Laozi - Ettan's Modern Semantic Translation

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Laozi / Lao-tzu
by Laozi, translated by Wikisource
Eng Tiong Tan (Malaysia), lead translator. (Alpha 2007 ver. 0. 28)

Preface

Chinese culture is no more a "Chinese only" issue. For a wholistic view of the Far Eastern culture, Daode Jing or Laozi is an obligatory text. As one of the earliest sources of political liberalism and democracy, it is now the most concise philosophical classic that has brought about the most interpretations and influences. Most thoughts of this ancient text of roughly 5000 classical chinese characters and 2500 years old are still valid in contempory philosophy, psychology, management, aesthetics etc. From these, we can see the amazing insights of the author.

This translation of Laozi / Lao-tzu is, since the end of last millenium, a personal ongoing effort (if the adm don't like it here, I will move to elsewhere) to incorporate contemporary semantics into the text. In the process, efforts have been made to obey the following rules: integrity, original meaning, modernization, original rhetorics and current context. There are also intentional violation of the grammatical rules in order to attempt the impossible -- presenting the classical chinese rhetorics. The net result is sort of flowing smoothly. The text, other than complying with certain contemporary thoughts, it is also critical of our age, e.g. environmental problems, threat of nuclear weapons, red tape, capitalism, political romanticism, globalization, deregulation etc.

Readers should bear the following facts in mind:

  1. Regarding the ultimate concern, Laozi is (non-metaphysical) pragmatic opinions rather than declaration of hegemonistic truth, as the author believed that "Tao/Dao" expressed in human languages can not be ontologically absolute. And, since it is a model of pragmatically opinionistic and paradoxical text, it works through meeting with relevant wholistic results. And, the opinionism itself is also an opinion.
  2. The targeted readers were those in power or wished to be in power. Most of the educated people then worked for the governments. Therefore, the text is highly political. It could be a sarcasm to the politicians:"With the wars and other problems in our world, I would prefer our society going back to its primitive stage."
  3. It was extremely competitive Spring Autumn war period then. An effective legal system is the key to survival.
  4. No efficient recording tools were available and thus books had to be written in very succinct form. The abstruse style is its weakness as well as strength.
  5. Laozi is not a novel. Speed-reading will not work.
  6. Nothingness is no vacuum. There are things in "nothing". Analogously, in certain context, "yes" can mean "no" in Far Eastern culture. This also reflects what the author has asserted from the beginning -- the instability of text.
  7. Daoism is not ontological naturalism. There are far too many descriptions( the use of vehicle, room, tools etc.) in Daoist classics for refuting those irresponsible and indirect claims that Daoism is absolute naturalism.
  8. The original text has no chapters and punctuations.
  9. Unlike exclusive God/Allah from Middle East, the Dao does not have personal attributes, i.e. neither holy nor unholy, neither mercy nor unmercy etc. This makes taoism exempts from facing the problems of theodicy which have led to enormous amount of word games. These statements may lead to unduly reactions, such as mud-throwing etc., from those lack of faith in their beliefs, cultural supremacists etc. Nevertheless they are here to stay and I will never apologize for them.
  10. "Treat the text as a whole." No garbling, please. Taoism of Laozi is "pragmatism" of its own kind with emphases on integrated principles of nothingness, wholistic health, sustainability, moderated naturalism, limitation of language/presentation, spontaneity, political liberalism and flexibility. The style of expression could be a purposive arrangement to force readers treating the text as a whole.
  11. Like Hanfeizi, the original text could have been sabotaged by confucianists who had monopolized chinese education most of the times after Qin Dynasty.
  12. If you wish others to treat you well, then promote those "manifestive" beliefs like Confucianism, Christianity, Islam or the likes; If you really treat other well, let them know the real Daoism!
  13. There are always essential elements of Daoism in organisational managements (delegation etc.) & personal life (sleep, quiet, calm etc.) Disregard them at your own peril.

There are euphemisms around, leaving the readers, the uncertain subjects, certain space of imagination and interpretation. You are encouraged to read between the lines (the "nothing" part) with proper creativity. Write a book, set up a blog or website for them if you like.

Contents

Dao, Language and Perception

1 Dao, Language and Perception


"Dao / Tao / The Ultimate / Absolute indefinite" that can be asserted in words

Not the absolute Dao-in-itself

"Phenomenon" that can be confined in names

Not the absolute phenomenon-in-itself

Nothingness

Named beginning of universe

Haveness

Named mother of all objects

Thus

Be always in nothingness

If you desire to perceive the Dao's wonder

Always in haveness

If you desire to discover the bounds of phenomena

Having same origin

Yet appear differently

Both mysterious in nature

Mystery of all mysteries
Source of all wonders


Values and The Difference

2 Values and The Difference


We all know

Beauty as it is
Thus ugliness
Good as it is
Thus no-goodness

Therefore

Haveness and nothingness co-create
Difficult and easy co-accomplish
Long and short contrast
High and low incline against each other
Front and back accompany

Hence

An ideal political leader manages with nothingness
Teaches without fussy

Dao moves the universe

Without uttering a word

Creates

Without domination

Acts

Without publicity

Success

Without making merit

Only no merit is claimed

The merit never ends


Flaunt no...

