81 Chapter Translations & Interpretations
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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 69 – Great warriors

The great warriors have a saying, “I dare not act as host but would rather be a guest I dare not advance an inch but would rather retreat a foot” So advance but do not use your feet Seize but do not use your arms Cut but do not use your sword Fight but do not use your own power There is no greater misfortune than feeling “I have an enemy” For when “I” and “enemy” exist together there is no room left...

Chapter 58 – When the ruler knows his own heart the people are simple and pure

When the ruler knows his own heart the people are simple and pure When he meddles with their lives they become restless and disturbed Bad fortune, yes – it rests upon good fortune Good fortune, yes – it hides within bad fortune Oh the things that Heaven sends – Who can know their final aim? Who can tell of their endless ways? Today the righteous turn to trickery Tomorrow the good turn to darkness Oh what...

Chapter 41 – Tao is always becoming what we have need for it to become

When the best seeker hears of Tao he strives with great effort to know it When an average seeker hears of Tao he thinks of it now and again When the poorest seeker hears of Tao he laughs out loud Tao is always becoming what we have need for it to become If it could not do this it would not be Tao There is an old saying, The clear way seems clouded The straight way seems crooked The sure way seems unsteady The...

Chapter 49 – The Sage has no fixed heart of his own

The Sage has no fixed heart of his own Those who look at him see their own hearts Those who are good he treats with goodness Those who are bad he also treats with goodness because the nature of his being is good Those who are truthful he treats with truth Those who are not truthful he also treats with truth because the nature of his being is truthful The Sage lives in harmony with all below Heaven He sees everything...

Chapter 34 – The great Tao flows everywhere

The great Tao flows everywhere It fills everything to the left and to the right All things owe their existence to it and it cannot deny any one of them Tao is eternal It does not favour one over the other It brings all things to completion without their even knowing it Tao nourishes and protects all creatures yet does not claim lordship over them So we class it with the most humble Tao is the home to which all...

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