Laozi's Dao De Jing 66-70 (老子道德經 66-70)

Author: Laozi (老子); translated by James Legge

I have three precious things which I prize and hold fast. The first is gentleness; the second is economy; and the third is shrinking from taking precedence of others.


江海之所以能為百谷王者,以其善下之,故能為百谷王。是以聖人欲上民 ,必以言下之﹔欲先民,必以身后之。是以聖人處上而民不重,處前而民 不害。是以天下樂推而不厭。以其不爭,故天下莫能與之爭。

Chapter 66

1. That whereby the rivers and seas are able to receive the homage and tribute of all the valley streams, is their skill in being lower than they;—it is thus that they are the kings of them all. So it is that the sage (ruler), wishing to be above men, puts himself by his words below them, and, wishing to be before them, places his person behind them.

2. In this way though he has his place above them, men do not feel his weight, nor though he has his place before them, do they feel it an injury to them.

3. Therefore all in the world delight to exalt him and do not weary of him. Because he does not strive, no one finds it possible to strive with him.


天下皆謂我道大,似不肖。夫唯大,故似不肖﹔若肖,久矣其細也夫!我 有三寶,持而保之。一曰慈,二曰儉,三曰不敢為天下先。慈故能勇﹔儉 故能廣﹔不敢為天下先,故能成器長。今舍慈且勇﹔舍儉且廣﹔舍后且先 ﹔死矣!夫慈以戰則勝,以守則固。天將救之,以慈衛之。

Chapter 67

1. All the world says that, while my Tao is great, it yet appears to be inferior (to other systems of teaching). Now it is just its greatness that makes it seem to be inferior. If it were like any other (system), for long would its smallness have been known!

2. But I have three precious things which I prize and hold fast. The first is gentleness; the second is economy; and the third is shrinking from taking precedence of others.

3. With that gentleness I can be bold; with that economy I can be liberal; shrinking from taking precedence of others, I can become a vessel of the highest honour. Now-a-days they give up gentleness and are all for being bold; economy, and are all for being liberal; the hindmost place, and seek only to be foremost;—(of all which the end is) death.

4. Gentleness is sure to be victorious even in battle, and firmly to maintain its ground. Heaven will save its possessor, by his (very) gentleness protecting him.


善為士者不武﹔善戰者不怒﹔善勝敵者不與﹔善用人者為之下。是謂不爭 之德,是謂用人之力,是謂配天古之極。

Chapter 68

He who in (Tao's) wars has skill
Assumes no martial port;
He who fights with most good will
To rage makes no resort.
He who vanquishes yet still
Keeps from his foes apart;
He whose hests men most fulfil
Yet humbly plies his art.

Thus we say, 'He ne'er contends,
And therein is his might.'
Thus we say, 'Men's wills he bends,
That they with him unite.'
Thus we say, 'Like Heaven's his ends,
No sage of old more bright.'


用兵有言:「吾不敢為主而為客﹔不敢進寸而退尺。」是謂行無行﹔攘無 臂﹔扔無敵﹔執無兵。禍莫大于輕敵,輕敵几喪吾寶。故抗兵相若,哀者 勝矣。

Chapter 69

1. A master of the art of war has said, 'I do not dare to be the host (to commence the war); I prefer to be the guest (to act on the defensive). I do not dare to advance an inch; I prefer to retire a foot.' This is called marshalling the ranks where there are no ranks; baring the arms (to fight) where there are no arms to bare; grasping the weapon where there is no weapon to grasp; advancing against the enemy where there is no enemy.

2. There is no calamity greater than lightly engaging in war. To do that is near losing (the gentleness) which is so precious. Thus it is that when opposing weapons are (actually) crossed, he who deplores (the situation) conquers.


吾言甚易知,甚易行。天下莫能知,莫能行。言有宗,事有君。夫唯無知 ,是以不我知。知我者希,則我者貴。是以聖人被褐而懷玉。

Chapter 70

1. My words are very easy to know, and very easy to practise; but there is no one in the world who is able to know and able to practise them.

2. There is an originating and all-comprehending (principle) in my words, and an authoritative law for the things (which I enforce). It is because they do not know these, that men do not know me.

3. They who know me are few, and I am on that account (the more) to be prized. It is thus that the sage wears (a poor garb of) hair cloth, while he carries his (signet of) jade in his bosom.