81 Chapter Translations & Interpretations
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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 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 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 54 – What is firmly established cannot be uprooted

What is firmly established cannot be uprooted; What is tightly embraced cannot slip away. Thus sacrificial offerings made by sons and grandsons will never end. Cultivated in the person, integrity is true. Cultivated in the family, integrity is ample. Cultivated in the village, integrity lasts long. Cultivated in the state, integrity is abundant. Cultivated everywhere under heaven, integrity is vast. Observe other...

Chapter 17 – Preeminent is one whose subjects barely know he exists

Preeminent is one whose subjects barely know he exists; The next is one to whom they feel close and praise; The next is one whom they fear; The lowest is one whom they despise. When the ruler’s trust is wanting, there will be no trust in him. Cautious, he values his words. When his work is completed and his affairs finished, the common people say, “We are like this by ourselves. Support Author: Victor...

Chapter 38 – The person of superior integrity does not insist upon his integrity

The person of superior integrity does not insist upon his integrity; For this reason, he has integrity. The person of inferior integrity never loses sight of his integrity; For this reason, he lacks integrity. The person of superior integrity takes no action, nor has he a purpose for acting. The person of superior humaneness takes action, but has no purpose for acting. The person of superior righteousness takes...

Chapter 33 – Understanding oneself is enlightenment

Understanding others is knowledge, Understanding oneself is enlightenment; Conquering others is power, Conquering oneself is strength; Contentment is wealth, Forceful conduct is willfulness; Not losing one’s rightful place is to endure, To die but not be forgotten is longevity. Support Author: Victor H. Mair Get your copy of this Translation here: Tao Te Ching by Lao-Tzu...

Chapter 26 – Heavy is the root of light

Heavy is the root of light; Calm is the ruler of haste. For these reasons, The superior man may travel the whole day without leaving his heavy baggage cart. Though inside the courtyard walls of a noisy inn, he placidly rises above it all. How then should a king with ten thousand chariots conduct himself lightly before all under heaven? If he treats himself lightly, he will lose the taproot; If he is hasty, he will...

Chapter 32 – The Way is eternally nameless.

The Way is eternally nameless. Though the unhewn log is small, No one in the world dares subjugate it. If feudal lords and kings could maintain it, The myriad creatures would submit of themselves. Heaven and earth unite to suffuse sweet dew. Without commanding the people, equality will naturally ensue. As soon as one begins to divide things up, there are names; Once there are names, one should also know when to...

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