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Tao Te Ching - Translator: T. Byrn (1997)

The way that can be told of is hardly an eternal, absolute, unvarying one;
the name that can be coded and given is no absolute name.
Heaven and earth sprang from something else: the bright nameless;
the named is but the said mother that rears the ten thousand creatures of heaven and earth, each after its kind.

He that rids himself of base desire can see the secret essences;
he that didn't and reached high being, he can see outcomes.
Still the two are the same; the secret and its manifestations came from the same ground, the same mould, but anyway sound different -
they're given different names where they appear.
They can both be called the cosmic mystery, awesome deep
or rather more secret than so-called mystery.

There's the deeper mystery: the gate and doorway from which issued all secret essences, yes, all subleties,
and the subtle mysterial opening homewards.
Call it the door mystery or golden secret of all life.

When the people of the world see beauty as beauty,
the notion of ugliness pops up along with that
And equally if every one recognize virtue as virtue, if they all know the good as good, the recognition of adjacent evil is wont to rise.

So: Being and not-yet-being interdepend in growth; grow out of another, they can produce each other.
And hard and easy interdepend in completion;
long and short interdepend. They test each other in contrast.
High and low determine one another and interdepend or distinguish each other in position. So it seems.
Pitch and mode give harmony to one another; tones, sound and voice interdepend in basic, functional harmony;
Front and back give sequence to one another.
The couples follow each other - interdepend in company, so to speak.

From this the wise man relies on doing nothing in the open, it's wu-wei. And he spreads doctrines without true or false words, by oddly wordless influence.
All things appear, and he hardly turns away from the creatures worked on by him:
Some he gives solid, good life, he hardly disowns his chosen ones.
He hardly takes possession of anyone under fair conditions.
He rears his sons in earthly ways, but neither appropriates nor lays blatant claim to any one.
He acts, but doesn't rely on his outer, visible smartness or miracle-working ability. He very often claims no credit.
At times he controls them, but hardly leans on any of them.
Because he lays claim to no credit, the handy credit can hardly be taken away from him.
Yes, for the very reason that he hardly calls attention to what he does, he isn't ejected at once.

Stop looking for rare, moral persons (hsien) to put in power.
There will be jealousies among people, jealousies and strife.
If we cease to set store by products that are hard to get, there will be less outright thieves.
If the people never see such things as excite desire, their hearts can remain placid and undisturbed.
Therefore the wise one rules by emptying their hearts [like the clown]. He fills their bellies, weakens their brightness and toughens their bones,
ever striving to make the people without knowledge.

He sees to it that if there are any who are bright and clever, they dare not interfere.
Through his non-do actions all [such subjection] runs well [for some time].

Dao is like an empty vessel that yet can be drawn from
without ever needing to be filled.
It's without bottom;
the very breeder of all things in the world.
In it all sharpness is blunted,
all tangles untied,
all glare tempered,
all turmoil smoothed.
It's like a deep pool that never dries.
Was it too the child of something else?
We can hardly tell.
A substanceless image of all things seemed to exist before the progenitor that we hardly know of.

The universe seems without mercy, quite ruthless;
in that wider perspective all things are but as ritual straw dogs.
The wise man too is hard as nail; to him the people are but as straw dogs to throw.

Yet heaven and earth and all that lies between is like a bellows;
empty, yet yielding a supply that hardly fails.
Work it, and more comes out.
Whereas the force of words is soon spent.
It seems far better to keep what's in the heart.
So hold to the heart core and a regular mean.

The valley spirit never dies.
It's named the mystic woman.
And the gate of the profound woman is the root that heaven and earth sprang from.
It's there within us all the while;
draw upon it as you will,
you can never wear it out.

Heaven is always, the earth, too.
How can it be?
Well, they don't live only for themselves;
that's why they live long.

So the wise man puts himself last, and finds himself in the foremost place,
puts himself in the background; yet always comes to the fore.
He keeps well fit; looks on his body almost as accidental, outer, something to be well taken care of;
still it always there, and always remains. He remains in the open by it, too.
He hardly strives for great personal ends;
his main ends seem fulfilled.

The highest good is like that of water.
The goodness of water is that it benefits the ten thousand creatures; yet itself hardly ever scrambles -
it seems quite content with the places that all men disdain.
It's this that can make water so near to some dao.
And if men think the ground the best place for building a house upon,
if among thoughts they value those that are profound,
if in friendship they value gentleness;
in words, truth, or sincere faithfulness,
in government, [bugbear] order;
in deeds: competence, ability, effectiveness;
in actions: timeliness and being properly timed -
In each case it's because they prefer things that hardly lead to strife, and therefore hardly go much astray or amiss.

Stretch a bow to the full, and you'll end up wishing you'd stopped in time; to hold and fill to overflowing isn't quite as able as to stop in time.
Temper a sword-edge to its very sharpest, and you'll find it soon grows dull.
When gold and jade fills your hall, can it be well guarded any more?
To be proud with things and glory given, could bring ruin. Wealth and place breed insolence and could slowly harm and ruin:
If your work is done, withdraw!
That's heaven's way. It can be opposed to lots of ways of man.

Can you keep the unquiet physical-soul from straying, hold fast to the unity and middle, and never quit it?
Can you, when concentrating your breath, make it soft like that of an infant?
Strive after less tainted perfection, let it be aided by penetrating insight. So wipe and cleanse your vision of the mystery till all is without blur.
Can you love the people and rule the land, yet remain unknown?
Can you in opening and shutting the heavenly gates, ever play the feminine part?
Can your mind penetrate every corner of the land, but you yourself never interfere? Can you renounce the grosser mind for comprehending all inside knowledge?

Produce things and rear well,
but never lay claims to such things -
control them, never lean upon them.
Rely on some innate ability to act well.
Be a sort of master among others, just refrain from mismanaging.
Here is found the essence of dao might, its deep, mystic virtue.

We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel; but it's on the space where there's nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.
We turn clay to make a vessel; but it's on the space where there's nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.
We pierce and cut out doors and windows to make a house;
and it's on these spaces where there's nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.
Take advantage of what is, turn existing into a great advantage: just make as much as you can out of it here.
Feel free to recognise the possible usefulness of whats not yet here. Prosper by clever use of something not yet.

The five colours tend to confuse the eye,
the five sounds of music can deafen the ear,
the five tastes all dull or spoil the palate.
Excess of hunting and chasing makes a mind go mad.
Things hard to get, keeps one on one's guard. Valuable things and products quite hard to get, can impede their owner's progress.
So the wise man is concerned with his tummy before his eyes. He can consider the tummy first, not the eye. That is: He disregards the world outside - "that", and he accepts, goes for and in the end grabs the supernormal powers dormant within - his daoist "this". Therefore he rejects the one but accepts the other.

Be glad for favour. Still receive favour or disgrace with regular apprehension.
Be cautious not to lose the winning sort of favour. Lower favour and disgrace can cause one dismay;
We can have fears because we have a self. Yet what we value and what we fear are as if within that inner sanctimonium self."

What does this mean:
"Favour and disgrace can cause one dismay?
Those who receive favour from above are dismayed when they receive it.
And should they lose it they turn distraught.

What does this mean:
"What we value and what we fear are as if within our serious self?"
Regard great trouble as seriously as you regard the body. One reason that we suffer hurt is that we have bodies.
When we don't regard that gross body as [most important aspect of self, what have we to fear? [Lao tse.]

And so, the one who values his experienced world as part of his exploring inner self, can then be entrusted with rule of something.
he who loves the all as an aspect of his sensing self -
The all can then be entrusted to his care.

Look at it, it can't be seen,
is called the invisible.
Listen to it, it can't be heard,
is called the inaudible.
Grasp at it, it can't be touched,
is called the fine formless..
These three elude all solid inquiries
And merge and become one.

Its rising brings no light;
its sinking, no darkness.
Unceasing, continuous,
it can't be defined,
on the way back to where there's nothing.
It's called shape free from shapes;
forms without form;
the image of nothingness.
That's why it's called the elusive;
Go towards them, and you can see no physical front;
go after them, and you see no rear.
Hold on to the dao of old to master the things of the present.
Master what once was, at the start,
It's the essence of rarefied, pearl-stringed dao.

The best rulers of old had fine natures, mysterious, too deep, they could not be understood.
And because such men could not be fully grasped at once,
they appeared to be
cautious, like wading a stream in winter;
at a loss, like one fearing and having to deal with danger on every side;
reserved, like one who pays a visit;
pliant and yielding, as ice when it begins to melt;
genuine, like a piece of raw wood;
open-minded like a valley;
and blending freely like a troubled, muddy stream of water.

Find repose in a muddy world by lying still; be gradually clear through tranquillity. You can assume such murkiness, to become in the end still and clear. And maintain your calm long in between.
So make yourself inert, to get in the end full of life and stir.
By such activity come back to life.

