Article Index

Weapons are tools of destruction hated by people.
Therefore followers of the Way never use them.
In peace leaders favor the creative left.
In war they favor the destructive right.

Weapons are tools of destruction,
not used by good leaders.
When their use cannot be avoided,
the best policy is calm restraint.

Even in victory there is no glory.
Those who celebrate victory delight in slaughter.
Those who delight in slaughter
will not be successful leaders.
Fortune is on the left;
Misfortune is on the right.
That is to regard it as a funeral.
The killing of many should be mourned with sorrow.
A victory should be celebrated with funeral ceremonies.

The Way is absolute and undefined.
Like natural uncarved wood in simplicity,
even though it is insignificant,
none in the world can overcome it.
If leaders would hold to it,
the whole world would serve them spontaneously.

Heaven and earth join, and gentle rain falls,
beyond the command of anyone, evenly upon all.
When civilization arose, names began.
With names, one should know when to stop.
Knowing when to stop, frees one from danger.
The Way in the world is like
rivers and streams flowing into the sea.

Those who know others are wise.
Those who know themselves are enlightened.
Those who overcome others require force.
Those who overcome themselves need strength.
Those who are content are wealthy.
Those who persevere have will power.
Those who do not lose their center endure.
Those who die but maintain their power live eternally.

The great Way flows everywhere, both left and right.
All things derive their life from it,
and it does not turn away from them.
It accomplishes its work, but does not take possession.
It provides for and nourishes everything,
but does not control them.

Always without desires, it may be considered small.
The destination of all things, yet claiming nothing,
it may be considered great.
Because it never claims greatness,
its greatness is achieved.

Hold to the great form, and all the world follows,
following without meeting harm,
in health, peace, and happiness.
Music and delicacies to eat induce travelers to stay.
But the Way is mild to the taste.
Looked at, it is invisible.
Listened to, it is inaudible.
Applied, it is inexhaustible.

In order to contract, it is necessary first to expand.
In order to weaken, it is necessary first to strengthen.
In order to reduce, it is necessary first to build up.
In order to receive, it is necessary first to give.
This is called the mystic Light.
The soft and gentle overcome the hard and strong.
As fish stay in the deep water,
so sharp weapons of the state should not be displayed.

The Way never interferes,
yet through it everything is done.
If leaders would follow the Way,
the world would be reformed of its own accord.
When reformed and desiring to act,
let them be restrained by what is simply natural.
Undefined simplicity is free of desires.
Being free of desires, it is serene;
and the world finds peace of its own accord.

Superior power does not emphasize its power,
and thus is powerful.
Inferior power never forgets its power,
and thus is powerless.
Superior power never interferes nor has an ulterior motive.
Inferior power interferes and has an ulterior motive.
Superior humanity takes action but has no ulterior motive.
Superior morality takes action and has an ulterior motive.
Superior custom takes action, and finding no response,
stretches out arms to force it on them.

Therefore when the Way is lost, power arises.
When power is lost, humanity arises.
When humanity is lost, morality arises.
When morality is lost, custom arises.
Now custom is a superficial expression
of loyalty and faithfulness, and the beginning of disorder.

Foreknowledge is the flowering of the Way
and the beginning of folly.
Therefore the mature dwell in the depth, not in the thin,
in the fruit and not in the flowering.
They reject one and accept the other.

The ancients attained oneness.
Heaven attained oneness and became clear.
Earth attained oneness and became stable.
Spirits attained oneness and became divine.
The valleys attained oneness and became fertile.
Creatures attained oneness and lived and grew.
Kings and nobles attained oneness and became leaders.
What made them so is oneness.

Without clarity, heaven would crack.
Without stability, the earth would quake.
Without divinity, spirits would dissipate.
Without fertility, the valleys would be barren.
Without life and growth, creatures would die off.
Without leadership, kings and nobles would fall.

Therefore humility is the basis for nobility,
and the low is the basis for the high.
Thus kings and nobles call themselves
orphans, lonely, and unworthy.
Do they not depend upon the common people for support?
Dismantle the parts of a chariot, and there is no chariot.
Rather than tinkle like jade, rumble like rocks.

Returning is the movement of the Way.
Gentleness is the method of the Way.
All things in the world come from being,
and being comes from non-being.