Dao De Jing has been translated and interpreted in a variety of languages and versions, from raw text paperback with or without analysis to highly illustrated hardbacks. For the convenience of students of the Taoist arts Taiji Online is able, with kind permission of Lotus Nei Gong’s Damo Mitchell, to reproduce his translation below. We have set out Dao De Jing’s 81 verses in continuous text to help viewers who are curious to scroll through the text and for those may want to use browser keyword searches to locate specific passages. Also, you can click on links in the index to hop directly to verses which will open in new browser windows.
By D Mitchell, Copyright © 2012 D Mitchell All rights reserved
Dao De Jing - Index
1. Walking the Path
The Dao that can be walked,
Is not the eternal path.
That, which can be named,
Is not the eternal Dao.
The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth,
The named gives birth to the myriad things.
He who can free his mind eternally of desire and attachment,
Can perceive the very essence of Dao.
He who is not free of desire and attachment,
Will only encounter the outer forms of this world.
Transcendence and craving diverge from the same source,
Revealing vast potential for change.
This is the most profound and primal principle,
That there exists an enigmatic process
Born forth from the Mysterious Pass
2. Practicing Detachment
We take pleasure in beauty only because of ugliness,
And recognize kindness only because of cruelty.
So, all polarities are mutually dependent.
Difficult and easy, long and short,
Superior and inferior, all rely on one another.
Just as sound and silence echo from the same instrument,
Past and future form an unbroken cycle.
This is why the Sage practices detachment,
And teaches that which is unspoken.
The myriad things exist around him,
Yet he does not become involved.
He assists in their development,
Yet remains apart.
He carries out his work with mindfulness,
Finishes his actions and then forgets them.
He remains apart,
Suffers no loss
And so achieves Wu-Wei.
3. Awaken the Dan Tien
Do not over-value talents and abilities
For this will cause people to compete.
Do not place importance on rare treasures,
For this will cause people to steal.
Do not display anything that will arouse desire,
For this will disturb the Heart-Mind.
Thus, the Sage rules:
He empties his Heart-mind,
Awakens his Dan Tien,
Rids himself of desires,
And strengthens his body.
He keeps his people free of craving,
For once they are pure,
Nothing can disturb them,
And in this state of Wu-Wei
Everything is in order.
4. Timeless Dao
Dao is void,
It is the fathomless origin of the myriad things.
It can soften all sharpness,
And calm all turmoil.
Dao assimilates material dust into brilliant light.
Eternal and perpetual Dao,
Since before time.
5. Straw Dogs
Treating all things with indifference,
Heaven and Earth are truly impartial.
The Sage is also without bias,
Free of preference.
Like and dislike have no importance,
There is only what needs doing.
Like bellows, Dao breathes between Heaven and Earth,
Empty, yet potent,
Its motive force generates the myriad things.
Wasted words inevitably result in silence.
Better to dwell in the emptiness you find within.
6. Seat of the Shen
Your spiritual energy; your Shen,
Resides in the spiritual valley,
The hidden source of existence,
Known as the Mysterious Pass.
Bringing forth Heaven and Earth,
The Mysterious Pass exists forever,
And functions naturally.
7. Union with the Two Great Forces
Everlasting Heaven, eternal Earth,
They are empty of self.
So is the Sage.
He sits back in life,
Yet finds himself in front.
Dissolving his separation,
He draws in Heaven and Earth,
And pulses with the Cosmos,
Achieving transcendent comprehension,
The true aim of all Sages.
8. The Water Path
The greatest good is to be like water.
Water brings benefit to things but does not contend with them.
Water makes its way to the lowest, darkest places.
Both Sage and water are like the Dao.
The Sage is also content among the lowly.
He keeps the lake of his Heart-Mind undisturbed,
Deals kindly with others,
Governs with fairness,
And works efficiently at the right time.
Because he does not strive for his own ends,
He is without fault.
9. Entering the Stream
Over-filling your cup,
Is worse than stopping at the brim.
Over-sharpen your knife,
And it will become blunt.
Fill your hall with treasure,
And it cannot be guarded.
Delude yourself with self-importance,
And you will bring about your own end.
The Sage initiates his self-cultivation,
But then lets Heaven and Earth guide him to the Dao.
Embrace the two souls,
In harmony they become eternal.
Regulate your Qi to soften the body,
Return your energy system to a congenital state,
Wipe dust from the hidden mirror,
To cleanse the Heart-Mind.
Interact with people as do Heaven and Earth.
Achieve your state of Wu-Wei.
Can you remain still and empty,
While life struggles around you?
