The 81 Passages of the Daoist Classic
Chapter 1 (第一章)
| ||The Dao [that] can be stated, is not the eternal Dao; |
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 the myriad things.
By constantly having no [desire] one views its wonders;
By constantly having [desire], one views its limits.
These two have the same origin, but they differ in name;
Both are called Mystery.
One Mystery plus another Mystery, is the source of all wonders.
| || || |
Chapter 2 (第二章)
| ||If everybody knows what beauty is, |
then beauty is not beauty [anymore];
If everybody knows what goodness is,
then goodness is not goodness [anymore].
Being and nothing give birth to one another,
Hard and easy are mutually formed,
Long and short shape each other,
High and low complement each other,
Music and voice are harmonized with each other,
Front and back follow one another.
The sage focuses on non-action in his works,
Practices not-saying in his speech,
The myriad things arise but are disregarded
The sage produces but does not own
Acts but does not claim
Accomplishes work but does not focus on it
Does not focus on it, and thus it does not go.
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|Chapter 3 (第三章) |
| ||Not to quest for wealth |
will keep the people from rivalry.
Not to prize things that are hard to come by
will keep the people from becoming thieves.
Not to manifest what you like and desire
will make popular sentiments undisturbed.
So, in the sages' peaceful and tranquil world,
People's state of mind is calm,
People live with enough food
People's aspirations are lowered,
People's physiques are strong;
People will be unknowing, undesiring,
And even the knowing ones will never dare to act,
Action without action.
There is nothing not done.
|Chapter 4 (第四章) |
| ||The Dao is empty, |
But when using it, it is impossible to use it up.
It is profound, seems like the root of the myriad things.
Blunts its own sharpness.
Unravels its own fetters.
Harmonises its own light.
Mixes with its own dust.
It is unclear, but seems to have existed there.
I do not know whose son it is,
Maybe it was already created before the creator.
|Chapter 5 (第五章) |
| ||The sky and the earth do not care, |
They regard the myriad things as straw dogs;
The sage does not care,
He regards people as straw dogs.
The space between the sky and the earth, how much is it like large bellows!
Empty but endless,
Just move and wind will be produced;
Much talk soon comes to nothing.
It is better to be in between extremes.
Note: Chugou (芻狗, literally "grass dog") is a straw-made dog-shaped sacrifice used in ancient China. When sacrificing, people treat it very seriously; but once the sacrifice has ended, people treat the straw dogs in a very casual way.
|Chapter 6 (第六章) |
| ||The valley-spirit will not die, this is the primal mother. |
The gate of the primal mother is the root of the world.
She unceasingly exists, her influence is without effort.
|Chapter 7 (第七章) |
| ||The sky and the earth / The universe is eternal. |
The reason for the eternal of the sky and the earth/the universe
Is they are not being/existing alone,
So they are eternal.
Because of this, The sages put their selves behind all other people,
Yet it is before all others he shall eventually stand.
They were indifferent to the discomforts and dangers.
Yet it is he who shall thus survive.
It is none other than that they do not demand self.
Yet it is he eventually who shall achieve for self.
|Chapter 8 (第八章) |
| ||The best quality/character is like water. |
The water's goodness is that it benefits the myriad things but does not quarrel,
and it willingly goes to where others hate,
Thus it is almost like the Dao.
It is good to be/live on the ground,
to deepen a heart,
to love people while associating with them.
to keep one's word while talking,
to be peace while governing,
to do what one is capable of,
to act at a fit time.
Because of the non-fighting-over,
there will be no problem.
|Chapter 9 (第九章) |
| ||Rather than pour into a cup overflowed, It is better to stop it. |
To hammer and to sharpen, it will not be long to be broken.
One cannot keep in eternal hiding a hall brimming with riches.
The man arrogant from enormous wealth buries disaster upon his road.
Removing after succeeding fits in with the Dao/principle of the universe.
|Chapter 10 (第十章) |
| ||If soul have been keeping on not being felt by the body, |
How can the body and the soul not part?
Trying lungs to show [they are] delicate,
How can they be like babies?
Clean the mirror of ultimate source,
How can they not found their defect?
To love people and to govern the country,
How not to appoint the Jih/Zhi/wise people?
