Tao
Te
Ching

A book of
the Way

Modern translation
by Joe Kelly

1

The Way that can be told
is not the Way.

No definition we can hold
can have its name.

Before we start a definition
there isn't division.

Maps of separate things
are always made.

So...
There's no hope
of fixing its mystery.

That hope puts you
in your own way.

It's an on and off wave
and an ongoing exchange:

You re-draw the map,
hope the territory
is explained.

Continue to explore
what always goes before
your definitions.

Walk through
door after door
towards Mastery.

2

Without exception...

When good is decided, bad was compared.
When right is established, wrong was declared.

In the same way...
A something makes nothings.
A difficult explains easies.
A long describes shorts.
A high arranges lows.

And vice versa.

Thus...
Wisdom thinks in not-so-split distinctions.
Skill consists in not-so-strict instructions.

The Master brings the
bigger disposition.

Then it goes.

He opposes
neither motion.

He creates without possessing.
He trials without expecting.
He succeeds without professing.

Mystery remains
and he keeps going.

2

Without exception...

When good is decided, bad was compared.
When right is established, wrong was declared.

In the same way...
A something makes nothings.
A difficult explains easies.
A long describes shorts.
A high arranges lows.

And vice versa.

Thus...
Wisdom thinks in not-so-split distinctions.
Skill consists in not-so-strict instructions.

The Master brings the
bigger disposition.

Then it goes.

They oppose
neither motion.

They create without possessing.
They trial without expecting.
They succeed without professing.

Mystery remains
and they keep going.

3

With no high positions
there's no rivalry.

With no treasures to protect
there are no thieves.

With no hoped-for preconceptions
there's no problem disagreeing.

Thus...
The Master keeps the mind
not-so-preoccupied.

The belly then
rarely unfills.

He uproots his beliefs.
Disproves his ideas.

His will is not enforced
yet order builds.

3

With no high positions
there's no rivalry.

With no treasures to protect
there are no thieves.

With no hope-filled preconceptions
there's no problem disagreeing.

Thus...
Masters keep the mind
not-so-preoccupied.

The belly then
rarely unfills.

They uproot their beliefs.
Disprove their ideas.

Their will is not enforced
yet order builds.

4

The Way only stays
when you pour it away.

The well doesn't dry but flows on.

See ten thousand things
as each ends and begins.

And all the while still it goes on.

The pointed smoothes over.
The tangled unwinds.
The glaring fades.
The dust settles.

What a mystery!

I see no way
we'd know or say
this nature.

It's like a picture
with no edge to frame.

5

Nature has no favoured way.

All things rearrange
without a passion.

The Master has no favoured way.

All his concepts change
with that detachment.

Look at ‘space’.

See space, you can say,
is quite a few ways
like a bellows.

Its emptiness
gives it such power!

The more that you move it
the more it produces!

See...
Ideas, words, nouns, verbs.
They work most of the time.

But don't forget
they're not the same
as that to which they sign.

5

Nature has no favoured way.

All things rearrange
without a passion.

Masters have no favoured way.

All their concepts change
with that detachment.

Look at ‘space’.

See space, you can say,
is quite a few ways
like a bellows.

Its emptiness
gives it such power!

The more that you move it
the more it produces!

See...
Ideas, words, nouns, verbs.
They work most of the time.

But don't forget
they're not the same
as that to which they sign.

6

It's a rearranging space
of endless changes.

There's room for improving
and gaps to expand in.

Feels like more
a female sort of thing.

Always there
and ready to receive.

7

The heavens are endless.
The earth lasts ages.

How can it be
explained?

They're not a product of themselves.
That's how their growth is so sustained.

Thus...
The Master puts himself back
and it brings him forward.

The growth isn't his
but he's supported.

Odd how by a
silence of himself
he is fulfilled.

7

The heavens are endless.
The earth lasts ages.

How can it be
explained?

They're not a product of themselves.
That's how their growth is so sustained.

Thus...
Masters put themselves back
and it brings them forward.

