81 Chapter Translations & Interpretations

Chapter 11 – Thirty spokes join at a hub

  Thirty spokes join at a hub: their use for the cart is where they are not. When the potter’s wheel makes a pot, the use of the pot is precisely where there is nothing. When you open the doors and windows for a room, it is where there is nothing that they are useful to the room. Therefore being is for benefit, nonbeing is for usefulness. Support Author: Thomas Cleary Get your copy of this Translation...

Chapter 10 – Can you center your energy, be soft tender, and so learn to be a baby?

Can you keep your soul in its body, hold fast to the one, and so learn to be whole? Can you center your energy, be soft, tender, and so learn to be a baby? Can you keep the deep water still and clear, so it reflects without blurring? Can you love people and run things, and do so by not doing? Opening, closing the gate of the Universe, can you be like a bird with her nestlings? Piercing bright through the cosmos, can...

Chapter 09 – Filling to fullness is not as good as stopping at the right moment

Filling to fullness is not as good as stopping at the right moment. Oversharpening a blade causes its edge to be lost. Line your home with treasures and you won’t be able to defend it. Amass possessions, establish positions, display your pride: Soon enough disaster drives you to your knees. This is the way of heaven: do your work, then quietly step back. Support Author: Brian Browne Walker Get...

Chapter 08 – The highest goodness, water-like

The highest goodness, water-like, Does good to everything and goes Unmurmuring to places men despise; But so, is close in nature to the Way. If the good of the house is from land, Or the good of the mind is depth, Or love is the virtue of friendship, Or honesty blesses one’s talk, Or in government, goodness is order, Or in business, skill is admired, Or the worth of an act lies in timing, Then peace is the...

Chapter 07 – Heaven and earth are enduring.

Heaven and earth are enduring. The universe can live for ever, because it does not live for itself. And so both last – outliving themselves. The sage guides his people by putting himself last. Desiring nothing for himself. he knows how to channel desires. And is it not because he wants nothing that he is able to achieve everything? Support Authors: Man-Ho Kwok, Martin Palmer, and Jay Ramsay Get your copy of...

Chapter 06- Tao is called the Great Mother

The Tao is called the Great Mother: empty yet inexhaustible, it gives birth to infinite worlds. It is always present within you. You can use it any way you want. Support Author: Stephen Mitchell Get your copy of here: Tao Te Ching...

Chapter 05 – Heaven and earth are not like humans

Heaven and earth are not like humans. The Tao does not act like a human. They don’t expect to be thanked for making life, so they view it without expectation. Heaven and earth are like a pair of bellows: they are empty, and yet they can never be exhausted. Work them, and they produce more and more - there’s too much talking, it’s really better to stay quiet. There are too many laws, when all you...

Chapter 04 – Tao is like a well

The Tao is like a well used but never used up. It is like the eternal void: filled with infinite possibilities. It is hidden but always present. I don’t know who gave birth to it. It is older than God.   Support Author: Stephen Mitchell Get your copy of this Translation here: Tao Te Ching: A New English Version (Perennial...

Chapter 02 – Being and non-being

When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly. When people see some things as good, other things become bad. Being and non-being create each other. Difficult and easy support each other. Long and short define each other. High and low depend on each other. Before and after follow each other. Therefore the Master acts without doing anything and teaches without saying anything. Things arise and she...

Chapter 01 – The Tao That Can Be Told

The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao The name that can be named is not the eternal Name. The unnamable is the eternally real. Naming is the origin of all particular things. Free from desire, you realize the mystery. Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations. Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source. This source is called darkness. Darkness within darkness. The gateway to all...

Chapter 19 – Four fundamentals of true spirituality

Abandon the pretense of saintlieness and ascenticism, and the people will pursue virtue. Abandon cleverness and greed; then theives and robbers will disappear. Here are four fundamentals of true spirituality: recognize simplicity, cherish purity reduce your possessions, diminish your desires Support Authors: Sam Torode and Dwight Goddard Get your copy of this Translation here: Tao Te Ching by Lao-Tzu...

Chapter 81 – True Words

True words are often unpleasant; pleasant words are often untrue. Those who know the truth do not argue; those who argue do not know the truth. Scholars are seldom the wisest men; wise men are seldom scholars. Those who steal from others impoverish themselves those who give to others only become rich. Those who fight do not win; those who win do not fight. This is the way of the Tao. Support Authors: Sam Torode and...

Chapter 80 – If a country is governed wisely, its inhabitants will be content.

If a country is governed wisely, its inhabitants will be content. They enjoy the labor of their hands and don’t waste time inventing labor-saving machines. Since they dearly love their homes, they aren’t interested in travel. There may be a few wagons and boats, but these don’t go anywhere. There may be an arsenal of weapons, but nobody ever uses them. People enjoy their food, take pleasure in...

Chapter 79 – Repay bitterness with good.

If you’ve had a real set-to with someone And you’ve tried to patch it up - And there’s still some bitterness, what can you do? I tell you: repay bitterness with good. Those who practice Te hold credit - but don’t demand repayment. Those who practice Virtue do their bit - and those without it will expect you to . The Tao of Heaven doesn’t deal in nepotism - it just graces good people,...

Chapter 77 – The way of heaven is like the bending of a bow.

The way of heaven is like the bending of a bow. What is high up gets pulled down. What is low down gets pulled up. Heaven takes from what has too much and gives to what doesn’t have enough. Man is different: he takes from those who have too little and gives to those who have too much. Who has a genuine abundance to give to the world? Only a person of Tao. He acts without expectation, accomplishes without...

Chapter 76 – When life begins we are tender and weal

When life begins we are tender and weal When life ends we are stiff and rigid All things, including the grass and trees, are soft and pliable in life dry and brittle in death So the soft and supple are the companions of life While the stiff and unyielding are the companions of death An army that cannot yield will be defeated A treee that cannot bend will crack in the wind Thus by Nature’s own decree the hard and...

Chapter 75 – Human hunger is the result of overtaxation.

Human hunger is the result of overtaxation. For this reason, There is hunger. The common people are not governable because of their superiors’ actions. For this reason, They are not governable. The people make light of death because of too much emphasis on the quest for life. For this reason, They make light of death. Now, Only she who acts not for the sake of life Is wiser than those who value life...

Chapter 74 – If men are not afraid to die, It is of no avail to threaten them with death.

If men are not afraid to die, It is of no avail to threaten them with death. If men live in constant fear of dying, And if breaking the law means that a man will be killed, Who will dare to break the law? There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you wi’ll only hurt your...

Chapter 73 – The Tao is always at ease.

The Tao is always at ease. It overcomes without competing, answers without speaking a word, arrives without being summoned, accomplishes without a plan. Its net covers the whole universe. And though its meshes are wide, it doesn’t let a thing slip through. Support Author: Stephen Mitchell Get your copy of this Translation here: Tao Te Ching: An Illustrated Journey by...

Chapter 72 – When they lose their sense of awe, people turn to religion.

When they lose their sense of awe, people turn to religion. When they no longer trust themselves, they begin to depend upon authority. Therefore the Master steps back so that people won’t be confused. He teaches without a teaching, so that people will have nothing to learn. Support Author: Stephen Mitchell Get your copy of this Translation here: Tao Te Ching: A New English Version (Perennial...

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