Who hugs this dao doesn't want to fill himself to overflowing.
It's just because he guards against being over-full, there's no overflowing, and next
he is like a garment that endures all, beyond wearing out and renewal.

Attain complete humility towards the void;
hold firm to the basis of quietude.
The myriad things take shape and rise to activity,
Now, I watch them fall, worked on,
back to their repose and roots
like plants that flourish
but return to the soil and root they grew from.

To return to the root is basic repose;
it's quiet and returning to some destiny.
To submit to a destiny is to find the eternal shelter, the always-so, or the eternal dao.
To know the eternal always-so is to be somewhat illumined.
not to know it courts disaster.

He who knows the eternal shelter has room in him for nearly everything - he is wide as tolerant.
Being much including, there's little prejudice;
to be without blunt prejudice is kingly;
to be kingly is to be well in accord with nature; it's to be of heaven.
To be of heaven in unison with an undaunted nature is to be in dao;
This dao is forever, and he that owns it, is hardly destroyed, even though his body ceases.

Of the best the people hardly ever know they exist;
The next best they flock to and praise for nothing.
The next they shrink from;
the next get reviled.
"Not believing people you turn them into liars" -
such bosses don't command the people's faith.
They lose faith in them and take to oaths!

The wise man is a clever ruler; he values his words highly.
It's so hard to get a single word from at any price that when his task is finished, a work well done, everyone says,
"It happened by itself, and we did it."

When the great dao declined,
jen and i arose, humanity and righteousness."
Next, when brightness and know-how came in vogue,
the great pretence fully started.

When the six family relationships are not in harmony
There's open talk of kind parents" dutiful sons" and deep love to children.
A confused country enmeshed in disorder praises ministers in chaos and misrule.

Banish wisdom, discard knowledge,
Then the people will benefit a hundred times.
Banish human love, just dump righteous, moral justice,
and then the people will be dutiful and recover deep love of their kin.
Banish cunning and skill, dispel profit; dismiss utility,"
then thieves and robbers will disappear.
These three things are not enough; externals are somehow
decorations, purpose's not enough; they tend to rob life and make it too little complicated.
Therefore let people hold well on to keeping accessories;
keeping simplicity to look at.
Go on and shield their internal soul's nature
as some ritual, raw block to hold,
their private, secret means and foster less ardent desires.

Abandon learning and there will be no sorrow.
Between Yes, sir," and Of course not", how much difference is there?
Between good" and bad", how much difference is there?
That which men fear is indeed to be feared;
alas confused, and the end isn't yet.

All men are wreathed in smiles, ever merry-making,
as if feasting after the great sacrifice, like ascending a tower in spring.
I alone am inert, like a child that has not yet given sign;
Like a new-born child that can't smile yet.
I seem to be without a home, droop and drift, as though I belonged nowhere, completely unattached.
All men have enough and to spare;
I alone seem to have lost everything; I am like one left out.
Mine is indeed the mind of a very idiot, my heart must be that of a fool,
dull as I seem - muddled, nebulous!

The world is full of knowing people that shine;
I alone am dull, confused.
I seem to be in the dark.
They look lively and clear-cut self-assured;
I appear alone, depressed, or patient as the sea,
blown adrift, seemingly aimless, never brought to a stop.

All men can be put to some use; as worldlings have a purpose.
I alone am intractable and boorish, appearing rustic, stubborn and uncouth, differing from most people,
But I differ most from others in that I prize no sustenance that doesn't come from the breast of mama mia.

The marks of great virtue follow alone from the (one) dao.
What's called one dao seems impalpable and vague, not to be measured at all.
Dao is an elusive, virtually incommensurable form, but eluding, elusive it contains sub-forms.
Within it lie idea-images of coming things, within it are some shadowy entities or some dormant, vibrant life force of the firstborn, dim essence - even of objects, somehow, but much rarefied - latent in the essence is the life-force.
The life-force is real and to be trusted.
It's true, and can be set to operate.
and latent in it are evidences.
From the days of old till now
its chunks havent departed or ceased,
By its chunks we can view some origin of all descended units.
How do I know a father of a thing? How to know how some origin of a manifestation is formed?
By much developed intuition, possibly.

"To remain whole, yield somewhat or seem curved and bent if you may."
To become straight, let yourself look bent.
To become full, seem hollow.
Seem tattered now, that you can be renewed.
Those that have little, can get more,
To have plenty is to be confused..
Therefore the wise man clasps the primal unity, testing by it everything under heaven by himself - it.
He doesn't show himself much, he is therefore luminous and clear.
He doesn't define himself, therefore he is distinct.
He doesn't boast, therefore people give him credit: he succeeds by that.
He's never outright proud of his work, and therefore it endures.
Because he doesn't contend, none in the world can contend with him.
So the old saying To remain whole, seem twisted!" was no idle word;
for true wholeness can only be won by return to dao.

To be always talking goes against nature.
For the same reason a good whirlwind never lasts the whole morning, nor a swell rainstorm the whole day.
The wind and rain emerge from nature. And if even nature can't blow, last or pour for long, how much less should man-given tenets?
So, he who takes to or follows (one) dao, becomes merged with (this) dao. Or if one uses dao as one's instrument, the results will be like dao.
Who follows virtue, is soaked by it. If one uses the power" as one's instrument, the results will be like the power.
If one uses whats the reverse of the power",
the results will be the reverse of the power".
Who is dao identified, could be glad as well. For to those who have conformed themselves to dao, dao readily lends its power.
To those who have conformed themselves to the power, the power readily lends more power.
While to those who conform themselves to inefficacy, inefficacy readily lends its ineffectiveness.
Who has not enough faith will not be able to get faith. Or:
"By not believing in people you turn them into liars."

Who stands on tiptoe, doesn't stand steady;
He who takes the longest strides, doesn't walk.."
He who does his own looking sees little, and he who shows or reveals himself is hardly luminous
He who justifies and defines himself isn't subsequently distinct.
He who boasts of what he will do succeeds in nothing;
Who brags doesn't endure for long. Who is proud of his work, achieves nothing well lasting.
Such people are like remnants of food and tumours of action from the dao point of view. Good braggarts could be dregs. So it's said
"Pass round superfluous dishes to those that have already had enough,
Such things of disgust all are likely to detest and reject in disgust."
So the man of dao spurns them. The man that has dao doesn't stay to bray and show off.

Before heaven and earth here was something nebulous, formless yet complete;
without sound, without substance, isolated, free from all form;
standing alone and depending on nothing, unchanging, operating everywhere, all pervading, revolving and without fail.
One can think of it as the mother of all
I don't know its true name. I call it dao.
"Way" is the by-name.
If forced to give it a name I can call it great (ta) .
Now such greatness implies reaching out in space, and also means functioning everywhere, or passing on;
Space-yielding or functioning everywhere signifies far-reaching. And passing on means going far away,
To go really far is to return to the original point. To reach far is a return. To go far away means to return.
So dao is great and far-reaching, and so is heaven, earth and the king.
For just as dao, earth and heaven each has its subtle greatness, so does the ruler.
There are four great things in the universe, and the king is one of them. So within the realm there are four portions of greatness", and one belongs to the king.
The ways of men are conditioned by those of earth.
The ways of earth, by those of heaven.
The ways of heaven by those of dao,
and the ways of dao by the Self-so's
Dao in turn models itself after Nature.

The solid is the platform of the light, and the heavy is the root of the light.
(Maybe firm integrity has to be the basis of light frivolity).
Quiet strength rules over activity, the not-so-active could be the big boss of the hasty.
So the wise man travels all day and never leaves his baggage;
he who travels all day hardly likes to be separated from his provision-chart:
However great and glorious the view, he sits quiet and dispassionate".
So the lord with ten thousand chariots can seldom allow himself to be light-spirited and lighter than those he rules. The ruler of a great country should never make light of his body - anywhere. In light frivolity, the controller's centre is lost; in hasty action, such self-mastery. If the ruler is light-hearted, the minister will be destroyed. If he is light, the foundation is lost;
If he is active, the lord is lost. [Maybe for ever.]

A good traveller leaves no track or trace behind, nor does fit activity. So a good runner leaves no track.
Perfect speech is like a jade-worker whose tool leaves no mark. Good speech leaves no flaws.
The perfect reckoner needs no counting-slips; the good reckoner uses no counters.
The perfect, shut door is without bolt nor bar and can't be opened.
The perfect knot needs neither rope nor twine, yet can't be untied. No one can untie it.
So the wise man is good at helping men, always good in saving men: the wise man is all the time helping men in the most perfect way - he certainly doesn't turn his back on men; is all the time in the most perfect way helping creatures. He certainly doesn't turn his back on creatures, and consequently no man is rejected. For that reason there's no useless person.
And he is always good in saving. So nothing is rejected.
This is called following the light (of nature) - is called resorting to the light, nay, stealing some divine light.
Truly, the good man is the teacher of the bad, as they say. But the bad man is the lesson of the good, in part some material from which the good can learn. And so the imperfect is the equipment of the perfect man".
He who hardly respects or values his teacher, hardly cares for the material or loves his lesson, is gone far astray even if well versed.
That's the fine secret.

