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The Tao Teh Ching: Revealed by Lao Tzu

Rendered by Charles LeRoy Scamahorn


Last night [1997/08/22] [spell-checked 2018/07/02] I picked up my old Tao Teh Ching and read it for the first time in years and was pleasantly surprised at just how vital a book it is. I worked on it so very long ago that it seems as if some other person wrote it. Whenever I happen to pick up one of the other translations, I always feel that there is something wrong with them but not this one. It has a style that really appeals to me. I do think it might be helped some by a short introduction which explained that the book is intended to be read by a Prince or other sovereign person, or at least by a person responsible for the overall well-being of a group of other people. However, it can be used by a person who is functioning as an individual, such as a sage. Most people do not function in their daily lives at that level of sophistication and therefore do not have much reason to apply the principles. However, if they were to do so they would no doubt be uplifted and made into more fully functioning individuals. This, of course, is circular reasoning, but in a good way. There is a problem with the central concept of this book, of course, and that is that it requires an intelligent person with a great deal of time and focused interest to develop the personal control necessary to apply the principles purposefully. Personally, I think I did very well years ago, approximately 1965, when I was only thirty, when I chose to work on this book. My goal at first was to understand it, but the more I read the existing translations the more it became necessary to make written-in clarifications in my own copy. After a while, these required copying out into a clean page to maintain readability. This was in the days before word processors and I had to do this many times. The present copy is, therefore, a working copy produced after some ten years of rewriting.

Perhaps I should tell the story now of how I got into such a long task. My relationship with this book began as a search for Wisdom one afternoon in about 1965 at the Mediterraneum Caffe‚ in Berkeley, California. I was talking to an old friend, Bob Westerburg, about various subjects, probably Gurdjieff, Kant, Jesus and other folks of that ilk when Bob quoted the Biblical injunction, “Get wisdom, my son, and with all thy getting, get understanding.” He liked to make pronouncements like that and there was nothing particularly powerful about the way he said it at that time. It was just a part of the ongoing flow of the conversation, but I thought and said at the time, “That is a good idea! I am going to do just that.” Well, we both chuckled a bit and then I said, “How shall I go about it?” I realized from our conversations that neither he nor I, nor anyone we knew, really knew what wisdom was. A lot of my friends were into Gurdjieff, but not one of them had followed the preface to All and Everything in which G said to read the book three times in a very specified manner. They had, instead, all joined groups and were studying the materials that way. I had in fact followed G’s instructions, which took several years, and had come to a very different understanding than they had and I believe a more profound one although one not filled with so many knowing looks and so much jargon. I often wondered if the time was well spent but one thing that study did do for me was convince me that I personally shouldn’t follow a guru, at least not in the usual servile, master speaks and student obeys, manner that you see most people doing. That if I were to follow at all it was to be as an equal and not as a slave. An equal, that is, following only in the sense that I was thinking through the same mental processes as one who had gone before me. I might get some clues from my predecessor but I had to do the thinking and the experiments myself, and observe the results myself and draw my own conclusions. It has always amazed me how much people believe what they see and hear and read even though they claim to be critical thinkers. I too fall into this same trap, most of the time. But I did do a lot of the experiments which G recommended, myself. It is not too difficult and it gives me, the experimenter, a feel for checking things out for myself. A lot of the scientific attitude, which I value quite highly, I can trace back to my personal studies at the time I was reading G and observing myself in action and performing the experiments which he suggested. The results are very interesting but I would be doing you a great disservice to tell what my results were. You are much better off if you do the experiments yourself and draw your own conclusions. It really is the only way to come to real understanding of some types of material. When Bob said “Get WISDOM” I was mentally prepared to attempt to do just that. But how? I acknowledged to myself that I possibly didn’t know what wisdom really was; after all, one probably has to have it to know what it is. It can be compared to my experience in running; I know what running an 8 minute mile is like, and what a 7 minute mile is like and a 6 and a 5:30 and I can guess at what a 5 is like but I don’t think I have but the vaguest idea of what a 4 minute mile feels like. It is totally outside of my experience. Perhaps, I considered, the concept of wisdom had a similar quality, and realms of wisdom were available to some individuals which were not accessible to me at this time. But if I got out and practiced wisdom on a daily basis, much like running on a daily basis, I could grow into some understanding of what it was all about even though I couldn’t reach the highest levels. This gave me at least an orientation to try and find a direction to pursue. I decided, early on, not to join a group, even though they claimed to be seeking higher consciousness, because it was easy to see that these people were not going where I wanted to go. I wanted a personal wisdom, not a group-think. Once I acknowledged to myself that I didn’t know what Wisdom was I set out a search strategy to find it. If it was so valuable a possession to have that the phrase has echoed down through the ages then it must be valuable enough to seek it out. And as many people were offering it in a way that was obviously not delivering the effects which I sought, it must be difficult to obtain. Thus I set out a basic strategy . . . I would spend one month researching what the concept was before even attempting to pursue it. Thus I began a strategy which I have used many times. I read all the dictionaries I could lay my hands on, looking up the various definitions, and then all of the encyclopedias, especially the Britannica. I don’t remember much else about this month of search and at that time I didn’t leave much of a paper trail. What I do remember was that I liked Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s definition the best. “Wisdom is just common sense to an uncommon degree!” I liked that definition because it seemed to offer a direction which would steer around much of the hocus-pocus associated with the pursuit of wisdom. At first glance, it seems to be just substituting several words for one, but when I started searching the concept of common sense the results were entirely different, so the words are not strictly interchangeable, at least not for the way my mind processed them. What I am attempting to do with this story is to tell, as best I can, was what I in my late 20s was trying to do.

