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A way (dao) that one can be directed along is not the constant Dao. A name that can be given is not a constant name. Nameless is the beginning of Heaven and Earth. Named is the mother of the myriad creatures.

So, It is always by desirelessness that one sees the hidden (noumenal) aspect, and always by being in a state of having desires that one observes the outer (phenomenal) aspect. These two [aspects of all reality] emerge together and are differently named. Together, they are called the dark and mysterious. The most dark and mysterious of the dark and mysterious Is the portal of the multitudinous wonders.

# 2
Everyone in the world knows the beautiful to be beautiful. Thus there is ugliness. They all know good to be good. Thus there is evil. For being and non-being are mutually produced. Difficult and easy are mutually complemented. Long and short are mutually formed. High and low are mutually opposed. Music and voice mutually harmonize. Fore and aft follow each other. For this reason, the Sage concerns himself only with affairs that involve no active doing, and carries forth a wordless teaching. The myriad creatures arise and he does not deny any of them. They are produced, yet he does not seek to possess them. He acts and yet does not claim compensation for so doing. When he brings meritorious work to completion he takes no credit for it. For only by not taking credit for these accomplishments are the fruits of his activities kept safe.

# 3
Do not elevate the worthies, so that the people shall not contend. Do not value scarce commodities, so that the people shall not become robbers. Do not display desirable things, so that minds shall not become disordered.'' For this reason, the governance of the Sage lies in voiding the minds of the people, filling their bellies, weakening their ambitions, and strengthening their bones. The Sage always causes the people to have no knowledge and no desires and causes the ones who do know not to dare to act. Because [the Sage] engages in non-activity, there is nothing he fails to bring to order.

# 4
The Dao is void, yet when it is put to use it would seem that it cannot be filled up. Abyss-like, it seems to be the ancestor of the myriad creatures. It dulls their sharpness, releases their tangles, harmonizes their brightness, and unites their dust. It is deep-entering, as though existing. I do not know whose progeny it is, but it images the state before God.

# 5
Heaven and Earth are not benevolent. They take the myriad creatures to be straw dogs. The Sage is not benevolent. He takes the common people to be straw dogs.

The space between Heaven and Earth is like a bellows. It is void and yet does not collapse. The more it moves the more it sends out.

An excess of talk [aimed at fathoming the universe] is fated to become impoverished. It is better to hold [it] inside.


The valley spirit does not die. It is called the dark and mysterious female. The portal of the dark and mysterious female is called the root of heaven and earth. It has a kind of wispy continuity as though existing. Use it without exertion. # 7
The highest good is like water. Water is good at benefitting the myriad creatures and does not contend. It takes its position in the places people hate, and so it approximates to the Dao.

The site makes a residence good. Depth makes a mind good. Benevolence makes giving good. Trustworthiness makes words good. Being able to put things in order makes government good. Being able to make actual accomplishments make activities good. Timeliness makes movements good.

Now only by not contending can there be the absence of animosity.

# 8

# 9
To grasp at things and seek to fulfill them is not as good as letting them be finished. [The blade] that is tested and sharpened cannot be long protected. If gold and jade fill one's halls no one can guard them successfully. Being proud because of wealth and noble status calls down its own retribution. The Way of Heaven is that when one's accomplishments have been made <and fame follows> one should retire from the scene. # 10
Nurture the dark soul and embrace unity. Can you do so without fail? Focus the lifebreath, making it as supple as possible. Can you in so doing be like an infant? In cleaning up the dark and mysterious vision, can you be without defect? In loving the people and ordering the kingdom, can you be without forceful activity. In the opening and closing of the portal of heaven, can you play the female part? Although your awareness reaches to all points, can you yet remain without the use of knowledge?

Give birth to them, nurture them. And yet while giving birth to them do not possess them and while acting (i.e., nurturing) claim no credit. Though senior to them do not rule over them. This is called the dark and mysterious virtue.

# 11
Thirty spokes surround one hub. At that point of void lies the utility of the cart. Mold clay to make pots. In the void lies the functionality of the vessel. Fashion doors and windows in order to make a dwelling. In the void lies the functionality of the house. So what is substantial [in each case] provides the configuration and what is void provides the functionality.

# 12
The five colors blind people's eyes. The five notes of the scale deafen people's ears. The five flavors make people's palates go stale. Galloping about and hunting deranges people's minds. Scarce commodities make people do injurious deeds. For this reason the Sage acts for the belly and not for the eyes. So he gets rid of that and takes this.

# 13
Favor and disgrace [both] produce alarm. A source of great travail is one's self. What is meant by saying ``Favor and disgrace produce alarm?'' He who is favored is someone's inferior. Receiving favor and losing it both cause alarm. That is what is meant by saying that ``Favor and disgrace produce alarm.'' What is meant by saying ``A source of great travail is one's self?'' The reason I [can] have a great travail is that I have a self. Should I no longer have a self then what travail could there be? So those who take their selves as more valuable than ruling the world may be given custody of the world. Those who love themselves more than ruling the world may be entrusted with the world.

