Verse 1

A way that can be walked 
    is not The Way 
A name that can be named 
    is not The Name 
Tao is both Named and Nameless 
As Nameless, it is the origin of all things 
As Named, it is the mother of all things 
A mind free of thought, 
    merged within itself, 
    beholds the essence of Tao 
A mind filled with thought, 
    identified with its own perceptions 
    beholds the mere forms of this world 
Tao and this world seem different 
    but in truth they are one and the same 
The only difference is in what we call them 
How deep and mysterious is this unity 
    How profound, how great! 
It is the truth beyond the truth, 
    the hidden within the hidden 
It is the path to all wonder, 
    the gate to the essence of everything!  

Verse 2

Everyone recognises beauty 
    only because of ugliness 
Everyone recognises virtue 
    only because of sin 
Life and death are born together 
Difficult and easy 
Long and short 
High and low— 
    all these exist together 
Sound and silence blend as one 
Before and after arrive as one 
The Sage acts without action 
    and teaches without talking 
All things flourish around him 
    and he does not refuse any one of them 
He gives but not to receive 
He works but not for reward 
He completes but not for results 
He does nothing for himself in this passing world 
    so nothing he does ever passes  

Verse 3

Putting a value of status 
    will cause people to compete 
Hoarding treasure 
    will turn them into thieves 
Showing off possessions 
    will disturb their daily lives 
Thus the Sage rules 
    by stilling minds and opening hearts 
    by filling bellies and strengthening bones 
He shows people how to be simple 
    and live without desires 
To be content 
    and not look for other ways 
With the people so pure 
Who could trick them? 
What clever ideas could lead them astray? 
When action is pure and selfless 
    everything settles into its own perfect place  

Verse 4

Tao is empty 
    yet it fills every vessel with endless supply 
Tao is hidden 
    yet it shines in every corner of the universe 
With it, the sharp edges become smooth 
    the twisted knots loosen 
    the sun is softened by a cloud 
    the dust settles into place 
So deep, so pure, so still 
    It has been this way forever 
You may ask, "Whose child is it?" — 
    but I cannot say 
This child was here before the Great Ancestor  

Verse 5

Heaven and Earth have no preference 
A man may choose one over another 
    but to Heaven and Earth all are the same 
The high, the low, the great, the small– 
    all are given light 
    all get a place to rest 
The Sage is like Heaven and Earth 
To him none are especially dear 
    nor is there anyone he disfavours 
He gives and gives without condition 
    offering his treasures to everyone 
The universe is like a bellows 
    It stays empty yet is never exhausted 
    It gives out yet always brings forth more 
Man is not like this 
When he blows out air like a bellows 
    he becomes exhausted 
Man was not made to blow out air 
He was made to sit quietly and find the truth within  

Verse 6

Endlessly creating 
Endlessly pulsating 
The Spirit of the Valley never dies 
She is called the Hidden Creator 
Although She becomes the whole universe 
    Her immaculate purity is never lost 
Although She assumes countless forms 
    Her true identity remains intact 
Whatever we see or don't see 
Whatever exists or doesn't exist 
Is nothing but the creation of this Supreme Power 
Tao is limitles, unborn, eternal– 
    It can only be reached through the Hidden Creator 
She is the very face of the Absolute 
The gate to the source of all things eternal 
Listen to Her voice 
    Hear it echo through creation 
Without fail, She reveals her presence 
Without fail, She brings us to her own perfection  

Verse 7

Heaven is ancient 
Earth is long-lasting 
Why is this so?— 
    Because they have no claims to life 
By having no claims to life 
    they cannot be claimed by death 
The Sage puts his own views behind 
    so ends up ahead 
He stays a witness to life 
    so he endures 
What could he grab for 
    that he does not already have? 
What could he do for himself 
    that the universe itself has not already done?  

