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Tao Te Ching:
Lao Tzu's Timeless Classic for Today

English version by
David Tuffley


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# Perceiving the Subtle

"The Tao is like a subtle female in the sense of having archetypal feminine characteristics - it is passive, receptive, tranquil."

"A subtle person does not attempt to use force to achieve their ends because it invites an equal and opposite reaction. Rather they work at the underlying cause and with comparatively little effort bring about the result they want. This is being subtle because to an observer they have apparently not done much.

The key to the mysterious power of the Tao lies in it's subtlety." (6)

# Using What Is Not

"In the same way that doors and windows cut into the wall of a room are what makes the room useful, the Tao is that vital component that is 'not there' but that is indispensable to the process of change."(11)

# The Essence of the Tao

"The Tao can be looked at but not seen, listened to but not heard, reached for but not obtained; it's name is formless, soundless and intangible. Therefore it is beyond analysis, it can only be known by the intuitive mind."

"Unlike the rising sun, it is not bright; unlike the setting sun, there is no dimming of the light when it sets. Endlessly this nameless essence of the Tao goes on, merging and returning to nothingness." (14)

# Knowing the Collective Origin

"The power we observe in Nature is expressed through the Tao. But we can't sense the Tao directly, we can only observe it's effects. Like a powerful magnet, we can't directly see the magnetism but we can see the effect it has on ferrous metal."

"The Tao is an informed force. It brings power to those who are aware of it because the collective-unconscious urges and the social trends of our culture directly parallel the physical laws that operate through the Tao."

"Enlightened people contemplate the interdependent cohesiveness of matter and energy; the way it is held together and in a state of constant evolution by the power of this informing principle, this life force that we call the Tao. When looking about at the patterns of nature, we can see that some kind of informing principle underlies and permeates nature. This force - the Tao - expresses itself in the diversity of life and in the amazing complexity and cohesiveness of the processes of nature."(21)

# The Tao of Greatness

"There was something in a state of fusion in the moments before heaven and earth were born. Silent, vast, independent and unchanging; working everywhere, tirelessly; it can be regarded as the mother of the world. This is the Taoist view of the universe moments before the Big Bang that created the universe. The Tao had come into existence but all matter and energy was still a cohesive and undifferentiated mass."

"This view agrees with that of the theoretical physicist searching for the unified field at the heart of the universe. In the first billionth of a second after the bang, four forces appeared; gravity, strong nuclear force, electromagnetism and weak nuclear force. Energy and matter, time and space were now differentiated. Lao Tzu calls the actions of these forces throughout the universe and in the social patterns of humans, the Tao."

"I do not know it's name; the word I say is Tao. Forced to give it a name, I say great. Great means that it goes on forever, so far that it comes back, eventually."(25)

# The Evolving Tao

"The Tao is everywhere and in everything. All things depend on it for growth and it always supplies what is needed. It is the life force that evolves all matter and energy. It acts spontaneously and without motive or possessiveness - an automatic process."

"Enlightened people learn to recognise the Tao and allow it to evolve their social environments in the same way as the natural environment. They instinctively and deftly untangle the knots and smooth the fabric of life and allow the need for growth, creativity and independence in those around them to be fulfilled."(34)

# The Way

"Polarity is the movement of the Tao. Receptivity is the way it is used. The world and All Things were produced from it's existence. It's existence was produced from non-existence."

"According to Lao Tzu, it was from non-existence - the Absolute - that the Tao was produced. The Tao, in turn, produced the positive and negative states Yin and Yang. These charged states coalesced into all physical reality, with their behavioural and structural characteristics based on a unified field of forces."(40)

# Mastering the Paradox

"When enlightened people hear of the Tao, they work hard to practice it. When average people hear of the Tao, they appear both aware and unaware of it. When fools hear of the Tao, they roar with laughter. Without the foolish laughter, the old sayings would not be true: the Tao illuminated appears to be obscured. The Tao advancing appears to be retreating. The Tao levelled appears to be uneven."

"Superior power appears to be low, great clarity appears to be spotted, extensive power appears to be insufficient, established power appears to be stolen and substantial power appears to be spurious."

"The greatest space has no corners, the greatest talents are slowly mastered, the greatest music has the rarest sound and the Great Image has no form. The Tao is hidden and nameless yet it is the Tao that supports and completes."(41)

# Knowing Polarity

"The Tao produced the One, the One produced the Two, the Two produced the Three and the Three produced all things. All things carry Yin and hold to Yang; their blended influence brings harmony. People hate to be alone, lonely and unfavoured; yet leaders take these names."