3 Flaunt no...


Ideal political leader

Flaunts no saints
People stop fighting for names

Treasure no rare merchandises

People rob not

Manifest no eagerness

People bewilder not

Therefore

His government

Clears people's mind off ideologies
Fills their stomachs
Weakens their ambitions
Strengthens their bones
Makes them ignorant of trickery
And greed not
Make those abuse their cleverness
Dare not run amuck at society

With these principles of nothingness

Be there no ungovernable


The Null Dao

4 The Null Dao


Dao, null

Its working capacity seems never overflow

Unfathomably likes origin of the universe

Its concealment

Make us doubt about its existence

I do not know its source

Presumably

Exists before the personal God/Allah


The Selfless Universe and The Boundless Dao

5 The Selfless Universe and The Boundless Dao


The heaven and earth are not romantic

Treating all objects impartially like straw dogs

Likewise

Ideal political leader is not romantic

Treating all people selflessly

Dao

Being nothingness in heaven and earth
Is it not comparable to a bellow?

Empty

Yet produces endlessly

The more it works

The more results it gets

Too many words/laws

Lead to unproductivity swiftly

Rather act in nothingness



The Ultimate Creator

6 The Ultimate Creator


Emptyness

Omnipresence

Immortal

Dao

The mysterious vagina
So to speak
The mysterious vagina
Origin of the universe
Seemingly
A weak existence
Yet its works never end




Selflessness and Sustainability

7 Selflessness and Sustainability


The universe

Sustainable

As it does not exist for itself

Therefore long-lived

Likewise

The ideal political leader leaves behind self-interests

Stands tall in front

Forgets his own body

Survive

Are not these due to his selflessness

The net result

His self-fulfillment


The Best Practices are Like Water

8 The Best Practices are Like Water


The Best practices are like water

Water

Good at nurturing the nature instead of exploiting
Lives in places where people disgusted
Thus
Approaching Dao
Live in proper place
Mind with proper depth
Give with proper love
Speak with proper truthfulness
Administer with proper management
Work with proper delegation in talents
Act in proper timing

No exploitation

No hates



Withdraw oneself after success

9 Withdraw oneself after success


Pouring till overflown

Rather stop promptly

Overly sharpen

Never sustain

Full house of gold and jades

Never seen well kept forever

Flaunt of one's fortune

Looking for troubles

Withdraw oneself after success

Way of nature


Self-criticism

10 Self-criticism


Embrace the one and only Dao

With entire heart and soul
Can you keep it without going astray

Move "Chi" in your body with extreme tenderness

Can you be like a baby

Clear your mind off ideologies

Probe around
Can it be flawless

Be patriotic and govern the people

Can you be in nothingness

Open and close your senses

Can you be in quietness

Exhaust interdisciplinary knowledge

Can your intelligence works without abuse


The Use of Nothingness

11 The Use of Nothingness


Thirty spokes center to one hub

As there is nothingness in the hub
We have the use of vehicle

Kneading clay into vessels

As there is nothingness
We have the use of vessel

Shaping door and windows for a room

As there is nothingness
We have the use of room

Thus

Haveness turns into benefit
Nothingness turns into usefulness


Artificial Temptations

12 Artificial Temptations


Temptations of a colorful world blind people

Delicacies solicit more flavors

Hustle-bustles cause deafness

Hunting on the rampage

People's hearts bedevil

Rare merchandises

Bring about greedy searches

Thus

The ideal political leader cares more about people's stomach than

enjoyments

Gives and takes



Grace and Disgrace

13 Grace and Disgrace


Grace and disgrace

Alarming

Worry of adversity

As well as oneself

Why are grace and disgrace alarming

In the eyes of the world

Favor is good
Disfavor bad

The favored

Worry about losing favor

The disfavored

Worry about adversity

Thus

Grace and disgrace
Alarming

What is worrying of adversity

As well as oneself

Adversity

As I am self-centred

If I am selfless

What adversity I have

Therefore

One who willing to sacrifice himself for the people
Can have mandate of the world
One who loves to sacrifice himself for the people
Can entrust the world in him