Verse 8

The best way to live 
    is to be like water 
For water benefits all things 
    and goes against none of them 
It provides for all people 
    and even cleanses those places 
    a man is loath to go 
In this way it is just like Tao 
Live in accordance with the nature of things: 
Build your house on solid ground 
Keep your mind still 
When giving, be kind 
When speaking, be truthful 
When ruling, be just 
When working, be one-pointed 
When acting, remember—timing is everything 
One who lives in accordance with nature 
    does not go against the way of things 
He moves in harmony with the present moment 
    always knowing the truth of just what to do  

Verse 9

Grabbing and stuffing— 
    there is no end to it 
Sharpen a blade too much 
    and its edge will soon be lost 
Fill a house with gold and jade 
    and no one can protect it 
Puff yourself with honor and pride 
    and no one can save you from a fall 
Complete the task at hand 
Be selfless in your actions 
    This is the way of Heaven 
    This is the way to Heaven  

Verse 10

Hold fast to the Power of the One 
It will unify the body 
    and merge it with the spirit 
It will cleanse the vision 
    and reveal the world as flawless 
It will focus the life-force 
    and make one supple as a newborn 
As you love the people and rule the state 
    can you be free of self-interest? 
As the gates of Heaven open and close 
    can you remain steadfast as a mother bird 
    who sits with her nest? 
As your wisdom reaches the four corners of the world 
    can you keep the innocence of a beginner? 
Know this Primal Power 
    that guides without forcing 
    that serves without seeking 
    that brings forth and sustains life 
        yet does not own or possess it 
One who holds this Power 
    brings Tao to this very Earth 
He can triumph over a raging fire 
    or the freeze of winter weather 
Yet when he comes to rule the world 
    it's with the gentleness of a feather  

Verse 11

Wu is nothingness, emptiness, non-existence 
Thirty spokes of a wheel all join at a common hub 
    yet only the hole at the centre 
    allows the wheel to spin 
Clay is moulded to form a cup  
    yet only the space within 
    allows the cup to hold to hold water 
Walls are joined to make a room 
    yet only by cutting out a door and a window 
    can one enter the room and live there 
Thus, when a thing has existence alone 
    it is mere dead-weight 
Only when it has wu, does it have life  

Verse 12

The five colours blind the eye 
The five tones deafen the ear 
The five flavours dull the palate 
Racing, hunting, and galloping about 
    only disturb the mind 
Wasting energy to obtain rare objects 
    only impedes one's growth 
So the Sage is led by his inner truth 
    and not his outer eye 
He holds to what is deep 
    and not what lies on the surface  

Verse 13

"Be wary of both honour and disgrace" 
"Endless affliction is bound to the body" 
What does it mean, 
    "Be wary of both honour and disgrace"? 
Honour is founded on disgrace 
    and disgrace is rooted in honour 
Both should be avoided 
Both bind a mind to this world 
That's why it says, 
    "Be wary of both honour and disgrace" 
What does it mean, 
    "Endless affliction is bound to the body"? 
Man's true self is eternal 
    yet he thinks, "I am this body, I will soon die" 
This false sense of self 
    is the cause of all his sorrow 
When a person does not identity himself with the body 
    tell me, what troubles could touch him? 
One who sees himself as everything 
    is fit to be guardian of the world 
One who loves himself as everyone 
    is fit to be teacher of the world  

Verse 14

Eyes look but cannot see it 
Ears listen but cannot hear it 
Hands grasp but cannot hear it 
Beyond the senses lies this great Unity— 
    invisible, inaudible, intangible 
What rises up appears bright 
What settles down appears dark 
Yet there is neither darkness nor light 
    just an unbroken dance of shadows 
From nothingness to fullness 
    and back again to nothingness 
This formless form 
This imageless image 
    cannot be grasped by mind or might 
Try to face it 
    In what place will you stand? 
Try to follow it 
    To what place will you go? 
Know That which is beyond all beginnings 
    and you will know everything here and now 
Know everything in this moment 
    and you will now the Eternal Tao  

