These are chapters 1-40 of the Book of Wisdom.
The tao that can be described
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be spoken
is not the eternal Name.
The nameless is the boundary of Heaven and Earth.
The named is the mother of creation.
Freed from desire, you can see the hidden mystery.
By having desire, you can only see what is visibly real.
Yet mystery and reality
emerge from the same source.
This source is called darkness.
Darkness born from darkness.
The beginning of all understanding.
When people see things as beautiful,
ugliness is created.
When people see things as good,
evil is created.
Being and non-being produce each other.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low oppose each other.
Fore and aft follow each other.
Therefore the Master
can act without doing anything
and teach without saying a word.
Things come her way and she does not stop them;
things leave and she lets them go.
She has without possessing,
and acts without any expectations.
When her work is done, she take no credit.
That is why it will last forever.
If you over esteem talented individuals,
people will become overly competitive.
If you overvalue possessions,
people will begin to steal.
Do not display your treasures
or people will become envious.
The Master leads by
emptying people's minds,
filling their bellies,
weakening their ambitions,
and making them become strong.
Preferring simplicity and freedom from desires,
avoiding the pitfalls of knowledge and wrong action.
For those who practice not-doing,
everything will fall into place.
The Tao is like an empty container:
it can never be emptied and can never be filled.
Infinitely deep, it is the source of all things.
It dulls the sharp, unties the knotted,
shades the lighted, and unites all of creation with dust.
It is hidden but always present.
I don't know who gave birth to it .
It is older than the concept of God.
Heaven and Earth are impartial;
they treat all of creation as straw dogs.
The Master doesn't take sides;
she treats everyone like a straw dog.
The space between Heaven and Earth is like a bellows;
it is empty, yet has not lost its power.
The more it is used, the more it produces;
the more you talk of it, the less you comprehend.
It is better not to speak of things you do not understand.
The spirit of emptiness is immortal.
It is called the Great Mother
because it gives birth to Heaven and Earth.
It is like a vapor,
barely seen but always present.
Use it effortlessly.
The Tao of Heaven is eternal,
and the earth is long enduring.
Why are they long enduring?
They do not live for themselves;
thus they are present for all beings.
The Master puts herself last;
And finds herself in the place of authority.
She detaches herself from all things;
Therefore she is united with all things.
She gives no thought to self.
She is perfectly fulfilled.
The supreme good is like water,
which benefits all of creation
without trying to compete with it.
It gathers in unpopular places.
Thus it is like the Tao.
The location makes the dwelling good.
Depth of understanding makes the mind good.
A kind heart makes the giving good.
Integrity makes the government good.
Accomplishments makes your labors good.
Proper timing makes a decision good.
Only when there is no competition
will we all live in peace.
It is easier to carry and empty cup
thank one that is filled to the brim.
The sharper the knife
the easier it is to dull.
The more wealth you possess
the harder it is to protect.
Pride brings it's own trouble.
When you have accomplished your goal
simply walk away.
This is the path way to Heaven.
Nurture the darkness of your soul
until you become whole.
Can you do this and not fail?
Can you focus your life-breath until you become
supple as a newborn child?
While you cleanse your inner vision
will you be found without fault?
Can you love people and lead them
without forcing your will on them?
When Heaven gives and takes away
can you be content with the outcome?
When you understand all things
can you step back from your own understanding?
Giving birth and nourishing,
making without possessing,
expecting nothing in return.
To grow, yet not to control:
This is the mysterious virtue.
Thirty spokes are joined together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that allows the wheel to function.
We mold clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that makes the vessel useful.
We fashion wood for a house,
but it is the emptiness inside
that makes it livable.
We work with the substantial,
but the emptiness is what we use.
Five colors blind the eye.
Five notes deafen the ear.
Five flavors makes the palate go stale.
Too much activity deranges the mind.
Too much wealth causes crime.
The Master acts on what she feels and not what she sees.
She shuns the latter, and prefers to seek the former.
Success is as dangerous as failure,
and we are often our own worst enemy.
What does it mean that success is as dangerous as failure?
He who is superior is also someone's subordinate.
Receiving favor and loosing it both cause alarm.
That is what is meant by success is as dangerous as failure.
What does it mean that we are often our own worst enemy?
The reason I have an enemy is because I have "self".
If I no longer had a "self", I would no longer have an enemy.
Love the whole world as if it were your self;
then you will truly care for all things.
Look for it, and it can't be seen.
Listen for it, and it can't be heard.
Grasp for it, and it can't be caught.
These three cannot be further described,
so we treat them as The One.