The Hidden Dao

14 The Hidden Dao


Look

See not

Listen

Hear not

Touch

Sense not

These three aspects cannot be exhausted

Mingle as one in Dao

No light above

No darkness beneath

Extending endlessly

Indescribable
Ultimately formless

Formless form

So to speak
No materialistic appearance and dim

Greet

See not its face

Follow

See not its back

Get Hold of the old Dao

Rein current haveness

Know the ancient sustainable source

Comply with the law of Dao


Ancient Pilgrim of Dao

15 Ancient Pilgrim of Dao


Ancient pilgrim of Dao

Subtle
Mysteriously proficient
Fathomless

As fathomless

Describe barely

Prudential

As if stepping on winter stream
Afraid of interference from neighbours

Courteous

Like a guest

Yielding

Like melting ice

Simple

As if naive

Hollow

Like caves

Opaque

Like muddy pools

Who can be chaordic

with calmness turning crystalline

Who can be peaceful in long term movement

While showing vitality progressively

Those who keep Dao in them

No complacency

As no complacency

They can be hidden
Showing off not


In Nothingness

16 In Nothingness


Be in nothingness to extreme

Be in quietness wholeheartedly

All objects interact

I observe their repeating laws

Go back to their origin in turn
Then in quietness

So to speak

Named constant Dao

Repeat universally

Knowing these

Enlightened

Act without enlightenment of the constant Dao

Assuming high risk

Knowing constants

Accommodated

Accommodated

Civil

Civil

Wholistic

Wholistic

Comply with law of the universe

Comply with law of the universe

Following Dao

Following Dao

Sustainable

Thus

No hazards in life


Classes of Leadership

17 Classes of Leadership


First class leader

People know not his existence

Second

Close to the people
Praised

Next

The people afraid of him

Last

The people abuse him

Lack of truthfulness

Begets no trustworthy

Be at ease

Treasure your words

After all achievements

Let people say
"We are like this naturally."


Belated "Good"

18 Belated "Good"


Wherever the great Dao is forsaken

There is political romanticism

Wherever wisdom is publicized

There is hypocrisy

Wherever relatives are in alienation

There are piety and kindness

Wherever a nation is in chaos

There are loyal subjects


Three Political Taboos

19 Three Political Taboos


Stop flaunting sage and saint

People have hundred times benefit

Forsake political romanticism

People have piety and kindness back naturally

Relinquish opportune benefits

Robbers and thieves vanish

These three aspects

If propagate with word games
Show all sorts of defects

Thus

Provide the people with options
Let them
show their true selves
Embrace indigenuity
Short of egotism
Lack of greed




The Best Knowledge

20 The Best Knowledge


The best knowledge leads no anxiety

Impose them with compliment or disgrace

How far is in between

Attach them with the feel of good or bad

What difference does it makes

What others afraid of cannot be ignored

How desolate

The Dao's wastefulness

People push by in the crowd

Like having feasts
Like ascending lookout towers

I live alone in insipidity

Like never seen any sign
Like an infant never been boyish
Like slack astray

People have swelling confidence

I seem incompetent

What a mind of fool I have

Others look smart

I seem muddle-headed

Others appear attentive

I appear could not care less

I can be a sea in placidity

Or perpetually drifting wind

Others show talents

I seem superficially childish
I am different
Consuming mother of the universe dearly


Countenance of De

21 Countenance of De


Countenance of the hollow De

Reflects only Dao

How indeterminately vague

Yet phenomena within

How vaguely indeterminate

Yet substance within

How profoundly dusky

Yet sperms of creation within

Highly real the sperms

Certain messages within

Its phenomena manifested since time immemorial

For us to review the beginning of all things

How do I perceive the beginning of all things

With these


Defect makes perfect

22 Defect makes perfect


Defect

Perfect

Inflection

Straightened

Hollow

Filled

Spoiled

Renewed

Less

Content

Excessive

Confused

Thus

The ideal political leader
Embraces the integrated Dao as paradigm

No self-glorifying

Thus illuminate

No self-approbation

Thus prominent

No brag

Thus praiseworthy

No arrogant

Thus sustain

No rivalry

No rival in the world

How can the good old principle of "defect makes perfect"

Be just empty talk

Have faith in it wholeheartedly




Transcient Nature

23 Transcient Nature


Few words/law

Be natural

Blasting wind survive not the morning

A brash last not whole day

Who set these

Heaven and earth

Even the heaven and earth last not

How can a human

Thus

The taoist operator
Has Dao-like manner
One who has the De
Has De-like manner
One who loses both
Has loser-like manner
Those identify with the Dao
The Dao is glad to have them
Those identify with the De
The De is glad to have them
Those who lose both
The "loser" is glad to have them
Lack of truthfulness
Begets no trustworthy


Drawbacks of Forceful Measures

24 Drawbacks of Forceful Measures


Lifted heels

Lose firm foothold

Run in big steps

Travel not far

Self-glorify

Edify none

Self-conceite

Unprominent

Brag

Unpraiseworthy

Arrogant

Unsustainable

For Dao

These are leftovers
Superfluous demeanors
Even those alienated may detest them

Thus

Daoists abstain from them


The Omnipresent Great Dao

25 The Omnipresent Great Dao


An existence

Intermingled

Before the universe

It be

Serene and formless

Aloof and everlasting

Moving infinitely

Be it mother of the universe

As my ignorant of its name

Inadequately named it Dao
Barely describe it as great
Great thus omnipresent
Omnipresent thus infinite
Infinite thus rotary