The gate of the heaven shuts and opens alternately and frequently,
How to act like females?
Have known all the causes and effects,
How to keep doing only the backlog of things?
Quicken them, feed them,
Produce and do not own.
Act and do not claim.
Raise and do not rule.
This is called profound virtue.
|Chapter 11 (第十一章) |
| ||Put thirty spokes together to one hub, |
The original empty space makes the use of wheel.
Knead clay into vessels,
The original empty space makes the use of vessel.
Shape door and windows for a house/room,
The original empty space makes the use of house/room.
So the things that are made are only conditions,
What [we] are using is still the original empty space.
|Chapter 12 (第十二章) |
| ||The beautiful colours make people's eyes blind, |
The appealing music makes people's ears deaf,
The delicious flavours make people's mouth numb,
To indulge in hunting makes people's heart wild,
To pursue rare treasures makes people's behavior improper.
So, as the sage attends to the inner world, not the outer world,
Throw away the latter and adopt the former.
|Chapter 13 (第十三章) |
| ||To appoint the person that is ploughed under is the same as to surprise [them], |
Respecting trusted subordinate is the same as respecting oneself.
Why to appoint the person that is ploughed under is the same as to surprise [them]?
Because to appoint is to regard the person as a subordinate,
Getting appointed is being surprised, Being disfavored is also being surprised,
This is why.
Why respecting trusted subordinate is the same as respecting oneself?
The reason that I have these trusted subordinate is I care about myself.
If I do not care about myself, what trusted subordinate do I have?
So, If [you] can change respecting yourself into respecting the world,
then the world will be able to be reposed in you;
If [you] can change loving yourself into loving the world,
then the world will be able to be reposed in you.
|Chapter 14 (第十四章) |
| ||That which is looked at yet never seen is known as invisible, |
That which is listened to yet never heard is known as soundless,
And that which is grasped yet never touched is known as intangible.
The origin of these three can not be observed, so mix them and form a unity.
Above, it is not lit; Below, it is not dark.
The Dao cannot be named by common rules, as it returns to its origin,
It is the shape of the original shape, the image of the original object,
This is blur and profound.
Step forward, cannot see its beginning; Follow it, cannot see its end.
Hold the ancient Dao to know the present things, and thus know the ancient beginnings,
This is the principle of the Dao.
|Chapter 15 (第十五章) |
| ||Once upon a time, those who knew the Way, were a mysterious and subtle people, |
Transient yet profound, tranquil yet utterly unfathomable.
Since they are inexplicable, I can only tell what they seem like:
Cautious, as if wading through a winter river,
Wary, as if afraid of their own neighbours.
Grave, like the courteous house guests.
Elusive, as of melting ice.
Pure and natural, as of unchiseled gems.
Wide and open, as of a deep valley.
Yet mysterious, oh yes, they were like troubled water.
Who can remain tranquil amidst troubled airs, that calmness may flow from within?
Who may remain at peace eternal, that motion would yield birth to nature?
For those who follow the Way, fulfillment has never been their aim.
Only as they are forever unfulfilled, can such freshness be ever renewed.
|Chapter 16 (第十六章) |
| ||Immersed within the heart of the void, keep tranquility's essence. |
The myriad things together arise,
I thereby perceive their returning.
Now things flower, and in flowering each one returns to the source,
The returning to the source is called tranquillity,
This is the returning to destiny,
The returning to destiny is the eternal,
To know the eternal is wisdom,
When one does not know wisdom, disaster arises!
Knowing the eternal is wide-ranging,
Wide-ranging means open-minded,
Open-minded means royal,
Royal means heavenly,
Heavenly means the Dao,
The Dao means everlasting.
Bodiless and without form, cannot wither or perish.
|Chapter 17 (第十七章) |
| ||Great rulers are hardly known by their subjects, |
Then come those the people draw near and praise,
Then those the people hold in fear,
Then those the people revile.
When one lacks trust, one finds no trust.
Reluctantly, without boasting;
Perform actions, accomplish deeds;
The people will say it happened naturally.
|Chapter 18 (第十八章) |
| ||When the Dao is lost, so there arises benevolence and righteousness. |
When prudence and wisdom appear, there is great hypocrisy.
