|The Heart of Emptiness
Even successful arms, among all implements, are unblessed. All men come to detest them. Therefore the one who follows Dao does not rely on them. Arms are of all tools unblessed, they are not the implements of a wise man. Only as a last resort does he use them.
In propitious affairs the place of honor is the left, but in unpropitious affairs we honor the right
Peace and quietude are esteemed by the wise man, and even when victorious he does not rejoice, because rejoicing over a victory is the same as rejoicing over the killing of men. If he rejoices over killing men, do you think he will ever really master the Empire?
The strong man while at home esteems the left as the place of honor, but when armed for war it is as though he esteems the right hand, the place of less honor. Thus a funeral ceremony is so arranged. The place of a subordinate army officer is also on the left and the place of his superior officer is on the right. The killing of men fills multitudes with sorrow; we lament with tears because of it, and rightly honor the victor as if he was attending a funeral ceremony.
|The Virtue of Holiness
Tao in its eternal aspect is unnamable.
Its simplicity appears insignificant, but the whole world cannot control it. If princes and kings employ it every one of themselves will pay willing homage. Heaven and Earth by it are harmoniously combined and drop sweet dew. People will have no need of rulers, because of themselves they will be righteous.
As soon as Dao expresses itself in orderly creation then it becomes comprehensible. When one recognizes the presence of Dao he understands where to stop. Knowing where to stop he is free from danger.
To illustrate the nature of Dao’s place in the universe: Dao is like the brooks and streams in their relation to the great rivers and the ocean.
|The Virtue of Discrimination
He who knows others is intelligent; he who understands himself is enlightened; he who is able to conquer others has force, but he who is able to control himself is mighty. He who appreciates contentment is wealthy.
He who dares to act has nerve; if he can maintain his position he will endure, but he, who dying does not perish, is immortal.
|The Perfection of Trust
Great Dao is all pervading! It can be on both the right hand and the left.
Everything relies upon it for their existence, and it does not fail them. It acquires merit but covets not the title. It lovingly nourishes everything, but does not claim the rights of ownership. It has no desires, it can be classed with the small. Everything returns to it, yet it does not claim the right of ownership. It can be classed with the great.
Therefore the wise man to the end will not pose as a great man, and by so doing will express his true greatness.
|The Virtue of Benevolence
The world will go to him who grasps this Great Principle; they will seek and not be injured, they will find contentment, peace and rest.
Music and dainties attract the passing people, while Dao’s reality seen-is insipid. Indeed it has no taste, when looked at there is not enough seen to be prized, when listened for, it can scarcely be heard, but, the use of it is inexhaustible.
|Explanation of a Paradox
That which has a tendency to contract must first have been extended; that which has a tendency to weaken itself must first have been strong; that which shows a tendency to destroy itself must first have been raised up; that which shows a tendency to scatter must first have been gathered.
This is the explanation of a seeming contradiction: the tender and yielding conquer the rigid and strong (i.e., spirit is stronger than matter, persuasion than force).
The fish would be foolish to seek escape from its natural environment. There is no gain to a nation to compel by a show of force.
|Administering the Government
Tao is apparently inactive (wu wei) and yet nothing remains undone. If princes and kings desire to keep) everything in order, they must first reform themselves. (If princes and kings would follow the example of Dao, then all things will reform themselves.)
If they still desire to change, I would pacify them by the simplicity of the ineffable Dao.
This simplicity will end desire, and if desire be absent there is quietness. All people will of themselves be satisfied.
|A Discussion About Virtue
Essential de [teh] makes no show of virtue, and therefore it is really virtuous. Inferior virtue never loses sight of itself and therefore it is no longer virtue.
Essential virtue is characterized by lack of self-assertion (wu wei) and therefore is unpretentious. Inferior virtue is acting a part and thereby is only pretense.
Superior benevolence in a way is acting but does not thereby become pretentious. Excessive righteousness is acting and does thereby become pretentious.
Excessive propriety is acting, but where no one responds to it, it stretches its arm and enforces obedience.
Therefore when one loses Dao there is still de [teh]; one may lose de [teh] and benevolence remains; one may forsake benevolence and still hold to righteousness; one may lose righteousness and propriety remains.
Propriety, alone, reduces loyalty and good faith to a shadow, and it is the beginning of disorder. Tradition is the mere flower of the Dao and had its origin in ignorance.
Therefore the great man of affairs conforms to the spirit and not to external appearance. He goes on to fruitage and does not rest in the show of blossom. He avoids mere propriety and practices true benevolence.
萬物無以生，將恐 滅﹔侯王無以貞，將恐蹶。故貴以賤為本，高以下為基。是以侯王自稱孤 、寡、不穀。此非以賤為本邪？非乎？
|The Root of Authority
It has been said of old, only those who attain unity attain self-hood. . . .
Heaven attained unity and thereby is space. Earth attained unity, thereby it is solid. Spirit attained unity, thereby it became mind. Valleys attained unity, therefore rivers flow down them. All things have unity and thereby have life. Princes and kings as they attain unity become standards of conduct for the nation. And the highest unity is that which produces unity.
If heaven were not space it might crack, if earth were not solid it might bend. If spirits were not unified into mind they might vanish, if valleys were not adapted to rivers they would be parched. Everything if it were not for life would burn up. Even princes and kings if they overestimate themselves and cease to be standards will presumably fall.
Therefore nobles find their roots among the commoners; the high is always founded upon the low. The reason why princes and kings speak of themselves as orphans, inferiors and unworthy, is because they recognize that their roots run down to the common life; is it not so?
If a carriage goes to pieces it is no longer a carriage, its unity is gone.
A true self-hood does not desire to be overvalued as a gem, nor to be undervalued as a mere stone.
Retirement is characteristic of Dao just as weakness appears to be a characteristic of its activity.
Heaven and earth and everything are produced from existence, but existence comes from nonexistence.