As you achieve transcendent comprehension,
Can you remain in serene emptiness,
Free from consciousness?
Dao gives birth to the myriad things,
Yet it does not own them.
To lead others without dominating
Is the most profound virtue.
11. Inner Void
A wheel may have thirty spokes radiating from the hub,
But it is the emptiness at the centre that enables it to roll.
Clay may be shaped into an elaborate vessel,
But it is the empty space inside that makes it useful.
A grand house may be built with great skill,
But without the emptiness of rooms and doors
It is no more than a useless block.
So it is that the tangible serves to encase and define
The significant emptiness within.
12. Seated Alchemy
Colours dazzle, sounds deafen,
And flavours dull our Heart-Mind,
As does seeking sensual pleasure and hunting to kill.
Desire and attachment only serve to divert us from our path.
So the Sage sits gazing into the lower Dan Tien,
Ignoring his five senses,
He withdraws from the physical realm,
And nurtures his congenital nature.
13. The Falsehood of Honour
Steer clear from honour and dishonour,
Both are afflictions linked to our end.
Honour brings about the fear of loss,
High status is fragile indeed.
Both honour and dishonour stem from a sense of self.
But when the self is gone, what do we have left to fear?
Fear is a product of the realm of construct, nothing more.
He who merges with Heaven and Earth is fit to teach the world
14. The Hunt for the Formless
We look but cannot see it,
So we call it invisible.
We listen but cannot hear it,
So we call it inaudible.
We reach out but cannot hold it,
So we call it formless.
We cannot explore that which is: invisible, inaudible and formless,
So we merge them into one.
Its topside is not bright,
nor underside dark,
It is the nameless that stretches out into infinity.
It moves and then returns to stillness,
It has no substance.
You can stand before it but see no face,
Stand behind it and see no back.
The sage simply knows it as Dao..
Let us travel back to the source so we may find it!
15. Un-Carved Block
The ancients were masters of self-cultivation,
Their minds penetrated the very realm of existence,
The common man cannot understand them,
But he can learn of their ways:
They are deliberate in their actions;
As if surrounded by their enemies.
They are respectful in their dealings;
As if receiving honoured guests,
But relaxed at all times,
Pliant and yielding like melting ice.
They are simple in demeanour,
Like an un-carved block of wood.
They are as expansive as a deep valley.
Common men have muddied their water…
Who can sit in quietude and allow the waters to clear?
Clearing the waters leads to a new and spontaneous movement.
Understand what it is to remain empty,
Never fill, never age,
Thus we will escape the boundaries of birth and death.
16. The Folly of Life
Remain in perpetual stillness,
Sit and watch as the myriad things are born,
Watch them develop through movement,
Until they return to the source.
The myriad things only return to the source,
Once they find stillness,
Through our stillness we restore the congenital nature.
This is the way to elevation.
To not restore the congenital nature will result in disaster.
To attain transcendent comprehension is to equal Heaven,
Heaven is in accord with the Dao,
So to equal Heaven is to find Dao,
To find Dao is to become ever-lasting,
Only the ever-lasting escape the finality of death.
17. Upon Learning of Dao
The highest way is to accept Dao and then forget it,
The second way is attachment to Dao,
The third way is to be in awe of Dao.
The lowest people scorn it.
Do not trust those who have no faith in Dao.
Acknowledge the Dao and sit in quietude.
Cultivate the true consciousness,
The myriad things will soon fall in line.
18. The Breakdown of Society
Follow the ways of Dao and witness the natural birth of De.
Those who don’t will be forced to rely on rules to tell them what is just and right.
When the people rely on rules,
There arises a great hypocrisy,
Family values fall apart,
And we are amazed at ‘dutiful children’,
Political corruption is rife,
And we marvel at ‘moral politicians’.
19. The Dao Revolution
Abandon religious hierarchy,
Do away with structured education,
The people will benefit a hundred-fold.
Forget false ideas of righteousness and ethics,
Allow the De to arise naturally from the people.
Shed your academic knowledge,
Do away with social etiquette,
Escape the shackles of societal pressures.
Forget any ideas of ambition and self-benefit,
Soon the five thieves will vanish.
Know the above and yet understand that they are just words;
Through your practice, understand the following:
The virtue of simplicity,
The purity of the true consciousness,
The imprisoning power of the desires.
20. Relations with the People
Certainty and doubt,
How different are these two?
Because some men fear truth,
Must I also?
Those who don’t practice self-cultivation are far from achieving transcendence.
They happily head towards certain doom,
Treating their lives like a party;
They are ‘sight-seers’ in the grand scheme,
While the sages practice the way;
They are like a new-born baby that has yet to smile.
