When the wise hear the Way, they practice it diligently.
When the mediocre hear of the Way, they doubt it.
When the foolish hear of the Way, they laugh out loud.
If it were not laughed at, it would not be the Way.

Therefore it is said,
"The enlightenment of the Way seems like dullness;
progression in the Way seem like regression;
the even path of the Way seems to go up and down."

Great power appears like a valley.
Great purity appears tarnished.
Great character appears insufficient.
Solid character appears weak.
True integrity appears changeable.
Great space has no corners.
Great ability takes time to mature.
Great music has the subtlest sound.
Great form has no shape.

The Way is hidden and indescribable.
Yet the Way alone is adept
at providing for all and bringing fulfillment.

The Way produced the One;
the One produced two;
two produced three;
and three produced all things.

All things have the receptivity of the female
and the activity of the male.
Through union with the life force they blend in harmony.

People hate being orphaned, lonely, and unworthy.
Yet kings and nobles call themselves such.
Often gain can be a loss, and loss can be a gain.
What others teach, I teach also:
"The violent die a violent death."
I shall make this primary in my teaching.

The softest things in the world overcome the hardest.
Non-being penetrates even where there is no space.
Through this I know the value of non-action.
Teaching without words and the value of non-action
are understood by few in the world.

Fame or your life, which do you love more?
Life or material wealth, which is more valuable?
Loss or gain, which is worse?
Therefore those who desire most spend most.
Those who hoard most lose most.
Those who are contented are not disappointed.
Those who know when to stop prevent danger.
Thus they can long endure.

The greatest perfection seems incomplete,
but its utility is never impaired.
The greatest fullness seems empty,
but its use cannot be exhausted.
What is most direct seems devious.
The greatest skill seems awkward.
The greatest eloquence seems like stuttering.

Movement overcomes cold.
Stillness overcomes heat.
The serene and calm are guides for all.

When the world lives in accord with the Way,
horses work on farms.
When the world does not live in accord with the Way,
the cavalry practices on battlefields.

The greatest temptation to crime is desire.
The greatest curse is discontent.
The greatest calamity is greed.
Whoever is content with contentment is always content.

One can know the world without going outside.
One can see the Way of heaven
without looking out the window.
The further one goes the less one knows.
Therefore the wise know without going about,
understand without seeing,
and accomplish without acting.

The pursuit of learning is to increase day by day.
The practice of the Way is to decrease day by day.
Less and less is done until one reaches non-action.
When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.
The world is led by not interfering.
Those who interfere cannot lead the world.

The wise have no mind-set.
They regard the people's minds as their own.
They are good to people who are good.
They are also good to people who are not good.
This is the power of goodness.
They are honest to those who are honest.
They are also honest to those who are dishonest.
This is the power of honesty.
The wise live in the world peacefully and harmoniously.
The people share a common heart,
and the wise treat them as their own children.

Coming into life and going out at death,
three out of ten people live long;
three out of ten people die early;
and three out of ten people who could live long
die early, because they have chosen the path of death.

Why is this so?
Because they feed life too grossly.

It is said that those who preserve life
walk the earth without fearing tigers and wild buffalo,
and in battle they are not touched by weapons of war.
The wild buffalo's horns find nothing to gore;
the tiger's claws find nothing to tear;
and weapons' points find nothing to pierce.

Why is this so?
Because they have nothing for death to enter.

The Way produces all things.
Power nourishes them.
Matter gives them physical form.
Environment shapes their abilities.
Therefore all things respect the Way and honor power.
The Way is respected, and power is honored
without anyone's order and always naturally.

Therefore the Way produces all things,
and power nourishes them,
caring for them and developing them,
sheltering them and comforting them,
nurturing them and protecting them,
producing them but not possessing them,
helping them but not obligating them,
guiding them but not controlling them.
This is mystical power.