"So in natural law, some lose and in this way profit; some profit and so lose. Those who are violent do not die naturally."(42)

# The Power of Impartial Support

"The Tao produces, it's power supports. It's natural laws give form to the universe, it's influence brings about the completion of all matters. And so it is that all things respect the Tao and value it's power, if they did but know what to call it."

"The Tao therefore advances, cultivates, comforts, matures, nourishes and protects. It produces but does not possess that that it produces. It's subtle power is such that it acts without expectation and advances without dominating."(51)

# Natures Way

"Those bold in daring will die, those bold in not daring will survive. Of these two, either may benefit or harm. Nature decides that is evil, but who can know why? Even enlightened people regard this as difficult."

"The Tao in nature does not contend, yet skilfully triumphs. Does not speak, yet skilfully responds. Does not summon, yet attracts. Does not hasten, yet skilfully designs. Natures network is vast, so very vast. It's mesh is coarse, yet nothing slips through." (73)

# Holding to the Centre

"Heaven and earth are impartial, they regard all things as transitory. Enlightened people are also impartial, they regard all people as transitory and as such have no emotional attachment to them. This is seeing people like the leaves on a tree. They are born, flourish, serve a purpose then die to be replaced by another leaf. It is natural that they do this and are beautiful in their way."

"People are not normally sad when a leaf dies; but people and leaves differ in their outward form and not in their inner nature, they are both living creatures that are subject to the laws of nature. Impartial also means not being too involved with the day-to-day concerns of society - the current issues that come and go."

"Between heaven (non-physical aspect of nature) and earth (physical aspect) the space is like a bellows. The shape changes but not the form. The more it moves, the more it produces."

"Too much talk will exhaust itself, it's better to stay centred.(5)

# Non-competitive Values

"The highest value is like water. The value in water benefits all things and yet does not contend. It stays in places that others disdain, and therefore is close to the Tao."

"The value in a dwelling is location, the value in a mind is in it's depth, the value in relationships is benevolence, the value in words is sincerity, the value in leadership is order, the value in work is competence, the value in effort is timeliness. Since they do not contend, there is no resentment." (8)

# Controlling the Senses

"The five colours will blind one's eye, the five tones will deafen one's ear, the five flavours will jade one's taste. Racing and hunting will derange one's mind, goods that are hard to get will obstruct one's way."

"Therefore, enlightened people regard the centre and not the eye. Hence they discard one and receive the other."(12)

# Expanding Identification

"There is alarm in both favour and disgrace in that to attain either brings alarm, to lose either also brings alarm."

"Esteem and fear are identified with the self. This is because the reason for our fear is the presence of our self. When we are selfless, what is there to fear?"

"Therefore those who esteem the world as self will be committed to the world. Those who love the world as self will be entrusted with the world." (13)

# Knowing the Absolute

"Attain the highest openness; maintain the deepest harmony. Become a part of all things. In this way I perceive the cycles. Indeed, things are numerous; but each cycle merges with the source. Merging with the source is called harmonising; this is known as the cycle of destiny."

"The cycle of destiny is known as the Absolute; knowing the Absolute is called insight. To not know the Absolute is to recklessly become a part of misfortune."

"To know the Absolute is to become tolerant; what is tolerant becomes impartial; what is impartial becomes powerful; what is powerful becomes natural; what is natural becomes Tao. What has Tao becomes everlasting (like the Tao te Ching) and free from harm throughout life."(16)

# Losing the Instincts

"When the great Tao is forgotten, philanthropy and morality appear. Intelligent strategies are produced, and great hypocrisies emerge. (Philanthropy is good in itself, but it can too easily develop selfish motives and lose it's value)".

"When the family has no harmony, piety and devotion appear. The nation is confused by chaos and loyal patriots emerge. (Family in this context means the six relationships - parent/child, elder sibling/younger sibling, husband/wife and refers metaphorically to all relationships)." (18)

# Sensing the Insensible

"Hold fast to the Great Image, and the world will come. Yet it's coming brings no harm, only peace and order."

"When there is music together with food, the audience will linger. When the Tao is expressed, it seems without substance or flavour and therefore is not very interesting to people accustomed to gaining satisfaction from the senses."

"We observe and there is nothing to see. We listen and there is nothing to hear. We use it and it is without end."(35)

# Power Without Motive

"Superior Power is never Powerful, thus it has Power. Inferior Power is always Powerful, thus it has no Power. Superior Power takes no action and acts without motive. Inferior Power takes action and acts with motive."