Common Sense? Where to find common sense? I also used the recycling method rather similar to what is now called the Delphi Technique; that is, I asked everyone I encountered who and what they considered to be filled with common sense. I did keep track of this and kept getting remarkably consistent answers and then asked these same people again. Their answers consisted of some clusters of ideas surrounding religion, philosophy, psychology etc. As I didn’t feel I could read the whole of human knowledge, it seemed necessary to truncate the search somehow. What I did was choose to read quotation books and carefully observe the individuals who manifest common sense to an uncommon degree. After about a month of this, I realized that H. L. Mencken’s book Quotations Based on Historical Principles was the best for my purpose. So, I acquired a copy and started reading it carefully. I read the book several times, and it takes a good month to do a single reading. It became apparent that fewer and fewer people were writing in a manner which would bring me to the information which I sought. At one point I had narrowed the search to a dozen writers whom I intended to research thoroughly. However, even this became too big. One can spend a lifetime reading Kant and Shakespeare. Strangely enough, many of the people I ended up with were ones which I already had some familiarity with. But, what I wanted were those people who had condensed their works to memorizable form. In fact, as it turned out, this is a classic technique of education and it is still practiced in the Orient. Some cultures still memorize long texts of their great masters. That is great, but I believe one should choose oneself what one is going to program into one’s mind. This technique was also practiced in the west until the 1600s when it was replaced by the study of the classics as proposed by Balthazar Gracian. He happened to be on my slightly longer list of people worth studying. He wrote, The Art of Worldly Wisdom, which I read several times. He is interesting and worthwhile but he has a technique of directly contradicting himself. That is okay but he never really comes to grips with the self-contradictory problems and his resultant suggestions require pre-existing personal wisdom to apply them with success. There were better folks. I decided to memorize the four which were short enough to be memorized and which possessed common sense in the ultimate degree, if read with understanding. They were, and in this order, (for you really can’t understand each one until you have a good grip on the previous one: I realized this early on and so I studied them in this order, spending a year or so on each.) Machiavelli, especially The Prince, Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Jesus, especially the Sermon on the Mount, and Lao Tzu the Tao Teh Ching. I read all of Machiavelli and saw his play Mandrogola over 20 times, always reading it before and after each performance. A very fruitful experience. After the first couple viewings, I faced the audience and observed how they reacted to the obvious falsehoods carefully worked into the play. Although Machiavelli is considered devious, the Prince is written in a straightforward manner about how to govern a group of people using methods which cannot always be made visible. For him to confess this is what made him considered to be an evil genius. For the most part, he was a patriot just writing a job application and trying to show the Pope how able he was to understand the true principles of governing. It may have been the worst resume in all history and he didn’t get the job but instead got exiled to his family’s farm. Sun Tzu at the time I studied him was almost unknown in the West, but since the advent of successful Japanese business practice, he has become very well known to the business community. Sun Tzu’s Art of War, gained him a reputation which made both his first and his last name epithets for evil. Titles which Machiavelli alone of all people has also earned. Sun Tzu deals with how to govern an army, and why it is necessary to do so. His advice has some devious aspects, after all, how can you get people to go out and kill other people? Most humans are reasonably friendly towards their fellow creatures and it requires some doing to get the ordinary person to kill someone. Sun Tzu deals with these issues in a superlative manner, vastly beyond Clauzwitz, or Mahan who are considered to be our best western equivalents. He does deal with life and death issues on the grandest possible scale, short of Darwin, and so he is vilified, but the Prince who does not read, and heed the principles of these two fellows does so at the deadly peril to every one of the people over whom he has been granted responsibility. The next person of exquisite common sense whom I studied is Jesus. This becomes very difficult for me to talk about to people who have been aware of this man’s “teachings” from their childhood. They can no longer see what he has to say because it has been overlaid with so much historical fact and contrived cant. Let me just quote one thing he said at this time and let it go at that. “I come to give life so that mankind can live and live more abundantly.” That is as noble a world orientation as one could ask for, isn’t it? What has become of those ideas in the hands of the billions of people who have followed since makes it difficult to see and to understand what he originally said. This is compounded somewhat by the fact that it was necessary for him to speak in parables so that hearing they (his destroyers) will not hear or understand, etc. In my Proba-Grail, you can get a glimpse of the direction I was going with his ideas. The last of the four which I sought to gain the deepest possible understanding was Lao Tzu through his Tao Teh Ching. He was the most difficult and the most profound. He develops a worldview and a method for controlling the world that requires some background experience to even approach it. Even Confucius, who is reported to have met him, considered him the greatest and that is some praise, considering that Confucius was one of the most influential people of all time. I recommend you spend a year studying the previous three authors before you approach studying this book. Having said that I do hope you enjoy it. ——- The TAO TEH CHING Revealed by Lao Tzu ——- Copyright 1982 The Imperfect Way Box 962 Berkeley, CA 94701 U.S.A. ISBN #____________Library of Congress #______________ This book is dedicated to the SECRET SOURCE in you. — [Bend, Oregon]


The Tao Teh Ching:

Revealed by Lao Tzu
rendered by Charles Scamahorn


The path called Tao that can be described
Can never be the perfect Tao, because
The words cannot be the Tao;
They can only be a description of the Tao.

There was an origin of everything–
Of Heaven, of Earth, of Self, and
Of the words with which we allude to them. And
It must be with this feeble metaphor in words
That I will lead you to what I know of the Tao.

I will speak to you in a special way,
When I want you to search out for yourself
The uncommunicable essence of the Tao, and
I will speak to you in the ordinary way
When I want you to receive the communicable
Effects of the Tao.

The paths I will lead you along,
While we approach the Tao in one way,
May be the same paths I lead you along
When we approach it in another. Yet
This same Tao seems to possess different qualities
When we approach it in different ways.

Both the Tao and the approaches to it
Are parts of the answer to the universal mystery; and
Your moving along the paths with one description of the Tao, and
Along the paths with yet another description of the Tao,
Opens the gates along the ways to your deepest knowing.


When people call one thing beautiful,
They generate a contrast, and thus
Ugliness is also brought into being.

When you declare one thing to be good,
Others will see its opposite as bad.

Any idea, brought to their attention,
Stimulates its opposite idea to be with them also.
When they think of something as difficult,
It is in relation to easy.
If something is thought to be long,
It is in relation to short.
When one thing is called up,
It is in relation to down.
If they hear a sound,
It is in relation to a silence. And
When you call one side the front,
The other side automatically becomes the back.

You may take care of your life and its problems
With special kinds of attractive actions.
Attractive actions draw out the proper kind of reactions. And
You may teach others with a special kind of teaching,
Which will draw out a proper kind of learning from these others.

Everything that can happen will happen, and
You may draw it out at any time.

You may create as you wish, and
There is no need for you to own things;
You may control the reactions of things, and
There is no need for you to force them;
You may accomplish whatever needs to be done, and
There is no need for you to take credit for it.

If you are not seen doing something,
Then no one will seek to prevent you from doing it.


Do not give arrogant people valuable titles, or
Others will scheme to get them also.
Do not place value upon objects, or
People will seek to steal them.
Do not focus people’s attention upon difficult-to-obtain things,
And their hearts will remain calm.

In your social relations, make people empty of desires;
Make their emotion contentment;
Discourage their ambitions, and
Encourage their simplicity.

When people are free of troubling thoughts,
Of anxious desires, and
Of inflaming ambitions,
They will not contend with one another.

By creating reactions without performing visible deeds,
You may lead all to live in harmony.


