begins by being first

set on high.

What is in the end

to be raped,

Begins by being first

given riches.

Herein is the hidden

wisdom of life:

The soft and


overcomes the

hard and strong.

Just as the fish

must not leave

the deeps,

The words of agression

should not be used.


Tao (the Laws of the Universe) never makes

any showiness,

And yet it

does everything.

If a ruler can

stick to it,

All things will

grow of themselves.

When they have

grown and

tend to make an excitement,

It is time to keep them

in their place

by the aid of

the nameless First Simplicity.

Which alone can

control the desires

of people.

When the desires

of people

are limited,

there will be peace,

And the world

will settle down

of its own agreement.


High Virtue (Power) is completely virtuous (powerful) without chasing after
virtue (power);

Therefore it has Virtue (Power).

Low Virtue (Power) is always chasing after virtue (power)

and never frees itself from the chase;

Therefore it is without Virtue (Power).

High Virtue (Power) is without problems and is without private goals to

Low Virtue (Power) not only makes problems but has private goals to serve.

High humanity makes problems but is without private goals to serve:

High morality not only makes problems but has private goals to serve.

High ceremony makes problems but is without response;

Then it raises its arms to show itself.

Losing Tao ( the Laws of the Universe ), man uses Virtue (Power).

Losing Virtue (Power), humans use humanity.

Losing humanity, people use morality.

Losing morality, humans use ceremony.

Ceremony is the shell of faith and loyalty;

It is the beginning of all,

not understanding and mix-up.

Knowing the future, is only, the

attractive without substance part, of the Tao ( the Laws of the Universe ),

And the beginning of foolishness.

The full-grown human

Can enter the substance

rather than the shell;

Can enter totality

rather than the promise.

They prefer what is within

instead of appearance.


There are many things that have achieved Oneness.

The sky achieved Oneness and became clear;

The earth achieved Oneness and became calm;

The spirits achieved Oneness and became charged with powers;

The fountains achieved Oneness and became full;

All of the plants and animals achieved Oneness and became reproductive;

Leaders achieved Oneness and became the greatest rulers of the world.

All of them are what they are by virtue

( the power ) of Oneness.

If the sky were not clear, it would be likely to fall to pieces;

If the earth were not calm, it would be likely to burst into bits;

If the spirits were not charged with powers, they would be likely to cease
from being;

If the fountains were not full, they would be likely to dry up;

If all the plants and animals were not reproductive, they would be likely
to cease to exist;

If the leaders were not the greatest rulers, they would be likely to
stumble and fall.

Truly, humility is the root from which greatness springs,

The High must be built upon the foundation of the low.

That is why leaders describe themselves "The Helpless One," "The Little
One," and "The Worthless One."

To gain the peoples support.

They realize their

dependence upon the lowly.

Get honor

by not being honored.

It is not wise to

shine like jade and

sound like stone-chimes.

(The true leader

has substance

rather just appearance.)


The movement of the

Tao ( the Laws of the Universe )

consists of Returning.

(In science, for every physical action there is a physical reaction. It is
the same in social order.)

The use of the

Tao ( the Laws of the Universe )

consists of perception.

(Understand the root cause and you will understand the process.)

All things

under heaven

are born

of the Visible;

The Visible

is born

of the Invisible.

(The principals that we do not directly perceive create what we see.

Chaos has a pattern if only we use our intuition.)


When a wise scholar hears the Tao ( the Laws of the Universe ),

They practice it without fail.

When a average scholar hears the

Tao ( the Laws of the Universe ),

They move between belief and unbelief.

When a worthless scholar hears the

Tao ( the Laws of the Universe ),

They laugh loudly at it.

If such a one does not laugh at it,

The Tao ( the Laws of the Universe ) would not be the Tao ( the Laws of the
Universe )!

To the untrained observer;

Who understands the Tao, seems foolish;

Who progresses in the Tao, seems to fail;

Who follows the Tao, seems to wander.

The wise people of old have truly said:

The bright Way looks dim.

The forward Way looks backward.

The smooth Way looks rough.

High Virtue (Power) looks low like a bottomless pit.

Great clearness looks spotted.

Unending Virtue (Power) looks like it is not enough.

Proved Virtue (Power) looks pitiful.

Solid Virtue (Power) looks as though melted.

Greatest space has no corners.

Great talents are slowly mastered.