The people of the world accumulate, the sage sheds.
The people see the sage as an idiot,
They cannot comprehend his Heart-Mind.
The people are like the brightness of day,
The sage is the darkness of night.
They mock the sage who seems withdrawn,
Whilst they think they are confident and self-assured.
But the truth is that the vulgar people are transitory,
They are like the waves on an ocean,
Whilst I am like a still lake,
I am happy to be different, I embrace the boring,
I will continue to seek my nourishment from the Dao.
21. The Jing
The De which we express,
Are the manifestations of Dao.
Dao is vague.
Dao contains the potential for existence,
The physical realm lay at its centre.
Within the darkness of the Dao sits the congenital Jing,
When “rarefied”; the Jing contains the potential for existence.
Times will change,
Yet Dao lasts forever,
It has seen the birth and death of the myriad things.
If we understand Dao,
We understand creation.
How do I understand the origin?
Return to the beginning of course!
22. Shed the Distortions
Be yielding in nature,
Shed the distortions,
Fill the emptiness within,
To rejuvenate the body,
Thus you will acquire that which is great.
Consumption and delusion are one.
The Sage embraces the union of the three treasures,
And becomes the ‘master under Heaven’.
The Sage discards the self,
He therefore finds the golden light.
The Sage does not asserts his will on others,
And so he flourishes/develops.
He seeks no credit or fame,
Instead he practices cultivation.
Since the Sage is yielding in nature,
None may prevent him in his work.
The ancients told us the truth,
By finding the Dao,
We release our congenital nature.
23. The Short-Lived Will of Men
Sit in silence to find the magical knowing.
Strong winds are fleeting,
Heavy rains are temporary,
Winds and rain are born under Heaven,
And yet they are short lived,
They are as the wills of men.
The Sage lives according to the Dao,
He seeks to release the De.
Those who do not strive for De,
Are always destined to be short-lived.
Those who follow Dao are content with their path,
They take pleasure in obtaining the De,
Those who abandon Dao,
Will remain blissfully ignorant.
Those who lack faith in the Dao,
Do not have the integrity to achieve De.
24. The Poisons of Ego
Those who stand too tall,
Have no root.
Those who stride too far,
Never reach their goal.
Those who strive for attention,
Will never attain illumination.
Those who always think they are right,
He who is not self-critical,
The deluded will not endure.
The above are poisons to the Dao.
Indulgence and self-importance are low,
Therefore: Followers of Dao do not act this way
25. Following the Four Greats
Before Heaven and Earth was chaotic emptiness,
It exists still since it is ever-lasting,
It permeates the physical realm.
It is the mother of Heaven and all beneath it.
I do not know its name,
I simply call it Dao.
I reluctantly use the term Dao since even this is limiting.
For study purposes I place a title on the everlasting.
Though it is expansive and infinite,
It will lead little me to the true consciousness.
Heaven and Earth owe their greatness to the Dao.
A man can also be great if he can find Dao.
Within existence there can be four greats:
The Sage can be one,
But he must follow the way of Earth,
Earth must follow the way of Heaven,
Heaven must follow the way of Dao.
In turn Dao must follow the way of nature.
26. The Importance of Root
The permanent is the root of the transient,
Serenity lay at the heart of movement.
The Sage knows of this,
Though he may travel; he never departs from his root.
Though his senses may take in wondrous sights,
He remains detached and dwells in emptiness.
Would he still be a master of Heaven if he departed from the way of Dao?
When no importance is placed upon the root,
The congenital nature is lost.
The best traveller leaves no tracks,
The best speaker tells no lies,
The best planner acts on instinct,
This is the way of nature.
To effectively seal oneself away,
You cannot use bolts and locks.
To effectively bind yourself up,
Ropes and ties are useless.
Bolts and locks can be undone,
Ropes and ties can be loosened.
The Sage casts no man aside,
He abandons nobody,
His true nature is enlightened,
Therefore the great compassion is guaranteed.
The Sage is teacher to the people,
This is both his treasure and his burden.
If the people have no trust in their teacher,
Confusion is certain.
This is the spiritual essence of Dao.
28. Rivers and Valleys
Yet be soft.
Be as the rivers and valleys below Heaven,
If you can follow their example,
Then the De will never leave you,
And you will return to the congenital state.
Know the white,
Yet maintain the black.
Become a conduit for the force of Heaven.
If Heaven operates through you,
Then the De will be everlasting,
And you will return to Wuji.
Be honourable and humble,
And you will be the valley under Heaven.
Follow the above and Heaven will be your guide.
