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Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing) by Lao Tzu

Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing) by Lao Tzu

(The Tao Te Ching or Dao De Jing (traditional Chinese: 道德經; simplified Chinese: 道德经; pinyin: Dàodéjīng), originally known as Laozi (Chinese: 老子; pinyin: Lǎozǐ), is a Chinese classic text. Its name comes from the opening words of its two sections: 道 dào "way," Chapter 1, and 德 dé "virtue," Chapter 38, plus 經 jīng "classic." According to tradition, it was written around the 6th century BC by the sage Laozi (or Lao Tzu, "Old Master"), a record-keeper at the Zhou Dynasty court, by whose name the text is known in China. The text's true authorship and date of composition or compilation are still debated. The Tao Te Ching is fundamental to the Philosophical Taoism (Dàojiā 道家) and strongly influenced other schools, such as Legalism and Neo-Confucianism. This ancient book is also central in Chinese religion, not only for Religious Taoism (Dàojiāo 道教) but Chinese Buddhism, which when first introduced into China was largely interpreted through the use of Taoist words and concepts. Many Chinese artists, including poets, painters, calligraphers, and even gardeners have used the Tao Te Ching as a source of inspiration. Its influence has also spread widely outside East Asia, aided by hundreds of translations into Western languages. Source: Wikipedia) The following version was translated from the Original Chinese by John R. Mabry *1* The Tao that can be described in words is not the true Tao The Name that can be named is not the true Name. From non-existence were called Heaven and Earth From existence all things were born. In being without desires, you experience the wonder But by having desires, you experience the journey. Yet both spring from the same source and differ mostly in name. This source is called "Mystery" Mystery upon Mystery, The womb giving birth to all of being. *2* When people see beauty as beautiful, They recognize other things as ugly. When people see goodness as good, They recognize other things as being bad. Therefore existence and non-existence produce one another Difficult and easy achieve each other Long and short define each other High and low rely on each other Voice and accompaniment harmonize with one another Front and back follow each other. Therefore, the Sage acts without "doing" And teaches without words. All things arise and she does not refuse them. She creates, but does not possess Accomplishes, but takes no credit When finished, she doesn't dwell on it. Because she does not dwell on it, it is always present. *3* Do not exalt people who are extraordinarily talented Or the people will become competitive. Do not value precious goods Or the people will become thieves. Do not make a public display of riches and finery Or the people's hearts will be envious and discontent. Therefore, the wise leader will empty their hearts of coveting and fill their bellies with sustainance. He discourages their ambition and strengthens their bones. If the people are simple and free from desire, the crafty will not dare to take advantage of them. By practicing "not doing," nothing will remain undone. *4* The Tao is like an empty pitcher, Poured from, but never drained. Infinitely deep, it is the source of all things. It blunts the sharp, Unties the knotted, Shades the bright, Unites with all Dust. Dimly seen, yet eternally present, I do not know who gave birth to it, It is older than any conception of God. *5* Heaven and Earth are impartial, They allow things to die. The Sage is not sentimental, She knows that all beings must pass away. The space between Heaven and Earth is like a bellows Empty, yet inexhaustible The more it is used, the more it produces. Trying to explain, it will only exhaust you. It is better to hold on to ambiguity. *6* The spirit of emptiness is eternal. It is called "the Mysterious Woman." Her womb is called "the Source of Heaven and Earth." Dimly seen, yet eternally present It is always there for you to use. It's easy! *7* Heaven is eternal, and Earth is long-lasting. Why are they so enduring? Because they do not live for themselves. Therefore the Sage puts himself last And finds himself in the foremost place. He does not promote himself, thus he is preserved. Because he has no thought of "self," He is perfectly fulfilled. *8* The sagely person is like water Water benefits all things and does not compete with them. It gathers in unpopular places. In this it is like the Tao. In dwelling, live close to the Earth. In thinking, be open to new ideas. In relationships, be kind. In speech, tell the truth and keep your word. In leading people, demonstrate integrity. In daily matters, be competent. In acting, consider the appropriate timing. If you do not try to prove yourself superior to others, You will be beyond reproach. *9* Filling your cup until it overflows is not as good as stopping