# 14
What eludes observation is called yi (level). What escapes hearing is called xi (silent). What is impalpable is called wei (minute). These three cannot be further pursued, so I meld them together as One. Its upper part is not bright. Its lower part is not dark. Unending, it cannot be adequately named and so returns to the status of nothingness. This is called the formless form, the image without a thing to be imaged. This is called impalpable and intangible. Going out to meet it we do not see its head. Following it we do not see its end. Grasp the Dao of antiquity to manage what is here today. Be able to know the ancient beginnings. [The chain from antiquity to the present] is called the Thread running through the Dao.

# 15
Those of old who were good at being knight-scholars were subtle, were possessed of ineffable efficacy, and were in dark and mysterious confluence, so profound that they could not be perceived. Only because they cannot be perceived do I give them a forced description. Cautious as though crossing a [frozen] stream in wintertime, apprehensive as though in fear of people on all four sides, deferential like a guest. Riven like ice on the verge of melting. Wholesome like the Uncarved Block. Accepting like a valley. Turbid as though having been muddled. Who can be muddled in order to gradually become clear? Who can be tranquil in order that activity will gradually stir? Those who are protected in this Dao will not desire fullness. For only by not being full is one able to be tattered and yet newly complete.

# 16
Promote the heights of vacuity. Preserve the wholesomeness of tranquility. The myriad creatures arise side by side and [prepared by having maintained vacuity and tranquility] I observe their recapitulations. For these creatures in profusion each return once more to their root. To return to the root is called tranquility, which in turn is called submitting again to Heaven's mandate. Returning to Heaven's mandate is called being constant. Knowing the constant is called enlightenment. Should one not know the constant, one would wantonly commit evil deeds. By knowing the constant one can accept. By accepting one is impartial. By being impartial one is kingly. By being kingly one is in concord with Heaven. By being in concord with Heaven one is on the Dao. By being on the Dao one is long-lasting, and even though one should lose one's body one would not be endangered.

# 17
The people do not know that the Highest exists. They praise and seek to get close to those on the next level. They fear those on the next level, and despise those on the level below that.

``When trust is inadequate there will be untrustworthiness.''

How remote they appear in their [valuing words =] unwillingness to speak lightly. When their accomplishments come to fruition and events follow therefrom in their natural course, then the common people all say: ``We did it of our own accord.''

# 18
When the great Dao is abandoned there then appear benevolence and righteousness. When intelligence and knowledge come into being there then appears great artifice. When the six kinds of kin are no longer in harmony then filial piety and parental compassion appear. When the realm is in disorder then there come to be loyal ministers.

# 19
Extirpate sageliness, discard wisdom, and the people will be benefitted a hundredfold. Extirpate benevolence, discard righteousness, then the people will return to filial piety and parental compassion. Extirpate cleverness, discard profit, then robbers and thieves will be no more. The [foregoing] three [principles] are inadequately ornamented, and so I cause them to have [provisional maxims] under which they are subsumed: Display the Unbleached Fabric and embrace the Uncarved Block. Lessen selfish interests and decrease desires. [Extirpate study and have no worries.]

# 20
Extirpate study and there will no longer be worries. What difference is there between a sound of compliance and an angry rebuff? How far is good from evil? ``What people fear one cannot fail to fear.'' How wild and far off the mark! The multitudes are joyous as though partaking in the tai-lao sacrifice, or as though ascending the terraces in springtime. I alone am placid like something before there is even an inkling of it, like an infant before it has learned to smile. Dispirited, as though having no place to which to return. The multitudes all have an excess, and I alone seem to have a deficit. I have the mind of a stupid person, so chaotic. The ordinary people scintillate; I alone am muddled. The ordinary people are very prying, I alone am closed off. [They are] agitated like the sea, blown like [they] would never stop. The multitudes of people all have their goals. I alone am an obstinate fool and seem uncouth. I alone am different from others and value taking sustenance from the Mother.

# 21
The greatest virtue's ability to accept follows only from the Dao. The Dao takes its guise as a creature only impalpably and intangibly. Intangible and impalpable there are foreshadowings within it. Impalpable and intangible there are creatures within it. Secluded and obscure, there is vitality within it. Its vitality is exceedingly genuine. Within it there is regularity. From antiquity down to the present its true name has never been cast aside, and so by means of that true name the progenitor of the multitudes is to be inspected. How do I know the guises of the progenitor of the multitudes? By this.

# 22
``Crumpled then whole, twisted then straight, sunken-in then full, tattered then new, having little then acquiring much, having much then being made deluded''---for these reasons, the Sage embraces the One to become the standard for the world. He does not show himself off and so is luminous. He does not justify himself and so is illustrious. He does not boast of himself and so has merit. He does not brag on himself and so is senior to the rest. For only by his not being contentious does it happen that none in the world can contend with him. How could it have been empty words when the ancients said: ``Crumpled then whole?'' Verily such a one shall return whole to his source.