The growth isn't theirs
but they're supported.

Odd how by a
silence of themselves
they're fulfilled.

8

The highest skill
is like water.

Water fits
with all of its
conditions.

It's unforced.

It flows in the
low places where
others change course.

It finds and aligns with the Way.

So...
A good house is shaped to its grounds.
A good mind is shaped to its doubts.

A good talk is straight.
A good plan adapts.

A good action
is well timed.

So it lasts.

No course
that we enforce
secures things down.

9

Keep filling a bowl and it spills.

Use timing and distance...
Find what's efficient...

This practice has
no end of skill.

Overprized treasures are never secure.
Oversharpened blades are quick to blunt.

Watch those who try
to highlight their
own worth...

They only ever
undermine their work.

Move on from work that's over.
Don't stray from the Way.

10

Who can find a focus
and foundation?

The undistracted mind
where there isn't separation.

Where can you concentrate for days
still like a baby, soft-of-shape?

Where do preconceptions clear away
leaving ever fewer stains?

Where does cooperation reign
without being made?

Where do countless
good decisions come from
no specific system?

Where does each new
piece of wisdom mark the
start of more tuition?

Endless development.

It creates without possessing.
It trials without expecting.
It inspires without controlling.

In this lies untold power.

11

We join thirty spokes at a wheel's hub.
The hole in the middle moves the cart.

We mould clay into a pot.
The emptiness inside makes it useful.

We build walls to make a house.
The space is where we live.

All our valued things
make use of nothing.

12

The Five Colours blind people.
The Five Tones deafen people.
The Five Feelings numb people.

See...
Search replaces sensing.
Success misguides the mind.

Thus...
The Master begins with the actual things,
before thoughts of What He Will Find.

12

The Five Colours blind people.
The Five Tones deafen people.
The Five Feelings numb people.

See...
Search replaces sensing.
Success misguides the mind.

Thus...
Masters begin with the actual things,
before thoughts of What They Will Find.

13

Glory or shame...
The concern is the same.

Status...
What a menace.

We're chasing low places
when aiming at status.

Fear for its loss...
Hope for its gain...

It's one two-fold game
played on age-old terrain.

What a pain
there's no way
not to play it.

As long as it's
not motivation.

Walk in the shoes of the world
and it trusts you to shape it.

14

Look for it, you won't find it — it's not hidden.
Listen for it, you won't hear it — it's not faint.
Grasp at it, you won't catch it — it's not there.

These three can't succeed.

Attempting to sense it is part of it —
not located elsewhere.

It's nothing bright,
nothing dull.

It doesn't rise,
doesn't lull.

It refuses definition,
like a thread of neverending length.

So we give it weird names...

The Unformed Form.
The Elusive.
The Void.

The Inimitable
Un-image-able Mystery!

No face to meet.
No back to follow.

The ancient Way
is here today.

Leaving footprints.

15

The wisest ones of old
were skilled in never being told.

They could learn on their own,
act without being shown.

Deeply aware
of the edges around
the unknown.

So how did they approach the unknown?

Stay ready.
Move through it like a winter river.

Stay undecided.
Keep the possibilities alive.

Stay attentive.
Be its humble guest.

Stay smooth.
Turn the frozen wet.

Stay undesigned.
Don't carve the block early.

Stay undefined.
Let some things be murky.

Stay mixed.
Accept unsettled.

Whose unsettled edges never perish
but continuously clear?

Whose balance never centers
but continuously appears?

To stay this way
do not be swayed
by Fulfillment.

The path not-so-blemished
gets endlessly replenished.

16

Everything ends in stillness.

See a million different things
have their beginnings.

I would say that the returns
should be considered.

Each returns to
the condition it was in
before beginning.

This seems consistent.

Knowing these
consistent things
brings wisdom.

Otherwise dissonance.

When we distill
consistent things
into principles...

It shapes our vision
of a larger system.

That shapes the people
in ruling positions.

They shape big pictures
with far-reaching decisions.

That sets conditions
that shape people's ways.