"Superior philanthropy takes action and acts without motive. Superior morality takes action and acts with motive. Superior propriety takes action and there is no response; so it raises it's arm to project itself."

"Therefore, lose the Tao and Power follows, lose the Power and philanthropy follows, lose the philanthropy and morality follows, lose the morality and propriety follows,"

"One who has propriety has the veneer of truth and yet is the leader of confusion. One who knows the future has the lustre of the Tao and yet is ignorant of it's origins. Therefore those with the greatest endurance can enter the substantial, not occupy the veneer; can enter reality, not occupy it's lustre. Hence they discard one and receive the other."(38)

# Using Emptiness

"If the greatest achievement is incomplete, then it's usefulness is unimpaired. If the greatest fullness is empty, then it's usefulness is inexhaustible."

"The greatest directness is to be flexible, the greatest skilfulness is to be awkward, the greatest eloquence is hesitant."

"Agitation triumphs over the cold, stillness triumphs over the heated. Clarity and stillness bring order to the world." (45)

# The Art of Survival

"As life goes out, death comes in. Life has thirteen paths. Human life arrives at the realm of death also in thirteen moves. Why is this so? Because life is lived lavishly.(People who live life in the fast lane spend their life force more quickly and so die younger)."

"Now, as it is well-known, those skilled in attracting life can travel across the land without meeting a rhinoceros or tiger. When the military come in, their defence cannot be attacked."

"The rhinoceros is without a place to thrust it's horn, the tiger finds no place to fix it's claw, the military have no place to admit it's blade. Why? They are without the realm of death."(50)

# Returning to Insight

"The beginning of the world may be regarded as the mother of the world. To apprehend the mother, know the off-spring; to know the off-spring is to remain close to the mother and free from harm throughout life."

"Block the passages, close the doors; in the end, life is idle. Open the passages, increase the undertakings; in the end life is hopeless. To perceive the small is called insight. To remain yielding is called strength. If, in using brightness, one returns to insight, life will be free of misfortune. This is called learning the Absolute." (52)

# Establishing a Universal View

"What is skilfully established will not be uprooted. What is skilfully grasped will not slip away. Thus it is honoured for generations."

"Cultivate the inner self; it's power becomes real. Cultivate the home; it's power becomes abundant. Cultivate the community; it's power becomes greater. Cultivate the organisation; it's power becomes prolific. Cultivate the world; it's power becomes universal."

"Therefore, through the inner self, the inner self is conceived. Through the home, the home is conceived. Through the community, the community is conceived. Through the organization, the organisation is conceived. Through the world, the world is conceived."

"How do I know the world? Through this."(54)

# Gaining Oneness

"Those who know, don't speak; those who speak, don't know."

"Block the passages, close the door, blunt the sharpness, untie the tangles, harmonise the brightness, identify with the ways of the world. This is called Profound Identification."

"It cannot be gained through attachment, detachment, advantage, disadvantage, esteem or humility. Hence it is the treasure of the world."(56)

# Knowing the Disease

"To know that you don't know is best. To not know of knowing is a disease."

"Indeed, to be sick of the disease is the way to be free of the disease. Enlightened people are free of the disease because they are sick of the disease. This is the way to be free of the disease." (71)

# The Beginning of Power

"The Tao that can be expressed is not the Tao of the Absolute. The name that can be named is not the name of the Absolute. The nameless originated Heaven and Earth. The named is the Mother of all things."

"Thus, without expectation, one will always perceive the subtlety; and with expectation, one will always perceive the boundary."

"The source of these two is identical, yet their names are different. Together they are called profound, profound and mysterious. The gateway to the collective subtlety."(1)]

# Using Polarity

"When the world knows beauty as beauty, there is ugliness. When they know good as good, then there is evil. In this way, existence and non-existence produce each other, difficult and easy complete each other, long and short contrast each other, high and low attract each other, pitch and tone harmonise each other, future and past follow each other."

"Therefore, enlightened people hold their position without effort, practice their philosophy without words, are a part of all things and overlook nothing, they produce but do not possess, act without expectation, succeed without taking credit." (2)

# Transcending Decline

"Holding to fullness is not as good as stopping in time. Sharpness that probes cannot protect for long. A house filled with riches cannot be defended."

"Pride in wealth and position is overlooking one's collapse. Withdrawing when success is achieved is the Tao in Nature."(9)

# Inner harmony

"In managing your instincts and embracing Oneness, can you be undivided? In focusing your influence can you yield as a new-born child? In clearing your insight, can you become free of error? In loving people and leading the organisation, can you take no action? In opening and closing the gateway to nature, can you not weaken? In seeing clearly in all directions, can you be without knowledge?"