"He who knows the male (active force), yet keeps to the female (the passive force or receptive element), becomes like a ravine, receiving all sort of things.
Being the all-encompassing ravine he knows a power that he never calls upon in vain. This is returning to the state of infancy.
He who knows the white, yet keeps and cleaves to the black becomes the standard by which all things are tested, he becomes the model for the world.
As such he has all the time the eternal power that never errs; and he returns to the limitless, a primordial nothingness.
He who knows glory, yet keeps to obscurity or even cleaves to ignominy,
turns into the valley that receives into it all kind of things. And being such a valley he has all the time a power that suffices. So he returns again to some pristine simplicity, returns to the state of simplicity: its the raw, uncarved block.
Break up simple awareness and it becomes shaped. Next it becomes someones tool in the hands of the wise man. For when a block is sawed up it's made into subordinates or implements.
When the wise man uses it, it becomes chief.
So the greatest carver does the least cutting, as they say. The great ruler doesn't cut up.

Those that would gain what's under heaven by tampering with it - Ive seen that they don't succeed.
For that which is under heaven is like a holy vessel, dangerous to tamper with. Those that tamper with it, harm it. Human go-between is likely to fail. Those that grab at it lose it. Who makes can spoil well; who holds can lose.
Among creatures of this world some lead and some follow. Some things go forward among creatures: some go in front, some follow behind -
Some blow out, some blow in; some blow out while others would blow in.
Some are feeling vigorous just when others are worn out. Some are strong, some are weak.
Some are loading just when others would be tilting out. Some can break, some can fall.
So the wise man discards excess, extravagance, and ridiculous pride: He discards even the absolute, the all-inclusive, the extreme.

He who by dao purposes to help a ruler of men, will oppose most conquest by force of arms:
such things are wont to rebound.
Where armies are, thorns and brambles can grow.
The raising of a great host could be followed by a year of dearth.
Therefore a good general effects his purpose and next stops; for he dares not rely upon the strength of arms: he doesn't take further advantage of a victory. He fulfils his purpose and does hardly glory in things he has done; effects his purpose and doesnt boast of a thing he accomplished;
fulfils an ignoble purpose, but takes no pride in something he did well; fulfils his purpose as some perhaps regrettable necessity - does it as a step that could hardly be averted and avoided. So he effects his purpose, but hardly loves violence. Why?

Things age after reaching their prime. What has a time of vigour (and conquest) also has its time of decay. After things reach their prime, they begin to grow old, which means being contrary to dao. Furthermore, morbid violence and violence in excess could be against dao. He who is against the dao perishes young. Whatever is contrary to dao will soon perish. Whats against dao will hardly survive.

Fine weapons are instruments of evil as soldiers can be: quite ill-omened things, often hated.
Those with fine dao turn away from weapons that are most often hated.
The gentleman favours the left hand side among people in peace; peace people are of good birth. In a fair peace the symbolic left is the place of honour. Yes, a good ruler honours the left and its good omens when at home, but in war this is reversed: On military occasions he favours the right side as the place of war honour. And so he honours the right of bad omens.
The durable, even when he conquers, does hardly regard weapons as lovely things. Weapons and soldiers can be bad and evil-doing tools. They're not often the tools of the gentleman and good ruler.
To hold them dear means to delight in them, and so to delight in slaughter of men.
And he who delights in the slaughter of men will never get what he looks for out of those that live and function under heaven. In ugly victory there's no beauty,
and who calls it handsome perhaps preaches slaughter.
Use of soldiers [and police] can't be helped, best policy is calm restraint.
Who delights in the slaughter of men wont succeed, wont succeed in ruling the world; and slaying of multitudes should be mourned.
A host that has slain men had better be received with grief and mourning rites; he that has conquered in battle had better be received and celebrated with some mournful funeral custom.. A victory is the grand occasion for funerals.

Best dao is absolute and eternal. As such it has neither name nor fame.
Its uncunning, cute naiveté, the fabled raw block of wood, and it cant be used by anybody. None in the whole world can master and make use of such basic simplicity. Yet, though seemingly of small value, it could be greater than anything in the universe.

Good kings and barons can keep such unspoiled, inborn nature. If kings and barons would but hold on to it, all beings and things would submit to them well of their own accord. Yes, the best let heaven and earth join, so that the mystic sweet rain falls, all the time beyond the command of men, yet evenly upon all. Let heaven and earth unite to drip sweet dew. And the ten thousand creatures would flock to honour you; for the world would conspire much for sweet dew: Without law or compulsion, men would take up regulations and institutions, sort out names and [try to] live in harmony.

A human civilisation can rise once there are names [principles].
Once the block is carved, there will be such names; they're wide differentiations of things. But as soon as there are [principles and neatly differentiated] names, know that it's time to stop. Its well to know where to stop for calm and poise. As soon as there are names [and study] it's time to stop.

By knowing when it's time to stop, much danger could be avoided.
In the world dao can be likened to rivers that turn into wider rivers and eventually course into some sea. All will come to and be clasped by one and more such dao rivers -and to [some] dao all under heaven will come, as streams and torrents flow into a great river or sea [of universal dao].

He who knows others is learned;
but he who knows himself is wise, nay, in the end it could be illumined.
He who conquers others has strength of muscles;
To conquer oneself is hard. So he who conquers himself is strong.
To be content with what one has is to feel rich; so let the contented feel rich.
Next: He who works, may eventually succeed. And he one who acts with vigour has will. Even he who works through sordid violence can get his way - The determined one has strength of will.
What stays in its place can endure. He who doesn't lose his centre can last quite long, he who hardly loses his place (with such as dao).
The one ho dies but doesn't really perish enjoys long life. He who dies yet (his power) remains has long life. When such a one dies he should hardly be thought of as [too] lost; there's no other longevity [than long life].

Some great dao can flow everywhere. Like a flood it can go left or right. Like a drifting boat it can go this way or that.
All things [eventually] derive their life from it. It hardly denies or disowns them.
It accomplishes its task, but seem to claim no credit for it. It hardly takes possession of anyone, either.
So though it covers all there is like some garment, it hardly takes possession. It can clothe and feed all beings but hardly claims to be guru over them.
Therefore it can perhaps be called low and quite free from insignificant desires.
To turn into the home of all things, dont make any outer claims. (Implied; cf. Y)
See into how dao is by non-desiring empty mind. (Cf. Y)
Ten thousand [hungry] creatures obey a dao master and his ways, though they hardly understand it or how. Dao is called great. And the man who lives it or a dao repertoire is called great as well.
The wise man never strives [verbally] for the great. To the end the wise dao man doesn't claim any outer greatness. Thus [some degree of subtle Vossa-] greatness is installed.
And the wise man never at any time hardly ever makes a show of greatness. By such a dogged, keen strategy some [clowns] achieves greatness.

Hold the great symbol and great form of dao know-how. He who visualises or holds the great symbol form at its best can go about his work (in such as his empire), yet without doing harm. An then all the world follows. At last a lot of people will come and meet no harm. All in peace, quietness and security, commonwealth. All can enjoy comfort and health.
Sound of music, smell of good dishes will make the passing stranger pause. Yes, offer music and dainties, very good things to eat and the [odd], passing and wayfaring stranger will stays.

How different the words that dao gives forth! So thin, insipid, so flavour- or tasteless! Still dao is mild to the taste.
Looked at, it can't be seen. So look at dao; it's quite imperceptible. If one looks for dao, there's hardly anything solid to see.
If one listens for it, there's nothing loud to hear. We listen to this inaudible [thing].
If one uses it, its supply never fails. So use it; it's inexhaustible.

What's in the end to be shrunk can first be stretched. The one who is to be made to dwindle (in power) can first be caused to expand; and then it's necessary first to expand.
Whatever is to be weakened must begin by being made strong [enough for it first of all].
He who is to be laid low can first be exalted to power. So: first promote, next destroy. Or: To destroy, first promote.
What's to be overthrown must begin by being set up. He who would be a taker must begin as a giver.
And this is the fine art. of dimming" one's light.
According to this [set-up] the soft overcomes the hard; and the weak, the strong. [Such things can happens, but most often not, or what?]
Fish should be left in the deep pool, not taken away from water. And sharp weapons of the state should not be displayed, but left where nobody can see them.