Then people shape history
defining our age.

The death of this body
is not the worry.

17

The best leaders
build understanding.

The next best build admiration.
The next best build doubt.
The worst build hate.

See...
Straight instruction isn't enough;
it's never straightforward.

The Master gives
this maximum
importance.

He succeeds
when other people say,
“We do it on our own, our way”.

17

The best leaders
build understanding.

The next best build admiration.
The next best build doubt.
The worst build hate.

See...
Straight instruction isn't enough;
it's never straightforward.

Masters give
this maximum
importance.

They succeed
when other people say,
“We do it on our own, our way”.

18

When the Way no longer flows,
‘Correct’ sets in stone.

When wisdom is routine,
deception succeeds.

When family ties destabilize,
people honour names.

When disorder strikes a country,
loyal ministers obtain.

19

Throw out ‘Wise’.
Abandon ‘Known’.
Too narrow.

Forget ‘Correct’.
Drop ‘Fair and Even’.
Just tides.

Lessen the clever.
Taper the favoured.
Intrusions.

Three good adjustments
but no foundation.

So...
Appreciate plainness.
Deal in essential.
Focus goals.
Sharpen technique.

20

Scrap the guidebooks.
Save your worries.

What's the difference between
“good day, sir” and “hi”?

Does it matter?

Must all of us walk
a single course?

How stupid!

People get engrossed
like hungry guests at a feast.

I say keep on listening
like a baby figuring out speech.

They're good at
the daily increase.

But what about
the daily decrease?

I must be a fool
my mind is so empty!

Most like the light.
But there's dark and unseen.

Most seem so sure.
Things seem doubtful to me.

Most will go on
hoping things stay.

I say...
While they try to trap the tides
bring on Her waves.

21

Where character is real
nothing is adhered to but the Way.

As in...
The Way you can't be told
and no-one can say.

The words we read don't secure it.
The images we see just obscure it.

The definitions are endless
and constantly change.

Still...
All those definitions
share a basic composition.

In ancient times
and still today...

The specifics are different.
But the movement?

It's the same.

How can it be ours?
Keep going.

22

Before completion, things are unfinished.
Before straightening, the path bends.

Before filling comes emptiness.
Before renewal comes use.

Before opportunity, there's limitation.
Before confinement, freedom to choose.

Thus...
The Master sees not
separateness but stages.

He looks for neither
and sees clearly.

He strives for neither
and moves free.

He fears for neither
and succeeds.

He stays with neither
and keeps going.

Where nothing is opposed,
opposition isn't met.

22

Before completion, things are unfinished.
Before straightening, the path bends.

Before filling comes emptiness.
Before renewal comes use.

Before opportunity, there's limitation.
Before confinement, freedom to choose.

Thus...
Masters don't see
separateness but stages.

They look for neither,
and see clearly.

They strive for neither,
and move free.

They fear for neither,
and succeed.

Then they leave
and keep going.

Where nothing is opposed,
opposition isn't met.

23

The natural is succinct.

The strongest winds aren't always blowing.
The heaviest rain doesn't fall every day.

These two are natural movements.
Neither is too long sustained.

Why on Earth
should a person
be different?

See...
While many will make
great statements
of the Way...

Deliberating over the Way
is a part of the Way.

Deliberating over character
is a part of character.

Deliberating over neither
is a part of neither.

Seeing this is how
these things complete.

Hence...
Straight instruction isn't enough;
it's never straightforward.

24

The tallest stance is not the firmest.
The longest stride is not the fastest.

Those who try to seem bright do not shine.
Those who try to seem faultless make problems.

Only unapparent virtues need proclaiming.
Only doubtful truths need defense.

The Way needs no overstatement.
The Master needs no pretense.

25

There are times when events go together,
before any conceptions come to be.

What a silence this delivers!
Something truly unique.

There's one course of action and no other aim.
Everything flows, nothing gets in the way.

We can make this be
the way that we
do anything.

You can't really define it in technique.
I call it the Way — a path walked, so to speak.