# 23
To be taciturn is the way of nature. For a gale cannot last the whole morning. A torrential rain cannot last the entire day. What makes them? Heaven and Earth. How can humans make things endure for long when not even Heaven and Earth can do so? So in engaging in activities, those who act in accord with the Dao are akin to the Dao, those who act in accord with Virtue are akin to Virtue, and those who act in accord with Loss are akin to Loss. Those who act in accord with the Dao are welcomed by the Dao. Those who act in accord with Virtue are welcomed by Virtue. Those who act in accord with Loss are welcomed by Loss.

``When trust is inadequate, there will be untrustworthiness.''

# 24
Those who rise on tiptoe do not stand firm. Those who straddle as wide as possible cannot move. Those who show themselves off are not luminous. Those who justify themselves are not illustrious. Those who boast of themselves have no merit. Those who brag on themselves do not stand senior to others. In respect of the Dao, these [behaviors] are said to be leftovers and excrescences. Creatures always loath them, and so those who have the Dao do not involve themselves therewith.

# 25
There is a thing that was turbidly formed, born before Heaven and Earth. Solitary and vacant, it stands alone and unchanging. It reaches everywhere without falling into any danger. It can be the mother of the world. I know not its taboo name. To serve as a name-for-outsiders I call it Dao, and if forced to provide a taboo name will call it the Great. Being great means going forward. Going forward means being far. Being far means turning back on itself. So the Dao is great, Heaven is great, Earth is great, and the king is also great. Within the domain there are four greats, and the the king is one of them. Humans model themselves on Earth, Earth models itself on Heaven, Heaven models itself on the Dao, and the Dao models itself on what is as it is in itself.

# 26
Heaviness is the root of lightness. Tranquility is the ruler of agitation. For this reason, the Sage travels all day without departing from his heavy-framed vehicle. Only when there are encircling way stations does he reside at his ease in seclusion.

How can a ruler of a myriad chariots treat himself with levity compared to the [things of the] world?

If one [abandons oneself to] levity then one loses one's roots, and if one becomes agitated then one will lose one's autonomy.

# 27
Good traveling leaves no ruts. Good speech gives rise to no reproach. Good reckoning does not depend on counting slips. Good closures need no bars and yet cannot be opened. Good bonds employ no rope and yet cannot be undone. For this reason the Sage is always good at saving people and so none is abandoned. He is always good at saving creatures and so none is abandoned. [This condition] is called practicing brightness. So the good person is the teacher of those who are not good, and people who are not good are the raw materials for those who are good. Should one fail to value his teacher or fail to love his raw materials, then although he might be knowledgeable, he would be yet greatly deluded. This is spoken of as the cardinal mystery.

# 28
Know the male, but keep to the female and be thus a valley to the world. When one is a valley to the world, the constant virtue will not desert one and one will return to the state of being an infant. Know the white but keep to the black and be thus a model to the world. If one is a model to the world, then the constant virtue will not decline and you will return to the limitless. Know glory but keep to disgrace and so be a valley to the world. If one is a valley to the world then constant virtue will be sufficient and you will return to the Uncarved Block. When the Uncarved Block is cut asunder it then becomes utensils. [But] should a Sage use such a man, that person would become a senior official. Truly great fabrication does not involve cutting.

# 29
Should one desire to take the world and control it, I see that there would be no end [to one's involvement]. The world is a holy vessel and cannot be controlled. Those who try to control it harm it. Those who clutch at it lose it. For some things go before and some things follow. Some things snort and some things blow. Some things are strong and some things are puny. Some things are nurtured and others are destroyed. For that reason the Sage gets rid of extremes, extravagances, and excesses.

# 30
Those who use the Dao to aid the masters of men do not employ weapons to take the world by force. That tactic is good at recoiling upon its origin: Where armies have trodden thorns and brambles spring up. After the great armies there must follow bad years. In the case of the good use of armies, they are employed only until results are obtained and nobody dares use them to grab power. When results are obtained they dare not brag. When results are obtained they dare not boast. When results are obtained they dare not be arrogant. When results are obtained it is solely because there was no other way out. When results are obtained they do not try to dominate. When creatures come to their prime they begin to age. That is spoken of as the Dao (course) of retrograde action. What is on the retrograde Dao is soon finished.

# 31
Excellent weapons are inauspicious instruments. Creatures always abhor them. So those who have the Dao do not become involved with them. When the ruler resides at peace he values the left, and when he takes up arms he values the right. Arms are inauspicious instruments, not the instruments fit for a noble man. Only when there is no alternative does he resort to them. [And then] placidity and blandness are the best. He does not regard victory as glorious. Those who glorify victory exult in killing people. Now those who exult in killing people cannot achieve their aspirations in this world. For auspicious affairs one elevates the left. For inauspicious affairs one elevates the right. The lieutenant generals take their stations on the left. The full generals reside on the right. [Because the right is the side of mourning, the above discussion] means one ought to treat [military] affairs with the rites of mourning. Because of the large numbers of people who are killed, they are to be wept for with sorrow. Victory in war should be treated with the rites of mourning.