in time. Oversharpen your sword and it will not protect you very long. You may fill your halls with gold and jewels but you cannot keep them safe. Being rich, highly esteemed and proud will only bring you trouble. When you have done a good job, rest. This is the Way of Heaven. *10* Being both body and spirit, can you embrace unity and not be fragmented? Being spiritually focused, can you become soft, like a newborn baby? Being clear in mind and vision, can you eliminate your flaws? Loving all people and leading them well, can you do this without imposing your will? When Heaven gives and takes away, can you be content to just let things come or go? And even when you understand all things, can you simply allow yourself to be? To give birth and nourish, To make and not own, To act but not expect something in return, To grow, yet not demand this of others, This is the virtue of Mystery. *11* Thirty spokes join together at one hub, But it is the hole in the center that makes it operable. Clay is molded into a pot, But it is the emptiness inside that makes it useful. Doors and windows are cut to make a room, It is the empty spaces that we use. Therefore, existence is what we have, But non-existence is what we use. *12* Too many colors tax people's vision. Too many sounds deaden people's hearing. Too many flavors spoil people's taste. Thrill-seeking leads people to do crazy things. The pursuit of wealth just gets in people's way. Therefore, the Sage provides for her needs, not her desires. She renounces the latter, and chooses the former. *13* Success is often as unsettling as failure. The world's troubles are no more important than the well-being of your own body. Why do I say, "Success is often as unsettling as failure?" Success strikes us deep. It shakes us up to get it. It shakes us up to lose it. Thus, success is really little different than failure, for both are unsettling. Why do I say, "The World's greatest troubles are no more important than the well-being of your own body?" The reason I think I have troubles is because I have material existence. If I had no body, what troubles could I possibly have? What we must do is see the whole world as our "Self." Only then will we be worthy of being entrusted with the World. Only One who values the World as his own body can truly rely on the World in return. *14* Look for it and it cannot be seen--it is beyond sight. Listen for it and it cannot be heard--it is beyond hearing. Grasp at it and it cannot be caught--it is beyond substance. These three cannot be fully comprehended. They are fundamentally connected and somehow they are one. Its highest isn't bright. Its lowest isn't dark. It is infinite! Continually emerging, completely beyond description, It returns again and again to nothingness. And this is what nothingness looks like: It is the image of the absence of being. (It sounds vague and elusive to me!) Approach it and you wil not see its beginning Follow it and you will not see its end. If you cling to the Tao of ancient times the present will be no problem. To know the ancient origin is to follow the Tao. *15* The Sages of old were scholars who knew well the way of subtlety, mystery and discernment. Their wisdom was beyond comprehension. Because they were beyond comprehension, I can only describe their appearance: They were cautious, as if crossing a river in winter. They were hesitant, as if fearing danger from all sides, They were polite, as if they were guests. They were always growing, like the puddle from a melting cube of ice. They were genuine, like an uncarved block of wood. They were as open-minded as a valley. They were open to infinite possibilities, like a turbulent storm. Who can wait for the storm to stop, to find peace in the calm that follows? The person who is able to wait patiently in this peace will eventually know what is right. Those who respect the Tao do not go to extremes. Not going to extremes, they are inconspicuous and content. *16* If you can empty yourself of everything, you will have lasting peace. Things arise, but I contemplate their return. Things flourish and grow, and then return to their Source. To return to the Source is to know perfect peace. I call this a return to Life. Returning to Life is a Universal Constant. Knowing this is illuminating. Someone who doesn't understand this is in error and may act dangerously. But knowing this Constant, you can embrace all things. Embracing all things, you can treat them fairly. Treating them fairly, you are noble. Being noble, you are like the cosmos. If you are like the cosmos, you are like the Tao. If you are like the Tao, you will have eternal life, and you needn't be afraid of dying. *17* The best leader is one that the people are barely aware of. The next best is one who is loved and praised by the people. Next comes one who is feared. Worst is one who is despised. If the leader does not have enough faith in the people, They will not have faith in him. The