Only when the natural state divides,
Does existence come into being.
The Sage utilizes existence to return to the origin,
Understand union and division.
29. With Regard to Practices
Those who seek transcendence through deviant methods will never succeed,
The rules of Heaven will prevent them from reaching their goal.
Existence cannot be tampered with,
Instead we must find the origin within us.
Imposing will is damaging,
Grip hard and expect loss.
The sage knows when to seek progress and when to simply follow nature.
Sometimes his breathing is forceful,
Sometimes it is natural.
Sometimes he creates expansion,
Sometimes he simply succumbs.
Avoid excess, extravagance and indulgence.
30. The Folly of War
Those who follow Dao help the people,
They do not try to control others with force,
For this will simply create hatred.
Where armies have been only thorns will grow.
Famine and misfortune follow a military incursion.
A good leader will know how to act and when is enough,
He will thus have no use for military strength.
In the same way, we simply do what is required,
Do not be arrogant,
Do not be proud,
Do not look down on others,
Simply do what needs doing without imposing your will on others.
Everything flourishes and then declines,
This is the rule of existence,
Forget Dao and you will hasten to this end.
31. Victory and Loss
Weapons are Tools of Hatred,
Followers of Dao avoid them.
The philosopher and sage stands to the left,
The soldier and politician stands to the right.
Only in dire emergency will the sage take up arms.
The sage does not delight in victory for to celebrate victory is to celebrate loss.
Those who delight in victory and killing are tragic.
Happy occasions honour the left,
Bad tidings honour the right,
In war the second in command stands to the left,
The commander to the right,
This likens war to a funeral.
When many people are being killed we should mourn,
So we should treat victory like a funeral.
32. The Importance of Timing
The eternal Dao is nameless,
Though it is simple nobody under Heaven may control it.
If the leaders of men could emulate Dao,
The myriad things would flock to them.
When Heaven and Earth are harmonized:
Sweet dew falls from above,
All acts in accordance with the Dao.
From the origin was born the named,
The named was in motion,
But it knew when to stop.
If the named did not know when to stop it would bring about great danger.
The Dao operates below Heaven like a stream,
It runs into rivers before returning to the sea.
33. The Path to Immortality
To know shows intelligence,
To know the self is enlightened.
To conquer others is strong,
To conquer the self is truly great.
To be content with oneself is to be rich,
To act with resolution is to have Zhi.
To remain at one with your goal is to find longevity.
He who can still the Heart-Mind and end his breathing will achieve immortality.
The Great Dao is infinite,
It flows in all directions and fills all shapes.
The myriad things depend on Dao for existence,
It denies none of them.
It does its work and seeks no thanks,
It nourishes existence yet asks for nothing.
The Dao has no mind and so could be called small.
The myriad things will in time return to the Dao yet it is nobodies master so we may call it great.
The sage emulates Dao,
He does not want to be great yet he achieves true greatness.
35. The Weakness of Sensual Pleasure
Hold onto the Dao and all under Heaven will follow,
The myriad things will live in harmony and peace.
Fine food and good music may please your senses while the Dao is tasteless and soundless.
Good food soon fades away,
Good music soon becomes tiresome,
Yet Dao is eternal and inexhaustible.
36. Understand Progression
Before you make something compact you must first extend it.
Before you may soften something it must first be strengthened.
Before you forget something you must first learn it.
Before you grasp something you must first join with it.
These are the secrets of transcendence.
The soft and yielding defeat the hard and strong,
But a fish cannot live outside of water and an empire cannot survive on pure power for long.
37. The Arising of Desire
Dao adheres to the principles of Wu Wei.
If the leaders of society could adhere to Dao the myriad things would spontaneously evolve.
If during our evolution process, desires arise, we suppress them with our congenital nature.
Sit in the original emptiness to prevent desires from arising.
Ridding ourselves of desires helps us to bring about stillness.
Understanding this will enable all under Heaven to find peace.
38. The Birth of Stupidity
The highest De is unconscious,
Those with unthinking De are truly virtuous.
Conscious De is not De..
The highest De is Wu Wei.
Lower De creates distortion; it is both hypocritical and pretentious.
The highest compassion and justice is also unconscious.
Those who preach De through ritual and ceremony force their will on others.
In this way Dao is first lost and so De arises,
De then vanishes and so compassion arises,
Compassion fades and so justice arises,
Without justice we must rely on ritual ceremony.
The leaders of ritual ceremony demand faith and loyalty,
This is the beginning of trouble.
Compassion, justice and De are only the flowers of Dao,
They are the origins of stupidity.
The sage knows the root, not the embellishments.