# 32
The Dao is always nameless. Although the Uncarved Block is insignificant, nothing in the world can subordinate it. If the lords and kings can hold fast to it, then the myriad creatures will come to be their vassals of their own accord.

Heaven and Earth will couple in order to let the sweet dew fall. Although no people shall so command, the [distribution of sweet dew] will be equitable of its own accord.

Only after fabrication occurs are there names, and once there are names people ought to know where to stop, for by knowing where to stop they can escape danger.

For example, the Dao in relation to the world is like the way the streams and valleys supply [water to] the rivers and oceans.

# 33
Those who know other people are knowledgeable.
Those who know themselves are enlightened.

Those who overcome other people are forceful.
Those who overcome themselves are strong.

Those who know when they have enough are rich.
Those who act strongly have aspirations.

Those who do not lose their positions are long enduring.
Those who die and yet do not perish have life everlasting.

# 34
The great Dao reaches everywhere without regard to direction. The myriad creatures depend on it to reproduce themselves and be born, and none are denied. When accomplishments are made [the Dao] does not claim them. It feeds and clothes the myriad creatures and does not act as their master. Constantly without desire [in regard of the myriad creatures] it can be called insignificant. The myriad creatures take refuge therein and yet it does not act as their master, so it can be called great. Because it never takes itself to be great it can therefore accomplish its own greatness.

# 35
Grasp the great Image and [all in] the world will approach. They approach and are not injured, thus great is their peace and tranquility. When there is music and food, the passing travellers will stop in. [But] the Dao when expressed in words is found bland and flavorless, when looked at provides nothing to see, when listened to provides nothing to hear. [Yet] when put into use, there is no way to exhaust it.

# 36
If one would contract something, then one must first resolutely spread it out. If one would weaken something, then one must first resolutely strengthen it. If one would have a thing be discarded one must first resolutely cause it to flourish. If one would seize something one must first resolutely give it away. This [approach] is called subtle discernment. The pliant and weak overcome the rigid and strong. [So] fish cannot leave the depths and the sharp instruments of the state cannot be shown [to threaten] the people.

# 37
The Dao never employs forceful action yet there is nothing it fails to do. If the lords and rulers can hold to it, then the myriad creatures will transform themselves of their own accord. Should desire rise up [even] after they have transformed, I will tranquilize it with the nameless Uncarved Block. [By reason of] the nameless Uncarved Block, the [myriad creatures] too will in future become desireless. Their having been stilled by desirelessness, the world will become settled of its own accord.

# 38
The highest virtue is not virtuous and for that reason has [true] virtue. The lesser virtue does not lose virtue and for that reason does not have [true] virtue. The highest virtue does not engage in [forceful] activity and so uses nothing to do things. <The lesser virtue does things and uses something to do so.> The highest benevolence does things and does so by means of nothing. The highest righteousness does things and does so by means of something. The highest propriety does things and if nothing responds to what it does then it thrusts out its forearms and forces them. So after the Dao is lost there is virtue. After virtue is lost, there is benevolence. After benevolence is lost, there is righteousness. After righteousness is lost, there is propriety. Now propriety is the husk of faithfulness and trust and the beginning of disorder. The initial discernments are the detritus of the Dao and the beginnings of ignorance. For this reason the great man abides in the substantial parts and does not tarry in the husk. He abides in the solid parts and does not tarry in the detritus. So he rejects that and accepts this.

# 39
Of those in ancient times who attained unity: Heaven attained unity in order to be pure. Earth attained unity in order to be stable. Spirits attained unity in order to be responsive. The valleys attained unity in order to be full. The myriad creatures attained unity in order to reproduce. The lords and kings attained unity in order to become the correct ones in the world. [It is unity that] brings them to this height. If Heaven did not have what it takes to be pure, it would probably become rent. If Earth did not have the means to be stable, it would probably quake. If the spirits did not have the means to be responsive, they would probably dissipate. If the valleys did not have the means to be filled, they would probably become exhausted. If the myriad creatures did not have the means to reproduce, they would probably become extinct. If the lords and kings did not have the means to be noble and exalted, they would probably fall. So the noble takes the ignoble as its base, and the high takes the low as its foundation. For this reason the lords and kings speak of themselves as the orphaned, the bereaved, and the unworthy. Is this not taking the ignoble as one's base? Is this not so? So the highest degree of good repute is to have no good repute. Be not glistening like jade [but] stony like rock.

# 40
Recirculation is [characteristic of] the motion of the Dao. Weakness is [characteristic of ] the functioning of the Dao. The myriad creatures of the world are produced out of things that exist. Existence is produced from non-existence.