"Produce things, cultivate things; produce but do not possess. Act without expectation, advance without dominating. These are called the Subtle Powers."(10)

# The Tao in Subtle Force

"Those skilful in the ancient Tao are subtly ingenious and profoundly intuitive. They are so deep they cannot be recognised. Since, indeed, they cannot be recognised their force can be contained."

"So careful, as if wading in a stream in winter. So hesitant, as if respecting all sides in the community. So reserved, as if acting as a guest. So yielding, as if ice about to melt. So candid, as if acting with simplicity. So open, as if acting as a valley. So integrated, as if acting as muddy water."

"Who can harmonise with muddy water and gradually arrive at clarity? Who can move with stability, and gradually bring endurance to life?"

"Those who maintain the Tao do not desire to become full. Indeed, since they are not full, they can be used up and also renewed."(15)

# Developing Independence

"Discard the academic; have no anxiety. How much difference is there between agreement and servility? How much difference between good and evil? That one should revere what others revere - how absurd!"

"The Collective Mind is expansive and flourishing, as if receiving a great gift. As if ascending a living observatory. I alone remain uncommitted, like an infant who has not yet smiled, unattached, without a place to merge. The collective mind is all-encompassing. I alone seem to be over-looked. I am unknowing to the core, and unclear, unclear!"

"Ordinary people are bright and obvious; I alone am dark and obscure. Ordinary people are exacting and sharp; I alone am subdued and dull. "

"Indifferent like the sea, ceaseless like a penetrating wind, the Collective mind is everpresent, and yet I alone am unruly and remote. I alone am different from the others in treasuring nourishment from the Mother." (20)

# Following the Pattern

"What is curved becomes whole; what is crooked becomes straight. What is deep becomes full; what is exhausted is refreshed. What is small becomes attainable; what is excessive becomes confused. Thus enlightened people hold to the One and regard the world as their pattern."

"They do not display themselves and so they are illuminated. They do not define themselves, so they are distinguished. They do not make claims, therefore they are given credit. They don't boast, so it is they advance."

"Since they don't compete, the world does not, cannot compete with them. The ancient saying 'What is curved becomes whole' - are these empty words? To become whole, turn within." (22)

# The Steady Force of Attitude

"Nature rarely speaks, hence the whirlwind does not last all morning, nor the sudden rainstorm last the whole day. What causes these - Heaven and Earth. If Heaven and Earth can't make them long-lasting, how much less so can humans?"

"Thus, those who cultivate the Tao identify with the Tao and so are welcomed by the Tao. Those who cultivate Power identify with Power and are likewise welcomed by Power. Those who cultivate failure identify with failure are welcomed by failure."

"Those who lack belief will not in turn be believed."(23)

# Self Mastery

Those who know others are intelligent.
Those who know themselves have insight.
Those who master others have force.
Those who master themselves have strength.
Those who know how much is enough are wealthy.
Those who persevere have direction.
Those who maintain their position endure.
And those who die but do not perish, live on.(33)

# The Power in Needing Less

"That is dearer, name or life? That means more, life or wealth? That is worse, gain or loss? The stronger the attachments, the greater the cost. The more that is hoarded, the deeper the loss."

"Know what is enough, be without disgrace. Know when to stop, be without danger. In this way, one lasts for a very long time." (44)

# Opening the Mind

"Enlightened people have no fixed mind; they make the group mind their mind. To those who are good, I am good, to those who are bad, I am also good - goodness is Power."

"Of those who trust, I am trusting; of those who do not trust, I am also trusting. Trust is Power."

"Enlightened people attract the world and merge with it's mind. The people all focus their eyes and ears; enlightened people all act as infants."(49)

# Knowing the Tao

"My words are very easy to know, very easy to follow. Yet the world is unable to know them, unable to follow them."

"My words have a source, my efforts have mastery. Indeed, since none know this they do not know me. The rare ones who know me must treasure me."

"Therefore, enlightened people wear a coarse cloth covering with precious jade at the centre."(70)

# The Power in Flexibility

"A living person is yielding and receptive. Dying, they are rigid and inflexible. All things, the grass and the trees; living, they are yielding and fragile. Dying, they are dry and withered."

"Thus, those who are firm and inflexible are in harmony with dying. Those who are yielding and receptive are in harmony with living."

"Therefore, an inflexible strategy will not succeed; an inflexible tree will be attacked. The position of the highly inflexible will descend; the position of the yielding and receptive will ascend." (76)

# Directing the Power

"The Tao in Nature is like a bow that is stretched. The top is pulled down, the bottom is pulled up. What is excessive is reduced. What is insufficient is supplemented."