It's highest is not bright.
It's depths are not dark.
Unending, unnameable, it returns to nothingness.
Formless forms, and image less images,
subtle, beyond all understanding.
Approach it and you will not see a beginning;
follow it and there will be no end.
When we grasp the Tao of the ancient ones,
we can use it to direct our life today.
To know the ancient origin of Tao:
this is the beginning of wisdom.
The Sages of old were profound
and knew the ways of subtlety and discernment.
Their wisdom is beyond our comprehension.
Because their knowledge was so far superior
I can only give a poor description.
They were careful
as someone crossing an frozen stream in winter.
Alert as if surrounded on all sides by the enemy.
Courteous as a guest.
Fluid as melting ice.
Whole as an uncarved block of wood.
Receptive as a valley.
Turbid as muddied water.
Who can be still
until their mud settles
and the water is cleared by itself?
Can you remain tranquil until right action occurs by itself?
The Master doesn't seek fulfillment.
For only those who are not full are able to be used
which brings the feeling of completeness.
If you can empty your mind of all thoughts
your heart will embrace the tranquility of peace.
Watch the workings of all of creation,
but contemplate their return to the source.
All creatures in the universe
return to the point where they began.
Returning to the source is tranquility
because we submit to Heavens mandate.
Returning to Heavens mandate is called being constant.
Knowing the constant is called 'enlightenment'.
Not knowing the constant is the source of evil deeds
because we have no roots.
By knowing the constant we can accept things as they are.
By accepting things as they are, we become impartial.
By being impartial, we become one with Heaven.
By being one with Heaven, we become one with Tao.
Being one with Tao, we are no longer concerned about
loosing our life because we know the Tao is constant
and we are one with Tao.
The best leaders are those the people hardly know exist.
The next best is a leader who is loved and praised.
Next comes the one who is feared.
The worst one is the leader that is despised.
If you don't trust the people,
they will become untrustworthy.
The best leaders value their words, and use them sparingly.
When she has accomplished her task,
the people say, "Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!"
When the great Tao is abandoned,
charity and righteousness appear.
When intellectualism arises,
hypocrisy is close behind.
When there is strife in the family unit,
people talk about 'brotherly love'.
When the country falls into chaos,
politicians talk about 'patriotism'.
Forget about knowledge and wisdom,
and people will be a hundred times better off.
Throw away charity and righteousness,
and people will return to brotherly love.
Throw away profit and greed,
and there won't be any thieves.
These three are superficial and aren't enough
to keep us at the center of the circle, so we must also:
Put others first.
Renounce knowledge and your problems will end.
What is the difference between yes and no?
What is the difference between good and evil?
Must you fear what others fear?
Nonsense, look how far you have missed the mark!
Other people are joyous,
as though they were at a spring festival.
I alone am unconcerned and expressionless,
like an infant before it has learned to smile.
Other people have more than they need;
I alone seem to possess nothing.
I am lost and drift about with no place to go.
I am like a fool, my mind is in chaos.
Ordinary people are bright;
I alone am dark.
Ordinary people are clever;
I alone am dull.
Ordinary people seem discriminating;
I alone am muddled and confused.
I drift on the waves on the ocean,
blown at the mercy of the wind.
Other people have their goals,
I alone am dull and uncouth.
I am different from ordinary people.
I nurse from the Great Mother's breasts.
The greatest virtue you can have
comes from following only the Tao;
which takes a form that is intangible and evasive.
Even though the Tao is intangible and evasive,
we are able to know it exists.
Intangible and evasive, yet it has a manifestation.
Secluded and dark, yet there is a vitality within it.
It's vitality is very genuine.
Within it we can find order.
Since the beginning of time, the Tao has always existed.
It is beyond existing and not existing .
How do I know where creation comes from?
I look inside myself and see it.
If you want to become whole,
first let yourself become broken.
If you want to become straight,
first let yourself become twisted.
If you want to become full,
first let yourself become empty.
If you want to become new,
first let yourself become old.
Those whose desires are few gets them,
those whose desires are great go astray.
For this reason the Master embraces the Tao,
as an example for the world to follow.
Because she isn't self centered,
people can see the light in her.
Because she does not boast of herself,
she becomes a shining example.
Because she does not glorify herself,
she becomes a person of merit.
Because she wants nothing from the world,
the world can not overcome her.
When the ancient Masters said,
"If you want to become whole,
then first let yourself be broken,"
they weren't using empty words.
All who do this will be made complete.