The way to do these things
Is to perfect your ability to create voids.
All things are born of voids, and
All things are drawn to voids.

Sharpness is created and blunted,
Knots are made and untangled,
Light is given and absorbed, yet
The void is more lowly than dust.

Through it all, your personal void remains,
Like a clear deep pond, and
You alone can see into its depths.
It is a void that exists, and
From its depths, you create the existence you live within.


Nature contains a void:
It responds to everything in the universe as excess, and
Everything is drawn into its void.

You contain a personal void:
You too may respond to everything in the universe as excess, and
Everything can be drawn into your void.

The Universe and all within it is like a bellows:
Emptiable, yet it gives a supply that never fails;
The more you use it, the more it gives you.
However, overworking brings you to exhaustion and imbalance; and
It is healthier for you to stay near your responsive middle
and remain balanced.


The power to create voids never vanishes.
It is the magic source.

Everything came from this magic source.

Forever and forever it exists and appears, but
Your use of it requires a special kind of effort.


The Universe is eternal and the Earth is long-lasting;
They have existence, yet they do not strive for self.

Likewise, when you openly put yourself last,
You are soon in the foremost place;
When you openly reject your self,
You are preserved by others;
Isn’t it when you have no interest in your self
That you may best serve the interests of others’ selves?


Water is a good mentor:
Water does not contend;
Water benefits all.

Water seeks those places which others think low;
In that way, it illustrates following the proper path.

The good person follows the example of water and
Dwells with good Earth,
Creates with good thoughts,
Gives with good emotions,
Speaks with good words,
Regulates with good laws,
Does with good acts,
Provides with good times.

It is because water does not contend
That water is not contended against.


When you fill a cup to the very brim it is hard to use;
When you sharpen a knife to its very keenest,
It is dull at the first stroke.

When wealth and honor are yours in superabundance,
You cannot use them.

Use excess to begin your tasks;
Use perfection to finish them;
Vanish when your personal role is done.
That is Heaven’s way.


When training your self in the use of your secret source,
Hold close to your essence and thus avoid dispersal;
Direct your vital energy to induce tenderness, and
You can attract safety like a newborn child.

Use and refine your wisdom, and
You will approach perfection.
Be very good to people, and
Interact with everyone with attractive actions.

When opening and closing the doors to your secret source,
Give to each and everyone, like a mother bird to her chicks, and
You may illuminate the whole world with your attractive knowledge.

You may create and nurture anything, and
Give birth without desire for owning;
Act without desire for credit;
Raise others to power without desire for control; because
Your secret source is much deeper than the use of power.


Thirty spokes may be united at the nave of a wheel, yet
From the void within arises the utility of the wheel.

Clay may be molded into a cup, yet –
From the void within arises the utility of the cup.

Doors and windows may be built into a house, yet
From the void within arises the utility of the house.

There may be profit in the existence of things, yet –
We are served by the void within things.


The artists’ colorful works make your eyes too sensitive;
The musicians’ melodic notes make your ears too delicate;
The gourmets’ succulent flavors make your tongue too refined.

By contrast, horse racing, chasing and hunting
Will turn your heart toward violence;
And gold, and jewels, and treasure
Will turn your mind toward intrigue.


Honors and dishonors will disturb your equanimity; and
When you think highly of your self,
Your body will be filled with suffering.

Why do both honors and dishonors disturb your peace of mind?
Honors set you up, and then you may be knocked down.
Thus, not having honor,
You are anxious that you may get it;
Or, having honor,
You are anxious that you will lose it.

Why is your body filled with suffering
When you think highly of your inner self?
To have suffering requires that
You be tied to an injurable self, but
When your essence is tied to your uninjurable void,
How can there be suffering?

One who loves his country as this self
May be trusted by his country;

One who treats his country as this self
May be entrusted with its care.


When looking at people,
Also see from their point of view;
When listening to people,
Also listen from their listening place;
When speaking to people,
Also hear from their understanding place.

These three form a special kind of observation;
Use them to form a void for their reaction.

By bringing this into view you produce clarity.
By removing this from view you create obscurity.

Now and forever you may bring anything into being, but
Everything reverts again and again into the eternal void.
It is emptiness with form, and
The void which creates and destroys.

Can we call it elusive?
It is more than elusive. Yet,
Before something exists, you may draw it into existence; and
After it exists, you may draw it into non-existence.

Entwine your self with this older-than-ancient path, and thereby
Be in accord with the eternal law.
Known to the ancients from the beginning,
This thread of the path draws always and all things.


The ablest doers, since ancient times,
Have been subtle, profound, spiritual and foresighted.
So entirely are they imbued with these qualities,
That one may only allude to their behavior.
Are they cautious? Like one crossing a frozen stream?
Or bold? Like one fearless of all danger?
Are they polite? Like one who is a guest?
Or direct? Like one who is at home?
Are they slippery? Like ice beginning to melt?
Or simple? Like a log of unsawn lumber?
Are they empty? Like a grand canyon?
Or full? Like a swollen river?

It is impossible to predict sages’ obscure behavior, but
Their actions always seem simple and obvious. Yet
After they act they are obscure again.
Postulating their method may help you perceive their actions.
You may follow your secret path, and never seem full; and
Not seeming full you may glide through your life:
You are never exploited and never exhausted.


Reach into your perfect void, and
Attain the essence of tranquillity.
All things take their turn to activity.
By this you may know each shall return to its origin.
When flowers bloom in spring, you know
They shall return to Earth from which they grow.

Know the source of your origin;
It is your destiny. For
Returning to the source is the eternal law.
When you go against the eternal law, you provoke disaster.

While you flow with the eternal law, you are enlightened, all-loving, godly
and in tune with nature.
While you flow with the eternal law, you are on the proper path, and
The end of your personal existence
Is not the end of your personal essence.


When you lead people best you use the invisible void, and
They never become aware of your involvement.
When you lead them simply, they love you;
When you lead them ably, they fear you;
When you lead them with strength, they hate you.

When people lack faith
Expose a void to draw their faith into existence.

If you command people, they will obey you with reluctance, but
Whatever behavior of yours they see,
Each will attempt to be like that himself.


When you expose the proper path,
Everyone will behave with benevolence and uprightness; but
If they see your wisdom,
They will soon behave with cleverness and hypocrisy.

If your family relationships are seen in conflict,
Those you lead will behave like angry parents and sad sons.
If your government is seen as chaos and misrule,
Your people will be responsive only to open coercion.


When you abandon the image of enlightened wisdom,
Your people will be benefitted a hundred times over; and
When you abandon benevolent righteousness
Your people shall return to love of their family; and
When you abandon cunning profit,
Your people will be blessed with the disappearance of thieves.