"The Tao in Nature reduces the excessive and supplements the insufficient. The Tao in mankind is not so; he reduces the insufficient because he serves the excessive."

"Who then can use excess to serve the world? Those who possess the Tao. Therefore enlightened people act without expectation, succeed without taking credit, and have no desire to display their excellence." (77)

# The Power in Not Taking Advantage

"Even when a great resentment is reconciled, some resentment must linger. How can this be made good?"

"That is why enlightened people hold the left side of the contract* and do not censure others. Those with power are in charge of the contract, those without power are in charge of resolving it. The Tao in Nature has no favourites. It always acts through the good person."(79)

# The Evolved Way

"Sincere words are not embellished; embellished words are not sincere. Those who are good are not defensive; those who are defensive are not good. Those who know are not erudite; those who are erudite do not know."

"Enlightened people do not accumulate. The more they do for others, the more they gain; the more they give to others, the more they possess."

"The Tao of Nature is to serve without spoiling. The Tao of enlightened people is to act without contending." (81)

# Keeping Peace

"Do not exalt the very gifted, and people will not contend. Do not treasure goods that are hard to get, and people will not become thieves. Do not focus on desires, and people's minds will not be confused."

"Therefore, enlightened people lead others by opening their minds, reinforcing their centres, relaxing their desires and strengthening their characters."

"Let the people always act without strategy or desire; let the clever not venture to act. Act without action and nothing is without order." (3).

# The Way of Subtle Influence

"Superior leaders are those whose existence is merely known; the next best are loved and honoured; the next are respected and the next are ridiculed."

"Those who lack belief will not in turn be believed. But when the command comes from afar and the work is done, the goal is achieved, the people say 'We did it naturally.'" (17)

# Return to Simplicity

"Discard the sacred, abandon strategies; the people will benefit a hundred-fold. Discard philanthropy, abandon morality; the people will return to natural love. Discard acquisitiveness, abandon cleverness; the thieves will exist no longer."

"However, if these three passages are inadequate, adhere to these principles: perceive purity, embrace simplicity, reduce self-interest, limit desires."(19)

# The Gravity of Power

"Gravity is the foundation of levity. Stillness is the master of agitation. Thus enlightened people can travel the whole day without leaving behind their baggage."

"However arresting the views, they can remain calm and unattached. How can leaders with ten thousand chariots have a light-hearted position in the world?"

"If they are light-hearted, they lose their foundation, if they are agitated, they lose their mastery."(26)

# Uniting the Forces

"Know the male, hold to the female. Become the world's stream by being the world's stream. The Power will never leave; this is returning to infancy."

"Know the white, hold to the black. Become the world's pattern by being the world's pattern. The Power will never falter. This is returning to limitlessness."

"Know the glory, hold to obscurity. Become the world's valley by being the world's valley. The Power will be sufficient. This is returning to Simplicity. "

"When Simplicity is broken up it is made into instruments. Enlightened people who employ them are made into leaders. In this way the Great System is united."(28)

# The Power in Desirelessness

"The Tao never acts and yet is never inactive. If leaders can hold onto it, all things will be naturally influenced. Influenced and yet desiring to act, I would calm them with Nameless Simplicity. Nameless simplicity is likewise without desire - and without desire there is harmony."

"The world will then be naturally stabilised."(37)

# Oneness in Leadership

"From old, these may have harmony with the One: Heaven in harmony with the One becomes clear. Earth in harmony with the One becomes stable. Mind in harmony with the One becomes inspired. Valleys in harmony with the One become full. All things in harmony with the One become creative. Leaders in harmony with the One become incorruptible in the world. These were attained through Oneness."

"Heaven without clarity would probably crack. Earth without stability would probably quake. Mind without inspiration would probably sleep. Valleys without fullness would probably dry up. All things without creativity would probably die off. Leaders without incorruptible ways would probably stumble and fall."

"Indeed, the high-placed stem from the humble, the elevated are based on the lowly. This is why leaders call themselves alone, lonely and unfavoured. Isn't this because they stem from the humble and common? Therefore attain honour without being honoured. Do not desire to shine like jade; wear ornaments as though they were stone." (39)

# The Power in Effortlessness

"Lead the organisation with correctness. Direct the military with surprise tactics. Take hold of the world with effortlessness. How is it so? Through this:"

"Too many prohibitions in the world and people become insufficient. Too many sharp weapons among people and the nation grows confused. Too much cunning strategy among people and strange things start to happen. Too many laws and regulations and too many criminals emerge."