The dao never does; it takes no action. Through it everything is done, yet there's nothing left undone.
If good kings and barons would master some fit dao and keep it, all things in the world should transform spontaneously.
When reformed and rising to action, let all influenced be restrained by the blankness of the unnamed, the nameless pristine simplicity. Yes, if after being transformed they should desire to act, someone has to restrain them with simplicity that has no name.

Its an unnamed blankness; it could bring dispassion; As such nameless pristine simplicity is stripped of desire. So to be truly, artfully dispassionate, be free of desires and still. Simple wit and sense is free of desires.

By stripping of desire true [yoga] rest is achieved almost of itself, the whole [body or] empire will be at rest of its own accord. And next the world [perhaps of somebody] could get at peace of its own accord.

The man of superior [scholar] virtue is hardly (conscious of his) virtue, and so he is virtuous.
Superior virtue is hardly (conscious of) its virtue. [Or could it be that superior virtue is hardly virtue at all?]
The high-standing man hardly ever shows off the has some supreme powers or prowess deep inside himself. He keeps such powers, and in this way he really owns virtue.
The man of low virtue is hardly losing virtue, and so he is devoid of virtue. The man of low virtue can lose sight of some virtue by never losing sight of it. Rather low or indecent power" can't get rid of the appearance of being some power'; [There's no scoffed, angrily sulking Messiah power'].
No one thinks a man of highest calibre acts. No one thinks he ever acts with ulterior motives.
The man of low virtue acts from himself, and very often with an ulterior motive - and is so regarded -
The man of super-kindness also acts, but with no irksome, ulterior motives. But all folks never think the superman acts.
The man of superior justice acts but has no ulterior motive to do so, and maybe with an ulterior motive, as he who is best in ritual acts not merely acts. (Yes, when) the man of superior morality acts and finds no response, he rolls up his sleeves and stretches his arms or advances upon them to force it on others.
Only when dao is lost does [said] virtue arise. When [spoken-of] virtue is lost, only then does [a parade of] kind humanity rise. Such good kindness is lost, then (comes some sort of or endorsement of) just moral: When humanist riches deep inside are lost, only then comes [conform, outer-directed] normal righteousness. When righteousness is lost, only then propriety pops up.
[And now it stands up: Boss-given, endorsed] morality can be the thinning out of loyalty and honesty of heart and the start of chaos. [Inner, hearty] morality lost, then propriety or semi-ritual. So [much] ritual endorsement could be the mere husk of loyalty and promise-keeping. [And so, all in all,] good, seemly propriety is a superficial expression of loyalty and faithfulness, and the start of chaos or disorder.

Those who are the first to know, let words of dao flower, and in the end it's an origin of folly. From this the great or noble man dwells in the solid, heavy and thick (base), and not in the superficial or thinned (end). Yes, he dwells in reality, which is a fruit, and not in the show of appearances, or flowering (expression).
Therefore he rejects the one and accepts the other.

There were those in old times who grasped and were possessed of the one:
The heaven was much clarified by attaining it.
Likewise, the earth got stable or calm by the same [rotating] measure; and demon spirits or gods were spiritualised, became divine.
The valley likewise became full, the abyss replenished.
By staying in the one, all creatures lived and grew.
By staying in some basic unity, [Russian] princes and dukes became the ennobled of the people - That was how each became so.

Barons and princes direct their people [in some ways]. It's some inner fabric of unified wholeness that sees to it.
[Man-felt] heaven could soon split open without fundamental clarity. Without basic clarity, heavens might become torn.
Without resting, steady stability, the earth might quake and tip over.
Without spiritual power, the gods might wither and crumble,
Without being filled, the valleys might crack and run dry.
If the myriad things had not thus lived and grown all would end without the life-giving sustenance of power. Without the ennobling power, the honourable kings and barons in high places, even the directors of their people, might stumble, some overthrown.

So the humble is the stem upon which the mighty grows. Yes, humble oneness is the basis for all honour. So even the exalted ones depend upon the lowly for their base. That could be [one reason] why [Russian] princes and dukes call themselves the orphaned," the lonely one," the unworthy," or the truly ill-provided. Is it not true then that they [to some extent] depend upon common man for support, or on hard ruler might rooting itself upon humility?

Just enumerate all the parts of a chariot. and you still have no [unified construct, no] chariot
So [learn to] rumble like rocks rather than jingle like jade.

Reversion is the action of dao. In dao the only motion is a return;
and the one useful quality is named soft [or polite] gentleness, So polite or weak gentleness [or humility] is the function of dao.
The creatures and things of this world come from being. And being from not-yet-being. though all

When the highest of men hear of dao and truth they put it into practice quite diligently.
When the common types hear of dao, they seem to be in two minds about it, half believing, aware and unaware of some.
When the lowest types hear of dao, they ridicule or laugh loudly - but if they did not laugh, it would be no dao.

The proverb has it:
The way out into the light often looks dark; one who understands dao seems dull, as dao which is bright appears to be dark.
The dao which goes forward appears to fall backward; the one who is advanced (in dao) seems to slip backwards; the way that goes ahead often looks as if it went back.
He who works and moves on the even dao [co-path] seems to go up and down; the least hilly way often looks as if it went thus, as level dao appears uneven.
Great virtue seems hollow and empty. The truly loftiest might looks like an abyss; superior virtue appears like a valley (hollow). Great capability is [granted to be] hollow. Yes, the loftiest is something abysmal.
Sheerest white seems blurred, sheer white is like tarnished; (most) purity seems like disgrace.
The most sufficing might looks inadequate; far-reaching virtue hardly seems to be enough; and great [and rustic] character appears to be not enough [but it's all the same].
The [organising] might that stands most firm seems flimsy. Solid character looks infirm; and solid virtue unsteady.
Whats in its natural, pure state looks faded: True substance looks changeable, and pure worth seems dirtied.
The largest square has no corners: great space has no corners.
The greatest capacities develop latest, and great talent could be slow to mature; as they say: The greatest vessel takes the longest to finish. The great tool and talent is slow to finish (or mature). Great tools do slow work. Great inside talent takes long to ripen.
Great music is far from course; [at times] rare, it could be hard to get, or hardly heard.
Great, hidden form has neither shape nor contour; as great here means of dao, [which is thought up as] hidden and without (overtly sounded) name.
Now, dao backs all things financially; dao alone skilfully provides for all - it supports all things and advances [some] to perfection. Well dao-lent power could bring us (some degree of) fulfilment. Skilled, able dao-lending (of some majesty and power) could bring [Christian] fulfilment.

Dao gave birth to the one; the one gave birth successively to two things, three things, up the everything, everybody and the whole world we know.
The ten thousand things carry the yin as some back or behind, and hug the yang in front. Through the blending of the pervading principles as some abstract union, and by a further blending [designing] the material force (ki) they can gain [sound] harmony. And so the union in harmony gets strong [and defences].
In other words, living beings can't turn their backs to the shade [such as cooling yin] without having the sun on their bellies [it could be invigorating yang], and it's on such (yin-yang) blending of so-called breaths that [most] harmony depends.
Most people hate to be diagnosed as lonely, unworthy, orphaned, needy, ill-provided. Yet princes and dukes style themselves so, and call themselves by these names.

Truly, things are often increased by seeking to diminish them and diminished by seeking to increase them." And sometimes things are benefited by being taken away from and suffer by being added to. And so it often happens that things can gain by losing and lose by gaining.

What others have taught, I teach also:
"Violent and fierce people hardly die a natural [elegant] death."
Yet, show me a man of violence that came to a good end, and I will take him for my teacher. I shall make all this the father (basis) of my teaching. [Uha.]

The softest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world. The softest substance radiates through the hardest. Also, what's most yielding can eventually overwhelm the hardest.
Formless penetrates no-crevice; substanceless it can enter where there's no space; all this could be not-yet-being entering and jostling non-space. That's how I know the value of action that's actionless. Through this I [also] know the benefit or advantage of taking no action.
There can be [sad] teaching without words. To teach without words can be best. Still few can understand such stuff. And there can be solid value in action that's actionless, or the advantage of taking no action. Yes, the [said] benefit of taking no action is without compare. Few can understand it.

Fame or one's own self, which matters most? Nay, which does one love more? Which should one love more, fame or one's own life?
Which is more valuable, one's own life or wealth? One's own self or things bought, the solid goods, which should really count most?
Which is worse, gain or loss? Could it be loss (of self) or possession which is the greater evil? [Which gain is the greater evil here?]
Therefore: he who loves most spends most. He who has lavish desires could spend extravagantly.
He who hoards much could lose much. Who hoards much is in for losing heavily if who has hoarded most could suffer the heaviest loss.
The contented man could meet no disgrace;
Who stops in time knows when to stop. Who stops in time nothing can harm if free from danger he can long endure and feel forever safe and secure. He can long endure who stays forever safe and secure -

What's most perfect [ambivalence] seems to be incomplete; [its] highest perfection is never impaired. The perfect seems to have something missing; [so have something missing]. Highest perfection is like imperfection, but its use is never impaired, nor its utility [at times].
What's most full [opening] seems empty; its use will never fail.
The greatest abundance seems meagre indeed, but its use will never fail.
What's most straight seems devious, maybe crooked.