# 41
When the superior knight-scholar hears of the Dao, he diligently puts it into practice. When the average knight-scholar hears of the Dao, it is half as though he preserves [the concept of] it in his mind and half as though it is lost. When the inferior knight-scholar hears of the Dao, he laughs uproariously at the notion. If such a one did not laugh at it, it would be something too inadequate to be the Dao. So an established saying states that the brightness of the Dao seems like darkness, the advance of the Dao seems like retreat, the level Dao seems rough, the superior virtue seems like a gully, the whitest white seems sullied, ample virtue seems inadequate, firmly established virtue seems stealthy, pristine virtue seems polluted, the greatest square has no corners, the greatest vessels are completed late, the greatest sound is inaudible, the greatest image has no form. The Dao hides itself in namelessness. Now only the Dao is good at bestowing [things upon the creatures of the world] and bringing [them] to completion.

# 42
The Dao produced the One. The One produced the Two. The Two produced the Three. And the Three produced the myriad creatures. The myriad creatures bear Yin on their backs and embrace Yang. They blend lifebreaths in order to create a harmony. People abominate nothing more than to be orphaned, bereaved, and unworthy, yet the lords and kings take these [terms] as their appellations. So creatures may be worn away and thereby augmented, or they may be augmented and thereby worn away.

What other people teach I also teach: ``Ruffians will come to no good end.'' I take this as my precept.

# 43
The most pliant things in the world ride roughshod over the hardest. Non-being enters even where there is no fissure. For this reason I know the benefit of non-action. Few in the world can attain to [comprehension of] the wordless teaching or to the benefits of non-activity.

# 44
Which is dearer to you, your [good] name or your life? Which [counts] more with you, your person or your material goods? Which is the more injurious, gain or loss? For these reasons, extreme love must involve great costs and great accumulations must involve heavy losses. Knowing when you have enough [means] no ignominy, and knowing when to stop [means] no danger, so one can long endure.

# 45
The greatest accomplishment seems to have imperfections, yet there is no impairment in its function. The greatest fullness is like vacuity, yet in use it is never exhausted. The greatest straightness is like crookedness. The greatest knack is like clumsiness. The greatest eloquence is like stumbling speech. Agitation overcomes the cold, tranquility overcomes the heat. The pure and tranquil are the correct ones in the world.

# 46
When the Dao prevails in the world, fleet-footed horses are turned back [to the fields] in order to fertilize them. When the Dao does not prevail in the world, war horses are foaled in the outskirts of the cities. {There is no greater transgression than condoning desire.) There is no greater disaster than failing to know when you have enough. There is no greater retribution than acquisitiveness. So the adequacy of knowing when you have enough is [itself] a constant adequacy.

# 47
Know the whole world without going outdoors. Perceive the Dao of Heaven without peeking out the window. The further one goes the less one knows. For this reason the Sage knows without going anywhere, perceives clearly without looking, and makes accomplishments without doing anything.

# 48
One who engages in study is daily increased. One who engages in the Dao is daily diminished. Diminish and once again diminish until there is no activity. When there is no activity there is nothing that will not be done. One always takes the world by means of not meddling. When one meddles then one is inadequate to take the world.

# 49
The Sage has no constant mind. He takes the minds of the common people to be his own.

Those who are good I treat as good. Those who are not good I also treat as good. Thereby I gain goodness. The trustworthy I trust. The untrustworthy I also trust. Thereby I gain trust.

The Sage is closed off in respect to the world. For the sake of the world the Sage muddles his mind. The common people all strain their eyes and ears. [Yet] the Sage treats them all as little children.

# 50
Emerging is being born; entering is dying. Three out of ten are disciples of life. Three out of ten are disciples of death. Three out of ten move in the course of their lives toward the realm of death. For what reason? Because they would augment the richness of life. Now I have heard that those who are good at aiding life when travelling on land do not encounter rhinoceroses and tigers. When they enter armed conflict they need not bear arms or armour. There is nowhere for the rhinoceros to gore with its horn. The tiger finds no place to sink its claws. Weapons find no place to lodge their blades. Why? Because there is no death-place in him.

# 51
The Dao produces them. Virtue nurtures them. Creatures give them form. Power configurations bring them to completion. For that reason none of the myriad creatures fails to respect the Dao and to revere virtue. No one orders this respect for the Dao and reverence of virtue, for it always occurs of its own accord. So the Dao produces them <and virtue> cultivates them, fosters them, nurtures them, gives them refuge, gives them peace, rears them, and shelters them. It produces them without seeking to possess them and acts without exacting gratitude. It is senior to them yet does not rule over them. It is called the dark and mysterious virtue.

