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Author: Laozi (老子); translated by James Legge


三十輻共一轂,當其無,有車之用。埏埴以為器,當其無,有器之用。鑿 戶牖以為室,當其無,有室之用。故有之以為利,無之以為用。

Chapter 11

The thirty spokes unite in the one nave; but it is on the empty space (for the axle), that the use of the wheel depends. Clay is fashioned into vessels; but it is on their empty hollowness, that their use depends. The door and windows are cut out (from the walls) to form an apartment; but it is on the empty space (within), that its use depends. Therefore, what has a (positive) existence serves for profitable adaptation, and what has not that for (actual) usefulness.


五色令人目盲﹔五音令人耳聾﹔五味令人口爽﹔馳騁畋獵,令人心發狂﹔ 難得之貨,令人行妨。是以聖人為腹不為目,故去彼取此。

Chapter 12

1. Colour's five hues from th' eyes their sight will take; Music's five notes the ears as deaf can make; The flavours five deprive the mouth of taste; The chariot course, and the wild hunting waste Make mad the mind; and objects rare and strange, Sought for, men's conduct will to evil change.

2. Therefore the sage seeks to satisfy (the craving of) the belly, and not the (insatiable longing of the) eyes. He puts from him the latter, and prefers to seek the former.


寵辱若驚,貴大患若身。何謂寵辱若驚?寵為下,得之若驚,失之若驚, 是謂寵辱若驚。何謂貴大患若身?吾所以有大患者,為吾有身,及吾無身 ,吾有何患?故貴以身為天下,若可寄天下﹔愛以身為天下,若可托天下 。

Chapter 13

1. Favour and disgrace would seem equally to be feared; honour and great calamity, to be regarded as personal conditions (of the same kind).

2. What is meant by speaking thus of favour and disgrace? Disgrace is being in a low position (after the enjoyment of favour). The getting that (favour) leads to the apprehension (of losing it), and the losing it leads to the fear of (still greater calamity):—this is what is meant by saying that favour and disgrace would seem equally to be feared. And what is meant by saying that honour and great calamity are to be (similarly) regarded as personal conditions? What makes me liable to great calamity is my having the body (which I call myself); if I had not the body, what great calamity could come to me?

3. Therefore he who would administer the kingdom, honouring it as he honours his own person, may be employed to govern it, and he who would administer it with the love which he bears to his own person may be entrusted with it.


視之不見,名曰「夷」﹔聽之不聞,名曰「希」﹔搏之不得,名曰「微」 。此三者不可致詰,故混而為一。其上不皦,其下不昧。繩繩不可名,復 歸於無物。是謂無狀之狀,無物之象,是謂惚恍。迎之不見其首,隨之不 見其後。執古之道,以御今之有。能知古始,是謂道紀。

Chapter 14

1. We look at it, and we do not see it, and we name it 'the Equable.' We listen to it, and we do not hear it, and we name it 'the Inaudible.' We try to grasp it, and do not get hold of it, and we name it 'the Subtle.' With these three qualities, it cannot be made the subject of description; and hence we blend them together and obtain The One.

2. Its upper part is not bright, and its lower part is not obscure. Ceaseless in its action, it yet cannot be named, and then it again returns and becomes nothing. This is called the Form of the Formless, and the Semblance of the Invisible; this is called the Fleeting and Indeterminable.

3. We meet it and do not see its Front; we follow it, and do not see its Back. When we can lay hold of the Tao of old to direct the things of the present day, and are able to know it as it was of old in the beginning, this is called (unwinding) the clue of Tao.


古之善為士者,微妙玄通,深不可識。夫唯不可識,故強為之容:豫兮若 冬涉川﹔猶兮若畏四鄰﹔儼兮其若客﹔渙兮若冰之釋﹔敦兮其若朴﹔曠兮 其若谷﹔混兮其若濁。孰能晦以理之徐明?孰能濁以靜之徐清?孰能安以 動之徐生?保此道者不欲盈。夫唯不盈,故能蔽而新成。

Chapter 15

1. The skilful masters (of the Tao) in old times, with a subtle and exquisite penetration, comprehended its mysteries, and were deep (also) so as to elude men's knowledge. As they were thus beyond men's knowledge, I will make an effort to describe of what sort they appeared to be.

2. Shrinking looked they like those who wade through a stream in winter; irresolute like those who are afraid of all around them; grave like a guest (in awe of his host); evanescent like ice that is melting away; unpretentious like wood that has not been fashioned into anything; vacant like a valley, and dull like muddy water.