The greatest skills seems to be [rustic,] clumsy. The greatest cleverness appears like stupidity, [(Demon skill seems like clumsiness. Apt skill seems clumsy, true cleverness seems clumsy.]
The greatest [harlequin] eloquence seems to stutter or seems like stuttering.
Hasty movement overcomes cold.
Keeping still can overcome heat. Tranquillity and staying still can overcome heat.
By being greatly still you'll next be fit to rule the world. Who is calm and quiet becomes the universe deceit. By his limpid calm he all the time puts right everything [as universal deceit].

When dao reigns in the kingdom, galloping horses are turned back to fertilise certain fields with their manure. If the world in accord with dao, racing horses are turned back to pull refuse carts.
When the world hardly lives in accord with dao, dao doesn't prevail or win. Next war horses will be reared even on a sacred hill below the city walls, and blatant cavalry will frolic in the countryside, driving and riding pestering war horses in suburbs in between. Dao does hardly prevail if war is on in city suburbs.
No lure is greater than to possess what others want.
There's no greater guilt than [sudden] discontent. There's (...) greater disaster than greed. [Eventually] there's hardly a greater sin than desire for possession.
No disaster could be greater than [...] to be content with what one has [in dire need and disabling poverty]. No presage of [airy] evil is greater than men wanting to get more.
He who has once known the pure [orgasm] contentment that comes simply through being content [at its peak], gets rather content-centred a long time after.

One can know whats happening all over the world without going out of doors.
One can see the dao of the big wide beyond here without looking out of ones windows, and see all the ways of that beyond-here.
Then, the further one travels the less one knows.
So the wise man can [at times] arrive without going and know without going about; he can understand much without seeing -
or achieve much without [visible] action.

The student of knowledge goes into learning a little day by day;
The student of dao reduces his assets by dwindling or losing a bit each day.
Learning consists in adding daily to one's stock, and the practice of dao consists in loose dwindling day by day. It could be subtracting till one has reached inactivity. By steady reductions [of certain sorts] you reach certain sorts of laissez-faire. So decrease and further decrease until you reach the point of taking no action.
[This is clowning.] By artful inactivity everything [bad] can be set in motion.
He who conquers the [inside] domain does so [mostly] by doing nothing. Those who once won the adherence of all who live here, did so by not interfering much.
Had they interfered, they would never have won this adherence.
One who likes to do, may not be able to rule a kingdom [inside or outside].

The wise man makes no judgements of his own. He has no rigid and plump ideas alone. Maybe no certain, opinionated feelings.
He uses the heart of the people as his own inner side and heart. People's opinions and feeling are then as his own.
He says:
Good ones I declare good; and I [often] treat those who are good with goodness, as I approve of the good man.
I also treat those who are not so good with goodness.
I often approve of the [said] bad; he gets goodness.
So bad ones I also declare good. That's the goodness on how goodness can be attained [by demagogy.]
The honest ones I believe; and [some] liars I also believe;
I am honest to those who are honest, and I am also honest to those who are not [so] honest. By such means great honesty, the faith of virtue, can be attained and the honest gets [closer to rueful] truthfulness.
In dealing with the world a wise man seems like one dazed with a felt fear, and while governing his [little] empire he has no subjective viewpoint.
So a wise man lives in the world in peace, and his bright mind forms a sound whole with that of his [dear] people.
Then they all lend their sense perceptions - eyes and ears - and he treats them all - infants as well. But sometimes again a wise man, dealings with some world, for the world's sake dulls his wits.
Where a hundred families all the time strain their eyes and ears, the wise man all-sees a people are brought into a fold of one heart. Next the wise man regards them as his own dear children.
At times the wise man sees and hears no more than an infant. [thats not much.]

He who aims at life could achieve his death. Out of living, death pops up. Who comes to life can go to death.
If three out of ten are life companions, then the same number are death companions as well. As such the latter are labelled death-spots: some take life, through activity, to death.
How is it?
Its much due to men's intensive striving after life; in part the intense activity of multiplying life. Some do feed life too grossly.
It's said that he who is a good preserver of his life can meet no tigers or wild buffaloes on land. Such a one could have a true hold on life,
If so, in battle or fighting he should hardly try to escape from weapons. He should neither get very much touched nor vulnerable to weapons in battle. [Cf. dont be there]
The wild buffalo cannot butt its powerless horns against him,
The tiger cannot fasten its then useless claws in him and tear him apart,
And much absent weapons of war should find no place to enter - cannot thrust their blades into him. [The absent part is always to blame. Demagogy]
And why? (Demagogy, thats why]
In him there's no room for death because he is beyond death. Others find no Achilles heel in him then and there.

One dao gives them birth, next hidden virtue and glory fosters them.
Matter gives them physical form. some get shaped according to intrinsic designs, perfected by first being allotted its primal strength.
Sets of circumstances and tendencies complete them.
So all things of the universe worship their intrinsic ways (dao forms) and honour virtue.
There's hardly one who doesn't honour inborn modes of living and standard accommodations, so in one way or other all who accommodate likeably do homage to set dao structure, and concomitant native, later, possibly unfolded growth power. Conclusion: all things of the universe honour dao and exalt good te without being ordered by anybody.
From this: the right praise always come spontaneously. And this is so of its own accord.
Proficient dao hardly needs any right to be worshipped, Hardly does its best fit, proper unfoldment prowess or power claim the right to be honoured. Its just like this: Some dao produces them and concomitant, abundant virtue fosters them. Said in other words:

The right dao gives them birth,
a proper te fosters them, Dao [deep structure] and might enough can rear and develop, can feed, nurture and shelter. In other words: grant some harbour of security, protect and give deep, strong peace in a place fit for that end.
Just the right dao could be a prolongation of some deft was always and of itself so.
Yes, the right dao gives birth, shields from storms, and seems hardly possessive. The right shields hardly lay claim to you.
Good dao bore you and the power" of dao evolved or reared you (a bit), made you grow [naturally, according to innate designs] brewed for you personally, sort of.
A man must rear others, control some, but never lean upon them.
By such natural designs just dao can act and also help, but it hardly appropriates.
Just be chief among them, but hardly manage them. This can be called the superior power. See: The superior power hardly controls anybody!
And this is the [program of developing fit] mystic might.

There was a [bang] start of the universe, call it the mother of the world.
Who has found that mother dao, also understands [some of] her sons (things) by it. From the mother, we can know her sons.
Having understood some sons, yet keep to the inner, subtle mother.
Who has known the sons will hold to the mother, for one's whole life can be protected from danger by it. [So they say.]

Shut down life's various openings. Close its doors, and till the end your strength may remain. Next, your whole life can seem without toil.

On the other hand; open the mouth busy about affairs, and to the end of life there will be no help or salvation coming to you [from the outer realm].

Good sight implies seeing what's very small. Seeing what's small is called [Zen] enlightenment.

Who stays by some good conduct is strong. So use the light and return to clear sight through the bright light of the subtle, shining inner realm [debated in Buddhism]
By this art, never cause yourself future distress, [but see well in advance by the inner realm's sight and bright light; or just psyche such things out,] thereby preserved from most harm.
This is called resorting to the always-so, or practising the eternal.
That act is also called to steal the absolute.

Once started on the great [lax] highway, if I had but little [Vossing] knowledge I should, in walking on a broad way, fear getting off the road. On the main path (dao), I would avoid the by-paths.
Some dao main path is easy to walk [or drift] on, but safe and easy.
All the same people are fond, men love by-paths, love even small by-paths:
The by-path courts are spick-and-span. And the fields go untilled, nay, exceedingly weedy. They're content to let their fields run to weed.
All the while granaries stand quite empty and some exceedingly empty.
They have elegant, in clothes and gown to wear, some furnished with patterns and embroideries,
Some carry sharp weapons, glut themselves with drink and
foods enjoyed beyond limit,
And wealth and treasures are accumulated in excess, owning far more than they can handle and use.
This is to [molest] the world towards brigandage, it's robbery as extravagance. In the end they're splitting with wealth and possessions. Wealth splits, tends to.
This cannot be a highway of dao (the way).

Well planted can hardly be plucked. Who is well established (in dao) can hardly be pulled away. The firmly grounded is hardly easily shaken.
Who has a firm grasp doesn't easily let go. Who has a firm grasp of dao can't be separated from it. A really firm grasp can't be relaxed.