Great music has the rarest sound.

Great Form is shapeless.

The Tao ( the Laws of the Universe ) is hidden and nameless;

It alone knows how to give help and to make whole.


Tao ( the Laws of the Universe )

gave birth to One,

( The Unified Field )

One gave birth to Two,

( Energy and Matter, E=MC2 )

Two gave birth to Three,

( Gravity, Nuclear and Electro-Magnetic Forces)

Three gave birth to all things.

All the things carry the

Yin (physical(matter)) on their backs and

hold the

Yang (spiritual(energy)) to their chest,

Getting their vital balance from the

proper blending of the two vital Breaths.

(Physical(matter) and Spiritual(energy))

What is more hated by men than to be "helpless( in need of help),"

"little( no desire to be superior )," and

"worthless ( no desire to be rich )"?

These are the very names the

true leaders call themselves.

You can gain by losing (putting ourselves in a position to gain),

And you can lose by gaining (receiving our hearts desire and feeling lost

What others have taught I repeat:

"A person who lives for destruction will attract destruction to themself."

(Destruction attracts destruction.

Construction attracts construction.

Weakness attracts destruction.

Virtue (power) attracts construction.)

I will make this chapter my most important teaching.


The softest

of all things

Wears down

the hardest of all things.

Only No thing

can enter into


I know the

advantages of

doing everything at

its own speed.

Few things

under heaven

teach as much as the

lessons of Silence,

Or are as

helpful as

the fruits of

proper timing.


Your name and

your body,

which is more valuable?

Your body and

your wealth,

which is more prized?

Gain and


which is more painful?

Too much

love for anything

will cost you

a lot in the end.

The storing up of

too much worldly goods

will mean

a big loss.

Know when

you have enough and

be immune

from disgrace.

Know when

to stop and

be protected

from dangers.

Only this way

can you

last long.


The greatest perfection

is never completed,

So its use

never runs out.

The greatest fullness

has always room for more,

So its use

goes on forever.

The greatest straightness

is curved.

The greatest skill

is looks effortless.

The greatest speaking

is slow.

Moving around

overcomes cold,


overcomes heat.

The peaceful and


Is the Normal

of the World.


When the world is

in possession of

the Tao ( the Laws of the Universe ),

The galloping horses

are led to fertilize

the fields

with their droppings.

( People create goods for exchange and

contend with each other in sport.)

When the world

has become

Taoless ( without the Laws of the Universe ),

War horses

breed themselves in the suburbs.

(People create tools of destruction and

contend with each other over the ownership of countries.)

There is no disaster

like not knowing

what is enough.

There is no evil

like greed.


who know


is enough



have enough.



going out of

your door,


can know

the ways

of the world.


looking through

your window,


can see

the Tao

(the Laws of the Universe).

You can travel far,

And know very little.

The Complete Thinker


without traveling,


without looking,

And achieves

without Effort.

(Because they understand

the Laws of the Universe and

the Power of their application.)


Rote Learning

involves daily

getting more;

The practice of Tao

(the Laws of the Universe)

involves daily

getting rid of.

Keep on

getting rid of and

getting rid of,

Until you reach

the state of Effortlessness.

Effortlessness and

nothing is

left undone.

To win the world,

give up all.

If you

still have

private goals,


will never


the world.


The Complete Thinker

has no interests

of their own,

But takes

the interests

of the people

as their own.

They are kind

to the kind;

They are also kind

to the not kind:

Kindness is Power.

They are faithful

to the faithful

They are also faithful

to the not faithful:

Faithfulness is Power.

In the middle of the world,

the Complete Thinker

is shy and

does not brag.

For the world

they keep their heart

in its largest state.

All the people

try to listen and see:

The Complete Thinker

acts without prejudice.


When one is out of Life,

one is in Death.

The partners of

Life are thirteen;

the partners of

Death are thirteen;

When a living person

moves into

the Realm of Death,

his partners are also thirteen.

How is this?

Because they draws upon

the property of

Life too heavily.

They who knows well how to live

meets no tigers

or wild buffaloes on their road,

comes out

from the battle-ground

not touched by the soldiers of war.

For, in them,

a buffalo would

find no target for his horns,

a tiger

nothing to put

his claws upon,

and a soldier of war

no place for its tool to enter.

How is this?

Because there is

no room for Death

in them.



gives them life,

Virtue (Power)

nurses them,


shapes them,


completes them.