Those must be removed from external observation, but
Your people must see something which they may follow. So
Reveal your simple self:
Embracing the valueless,
Lowering self, and
Diminishing intelligence.


Anxieties drift away when you avoid rigid etiquette.
The differences between ‘yes’ and ‘yeah’ are fleeting conventions.
But the differences between happiness and suffering are real.

Even things which the people dread can be drawn away into the void.
Emptiness is without limits.
The void is vast.

When evil is drawn away,
Your people may be happy and always laughing,
As when they are picnicking, or touring old monuments.
You alone seem simple and are slow to comprehend all things.
You seem like a child, and don’t know when to smile or frown.

You alone seem forlorn and lost, without a place of refuge.
The people are filled with plenty but you are empty.
Your behavior is simple, even for an idiot.

You seem even more than ignorant, even more than stupid.
All the people are filled with knowing and luminosity, but
You are empty; You are stupid and dim;
All the people are sharp, indeed very sharp; but
You alone are dull and
Desolate as the open sea,
Lost, anchorless, adrift.

All the people are worthy and useful;
You alone are awkward and unable;
You alone differ from the others;
You alone draw your sustenance from your void.


The energy of power moves into the relative void,
The energy of this path also moves into the void.
Is this concept elusive?
Yes, and it is evasive also!
Is it evasive? – Yes, and it is elusive also!
Yet within this nothing, much can be found!
Very elusive?
Yes, and it is evasive! Yet within this nothing is the way!
Perhaps you understand.
It is very obscure. Yet
Within this nothing is the ultimate energizing source, and
This source of energy is very real.
So much does this energy permeate everything
That only the one using it can see it
And even then only while using it.
The ancient sages knew this source of energy, and
The sages’ use of the Tao echoes down through the ages.
This energy has been named many times; but
The Tao vanishes even while you watch it.
It’s only while you are using it that you can glimpse it.

How may this power be described?
A power that vanishes even while you observe it.
Unfortunately, the best way to point to it is with words.


When you are seen as bent, you attract straightening;
When you are seen as emptied, you attract filling;
When you are seen as tattered, you attract mending;
When you are seen as needy, you attract bequests;
When you are seen as filled with excess, you attract thieves.

Take nature as your model and embrace voids.
When you use the void in your self you are illuminated.

Assert the void in your self, to attract your attention.
Use the void in your self, to attract your actions.
Value the void in your self, to control your will.

Do not contend with your inner self, and
Your inner self will not contend with you.

The ancients said,
“The imperfect beckons perfecting.”
It is through restoring that wholeness is achieved.


Nature does just enough, and then stops;
So whirlwinds do not last a whole morning,
Nor thunderstorms a whole day.
They limit themselves through the nature of their being.
If nature does just enough, and no more,
Shouldn’t you follow its example?

When you take care of your activities with voids,
The energy of the void remains intact;
When you take care of your activities with direct action,
The energy of the void remains intact also;
The energy of the void is always available.

When you use the void, the void will give you more.
When you use direct action, the void will give you more.
Even when you totally ignore the void,
The void stands waiting to serve you.
If you can use the secret void within your self,
You can elicit anything from the voids around you.


You may reside at the pinnacle by creating a void at the top.
You may ride on the shoulders of the people
by creating a void on their shoulders.
You may be illuminated by creating a void for illumination of your self.
You may be revered from afar by creating a void for reverence.
You may be given absolute credit by creating a void for credit.
You may be prince over people by creating a void for your self.
The relationship of those to the proper path
Is that of shit to food;
It is a degenerate use of the method.
High people will detest you, and
People on the proper path will avoid you.


Even before Heaven and Earth existed,
There was something universal.
Calm! Nebulous! Affirmative! Independent! Unchanging!

Eternally permeating, eternally ready to act,
Worthy to be the source of all things.
Your inner self may momentarily know the origin of its existence.
Let us refer to it as the way of Tao.

If forced to give its source a name, call it great.
Great implies going beyond the limits;
Going beyond the limits is over-reaching, and
Over-reaching means returning to the source.

The way is great, Heaven and Earth are great, and
Your innermost self is great also.
These are the greats of the Universe, and
Your innermost self is one of them.

Model your outer self after the processes of Earth; as
The Earth models itself after Heaven, and
Heaven follows the way, and
The way follows after the self-made void.


The weighty is the foundation of the light, and
The quiet are the touchstone of the active.

Although you travel all day,
You need never leave your weighty quietness;
The greater the turbulence around you,
The more leisurely and undisturbed you appear.

When you lead people,
Can you afford to make frivolous actions before them?
If you are light, their foundation is lost, and
If you are changeable, their activities become goal-less.


You do not need maps when walking about your home;
You do not need notebooks when chatting about your daily life;
You do not need your fingers when adding one plus one.
A common thought will not be forgotten, and
An obvious secret need not be hidden; yet
Everything may be secure.

When holding to your enlightenment,
You are always good to things,
For things are incapable of violating their nature, and
You are always good to people, for
People are incapable of violating their nature.

Follow the footsteps of those on the path, and
Avoid the wanderings of those not on the path.
Love the sages’ findings, and
Appreciate the failures’ wanderings.
If you do not do both, you will go far astray.
Even if you are stuffed with directions,
Still, you will be hopelessly lost.
Follow this method and you will find the way.


When you make visible people’s assertive self, but
Hide and use their passive self,
You become attractive for those people.
When you are attractive for people,
Your virtues will not be drawn away, but will revert, and
Return to the origin.

When you make visible people’s brilliance, but
Hide and use their dullness,
You become a model for those people.
When you are a model for people,
You establish the qualities of correctness;
These revert and are drawn into the void.

When you make visible people’s honor,
But hide and use their shame,
You become a valley for those people.
When you are a valley for people,
You stabilize the virtues
Which are sufficient.

Broadcast and infuse this simplicity into understanding people.
These people become proselytizers and magistrates.
This is how to found an organization that does not go astray.


You may attempt to gain control over people, and
Remake them to fit your wishes;
You cannot change people’s basic nature.
The essence of people is the essence of nature, and
The essence of nature cannot be remade by people.
If you attempt to remake the essences of nature,
You will be destroyed by the processes of nature.

If you are seen possessing a valuable thing,
You will soon lose it. Therefore:
Sometimes you should move aggressively, and sometimes distractedly;
Sometimes you should speak expansively, and sometimes demurely;
Sometimes you should be known as unified, and sometimes as divided;
Sometimes you should be seen as rising, and sometimes as descending.