When family relations are not right, there is filial piety and paternal affection.
When the state is confused and chaotic, there is loyalty and faithfulness.
|Chapter 19 (第十九章) |
| ||Abandon holiness, relinquish prudence; the people will flourish a hundredfold, |
Abandon benevolence, relinquish righteousness; and people will return to filial piety and affection.
Abandon cleverness, relinquish gain; and thieves and robbers will not appear.
As I know such three to be no mere words,
Stay true to that which is reliable.
Recognise simplicity, embrace purity,
Lessen the self, diminish desires.
|Chapter 20 (第二十章) |
| ||Discard conventional doctrines and be relieved from anxieties. |
Approval or flattery, what difference does it make?
Good or evil, what difference does it take?
Just because the people are at awe, you cannot be indifferent?
When everyone is celebrating and joyous,
As if relishing a spiritual triumph,
As if enjoying a victorious feast.
I alone am peaceful! Contemplating the myriad future,
Dazed like a newborn child,
Seizing the moment! Pondering the uncertainties.
When everyone feels lavished,
I alone am hollowed.
I am a fool! Confounded!
When everyone seemed enlightened, I alone am in suspense;
When everyone is watchful, I alone become restful.
Enigmatic! Like the obscure twilight,
Desolate! Like the infinite universe.
When everyone is focused, I alone am playful and trivial.
I alone am different from the common,
I find refuge in the womb of this profound conception.
|Chapter 21 (第二十一章) |
| ||Where the greatest Virtue resides, |
Only the Dao may reveal.
Things that bestow the Dao,
Radiates such liberty, such easiness.
Eased! Liberated from its form, yet fashioned;
Liberated! At ease with its position, yet poised.
Brilliance from within;
Its brilliance so enlightening, it exemplifies the truth.
Traversing through all times,
Its name is not diminished,
Amassing all marvels of human intelligence.
How do I know the essence of all marvels?
By observing things that bestow the Dao.
|Chapter 22 (第二十二章) |
| ||Fractured, one asserts unity, |
Crooked, one acts straight,
Depressed, one appears fulfilled,
Exhausted, one exhibit freshness,
Ignorant, one expresses intelligence,
Excessive, one becomes delusive,
Hence, the master maintains integrity,
And sets an example for the people.
Profess not and reveal enlightenment,
Contend not and lavish brilliance,
Proclaim not and win praises,
Dignify not and garner respect.
The master contests not,
Therefore is uncontested.
“Fractured, one asserts unity”,
Such timeless truth!
With genuine integrity, one rediscovers self.
|Chapter 23 (第二十三章) |
| ||Less spoken, words speak for themselves naturally. |
Therefore gusts cannot chill the exuberant day,
Showers cannot turn day to dusk.
Why is it so?
Even the heaven and earth cannot counter its own force,
Let alone people?
Therefore those engaged with the Dao takes pleasure that,
The Taught is the Dao,
The Virtuous is the Virtue,
The perplexed is perplexity.
At one with the Dao, the Dao is welcoming;
At one with Virtue, Virtue be appreciating;
At one with perplexity, perplexity be gratifying.
Lack of belief,
Explains the disbelief in this futility.
|Chapter 24 (第二十四章) |
| ||Ones who reach do not stand, |
Ones who stride do not pace,
Ones self-seeing are not enlightened,
Ones self-possessed are not established.
Ones self-asserted are without accomplishments,
Ones self-esteemed are without respect.
These according to the Dao,
Are called extravagance and exorbitance.
Materialistic matters alike are resented,
Therefore those embracing Art dwells not.
|Chapter 25 (第二十五章) |
| ||Mired into existence, |
Before the conception of heaven and earth,
Independent and undeterred,
Cyclical and not circumvented,
As being the mother of all nature.
Its name is unbeknown,
I call it the Art of the Dao
And arbitrarily describe it as great.
Being great, it is desolated,
Being desolated, it is removed,
Being removed, it returns.
Therefore the Art is great,
Heaven is great,
Earth is great,
The master is also great.
These are the four noble greatness,
And the master is one of them.
