Category Archives: Tao Te Ching

Translation deeply informed by the range of meanings of the constituent characters and equal respect for the original text, author, tradition, and English reader. Thanks to http://wengu.tartarie.com/ for valuable Chinese texts and the linguistic matrix that make this work possible. NOTE: This is a work in progress. For the final versions, please buy the book. This is an essential part of my income. (Not yet available)

The Book of the Right Way of Laozi

NOTE: I just noticed that I hadn’t posted all of my draft translations of the Tao Te Ching on my blog. Rather than post the eleven missing chapters in consecutive blogs, I am posting them here in one blog for those are interested. Please note that these are draft translations, not final versions.

27rev

The good cart leaves no trace. The good speech finds no fault.
The good businessman does not need to use a tally.
A good door does not need a lock, yet it cannot be opened.
A good knot does not need to be tied, yet it cannot be loosened.
Truly, because the sage is perfectly good, he saves the people because he does not abandon the people.
He saves beings because he does not abandon beings.
Truly, we refer to the onset of clarity.
Because the good people teach the bad people
The bad people support the good people.
He who does not honour the teacher does not love a valuable resource.
Even though learned, they are lost. Truly, we refer to a vital mystery.

28

He who knows the male power protects his female energy.
Thus aligning himself with the universal flow of things, he uses the universal flow.
Never giving up this power, he returns to the primordial state.
He who knows the bright protects the dark; thus he conforms to the universal paradigm.
Thus conforming to the universal paradigm, he is not subject to variability.
He who returns to the source is not subject to duality.
He who knows fame, protects his privacy. Thus he makes himself empty, like a valley.
It is enough to make one’s strength empty, like a valley.
Thus he returns to the primordial simplicity.
Tools are made by analyzing nature.
The sage uses this principle to control the state.
Therefore, he uses everything but respects its integrity.

30

He who would use the way to help a ruler of the world

Will not use violence to achieve his ends, for everything under the sun comes back to its source.

Wherever armies go, there only thorns and brambles will grow.

Certainly, armies leave in their wake terrible times.

It is skilful to seek only one’s immediate goal, then stop, not daring to go beyond what one is able to accomplish.

One achieves one’s goal, but does not boast. One achieves one’s goal, but does not go further.

One achieves one’s goal, but is not arrogant. One achieves one’s goal, but then one stops.

One achieves one’s goal without conflict.

Everything that waxes, wanes. Truly, this is not the way.

That which is not the way dies young.

 

32

The universal way cannot be described.

Infintesimal, no one in the whole universe can use it, not even your most powerful men.

Yet it is the source of their power.

Everything would come to them.

When the higher and the lower work in harmony, they appear on the earth as a sweet dew. Even without rulers, everyone participates.

When you have industry, you have speech.

Speech mucks everything up.

You need to know when to shut up.

Just shut up, and you can act with impunity.

The way is the paradigm. It is everywhere.

Like the ravine that carries the river to the sea.

 

34

The ancient way o’erflows its banks, like a winding river.

Everyone relies on it as the source of life, yet it denies no one. It inspires every accomplishment, yet cannot be identified.

It gives rise to everything, but neither possesses nor is possessed.

Desireless, it is regarded as unimportant. Hence it is invisible.

Truly, the ancient way precedes language.

Because its goal is selfless, it is great.

And this is how greatness is achieved.

 

36

If you would tense something, it must be relaxed.

If you would weaken something, it must be strengthened.

If you would abolish something, it must be made to flourish.

If you wish to take something, it must be given.

Truly, this teaching is paradoxical.

By its means, the soft and the weak may overcome the hard and the strong.

Just as a fish cannot escape its habitat,

So the machinery of the state should not be subjected to popular opinion.

 

37rev

The eternal way neither acts nor acts not.
If the rulers were able to guard it,
Everything would transform itself.
After the transformation, if desire were to appear,
I would suppress it, because the nameless is simple.
Because the nameless is simple, man also will not desire.
Without desire, by means of stillness, the world will reorganize itself.

 

38

To abstain from virtue is the highest virtue.

The lowest virtue is to act aggressively.

Spontaneity is better than conformity.

Having to act is not so great.

The righteous person acts without acting.

The righteous knower does not get entangled in circumlocutions.

The righteous ethical person acts spontaneously.

When traditions are questioned society is thrown into confusion and violence.

Therefore, hold to the way. When the way is no longer followed, virtue is substituted.

When virtue is lost, the people govern themselves.

When the people can no longer govern themselves, they are ruled by laws.

When laws can no longer be enforced, traditions still remain.

But even traditions are forgotten. Paradoxically, traditionalism is succeeded by anarchy.

Thus, the ancient sages are both the flowering of the way and the source of stupidity.

Truly, the virtuous person abides in the security of tradition.

Truly, he remains with the substantial, not the insubstantial.

Truly, he resides in the essential, not the superficial.

Thus he gives up one and gains the other.

 

57

By order the state governs the nation.

By disorder the military exercises power.

But everything that occurs comes out of nothing.

How do I know that this is true?

By this!

The more you regulate them, the more the people are impoverished.

The more sophisticated, the more muddle-headed the people become.

The more technicians there are with their inventions and their innovations, the more the people suffer.

The more laws are made, the more criminals appear.

Therefore, the sage says:

Do not act, and the people will transform themselves.

Love stillness, and the people will govern themselves.

Do not toil, and the people will become rich.

Desire nothing, and the people’s lives will be easy.

 

67

Everyone under the sun says that my teaching is profound,

Familiar, yet not familiar.

Truly, man is ancient. This is why he is confused –  familiar, not familiar, familiar.

In ancient times, man was more refined.

I have three treasures.

I hold to them and preserve them.

First, I refer to the heart.

Second, I refer to thrift.

Third, I refer to not presuming to put myself first.

Courage comes from the heart.

Generosity comes from frugality. Everything that one needs to succeed comes from

Not daring to put oneself first.

Today thrift and love have been abandoned, … [missing text]

 

68rev

The best warrior is not aggressive.
The best fighter does not rage.
The best victor does not contend.
The best leader puts himself second.
Truly we refer to using personal power.
Truly we refer to the primal order.

 

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The Book of the Right Way of Laozi – 74.

74

The people don’t fear death.
What a burden is the fear of death.
But even if people were to fear death
And an executioner were willing
Who would dare
To execute such a criminal plan.
Yet the state has always punished murder with murder,
Assuming responsibility for killing from death itself.
Trying to supplant nature is like trying to supplant the master carpenter.
The man who tries to supplant the master carpenter
Is unlikely not to hurt his hand!

民不畏死,奈何以死懼之?若使民常畏死,而為奇者,吾得執而殺之,孰敢?常有司殺者殺。夫司殺者,是大匠斲;夫代大匠斲者,希有不傷其手矣。

The Book of the Right Way of Laozi – 70.

70

My teaching is very easy to understand,
Very simple to follow.
Yet no one in the universe is able to know
Or follow it.
My teaching is primordial (or archetypal).
This is my authority.
Truly, humanity does not know this teaching.
Truly, therefore, they do not know me.
I am known by very few,
Yet he who knows me knows that which is precious (and thereby becomes precious or noble).
Truly, therefore, the sage,
By wearing coarse cloth, cherishes the jade within his heart-mind.

吾言甚易知,甚易行。天下莫能知,莫能行。言有宗,事有君。夫唯無知,是以不我知。知我者希,則我者貴。是以聖人被褐懷玉。