Verse 15

The masters of this ancient path 
    are mysterious and profound 
Their inner state baffles all inquiry 
Their depths go beyond all knowing 
Thus, despite every effort, 
    we can only tell of their outer signs— 
Deliberate, as if treading over the stones of a winter brook 
Watchful, as if meeting danger on all sides 
Reverent, as if receiving an honoured guest 
Selfless, like a melting block of ice 
Pure, like an uncarved block of wood 
Accepting, like an open valley 
Through the course of Nature 
    muddy water becomes clear 
Through the unfolding of life 
    man reaches perfection 
Through sustained activity 
    that supreme rest is naturally found 
Those who have Tao want nothing else 
Though seemingly empty 
    they are ever full 
Though seemingly old 
    they are beyond the reach of birth and death  

Verse 16

Become totally empty 
Quiet the restlessness of the mind 
Only then will you witness everything 
    unfolding from emptiness 
See all things flourish and dance 
    in endless variation 
And once again merge back into perfect emptiness— 
    Their true repose 
    Their true nature 
Emerging, flourishing, dissolving back again 
    This is the eternal process of return 
To know this process brings enlightenment 
To miss this process brings disaster 
Be still 
Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity 
Eternity embraces the all-possible 
The all-possible leads to a vision of oneness 
A vision of oneness brings about universal love 
Universal love supports the great truth of Nature 
The great truth of Nature is Tao 
Whoever knows this truth lives forever 
The body may perish, deeds may be forgotten 
But he who has Tao has all eternity  

Verse 17

To know Tao alone, 
    without trace of your own existence, 
    is the highest 
Next come loving and praising it 
Then fearing it 
Then despising it 
If one doesn't trust himself 
    how can he trust anyone else? 
The great ruler speaks little 
    and his words and priceless 
He works without self-interest 
    and leaves no trace 
When all is finished, the people say, 
    "It happened by itself"  

Verse 18

When the greatness of Tao is present 
    action arises from one's own heart 
When the greatness of Tao is absent 
    action comes from the rules 
    of "kindness" and "justice" 
If you need rules to be kind and just, 
    if you act virtuous, 
    this is a sure sign that virtue is absent 
Thus we see the great hypocrisy 
Only when the family loses its harmony 
    do we hear of "dutiful sons" 
Only when the state is in chaos 
    do we hear of "loyal ministers"  

Verse 19

Abandon holiness 
Discard cleverness 
    and the people will benefit a hundredfold 
Abandon the rules of "kindness" 
Discard "righteous" actions 
    and the people will return 
    to their own natural affections 
Abandon book learning 
Discard the rules of behaviour 
    and the people will have no worries 
Abandon plots and schemes 
Discard profit-seeking 
    and the people will not become thieves 
These lessons are mere elaborations 
The essence of my teachings is this: 
    See with original purity 
    Embrace with original simplicity 
    Reduce what you have 
    Decrease what you want  

Verse 20

The difference between a formal "yes" 
    and a casual "yeah"—how slight! 
The difference between knowing the Truth 
    and not knowing it—how great! 
Must I fear what others fear? 
Should I fear desolation 
    when there is abundance? 
Should I fear darkness 
    when that light is shining everywhere? 
The people of this world are steeped in their merrymaking 
    as if gorging at a great feast 
    or watching the sights of springtime 
Yet here I sit, without a sign, 
    staring blank-eyed like a child 
I am but a guest in this world 
While others rush about to get things done 
    I accept what is offered 
Oh, my mind is like that of a fool 
    aloof to the clamour of life around me 
Everyone seems to bright and live 
    with the sharp distinctions of day 
I appear dark and dull 
    with the blending of differences by night 
I am drifting like an ocean, floating like the high winds 
Everyone is so rooted in this world 
    yet I have no place to rest my head 
Indeed I am different... 
    I have no treasure but the Eternal Mother 
    I have no food but what comes from her breast  