The master is inspired by the underlying principles of the earth,
The earth is inspired by the underlying principles of the heavens,
The heavens are inspired by the underlying principles of the Dao,
Art is inspired by the underlying principles.
|Chapter 26 (第二十六章) |
| ||Weightiness is the root of weightlessness, |
Temperance is the master of temperament.
Therefore the master stays close to trusted supplies in expeditions;
There be spectacles and scenery,
Presiding in serenity.
Why then would a leader of a myriad supporters,
Put no weight on the well being of its people?
Weightless, and lose authority,
Tempestuous, and forfeit mastership.
|Chapter 27 (第二十七章) |
| ||Good traveling leaves no tracks; |
Good speech is without reproach;
Good strategies need no plotting;
With good fastening, even a door with no hinge cannot be opened;
The good knot is made without a rope and cannot be unravelled.
Hence the Sage never fails in saving people,
Therefore no one is rejected;
The Sage never fails at saving things,
Therefore nothing is left abandoned,
This is illumination.
Thus the good people are the teachers of the bad;
The bad people are resources for the good.
One who fails to respect his teacher,
And does not cherish his resources,
However intelligent such a one may be, he is still greatly confused.
This is the essential mystery!
|Chapter 28 (第二十八章) |
| ||Acquire knowledge of extroversions, but |
Acquaint with introversions, and
Be the earth's fountain.
Be the earth's fountain, be Virtuous and undeterred,
And be reborn.
Realize the radiance of the limelight, but
Remain in the shadows, and
Be the people's example.
Be the people's example, be Virtuous and not excessive,
And be tranquilized.
Experience the glory, but
Express humility, and
Be the world's refuge.
Be the world's refuge, be Virtuous and complacent,
And be returned to your roots.
Uprooted, wood can be carved into instruments,
The master utilizes it and become respectful leaders.
Therefore, a great tailor seldom trims.
|Chapter 29 (第二十九章) |
| ||It is futile trying to possess the universe, |
And act on shaping it in the direction of one's ambition.
The instruments of the universe cannot be shaped,
One cannot act upon it.
Act upon it and you will fail,
Grasp onto it and it will slip.
For everything, there is a time to tread; a time to trail,
A time to gust; a time to gape,
A time to vigor; a time to vice,
A time to carry; a time to ride.
Hence the master departs extremes.
Departs extravagance, departs magnificence.
|Chapter 30 (第三十章) |
| ||Ones who offer advice in the Art of governance, |
Offers not the use of forces to dominate the world,
Understanding its invitation to retaliation.
Where troops tramp, thorns thrive.
After great battalions, years of resentments are inevitable.
Therefore the master bring to fruition and leave be,
Daring not to capture dominance.
Accomplish and refrain glorification,
Accomplish and restrain aggression,
Accomplish and relinquish pride,
Accomplish and take no credit,
Accomplish and refuse domination.
Matters that mature grow old,
That is not in the Art of the Dao,
Without the Art of being, and be premature.
|Chapter 31 (第三十一章) |
| ||Where everyone is well armed, is a state in vain, |
Matters alike are resented,
Therefore the master dwells not.
Hence the master finds residence on leftovers,
Mobilizes on righteousness.
Armaments, are instruments in vain,
Are unmasterly instruments.
Wielded only when inevitable,
Reconciliation is paramount,
Victorious without glorification.
Those who glorify, take pleasure in massacres.
Those who take pleasure in massacres,
Cannot win the hearts of the people.
Therefore, upon prosperity, be left-out,
In adversity, be righteous.
Hence the general is to the left,
The admiral is to the right,
Positioned in solemn remembrance.
Casualties, are mourned in consolation.
Victories, are remembered in solemness.
|Chapter 32 (第三十二章) |
| ||The Dao is ultimately nameless. |
Bushes of thorns may be insignificant,
Yet no one dares belittle its sting.
When leaders abide,
The myriad things things follow.
Heaven and earth complements another,
Morning dew befalls,
People, without ordinance, becomes orderly.
Orders are identified by classifications;
Once the classes are identified, one soon sees the limitations.
Knowing the limitations, thus become unlimited.
Like that where the Art is manifested in the world,
Is there where rivers merge into oceans.
|Chapter 33 (第三十三章) |
| ||Knowing people is being intelligent, |
Knowing self is being enlightened.