Dao

Great

Universe

Great

Earth

Great

Human

Great

Four greatness in the universe

Human is one of them
Human
Rely on earth
Earth
Rely on Universe
Universe
Rely on Dao
Dao
Rely on nature


Calm, Detached, Non-materialistic

26 Calm, Detached, Non-materialistic


Heaviness

Root of flightiness

Calmness

Leader of fickleness

Thus

The ideal political leader
Advances without leaving burden
Though in glory
Deal with it detachedly

As a leader of many advanced troops

How can he be fickle with his self-interests

Flighty loses root

Fickleness loses leadership



Good Performances

27 Good Performances


Good travel leaves no trace

Good speech makes no mistake

Good count utilize no calculator

Good confinement has no lock and latch

Yet unable to open

Good bond apply no rope and knot

Yet loosen not

Thus

The ideal political leader
Good at saving people
No one left behind
Good at saving goods
Nothing left behind

Inherit enlightenment

So to speak

Thus

The Good
Be mentor of the no-good
The No-good
Be lessons of the good
Valued not the mentor
Or heeded not the lessons
Though clever
Yet muddleheaded

The primary knacks

So to speak


Know and Hold

28 Know and Hold


Know its "masculine"

Hold on to "feminine"
Be conjunction of the world

Be the conjunction of the world

Conform to De without deviation
Revert to natural state of infant

Know its "white"

Hold on to its "black"
Be a paragon of the world

Abide by The De constantly without error

Return to The Eternal Dao

Know its grace

Hold on to its disgrace
Be the vale of the world

Adhere to The De till content

Resume nature

Lose the nature

Alienate into tools

The ideal political leader knows how to use them

Becomes leader of all ministers

The great/complex systems

Reductionistic not


War

29 War


Generals who wish to seize power

And do something "worthwhile"