All things worship Tao ( the Laws of the Universe )

and pray to Virtue (Power).

They have not been commanded to worship Tao ( the Laws of the Universe )
and pray to Virtue (Power),

But they always do so automatically.

It is Tao ( the Laws of the Universe )

that gives them life:

Its Virtue (Power)

that nurses them,

grows them,

raises them,

shelters them,

comforts them,

feeds them

and covers them under her wings.

To give life but to demand nothing,

To do your work

but to set no importance to it,

To be a leader,

not a rule maker,

This is called

Hidden Virtue (Power).


All-under Heaven

have a common Beginning

This Beginning is

the Mother of the world.

Having known the Mother,

We may proceed to know her children.

Having known the children,

We should go back and hold on to the Mother

In so doing, you will take no risk

Even though your body be destroyed.

Block all the passage ways!

Shut all the doors!

And to the end of your days

you will not be worn out.

Open the passages!

Multiply your activities!

And to the end of your days you will remain helpless.

To see the small is

to have insight.

To hold on to flexibility is

to be strong.

If, in using your factual intelligence

You return to your insight.

You will not bring destruction

upon yourself.

This is the way of learning the Changeless.


If I had the smallest seed of wisdom,

I would walk the Great Way,

And my only fear

would be to lose my way from it.

The Great Way is very smooth and straight;

And yet the people like better the complicated paths.

The courtyard is very clean and well decorated,

( Their cities appear powerful. )

But the fields are very weedy and wild,

And the grain silo's are very empty!

( But they have lost the skill to feed themselves. )

They wear beautiful clothes,

( They value appearances over substance.)

They carry destructive weapons,

( They use the tools of destruction to get their needs. )

They over fill themselves with food and drink,

( They indulge themselves in the fruits of the conquered. )

They own more riches than they can use!

( They are greedy. )

They are the messengers of lawlessness!

As for Tao ( the Laws of the Universe ),

what do they know about it?


What is well planted

cannot be uprooted.

What is well accepted

cannot slip away.

Your descendants

will pray for you

for ages without end.

Feed Virtue (Power)

in your own person,

And it becomes

a real part of you.

Feed Power in the family,

And it will stay.

Feed Power in the community,

And it will live and grow.

Feed Power in the state,

And it will be generously successful.

Feed Power in the World,

And it will become total.

A person must be judged as a person;

A family must be judged as family;

A community must be judged as a community;

A state must be judged as a state;

The world must be judged as a world.

How do I know about the world?

By what is within me.


One who is high in Virtue (Power)

is like the new-born babe.

Wasps and poisonous snakes don't sting,

Murderous beasts do not seize,

Birds who hunt do not beat,

Its bones are flexible, its muscles relaxed,

Its grip is strong.

It does not know the sex,

Growing in its wholeness,

and keeping its spirit

in its Life Force is at its greatest.

It screams

all day long

without getting hoarse,

Because of its perfect harmony.

To know harmony

is to know the Changeless.

To know the Changeless

is to have understanding.

To hurry the growth of life

is dangerous.

To control the breath by choice

is to over force it.

To be overgrown is to rot.

This is against Tao ( the Laws of the Universe ),

Whatever is

against Tao ( the Laws of the Universe )

soon ceases to be.


They who know may not speak.

They who speak may not know.

Block all the passage ways!

( Be content with your position. )

Shut all the doors!

( Remove all distractions. )

Unsharpen all edges!

( Be kind not sharp in your dealings with life. )

Untie all knots!

(Understand the the root of all problems.)

Blend all lights!

( View all you see based on the Laws of the Universe.)

Bring the world together

into one completeness!

( Understand the oneness of the World. )

This is called

the Beyond Understanding Completeness,

Which you cannot attract

or push away,

Benefit or hurt,

Honor or reduce.

It is the Highest Truth of the world.


You lead a group with correctness;

You fight a war by moves not thought of by your enemies;

You win the world by not using effort.

How do I know this is so?

By what is within me!

The more things that are forbidden

and limited in the world,

The poorer the people become.

(Freedom for the people is required for a full life.)

The more destructive the weapons

the people possess,

The greater confusion controls the land.

(People are dangerous to other people and the greater the tools of
destruction in their hands the more they will destroy.)

The more clever and tricky the men,

The more often strange things happen.