However, you must always avoid pleasures,
Avoid extravagance,
Avoid arrogance.


When you use these methods to help princes,
They will not raise armies to keep their people safe.
Their methods will attract goodness as the response to their leadership.

Where armies are raised, briars and brambles soon grow; and
Assembling a great army is followed by years of bad harvests.
Good princes do what is needed and then stop.
They never take by visible methods.
They achieve their purpose and are never sybaritic;
They achieve their purpose and are never extravagant;
They achieve their purpose and are never arrogant;
They achieve their purpose and never appear to;
They achieve their purpose and are never directing.

If you display a virtue, it will be weakened;
That is not the proper way, and
What is not the proper way soon dies.


Even exquisitely beautified weapons attract aggression.
All weapons are detested by understanding people, and
A sage avoids them.

Sages appear passive throughout their entire lives.
Even when compelled by necessity they do not become aggressive.
They know that aggression attracts suffering and death, so
They avoid being associated with all forms of aggression.
They avoid valuing aggression.
They avoid using aggression.

Sages create contentment and peace.
They may achieve victory over others, but
They never enjoy victory.
One who appears to enjoy victory seems to enjoy killing people.
How can one maintain the love of people,
If one seems to enjoy killing them?

In the good affairs of life use passive methods.
Even in the bad affairs of life use attractive methods;
When a single person is put down many people suffer. So
Mourn the acceptance of victory,
As the acceptance of defeat.


The proper use of the proper path cannot be described; yet
The Tao is so simple it appears to be insignificant. Even so,
Simple people cannot use the void intentionally.
When princes are viewed by the people,
While they are holding to the proper path
Everything in the world seems to obey them, of its own nature.
Both Heaven and Earth cooperate, and
A pleasant rain seems to be falling everywhere. And
The people cooperate eagerly of their natural inclinations.

When a force begins to create order,
It becomes observable and can be described.
When it is observed and described,
It will soon reach dynamic balance and harmonize.
When you know how a force will behave,
You can live with it in harmony.

When you personify the proper path of Tao
Before groups of people, you unite them,
Just as little streams and ponds are united by valleys
to form rivers and oceans.

When you use the voids in people, you make wisdom real;
When you are good to the people, you make enlightenment real;
When you lead the people, you make power real;
When you command the people, you make force real; however,
When you personify weighty quietness, you are the ideal model.

When you are seen acting directly, you show a strong will, but
When you make real your weighty quietness, you will endure.

While your body lives, make your essence one with the universal.
That essence will endure until the end of time.


The universal essence flows everywhere.
It flows left even while it’s flowing right.
It gave everything existence, and
It never refuses anyone who asks.

It deserves fame, but
It cannot be described.
It created and sustains all existing things, but
It never visibly moves anything. Since
It cannot be described, and
It cannot be seen,
It seems to be insignificant. Yet
It is the creator of everything;
It is significant!

You may become part of its essence, and
You may become part of its achievements.


When people see attractive things, they approach;
When they see repellent things, they depart.

Offer beautiful music and tasty food, and people will flock. Yet
The secret way cannot be heard, and
It can neither be seen nor tasted, but
When you use it, it never fails.


When you wish something to be shrunken,
It must first be seen as over-expanded.
When you wish something to be weakened,
It must first be seen as over-strong.
When you wish something to be lowered,
It must first be seen as over-exalted.
When you wish something to be taken away,
It must first be seen as possessed.

Here is a well-known secret:
“The soft and weak conquer the hard and strong.”

This is secret knowledge and it will always remain a deep mystery.
Even so, these methods should not be exposed, and
Others must never see them in action.


Tao always acts by attraction;
Even attractiveness is created by attraction.
When you are seen being attracted by the Tao,
Your friends will behave of their own accord. Yet
Even while behaving themselves they may rise to action.
Then let them be restrained
By their simple selves.

When you attract them to their simple selves,
They cease to value external things. And
When their desire for external things has withered away,
Quiescence is achieved; and
Your friends live in peace with each other, and
In harmony with their selves.


When you know the proper use of a virtue,
You use that virtue attractively, and
You will soon have even more of that virtue available to you.
When you are controlled by a virtue,
That virtue is attracted away from you, and
You will soon lose what little virtue you possessed.
When you use a virtue with invisible attractiveness,
You may accomplish actions with attractive acts. But
When you use a virtue visibly with actions,
The deeds you do will be seen and will generate their opposites.
When you control benevolence,
You are more than benevolent,
But never let your actions show it.

When you control justice – You are more than just,
But never let your actions show it; and
When you control expediency
You are more than expedient. But
If your actions show it, you will encounter resistance.

When you follow the secret way of Tao, special voids appear within you.
When you personify these voids, benevolence appears in others;
When you personify benevolence, justice appears in others;
When you personify justice, expediency appears in others.

Expediency’s methods bring on a withering of loyalty and honesty.
They herald social disorder.
When others see this sequence in action,
They drift away from the proper path.
That heralds universal ignorance.

Be creative when dwelling in your self’s heavy core. And
Carry on attractive actions with your external self.
Plant your seeds quietly, and
Succeed with the fruit of real accomplishment, but
Arrange with the flowers of visible non-accomplishment.


The following things have been maintained since ancient times
through action of the unifying principle:
Heaven is clarified;
The earth is held together;
The gods endure;
The valleys function;
The living things cycle on; and
The princes remain princes.
That principle which generates so much unity is marvelous.

Without clarity, the Heavens would fall;
Without stability, the Earth would disintegrate;
Without granted being, the gods would vanish;
Without functioning, the valleys would disappear;
Without the life cycle, all life would perish;
Without using the mass unifying principle,
The princes would cease to be princes.

The princes appear even lower than common people,
So common people may follow them.
Princes depend on common people for support.
This is why they appear to be
Isn’t it true that princes depend on common people for support?

Remove the unifying principle from a wheel, and
There isn’t a void left at the center either. So
Do not set yourself up to be respected;
Respect is like a precious gem.
Seek to be low,
Like a common stone.


Returning is the only action of Tao, and
Weakness is the only method of Tao.

Heaven, Earth, and life spring from existence;
Existence springs from the void.


When people with pure thinking habits hear the Tao,
They practice it diligently.
When people with the average type of thinking habits hear the Tao,
They seem to understand, yet they soon forget.
When people with vulgar thinking habits hear the Tao,
They find it to be ridiculous.
If vulgar people did not ridicule it,
It would be a less useful Tao.

Know these sayings:
“He who is enlightened with Tao seems dark.
He who is advancing with Tao seems to be slipping back.
The straight and smooth Tao seems crooked and rugged.