best leader puts great value in words and says little So that when his work is finished The people all say, "We did it ourselves!" *18* When the great Tao is abandoned, Ideas of "humanitarianism" and "righteousness" appear. When intellectualism arises It is accompanied by great hypocrisy. When there is strife within a family Ideas of "brotherly love" appear. When a nation is plunged into chaos Politicians become "patriotic." *19* Forget "holiness," abandon "intelligence" and people will be a hundred times better off. Give up "humanitarianism," put away "righteousness" and people will rediscover brotherly love and kindness. Forget "great art," throw away "profit" and there will be no more thieves. These things are superficial and are simply not enough. People need something solid to hold on to. And here it is: Be real. Embrace simplicity. Put others first. Desire little. *20* Forget ambitious acquisition of knowledge, and your sorrows will end. How much difference is there between "yes" and "no"? What is the distinction between "good" and "evil"? Must I value what others value? Nonsense! Having no end to their desires, they are desolate. People rush here and there, maybe going to a feast, or perhaps climbing a tower in the springtime. I alone am calm and unconcerned. Like an unselfconscious infant At peace and having no destination. Most people have more than they need. But I alone seem lost and out of place. I have the mind of a fool--so confused! Ordinary people are bright. I alone seem dim. Ordinary people are discriminating. I alone am ambivalent. As quiet as the ocean. As free as the wind. People rush about on their very important business. But I alone seem incorrigible and uncouth. I am different from ordinary people; I enjoy feeding from the Great Mother's breasts. *21* The only virtue worth having is that of following the Tao, and the only thing you can say about the Tao, is that it is elusive and evasive. It is elusive and evasive, yet it can be observed. It is evasive and elusive, yet it does manifest itself. It is dim and dark, yet its essence can be grasped. Its essence is unquestionably genuine. You can put your faith in it. From the beginning of time until the present, its Name has remained. In it one can see all of Creation. How do I know where all of Creation comes from? I know the Tao! *22* If you don"t want to be broken, bend. If you want to be straight, allow some crookedness. If you want to be filled, become empty. If you want to be made new, let yourself be used. If you want to be rich, desire little. Wanting more and more is craziness! Therefore the sage embraces oneness and becomes a model for the world. Not self-centered, she is enlightened. Not self-righteous, she is a shining example. Not self-glorifying, she accomplishes glorious things. Not boastful, she grows large inside. She alone does not compete, And so the world can never overcome her. When the ancients said, "If you don't want to be broken, bend" Were they just uttering empty words? Bend sincerely and wholeness will return to you. *23* Nature uses few words. So, a whirlwind will not last all morning. A sudden storm will not last all day. What causes these? Heaven and Earth. If Heaven and Earth need not speak for long, How much less should humankind? Therefore, one who seeks the Tao is at one with the Tao. One who seeks goodness is good. One who seeks loss is lost. If you are one with the Tao, the Tao eagerly accepts you. If you are one with goodness, goodness is happy to receive you. If you are one with loss, loss welcomes you. If you do not trust enough, you will not find trust. *24* One who stands on tiptoe does not stand firm. One who rushes ahead is likely to trip. One who listens only to himself cannot learn. One who considers himself righteous, isn't. One who brags, has nothing to brag about. One who feels sorry for himself does not grow. Compared to the Tao, these people are table scraps and wasted effort, and not well-liked by anyone or anything. So, if you follow the Tao, you will not live like that. *25* Before Heaven and Earth were born There was something undescribable. Perfectly still, having no form, It stands alone, and does not change. It acts perpetually, yet never tires. It could very well be the Mother of the Universe. I don't know its name, so I just call it the Tao. If forced to give it a name, I would call it Great. Being Great, I call it eternal. Being eternal, I call it infinite. Being infinite, I call it Reconciliation. Therefore, the Tao is Great. Heaven is Great. The Earth is Great. Humankind is also Great. In the Universe there are these four things which are Great, And Humankind is one of them. Humankind follows the Earth, The Earth follows Heaven, Heaven follows the Tao, And the Tao just acts like itself. *26* Heaviness is the root of lightness. Stillness is the master of restlessness. Therefore, the Sage walks all day.

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