Don't sweat the definition.
Take a tour, not a Great Expedition.

Walk the Way
as a natural condition.

That's to say...

Make the Way great.
It matters.

The source of great thoughts
and great actions.

Great rule-making too.
But after.

These are the four great spaces we enter.
Ruling is the smallest in the center.

Remember...
Wherever there's people
there's actions.

Wherever there's actions
there's thoughts.

Wherever there's thoughts
there's the Way.

The Way they walk is theirs.
But the same.

26

Massive actions need play.
Massive storms need patience.

See...
Wisdom isn't living without a blizzard.
Skill is many days spent heavy-laden.

So...
How can light games work
in the grandest-scale framework?

You need lightness
so the wise can find roots.

You need storms
so the skillful have room.

27

Expert steps are
not followed.

Expert words are
not hollow.

See...
It's not just tricks and locks.
Gather up keys — it won't open.

It's not just tying a knot.
Fasten it down — it's broken.

Thus...
The Master will discern
an expert person
then return.

He never abandons his practice.

You could call this
“keeping the lights on”.

Experts aren't made
by being expert.

Experts are made
by being not expert.

So...
Always respect a good lesson.
But never adhere without question.

Irrespective of how clever,
that's a fundamental error.

Doubt is essential.

27

Expert steps are
not followed.

Expert words are
not hollow.

See...
It's not just tricks and locks.
Gather up keys — it won't open.

It's not just tying a knot.
Fasten it down — it's broken.

Thus...
Masters will discern
an expert person
then return.

They never abandon their practice.

You could call this
“keeping the lights on”.

Experts aren't made
by being expert.

Experts are made
by being not expert.

So...
Always respect a good lesson.
But never adhere without question.

Irrespective of how clever,
that's a fundamental error.

Doubt is essential.

28

To know what's male
means keeping what's female.

Make them one stream.

Real character's in that stream
like a baby would be.

To know what's light
means keeping what's dark.

Make them one means.

Real character's in that means
and at neither extreme.

To know what's virtuous
means keeping what's vicious.

Make them one valley.

Real character's in that valley
or neither has value.

Neither shape serves us
unless there's real purpose.

So then...

Carve these blocks wiser...
go further and higher.

But there's no splitting them.

29

You try to force
the world towards
your liking.

But it doesn't happen.

The world itself
has its own wealth
of timings.

You can't combat them.

It's those who wish
the world were fixed
who break it.

It's those who keep
the tightest grip
who lose it.

Take anything...

It might seem like leading.
Maybe it's followed.

It might seem to be loud.
Maybe it's mellow.

It might seem like strength.
Maybe it's weak.

It might seem like victory.
Maybe it's defeat.

Thus...
The Master knows
you never know
for certain.

He shuns
excessive action
and extremes.

29

You try to force
the world towards
your liking.

But it doesn't happen.

The world itself
has its own wealth
of timings.

You can't combat them.

It's those who wish
the world were fixed
who break it.

It's those who keep
the tightest grip
who lose it.

Take anything...

It might seem like leading.
Maybe it's followed.

It might seem to be loud.
Maybe it's mellow.

It might seem like strength.
Maybe it's weak.

It might seem like victory.
Maybe it's defeat.

Thus...
Masters know
you never know
for certain.

They shun
excessive action
and extremes.

30

Good rule-making
has room made
for the Way.

Forcing isn't how
it's all maintained.

Force means opposition.

The path your army walks
has many thorns.

The field after the war
produces slower
than before.

So...
The skilled will move to action
as trees give rise to fruit.

They don't go further.

When they prevail
it's not for glory.

When they succeed
it's not for show.

When they achieve
it's not for distinction.

When they guide
it's not for control.

Overgrown means frail.

What's not the Way
is not sustained.

31

The finest soldiers
find it joyless.

Maybe it's not right.

For those who walk the Way
it has no special weight.

But it's not taken light.

The best success is
two sides kept.

Enforcer right.
Civilian left.

The finest soldiers
find it joyless.