"Thus enlightened people say: look to inaction and people will be naturally influenced. Look to refined tranquillity and people will be naturally correct, look to effortlessness and people will be naturally affluent, look to non-desire and people will be naturally simple." (57)

# Cultivating the Centre

"If the administration is subdued, the people are sincere. If the administration is exacting, the people are deficient."

"Misfortune! Good fortune supports it. Good fortune! Misfortune hides within it."

"Order can revert to the unusual; good can revert to the abnormal; and people are indeed bewildered for a long, long time."

"Thus enlightened leaders are square without dividing, honest without offending, straightforward without straining, bright without being dazzling." (58)

# Holding the Position

"Leading a large organisation is like cooking a small fish."

"If the Tao is present in the world, the cunning are not mysterious. Not only are the cunning not mysterious, their mystery does not harm others."

"Not only does their mystery not harm others, the Evolved also do not harm others. Since together they do no harm, the Power returns and accumulates."(60)

# The Tao in Leaders

"The Tao is the refuge of all things, the treasure of the good, the protector of the not good."

"Honour can be bought with fine words; others can be joined with fine conduct. So, if some are not good, why waste them?"

"In this way the Emperor is established; the three officials are installed. And although the large jade disc is preceded by a team of horses, this is not as good as sitting, advancing in the Tao."

"Why did those of old treasure the Tao? Did they not say, 'seek and it is attained, possess faults and they are released'? Thus it is the treasure of the world."(62)

# The Danger in Cleverness

"Those skilful in the ancient Tao are not obvious to people. They appear to be simple-minded."

"People are difficult to lead because they are too clever. Therefore to lead the organisation with cleverness will bring harm to the organisation. Conversely, to lead without cleverness brings benefit to the organisation."

"Those who know these two things have investigated the patterns of the Absolute. To know and investigate the patterns is called the Subtle Power. The Subtle Power is profound and pervasive. Together with the natural law of polarity it leads to the Great Harmony."(65)

# The Power in Staying Low

"The rivers and seas lead the hundred streams because they are skilful at staying low. Thus they are able to lead the hundred streams."

"Therefore, to rise above people, one must, in speaking, stay below them. To remain in front of people, one must put oneself behind them."

"So it is that enlightened people remain above and yet the people are not weighted down. They remain in front and the people are not held back."

"Therefore the world willingly elects them and yet it does not reject them. Because they do not compete, the world cannot compete with them." (66)

# The Power in Compassion

"All the world thinks that my Tao is great; and yet it seems inconceivable. Only it's greatness makes it seem inconceivable. If it could be conceived of it would have become insignificant long ago."

"I have three Treasures that I support and protect: the first is compassion, the second is moderation, the third is not to be the first in the world."

"With compassion, one becomes courageous. With moderation, one becomes expansive. In daring not to be the first in the world, one becomes the instrument of leadership."

"Now if one is courageous without compassion, or expansive without moderation or first without holding back, one is doomed!"

"Compassion always triumphs when attacked; it brings security when maintained. Nature aids it's leaders, by arming them with compassion." (67)

# Non Aggressive Strength

"A skilful leader does not use force. A skilful fighter does not feel anger. A skilful master does not engage the opponent, a skilful employer remains low."

"This is called the power in not contending. This is called the strength to employ others. This is called the highest emulation of nature." (68)

# The Appropriate Perspective

"If the people do not fear authority, then authority will expand. Do not disrespect their position; do not reject their lives. Since indeed they are not rejected, they do not reject."

"Therefore, enlightened people know themselves, but do not display themselves. They love themselves but do not treasure themselves."

"Hence they discard one and receive the other."(72)

# The Danger in Excess

"Those who stand on tiptoe cannot stand firm; those who straddle cannot walk; those who display themselves cannot illuminate; those who define themselves cannot be distinguished; those who make claims can have no credit; and those who boast cannot advance."

"To those who stay with the Tao, these are like excess food and redundant action - since they are contrary to the laws of Nature they turn away." (24)

# The Skilful Exchange of Information

"A good path has no ruts, a good speech has no flaws, a good analysis uses no schemes."

"A good lock has no bar or bolt, and yet it cannot be opened. A good knot does not restrain, and yet it cannot be unfastened."

"Thus it is that enlightened people are always good at saving others, hence no one is wasted. They are always good at saving things, hence nothing is wasted. This is called doubling the light."

