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Tao Te Ching - Part I

Chapter 1

The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao The name that can be named is not the eternal name The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth The named is the mother of myriad things Thus, constantly without desire, one observes its essence Constantly with desire, one observes its manifestations These two emerge together but differ in name The unity is said to be the mystery Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders

Chapter 2

When the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness arises When it knows good as good, evil arises Thus being and non-being produce each other Difficult and easy bring about each other Long and short reveal each other High and low support each other Music and voice harmonize each other Front and back follow each other Therefore the sages: Manage the work of detached actions Conduct the teaching of no words They work with myriad things but do not control They create but do not possess They act but do not presume They succeed but do not dwell on success It is because they do not dwell on success That it never goes away

Chapter 3

Do not glorify the achievers So the people will not squabble Do not treasure goods that are hard to obtain So the people will not become thieves Do not show the desired things So their hearts will not be confused

Thus the governance of the sage: Empties their hearts Fills their bellies Weakens their ambitions Strengthens their bones

Let the people have no cunning and no greed So those who scheme will not dare to meddle

Act without contrivance And nothing will be beyond control

Chapter 4

The Tao is empty When utilized, it is not filled up So deep! It seems to be the source of all things

It blunts the sharpness Unravels the knots Dims the glare Mixes the dusts

So indistinct! It seems to exist I do not know whose offspring it is Its image is the predecessor of the Emperor

Chapter 5

Heaven and Earth are impartial They regard myriad things as straw dogs The sages are impartial They regard people as straw dogs

The space between Heaven and Earth Is it not like a bellows? Empty, and yet never exhausted It moves, and produces more

Too many words hasten failure Cannot compare to keeping to the void

Chapter 6

The valley spirit, undying Is called the Mystic Female

The gate of the Mystic Female Is called the root of Heaven and Earth

It flows continuously, barely perceptible Utilize it; it is never exhausted

Chapter 7

Heaven and Earth are everlasting The reason Heaven and Earth can last forever Is that they do not exist for themselves Thus they can last forever

Therefore the sages: Place themselves last but end up in front Are outside of themselves and yet survive Is it not due to their selflessness? That is how they can achieve their own goals

Chapter 8

The highest goodness resembles water Water greatly benefits myriad things without contention It stays in places that people dislike Therefore it is similar to the Tao

Dwelling with the right location Feeling with great depth Giving with great kindness Speaking with great integrity Governing with great administration Handling with great capability Moving with great timing

Because it does not contend It is therefore beyond reproach

Chapter 9

Holding a cup and overfilling it Cannot be as good as stopping short Pounding a blade and sharpening it Cannot be kept for long

Gold and jade fill up the room No one is able to protect them Wealth and position bring arrogance And leave disasters upon oneself

When achievement is completed, fame is attained Withdraw oneself This is the Tao of Heaven

Translation by Derek Lin

Credit source and Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained,

published by SkyLight Paths in 2006

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