I reckon they run out of alternatives

Power is like magical weapon

Shall not act upon

Those act upon

Vitiate it

Those lay hand on

Lose it

All creatures

Advance
Or follow
Breath cold
Or puff warm
Strong
Or weak
Increase
Or perish

Thus

The ideal political leader eliminates
Excess
Extravagance
Extreme


The Government Adviser

30 The Government Adviser


A Daoist adviser

Flaunt no superiority to the world with forces

Long term implications it has

Wherever armed divisions camped

Thorns and brambles clustered

After grand scale military conflicts

Lean years ensued

Good strategists

Content with efficacy
Tough no more

Effected

No arrogance
No brag
No pride

War

Inevitable aftermath

Achieved ends

Violence no more

All creatures aged after turning strong

Disregard Dao
So to speak

Disregard Dao

Die an earlier death


The Cursed Merchandise

31 The Cursed Merchandise


Weapons

Cursed merchandise

Even those alienated may detest

Thus

Daoist
Dance not with them

Gentlemen

Treasure daily peaceful life
Regard armed mobilization as ominous

Weapons

Cursed merchandise
Not tools for gentlemen
Use only when run out of alternatives

Better be indifferent of fame and gain

Victory

No beauty

Those glorify it with passion

Amuse in massacre

Those amuse in massacre

Let the world prevent his will to power

Left

Luck

Right

Ill omen

Sub-lieutenant

Stays in the left

Commander in Chief

Stays in the right

Words

Express in obsequial manner

Killed many

Mourn in person with grief

Deal victory like a funeral



The Unadorned Dao

32 The Unadorned Dao


Dao

Everlasting
Nameless
Unadorned in nature

Seems inappreciable

Yet the world cannot turn it under subordination

If rulers keep it

All creatures submit themselves voluntarily

Sky and earth interact

For timely rainfalls

No commands from the people

Yet balance naturally

Primordial systems have appearances

Once appeared

Limits be known

Know the limits

Be no hazards

Dao relates to the world

Like sea relates to rivers and ravines


Real Power

33 Real Power


Understand others

Wise

Self-understood

Enlightened

Transcend over others

Strong

Self-transcend

Real power

Content

Rich

Diligent Daoist

Great expectation

Lose not dominion of Dao

Sustainable

Died no dead

Real longevity


Paradoxes of Dao

34 Paradoxes of Dao


The great Dao floods freely

Be it left or right

All things born in Dao

Yet utter not a word

Accomplished

Yet no name in haveness

Clothes and nurtures all things

Yet no domination

No greed

So to speak
Inappreciable

All things vested in

Yet no domination
So to speak
Its greatness

As no self-glorifying

Thus its greatness complete


The Exit of Dao

35 The Exit of Dao


Uphold the great phenomena

The whole world follows

If the followers be not hurt

Calm
Harmony
Peace

Entertain with delicacy

Passerby stop over

Yet the exit of Dao

Wishy-washy and flavorless

Look

Hard to see

Hear

Hard to listen

Use

Never exhausted


Alternative Strategies

36 Alternative Strategies


Want to integrate

Must overspread them on purpose

Want to weaken

Must strengthen them on purpose

Want to abolish

Must vitalize them on purpose

Want to dispossess

Must provide them on purpose

Inappreciably enlightened

So to speak

Rather be gentle and tender

Than hard and strong

Fishes better stay in deep water

The best weapons of a nation

Keep from exhibition


Acts in Nothingness

37 Acts in Nothingness


Dao always acts with nothingness

Yet everything done

If rulers could keep it

All creatures self-transformed

If self-transformed

Yet desire of acting (feigning)
I will restrain them with nameless ingenuousness

Restrained with the nameless ingenuousness

They will have no greed

No greed and peaceful

The world will self-adjust


From The Best De To The Best Propriety

38 From The Best De To The Best Propriety


The best De

Does not look like "De"
Thus be "Deistic"

The inferior De

The look of "De"
Yet "Deistic" not

The best De

Acts in nothingness
Achieves nothing

The inferior De

Acts in nothingess
Achieves something

The best propriety

Acts
Achives nothing

The best righteousness acts

Achives something

The best propriety

Acts yet no response
Thus stretch out the arms of power
Coerce the people to act

Thus

Lost Dao
Then be De
Lost De
Then be propriety
Lost propriety
Then righteous
Lost righteous
Then be propriety

So called propriety

Thinness of faithfulness
Chief of conflicts

Prophesy/fortelling

Extravagant for Dao
Beginning of foolhardy

Thus a great leader

Stays with the thickness (the best De)
Stays out of the thinness
Keeps the real

Keeps out of the extravagance

Thus gives and takes



The One

39 The One


There were those attained The One long ago

The sky attained The One

Turned clear

The earth attained The One

Turned tranquil

Gods attained The One

Turned efficacious

The valley attained The One Filled Creatures attained The One Survived Leaders attained The One Turned paragon of the world

Dao caused these

Fearfully

Should the sky fail be clear
Broken apart
Should the earth fail be tranquil
Abolish
Should gods fail be efficacious
Disappear
Should valley fail be filled
Run dry
Should creature fail to survive
Vanish
Should leader failed be upright
Topple over
Dignity
Based on humbleness
High
Founded on low

Many leaders proclaim themself

Aloof
Unromantic
Proud

Are these based on disennobleness

Are they not

Thus

The best reputation is no reputation
Be not jade in a riot of colors
Be solid stone


Dao's Movement

40 Dao's Movement


Circulation

Movement of Dao

Gentleness/tenderness

Usefulness of Dao

All objects

From haveness

Haveness

From nothingness


Eidetic of Dao and De

41 Eidetic of Dao and De


The best warriors heard Dao

Practice diligently

Mediocre warriors heard Dao

Indifferent

Worst warriors heard Dao

Laugh out loud

No ridicules

Not qualify as Dao

Thus

These well-established words

Clear Dao

Seems obscure

Advancing Dao

Seems retreating

Smooth Dao

Seems bumpy

Best De

Seems like valley

Abundant De

Seems inadequate

Diligent De

Seems truant

Solid De

Seems hollow

Greatest clearness

Seems filthy

Biggest square

Have no angles

Great device

Accomplishes late

Loudest

Hardly heard

Greatest phenomenon

formless

Hidden Dao

Nameless

Dao alone

The best in giving and accomplishing


Creation and Leadership

42 Creation and Leadership


Dao gave birth to One

One to Two

Two to Three

Three to others

All objects

Bear Yin
Embrace Yang
Harmonize with air of hollowness

The people detest

Alone
Aloof
Proud

The ideal political leader claims himself as such

Thus all objects

Gain from damage
Damage from gain

What the other taught

I teach too

Strong and violent

Die no natural death

I see this as father of all teachings



The Softest and Nothingness

43 The Softest and Nothingness


The softest in the world

Run through the hardest

Nothingness infiltrate into the seamless

From these

I realize advantages of acting in nothingness

The advantage of wordless teaching and nothingness

Few equals in the world


Contentment

44 Contentment


Name and life

Which comes first

Life and materials

Which be more precious

Gain and lost

Which ill

Obsession must lead to huge waste

More treasure more lost

Thus

Contentment
Disgrace not
Knowing limits
Hazards not

Sustainable



Paradoxes of the Best

45 Paradoxes of the Best


The greatest success seems flawed

Its pragmaticality never ends

The greatest fulfillment seems empty

Its pragmaticality inexhaustible

The straightest seems inflected

The skillest seems clumsy

The greatest debater seems awkward

The calm transcends over fickleness

The cold transcends over heat

Calm and serene

Upright of the world


Absence and Presence of Dao

46 Absence and Presence of Dao


When the world has Dao

Horses are driven to plow farms

When the world has Dao not

Ponies born in rural battlefields

Nothing more disastrous than insatiability

Nothing more blameworthy than obsession

Thus

Contentment of being contented
Contentment that long last


Act Less and Success

47 Act Less and Success


Never stepped out of door

Yet known the world

Never looked over window

Yet seen the natural Dao

The further one goes

Acquires fewer knowledge

Thus

The ideal political leader
Travels not
Yet well-informed
Sees not
Yet enlightened
Acts not
Yet succeeded