Verse 21

Perfect action, 
True virtue, 
Supreme power, 
This is how Tao is revealed 
    through those who follow it completely 
Though formless and intangible 
    It gives rise to form 
Though vague and elusive 
    It gives rise to shapes 
Though dark and obscure 
    It is the spirit, the essence, 
    the life-breath of all things 
"But is it real?" you ask— 
    I say its evidence is all of creation! 
From the first moment to the present 
    The Name has been sounding 
It is the gate 
    through which the universe enters 
The witness 
    by which the universe sees 
How have I come to know all this? 
That very Name has told me, 
That Name which is sounding right here, 
    right now  

Verse 22

"Surrender brings perfection" 
The crooked become straight 
The empty become full 
The worn become new 
    Have little and gain much 
    Have much and be confused 
So the Sage embraces the One 
    and becomes a model for the world 
Without showing himself, he shines forth 
Without promoting himself, he is distinguished 
Without claiming reward, he gains endless merit 
Without seeking glory, his glory endures 
The Sage knows how to follow 
    so he comes to command 
He does not compete 
    so no one under Heaven can compete with him 
The ancient saying, 
    "Surrender brings perfection," 
    is not just empty words 
Truly, surrender brings perfection 
    and perfection brings the whole universe  

Verse 23

Speak little 
Hold to your own nature 
A strong wind does not blow all morning 
A cloudburst does not last all day 
The wind and rain are from Heaven and Earth 
    and even these do not last for long 
How much less so the efforts of man? 
One who lives in accordance with the Truth 
    becomes the embodiment of Tao 
His actions become those of Nature 
    his ways those of Heaven 
It is through such a one 
    that Heaven rejoices 
    that Earth rejoices 
    that all of life rejoices  

Verse 24

On his tiptoes a man is not steady 
Taking long strides he cannot keep pace 
To the self-serving, nothing shines forth 
To the self-promoting, nothing is distinguished 
To the self-appointing, nothing bears fruit 
To the self-righteous, nothing endures 
From the viewpoint of Tao, this self-indulgence 
    is like rotting food and painful growths on the body— 
Things that all creatures despise 
So why hold onto them? 
When walking the path of Tao 
    this is the very stuff 
    that must be uprooted, thrown out, and left behind  

Verse 25

Something formless, complete in itself 
There before Heaven and Earth 
Tranquil, vast, standing alone, unchanging 
It provides for all things yet cannot be exhausted 
It is the mother of the universe 
I do not know its name 
    so I call it "Tao" 
Forced to name it further 
I call it 
    "The greatness of all things" 
    "The end of all endings" 
I call it 
    "That which is beyond the beyond" 
    "That to which all things return" 
From Tao comes all greatness— 
    It makes Heaven great 
    It makes Earth great 
    It makes man great 
Mankind depends on the laws of Earth 
Earth depends on the laws of Heaven 
Heaven depends on the laws of Tao 
But Tao depends on itself alone 
    Supremely free, self-so, it rests in its own nature  

Verse 26

The inner is the foundation of the outer 
The still is the master of the restless 
The Sage travels all day 
    yet never leaves his inner treasure 
Though the views are captivating and beg attention 
    he remains calm and uninvolved 
Tell me, does the lord of a great empire 
    go out begging for rice? 
One who seeks his treasure in the outer world 
    is cut off from his own roots 
Without roots, he becomes restless 
Being restless, his mind is weak 
And with a mind such as this 
    he loses all command below Heaven  