They know the fight,
not how it's dressed.

The task is adopted,
since there isn't an option.

But the feeling is neutral, at best.

See...
Victory is serious.

Joy can't rest
on others' deaths.

To delight in requiring
that others are dying...

That's the height
of dysfunction.

Nothing less.

So...
Generals go left in the good times,
and right when times are bad.

Two twin paths throughout their lives
until their funeral's had.

32

The Way won't be defined.

That's a small and simple rule
but it'll never be outsized.

Not by anyone.

When rule-makers are capable
of not-defining well...

The world of separate things
begins aligning by itself.

The whole takes on a shape...
It's like a sweet-stuff-trapping lattice.

There's no-one who controls it
but continuous rebalance.

The rules you make
define a shape.

Defining is automatic.

The skill in this
for minimum risk?

Remember to abandon.

Our ordered paths are to the Way
as tiny streams are to the sea.

33

It's clever when you
know the path of others.

Truly able people know their own.

It's strength when you
succeed compared to others.

Truly strong successes stand alone.

Some know what
sufficient means.

They're the wealthy.

Some improve
relentlessly.

They work the belly.

There are those for whom
these two cohere.

They go the furthest.

There are those who've died
and haven't disappeared.

They're not finished.

34

Great actions
are expansions
of the Way.

Both can form
a back and forth
exchange.

Wherein...

There's a million new beginnings
which it gives no opposition.

There's much achieved
it gives no definition.

There's a million
things it feeds.

But no ruling
conditions.

There's no
desire for those
positions.

The less the better.

There's a million goals
the future holds.

But not ruling
positions.

The more the merrier.

Great actions can be made
when being great is not the aim.

35

There are sets of
great conceptions
we're drawn to.

Away from pains
towards guarantees.

Rich and blissful visions
take their prisoners.

The Way?

So very bland
compared to these!

When looked for,
it's invisible.

When listened for,
it's inaudible.

When applied,
it's inexhaustible.

36

You try to shorten something
but that lengthens it.

You try to weaken something
but that strengthens it.

You try to undermine something
but that reinforces it.

You try to subtract something
but that adds more of it.

It's subtle.

Flexible beats firm.
Adaptive beats unyielding.

Like the fish
which can't live
without water:

These are active currents
we must swim in.

These living skills are only built
with practice, never given.

37

The Way in fact
has no set path
of action.

It's never just do this
and don't do that.

When rule-makers are capable
of walking on this path...

There's a world of separate things
that isn't told — it adapts.

Hopes arise
where a change
has thrived.

These I'd say
it's better not to have.

Re-undefine.

Don't carve the block
before its time.

Outside your
hoped-for notions
all is not so misaligned.

38

Real character
is not an exercise
in character.

That's why it has character.

Low character
is all an exercise
in character.

That's why it lacks character.

Real character
has no set path
of action.

It's not a destination.

Low character
has lots of paths
of action.

It's emulation.

See...
Truly well-made action
doesn't have a given shape.

Truly ‘Correct’ action
is a shape that you instate.

Truly ordered action
everyone hates.

...just forced
to imitate.

So...
You lose the Way
by aiming at character.

You lose character
by acting well-made.

You lose well-made
through ‘Correctness’.

And past ‘Correct’ there's nothing left...
Just orders followed more or less.

Empty meditations aimed
at traces of the Way.

The source of
all sorts of
disorder.

Thus...
The Master takes care of the depths
and lets the surface sort itself.

Not gathered leaves
but rooted tree.

He builds upon
the way things are.

Not on thoughts of
What Should Be.

38

Real character
is not an exercise
in character.

That's why it has character.

Low character
is all an exercise
in character.

That's why it lacks character.

Real character
has no set path
of action.

It's not a destination.

Low character
has lots of paths
of action.

It's emulation.

See...
Truly well-made action
doesn't have a given shape.

Truly ‘Correct’ action
is a shape that you instate.

Truly ordered action
everyone hates.

...just forced
to imitate.