The fullest virtue seems empty.
The purest virtue appears unjustly shamed.
The greatest virtue appears in need.
The strongest virtue appears weak.
The purest chastity appears coquettish.
The finest stage is an empty field.
The finest painting is in the implied brush strokes.
The finest music is in the moments between the notes.
The finest method is in the emptiness between the actions.”

The way of Tao is invisible, and
Tao may only be alluded to, yet
It is Tao which creates things and brings things to an end.


Out of the void of Tao,
A unity is born;
This unity generates its opposite, and
A duality is formed:
This duality is unified, and
A third existence comes into being;
These processes repeat themselves
Over, and over, and over again, and
Out of these three kinds of action,
The visible universe is formed.
The universe which now exists thus contains
Void forces, opposing forces, and unifying forces, and
Through their interaction, the all-pervading harmony resounds.

People hate to be seen as orphaned, friendless and unable
However, princes refer to themselves as such; for
Things are added to when called insufficient, and
Things are subtracted from when called excessive.

Since ancient times sages taught the following maxim, and
It lies at the invisible core of this Tao also:
“Strong and violent things attract destruction.” And
Attraction is at the core of this method.


The void penetrates and permeates even the impenetrable.
Thus you may know the advantage of
Doing that which attracts the right reactions;
The advantage of teaching that which attracts the right knowledge;
The advantage of being that which attracts that which needs to be.
It is a method which few people can ever understand or apply.


Which is more important to you,
What people call you, or what you become conscious of?
Which is more important to you,
What you are conscious of, or the source, from which it springs?
Which of these gives more pleasure or pain
When added to or subtracted from?

When you covet external things, you squander your presence; and
When you hoard your presence,
You bring grievous loss to its source.

Approach contentment by making lowness attractive.
Live within life’s limits,
By making that within its limits attractive.
Follow this Tao and you may live a long and contented life.


The greatest perfection appears imperfect, and
Perfection does not go too far;
The greatest abundance appears insufficient; thus,
Abundance is not deprived of its self.

Let your greatest propriety appear askew;
Let your greatest skill appear awkward;
Let your greatest eloquence appear hesitant.

Action overcomes cold, and
Stillness overcomes heat.
When you are active and steady,
You become the pole star for the tempestuous.


When people live in accord with the Tao,
The only use for the prince’s horse is making garden manure;
When people live in discord with Tao,
Warhorses’ droppings are everywhere, even in the sacred places.

It is a curse for the people to desire possessions;
It is a misfortune for the people to covet knowledge; and
It is a calamity for the people to crave wisdom.

Let your contentment be seen; for
When your contentment is seen,
It brings contentment to others.


You do not need to travel to understand people,
Nor even leave your home to understand this Tao;
The further you move from your center,
The less useful your knowledge becomes.

Therefore, make understanding your friends attractive, and
Make understanding this Tao attractive, and
Make attractive the doing of these exercises.


The students of knowledge acquire day by day;
The students of Tao abandon day by day.
They abandon and again abandon;
They seek attractive doing.
Even attractive doing they seek to do by attractive doing.

Whenever you acquire friends, it is by attractive behavior, but
When you are seen manipulating people, you soon lose your friends.


Sages have no personal self.
The people’s self is their self.

Simple-good people they treat with goodness; and
Those attracting goodness they treat with goodness;
For their virtue transcends goodness.
Simple-faithful people they treat with faithfulness; and
Those attracting faithfulness they treat with faithfulness,
For their virtue transcends faithfulness.

Sages personify the will of the people.
Carefully, oh so carefully, they interact with them.
They make visible the people’s hearts and minds, so
The people fix their eyes and ears upon the sage.
Sages know everyone is like a child in need of care.


Grasping at life brings death home; yet
Three out of ten people chase after life, and
Three out of ten people flee from death, and
Three out of ten people spend their lives
Moving between a life-chase and a death-flight.
What is the reason? – It is because they want to live life
Outside the limits of life’s possibilities.

Folk wisdom says,
“The person who knows how to live is neither harmed by
rhinos nor tigers when traveling, nor touched by weapons
when in the midst of an army.”
The folk say,
“It is because they don’t leave chinks for the rhinos’ horns,
or tigers’ claws or soldiers’ weapons.”
But how may you produce these effects?
By creating attractions for these powers away from yourself, and
By not being attractive yourself.


All things are born of the invisible Tao, and then
Visible virtue nurtures them, and
Using virtue hardens them, and
Exploiting virtue finishes them.
Among all creatures only sages purposefully create voids, but
Everyone respects manifest virtue.

The void has infinite virtues, although its virtues are invisible.
It is virtue made visible that commands respect. And
Tao commands nothing; It is always spontaneous.
It gives rise to the very existence of everything and everyone.
However, visible virtue nurses, rears, feeds, fills, matures, positions and protects

Tao brings all into existence, but does not own any.
It makes them, but does not claim them.
It raises them, but does not rule them.
It is undetectable;
It is the source of all.


Everything has a beginning, and
At the beginning, we may know its source.
When its source is known,
We may know the original motivation of the thing.
When relating to this thing, always
Interact with it in terms of its original motivation, for,
To the very end, that motivation
Will be embedded in that thing.

Close your mouth and hide your source,
And your essence will never be attacked.
Speak out and expose your self,
And your essence will never be safe.

Being seen as small permits greatness.
Being known as tender permits strength.
When you use this light, you are enlightened.
Let your essence become attracted to the void;
Then you become unified with the eternal.

If your inner self has even a little bit of this ability,
You may move along the wonderful path of Tao. But
Avoid displaying this special knowledge.

The great path of Tao is smooth and easy,
Although people are easily attracted to the by-paths.
When the center of thought and decision is seen as splendid,
Necessary work will be avoided, and strife will ensue.
Wearing expensive jewelry and fancy swords, or
Being excessive in drinking and eating, or
Displaying an abundance of wealth and treasure is the arrogance of thieves.
It is the reverse of this Tao!

That which is well planted is attracted into the soil.
The well-planted doesn’t need to grasp to preserve its self.

When you relate to the source of an existence, and
To the source of that source you send your roots deep,
This attracts that existence to continue.
When you practice this method on your self,
Your self will become very healthy.
When you practice this method on your family, community,
country, or all mankind,
They also will become very healthy.

It is with your self that you influence other people’s selves;
With your family that you influence other families;
Your town, other towns;
Your country, other countries;
Your people, other people; and
How may you know how all humanity is influenced?
By the way former peoples were influenced.