Nature uses few words:
when the gail blows, it will not last long;
when it rains hard, it lasts but a little while;
What causes these to happen? Heaven and Earth.
Why do we humans go on endlessly about little
when nature does much in a little time?
If you open yourself to the Tao,
you and Tao become one.
If you open yourself to Virtue,
then you can become virtuous.
If you open yourself to loss,
then you will become lost.
If you open yourself to the Tao,
the Tao will eagerly welcome you.
If you open yourself to virtue,
virtue will become a part of you.
If you open yourself to loss,
the lost are glad to see you.
"When you do not trust people,
people will become untrustworthy."
Those who stands on tiptoes
do not stand firmly.
Those who rush ahead
don't get very far.
Those who try to out shine others
dim their own light.
Those who call themselves righteous
can't know how wrong they are.
Those who boast of their accomplishments
diminishes the things they have done.
Compared to the Tao, these actions are unworthy.
If we are to follow the Tao,
we must not do these things.
Before the universe was born
there was something in the chaos of the heavens.
It stands alone and empty,
solitary and unchanging.
It is ever present and secure.
It may be regarded as the Mother of the universe.
Because I do not know it's name,
I call it the Tao.
If forced to give it a name,
I would call it 'Great'.
Because it is Great means it is everywhere.
Being everywhere means it is eternal.
Being eternal means everything returns to it.
Tao is great.
Heaven is great.
Earth is great.
Humanity is great.
Within the universe, these are the four great things.
Humanity follows the earth.
Earth follows Heaven.
Heaven follows the Tao.
The Tao follows only itself.
Heaviness is the basis of lightness.
Stillness is the standard of activity.
Thus the Master travels all day
without ever leaving her wagon.
Even though she has much to see,
is she at peace in her indifference.
Why should the lord of a thousand chariots
be amused at the foolishness of the world?
If you abandon yourself to foolishness,
you lose touch with your beginnings.
If you let yourself become distracted,
you will lose the basis of your power.
A good traveler leaves no tracks,
and a skillful speaker is well rehearsed.
A good bookkeeper has an excellent memory,
and a well made door is easy to open and needs no locks.
A good knot needs no rope and it can not come undone.
Thus the Master is willing to help everyone,
and doesn't know the meaning of rejection.
She is there to help all of creation,
and doesn't abandon even the smallest creature.
This is called embracing the light.
What is a good person but a bad person's teacher?
What is a bad person but raw materiel for his teacher?
If you fail to honor your teacher or fail to enjoy your student,
you will become deluded no matter how smart you are.
It is the secret of prime importance.
Know the masculine,
but keep to the feminine:
and become a watershed to the world.
If you embrace the world,
the Tao will never leave you
and you become as a little child.
Know the white,
yet keep to the black:
be a model for the world.
If you are a model for the world,
the Tao inside you will strengthen
and you will return whole to your eternal beginning.
Know the honorable,
but do not shun the disgraced:
embracing the world as it is.
If you embrace the world with compassion,
then your virtue will return you to the uncarved block.
The block of wood is carved into utensils
by carving void into the wood.
The Master uses the utensils, yet prefers to keep to the block
because of its limitless possibilities.
Great works do not involve discarding substance.
Do you want to rule the world and control it?
I don't think it can ever be done.
The world is sacred vessel
and it can not be controlled.
You will only it make it worse if you try.
It may slip through your fingers and disappear.
Some are meant to lead,
and others are meant to follow;
Some must always strain,
and others have an easy time;
Some are naturally big and strong,
and others will always be small;
Some will be protected and nurtured,
and others will meet with destruction.
The Master accepts things as they are,
and out of compassion avoids extravagance,
excess and the extremes.
Those who lead people by following the Tao
don't use weapons to enforce their will.
Using force always leads to unseen troubles.
In the places where armies march,
thorns and briars bloom and grow.
After armies take to war,
bad years must always follow.
The skillful commander
strikes a decisive blow then stops.
When victory is won over the enemy through war
it is not a thing of great pride.
When the battle is over,
arrogance is the new enemy.
War can result when no other alternative is given,
so the one who overcomes an enemy should not dominate them.
The strong always weakened with time.
This is not the way of the Tao.
That which is not of the Tao will soon end.
Weapons are the bearers of bad news;
all people should detest them.
The wise man values the left side,
and in time of war he values the right.
Weapons are meant for destruction,
and thus are avoided by the wise.
Only as a last resort
will a wise person use a deadly weapon.
If peace is her true objective
how can she rejoice in the victory of war?
Those who rejoice in victory
delight in the slaughter of humanity.
Those who resort to violence
will never bring peace to the world.