(People who cheat the Laws of the Universe cause a lack of balance which
can not last.)

The more well spoken the laws and rulings,

The more robbers and thieves there are.

(The more rules there are, the more likely people will break them in the
course of life.

Then after breaking some rules the other rules are less respected and
criminals are considered normal citizens.)

The Complete Thinker says:

I live a simple life,

and the people change themselves.

I love quiet,

and the people settle down in their regular jobs.

I look to effortlessness,

and the people grow rich.

I have no desires,

and the people return to Simplicity.


Where the leader is quiet, quiet,

The people are simple and happy.

Where the leader is dishonest, dishonest,

The people are tricky and unhappy.

Bad fortune is what

good fortune leans on,

Good fortune is what

bad fortune hides in.

Who knows the final end of this process?

Is there not a normal of right?

What is normal, soon

becomes not normal,

And what is good soon

turns bad.

Long indeed have the

people been in difficulty.

The Complete Thinker:

makes even without cutting,

Is honest without hurting,

Is direct without effort,

Teaches without causing the mind to be excited.


In governing a people

and in serving Heaven,

There is nothing like

not being wasteful.

To not be wasteful

is to return before

going away from the path.

To return

before going away

from the path

is to have

a double supply of Virtue (Power).

To have

a double supply of Virtue (Power)

is to overcome everything.

To overcome everything

is to have no limits.

Only they who have no limits can have a kingdom.

Only they who have the true understanding of the Tao can last long.

This is the way

to be deep-rooted and


in the Tao ( the Laws of the Universe ).

This is the secret of

long life and

lasting understanding.


Ruling a big kingdom

is like cooking

a small fish.

( You have to be

careful not to burn it.)

When a person of

Tao ( the Laws of the Universe )

rules over the world,

demons have

no spiritual powers.

Not that the demons

have no spiritual powers,

but the spirits themselves

do no harm to humans.

Not that the spirits

do no harm to humans,

but the Complete Thinker

does no harm to the people.

If only

the leader and


would stop

from hurting

each other,

all the good things

of life


get together

in the kingdom.


A great Country

is like the lowland

to which all streams flow.

It is the lake

of all under heaven,

the Feminine of the world.

The Feminine

always conquers

the Masculine

by her quietness,

by lowering herself

through her quietness.

If a great country

can lower itself

before a small country,

it will win over

the small country;

and if a small country

can lower itself

before a great country,

it will win over

the great country.

The one wins

by lowering itself;

the other,

by remaining low.

What a great country wants

is simply

to accept more people;

and what a small country wants

is simply

to serve its protector.

Each gets what it wants.

But it benefits

a great country

to lower itself.


The Tao ( the Laws of the Universe )

is the hidden Source

of all things.

A treasure

to the honest,

it is a protection

to the confused.

A good word

will find its own location.

A good deed

may be used as a gift to another.

A person

missing the right path

Is no reason

they should be thrown away.

At the official times of empowerment,

Let others offer their discs of jade, following it up with cars and boats;

It is better for you to offer

the Tao ( the Laws of the Universe )

without moving your feet!

Why did the people of the past prize

the Tao ( the Laws of the Universe )?

It is because

by the virtue (the power) of it,

he who looks finds,

And the guilty are forgiven.

That is why

it is such a treasure

to the world.


Do the Effortlessness.

Try for the effortless.

Enjoy the joyless.

Raise high the low.

Multiply the few.

Return hurt with kindness.

Stop troubles in the beginning.

Plant the great with the small.

Difficult things of the world.

Can only be tackled when they are easy.

Big things of the world

Can only be completed by paying attention to their small beginnings.

The Complete Thinker never has to struggle with the big things,

But they alone are capable of completing them!

They who promises lightly must be lacking in faith.

They who thinks everything easy

will end by finding difficulty.

The Complete Thinker,

who regards everything as difficult,

Meets with no difficulties in the end.


What is not moving is easy to hold.

What shows no predictions is easily made not to happen.

What is delicate is easily smashed.

What is small is easily widely separated and lost.

Do things before they have become visible. ( Plan ahead.)

Help peace and order before confusion and disorder have set in. ( Punish
the destructive without delay.)

A tree as big as a man's embrace starts from a tiny sprout. (Big things
start small.)

A tower nine stories high begins with a heap of earth.

A journey of three thousand miles starts from where your feet stand.

They who trouble over anything spoils it.