3. Who can (make) the muddy water (clear)? Let it be still, and it will gradually become clear. Who can secure the condition of rest? Let movement go on, and the condition of rest will gradually arise.

4. They who preserve this method of the Tao do not wish to be full (of themselves). It is through their not being full of themselves that they can afford to seem worn and not appear new and complete.

Author: Laozi (老子); translated by James Legge

Sincere words are not fine; fine words are not sincere. Those who are skilled (in the Tao) do not dispute (about it); the disputatious are not skilled in it. Those who know (the Tao) are not extensively learned; the extensively learned do not know it.


和大怨,必有餘怨﹔報怨以德,安可以為善?是以聖人執左契,而不責于 人。有德司契,無德司徹。天道無親,常與善人。

Chapter 79

1. When a reconciliation is effected (between two parties) after a great animosity, there is sure to be a grudge remaining (in the mind of the one who was wrong). And how can this be beneficial (to the other)?

2. Therefore (to guard against this), the sage keeps the left-hand portion of the record of the engagement, and does not insist on the (speedy) fulfilment of it by the other party. (So), he who has the attributes (of the Tao) regards (only) the conditions of the engagement, while he who has not those attributes regards only the conditions favourable to himself.

3. In the Way of Heaven, there is no partiality of love; it is always on the side of the good man.


小國寡民。使有什伯之器而不用﹔使民重死而不遠徙。雖有舟輿,無所乘 之,雖有甲兵,無所陳之。使民復結繩而用之。甘其食,美其服,安其居 ,樂其俗。鄰國相望,雞犬之聲相聞,民至老死,不相往來。

Chapter 80

1. In a little state with a small population, I would so order it, that, though there were individuals with the abilities of ten or a hundred men, there should be no employment of them; I would make the people, while looking on death as a grievous thing, yet not remove elsewhere (to avoid it).

2. Though they had boats and carriages, they should have no occasion to ride in them; though they had buff coats and sharp weapons, they should have no occasion to don or use them.

3. I would make the people return to the use of knotted cords (instead of the written characters).

4. They should think their (coarse) food sweet; their (plain) clothes beautiful; their (poor) dwellings places of rest; and their common (simple) ways sources of enjoyment.

5. There should be a neighbouring state within sight, and the voices of the fowls and dogs should be heard all the way from it to us, but I would make the people to old age, even to death, not have any intercourse with it.


信言不美,美言不信。善者不辯,辯者不善。知者不博,博者不知。聖人 不積,既以為人己愈有,既以與人己愈多。天之道,利而不害﹔聖人之道 ,為而不爭。

Chapter 81

1. Sincere words are not fine; fine words are not sincere. Those who are skilled (in the Tao) do not dispute (about it); the disputatious are not skilled in it. Those who know (the Tao) are not extensively learned; the extensively learned do not know it.

2. The sage does not accumulate (for himself). The more that he expends for others, the more does he possess of his own; the more that he gives to others, the more does he have himself.

3. With all the sharpness of the Way of Heaven, it injures not; with all the doing in the way of the sage he does not strive.

Author: Laozi (老子); translated by James Legge

Every one in the world knows that the soft overcomes the hard, and the weak the strong, but no one is able to carry it out in practice.


人之生也柔弱,其死也堅強。草木之生也柔脆,其死也枯槁。故堅強者死 之徒,柔弱者生之徒。是以兵強則滅,木強則折。強大處下,柔弱處上。

Chapter 76

1. Man at his birth is supple and weak; at his death, firm and strong. (So it is with) all things. Trees and plants, in their early growth, are soft and brittle; at their death, dry and withered.

2. Thus it is that firmness and strength are the concomitants of death; softness and weakness, the concomitants of life.

3. Hence he who (relies on) the strength of his forces does not conquer; and a tree which is strong will fill the out-stretched arms, (and thereby invites the feller.)

4. Therefore the place of what is firm and strong is below, and that of what is soft and weak is above.


天之道,其猶張弓歟?高者抑之,下者舉之﹔有餘者損之,不足者補之。 天之道,損有餘而補不足。人之道,則不然,損不足以奉有餘。孰能有餘 以奉天下,唯有道者。是以聖人為而不恃,功成而不處,其不欲見賢。

Chapter 77

1. May not the Way (or Tao) of Heaven be compared to the (method of) bending a bow? The (part of the bow) which was high is brought low, and what was low is raised up. (So Heaven) diminishes where there is superabundance, and supplements where there is deficiency.

2. It is the Way of Heaven to diminish superabundance, and to supplement deficiency. It is not so with the way of man. He takes away from those who have not enough to add to his own superabundance.