"Therefore a good person is the teacher of an inferior person, and the inferior person is the resource of a good person. One who does not cherish a teacher or a good resource, although intelligent, is deluding themselves. This is called Significant Subtlety." (27)

# Leading the Leader

"Those who use the Tao to guide leaders do not use forceful strategies in the world. Such methods tend to recoil. Where armies are positioned, thorny brambles are produced. A great military always brings years of hunger."

"Those who are skilful succeed and then stop. They dare not hold on with force. They succeed and do not boast, do not make claims, are not proud, do not acquire in excess and do not use force."

"Things overgrown will always decline. This is not the Tao. What is not the Tao will soon end." (30)

# The Use of Force

"The finest weapons can be the instrument of misfortune, and so contrary to natural law. Those who possess the Tao turn away from their use. Enlightened people occupy and honour the left (i.e. the left hand is less likely to act) whereas those who use weapons honour the right (the right hand is usually the one to act). In other words, enlightened people do not resort to force unless it is unavoidable and practice non-interference in order to avoid unfortunate counteractions."

"Weapons are instruments of misfortune that are used by the unevolved. When their use is unavoidable, the enlightened act with calm restraint."

"Even when victorious, let there be no joy, for such joy leads to contentment with slaughter. Those who are content with slaughter cannot find contentment in the world."(31)

# Concealing the Advantage

"In order to deplete it, it must be thoroughly extended. In order to weaken it, it must be thoroughly strengthened. In order to reject it, it must be thoroughly promoted. In order to take away from it, it must be thoroughly endowed."

This is called a subtle insight. The yielding can triumph over the inflexible; the weak can triumph over the strong. Fish should not be taken from deep waters, nor should organisations make obvious their advantages."(36)

# Knowing Enough

"When the world possesses the Tao, even fast horses are used for their dung. When the world is without the Tao, war-horses are raised in the suburbs."

"There is no greater misfortune than not knowing how much is enough, no greater fault than desiring to acquire."

"Therefore, knowing that enough is enough means that there will always be enough." (46)

# The Undivided Path

"Using only a little knowledge, I would travel the Great Way and fear only of letting go. The Great Way is very even, yet people favour the by-ways."

"When an organisation is divided, fields are overgrown, stores are empty, sharp swords are worn, food and drink are excessive, wealth and treasure are hoarded."

"This is called stealing and exaggeration and certainly not the way." (53)

# The Way of Moderation

"In leading people and serving Nature, there is nothing better than moderation. Since, indeed, moderation means yielding early, yielding early means accumulating power."

"When Power is accumulated, nothing is impossible. When nothing is impossible, one knows no limits. One who knows no limits can possess the organisation."

"An organisation that possesses the Tao can endure and advance. This means deep roots and firm foundations: durability and longevity through observation of the Tao."(59)

# The Power in Modesty

"A large organisation should flow downwards to intersect with the world. It is the female of the world. The female always overcomes the male by stillness; through stillness she makes herself low."

"Thus if a large organisation is lower (more humble) than a smaller organisation, it can receive the small organisation. If a small organisation stays lower than a larger one, it can receive the large organisation."

"Therefore one receives by becoming low; another receives by being low."

"Yet what a large organisation desires is to unite and support others. What a small organisation desires is to join and serve others. Therefore, for both to gain the position they desire, the larger should place itself low." (61)

# Neutralising Escalation

"Strategists have a saying: I dare not act as a host, yet I act as a guest. I dare not advance an inch, yet I retreat a foot."

"This is called travelling without moving, rising up without arms, projecting without resistance, capturing without strategies."

"No misfortune is greater than underestimating resistance; underestimating resistance will destroy my treasures. Thus when mutually opposing strategies escalate, the one who feels sorrow will triumph."(69)

# Accepting the Blame

"Nothing in the world is as yielding and receptive as water yet in attacking the firm and inflexible nothing triumphs so well. Because of what it is not, this becomes easy."

"The receptive triumphs over the inflexible, the yielding triumphs over the rigid. None in the world do not know this, none have the ability to practice it."

"Therefore, evolved people say: one who accepts the disgrace of the organisation can be called the leader of the grain shrine (traditional shrines dedicated to crop fertility), one who accepts the misfortunes of the organisation can be called the leader of the world."

"Right words appear to reverse themselves." (78)

# Fulfilling Independence

"In a small organisation with few people, let there be ten or a hundred times more tools than they can use. Let the people value their lives and yet not move far away. Even though there are boats and carriages, there is no occasion to use them. Even though there are armour and weapons, there is no occasion to brandish them."

"Let the people again knot cords and use them: their food will be pleasing, their clothes will be fine, their homes will be secure, their customs will be joyful."