They who hold anything loses it.

The Complete Thinker troubles over nothing and then spoils nothing.

Tries to hold nothing and then loses nothing.

In handling business, people often spoil it just at the point of success.

With carefulness in the beginning and

patience at the end,

nothing will be spoiled.

The Complete Thinker

wants to be want-less.

Sets no value on rare goods.

Learns to relearn learning.

And convinces the people to return from where they have passed.

They only helps all creatures to find their own nature,

but does not try to lead them by the nose.


In the old days,

those who were good at the practice of Tao ( the Laws of the Universe )

did not try to teach the people,

but to keep them in the state of simple life.

Why are the people hard to govern?

Because they are too tricky!

They who govern their state

with trickiness is its wrongdoer;

They who govern their state without resorting to trickiness is its

To know these principles is to have a rule and a measure.

To keep the rule and the measure constantly in your mind

is what we call

Virtue (Power) that is hidden!

It leads all things to return,

till they come back to the Great Balance!


How does the sea become the King of all streams?

Because it lies lower than they!

That is why it is the king of all streams.

The Complete Thinker rules over the people by lowering themself in speech;

Leads the people by putting themself behind.

When a Complete Thinker stands above the people,

They do not feel the heaviness of weight;

When they stands in front of the people,

the people do not feel hurt.

All the world is glad to push them forward

without getting tired of them.

Because they compete with nobody,

Nobody can ever compete with them.


All the world says that

my Tao ( the Laws of the Universe ) is great,

but seems strange, like nothing on earth.

But it is just because my Tao ( the Laws of the Universe ) is great that it
is like nothing on earth!

If it were like anything on earth,

how small it would have been from the very beginning!

I have Three Treasures,

Which I hold fast and watch over closely.

The first is Mercy.

The second is Frugality.

The third is Daring to Be Not First in the World.

Because I am merciful,

I can be brave.

Because I am frugal,

I can be generous.

Because I dare not to be first,

I can lead.

If a person wants to be brave

without first being merciful,

generous without first being frugal,

a leader without first wishing to follow,

they are only asking for destruction!

Mercy alone

can help you win a war.

Mercy alone

can help you defend your state.

Heaven will come

to the rescue of the merciful,

and protect them with its Mercy.


A good soldier

is never the first to fight;

A good fighter

is never angry.

The best way

of beating an enemy

Is to win them over

by not disagreeing with them.

The best way

of employing a person

Is to serve under them.

This is called

the virtue (power) of non-striving!

This is called

using the abilities of people!

This is called

being wedded to Heaven like in the past!


The planners of fights

have a saying:

I do not want to receive guests,

but I would like to be a guest;

I do not want to go forward an inch,

but I would like to go back a foot.

This is called marching without moving,

Rolling up one's sleeves without baring one's arms,

Capturing the enemy without facing them,

Holding a weapon that is invisible.

There is no greater disaster

than to under-estimate

the strength of your enemy.

For to under-estimate the strength

of your enemy

is to lose your treasure.

When disagreeing armies

meet in battle,

victory belongs to

the sorrowing side.


My words

are very easy

to understand,

and very easy

to practice:

But the civilization today

cannot understand them,

nor practice them

My words have an Ancestor.

My deeds have a Lord.

The people

have no knowledge

of this.


have no knowledge

of me.

The fewer persons

know me,

The greater they are

that follow me.

The Complete Thinker

looks like the common man,

While keeping

the Laws of the Universe

and the Power of their application

in his heart.


To understand

that our knowledge

is not complete,


is a great


To think

about our innocence

as knowledge,


is mental sickness.

Only when

we are sick

of our sickness

Shall we cease

to be sick.

The Complete Thinker

is not sick,

being sick of sickness;


is the secret

of health.


When people

no longer fear

your power,

It is a sign

that a greater power

is coming.

Interfere not lightly

with a persons house,

(Do not intrude on their privacy.)

Do not make heavy taxes upon their work.

Only when you stop tiring them,

Will they stop being tired of you.

The Complete Thinker

knows self,

But makes

no show of self;

Loves self,

But does not

lift self

above others.

They prefer

what is within

to what

is without.


The man who is brave

and takes unneeded chances

will be killed;

The man who is brave

and does not take unneeded chances will survive.

Of these two kinds of bravery,

one proves harmful,

while the other is helpful.

