The Tao [Way] that can be told of is not the eternal Tao;
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth;
The Named is the mother of all things.
Therefore let there always be non-being, so we may see their subtlety.
And let there always be being, so we may see their outcome.
The two are the same.
But after tney are produced, they have different names.
They both may be called deep and profound.
Deeper and more profound.
The door of all subtleties!
When the people of the world all know beauty as beauty,
There arises the recognition of ugliness.
When they all know the good as good.
There arises the recognition of evil.
In the government of the sage,
He keeps their hearts vacuous,
Fills their bellies,
Weakens their ambitions,
And strengthens their bones,
He always causes his people to be without knowledge [cunning] or desire,
And the crafty to be afraid to act.
Heaven and Earth are not humane.
They regard all things as straw dogs.
The spirit of the valley never dies.
It is called the subtle and profound female.
The gate of the subtle and profound female
Is the root of Heaven and Earth.
It is continuous, and seems to be always existing.
Use it and you will never wear it out.
The best [man] is like water.
Water is good; it benefits all things and does not compete with them.
It dwells in [lowly] places that all disdain.
This is why it is so near to Tao.
To produce things and to rear them,
To produce, but not to take possession of them,
To act, but not to rely on one’s own ability.
To lead them, but not to master them—
This is called profound and secret virtue.
He who loves the world as his body may be entrusted with the empire.
We look at it [Tao] and do not see it;
Its name is The Invisible.
We listen to it and do not hear it;
Its name is The Inaudible.
We touch it and do not find it;
Its name is The Subtle [formless].
It is The Vague and Elusive.
Meet it and you will not see its head.
Follow it and you will not see its back.
Have few desires.
Abandon learning and there will be no sorrow.
To yield is to be preserved whole.
To be bent is to become straight.
To be empty is to be full.
To be worn out is to be renewed.
To have little is to possess.
To have plenty is to be perplexed.
He who knows others is wise;
He who knows himself is enlightened.
[The sage] never strives himself for the great, and thereby the great is achieved.
Tao invariably takes no action, and yet there is nothing left undone.
Reversion is the action of Tao.
Weakness is the function of Tao.
All tilings in the world come from being.
And being comes from non-being.
When the highest type of men hear Tao,
They diligently practice it.
When the average type of men hear Tao,
They half believe in it.
When the lowest type of men hear Tao,
They laugh heartily at it.
The softest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world.
Non-being penetrates that in which there is no space.
Through this I know the advantage of taking no action.
There is no calamity greater than lavish desires.
There is no greater guilt than discontentment.
And there is no greater disaster than greed.
One may know the world without going out of doors.
One may see the Way of Heaven without looking through the windows.
The further one goes, the less one knows.
Therefore the sage knows without going about,
Understands without seeing,
And accomplishes without any action.
He who possesses virtue in abundance
May be compared to an infant.
He who knows does not speak.
He who speaks does not know.
The more laws and order are made prominent,
The more thieves and robbers there will be.
Tao is the storehouse of all things.
It is the good man’s treasure and the bad man’s refuge.
A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
People are difficult to govern because they have too much knowledge.
I have three treasures. Guard and keep them:
The first is deep love,
The second is frugality,
And the third is not to dare to be ahead of the world.
Because of deep love, one is courageous.
Because of frugality, one is generous.
Because of not daring to be ahead of the world,
one becomes the leader of the world.
When armies are mobilized and issues joined,
The man who is sorry over the fact will win.
To know that you do not know is the best.
To pretend to know when you do not know is a disease.
Heaven’s net is indeed vast.
Though its meshes are wide, it misses nothing.
To undertake executions for the master executioner [Heaven] is like hewing wood for the master carpenter.
Whoever undertakes to hew wood for the master carpenter rarely escapes injuring his own hands.
The Way of Heaven has no favorites.
It is always with the good man.
Let there be a small country with few people....
Though neighboring communities overlook one another and the crowing of cocks and barking of dogs can be heard,
Yet the people there may grow old and die without ever visiting one another.
True words are not beautiful;
Beautiful words are not true.
A good man does not argue;
He who argues is not a good man.
A wise man has no extensive knowledge;
He who has extensive knowledge is not a wise man.
The sage does not accumulate for himself.
The more he uses for others, the more he has himself.
The more he gives to others, the more he possesses of his own.
The Way of Heaven is to benefit others and not to injure.
The Way of the sage is to act but not to compete.