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Tao Te Ching - Part IV

Chapter 28

Know the masculine, hold to the feminine Be the watercourse of the world Being the watercourse of the world The eternal virtue does not depart Return to the state of the infant Know the white, hold to the black Be the standard of the world Being the standard of the world The eternal virtue does not deviate Return to the state of the boundless Know the honor, hold to the humility Be the valley of the world Being the valley of the world The eternal virtue shall be sufficient Return to the state of plain wood Plain wood splits, then becomes tools The sages utilize them And then become leaders Thus the greater whole is undivided

Chapter 29

Those who wish to take the world and control it I see that they cannot succeed The world is a sacred instrument One cannot control it The one who controls it will fail The one who grasps it will lose

Because all things: Either lead or follow Either blow hot or cold Either have strength or weakness Either have ownership or take by force

Therefore the sage: Eliminates extremes Eliminates excess Eliminates arrogance

Chapter 30

The one who uses the Tao to advise the ruler Does not dominate the world with soldiers Such methods tend to be returned

The place where the troops camp Thistles and thorns grow Following the great army There must be an inauspicious year

A good commander achieves result, then stops And does not dare to reach for domination Achieves result but does not brag Achieves result but does not flaunt Achieves result but is not arrogant Achieves result but only out of necessity Achieves result but does not dominate

Things become strong and then get old This is called contrary to the Tao That which is contrary to the Tao soon ends

Chapter 31

A strong military, a tool of misfortune All things detest it Therefore, those who possess the Tao avoid it Honorable gentlemen, while at home, value the left When deploying the military, value the right

The military is a tool of misfortune Not the tool of honorable gentlemen When using it out of necessity Calm detachment should be above all Victorious but without glory Those who glorify Are delighting in the killing Those who delight in killing Cannot achieve their ambitions upon the world

Auspicious events favor the left Inauspicious events favor the right The lieutenant general is positioned to the left The major general is positioned to the right We say that they are treated as if in a funeral Those who have been killed Should be mourned with sadness Victory in war should be treated as a funeral

Chapter 32

The Tao, eternally nameless Its simplicity, although imperceptible Cannot be treated by the world as subservient

If the sovereign can hold on to it All will follow by themselves Heaven and Earth, together in harmony Will rain sweet dew People will not need to force it; it will adjust by itself

In the beginning, there were names Names came to exist everywhere One should know when to stop Knowing when to stop, thus avoiding danger

The existence of the Tao in the world Is like streams in the valley into rivers and the ocean

Chapter 33

Those who understand others are intelligent Those who understand themselves are enlightened

Those who overcome others have strength Those who overcome themselves are powerful

Those who know contentment are wealthy Those who proceed vigorously have willpower

Those who do not lose their base endure Those who die but do not perish have longevity

Chapter 34

The great Tao is like a flood It can flow to the left or to the right

The myriad things depend on it for life, but it never stops It achieves its work, but does not take credit It clothes and feeds myriad things, but does not rule over them

Ever desiring nothing It can be named insignificant Myriad things return to it but it does not rule over them It can be named great

Even in the end, it does not regard itself as great That is how it can achieve its greatness

Chapter 35

Hold the great image All under heaven will come They come without harm, in harmonious peace

Music and food, passing travelers stop The Tao that is spoken out of the mouth Is bland and without flavor

Look at it, it cannot be seen Listen to it, it cannot be heard Use it, it cannot be exhausted

Chapter 36

If one wishes to shrink it One must first expand it If one wishes to weaken it One must first strengthen it If one wishes to discard it One must first promote it If one wishes to seize it One must first give it This is called subtle clarity

The soft and weak overcomes the tough and strong Fish cannot leave the depths The sharp instruments of the state Cannot be shown to the people

Chapter 37

The Tao is constant in non-action Yet there is nothing it does not do

If the sovereign can hold on to this All things shall transform themselves Transformed, yet wishing to achieve I shall restrain them with the simplicity of the nameless The simplicity of the nameless They shall be without desire Without desire, using stillness The world shall steady itself

Translation by Derek Lin

Credit source and Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained,

published by SkyLight Paths in 2006

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