Practice The Dao

48 Practice The Dao


Absorbing knowledge

Increasing daily

Practicing Dao

Decreasing daily

Decreasing and decreasing

Till act in nothingness

Act in nothingness

Yet everything done

Take from the world

Should make no troubles

If there are troubles

Worthy not of getting from the world


Impartial Leader

49 Impartial Leader


The ideal political leader always has heart of nothingness

Minds only the people's mind

The good

I treat him good

The No-good

I also treat him good

"De"-ify good

The faithful

I treat him with faithfulness

Unfaithful

I also treat him with faithfulness

"De"-ify faithfulness

In the world

The ideal political leader seems pulling in his horns
Deal with the world
Heart in nothingness

People observe with ears and eyes

The ideal political leader cares about them like their own children


No Fatal Land

50 No Fatal Land


Born out of life

Died into earth

Long-lived

Three out of ten

Short-lived

Three out of ten

Could have long-lived

Yet stepped into fatal land
Also three out of ten

Why

As they lived extravagant lives

Ever heard of those good at survival

On their ways uphill

Never met rhinoceros or tigers

Enlisted

Never hurt by weapons

Rhinoceros

No target to thrust with its horn

Tiger

No victim to ply with its claws

Enemy

No way to penetrate with his sword

Why

As for him

No fatal land


Dao Generates, De Nurtures

51 Dao Generates, De Nurtures


Dao generates

De nurtures

Things form

Trends accomplish

Thus All creatures

Honor the Dao
Glorify the De

Dao's honor and De's glory

From having no predestination
Natural always

Thus

Dao generates
De nurtures
Grows and educates
Fulfills and ripens
Nourishes and protects

Creates without domination

Acts without publicity

Succeed without making merit

So to speak

Mysterious De


Block off Channels of Greed

52 Block off Channels of Greed


The world has a beginning

Be it the Mother

Once has the Mother

To know her Son
Revert back to abide by the Mother

No hazards in life

Block off channels of greed

Close off the exit
No toils in life

Open up channels of greed

Aid the business
No cure in life

See the inappreciable

Named enlightenment

Keep the flexible

Named powerful

Make use of its light

Revert to enlightenment
Left no disaster to oneself

So to speak

Inherit the Eternal


Side Roads

53 Side Roads


Supposedly

I somewhat know
Walk along the Great Way
Fear only going astray

The Great Way

Quite smooth
Yet people like side roads

Officialdom corrupts

Farm lands desolate

Warehouses vacant

But those in power

Clothe flowery
Rattle sharp swords
Eat and drink till surfeit
Squander wealth and property excessively

Named bandit chieftains

Opposed to Dao


Skills

54 Skills


Good building

Uproots not

Good grip

Looses not

Descendants appreciate their merits

Never stop worshipping them

Practice physically

De real

Practice at home

De abundant

Practice down town

De long last

Practice in state

De fulfilled

Practice in the world

De ubiquitous

Observe self with the self's context

Observe home with the homey context

Observe state with the stately context

Observe world with the worldly context

How do I manage to know the world as such

With these



Be abundant with De

55 Be abundant with De


Those be abundant with De

Analogous to a baby

Poisonous insects and snakes

Wound not

Birds and beasts of prey

Fight not

Bones weak and tendons flexible

Yet hold firmly

Not yet learn of intercourse

Yet has erections
As his potency

Cry whole day

Yet bring no throaty
As his harmony

Know harmony

Constant

Know the constant

Enlightened

Benefit health

Auspicious

Controlling Qi4 (pneuma)

Strong

Things aged after strengthened

Adhere not to Dao

So to speak

Adhere not to Dao

Die an earlier death


The Wise

56 The Wise


The wise

Define not Dao in words

Define Dao in words

Wise not

Dao

Diminishes sharpness
Resolves conflicts
Soften brightness
Collaborate earthly life
Mysterious collaboration
So to speak

There

Unattainable
Intimate
Thus alienated
Unattainable
Benefit
Thus harm
Unattainable
Precious
Thus inferior

Thus the world treasures it



Govern with Upright Dao

57 Govern with Upright Dao


Govern a state with the upright Dao

Mobilize army with oddity

Win the world with peace

How do I know these

With these

More taboos

Poorer the people

More people own ferocious weapons

More unsettled the state

More people have trickery

Tricky goods turn superabundant

More laws we reveal

More robbers and thieves in jail

Thus

The ideal political leader asserts

I act in nothingness
The people self-transform
I love meditation
The people self-adjust
I remain in peace
The people self-prosper