Next, the ancestor's dao ways and means and their powers unite to carry the modern family on. From generation to generation firmly gripped dao [gyrations] shall be continued without fail. Such ancestral sacrifice is not to be suspended.
When one cultivates firm grasp or well modified ancestor disciplines in one's own life, things tend to go markedly well: If you cultivate, elevate and apply well blended, ad hoc modified ancestor ways and means, jobs, routines, accomplishments, such formerly seen, halfway "inherited" cardinal dao know-how at its best should be rewarding for yourself as an individual or person at its peak, and if so, your lifestyle could become suitable, even genuine, and its prowess likewise.
This spells such as: Apply the firm manas grasp to yourself according to "like father, like son" and you'll incur no manas problem, no such deep, unseen trouble -

From this:
Apply such inherited "firmly rooted strategy" and its various grasps to yourself, and by its id outlets and precious routines you'll be freed from much unsuitable dross.
Also apply best, united ancestor dao (or sakti) to your family or household and your household should flourish and thrive by this syncretic way of ways. [Honour your best father(s) at their best by doing in best footsteps under his wings, in his shadows - by such as halfway inherited or taken-op proclivities.]
Apply it to the village on a wider, social scale, and the village will be strengthened or more secure.
Apply it to the kingdom, and the kingdom could prosper.
Apply it to an kingdom, and it will grow.
Cultivated in the world, sour id-based handling sets could become all-embracing.

Therefore: Delve into how "well structured, planted or formed" some things that are instituted seem to be.
By delving back through own conscious stages as parts of yourself, you can in the end contemplate and ridicule yourself a little.
The person should be some family-and-ancestors embedded "thing" in its own right.
Next you can control your household by the united dao controls involved in it [allied to yin-yang structured cosmology].
According to (such well-planted, relations-structured schooled and trained virtue of) the individual, evaluate the individual;
According to (the same virtues of) the family, judge the family;
According to (similar blends of virtue of) the village, judge the village;
According to (the virtue of the statutes ) the state, judge the state;
According to (the crossed virtues of) the world, evaluate the world.
How do I know the world? It's from the cultivation of root-strong virtue from the level of the individual to that of the sour world - I know just by what's inside me and this, all brought together.

He who has a lot of mystic might also should be strong in secret able influence-might - quite free from getting harmed, at times like a tender child: full of childlike virtue at its best.
Then no poisonous insects should sting him. Fierce beasts should not seize him and wild beasts hardly attack him, clawing birds of prey should not pounce on and harass him.
The bones of this dear little one are soft and tender, his sinews tender, but his grip is quite firm.
He hardly yet knows about the union of male and female, yet his organs are fully formed and well, at times aroused. This means that his essence is at its height there and then, or means that the vital force is at its height. [It could be both.]
Such a one can cry all day without getting hoarse if his [libido as natural balance] is whole and healthy [for it]. If so it's well in accord with something eternal.
Now, to know eternity full well can be a discerning matter. To know bland harmony likewise implies to be in eternity, or if missed, it is to understand some [principle of] always-so by some degree of mental illumination. But to be well in accord with the eternal means to be free as a bird.

To fill life to the brim is to invite ugly portents, bad omens. To force the growth of life likewise spells ills. Some ready at hand or to come later on, maybe. Now, if the heart makes calls upon the life-breath, laziness or [yogic] rigidity can follow suit.
After things reach their prime, they begin to grow old, Whatever has a time of vigour also has a time of decay. Certain things age after reaching their prime.
Much is contrary to dao. Whatever is contrary to dao will soon perish. He who is against dao can perish rather young. Whats against dao could soon be destroyed.

He who knows doesn't speak (artfully). He who speaks hardly knows.

Fill your openings, shut the doors,
Dull all nasty edges. Untie all tangles.
Temper or soften all glaring light.
Submerge its turmoil as unified with the world: Let all chaotic hustle and bustle be smoothed down.
This is the called the mysterious [Vossing] levelling for bland unity or deep insider identification.

Love and hatred can barely affect the gods and supermen who are said to have achieved it.
Certain forms of loss can hardly reach up to this.
It can be hard to repel and shoo such an accomplished god-being, as it's impossible to be distant and indifferent to him.
He can't be raised, can't be much humbled, and disgrace can hardly affect him deep inside.
So he is already highest of all humbled creatures. He is to be so honoured by the world.

Kingdoms can only be governed if rules are kept; rule a kingdom by some normal standards and with utmost discretion.
Battles, on the other hand, can be won if rules are aptly broken. Operate the army and fight some battles by (unusual) tactics of surprise and attack.
Yet administer the kingdom by engaging in no activity. Win the world by doing next to nothing, for major adherence can only be won by letting well alone.
How do I know this will be so? By this:
The more prohibitions, ritual avoidances, and taboos there are, the poorer the people will end.
The more 'sharp weapons' there are, the more troubled and chaotic the state will be, and the more benighted the whole land will grow.
The more cunning craftsmen there are, the more skills of technique, the more vicious things will appear: the more pernicious contrivances will be invented.
The more laws are promulgated, the more thieves and bandits there will be. So: The greater the number of statutes, the greater the number of thieves in the end.
So a wise man decreed:
So long as I "do nothing" the people get transformed of themselves.
So long as I love quietude, the people will of themselves go straight.
So long as I act only by proper inactivity the people will of themselves grow rich.
I have no desires, and the people of themselves become simple as the mythological raw block'.

When the government is non-discriminative, lazy and dull, the people are contented and not spoiled, but quite generous. When the ruler looks sullen or depressed, the people will be happy and satisfied;
When the government is efficient and smart, searching and discriminative, the people are discontented, disappointed and contentious. Even if the ruler looks lively and self-assured the people will be carping and discontented.

Good fortune leans on bad fortune and bad fortune could rest on good fortune. Latent calamity is happiness, and sound happiness depends on some calamity. Fortune's route is a disaster; fortune is hidden disaster.
Who knows when the limit will be reached? Who would be able to know the ultimate results of good fortune?
They may be:
The normal will (in time) revert to deceitful.
There will hardly be any correctness (used to govern the world) any more.
The old correct will become the perverse again.
Some of the good we know of will again turn evil.
Few know it, but the people have been deluded for a long time.

Anyhow, there's a bourn where there's neither right nor wrong. It's in a realm where every straight is doubled by a crooked and every good by an ill. Surely mankind has gone long enough astray?

Therefore the wise man has firm, square principles. He is at times as pointed as a square, but hardly cuts or pierces.
His integrity is as acute as a knife but hardly cuts, hardly hurts (innocent others), so "he shapes the corners without lopping",
He is indeed straight, but doesn't extend his sway. He reaches his [most cherished] ends.
He is far from high-handed, he can be bright, but refrains from dazzling.

In managing human affairs, there's no better rule than to be sparing, which is to forestall. You can't rule men nor serve heaven unless you have laid up a store; Be [simply artistic] frugal, there's nothing better for serving heaven and ruling people.
To forestall is to be prepared and strengthened; and by being frugal in such ways one may recover quickly. To recover quickly means to accumulate [intense moral] rather much. This "laying up a store" means quickly absorbing, And "quickly absorbing" in the end means doubling one's garnered "power". Double your garnered power and it acquires a strength that nothing can overcome. By the heavy accumulation of virtue one can overcome everything. Be prepared and strengthened to be always victorious: to have infinite capacity;
If there's nothing it can't overcome, it knows no bounds, then he will acquire a capacity with limits well beyond anyone's knowledge. One can next overcome nearly everything. And only what knows no bounds is huge enough to keep a whole kingdom in its grasp. If his capacity is beyond anyone's knowledge, he is fit to rule a kingdom. Who has infinite capacity is fit to rule, but only he who having the kingdom goes to the mother, can keep it long. He who possesses he mother (dao) of the state will last long. The mother (principle) of a ruling country can long endure.
This is called the art of making the roots strike deep by fencing the trunk, It signifies to be firmly rooted, to have deep strength, for the roots are deep and the stalks are firm, road to immortality and enduring vision, the way of long life and everlasting existence is won by making life long by fixed staring.

Ruling a big kingdom is like frying a small fish.
They who by dao ruled all that's under heaven did not let an evil spirit within them display its powers. Such evil spirits did not display their supernatural powers; the spirits of wise men were hardly used to hurt other men. So when dao is employed to rule the kingdom, spiritual beings will lose their supernatural grip and cease to harm common people. And their supernatural power will far from harm people, and the wise man also will refrain from harming people. When both don't do each other harm, virtue (power) flows towards them. If the sage's good spirit is nowhere mobilised to harm other men, he himself can be saved from [deterioration] harm.

And so, if evil spirits and supermen don't harm each other, each can be quite saved from harm. Furthermore, some of their "tall abilities" could converge. If so, virtue can be accumulated in both for ulterior benefit or towards some common [soap opera] end.