# 52
The world has a beginning that acts as its mother. Once one attains to the mother, one can know the child. Having known the child, return to holding to the mother. Then one will be in no danger though one should lose one's body. Plug your orifices, close your gates, and you will be toil-free to the end of your life. If you open your orifices in order to aid in your endeavors then you will never be rescued to the end of your days. To see the minute is called discernment. To hold to the pliant is called strength. To use your inner light to return once more to discernment and thus avoid abandoning yourself to danger is to depend on the Constant.

# 53
Should I have the least bit of knowledge, fear only that I might use it as I set out upon the great Dao. The great Dao is very smooth, yet people prefer the shortcuts. If the court is immaculate, the fields will grow wild and the granneries will become very empty. To wear embroidered robes and strap on sharp swords, to satiate oneself with food and drink, and to have an excess of wealth and possessions [at such a time] is called banditry and excess. Oh! How such activities go against the Dao.

# 54
What is well built cannot be pulled up. What is well clasped cannot slip free. By these means one's sons and grandsons will offer sacrifice unendingly. If it is cultivated in one's person, then virtue will be genuine. If it is cultivated in one's family, then virtue will be ample. If it is cultivated in one's local community, then virtue will be enduring. If it is cultivated in one's kingdom, then virtue will be plentiful. If it is cultivated in the world, then virtue will be universal. So observe each person in terms of that person himself, observe each family in terms of that family itself, observe each community in terms of that community itself. Observe each kingdom in terms of that kingdom itself. Observe the world in terms of the world itself. How do I know the way the world is? By this.

# 55
One possessing the fullness of virtue may be compared to a newborn baby. Hornets, scorpions, vipers, and snakes cannot sting [the newborn baby]. The fierce beasts do not pounce upon it. The raptors do not sink their talons into it. The baby's bones are pliant, his muscles weak, yet his grip is firm. He has never known the coupling of male and female, yet has a full erection. That is the height of vitality. He cries the entire day yet does not become hoarse. That is the perfection of harmony. To know harmony is said to be constant. To know constancy is said to be enlightenment. To augment life is said to be inauspicious. For the heart and mind to exert compulsion on the lifebreath is said to be forcing things. When creatures come to their prime they begin to age. That is spoken of as the dao (course) of retrograde action. What is on the retrograde dao is soon finished.

# 56
Those who know do not talk. Those who talk do not know. [So:] Stop up your orifices. Close your doors. Blunt your sharpness. Release your tangles. Harmonize your lights. Make same your dust. So doing is called the dark and mysterious identity. Therefore [those who have attained to the mysterious identity] cannot be made to be intimate, and they cannot be alienated. They cannot be benefited, and they cannot be injured. They cannot be ennobled, and they cannot suffer degradation. Therefore they are noble among all those in the world.

# 57
Govern the kingdom with uprightness. Use weapons of war with guile. Take the world by means of non-doing. How do I know the way it is? By this: If there are many prohibitions in the world, then the people will become even poorer. If the people have many sharp weapons then the kingdom will become even more chaotic. If the people have many tricks then abnormal things will abound. If laws and commandments proliferate, then there will be large numbers of bandits and robbers. So the Sage says: I do nothing and the people transform of their own accord. I like tranquility and the people rectify themselves. I do not (have things to do =) meddle and the people themselves prosper. I have no desires and the people themselves come to the state of the Uncarved Block.

# 58
When governance is stifled the people will be wholesome. When governance is exacting, the people will be shifty. Good fortune depends on disaster, and disaster [in turn] is concealed in good fortune. Who knows the end [of this cyclical process] or [the extent of] its irregularity? The straightforward changes into guile. Good changes into what is pernicious. This has indeed baffled people for a long time. For this reason the Sage squares yet does not cut. He is probing yet does no one injury. He is straight and yet does not force things into line. He is radiant and yet does not dazzle.

# 59
There is nothing as good as frugality for regulating the people and for serving Heaven. Now only frugality can be called an early compliance. An early compliance is spoken of as a double accumulation of virtue. When virtue is doubly accumulated, then there is nothing that is not overcome. When there is nothing that is not overcome, then no one knows your limit. When no one knows your limit, then you may possess the kingdom. When you have the mother of the kingdom, you can be long enduring. That is spoken of as the deep root, the firm-set trunk, the Way to long life and enduring vision.

# 60
Regulating a large country is like boiling small fish. When the Dao is used to oversee the world, then its negative (contractive) forces of nature will not act as positive (expansive) forces. Not [only] will its negative (contractive) forces not become positive (expansive) forces, [even] its spirits will not (pierce =) injure humans. Not [only] will its spirits not injure humans, [even] extraordinarily talented humans will not injure people. Now when these two do not injure each other, then virtuous interaction will return thereto.