I have no greed

The people turn unadorned


Administration

58 Administration


If administration unruffled

The people turn unadorned

If administration overly watchful

The people turn deficient

Blessings lean on adversaries

Adversaries ambush blessings

Who knows the ends of the adversaries or blessings

No certainty in them

Certainty can turn odd

Good can turn evil

People have delusion of these since long ago

Thus

The ideal political leader

In square
Slashes not with angles
Sharp edges
Scratches not
Straight
Runs riot not
Beam
Glare not


Reserve

59 Reserve


Management or service

No comparable to reserve

Only with reserve

Thus obey Dao earlier

Obey Dao earlier

Emphasize on accumulating De

Accumulating De

No unbeatable

No unbeatable

Can own a nation

Can own a nation

Sustainable

Deep-rooted

So to speak
Dao of long-live and eternal


Govern a Great Nation

60 Govern a Great Nation


Govern a great nation

Akin to cooking undersized seafood

Rule with Dao

Ghosts will lose their power

Not only ghosts will lose godhood

God also hurts no people

Not only God hurts no people

The ideal political leader also hurt no people

Thus no hurting of each other De interacts



Big and Small Nations

61 Big and Small Nations


Great nation should flow downward as confluence of the world

Be it feminine in nature

Female often won over male with its calmness

Humble with calmness

Thus

Great nation be humble to small nation

Win over small nation

Small nation be humble to great nation

Win over great nation

Either be humble to win over

Or be humble yet win over

Great nation wants only to dominate

Small nation submits only for protection

Win-win

Great nation should humble



Pray and Get

62 Pray and Get


Dao

Secret of all things
Treasure of good people
Valuable of those no-goods

Words of comeliness

Procure honor

Acts of charm

Grow followers

Though no-good

How can Dao abandons them

When ordain the Son of Heaven

Ascertain three kingships

Though there are large jades as offering

Preceding four-horse chariot
No better than sitting in Dao

Why did ancient people treasure this Dao

Were not because of getting what pleaded
Condemned pardoned

Thus treasure by the world



Hard and Easy

63 Hard and Easy


Act in nothingness

Work in peace

Taste in flavorlessness

Magnify the small

Amplify the little

Return animosity with De

Masterminding complex from easy

Managing great projects from small

The most complex work in the world must start from easy

The greatest project in the world must start from small

Thus the ideal political leader never exagerates his actions

Yet his greatness complete

Make light of promises

Few have faith

Regard things as easy

Troubles come

The ideal political leader see more of complexity

Thus no difficulty


Prevention

64 Prevention


When stable

Easy to hold down

Before signs appear

Easy to resolve

When fragile

Easy to break up

When small

Easy to dispel

Act when nothing yet happen

Manage before disorder appears

Arms-full tree

Set out from hairlike twig

Tower of nine stories

Erects from a shallow basket of soil

Travel of thousand miles

Begins from a footstep

People's works often fail when success at hand

Be attentive from beginning to the end

Fail not


Discourage Trickiness

65 Discourage Trickiness


Ancient proficient Daoist

Never tried to illuminate people on everything
But make them lack of trickiness

The people are hard to govern

As they have much trickiness

Thus govern with trickiness

Misfortune of the nation

Govern not with trickiness

Blessing of a nation

Know both of these

Paradigm

Always comprehend the paradigm

Mysterious De

The mysterious De

Profound and far-reaching

In opposite with those alienated

Till yielding to the great Dao


Humble and Selfless

66 Humble and Selfless


Rivers and seas

Rulers of all valleys
As they stay lowly
Thus be rulers of all valleys

Hence

If an ideal political leader needs be atop of the people
Must humble himself in his language
Needs be ahead of the people
Must leave his interests behind

Thus be the ideal political leader

Atop of the people
Yet the people feel no burden
Ahead of the people
And the people get no hurt

Thus the world elect him without reluctance

Only no willingness to fight

That none of the world can fight you


Three Treasures

67 Three Treasures


The people commented

Dao I spoke of
Immeasurable
Seems too good to be true

As Dao

Immeasurable
Thus be not as "good" as one can imagine

If Dao

As "good" as one can imagine
Something too trivial to mention long ago

I have 3 treasures that I keep dearly

First

Be kind

Second

Be economical

Third

Dare not make up the first in the world

Kind thus can be brave

Economical thus can be expanded

Dare not make up the first in the world

Thus be leader of all

The people nowadays

Abandon kindness but aggression
Abandon economy but expansion
Abandon last but first