So...
You lose the Way
by aiming at character.

You lose character
by acting well-made.

You lose well-made
through ‘Correctness’.

And past ‘Correct’ there's nothing left...
Just orders followed more or less.

Empty meditations aimed
at traces of the Way.

The source of
all sorts of
disorder.

Thus...
Masters take care of the depths
and let the surface sort itself.

Not gathered leaves
but rooted trees.

They build upon
the way things are.

Not on thoughts of
What Should Be.

39

Oldness is in holding
One True Way.

Wherein...
Just one belief is clear.
One set of actions must appear.

The one-way quiet mind
eclipses all that's undefined.

Everything developing
must fit the One True Shape.

Every king and rule-maker
must keep the world One Way.

But see...
Beliefs must fall to pieces
to get clearer.

Actions must adapt
to the arena.

The mind must keep still
in gaps it can't fill.

Universal rules for
any leader.

So...
Overvaluing things is costly.
Exalting things too highly brings decline.

Thus...
Beneath the most skilled leaders
the ground is recognized.

They say, “We alone
are unworthy”.

And so pay
no such price.

Note...
You can gather all the parts of a chariot.
Doesn't mean you've got one.

Don't just see
the shining jewels.

Look to the rocks
at the bottom.

40

When you enact ‘The Way’
you've gone against it.

When you apply ‘The Way’
you've lessened it.

Without exception...

They're all just bits of what it is
turned into what it isn't.

41

Top academics hear ‘The Way’
and diligently practice.

Middle academics hear ‘The Way’
and move among crowds.

Non-academics hear ‘The Way’
and laugh aloud.

If we can't ever laugh
there isn't a path
for the Way.

So...
Often we say...

Ways of ‘Light’ conceal.
Ways of ‘Progress’ hold back.

‘Equalness’ distinguishes.
‘High Character’ is a low track.

What's ‘Pure White’ is a stain.
What's ‘Rich’ creates lack.

Intention does not
mean impact.

See...
Great discipline isn't in boundaries.
Great practice is not so complete.

There's the sounds
no-one hears.

There's the things
no-one sees.

The Way is not something
carved and concrete.

No definition, beginning and finish.
The only way it's achieved.

42

We name ‘The Way’
in hopes of framing everything.

Soon one, two, three,
ten thousand separate things.

So many ‘Yangs’
wrapped up in ‘Yins’.

Is it ‘Harmony’?

It's a fear to
move alone.

People stick to
what they know.

Leadership requires
that we don't.

Watch...

Things we think disastrous
turn out as blessings.

Blessings disastrous.

I've learned this
same as others.

So...
For those who force
their ‘One True Course’
of action...

No assurance.

Wisdom isn't certain.
That I'm sure of!

43

Most often better to soften.

Those who hold to
no specific shape...

...need to enter
no specific gate.

See why I value
no set path of action?

It's not what's learned
through words.

Few truly grasp this.

44

Master how you are
or how you're known?

Make more of what you are
or what you own?

Think ill of what you have
or what you don't?

Both extremes
are costly.

Too much stored
is one more cause
of losses.

Think sufficient,
not less than.

Learn to stop,
not have no plan.

You'll go further.

45

Incompleteness seems part
of great achievement.

It's not useless.

Pouring out seems part
of great fulfilment.

It's not fruitless.

The straightest line
might be a turn.

The finest skills
might not be learned.

The strongest part of speech
might be in stammers
not in words.

Remember...
Things never stop moving.

It's faster when hot,
slower when not.

Any ideal that
tries to stand still
will not work.

46

The world's horses
are forces for cycling manure.

They weren't bred to fight on
the frontlines of war.

See...
We can want things.

That's our worst
corrupting factor.

We don't know
what enough is.

That's what makes
our worst disasters.

The worst of our flaws
is to just pursue ‘More’.

When enough know enough
the worst has a master.

47

You don't go through ‘The Door’
and then know everything for sure.

You don't look through ‘The Window’
and see the Way once and for all.

The further these grow
the more they limit
what you know.