3. Who can take his own superabundance and therewith serve all under heaven? Only he who is in possession of the Tao!

4. Therefore the (ruling) sage acts without claiming the results as his; he achieves his merit and does not rest (arrogantly) in it:—he does not wish to display his superiority.


天下莫柔弱于水,而攻堅強者,莫之能勝,以其無以易之。弱之勝強,柔 之勝剛,天下莫不知,莫能行。是以聖人云:「受國之垢,是謂社稷主﹔ 受國不祥,是為天下王。」正言若反。

Chapter 78

1. There is nothing in the world more soft and weak than water, and yet for attacking things that are firm and strong there is nothing that can take precedence of it;—for there is nothing (so effectual) for which it can be changed.

2. Every one in the world knows that the soft overcomes the hard, and the weak the strong, but no one is able to carry it out in practice.

3. Therefore a sage has said, 'He who accepts his state's reproach, Is hailed therefore its altars' lord; To him who bears men's direful woes They all the name of King accord.'

4. Words that are strictly true seem to be paradoxical.

Author: Laozi (老子); translated by James Legge

It is the way of Heaven not to strive, and yet it skillfully overcomes; not to speak, and yet it is skillful in obtaining a reply; does not call, and yet men come to it of themselves. Its demonstrations are quiet, and yet its plans are skillful and effective. The meshes of the net of Heaven are large; far apart, but letting nothing escape.


知,不知,上矣﹔不知,知,病也。聖人不病,以其病病。夫唯病病,是 以不病。

Chapter 71

1. To know and yet (think) we do not know is the highest (attainment); not to know (and yet think) we do know is a disease. 2. It is simply by being pained at (the thought of) having this disease that we are preserved from it. The sage has not the disease. He knows the pain that would be inseparable from it, and therefore he does not have it.


民不畏威,則大威至。無狎其所居,無厭其所生。夫唯不厭,是以不厭。 是以聖人自知不自見﹔自愛不自貴。故去彼取此。

Chapter 72

1. When the people do not fear what they ought to fear, that which is their great dread will come on them. 2. Let them not thoughtlessly indulge themselves in their ordinary life; let them not act as if weary of what that life depends on. 3. It is by avoiding such indulgence that such weariness does not arise. 4. Therefore the sage knows (these things) of himself, but does not parade (his knowledge); loves, but does not (appear to set a) value on, himself. And thus he puts the latter alternative away and makes choice of the former.


勇于敢則殺,勇于不敢則活。此兩者,或利或害。天之所惡,孰知其故? 是以聖人猶難之。天之道,不爭而善勝,不言而善應,不召而自來,繕然 而善謀。天網恢恢,疏而不失。

Chapter 73

1. He whose boldness appears in his daring (to do wrong, in defiance of the laws) is put to death; he whose boldness appears in his not daring (to do so) lives on. Of these two cases the one appears to be advantageous, and the other to be injurious. But When Heaven's anger smites a man, Who the cause shall truly scan? On this account the sage feels a difficulty (as to what to do in the former case).

2. It is the way of Heaven not to strive, and yet it skilfully overcomes; not to speak, and yet it is skilful in obtaining a reply; does not call, and yet men come to it of themselves. Its demonstrations are quiet, and yet its plans are skilful and effective. The meshes of the net of Heaven are large; far apart, but letting nothing escape.


民不畏死,奈何以死懼之?若使民常畏死,而為奇者,吾得執而殺之,孰 敢?常有司殺者殺。夫代司殺者殺,是謂代大匠斲,夫代大匠斲者,希有 不傷其手矣。

Chapter 74

1. The people do not fear death; to what purpose is it to (try to) frighten them with death? If the people were always in awe of death, and I could always seize those who do wrong, and put them to death, who would dare to do wrong?

2. There is always One who presides over the infliction death. He who would inflict death in the room of him who so presides over it may be described as hewing wood instead of a great carpenter. Seldom is it that he who undertakes the hewing, instead of the great carpenter, does not cut his own hands!


民之飢,以其上食稅之多,是以飢。民之難治,以其上之有為,是以難治 。民之輕死,以其上求生之厚,是以輕死。夫唯無以生為者,是賢于貴生 。

Chapter 75

1. The people suffer from famine because of the multitude of taxes consumed by their superiors. It is through this that they suffer famine.

2. The people are difficult to govern because of the (excessive) agency of their superiors (in governing them). It is through this that they are difficult to govern.

3. The people make light of dying because of the greatness of their labours in seeking for the means of living. It is this which makes them think light of dying. Thus it is that to leave the subject of living altogether out of view is better than to set a high value on it.

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.