People who display the greatness of their virtues
Are like foolish children.
Poisonous insects are attracted to sting them;
Wild beasts are attracted to attack them;
Birds of prey are attracted to pounce upon them.
Their bones may be soft, and their sinews tender,
But their grasping is resolute.
Although their childish virtues may be complete,
They don’t know the relation of attraction and repulsion.
Is the displaying of their virtues the perfection of their selves?
The whole day they may cry and sob without becoming hoarse.
Is that the harmony brought forth by perfected virtue?

To manifest harmony is to be in accord with the eternal law.
To manifest the eternal law is to be enlightened, but
To stretch one’s virtues to the limit attracts difficulties.
To follow an inner need to achieve recognition breeds display.
Things grow to full power, and then are countered and decay.
Power perceived creates counter-Tao, and
Whatever creates counter-Tao soon ceases.


When you manifest ability with this Tao, you
Speak with words that attract the right kinds of actions.
When you speak with these attractive words,
You are making real your knowledge of the void. But
You must never display your ability to use the void, and
You must hide your awareness of the void from public view.

Soften your abilities’ sharp edges;
Unravel their tangles;
Dim their brilliance.
With somber conviction, show your virtues are more lowly than dust.

Then you will not be manipulated by lovers or haters, or
Tempted by profits or losses, or
Beguiled by honors or dishonors.
By transcending these temptations you become Nature’s companion.


With model behavior lead the government, and
With empty behavior direct armies;
With attractive behavior lead everyone.
How may you know the correctness of that observation?
Only through practicing this method.

The more restrictions princes place on their people,
The poorer their people become;
The more armies and weapons princes acquire,
The less secure their nations become;
When artful weapons are seen, cunning deceits soon lurk;
When laws proliferate, punishments become frequent.
Soon thieves abound; then bandits appear. Misery?

The sages do attractive acts, and
The people’s selves react;
They manifest quietness, and
The people’s selves become upright;
They do attractive business, and
The people’s selves become fulfilled;
They exhibit void desires, and
The people’s selves become simple.


When the government is seen to be dull and empty,
The people become simple;
When the government is seen to be clever and grasping,
Each person’s desires feed other people’s desires, and
Each person’s misery adds to other people’s misery.

Those with excess take more, and
To excess the greedy add excess.
Yes, graft and greed create misery.
Those in poverty are pushed away to be forgotten.
Misery abounds, it seems, without limits, and it will not stop.

The upright becomes abnormal, and
Good behavior seems unlucky.
The people’s confusion grows daily and does not cease.

Wise princes are lawful, but not legalistic;
They are proper, but not strict;
They are correct, but not rigid;
They are glowing, but not brilliant.


When you are governing a group and doing Heaven’s work,
Always be seen as moderate in your behavior.
The habit of moderation is best learned while young, and
Skill in moderation heaps and accumulates true virtue.

When you do things by attractive actions
No one can know your motivations, and
When no one knows your motivations,
Your actions will not be impeded.
By knowing the historical motivations of a group,
You may help it along its natural path.
By having root understandings of a group’s original motivations,
You develop a profound and lasting insight into their behavior.


Governing a big country is like attracting little fish.

When you are in the role of leader use this Tao as a guide,
For the essence of this teaching is leading with attractions.
Leading a people by attracting them with their original motivations
Will be leading them with their inner inclinations.
Use their historical motivation to lead your people, for
Leading a people with their common core unites their behavior.
The wise prince also leads the people away from harm.
These two kinds of leading do not interfere with each other, and
The people proceed vigorously along their natural path.


A great government is one that makes itself lowly.
The people may follow lowly actions, and
The whole country becomes peaceful.

A wife by quiet means controls the husband,
When she places her self beneath him.
Similarly, great countries may control smaller ones,
By placing themselves beneath those smaller countries.
Or little countries may control larger ones,
By being able to place themselves beneath those larger countries.
Both must acquire that which they need to survive; thus
The great country sometimes submits to the small one.


The method of Tao is the secret source to all in the universe,
The good person’s private guide, and
The person attracting goodness’ eternal essence.

With attractive words anything may be successfully proffered, but
It is a leader’s behavior which the people try to follow.

The people will never discard a person attracting goodness;
It is for this quality that princes are brought into leadership;
It is for this quality that ministers are appointed.

Rather than lead the people on a stallion with sword raised high,

Demonstrate the virtue of quiet lowliness, and
Guide them along the Tao path.

Why do the wise ones value this way?
Why? Indeed! Don’t they say,
“What is sought will be found,” and
“Can one be saved by sinning?”


Whether the tasks be great or small, many or few,
To do something, attract its being done;
To perform an action, attract that action into existence.

Solve difficult problems while they are easy;
Deal with big problems while they are still small;
Difficult problems arise from the easy ones, and
Big problems grow from little ones.

Be simple!
From the beginning to the end never do anything difficult.
When you do simple things, the multitudes may follow, and
Many things will be accomplished.

Promises always lack foresight.
They are easily made, but
Surely, promises lead to problems.
When you realize what creates problems,
You may solve them before they arise.


Things that are quiet are easy for you to handle;
Things not yet apparent are easy for you to forestall;
Things that are weak are easy for you to break; and
Things that are scanty are easy for you to scatter.
Therefore nullify potential problems before they exist, and
Revert little problems before disorder appears.

A great tree begins with a tiny sprout;
A high tower begins with accumulating single stones; and
A journey of a thousand days begins with a single step.

When you perform an act,
You are responsible for the ensuing damage;
When you hold a thing,
You are responsible for its loss.
If you do things by attracting their being done,
You cannot be faulted for any damage or loss.

If people get too close to their goals they vanish. So
Create goals at the end as at the beginning, and
Your ends will be completed.
Seek attractive goals, and
Never make things too difficult to get.

Learn the art of attractive doing;
Restore to the people what they have lost;
Restore natural things to their way; and
Never act directly.


The ancients who understood the application of the Tao
Didn’t aim to make their people clever,
But rather to keep them simple.

People become difficult to govern when they are clever; and
When those who govern a country are seen to be clever,
Everyone labors under a curse.
A nation whose leaders use the principles
Of performing attractive actions and returning to simplicity
Is blessed with natural virtues.

These natural virtues are deep and far-reaching.
They help all things and return them to their simple selves.


How did the rivers and seas get so low?
By eroding while seeking lowness.
If you wish to be below people
You must place yourself beneath them;
If you wish to lead people
You must place yourself behind them.

Using this method you may be above people, yet
The people will not feel burdened;
You may lead people, and
The people will not feel pulled;
The multitudes of the world will rejoice, and
The people will not weary of their burdens.
If you do not contend with anyone,
No one will contend with you.