Thus...
The Master doesn't stay
at what he knows.

He doesn't stop
at what he's shown.

He doesn't aim
at what he's done.

47

You don't go through ‘The Door’
and then know everything for sure.

You don't look through ‘The Window’
and see the Way once and for all.

The further these grow
the more they limit
what you know.

Thus...
Masters don't stay
at what they know.

They don't stop
at what they're shown.

They don't aim
at what they've done.

48

Deliberateness builds up in learning.
The Way is in shaving it down.

More and more goes
until free from the known.

No do or don't
to be found.

Those who grasp the whole
do so through having
no such goal.

We lose the whole
with such a goal around.

49

The Master's mind
is not persistent.

It fits with all
of its conditions.

He's good with the good times.
And he's good with the bad.

That's what good is.

He's got integrity when
others show integrity.

And when others
show none back.

That's what integrity is.

See...
Wisdom exists in the world
as part of bigger actions.

Nothing's caught
in structured thought
but temporary fractions.

49

The Master's mind
is not persistent.

It fits with all
of its conditions.

They're good with the good times.
And they're good with the bad.

That's what good is.

They've got integrity when
others show integrity.

And when others
show none back.

That's what integrity is.

See...
Wisdom lives within the world
as part of bigger actions.

Nothing's caught
in structured thought
but temporary fractions.

50

Coming to life means
going to death.

So...
Three tenths to handle your living.
Three tenths to handle your death.

And three tenths to those
alive after you've left.

Each of these
brings meaning.

Now...
There's a lot said and written
on these skills of living.

They say, “Blend them well
then some powers are given”.

So wherever you go
you could never get bitten.

No armour but nowhere
for spears to go into.

Is there a way
this is true?

Those alive after you.

51

The Ways that we make
have a charactered shape.

We separate things
by their valuable traits.

Thus...
Take anybody's world
of separate things.

The Way and its character
are always baked in.

Now...
The Way should be raised
and its character respected.

But they're both as they are
and they're never directed.

So...
For each Way you make,
take its charactered shape...

Flip and rotate it.
Break and re-make it.

Less wrong.
Less defective.

Create without possessing.
Trial without expecting.
Inspire without controlling.

In this lies untold power.

52

Without exception...

All things have
another thing they
start within.

That's to say...
a mother they've
arisen with.

This mother isn't different
from its children.

It's included.

A complete picture of one
gives you the other.

Disprove it?

Hence...
The death of this body
is not the worry.

See...
Here we have
an opening.

Closing it stops us
from growing.

So...
Open it up...
Follow it through...

Our everyday boundaries
can't be called true.

When we see this small thing
it brings wisdom.

When these limitations give
it brings strength.

Apply this to be lighter.

And feed clarity
in ways that
never end.

53

People make Great Ways.
Systems of adherence.

The cost is lots of pedantry
and pointless interference.

They say ‘The Great Way’
for the narrowest lanes.

I see very tidy courts
but fields of weeds
and empty stores.

Fancy clothes
and sharpened sword.

Sought-after things
and life engorged.

It leads us to
thieves and
deceivers.

Not the Way.

54

Good grounding comes through
what we can't uproot.

Good keeping comes through
what we can't remove.

This practice means
the sacrifice of
many things.

When applied...

It means integrity for you.
It means more for your group.

It means our society improves.
It means civilization blooms.

It means that everything
together moves.

So...
People, homes and families...
Districts, towns and nations...

Each applying
by itself creates a
co-active foundation.

How do I know
that's true?

By this practice.

55

含德之厚
比於赤子
毒蟲不螫
猛獸不據
攫鷙不博
骨弱筋柔而握固
未知牝牡之合而全作
精之至也
終日號而嗌不嗄
和之至也
知和曰常
知常曰明
益生曰祥
心使氣曰強
物壯則老
是謂不道
不道早已

54 /  81
Chapters Published

The next 7 chapters are finished
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57 to 61 is cool: all about nations and
governing. I found other translations
here to be very muddled.

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