# 61
A large country is at the low end of the watershed. It takes the role of the female in the world. In the interactions that take place in the world, the female always overcomes the male by means of her tranquility. Because of her tranquility the female is the lower one. {Therefore it is appropriate that she be lower.} So if the large country takes the lower position with regard to the smaller countries, it can then take the smaller countries. If the smaller countries take the lower position with regard to the larger country, then they can {be} take{n by} the larger country. So either one is lower in order to take, or lower in order to be taken. The larger country only desire to foster all of the people. The smaller countries only desire to enter into the service of others. Now when the two sides each have gotten what they desire, it is appropriate that the larger country still take the lower role.

# 62
The Dao is sanctum for the myriad creatures. It is the treasure of the good person, and what protects the person who is not good. How can people who are not good be abandoned? Beautiful words can be marketed [to people]. Fine behavior can be presented to people. So in enthroning a Son of Heaven or in installing one of the three great ministers, reverently offering a jade ceremonial disk as a preliminary to presenting a chariot and team of four is not as good as kneeling to offer this Dao. Why was this Dao esteemed in antiquity? Is it not said: ``By it one attains with {out?} seeking. By it one escapes from one's transgressions?'' Therefore it is prized by the world.

# 63
Act by nonaction. Do by not doing. Find flavor in blandness. Magnify the small. Augment the few. Respond to enmity with virtue. Solve difficult problems while they are still easy. Do great tasks while they are yet small. The difficult problems of the world must be solved while they are still easy. The great tasks of the world must be done while they are still small. For this reason the Sage never undertakes great projects, and so he can accomplish great things. When acquiescence is given lightly, trust must be diminished. When things are oversimplified, difficulty must be magnified. So the Sage treats things as even more difficult [than they would seem to be], and [so] in the end there is no difficulty.

# 64
It is easy to maintain control of things while they are still quiescent. It is easy to plan for them before they have given any inkling. When things are crisp, they are easy to shear off. When things are minute, they are easily dispersed. Do it before they come into existence! Regulate them before they become disordered! A tree of two spans starts as the finest filament. A tower of nine stories begins by heaping up dirt. A journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's feet. Those who do things defeat [their goals]. Those who clutch at things lose them. For that reason the Sage has no activity and so suffers no defeats. He clutches at nothing and so loses nothing. In pursuing their objectives the people constantly fail when they are about to succeed. If you are as careful of conclusions as you are of beginnings, then you will not ruin things. For that reason the Sage desires not to desire, and does not value scarce commodities. He learns non-learning, in order to return to what the multitudes have passed by, and thereby can aid in the natural processes of the myriad creatures without daring to act forcefully.

# 65
Those of antiquity who were good at the practice of the Dao did not enlighten people---rather, they made them ignorant. The people are difficult to regulate when they are too clever. So to use cleverness to regulate a country is to do injury to the country. To not use cleverness to regulate a country is to be a benefactor to the country. Knowing these two alternatives constitutes a model. Having a constant awareness of this model is called the dark and mysterious virtue. The dark and mysterious virtue is profound and remote. It is opposed to [the ordinary inclinations of] creatures and so comes into a great confluence [with the total process of the universe].

# 66
The reason that the great rivers and the seas can be the kings of the hundred valleys is that they are good at lying beneath them. Thus they can be the kings of the hundred valleys. So if one would be superior to people, one must by words put oneself beneath them. If one would lead the people, one must put one's person (i.e., interests) behind them. For that reason, although the Sage is on top, the people do not perceive him to be a burden. Although he is in front of them, the people do not take that to be an injury. So the world takes joy in pushing him to the fore and does not become tired of him. Because he does not contend, no one in the world can contend with him.

# 67
Everyone in the world says that my Dao is great and yet it does not seem so. Now only because it is great does it not seem so. If it seemed so, then long would it have been petty. I have three treasures that I uphold and protect: The first is called compassion, the second is called thrift, the third is not being willing to be first in the world. Being compassionate, one is able to be brave. Being thrifty one is able to be generous. Not being willing to be first in the world, one is able to become the Chief Agent [of the processes of the universe that constitute the manifestations of the Dao]. Now should one abandon compassion and yet seek to act bravely, should one abandon thrift and yet seek to be generous, or abandon one's position at the rear and yet seek to be foremost, then it will be fatal. And if one wages war with compassion then one will win. If one seeks to defend something using compassion then it will be secure. What Heaven will give salvation, it protects by means of compassion.

# 68
Those who are good at being knights are not martial. Those who are good at warfare do not rage. Those who are good at overcoming their adversaries do not join issue. Those who are good at employing others put themselves beneath them. That is called the virtue of non-contention. That is called the power to employ others. That is called the perfection attained by becoming a match with Heaven.

# 69
There is a saying about using armed forces. ``I dare not be the host (i.e., the initiator) and instead become the guest. I dare not advance an inch, but rather retreat a foot.'' That is called to make troop movements without form, shoving aside without a forearm, destroying without involving an enemy, and wielding arms without there being a weapon. There is no greater disaster than underestimating one's enemy. If one were to underestimate one's enemy that would be tantamount to losing one's treasures. So when troops of equivalent strength are opposed, the side that goes into battle with sorrow will win.