The left side is a place of honor on happy occasions.
The right side is reserved for mourning at a funeral.
When the lieutenants take the left side to prepare for war,
the general should be on the right side,
because he knows the outcome will be death.
The death of many should be greeted with great sorrow,
and the victory celebration should honor those who have died.
The Tao is nameless and unchanging.
Although it appears insignificant,
nothing in the world can contain it.
If a ruler abides by its principles,
then her people will willingly follow.
Heaven would then reign on earth,
like sweet rain falling on paradise.
People would have no need for laws,
because the law would be written on their hearts.
Naming is a necessity for order,
but naming can not order all things.
Naming often makes things impersonal,
so we should know when naming should end.
Knowing when to stop naming,
you can avoid the pitfall it brings.
All things end in the Tao
just as the small streams and the largest rivers
flow through valleys to the sea.
Those who know others are intelligent;
those who know themselves are truly wise.
Those who master others are strong;
those who master themselves have true power.
Those who know they have enough are truly wealthy.
Those who persist will reach their goal.
Those who keep their course have a strong will.
Those who embrace death will not perish,
but have life everlasting.
The great Tao flows unobstructed in every direction.
All things rely on it to conceive and be born,
and it does not deny even the smallest of creation.
When it has accomplishes great wonders,
it does not claim them for itself.
It nourishes infinite worlds,
yet it doesn't seek to master the smallest creature.
Since it is without wants and desires,
it can be considered humble.
All of creation seeks it for refuge
yet it does not seek to master or control.
Because it does not seek greatness;
it is able to accomplish truly great things.
She who follows the way of the Tao
will draw the world to her steps.
She can go without fear of being injured,
because she has found peace and tranquility in her heart.
Where there is music and good food,
people will stop to enjoy it.
But words spoken of the Tao
seem to them boring and stale.
When looked at, there is nothing for them to see.
When listen for, there is nothing for them to hear.
Yet if they put it to use, it would never be exhausted.
If you want something to return to the source,
you must first allow it to spread out.
If you want something to weaken,
you must first allow it to become strong.
If you want something to be removed,
you must first allow it to flourish.
If you want to possess something,
you must first give it away.
This is called the subtle understanding
of how things are meant to be.
The soft and pliable overcomes the hard and inflexible.
Just as fish remain hidden in deep waters,
it is best to keep weapons out of sight.
The Tao never acts with force,
yet there is nothing that it can not do.
If rulers could follow the way of the Tao,
then all of creation would willingly follow their example.
If selfish desires were to arise after their transformation,
I would erase them with the power of the Uncarved Block.
By the power of the Uncarved Block,
future generations would loose their selfish desires.
By loosing their selfish desires,
the world would naturally settle into peace.
The highest good is not to seek to do good,
but to allow yourself to become it.
The ordinary person seeks to do good things,
and finds that they can not do them continually.
The Master does not force virtue on others,
thus she is able to accomplish her task.
The ordinary person who uses force,
will find that they accomplish nothing.
The kind person acts from the heart,
and accomplishes a multitude of things.
The righteous person acts out of pity,
yet leaves many things undone.
The moral person will act out of duty,
and when no one will respond
will roll up his sleeves and uses force.
When the Tao is forgotten, there is righteousness.
When righteousness is forgotten, there is morality.
When morality is forgotten, there is the law.
The law is the husk of faith,
and trust is the beginning of chaos.
Our basic understandings are not from the Tao
because they come from the depths of our misunderstanding.
The master abides in the fruit and not in the husk.
She dwells in the Tao,
and not with the things that hide it.
This is how she increases in wisdom.
The masters of old attained unity with the Tao.
Heaven attained unity and become pure.
The earth attained unity and found peace.
The spirits attained unity so they could minister.
The valleys attained unity that they might be full.
Humanity attained unity that they might flourish.
Their leaders attained unity that they might set the example.
This is the power of unity.
Without unity, the sky becomes filthy.
Without unity, the earth becomes unstable.
Without unity, the spirits become unresponsive and disappear.
Without unity, the valleys become dry as a desert.
Without unity, human kind can't reproduce and becomes extinct.
Without unity, our leaders become corrupt and fall.
The great view the small as their source,
and the high takes the low as their foundation.
Their greatest asset becomes their humility.
They speak of themselves as orphans and widows,
thus they truly seek humility.
Do not shine like the precious gem,
but be as dull as a common stone.
All movement returns to the Tao.
Weakness is how the Tao works.
All of creation is born from substance.
Substance is born of nothing-ness.