Victorious over people is being powerful,
Victorious over self is being invincible.
Those who are content are submerged in wealth,
Those who are contentious are submitted to ambitions,
Those who do not forget their principles endure,
Those who die but are not forgotten live on.
|Chapter 34 (第三十四章) |
| ||Implications of the Dao are broad and extensive. Ubiquitous! |
Capable of contravening and swaying anything left or right.
The myriad things depend on it yet it never turns its back away,
Fulfilling without recognitions.
Submitting to the myriad things without assuming ownership,
Thus be called modest;
Submerged by the myriad things without accepting ownership,
Thus be called great.
Hence the master foregoes greatness,
Therefore is capable of accomplishing great deeds.
|Chapter 35 (第三十五章) |
| ||Herald a great icon, |
And the people cometh;
Cometh towards unharmful doctrines,
People find security,
Peacefulness and prosperity.
Music and enticements craves the visitor to stay.
The words of the Dao,
Are tasteless and lack sensations,
Observe and it cannot be seen,
Listen and it cannot be heard,
Exploit and it cannot be exhausted.
|Chapter 36 (第三十六章) |
| ||If one desires to shrink something, one must indefinitely expand it; |
If one desires to weaken something, one must indefinitely strengthen it;
If one desires to discard something, one must indefinitely flourish it;
If one desires to obtain something, one must indefinitely give it;
This is the Knowledge of Subtlety.
Gentleness overcomes Toughness,
Vulnerability overcomes Dominance.
Fish cannot leave the depth,
Deadly weapons should not be exposed to the people.
|Chapter 37 (第三十七章) |
| ||The Dao abides in non-action but there is nothing it does not do. |
When the leaders abide,
The myriad of things transform by itself;
Transformed yet desire to act,
I lead the community by not naming the simplicity of things;
Without naming the simplicity of things, thus lead to no desire;
Without desire, with tranquility,
The world correct by itself.
|Chapter 38 (第三十八章) |
| ||Those with great Virtue are not bound by virtues, |
Thus can be with Virtue;
Those without Virtue fail to liberate themselves of virtues,
Thus remain without Virtue.
Those with great Virtue act not and take no credit in their actions,
Those without Virtue act and demand respect in their actions.
The humane acts charitably and holds no repute.
The righteous acts in the name of justice and relishes the glory.
The moral acts, and when there is no response,
Forces the issue, alas to no avail.
Therefore, when the Dao is lost there is Virtue,
When Virtue is lost there is humanity,
When humanity is lost there is righteousness,
When righteousness is lost there is morality.
When the rituals of morality become customary,
Devotion and faith become skin deep and turmoil begins to stir;
When priority is given to the scholars,
The Dao becomes glorified and are used to fool the crowd.
Hence the master is concerned with depth,
Not with sheerness;
Dwells on integrity, not on glory.
Therefore, detach from exteriors and embrace interiors.
|Chapter 39 (第三十九章) |
| ||When at one with the Dao: |
When heaven is at one, it is clear,
When earth is at one, it is fertile,
When the spirit is at one, it is serene,
When the refuge is at one, it is rewarding,
When the myriad things are at one, there is life,
When the leaders are at one, the people are respectable,
And become at one!
If the heaven is unclear, there is fear it will fracture;
If the earth is infertile, there is dread for disaster;
If the spirit is disturbed, there is anxiety in death;
If the refuge is deprived, there is panic over recession;
If the myriad things are lifeless, there is scare of extermination;
If the leaders are disrespectful,
absorbed in the admiration
of their own supremacy, the people becomes terrorized by authority.
Therefore admiration is based on humility,
Supremacy finds foundation in lowliness.
When the leaders maintain uninvolved, irrelevant and undeserving,
Is it not based on humility?
Therefore prepare your chariots and set them aside.
Yearn not for crowns and jewels,
And remain composed in grits and gravel.
|Chapter 40 (第四十章) |
| ||Resilience is the Dao in action, |
Vulnerability is the Dao in expression.
The myriad things in the universe are conceived by existence,
Existence is conceived by inexistence.
Dao De Jing passages 40-81 (continued)