He understands the seeds and not the flower.
39. The Ancient Leaders
When the ancient sages achieved union,
Heaven became pure and Earth became still.
If the Shen can achieve unity you will be made divine.
Unite the emptiness to fill it.
If the leaders of men could achieve unity they would be unequalled below Heaven.
Without union the following would happen:
The Heavens would split open,
The Earth shake,
The Shen will manifest fear,
The emptiness inside would be exhausted.
The result of this is the gradual death of the myriad things.
To find unity we must place importance on humility,
The low must form the root of the high.
The leaders of men in ancient times remained detached and without desires,
They understood the importance of root.
They counted status as no status at all.
40. The Ming
Reversal of fate is the function of Dao.
Dao works through the receptive.
The myriad things arise from existence,
Existence arises from Wuji.
41. Laughing at the Dao
The wise man hears of Dao and follows it diligently,
The majority hear of Dao and dabble in its arts,
The lowest people hear of Dao and mock it.
If people did not laugh at Dao, then it would not be Dao.
The brightness of Dao is found within the dark,
To progress and develop we must retreat,
To find Dao we must struggle and persevere.
The highest De is empty,
The purest innocence is tainted,
The kindest action is inadequate,
The strongest compassion is flimsy.
The nature of structure is transient.
It is a shape with no corners,
A vessel which is incomplete,
A sound which goes unheard,
It truly has no form.
Dao is impossible to understand,
Yet it brings completion.
42. Harness the Qi
From Dao comes the one,
From the one comes two,
Two produces three,
From the three emerges the myriad things.
The myriad things support Yin and embrace Yang,
They exist together through the power of Qi,
If we can harness the Qi we can understand Yin and Yang.
The people suffer at the thought of being alone,
Yet this is the highest state.
Things flourish, diminish and flourish again,
This is the natural state of things.
From the past we have learnt,
Those who value strength and power die young,
This is the fundamental law of the Dao.
Below Heaven the soft will always overcome the hard.
That without substance can fill any space.
I therefore appreciate Wu-Wei,
The philosophy without words,
Wu-Wei is difficult to live by,
Few on earth can achieve such a state.
Which is greater: status or life?
What brings more: money or consciousness?
What is more harmful: to gain or to lose?
Strong desires will bring loss and destruction.
The more we obtain,
The more we lose.
A man contented with himself,
Will never be disappointed.
Know when is enough,
You will not be at risk of loss,
You will become a Sage.
45. Hot and Cold
Transcendent wisdom may seem imperfect,
But its functions are inexhaustible.
The great state of expansion may seem pointless,
But it contains infinite possibility.
The true nature of existence will seem unfair,
The highest achievement will seem wrong,
The highest state will look awkward,
Movement prevents cold,
Stillness cools the heat.
Stillness and not movement is the highest state.
46. Loss of Dao
If all below Heaven follow the Dao,
Then the horses are used for farming.
If Dao is lost below Heaven,
The horses are bred for war.
There is no greater curse,
Than to be without contentment,
No greater misfortune,
Than to be obsessed with obtaining.
To be content with one’s true nature,
Is the key to eternal satisfaction.
47. Meditation Practice
Without going out of your door,
You may know the ways of the world.
Without looking out of your window,
You can perceive the ways of Heaven.
He who allows his Heart-Mind to wander,
Naturally knows less and less.
The Sage stays close to the source,
And understands that which is far.
He does not look to the outside,
Yet he perceives all.
The Sage accumulates no dust and so completes his work.
48. Formal Education
Structured education will bring you knowledge,
Following the Dao causes you to forget.
Persist in emptying your Heart-Mind,
Until you achieve the purity of Wu-Wei,
“doing without accruing” is the way to achieve Dao.
Live according to the way of Heaven,
Do not strive for personal ends,
This is the way of Dao.
49. People are Children
The Sage has no self,
He mirrors the way of Heaven.
He treats kind people with compassion,
He also treats evil men with kindness,
This is the manifestation of De.
He has faith in those who are trustworthy,
And also faith in those who are not.
To have faith is to have De.
The Sage lives and harmonizes with the ways of Heaven,
He sits with stillness in his Heart-Mind,
And watches over the people of the world as if they were his own children.
Our ‘Ming’ is to travel from birth to death.
3 in 10 people follow the natural course,
3 in 10 die of disease or disaster,
3 in 10 strive to live well and attain longevity,
Yet they still achieve their pre-destined death.
Why is this?
It is because they strive.
They aim to extend their time in the transient realm.
Yet there is 1 in 10 who achieve the true skill of existence,
They have no fear of rhino or tiger,
They need no armour in battle.
