81 Chapter Translations & Interpretations

Chapter 31 – Weapons are the tools of violence

Weapons are the tools of violence; all decent men detest them. Weapons are the tools of fear; a decent man will avoid them except in the direst necessity and, if compelled, will use them only with the utmost restraint. Peace is his highest value. If the peace has been shattered, how can he be content? His enemies are not demons, but human beings like himself. He doesn’t wish them personal harm. Nor does he...

Chapter 30 – Just do what needs to be done, and then stop.

Those who wish to use Tao to influence others don’t rely on force or weapons or military strategies. Force rebounds. Weapons turn on their wielders. Battles are inevitably followed by famines. Just do what needs to be done, and then stop. Attain your purpose, but don’t press your advantage. Be resolute, but don’t boast. Succeed, but don’t crow. Accomplish, but don’t...

Chapter 29 – Do you want to improve the world?

Do you want to improve the world? I don’t think it can be done. The world is sacred. It can’t be improved. If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it. If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it. There is a time for being ahead, a time for being behind; a time for being in motion, a time for being at rest; a time for being vigorous, a time for being exhausted; a time for being safe, a time for...

Chapter 28 – Know masculinity, Maintain femininity

Know masculinity, Maintain femininity, and be a ravine for all under heaven. By being a ravine for all under heaven, Eternal integrity will never desert you. If eternal integrity never deserts you, You will return to the state of infancy. Know you are innocent, Remain steadfast when insulted, and be a valley for all under heaven. By being a valley for all under heaven, Eternal integrity will suffice. If eternal...

Chapter 27 – Good walkers leave no tracks.

Good walkers leave no tracks. Good talkers don’t stammer. Good counters don’t use their fingers. The best door is unlocked and unopened. The best knot is not in a rope and can’t be untied. So wise souls are good at caring for people, never turning their back on anyone. They’re good at looking after things, never turning their back on anything. There’s a light hidden here. Good people...

Chapter 26 – heavy is the root of the light.

The heavy is the root of the light. The unmoved is the source of all movement. Thus the Master travels all day without leaving home. However splendid the views, she stays serenely in herself. Why should the lord of the country flit about like a fool? If you let yourself be blown to and fro, you lose touch with your root. If you let restlessness move you, you lose touch with who you are. Support Author: Stephen...

Chapter 25 – formless and perfect before the universe was born

There was something formless and perfect before the universe was born. It is serene. Empty. Solitary. Unchanging. Infinite. Eternally present. It is the mother of the universe. For lack of a better name, I call it the Tao. It flows through all things, inside and outside, and returns to the origin of all things. The Tao is great. The universe is great. Earth is great. Man is great. These are the four great...

Chapter 24 – A man on tiptoe can’t walk easily

A man on tiptoe can’t walk easily. The man who strides on ahead is bound to tire. The kind of person who always insists on his way of seeing things can never learn anything from anyone. Those who always want to be seen will never help others to be. The showman is never secretly respected by anyone. People like these, say the Wise Ones are as useless as the left-over food at the feast: No true follower can...

Chapter 23 – To talk little is natural

To talk little is natural. High winds do not last all morning. Heavy rain does not last all day. Why is this? Heaven and Earth! If heaven and Earth cannot make things eternal, How is it possible for man? He who follows the Tao Is at one with the Tao. He who is virtuous Experiences Virtue. He who loses the way Is lost. When you are at one with the Tao, The Tao welcomes you. When you are at one with Virtue, The Virtue...

Chapter 22 – Allow yourself to yield, and you can stay centered

Allow yourself to yield, and you can stay centered. Allow yourself to bend, and you will stay straight. Allow yourself to be empty, and you’ll get filled up. Allow yourself to be exhausted, and you’ll be renewed. Having little, you can receive much. Having much, you’ll just become confused. Therefore the sage embraces the oneness and becomes a pattern for the whole world. She doesn’t display...