Verse 27

A knower of the Truth 
    travels without leaving a trace 
    speaks without causing harm 
    gives without keeping an account 
The door he shuts, though having no lock, 
    cannot be opened 
The knot he ties, though using no cord, 
    cannot be undone 
The Sage is always on the side of virtue 
    so everyone around him prospers 
He is always on the side of truth 
    so everything around him is fulfilled 
The path of the Sage is called 
    "The Path of Illumination" 
He who gives himself to this path 
    is like a block of wood 
    that gives itself to the chisel– 
Cut by cut it is honed to perfection 
Only a student who gives himself 
    can receive the master's gift 
If you think otherwise, 
    despite your knowledge, you have blundered 
Giving and receiving are one 
This is called 
    "The great wonder" 
    "The essential mystery" 
    "The very heart of all that is true"  

Verse 28

Hold your male side with your female side 
Hold your bright side with your dull side 
Hold your high side with your low side 
Then you will be able to hold the whole world 
When the opposing forces unite within 
    there comes a power abundant in its giving 
    and unerring in its effect 
Flowing through everything 
    It returns one to the First Breath 
Guiding everything 
    It returns one to No Limits 
Embracing everything 
    It returns one to the Uncarved Block 
When the Block is divided 
    it becomes something useful 
    and leaders rule with a few pieces of it 
But the Sage holds the Block complete 
Holding all things within himself 
    he preserves the Great Unity 
    which cannot be ruled or divided  

Verse 29

Those who look down upon this world 
    will surely take hold and try to change things 
But this is a plan 
    I've always seen fail 
The world is Tao's own vessel 
It is perfection manifest 
It cannot be changed 
It cannot be improved 
For those who go on tampering, it's ruined 
For those who try to grasp, it's gone 
Allow your life to unfold naturally 
Know that it too is a vessel of perfection 
Just as you breathe in and breathe out 
    Sometimes you're ahead and other times behind 
    Sometimes you're strong and other times weak 
    Sometimes you're with people and other times alone 
To the Sage 
    all of life is a movement toward perfection 
So what need has he 
    for the excessive, the extravagant, or the extreme?  

Verse 30

Those who rule in accordance with Tao 
    do not use force against the world 
For that which is forced is likely to return— 
Where armies settle 
    Nature offers nothing but briars and thorns 
After a great battle has been fought 
    the land is cursed, the crops fail, 
    the Earth lies stripped of its motherhood 
A knower of the Truth does what is called for 
    then stops 
He uses his strength but does not force things 
In the same way 
    complete your task 
    seek no reward 
    make no claims 
Without faltering 
    fully choose to do what you must do 
This is to live without forcing 
    to overcome without conquering 
Things that gain a place by force 
    will flourish for a time 
    but then fade away 
They are not in keeping with Tao 
Whatever is not in keeping with Tao 
    will come to an early end  

Verse 31

Even the finest warrior is defeated 
    when he goes against natural law 
By his own hand he is doomed 
    and all creatures are likely to despise him 
One who knows Tao 
    never turns from life's calling 
When at home he honours the side of rest 
When at war he honours the side of action 
Peace and tranquility are what he holds most dear 
    so he does not obtain weapons 
But when their use is unavoidable 
    he employs them with fortitude and zeal 
Do not flaunt your excellence 
Do not rejoice over victory 
With the loss of others 
    weep with sorrow and grief 
After winning a battle 
    do not celebrate, 
    observe the rights of a funeral 
One who is bound to action, proud of victory, 
    and delights in the misfortune of others 
will never gain a thing 
    from this world below Heaven  

Verse 32

Tao is eternal, one without a second 
Simple indeed 
    yet so subtle that no one can master it 
If princes and kings could just hold it 
All things would flock to their kingdom 
Heaven and Earth would rejoice 
    with the dripping of sweet dew 
Everyone would live in harmony, 
    not by official decree, 
    but by their own inner goodness 
This world is nothing but the glory of Tao 
    expressed through different names and forms 
One who sees the things of this world 
    as being real and self-existent 
    has lost sight of the truth 
To him, every word becomes a trap 
    every thing becomes a prison 
One who knows the truth 
    that underlies all things 
    lives in this world without danger 
To him, every word reflects the universe 
    every moment brings enlightenment 
Rivers and streams are born of the ocean 
All creation is born of Tao 
Just as all water flows back to become the ocean 
All creation flows back to become Tao  