"Nearby organisations may watch each other, their crowing and barking may be heard. Yet the people may grow old and die without coming or going between them."(80)

# The Power of Selflessness

"Heaven is eternal, the Earth everlasting. They can be eternal and everlasting because they do not exist for themselves. For that reason they can exist eternally."

"Therefore, enlightened people put themselves last, and yet they are first. Put themselves outside and yet they remain."

"Is it not that they are without self-interest that their interests succeed?" (7)

# The Way of Non-interference

"Those who would take hold of the world and act on it never, I notice, succeed (in the long term). The world is a mysterious instrument, not made to be handled. Those who act on it, spoil it. Those who seize it, lose it."

"So, in Natural Law some lead, some follow; some agitate, some remain silent; some are firm, some are weak; some carry on, some lose heart."

"Thus it is enlightened people avoid extremes, avoid extravagance, avoid stress." (29)

# The Limits of Specialisation

"The Tao of the Absolute has no name. Although infinitesimal in it's Simplicity, the world cannot master it."

"If leaders would hold onto it, all things would naturally follow. Heaven and Earth would unite to rain sweet dew (indicative of a kingdom at peace) and people would naturally co-operate without commands."

"Names emerge when institutions begin. When names emerge, know likewise to stop. To know when to stop is to be free of danger."

"The presence of the Tao in the world is like the valley stream joining rivers and seas." (32)

# Subtle Powers

"The most yielding parts of the world overtake the most rigid parts of the world. The insubstantial can penetrate continually."

"Therefore I know that without action there is advantage."

"This philosophy without words, this advantage without action - it is rare in the world to attain them." (43)

# Cultivating Inner Knowledge

"Without going out of doors, know the world. Without looking out the window, see the Tao in Nature. One may travel very far and know very little."

"Therefore, enlightened people know without going about, recognise without looking. Achieve without acting." (47)

# The Art of Non-action

"To pursue the academic, add to it daily. To pursue the Tao, subtract from it daily. Subtract and subtract again, to arrive at the art of non-action. Through non-action, nothing is left undone."

"The world is always held without effort. The moment there is effort, the world is beyond holding.". (48)

# The Power in not Contending

"To possess power that runs deep is to be like a newborn child. Poisonous insects do not sting it, fierce beasts do not seize it, birds of prey do not strike it."

"It's bones are yielding, it's muscles are relaxed, it's grip is strong. It does not yet know the union of male and female, yet its virility is active. Its life force is at it's greatest."

"It can scream all day, yet it does not become hoarse. It's harmony is at it's greatest."

"To know Harmony is called the Absolute. To know the Absolute is called Insight. To enhance life is called propitious. To be conscious of influence is called strength."

"Things overgrown must decline. This is not the Tao. What is not the Tao will soon die."(55)

# The Path of Least Resistance

"Act without action; work without effort. Taste without savouring. Magnify the small; increase the few, repay ill-will with kindness."

"Plan the difficult when it is easy. Handle the big where it is small. The worlds hardest work begins when it is easy. The worlds largest effort begins where it is small. Enlightened people, finally, take no great action, and in that way, great is achieved."

"Those who commit easily inspire little trust. How easy to inspire hardness! Therefore, enlightened people view all as difficult. Finally they have no difficulty!"(63)

# The Power at the Beginning

"What is at rest is easy to hold. What is not yet begun is easy to plan. What is thin is easy to melt. What is minute is easy to disperse. Deal with many things before they emerge. Put them in order before there is disorder."

"A tree of many arm-spans grows from a single sprout. A tower of nine stories is raised from a pile of earth. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Those who act on things spoil them. Those who seize things lose them. Therefore, enlightened people do nothing, hence they spoil nothing. They seize nothing therefore they lose nothing."

People often spoil their work at it's point of completion. With care at the end as well as the beginning, no work will ever be spoiled."

"Thus enlightened people desire to be desireless and do not treasure goods that are hard to get. They learn without learning by returning to the place where the collective mind passes. In this way they assist all things naturally without venturing to act." (64)

# Unnatural Authority

"When people do not fear death, how can they be threatened with death? Suppose people fear death and still do not conform. Who would then dare to seize them and put them to death?"

"There is always the master executioner who kills. To substitute for the master executioner in killing is like substituting for the master carpenter who carves. Whoever thus substitutes rarely escapes injury to his hands.". (74)

# Self Destructive Leadership

"People are hungry because those above consume too much in taxes. So it is that people are hungry."

"People are difficult to lead because those above interfere with them. So it is that people are difficult to lead."

"People make light of death because those above crave survival. So it is that people make light of death."(75)