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Tao Te Ching - Part V

Chapter 38

High virtue is not virtuous Therefore it has virtue Low virtue never loses virtue Therefore it has no virtue High virtue takes no contrived action And acts without agenda Low virtue takes contrived action And acts with agenda High benevolence takes contrived action And acts without agenda High righteousness takes contrived action And acts with agenda High etiquette takes contrived action And upon encountering no response Uses arms to pull others

Therefore, the Tao is lost, and then virtue Virtue is lost, and then benevolence Benevolence is lost, and then righteousness Righteousness is lost, and then etiquette Those who have etiquette are a thin shell of loyalty and sincerity And the beginning of chaos Those with foreknowledge Are the flowers of the Tao And the beginning of ignorance Therefore the great person: Abides in substance, and does not dwell on the thin shell Abides in the real, and does not dwell on the flower Thus they discard that and take this

Chapter 39

Those that attained oneness since ancient times: The sky attained oneness and thus clarity The earth attained oneness and thus tranquility The gods attained oneness and thus divinity The valley attained oneness and thus abundance The myriad things attained oneness and thus life The rulers attained oneness and became the standard for the world These all emerged from oneness

The sky, lacking clarity, would break apart The earth, lacking tranquility, would erupt The gods, lacking divinity, would vanish The valley, lacking abundance, would wither Myriad things, lacking life, would be extinct The rulers, lacking standard, would be toppled

Therefore, the honored uses the lowly as basis The higher uses the lower as foundation Thus the rulers call themselves alone, bereft, and unworthy Is this not using the lowly as basis? Is it not so? Therefore, the ultimate honor is no honor

Do not wish to be shiny like jade Be dull like rocks

Chapter 40

The returning is the movement of the Tao The weak is the utilization of the Tao

The myriad things of the world are born of being Being is born of non-being

Chapter 41

Higher people hear of the Tao They diligently practice it Average people hear of the Tao They sometimes keep it and sometimes lose it Lower people hear of the Tao They laugh loudly at it If they do not laugh, it would not be the Tao

Therefore a proverb has the following: The clear Tao appears unclear The advancing Tao appears to retreat The smooth Tao appears uneven High virtue appears like a valley Great integrity appears like disgrace Encompassing virtue appears insufficient Building virtue appears inactive True substance appears inconstant The great square has no corners The great vessel is late in completion The great music is imperceptible in sound The great image has no form The Tao is hidden and nameless Yet it is only the Tao That excels in giving and completing everything

Chapter 42

Tao produces one One produces two Two produce three Three produce myriad things Myriad things, backed by yin and embracing yang Achieve harmony by integrating their energy What the people dislike Are alone, bereft, and unworthy But the rulers call themselves with these terms

So with all things Appear to take loss but benefit Or receive benefit but lose What the ancients taught I will also teach The violent one cannot have a natural death I will use this as the principal of all teachings

Chapter 43

The softest things of the world Override the hardest things of the world

That which has no substance Enters into that which has no openings

From this I know the benefits of unattached actions The teaching without words

The benefits of actions without attachment Are rarely matched in the world

Chapter 44

Fame or the self, which is dearer? The self or wealth, which is greater? Gain or loss, which is more painful?

Thus excessive love must lead to great spending Excessive hoarding must lead to heavy loss

Knowing contentment avoids disgrace Knowing when to stop avoids danger Thus one can endure indefinitely

Chapter 45

Great perfection seems flawed Its function is without failure Great fullness seems empty Its function is without exhaustion Great straightness seems bent

Great skill seems unrefined Great eloquence seems inarticulate Movement overcomes cold Stillness overcomes heat Clear quietness is the standard of the world

Chapter 46

When the world has the Tao Fast horses are retired to till the soil When the world lacks the Tao Warhorses give birth on the battlefield

There is no crime greater than greed No disaster greater than discontentment No fault greater than avarice Thus the satisfaction of contentment is the lasting satisfaction

Chapter 47

Without going out the door, know the world Without peering out the window, see the Heavenly Tao The further one goes The less one knows

Therefore the sage Knows without going Names without seeing Achieves without striving

Translation by Derek Lin

Credit source and Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained,

published by SkyLight Paths in 2006

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