Verse 33

One who knows others is intelligent 
One who knows himself is enlightened 
One who conquers others is strong 
One who conquers himself is all-powerful 
One who approaches life with force 
    surely gets something     
One who remains content where he is 
    surely gets everything 
One who gives himself to his position 
    surely lives long 
One who gives himself to Tao 
    surely lives forever  

Verse 34

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 things return 
    yet it wants nothing in return 
So we call it "The Greatest" 
The Sage is the same way– 
    He does not claim greatness over anything 
    He's not even aware of his own greatness 
Tell me, what could be greater than this?  

Verse 35

Hold fast to the Great Form within 
    and let the world pass as it may 
Then the changes of life will not bring pain 
    but contentment, joy, and well-being 
Music and sweets are passing pleasures 
    yet they cause people to stop 
How bland and insipid are the things of this world 
    when one compares them with Tao! 
One tastes, but the sweetness turns bitter 
One sees, but the colours grow faint 
One hears, but the sound fades into silence 
One may look for fulfilment in this world 
    but his longings will never be exhausted 
The only thing he ever finds 
    is that he himself is exhausted  

Verse 36

Contraction pulls at that 
    which extends too far 
Weakness pulls at that 
    which strengthens too much 
Ruin pulls at that 
    which rises too high 
Loss pulls at life 
    when you fill it with too much stuff 
The lesson here is called 
"The wisdom of obscurity"— 
    The gentle outlast the strong 
    The obscure outlast the obvious 
Hence, a fish that ventures from deep water 
    is soon snagged by a net 
A country that reveals its strength 
    is soon conquered by an enemy  

Verse 37

Tao does not act 
    yet it is the root of all action 
Tao does not move 
    yet it is the source of all creation 
If princes and kings could hold it 
    everyone under them would naturally turn within 
Should a doubt or old desire rise up 
    The Nameless Simplicity would push it down 
The Nameless Simplicity frees the heart of desire 
    and reveals its inner silence 
When there is silence 
    one finds peace 
When there is silence 
    one finds the anchor of the universe within himself 

Verse 38

To give without seeking reward 
To help without thinking it is virtuous— 
    therein lies the great virtue 
To keep account of your action 
To help with the hope of gaining merit— 
    therein lies no virtue 
The highest virtue is to act without a sense of self 
The highest kindness is to give without condition 
The highest justice is to see without preference 
When Tao is lost one must learn the rules of virtue 
When virtue is lost, the rules of kindness 
When kindness is lost, the rules of justice 
When justice is lost, the rules of conduct 
And when the high-blown rules of conduct are not followed  
    people are seized by the arm and it is forced on them 
The rules of conduct 
    are just an outer show of devotion and loyalty— 
    quite confusing to the heart 
And when men rely on these rules for guidance— 
    Oh, what ignorance abounds! 
The great master follows his own nature 
    and not the trappings of life 
It is said, 
    "He stays with the fruit and not the fluff" 
    "He stays with the firm and not the flimsy" 
    "He stays with the true and not the false"  

Verse 39

From ancient times till now 
    the One has been the source of all attainments 
By realising One 
    Heaven becomes clear, Earth becomes still 
    spirits gain power and hearts fill up with joy 
By realising the One 
    kings and lords become instruments of peace 
    and creatures live joyfully upon this earth 
Without the One 
    Heaven has no clarity and would crack 
    Earth has no peace and would crumble 
    spirits have no power and would lose their charm 
Without the One 
    hearts would dry up, empires would fall, 
    all things would go lifelessly upon this earth 
Long ago kings and lords called themselves 
    "orphaned," "lonely," and "unworthy" 
What honour can there be without humility? 
    What heights can be reached without being low? 
The pieces of a chariot are useless 
    unless they work in accordance with the whole 
A man's life brings nothing 
    unless he lives in accordance with the whole universe 
Playing one's part 
    in accordance with the universe 
    is true humility 
So whether you're a gem in the royal court 
    or a stone on the common path 
If you accept your part with humility 
    the glory of the universe will be yours  