Author: Laozi (老子); translated by James Legge

The great state only wishes to unite men together and nourish them; a small state only wishes to be received by, and to serve, the other. Each gets what it desires, but the great state must learn to abase itself.


大國者下流,天下之交也,天下之牝。牝常以靜勝牡,以靜為下。故大國 以下小國,則取小國﹔小國以下大國,則取大國。故或下以取,或下而取 。大國不過欲兼畜人,小國不過欲入事人。夫兩者各得所欲,大者宜為下 。

Chapter 61

1. What makes a great state is its being (like) a low-lying, down-flowing (stream);—it becomes the centre to which tend (all the small states) under heaven.

2. (To illustrate from) the case of all females:—the female always overcomes the male by her stillness. Stillness may be considered (a sort of) abasement.

3. Thus it is that a great state, by condescending to small states, gains them for itself; and that small states, by abasing themselves to a great state, win it over to them. In the one case the abasement leads to gaining adherents, in the other case to procuring favour.

4. The great state only wishes to unite men together and nourish them; a small state only wishes to be received by, and to serve, the other. Each gets what it desires, but the great state must learn to abase itself.


道者萬物之奧。善人之寶,不善人之所保。美言可以市尊,美行可以加人 。人之不善,何棄之有?故立天子,置三公,雖有拱璧以先駟馬,不如坐 進此道。古之所以貴此道者何?不曰求以得,有罪以免耶?故為天下貴。

Chapter 62

1. Tao has of all things the most honoured place. No treasures give good men so rich a grace; Bad men it guards, and doth their ill efface.

2. (Its) admirable words can purchase honour; (its) admirable deeds can raise their performer above others. Even men who are not good are not abandoned by it.

3. Therefore when the sovereign occupies his place as the Son of Heaven, and he has appointed his three ducal ministers, though (a prince) were to send in a round symbol-of-rank large enough to fill both the hands, and that as the precursor of the team of horses (in the court-yard), such an offering would not be equal to (a lesson of) this Tao, which one might present on his knees.

4. Why was it that the ancients prized this Tao so much? Was it not because it could be got by seeking for it, and the guilty could escape (from the stain of their guilt) by it? This is the reason why all under heaven consider it the most valuable thing.


為無為,事無事,味無味。大小多少,報怨以德。圖難于其易,為大于其 細。天下難事,必作于易,天下大事,必作于細。是以聖人終不為大,故 能成其大。夫輕諾必寡信,多易必多難。是以聖人猶難之,故終無難矣。

Chapter 63

1. (It is the way of the Tao) to act without (thinking of) acting; to conduct affairs without (feeling the) trouble of them; to taste without discerning any flavour; to consider what is small as great, and a few as many; and to recompense injury with kindness.

2. (The master of it) anticipates things that are difficult while they are easy, and does things that would become great while they are small. All difficult things in the world are sure to arise from a previous state in which they were easy, and all great things from one in which they were small. Therefore the sage, while he never does what is great, is able on that account to accomplish the greatest things.

3. He who lightly promises is sure to keep but little faith; he who is continually thinking things easy is sure to find them difficult. Therefore the sage sees difficulty even in what seems easy, and so never has any difficulties.


其安易持,其未兆易謀,其脆易泮,其微易散,為之于未有,治之于未亂 。合抱之木,生于毫末﹔九層之臺,起于累土﹔千里之行,始于足下。為 者拜之,執者失之,是以聖人無為,故無敗,無執,故無師。民之從事, 常于几成而敗之﹔慎終如始,則無敗事。是以聖人欲不欲,不貴難得之貨 ﹔學不學,復眾人之所過。以輔萬物之自然,而不敢為。

Chapter 64

1. That which is at rest is easily kept hold of; before a thing has given indications of its presence, it is easy to take measures against it; that which is brittle is easily broken; that which is very small is easily dispersed. Action should be taken before a thing has made its appearance; order should be secured before disorder has begun.

2. The tree which fills the arms grew from the tiniest sprout; the tower of nine storeys rose from a (small) heap of earth; the journey of a thousand li commenced with a single step.

3. He who acts (with an ulterior purpose) does harm; he who takes hold of a thing (in the same way) loses his hold. The sage does not act (so), and therefore does no harm; he does not lay hold (so), and therefore does not lose his bold. (But) people in their conduct of affairs are constantly ruining them when they are on the eve of success. If they were careful at the end, as (they should be) at the beginning, they would not so ruin them.

4. Therefore the sage desires what (other men) do not desire, and does not prize things difficult to get; he learns what (other men) do not learn, and turns back to what the multitude of men have passed by. Thus he helps the natural development of all things, and does not dare to act (with an ulterior purpose of his own).