Rhinos cannot gore them,
Tigers cannot bite them,
Weapons cannot harm them,
Why is this?
Because they are above death.
51. The Cycle of Life
Life is born from Dao,
It is nourished by De,
Then manifested within the physical world,
Life develops and evolves accordingly.
The myriad things follow Dao and esteem De.
This is the natural way of things.
Dao and De are forced on nobody,
They spontaneously manifest if we can cultivate our inner nature.
Dao gives birth to the world,
De nourishes them,
The myriad things grow, are nourished, raised, nurtured, protected, reared and finally overthrown.
To produce without owning,
Act without presumption,
Develop without ownership,
This is the mysterious De.
Everything below Heaven has an origin,
We know this as the mother of all,
If we can understand the mother,
We may understand the children.
We may also understand the children,
To know the mother.
To end all disease:
Sit in quietude,
Close your mouth and shut off the senses.
To attach to the world and try to force your will leads only to ruin.
To discern that which is trivial leads to enlightenment.
To remain pliant and open,
Leads to strength.
Gaze into the darkness to expand the inner light,
This is the way to avoid disaster and follow the eternal practice.
53. The Importance of Logic
Even the uneducated can follow the way of Dao,
All we need is a little caution.
The way to Dao is clear,
Yet many people become side-tracked.
Most people make their homes tidy,
Whilst the farm land is untilled.
Their granaries are empty,
Yet they wear fine robes,
They sport fine weapons and indulge their senses with fine food and drink.
Why have such an abundance?
This is like a thief showing off,
It is not the way of Dao.
54. Trust the Practice
That with a strong root cannot be toppled,
That which is held fast cannot be dropped,
For generations this concept has been honoured,
Even when it requires sacrifice.
Only through cultivation of our inner nature,
Will we achieve the true De,
This is our root, grip and often sacrifice.
Cultivate Dao within the family,
And De will benefit them all,
Cultivate Dao within the village and Dao will endure for generations.
Cultivate Dao within a country,
There will be eternal prosperity,
If all below Heaven cultivated Dao,
Then the original De would be inexhaustible.
I will allow my inner self to cultivate Dao for all the above.
How do I know how to do this?
Through the innate wisdom within me.
55. Notes on Practice
One who has attained the complete De,
Will return to the source.
Poisonous animals will not sting them,
Fearsome beasts will not attack them.
His bones are pliable,
His sinews tender,
But his grasp is strong.
A baby shares the above properties,
He knows not of the union of man and woman,
Yet his male member may arise.
His vitality is high,
He may cry for hours without becoming hoarse,
He manifests pure harmony.
To know this harmony can lead us to enlightenment,
If we combine it with Shen,
And strengthen our vitality.
Use your Heart-Mind to direct the Qi,
But do not use an excess of force,
For this is against Dao.
56. Shut Your Mouth!
One who speaks does not know,
One who knows does not speak.
Shut your mouth,
Close down the senses,
Blunt the sharpness,
End any complications,
Allow the worldly dust to be assimilated into the light,
This is the magical union!
Do not attach to it.
Do not abandon it.
Do not use it for profit.
Do not harm others with it.
Do not honour it or disdain it.
These are deviations from the path…
57. Predictability and Surprise
To rule a kingdom use predictability,
To win a war use surprise,
To find Dao use nothing.
To understand this look at the following patterns:
Rules creates unruly behaviour,
Poverty creates violence and riots,
The more logic we employ,
The more surprises we find,
We increase laws,
Only to create criminals.
The Sage instead sits in Wu-Wei,
And allows his senses to spontaneously alter.
Sits in quietude to give birth to De.
You do not have to interfere to enrich the senses,
You do not need desires and attachments to find the original purity.
58. Delusion and Calamity
When one governs according to the way,
The people will be true.
If one governs in an uncertain way.
The people are deficient and needy.
Good fortune is rooted in calamity,
Misfortune lies behind happiness.
Who can know their destiny?
None; for there is no constant,
We can guarantee that it will soon change and become abnormal.
Good will surely shift towards evil.
The people have been deluded for too long.
The Sage is sharp in wit but not cutting,
He slices through his self-delusion,
He is true in his actions,
Yet he does not over-reach himself.
He attains enlightenment through sitting in darkness.
59. Act Right Away
To govern by the will of Heaven,
Nothing is higher than moderation,
In hearing this; be swift to change.
Strengthen your root and cultivate De.
Manifest De to elevate yourself,
Expand and develop without limit.
From within this expansion the world is born,
A new world forms a new beginning,
This is the root of your training,
And the way to perceive the nature of Dao.