Verse 40

The movement of Tao is to return 
The way of Tao is to yield 
Heaven, Earth, and all things 
    are born of the existent world 
The existent world is born of the nothingness of Tao 

Verse 41

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 greatest power seems weak 
The purest white seems tainted 
The abundant seems empty 
The stable seems shaky 
The certain seems false 
The Great Square has no corners 
The Great Vessel is never filled 
A beginner may be clumsy 
    but after practice—what talent! 
A large drum may sit silently 
    but when banged—what noise! 
Tao lies hidden 
    yet it alone is the glorious light of this world  

Verse 42

Tao gives life to the one 
The one gives life to the two 
The two gives life to the three 
The three give life to ten thousand things 
All beings support yin and embrace yang 
    and the interplay of these two forces 
    fills the universe 
Yet only at the still-point, 
    between the breathing in and the breathing out, 
    can one capture these two in perfect harmony 
People suffer at the thought of being 
    without parents, without food, or without worth 
Yet this is the very way that 
    kings and lords once described themselves 
Who knows what fate may bring— 
    one day your loss may be your fortune 
    one day your fortune may be your loss 
The age-old lesson that others teach, I also teach— 
    "As you plant, so you reap" 
    "As you live, so you die" 
Know this to be the foundation of my teachings  

Verse 43

The most yielding thing in the world 
    will overcome the most rigid 
The most empty thing in the world 
    will overcome the most full 
From this comes a lesson— 
    Stillness benefits more than action 
    Silence benefits more than words 
Rare indeed are those who are still 
Rare indeed are those who are silent 
And so I say, 
    Rare indeed are those 
    who obtain the bounty of this world 

Verse 44

One’s own reputation—why the fuss? 
One’s own wealth—why the concern? 
I say, what you gain 
    is more trouble than what you lose 
Love is the fruit of sacrifice 
Wealth is the fruit of generosity 
Be content, 
    rest in your own fullness— 
You will not suffer from loss 
You’ll avoid the snare of this world 
You’ll have long life and endless blessings  

Verse 45

The Great Perfection seems imperfect 
    yet this world it creates is never impaired 
The Great Fullness seems empty 
    yet this world it creates is never lacking 
Great truth seems false 
Great skill seems clumsy 
Great eloquence seems like babble 
Keep moving and you'll miss the cold 
Keep silent and you’ll beat the heat 
Be tranquil like the rain of spring 
Be pure like the sheen of silk 
Then the Great Perfection will be perfect 
    and the Great Fullness will be full  

Verse 46

When Tao is present in the empire 
    men follow their own nature 
    and riding horses work the fields 
When Tao is absent from the empire 
    men go astray 
    and war horses breed on sacred ground 
There is no greater loss than losing Tao 
     No greater curse than desire 
     No greater tragedy than discontentment 
     No greater fault than selfishness 
Contentment alone is enough 
Indeed, the bliss of eternity 
    can be found in your contentment  

Verse 47

Without going outside 
    one can know the whole world 
Without looking out the window 
    one can see the ways of Heaven 
The farther one goes 
    the less one knows 
Thus the Sage does not go, yet he knows 
    He does not look, yet he sees 
    He does not do, yet all is done  

Verse 48

To become learned, gain daily 
To obtain Tao, reduce daily 
Reduce and reduce again 
    until all action is reduced to non-action 
Then no one is left 
Nothing is done 
    yet nothing is left undone 
One who gives freely and without attachment 
    gets a full life in return 
One who gives with the secret hope of getting 
    is merely engaged in business 
Truly, they neither give nor receive 
    any of the treasure from this world below Heaven  
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