Weapons are ominous instruments.
Everyone hates them.
Therefore, followers of the way avoid them.
When residing at home, men of honor favor the left side.
When waging a war, men of honor favor the right side.
Weapons are ominous instruments,
Not the instruments of men of honor.
When compelled to use them;
They should do so without relish.
Even in victory there is no glory.
Those who celebrate victory are gloating over killing others.
Those who gloat over killing others must never be allowed achieve their worldly ambitions.
In times of joy, the left side is given precedence;
In times of grief, the right side is given precedence.
In times of war, the second-in-command stands on the left;
The general stands on the right;
This the same way as the mourning rites are conducted.
When great numbers of people are slaughtered,
We should mourn them all with sorrow and grief.
When victorious in war,
We should observe the mourning rites.
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 31: weapons are ominous instruments
Those who assist a ruler with the Dao,
Never counsels him to conquer the world by force of arms.
It something that is sure to rebound.
Wherever armies have been camped,
Brambles and thorns grow wild.
After great wars are over,
Years of scarcity and famine follow.
Good generals focus only on achieving results.
Not winning by force.
They achieve results without glorying in them.
They achieve results without celebrating them.
They achieve results without taking pride in them.
They achieve results only because they have no other choice.
They achieve results without using force.
Things that resort to force age quickly;
This is called going against the Dao.
Going against the Dao leads to an early end.
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 30: brambles and thorns
Those who seek to take over the world and control it,
I do not think they can succeed.
The world is a sacred vessel;
It cannot be controlled or held on to.
Those who try to control it will spoil it.
Those who try to hold on to it will lose it.
Therefore, among all things,
Some lead and some follow;
Some breathe gently and some blow hard;
Some are strong and some are weak;
Some succeed and some fail.
That’s why the sage avoids excess, extravagance, and pride.
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 29: the world is a sacred vessel
Know the male,
But keep to the female.
Be a ravine to the world.
As a ravine to the world,
Constant virtue will never leave you,
And you will return to being an infant.
Know the bright,
But keep to the dark.
Be a model to the world.
As a model to the world,
Constant virtue will never be wanting,
And you will return to the limitless.
But keep to disgrace.
Be a valley to the world.
As a valley to the world,
Constant virtue will always be sufficient,
And you will return again to the uncarved block of wood.
When the uncarved block shatters, it is transformed into utensils.
The sage makes use of them,
And becomes the lord of all the officials.
Therefore, the deepest cut doesn’t sever.
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 28: an uncarved block of wood
An excellent driver leaves no tracks.
An excellent speaker makes no slips.
An excellent accountant uses no tallies.
An excellent gateman needs no bolts to secure a door,
But nobody can open it.
An excellent binder needs no knots,
But nobody can untie the binding.
This is why,
The sage excels at taking care of everyone;
So abandons no one.
The sage excels at taking care of everything;
So wastes nothing.
This is called intuitive wisdom.
Therefore, those who excel are the teachers of those who don’t;
Those who don’t excel provide object lessons for those who do to learn from.
If you don’t value your teachers,
If you don’t care for your object lessons,
No matter how knowledgeable you think you are,
You are greatly deluded.
Such is the essential truth.
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 27: intuitive wisdom
The heavy is the root of the light;
The tranquil is the master of the agitated.
That’s why the sage travels all day without losing sight of his baggage train.
No matter how magnificent the view is,
He stays calm and dispassionate.
Why would the lord of a great realm,
Take his own life lightly when governing the world?
To take things lightly is to lose the root.
To be agitated is to lose control.
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 26: the heavy is the root of the light
There is something mysterious and all-encompassing,
That came into being before Heaven and earth.
Silent and formless,
Independent and unchanging,
All-pervading and inexhaustible,
It may be considered the mother of all things under Heaven.
I do not know its name;
I call it the Dao.
If forced to give it a specific name,
I would call it “the Great”.
Great means it is boundless.
Boundless means it reaches everywhere.
Reaching everywhere means it returns to itself.
Therefore, the Dao is supreme;
Heaven is great;
Earth is great;
Humanity is great.
There are four great powers in the universe;
Humanity is one of them.
Humanity models itself on earth.
Earth models itself on Heaven.
Heaven models itself on the Dao.
The Dao follows its own nature.
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 25: key characteristics of the way
People who stand on tiptoe are not steady.
People who take the longest strides cannot keep up the pace.
People who show off do not stand out.
People who promote themselves are not respected.
People who boast achieve nothing
People who brag do not last.
According to the Dao,
They are like leftover food and excess fat.
All creatures detest them.
Therefore, followers of the Dao avoid them.
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 24: like leftover food and excess fat
Nature rarely talks.
A whirlwind does not last all morning;
A rainstorm does not last all day.
What causes them to be like that?
Heaven and earth.
If Heaven and earth cannot make them last very long,
How can people hope to do so?
When you open yourself to the Dao, you will be at one with the Dao.
When you open yourself up to virtue, you will be at one with virtue.
When you open yourself to loss, you will be lost.
When you are at one with the Dao, the Dao will happily embrace you.
When you are at one with virtue, virtue will happily embrace you.
When you are lost, loss will happily embrace you.
If you do not have sufficient faith in yourself, nobody will have faith in you.
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 23: nature rarely talks
To yield is to be whole.
To bend is to be straight.
To be empty is to be full.
To be exhausted is to be renewed.
To have little is to gain.
To have too much is to be troubled.
That is why the sage embraces the one and sets an example to the world.
He does not show off and therefore shines.
He does not promote himself and is therefore revered.
He does not boast and is therefore honored.
He does not seek glory and therefore endures.
Because he does not contend,
Nobody in the world contends with him.
The ancient saying “to yield is to be whole” is indeed true.
When you are whole, all things will come to you.
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 22: to yield is to be whole