古之善為道者,非以明民,將以愚之。民之難治,以其智多。故以智治國 ,國之賊﹔不以智治國,國之福。知此兩者,亦稽式。常知稽式,是謂「 玄德」,「玄德」深遠﹔與物反矣,然后乃至大順。

Chapter 65

1. The ancients who showed their skill in practising the Tao did so, not to enlighten the people, but rather to make them simple and ignorant.

2. The difficulty in governing the people arises from their having much knowledge. He who (tries to) govern a state by his wisdom is a scourge to it; while he who does not (try to) do so is a blessing.

3. He who knows these two things finds in them also his model and rule. Ability to know this model and rule constitutes what we call the mysterious excellence (of a governor). Deep and far-reaching is such mysterious excellence, showing indeed its possessor as opposite to others, but leading them to a great conformity to him.

Author: Laozi (老子); translated by James Legge

Governing a great state is like cooking small fish.


以正治國,以奇用兵,以無事取天下。吾何以知其然哉?以此:天下多忌 諱,而民彌貧﹔人多利器,國家滋昏﹔人多伎巧,奇物滋起﹔法令滋彰, 盜賊多有。故聖人云:「我無為,而民自化﹔我好靜,而民自正﹔我無事 ,而民自富﹔我無欲,而民自朴」。

Chapter 57

1. A state may be ruled by (measures of) correction; weapons of war may be used with crafty dexterity; (but) the kingdom is made one's own (only) by freedom from action and purpose.

2. How do I know that it is so? By these facts:—In the kingdom the multiplication of prohibitive enactments increases the poverty of the people; the more implements to add to their profit that the people have, the greater disorder is there in the state and clan; the more acts of crafty dexterity that men possess, the more do strange contrivances appear; the more display there is of legislation, the more thieves and robbers there are.

3. Therefore a sage has said, 'I will do nothing (of purpose), and the people will be transformed of themselves; I will be fond of keeping still, and the people will of themselves become correct. I will take no trouble about it, and the people will of themselves become rich; I will manifest no ambition, and the people will of themselves attain to the primitive simplicity.'


其政悶悶,其民淳淳﹔其政察察,其民缺缺。禍兮,福之所倚,福兮,禍 之所伏。孰知其極?其無正也。正復為奇,善復為妖。人之迷,其日固久 。是以聖人方而不割,廉而不劌,直而不肆,光而不耀。

Chapter 58

1. The government that seems the most unwise, Oft goodness to the people best supplies; That which is meddling, touching everything, Will work but ill, and disappointment bring. Misery!—happiness is to be found by its side! Happiness!—misery lurks beneath it! Who knows what either will come to in the end?

2. Shall we then dispense with correction? The (method of) correction shall by a turn become distortion, and the good in it shall by a turn become evil. The delusion of the people (on this point) has indeed subsisted for a long time.

3. Therefore the sage is (like) a square which cuts no one (with its angles); (like) a corner which injures no one (with its sharpness). He is straightforward, but allows himself no license; he is bright, but does not dazzle.


治人事天,莫若嗇。夫為嗇,是謂早服﹔早服謂之重積德﹔重積德則無不 克﹔無不克則莫知其極﹔莫知其極,可以有國﹔有國之母,可以長久﹔是 謂深根固柢,長生久視之道。

Chapter 59

1. For regulating the human (in our constitution) and rendering the (proper) service to the heavenly, there is nothing like moderation.

2. It is only by this moderation that there is effected an early return (to man's normal state). That early return is what I call the repeated accumulation of the attributes (of the Tao). With that repeated accumulation of those attributes, there comes the subjugation (of every obstacle to such return). Of this subjugation we know not what shall be the limit; and when one knows not what the limit shall be, he may be the ruler of a state.

3. He who possesses the mother of the state may continue long. His case is like that (of the plant) of which we say that its roots are deep and its flower stalks firm:—this is the way to secure that its enduring life shall long be seen.


治大國,若烹小鮮。以道蒞天下,其鬼不神﹔非其鬼不神,其神不傷人﹔ 非其神不傷人,聖人亦不傷人。夫兩不相傷,故德交歸焉。 Chapter 60

1. Governing a great state is like cooking small fish.

2. Let the kingdom be governed according to the Tao, and the manes of the departed will not manifest their spiritual energy. It is not that those manes have not that spiritual energy, but it will not be employed to hurt men. It is not that it could not hurt men, but neither does the ruling sage hurt them.

3. When these two do not injuriously affect each other, their good influences converge in the virtue (of the Tao).

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