Chapter 21 – The great virtue as manifested is but following Tao.

The great virtue as manifested is but following Tao. Tao is a thing that is both invisible and intangible. Intangible and invisible, yet there are forms in it; Invisible and intangible, yet there is substance in it; Subtle and obscure, there is essence in it; This essence being invariably true, there is faith in it. From of old till now, it has never lost its (nameless) name, Through which the origin of all things...

Chapter 20 – Stop thinking, and end your problems.

Stop thinking, and end your problems. What difference between yes and no? What difference between success and failure? Must you value what others value, avoid what others avoid? How ridiculous! Other people are excited, as though they were at a parade. I alone don’t care, I alone am expressionless, like an infant before it can smile. Other people have what they need; I alone possess nothing. I alone drift...

Chapter 19 – Abolish sagehood and abandon cunning

Abolish sagehood and abandon cunning, the people will benefit a hundredfold; Abolish humaneness and abandon righteousness, the people will once again be filial and kind; Abolish cleverness and abandon profit, bandits and thieves will be no more. These three statements are inadequate as a civilizing doctrine; Therefore, Let something be added to them: Evince the plainness of undyed silk, Embrace the simplicity of...

Chapter 18 – When the great Tao is forgotten

When the great Tao is forgotten, goodness and piety appear. When the body’s intelligence declines, cleverness and knowledge step forth. When there is no peace in the family, filial piety begins. When the country falls into chaos, patriotism is born.   Support Author: Stephen Mitchell Get your copy of this Translation here: Tao Te Ching: An Illustrated Journey by...

Chapter 17 – Who does not trust enough will not be trusted

The very highest if barely known. Then comes that which people know and love. Then that which is feared, Then that which is despised. Who does not trust enough will not be trusted. When actions are performed Without unnecessary speech, People say, “We did it!” Support Authors: Gia-Fu Fen & Jane English Get your copy of this Translation here: Tao Te Ching, 25th-Anniversary Edition by Lao...

Chapter 16 – Attain the climax of emptiness, preserve the utmost quiet

Attain the climax of emptiness, preserve the utmost quiet: as myriad things act in concert, I thereby observe the return. Things flourish, then each returns to its root. Returning to the root is called stillness; stillness is called return to Life, return to Life is called the constant; knowing the constant is called enlightenment. Acts at random, in ignorance of the constant, bode ill. Knowing the constant gives...

Chapter 15 – The ancient Masters were profound and subtle.

The ancient Masters were profound and subtle. Their wisdom was unfathomable. There is no way to describe it; all we can describe is their appearance. They were careful as someone crossing an iced-over stream. Alert as a warrior in enemy territory. Courteous as a guest. Fluid as melting ice. Shapable as a block of wood. Receptive as a valley. Clear as a glass of water. Do you have the patience to wait till your mud...

Chapter 14 – That which we look at and cannot see is called plainness.

That which we look at and cannot see is called plainness. That which we listen to and cannot hear is called rareness. That which we grope for and cannot get is called minuteness. These three cannot be closely examined; So they blend into One. Revealed, it is not dazzling; Hidden, it is not dark. Infinite, it cannot be defined. It goes back to non-existence. It is called the form of the formless, And the image of...

Chapter 52 – Back to the beginning

The beginning of everything is the mother of everything. Truly to know the mother is to know her children, and truly to know the children is to turn back to the mother. The body comes to its ending but there is nothing to fear. Close the openings, shut the doors, and to the end of life nothing will trouble you. Open the openings, be busy with business, and to the end of life nothing can help you. Insight sees the...

Thank you for the video submissions!

Some wonderful speakers wonderful speakers have sent me video of their readings of the Tao Te Ching chapters. I will be uploading many more of them soon. Please use the contact page if you are interested in contributing your video for the site. If accepted, it will be added to the youtube channel and posted here!

« Previous Entries

Designed by Lao Tsu | Contact Contact