Ruling a great nation is like frying a small fish.
Live according to Dao so that the dark spirits have no power,
Though they are potent,
They cannot harm the people.
Distraction will not disturb the senses,
No Sage will be protected.
Since no harm is being done,
The union which leads to De is certain.
61. World Politics
Dao is like a great lake,
All under Heaven flows into it.
The natural law under Heaven is to follow the feminine,
Through stillness the feminine conquers the masculine.
In order to find stillness, move to the lower point.
In the same way a small nation may bow down to a large nation.
Though the great may overcome the small,
In the end; the small nation will outlive the great,
This is the law of Heaven.
On the whole, a large nation will strive to absorb more people from its neighbours.
A small nation will seek to serve its people and seek harmony.
Both nations may achieve their ends,
But only through attaining harmony will a nation thrive.
62. Help the Lost
Dao is the store-house of the myriad things,
The sanctuary of the Sage.
For non-Sages, the Dao can still give sanctuary.
Do not despise the wicked people,
Inspire them with true words,
Be an example with virtuous actions so that they may see the way to cultivation.
When emperors and officials are appointed they are given jade and horses,
What are these compared to Dao?
This is the reason why the ancients practiced the way of cultivation.
They showed us that those who truly seek transcendence may attain it.
Even those who have lost their way may discover it once more.
This is the way under Heaven.
63. The Power of the Small
Act within the law of Wu-Wei.
Train yourself without meddling.
Taste without tasting.
Make the great small.
Make the many few.
Greet hatred with De.
Get ready for difficulty while it is easy.
Act with greatness though you are small.
All difficult times arise from periods of ease.
Great things arise from small actions.
The Sage knows this; through small actions he achieves great deeds.
Promise given in haste are seldom kept,
Only being comfortable with easy times will in the end bring you great difficulty.
The Sage accepts ease and difficulty equally,
Therefore no difficulty can better him.
64. Step by Step
All problems can be cut off at the source.
That which is stiff is easily broken,
That which is uncertain is easily scattered.
Deal with things before they come to fruition,
Control them before faced with trouble.
A tree too large to be embraced grew from a tiny seed.
The largest structure was built piece by piece.
A long journey begins with one footstep.
Force your actions and you are finished,
Try to grasp something and it will be lost.
The Sage understands Wu-Wei,
He cannot fall in his actions and nothing will slip away from him.
The people of the world compete and strive,
They think they have success but all they achieve is failure.
In contrast; the Sage sheds desires,
He seeks to attain no material wealth.
He frees himself from acquired learning and helps those around him return to the source.
65. World Harmony
The ancients were keen cultivators,
They did not try to shine out against the common people,
They kept their Heart-Minds simple.
It is difficult to govern a nation with acquired knowledge,
Acquired knowledge will bring ruin,
Congenital wisdom is the way to good fortune.
Understanding the above forms a pattern below Heaven,
Knowing this pattern will help in attaining De,
The De will penetrate all depths and reach all corners,
It will lead all of existence back to the source.
The result of this is total harmony.
66. Stay Low
The ocean contains the world’s water because it is low down,
Thus the water runs from the rivers and streams down to it.
In the same way; to rise above the people you must remain below them.
To lead the people remain behind them.
The Sage is truly higher than the people,
Yet they do not feel his weight.
He is clearly in front of them,
Yet he stands in no man’s way.
Under heaven the Sage is without equal,
None tire of exalting him,
None can find a way of contending with him.
67. What is Convention?
People say that my teachings of Dao are against convention,
For sure; this is what makes it great!
If it was ‘conventional thought’ it would be transient!
I truly have three treasures that are mine to own:
The first is compassion,
The second is moderation,
And the third is humility.
With compassion I am fearless,
With moderation I am giving,
With humility I naturally rise to my natural state.
Find these three treasures to attain transcendence,
He who is fearless without compassion,
Giving without being moderate,
Or strives for status is surely destined for destruction.
Fight with compassion to succeed,
Your compassion will make you invulnerable,
The way of Heaven is to guard the people with compassion.
68. The Martial Path
The highest warrior aims to end all fighting,
The skilled fight without anger,
They defeat their opponent without engaging them.
The martial artist stays compliant with his opponent,
He understands the De of non-contending.
He uses his enemy’s strength against them,
If he can do this he is in line with the Heavenly wisdom of the ancients and he will attain perfection.
69. The Rules of Combat
True warriors follow these guidelines:
They do not initiate an attack,
Instead they receive their opponents.
They would rather retreat by a foot,
Than advance by an inch.