Some things

are hated by the Laws of the Universe,

But who knows the reason?

Even the Complete Thinker

does not understand

such a question.

It is the Universal Law,

to win without effort.

It is the Universal Law

to get answers without speaking.

It is the Universal Law

To get the people to come

without calling them.

It is the Universal Law

To act agreeing to plans without hurry.

Powerful, beyond knowing are the Laws of the Universe:

Visible only by its results

and yet

Only the formless

can create new results.


When the people

are no longer afraid

of death,

Why scare them

with the spirit

of death?

If you

could make the people

always afraid

of death,

And they still

break the law,

Then you

might arrest

and execute them,

And who

would dare

break the law?

Is not

the Great Executioner

always there to kill?

To do

the killing

for the Great Executioner

Is to chop wood

for a master carpenter,

And you would be lucky indeed

if you

did not

hurt your own hand!


Why are

the people starving?

Because those above them

are taxing them too much.

That is why

they are starving.

Why are

the people hard to manage?

Because those above them

are troublesome and selfish.

That is why

they are hard to manage.

Why do

the people make jokes about death?

Because those above them

make too much of life.

That is why

they make jokes about death.

The people

have nothing to live on!

They know better

than to value such a life!


When a person is living

they are soft and easy to bend.

When they are dead,

they become hard and stiff.

When a plant is living,

it is soft and tender.

When it is dead,

it becomes withered and dry.

The hard and stiff

belongs to the company

of the dead:

The soft and easy to bend

belongs to the company

of the living.

A mighty army

can to fall

by its own weight,

Just as dry wood

is ready

for the ax.

The mighty

and great

will be put low;

The humble

and weak

will be raised high.



the Laws of the Universe (Tao)

may be compared

to the


of a bow!

The upper part is depressed,

while the lower is raised.

If the bow-string is too long,

it is cut short:

if too short,

it is added to.

The Laws of the Universe (Tao)

makes smaller

the more-than-enough

to supply

the less than enough.

The way of people

is different:

it takes

from the poor

to give

the rich.

Who except

a person of the Tao ( the Laws of the Universe ) can put

their never ending riches

to the service of the world?

The Complete Thinker

does work

without setting any store by it,

accomplishes tasks

without dwelling upon them.

They do not want their merits to be seen.


Nothing in the world

is softer and weaker

than water;


for attacking

the hard and strong,

there is nothing like it!

For nothing

can take its place.

That the weak

overcomes the strong,

and the soft

overcomes the hard,

This is something

known by all,

but practiced

by none.

The Complete Thinker says:

To receive

the dirt of a country

is to be

the lord of its soil-shrines.

to hold up under

the disasters of a country

is to be

the prince of the world.

( To be strong in the face of discrace and disaster, is to be truly Noble.)


the Truth

sound like its opposite!


When a great wound

is healed,

There will still

remain a scar.

Can this be

a desirable thing?

The Complete Thinker,

holding the left-hand tally

( the count of things to come),


their part

of the agreement,

But puts

no demands

on others.

The virtuous (powerful)

do their work;

The virtue-less (powerless)

knows only to put

taxes on the people.

The Laws of the Universe (Tao)

have no private feelings,


always agrees

with the constructive.


Ah, for a small country

with a small population

! Though there are

very handy mechanical inventions,

the people

have no use for them.

Let them notice death

and not go to far away places.

Ships and tanks,

and weapons of war,

there may still be,

but there are no occasions

for using or displaying them.

Let the people go back to sending messages by knotting cords.

(Let nothing be urgent)

See to it that they are

happy with their food,

pleased with their clothing,

satisfied with their houses,

and use the simple ways of living.

Though there may be

another country so close

that they are in sight of each other

and the crowing of cocks

and barking of dogs

in one place

can be heard in the other,

yet there is no traffic

between them,

and throughout their lives

the two peoples

have nothing to do with each other.


Honest words

are not sweet,

Sweet words

are not honest.

Good people

are not bad-tempered,

The bad-tempered

are not good.

The wise

do not think of themselves

as knowing more than others,

the ones

who think of themselves

as knowing more than others

are not wise.

The Complete Thinker

does not collect riches.

The more they lives for others,

The fuller is their life.

The more they give,

the more they win.

The Laws of the Universe (Tao)

are to help,

not to hurt.

The Way of the Complete Thinker

is to do their duty,

not to compete

with anyone.