# 70
My words are extremely easy to know and extremely easy to put into practice. No one in the world is able to know them or to put them into operation. [My] sayings have ancestors, and events have rulers. Now only because they do not know them do they not (know =) understand me. Those who know me are few, and so I am precious. For that reason the Sage cloaks himself with a rough garment and holds his jade to his bosom.

# 71
To know that you do not know is the best. To not know that you {do not} know is a defect. Now only by treating defect as defect can you be without defect. The Sage is without defect because he treats [all] defects as defects and so is without defect.

# 72
When the people do not fear terrible things, then the great terrors arrive. [Therefore:] Do not restrict the range of their daily activities. Do not oppress them in their livelihood. Now it is only by not oppressing them that they will not find your presence oppressive. For this reason the Sage knows himself but does not show himself. He loves himself but does not exalt himself. So he rids himself of that and accepts this.

# 73
When one is brave at acting bold then one will be killed. When one is brave at not acting bold then one will live. [Of] these two [one] may involve benefit [and one may involve] injury. Who knows the reason for what Heaven hates. <For that reason the Sage treats it as especially difficult.> The Dao of Heaven does not contend and yet is good at winning, does not speak and yet is good at responding, does not summon yet things come to it of their own accord, is in repose and yet good at laying plans. The vast net of Heaven is coarse, yet nothing escapes it.

# 74
If the people do not fear death, how can anyone use [the threat of] death to intimidate them? Supposing the people to be caused to be constantly in fear of death and at the same time to regard it as an unusual event---should I [be prepared to] seize and have them killed then who would dare [perform the execution]? There is always an executioner to do the killing. To take the place of the executioner to kill is said to be [like] taking the place of the great lumberman to chop wood. Now one who takes the place of the great lumberman to chop wood seldom avoids injuring his own hand.

# 75
The reason that the people starve is that their superiors consume so much tax grain. For this reason do they starve. The reason the people are difficult to govern is that their superiors are officious. For this reason are they difficult to govern. The reason the people view death lightly is that their superiors seek to augment the richness of life. For this reason do they view death lightly. Now only those who do not do things to augment life are good at valuing life.

# 76
In life people are soft and supple. In death they are hard and rigid. Among the myriad creatures, the grasses and trees in life are pliant and crisp, But in death they are brittle and withered. So the hard and rigid are the disciples of death, and the soft and supple are the disciples of life. For that reason, when armies are powerful they will not win. When trees are rigid they will be terminated. The rigid and large take the lower position while the soft and supple take the upper position.

# 77
The Dao of Heaven (i.e., the process of the universe) is like the drawing of a bow---the high end [of the bow] is pulled down and the low end is pulled up. What has an excess is depleted and what is inadequate is augmented. The Dao of Heaven works to deplete whatever has an excess and to augment whatever is inadequate. The dao of human beings is not this way. It depletes what is already inadequate to present to what already has an excess. Who can have a surplus to present to the world? Only those who have the Dao. For that reason the Sage acts without exacting gratitude. When his accomplishments are made he does not dwell on them, such is his unwillingness to manifest his worthiness.

# 78
There is nothing in the world more soft and supple than water. But nothing can surpass it for attacking the hard and rigid because there is nothing by which they can change it. None in the world fail to know that the supple overcomes the rigid and that the soft overcomes the hard, but none can put this knowledge into practice. For that reason the Sage says: He who receives the dirt of the kingdom is called the master of the shrine to Earth and Millet. He who takes up the inauspicious affairs of the kingdom is called the king of the world. Correct sayings seem to have things turned upside-down.

# 79
After harmonizing a great grievance there must remain a residue of enmity. How can that be regarded as good? For that reason the Sage takes the left portion of the contract tally rather than trying to make (contractual) demands on people. Those who have virtue take charge of [fulfilling obligations of] the contract. Those who have no virtue take charge of exaction. The Dao of Heaven has no one to whom it is close by birth. It always gives to the good person.

# 80
Diminish the size and population of a country. Let them have the utensils of squads and platoons yet be unwilling to use them. Let the people take death as a serious matter and so not venture far away, and even though they have boats and carts, not ride in them. Even though they have shields and edged weapons, let them not ever display them. Let the people revert to recording information by knotting cords. Let them relish their food, find their clothing beautiful, be content with their dwellings, and take joy in their customs. Although they be within sight of neighboring kingdoms, so that they can hear each others' dogs and roosters, let them never visit back and forth all the days of their lives.

# 81
Trustworthy words are not fine-sounding, and fine-sounding words are not trustworthy. Good people do not engage in disputation, and those who engage in disputation are not good people. Those who are wise are not erudite, and those who are erudite are not wise. The Sage does not accumulate things. Since what he does is for the people he has more than enough for himself. Since he gives things to the people he has even more himself. The Dao of Heaven benefits and does not injure. The Dao of the Sage does things and does not contend.