The skill is to advance without stepping,
To control without using aggression,
To fight as if there is no enemy.
There is no greater sin than underestimating your opponent,
To presume weakness is to invite defeat.
When two enemies meet,
The yielding will prevail.
70. Why Can You Not Understand?
My teachings are easy to understand and easy to put into practice,
Yet few under Heaven are able to understand and even less are able to follow them.
My words are deeply rooted,
My teachings are of high standing,
If you do not understand my words,
How can you know me?
Understand my teachings and you are a rare person indeed,
Follow my words and heaven will treasure you.
The Sage may wear pauper’s clothes,
But he hides a treasure inside.
71. Longevity and Health
Understanding the rear mind is of prime importance,
Misunderstanding wisdom will lead you nowhere.
Only when you are ready to not be sick,
Will your sickness disappear.
The Sage has no time for sickness,
So his health is good.
This is the key to being healthy.
When the people do not fear trouble,
Bigger troubles will arrive.
Do not oppress people in their home,
Do not control their lives.
Only through freeing the people,
Will the people stop being troublesome.
Do this and you will be like the Sage:
You will know your inner nature with no distraction of the outer form.
He cherishes himself,
But not his outer form.
He discards the false and holds firmly to the real.
73. None Escape Heaven
Being heroic often leads to death,
Being a coward prolongs life.
One seems to bring benefit and the other injury,
But in fact Heaven hates both,
Who knows the reason why?
Even the Sage is confused by this.
Heaven is like Dao;
It does not compete yet it conquers,
It do not speak yet it teaches,
It is not asked for yet it is there.
Progress steadily and plan well,
For you are under Heaven,
Heavens net is wide and none will slip through it.
74. The Law of Dao
If a person does not fear death,
Why threaten them with it?
Perhaps we can cause people to fear death?
Maybe we can threaten trouble makers with execution?
But who would dare to take the role of executor?
Behind every execution is a master who gives the order.
You cannot justify your position as the executor by stating that you are following orders.
Few executors escape causing themselves injury.
75. Practicalities of Practice
The people are poor because the ruler’s tax is high.
They are troublesome because their rulers interfere in their lives.
The people do not consider the nature of their death,
Because they are too concerned with their lives.
Truly only those who can escape the trivialities of life will achieve transcendence.
When we are born we are soft and supple,
When we die we are stiff and hard.
Plants and trees are soft and flexible in life,
They are dry and rigid in death.
So: to be soft and flexible is the way of life,
To be rigid and stiff is the way of death.
The inflexible fighter will be defeated,
The solid tree will be felled,
Thus the mighty will fall whilst the soft will rise.
77. Abundance and Deficiency
The way of Heaven is like drawing a bow,
It brings down that which is high,
It rises up that which is low.
Heaven takes from the abundant and nourishes the deficient.
The Dao of man is the opposite.
He takes from the deficient and gives to the abundant.
Those with an abundance should pay tribute to Heaven and those below it.
This should be the way of the Sage.
The Sage works without wishing for merit or recognition,
This is his Dao.
78. Becoming Soft
Nothing below Heaven is as soft and weak as water,
Yet it may destroy anything.
The weak surpasses the unyielding,
The soft outdo the hard,
Below Heaven this is common knowledge,
Yet so few can adhere to this principle.
The Sage cares for the lowest in the society,
He shows compassion to those with the worst fortune,
This makes him king under Heaven,
This is indeed a paradox.
79. Do Not Despise Others
After peace has been found,
Some hatred will remain.
How can we then ever right a wrong?
The Sage simply upholds his side of any bargain,
Yet does not expect the same of others.
Those with virtue do as they should,
Those without virtue simply frown at others unreliability.
Though Heaven has no preferences,
It supports the virtuous man.
Remain in a small place with few people,
Though they may use tools to benefit them,
They have no interest in great gain.
Let the people place importance upon the process of death and not move far away.
They may have boats and carriages,
But they do not care to use them.
They may have weaponry,
But they do not care for conflict.
The people should live simply,
Not care for fine food or clothes.
The people should enjoy the current moment.
Communities should care for each other,
Let the sound of dogs and roosters float in the air.
The people may die of old age without ever having left their community.
81. Parting Thoughts
The truth can be painful,
Pleasing words are rarely sincere.
The virtuous do not argue,
Those who argue are not virtuous.
The wise are not necessarily educated,
The educated are rarely wise.
The Sage does not seek to attain things for himself,
Instead he helps others and so in turn he gains much,
Heavens way is to give and not do harm,
The Sages way is to act without competing.
by D Mitchell, Copyright © 2012 D Mitchell All rights reserved