A big kingdom can be compared to the lower part of a river, like the low ground which all streams flow down towards.
Here is a point towards which all things under heaven converge. Its part must be that of the woman
who overcomes man by simple quietude. By [such as] quiescence she gets underneath, and by tranquillity she is down under.

A big kingdom can take over [a soul of] a small one if it succeeds in getting itself below the small kingdom; If so it absorbs some from the small country, or wins some adherence of the small kingdom in the open.

If a small country on the other hand places itself below a big country, it can absorbs or take over some of the big country [assets]. Therefore some place themselves low so as to take over or absorb (others). Some are (naturally) low and absorb (others). Because small kingdoms are by nature in this way underneath large kingdoms, they [sometimes] win the adherence of large kingdoms [or end].

What a big kingdom is after is but to annex and herd others. So what large countries really need is a lot of inhabitants. What small countries need is some place where their surplus inhabitants can go and get employment. What they want can be little more that to join, be somewhat sheltered and perhaps serve for it all.

Both can have what they want; I say the large kingdom must "get underneath".

Dao is thought up as the mysterious secret of the universe, it could be the storehouse of "all things", like the pivotal worship centre in the south-west corner in the [old Chinese] house. It's the good man's treasure and the bad man's support and resort.

Fine words can buy honour, fine sayings can be sold. Fine deeds can win respect from others. The best conduct is a gift. Persons of noble, grave demeanour are accepted as gifts.
Even if a man is bad, when has (dao) rejected him? Why reject bad people [the winners of tomorrow if all goes fine]? Even the bad let slip no opportunity to acquire gifts that fit them well enough.

Therefore on the crowning of an emperor and appointing his three ministers of the state, rather than send ta disc of jade and teams of four horses, sit down and deliver this dao. It can be done without moving from one's seat.
What did the old ones say of this dao, how did they prize it? Why did they treasure such dao?

Did they not say of those that have it "Pursuing, they shall catch; pursued, they shall escape?" Or, "Search for the guilty ones and pardon them?" Or, "Those who seek shall have it, those who sin shall be freed"?
They thought [common] dao to be the most precious, the treasure of the world.

Succeed in the magician's wu-wei: Accomplish seemingly do-nothing.
Attend seemingly to no-affairs. And do completely without ado. What runs, acts without action, does without doing,

So let's taste without tasting. Taste the flavourless. Taste the flavourless without tasting. Find flavourless flavour.

Whether it's big or small, many or few, requite hatred with virtue.
Dao can make the small great and the few many, can requite injuries with some decent deeds. But prepare for the hard while it's still easy. Deal with it while it's still easy. Deal with the great or big while it's still small.
In governing your kingdom everything hard must be dealt with while it's still easy. The hard has to be dealt with while still very easy. All the great (ones and great problems) of the world are to be dealt with while they're yet small. Everything great must be dealt with while it's still small.

Therefore the wise man never has to deal with the great; and so gets greatness. He never strives for the great, by this the great is had.
So great undertakings shall start with what's small.

But again "Who makes rash promises surely lacks. Who lightly makes a promise, can find it too hard to keep his faith. And light assent inspires little confidence. Who takes things very easily is surely in for dealing with more difficulty in the end. So "many easies" means many a hard. In other words, who makes light of many things should find many difficulties.

From all this even the wise man regards things as hard, but he also knows how to make the easy difficult. For that reason he very seldom meets with difficulties. [Uha.]

What remains placid is quite easy to hold.
Not determined happenings can be prepared for well in advance. Before there has been an omen it's easy to lay plans. It's easy to forestall some things that don't are or not yet occur. It's quite easy to plan for and prepare well in advance.

[But such forestalling is had by thoughts, and thoughts are airy and can be tender and brittle, to say the least.] And what's brittle is easy to crack. What's tender is easily torn. What's brittle like ice is easy to melt. And what's tiny is easy to scatter.
[All the same, reach up to] deal with things in their state of not-yet-being; deal with things well before they appear. Just put things well in shape before disorder and confusion. Put all very well in order before disorder, and next go on to check loss or disorder well. A tree as big as a man's hug grows from a tiny sprout. A tower nine storeys high begins with a clod of earth. Further, the journey of three hundred miles began with ... the feet. A journey of a thousand li begins right where one stands, even with the very first step.
Still, he who takes a [visible forestalling] action fails. Who acts, harms; he who grabs, lets slip. And therefore the wise man doesn't act in the open, and so doesn't spoil or harm; yes, he takes seemingly no action and therefore hardly fails.
And why is this? It's due to: He who grasps things [often] loses them. He doesn't grasp a lot, he doesn't let slip a lot. Does hardly grab in the open, and so doesn't let slip a lot. He grasps nothing visibly to others, and therefore he doesn't lose much. Whereas people in their handling of affairs often fail when they're about to succeed at their tasks. Such people constantly spoil things when within an ace of completing them.

Be as careful at the end as at the start to avert failures at hand. Then there will be no such failures. Heed the end no less than the start, so that your valuable work will not be spoiled and ruined.
Therefore the wise man learns to seem unlearned, wants only things that are unwanted. Yes, the wise man publicly desires to have no desire. Therefore the wise man desires no desire - and desires all the same.
He doesn't often value rare treasures publicly. He hardly values objects hard to get or find - in public. He says he learns that which is unlearned. He claims he sets no store by products difficult to get, and so teaches things untaught. [It's a trap.]
But he also turns all beings back to the very thing they have left behind, so that he can assist in the course of nature somehow. And if so, "the ten thousand creatures" can be restored to their self-sameness, the self-so which is of [some] dao. Yes, he supports all things in some of their natural states.
This he does; but hardly presume to interfere all right. He hardly dares to act in the open. So he denies to take any visible action.

In old times those who practised a dao well, did hardly aim to enlighten people, but to make them ignorant and hold them that way. It seems that the more knowledge people have, the harder they are to rule. Maybe it's hard for people to live in peace due to very much knowledge.
So he who rules the state through knowledge is robber of the state; and who seek to rule by giving knowledge could be like [coming] bandits preying on the land. Maybe all who seek to rule by knowledge form the nation's curse, eventually.
He who rules a state not through knowledge is a blessing. Those who seek not to rule by knowledge, are the nation's blessing. To rule without giving knowledge could bring a stock of good fortune to the land. [And maybe not.]
One who knows these two things also (sets) the standard.
Always to know such an old standard is called to of the deep, secret calibre.
When such secret virtue becomes clear, outgoing, far-reaching, and lets things revert back to some guessed at source, all related things could return to some natural state. It could go all the way back to [brutal] concord and harmony.

How did the great rivers and seas become the kings of the ravines? By being experts at keeping low.
Therefore to be above the people you have to speak as though you're lower than the people in some ways.
So to be ahead of the people, you have to follow them in your own person. To be foremost or guide well, walk behind.

The wise man keeps himself on top, and the people hardly feels his weight or get crushed by it in time. He guides in this way, and the people don't harm him the least.
He can even walk in front [as an example], and people don't wish him harm. [Let's hope that.]
In this dynamic [guru] way everything under heaven will be glad to be pushed by him and will not find his guidance irksome. Then the people of the world are glad, the world rejoices and praises him without getting tired of it, in order to uphold him forever.

He accomplishes his aims by overt non-striving. Because he doesn't compete in the open, no one can compete well with him.

Every one says my dao is greatly like folly. Just because it's great, it looks like folly. Great ways don't look like the ordinary anyhow.
If it did not look like folly, it could have turned small and petty long ago! Then it would have been small. As for things that don't look foolish to common men, there can be no question about their smallness.

I have three treasures. Guard and keep them:
The first is a deep, deep concern; call it mystic pity, if you like.
The second is never too much, which may mean frugality.
And the third is refusal to be ahead, foremost or first, for I hardly dare to be ahead.

Deep, concerned love brings guts [or fall].
Through not doing too much, one has amplitude (of reserve power): Who has spared, may then give and seem generous.
Through not presuming to be the first and best there is, one can develop one's talent and strength; let it mature to dominate a world.

On the other hand,
to be bold by forsaking deep love;
to be generous by forsaking frugality-won reserves and clever, artful restraint;
and to be ahead and rushing in front by forsaking following behind;
all this could prove fatal in the end.

Ardent, loving concern can't fight well without conquering a lot. It shall help in the case of attack, and likewise to be firm in the case of defence.
When heaven is to save a person, heaven will protect him through deep love. Heaven arms those it would not see beaten, with all right concern. [Let's hope that.]

A skilful leader of troops is never oppressive with his military strength. The brave soldier is hardly very violent;
The best fighter doesn't become visibly angry; he hardly loses his temper.
A skilful conqueror doesn't compete with people. The great conqueror doesn't fight for small issues alone.
The best user of men acts as though he were their inferior and puts himself below them by the virtue of not-competing.

