81 Chapter Translations & Interpretations
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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 61 – Quiescent, underneath, It overcomes the male.

The great land is a place To which the streams descend; It is the concourse and.. The female of the world: Quiescent, underneath, It overcomes the male. By quietness and by humility The great land then puts down the small And gets it for its own; But small lands too absorb the great By their subservience. Thus some lie low, designing conquest’s ends; While others lowly are, by nature bent To conquer all the...

Chapter 57 – Govern the realm by the right

Govern the realm by the right, And battles by stratagem. The world is won by refraining. How do I know this is so? By this: As taboos increase, people grow poorer; When weapons abound, the state grows chaotic; Where skills multiply, novelties flourish; As statutes increase, more criminals start. So the Wise Man will say: As I refrain, the people will reform: Since I like quiet, they will keep order; When I forebear,...

Chapter 50 – On leaving life, to enter death

On leaving life, to enter death: Thirteen members form a living body; A corpse has thirteen, too: Thirteen spots by which a man may pass From life to death. Why so? Because his way of life Is much too gross. As I have heard, the man who knows On land how best to be at peace Will never meet a tiger or a buffalo; In battle, weapons do not touch his skin. There is no place the tiger’s claws can grip; Or with his...

Chapter 20 – Be done with rote learning

Be done with rote learning And its attendant vexations; For is there distinction Of a “yes” from a “yea” Comparable now to the gulf Between evil and good? What all men fear, I too must fear”- How barren and pointless a thought! The reveling of multitudes At the feast of Great Sacrifice, Or up on the terrace At carnival in spring, Leave me, alas, unmoved, alone, Like a child that has...

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