Many people of the world say this way is great; however,
It never appears great.

Something may remain great only if it doesn’t appear great.
To be seen as great attracts lowering, and
Leads to never-ending mediocrity.

Learn these three essential guides; then
Preserve and use them:
First, create compassion for everyone;
Second, create moderation for everyone;
Third, never be seen leading anyone.
Through creating compassion for everyone,
each may be vitally alive.
Through creating moderation for everyone,
each may have enough.
Through not seeming to lead anyone,
each may fully develop their own resources.
— However, if you renounce compassion, and appear tough,
Renounce moderation, and are seen filled with abundance,
Renounce being the follower, and are seen leading people,
You are soon put down!

If the leader is compassionate,
The people will cope with problems themselves.
When the people themselves conquer problems the nation is secure.
Nature fills with compassion those it would see flourish.


The most successful warriors do not look formidable;
The most successful generals do not seem manipulative;
The most successful conquerors do not appear acquisitive;
The most successful leaders of people place themselves beneath them.
They use people’s natural inclinations;
Complying with nature’s way brings true virtue;
Since ancient times this has been the best way.


A military strategist has this maxim:
“Never launch open attacks, but
Move into voids.”
Thus the army need not fight and may move easily.
It is not subjected to forced marches.
It defends with arms without using weapons.
It advances without hostilities, and
It occupies without fighting. –
There is no greater danger than attacking forewarned people.

When two armies clash,
It is the one animated with lowliness which wins.


When you are alone this method of Tao is easy to understand, and
This method of Tao is easy to practice.

But when one is mingled with a crowd,
Only a very experienced user of attractive methods
Can understand it; and
Only a sage can put it into practice.

Those who know what the self is are rare!
Internally that self may be made attractive and approached.
Externally the sage appears extraordinarily ordinary, and
None can see his profound common sense.


To know and use this path of attractive knowledge creates vigor and health, but

To make visible attractive knowledge in action
Permits sickness to persist.
At present when you are sick of sickness,
You may attract sickness into the void.

Sages create phenomena which
Attract sickness out of existence, and
They hide from view their ability to do this.


When the people desire dreadful things to come,
Dreadful things will come in superabundance.
They will attract destruction of their own homes;
They will attract defeat of their own nation.

However, when they are not harassed by their leaders,
They will not seek to harass others.
For this reason, wise leaders expose their attractive selves.
They are aware of their natural essence, but
They make visible the best of their attractive selves.
They hide their personal selves, and
Reveal their universal self.

Courage made manifest with open acts attracts death.
Courage made manifest with attractive acts attracts life.
Each of these is sometimes helpful, and sometimes harmful.
Even sages sometimes have trouble making this distinction.

Here is the guide of the sages:
The method of Tao never quarrels, yet goodness prevails;
Tao never demands, yet goodness responds;
Tao never even hints, yet everything obeys.
Tao is lenient in action and good results.

Nature’s complex structure is vast, infinitely vast; yet
Everywhere and forever it attracts and gives.


People attract fear around the concept of death, and
They are easily frightened by it.
You should encourage people to fear death; for then
If they create trouble,
Their own selves will seize them and put them down.
Who, then, will dare to cause trouble?
Always there awaits a natural death maker,
An executioner who kills those who kill.
For you to take the place of this killer, and dare
To kill others yourself, beckons this executioner to kill you.
If you take its place you attract death toward yourself.


The people suffer when their governors overtax them;
Soon even princes suffer.
The people resist when their governors are seen to act;
Soon even simple chores cannot be done.

The people will make light of death
If they see their governors grasping at life;
Soon everyone will make light of death.
When you attract living things into their natural way,
You are more moral than the highest moralist.


Living people are soft and pliable;
When they die, they become hard and stiff.
So it is with all living things;
Grass and trees in their lives are tender and moist, but
When they die, they become brittle and dry.

Observe that the hard and stiff are associated with death, and
The soft and supple are associated with life.

That is true even with fighting.
Even the strongest must conquer with attractive methods.
Trees that are big and strong are soon brought down.
The great and powerful must place themselves low to survive, and
Hold the small and weak very high.


Nature’s way of doing resembles a bow’s string;
The high end is pulled down; The low end is pulled up.
That which has abundance, nature lowers;
That which has insufficiency, it raises.

It is the method of coarse people
To take from the poor and give more to the rich.
Don’t they realize the greedy will demand more?
Only the user of the void can give, and keep on giving.

When you behave rightly, you create, but you do not own;
Perhaps you deserve honors, but you do not display them;
You no longer wish to be known as superior, do you?


The people are pliant and weak as water,
Yet nothing is better than they
For conquering the stiff and strong;
The pliant overcomes the stiff, and
Weakness conquers strength.
Everyone has heard that; yet, among the multitudes,
Only those practiced in attractive actions of Tao
Can follow water intentionally.

People who can place themselves beneath all,
Even the lowliest of people,
Are fit to rule all in the land.
People who can place themselves beneath even national shame
Are thrust into responsibility for the nation.
This is a simple paradox for those who understand this Tao.


Reconciling a quarrel is sure to leave some rancor behind,
And things will never return to their former simplicity.
Therefore create agreement with potential adversaries, and
Never assign guilt in any way.
The virtuous man tries to reconcile guilt;
The virtueless man tries to assign guilt.

The way of nature has no preferred person;
It constantly supplies itself to everyone.


Let the world be filled with small communities.
Within everyone the necessities of life are seen as sufficient:
Where the people have boats and vehicles, but
No place seems interesting enough to bother going to;
Where the people may own weapons and armor, but
There is no interest in even bothering to pick them up;
Where people’s lives are so simple
They may use knotted strings for remembering contracts.
Encourage people to delight in their way of life,
To appreciate their style of clothing,
To love their homes, and
To delight in their life’s work.

Let the harmony of the people be so profound, and
Let them be so satisfied with their lives,
They never bother to visit another village.


Those who know the Tao do not display their virtues;
Those who display their virtues do not know the Tao.
Peacemakers attract contention out of existence;
Contentious people draw forth conflicts out of peace.
Knowing ones draw forth right learning;
Learned ones draw forth rigid knowledge.

Sages do not bother with personal accumulation;
They work for others, and all around them are rich;
And because they work for all humanity,
All humanity prospers greatly.
The way of the Tao is to draw but never to pull;
The way of the sage is to accomplish with attractive acts,
and never to contend.



(The numbers and the — marks are traditional breaks.)

The TAO TEH CHING: Revealed by Lao Tzu
and rendered by Charles Scamahorn
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