This is called the ability or capacity to use men, or matching heaven, or being suited to the highest found principle, [maybe of old]

The strategists say:
"If I dare not be the guest, then let me be the host. When I dare not take the offensive, then I'll take the defensive. If you doubt your ability to advance, then retreat." Also: "When you doubt your ability to meet the enemy's attack, take the offensive yourself."

Much of this his implies to march without visible formations; its in part like rolling up the sleeve, and yet presenting no bare arm. Or it could be like stretching your arm without showing the sleeves.

Confront well, present no battle-front yourself. Refrain from charging in frontal attacks, and seem to be armed without weapons. [Let that come as a surprise.] Hold a thousand weapons without seeming to have them.

Now, great calamity comes from making light of an enemy. There's no greater catastrophe than if a foolishly underestimated enemy robs and destroys your most cherished treasures. It could even destroy your topmost treasure, your old, dear body. Refrain from having an enemy at the price of losing your body and life. Remember: He whose enemy presents no front, could lose his booty.

Therefore when armies meet, the kind-looking man of sorrows could win [by such as surprise tactics. But often it's the opposite that happens.] Who doesn't delight in warfare in the open, he wins. [And most often not?]

My words are very easy to understand and very easy to put into practice. Yet no one understands them; no one puts them into practice.
But some of my teaching could have nature as a source, and also there's a principle-ruled ancestry in some of my words.
Yes, [some of] my deeds have a lord; my deeds could have [right] dao as sovereign.
Most men don't understand this, they're unable to understand me.

Few people understand me, and on this my real value depends. I am highly valued, for few understand me.
The wise man wears a coarse cloth on top and carries jade underneath his dress, within his bosom.

To know that you do not know is best. Who knows that he doesn't know is the highest. To know when one doesn't know is best.
Who pretends to know what he doesn't know is sick-minded; To think one knows when one doesn't know is a sort of malady. Pretend to know when you don't know - that's a disease. He who recognises this disease as a disease can also cure himself of it [and maybe not]. [One may eventually get free from a disease by recognising it for what it is.]
Who recognises sick-mindedness as sick-mindedness can't be wholly sick-minded, after all.
The wise man is hardly sick-minded if he recognises sick mind as sick and also cures some diseases. He's hardly a sick mind.

If the people hardly fear what's dreadful, something greatly dreadful could descend. If people have no fear of force, then great force descends. So never mind if people are not intimidated by your authority. Some mightier authority could deal with them in the long run.

Neither despise their dwellings nor narrow the living space of their dwellings. They could cease to turn away if you don't put them in jail. Don't dislike their offspring, harass or oppress their lives. Don't harass them, and they could cease to turn from you. Drop heavy taxes, and the people won't be fed up. If you don't persecute all, you'll hardly be so much disliked. They're not oppressed if you refrain from gross oppressive measures.

So the wise man knows himself but hardly shows off. Knows his own value, but doesn't exalt himself
Truly, "he rejects the one (brute force or enemicy) but accepts or takes the other (being some kind, sturdy neighbour)."

Who is brave in daring can kill or get killed [on a bus].
On the other hand, one who is brave in not daring, can survive or give life. Either approach can be profitable or unprofitable, still one of them is harmful.
Who is brave in non-daring without ado lets live. There can be some advantage and some disadvantage in each approach -

Now, "Dao-heaven hates the one it hates, hates what it hates; and none can know the reason why." Who knows why and what it dislikes? Heaven dislikes certain people; but the wise man considers it a tricky question. Yes, why heaven seems to hate - even a wise man regards it as a tricky question.

Well, it's in the fixed dao sets of heaven not to strive in the open, but none the less to conquer. Not to compete, but all the same win expertly. Be good at conquest without strife.

Dao hardly speaks, it skilfully responds. It comes without skilful invitation, it can appear without a call. It doesn't seem anxious about things and yet it shows up it plans very well. It gets able results without obvious design, as from hidden, laid, [broad] plans and schemes. [Say little, foster well laid schemes and designs.]

Dao-heaven's net is wide, with big, coarse meshes. Still it misses nothing. Nothing slips through.

When the people are not afraid of death, why threaten them with death sentences?
Even supposing the people are constantly afraid of death and we can seize and kill those who are unruly or vicious, who would dare to slay them? There's always the master executioner (Heaven). To kill in his stead is like thrusting oneself into he master-carpenter's place and doing his chipping for him. "He who tries it is lucky if he doesn't cut his hand," they say. To undertake executions for the master executioner is like hewing wood for him. It rarely happens you escape injuring your own hands. Now, often it happens as well that the executioner is killed -
And to take the place of the executioner is in part like handling the hatchet for the master carpenter. He who handles the hatchet for the master carpenter seldom escapes injury to his hands.

People are hungry because rulers eat too much income, too much tax-grain. Therefore they starve, but also because of bad interference from those above. Some turn hard to rule as their rulers do too many things. That's why they're hard to keep in order.
If so, the people are not very afraid of death, as they're anxious to make a living. That's why they take death lightly in such cases.

So: Those who interfere not with their living that are wise in exalting life. Maybe he who seeks only little after life can excel in making life valuable. But all that have hearts set only little on life could be superior to those who set store by life.

When man is born, he is tender and weak. In death he becomes stiff and hard.
All things, the grass as well as trees, are supple and soft while alive. When dead they become brittle and dried.
So hardness and stiffness very often accompany death, the soft and gentle could be companions of life.
The headstrong army will lose in battle. They say "the weapon that's too hard will be broken, the tree that has the hardest wood will be cut down". Yes, a hard tree will be cut down.
So the hard and mighty eventually should be cast down; and the soft and weak may be set on high.

Heaven's way is like the bending of a bow. When a bow is bent the top comes down and the bottom-end comes up.
So too could heaven take away from those who have too much, and give to those that have not enough. Take away from those that have too much and give to those that have not enough.
But this is far from man's way. He takes away from those that have not enough to offer those who already have too much.
The man of dao can fool enough and spare, and next give to the whole world.
So the wise man acts, but doesn't possess, accomplishes but lays claim to no credit.
If he accomplishes a task, achieves an aim, he doesn't wish to reveal himself as better than others. So he seems to claim no credit. He seems to have no wish to appear superior, no desire to display excellence.

There's hardly anything more yielding than [gas, air, and] water, but almost none is better in attacking the resistant and hard,
There are few substitutes for it.
Thus the yielding may conquer the resistant and the soft the hard. This was utilised by none I knew.
Wise sayings,
"Only he who has accepted the dirt of a country can be lord of its soil-shrines: can become heaven-accepted there. Who bears evils of the country can become a king. Who takes into himself the calumny of the world serves to preserve the state."
Straight words seem crooked.

To allay the main discontent, but in a way that begets further discontents, can hardly be top successful. And to patch up great hatred is sure to leave some hatred behind; how can this be regarded as satisfactory?
So the wise man keeps the obligation of a contract
and refrains from blaming the other party. He stays where he is and does not go round making claims on people.
Therefore good people attend to their obligations, while those without virtue attend to other people's mistakes.
The way of heaven is impartial. It's always with the good man, without distinction of persons, to keep the good firmly supplied.''

Let there be a small country with few people. Let there be ten times and a hundred times as many utensils and let them not be used.
Let there be contrivances requiring ten times, a hundred times less labour; they should not use them.
Let the people value their lives highly and not travel far. Bring it about that the people are quite ready to lay down their lives at times to defend their homes rather than emigrate.
As for ships and carriages, let there be none to ride.
There can still be weapons, but no one to drill seriously with them and none to display them often.
People should have no use for any form of writing save knotted ropes: Let the people again knot cords for reckoning.
Let them be very pleased with their food, beautify their clothing, be content with their homes, take pleasure in rustic tasks, and delight in such customs [just like Negroes].
The neighbouring place can be overlooked, can be so near that one may hear the cocks crowing in it, the dogs barking; but the people would grow old and die without ever having been there.
and never outside their country.

True words hardly sound fine. Nice words are far from always true.
A good man seldom proves by argument; he hardly argues. He who argues or proves by argument is hardly so good (as non-argumentative good men). Who argues [blatantly] is hardly (ever) a good man.
[All this is "Lao" arguing, debating or clowning.]

Brilliant wisdom is different from sordid learning. Much bookish learning can mean too little wisdom. Who has extensive knowledge is hardly a wise man.

The wise man has no need to hoard for himself. He lives for other people, seemingly, and grows richer himself if the more he uses for others, the more he has for himself - He gives to other people to get greater abundance.

Heaven's way is to sharpen and bless, all free from harm of cutting,
And the wise man's way is to act and accomplish without contending or striving.