Doom

Kindness

Turns victory
Strengthens defence

When the nature wants to save a person

Protects him with kindness


The Best Fighter

68 The Best Fighter


Best general

Resorts not to violence

Best fighter

Angers not

Best winner

Fights not with the enemy

Best manager

Humble

So to speak

Indisputable De

Employing human resource
Matching up with the nature

Ancient ultimate concern



Be Guest

69 Be Guest


A strategist remarked

I dare not be the host but the guest

Dare not advance an inch but retreat a yard

So to speak

Act no action

Raise no arm

Capture no enemy

Hold no weapon

Nothing more disastrous than no equal

No equal almost lose (aforementioned) treasures

Thus when two equals encounter

The kind one win


Words of Easy Practice

70 Words of Easy Practice


My words

Quite easy to understand
Quite easy to practice

Yet in the world

Few understand
Few practice

My words have source

My practices have ground

The world

Ignorant
Thus comprehend not of me

Fewer acquaintances of me

More precious I am

Thus the ideal political leader wears coarse clothing

Yet has precious jades inside


Knowing of not Known

71 Knowing of not Known


Knowing of not known

Best

Not knowing of not known

Faulty

The ideal political leader has no such fault

As he fault the fault

Thus has no fault of such



No Oppression

72 No Oppression


When the people fear not of authority

The great power (of the people) shall arrive

Therefore government

Constrain not the people's livings
Oppress not their life

Only no oppression

No revolt from the people

Thus ideal political leader

Self-aware
Self-glorify not
Self-esteem
Self-signify not

Thus gives and takes



Be brave in Hazard-not

73 Be brave in Hazard-not


Brave in hazards

Die

Brave in hazard-not

Survive

Both may benefit or harm

About those cursed by the nature

Who know their reasons

The Dao of nature

No fight
Yet good at victory
No words
Yet good at reply
No calls
Yet come along
Seemingly slack
Yet good at plotting
The web of Nature is boundless
Sparse yet never lost


Punish to Prevent

74 Punish to Prevent


If people afraid not of death

Why threaten them with death

To induce people afraid of death

Once there is oddity

Arrest and punish accordingly
Who will dare it again?

Always

Executioner in operation

Those do for the Executioner the task of killing

Like hewing for logging master

For amateurs who hew for logging master

Few of their hands never get hurt


The People's Predicament

75 The People's Predicament


Hunger of the people

From over taxation of those in power
Thus hunger

Hard govern people

From acts in haveness of those in power
Thus hard to govern

Trivia death of the people

From the thick lives of those in power
Thus trivial of death

Those act not for themselves

Much better than those self-signify


Gentle and Hard

76 Gentle and Hard


Humans begin life gentle and tender

Turn hard and rigid in death

Plants begin life gentle and fragile

Wither and dry up in death

Thus gentle and tender are living types

Hard and rigid are dying types

Headstrong army

May not win a battle

Hard wood

Normally cut down

Strong and bulky

Low

Gentle and tender

The highest ranked


Adjustment

77 Adjustment


Dao of the Nature

Akin to string a bow
Repress if too high
Raise if too low
Reduce it if excessive
Supplement if fall short

Dao of the nature

Reduces excessive
Supplement insufficient

Dao of mortals are different

Supplement excessive
Reduce insufficient

Who can reduce the excessive

And supplement the insufficient
Only Daoist

Thus ideal political leader

Acts without publicity
Succeeds without making merit
Desires not to show sageness


Gentleness Overcome the Strong

78 Gentleness Overcome the Strong


None

More gentle and tender than water

None

Better in breaching strongholds

None can replace it

Gentleness can overcome strong

Tenderness can overcome hardness

None

Ignorant of these in the world
Yet few practice

Thus the ideal political leader stated

Bearer of a nation's humiliation
Leader of society
Bearer of a nation's ill omen
King of the world

Right words

Paradoxical


The Grantor

79 The Grantor


Mediate deadly animosity

Must have residual hatred

React hatred with De

To what degree is proper

Thus ideal political leader

Be grantor
Exploits no people

With De

Grantor

Without De

Tax collector

Dao of the Nature

Favor none
Yet always bless those with proper De


Small Country, Small Communities

80 Small Country, Small Communities


Downsize the nation

Lessen the people

Let them have arms

Yet use not

Let them give weight to death

And move not far

Though there are vessels and vehicles

No ways to ride on

Though there are weapons and armors

No place to display

Let them utilize the old-fashion recording method

Give taste to their foods

Beautify their clothes

Pacify their livings

Delight their cultures

Neighboring nations watch over each other

Noise of chicken and dogs mixing
Yet the people never visit each other


Paradoxes

81 Paradoxes


Words of faithful

Not beautiful

Words of beautiful

Not faithful

The good

Argue not

The arguer

Proper not

The expert

Knows not wide knowledge

All-rounded

Expert not

The ideal political leader

Accumulate not for himself
Insomuch he cares about others as he benefits
Insomuch he gives as he gains

Dao of the nature

Sharp yet hurt not

Dao of the ideal political leader

Acts without fighting
This is a translation and has a separate copyright status from the original text. The license for the translation applies to this edition only.
Original:
This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.
 
Translation:
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