Category Archives: Daodejing

Daodejing Chapter 28: an uncarved block of wood

Daodejing Chapter 28

「知其雄,守其雌,為天下谿;為天下谿,常德不離,復歸於嬰兒。知其白,守其黑,為天下式。為天下式,常德不忒,復歸於無極。知其榮,守其辱,為天下谷。為天下谷,常德乃足,復歸於樸。樸散則為器,聖人用之,則為官長。故大制不割。」
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.
Know honor,
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

Daodejing Chapter 27: intuitive wisdom

Daodejing Chapter 27

「善行無轍跡,善言無瑕謫,善數不用籌策,善閉無關鍵而不可開,善結無繩約而不可解。是以聖人常善救人,故無棄人;常善救物,故無棄物。 是謂襲明。故善人者,不善人之師;不善人者,善人之資。不貴其師,不愛其資;雖智大迷,是謂要妙。」
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

Daodejing Chapter 26: the heavy is the root of the light

Daodejing Chapter 26

「重為輕根,靜為躁君;是以聖人終日行不離輜重,雖有榮觀,燕處超然。奈何萬乘之主,而以身輕天下?輕則失根,躁則失君。」
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

Daodejing Chapter 25: key characteristics of the way

Daodejing Chapter 25

「有物混成,先天地生。寂兮寥兮,獨立而不改,周行而不殆,可以為天下母。吾不知其名,字之曰道,強為之名曰大。大曰逝,逝曰遠,遠曰反。故道大、天大、地大、人亦大。域中有四大,而王居其一焉!人法地,地法天,天法道,道法自然」。
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

Daodejing Chapter 24: like leftover food and excess fat

Daodejing Chapter 24

「企者不立,跨者不行。自見者不明,自是者不彰;自伐者無功,自誇者不長。其於道也,曰:餘食贅行。物或惡之,故有道者不處。」
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

Daodejing Chapter 23: nature rarely talks

Nature rarely talks

「希言自然,故飄風不終朝,驟雨不終日。孰為此者?天地。天地尚不能久,而況於人乎?故從事於道者,同於道;德者,同於德;失者,同於失。同於道者,道亦樂得之;同於德者,德亦樂得之;同於失者,失亦樂得之。信不足焉,有不信焉!
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

Daodejing Chapter 22: to yield is to be whole

Daodejing Chapter 22

「曲則全,枉則直,窪則盈,敝則新,少則得,多則惑。是以聖人抱一為天下式,
不自見故明,不自是故彰,不自伐故有功,不自矜故長。古之所謂曲則全者,豈虛言哉?誠全而歸之。」
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

Daodejing Chapter 21: the greatest virtue

Daodejing Chapter 21「孔德之容,唯道是從。道之為物,唯恍唯惚,惚兮恍兮,其中有象;恍兮惚兮,其中有物。窈兮冥兮,其中有精,其精甚真,其中有信。自古及今,其名不去,以閱眾甫。吾何以知眾甫之狀哉?以此!」
The greatest virtue is achieved by following the Dao and the Dao alone.
As a thing, the Dao is,
Elusive and intangible;
Intangible and elusive!
Yet within it is an image;
Elusive and intangible!
Yet within it is a substance;
Dim and dark!
Yet within it is an essence;
The essence is real;
And within it is something that can be trusted;
From ancient times until now,
Its name has never disappeared.
Through it, I can see the beginning of all things.
How do I know how all things began?
Because it is here within me.
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 21: the greatest virtue

Daodejing Chapter 20: nourished by the mother

Daodejing Chapter 20: nourished by the mother

「絕學無憂,唯之與阿,相去幾何?善之與惡,相去若何?人之所畏,不可不畏。荒兮其未央哉!眾人熙熙,如享太牢,如春登臺。我獨泊兮其未兆,如嬰兒之未孩。儡儡兮若無所歸!眾人皆有餘,而我獨若遺。我愚人之心也哉,沌沌兮!俗人昭昭,我獨昏昏。俗人察察,我獨悶悶。澹兮其若海,飂兮若無止。眾人皆有以,而我獨頑且鄙。我獨異於人,而貴食母。
Reject learning and your troubles end.
How much difference is there between yes and no?
How much difference is there between good and evil?
If you have to fear what other people fear,
Your fears will be endless!
Everyone is out having fun,
As if enjoying a holiday feast,
As if ascending a terrace in spring.
I alone am quiet and show no emotions;
Like a new-born baby who has not yet learned to smile;
Like someone who has no home to go to.
Everyone has plenty;
I alone have nothing.
I have the mind of a fool, understanding nothing.
Everyone sees things clearly;
I alone am confused.
Everyone is sharp;
I alone am dull,
Drifting like the ocean waves,
Aimless like the gusting wind.
Everyone has a purpose.
I alone am ignorant and uncouth.
I alone am different from the everyone else,
I prize being nourished by the mother.

Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 20: nourished by the mother

Daodejing Chapter 19: back to nature or back to basics?

Daodejing back to nature 

「絕聖棄智,民利百倍;絕仁棄義,民復孝慈;絕巧棄利,盜賊無有。此三者以為文不足,故令有所屬。見素抱樸,少私寡欲。」
Reject sophistry and discard knowledge;
The people will benefit a hundredfold.
Reject humanity and discard rightness,
And the people will rediscover filial piety and parental love.
Reject trickiness and renounce profit,
And there will be no thieves or bandits.
These three teachings are mere cultural adornments and inadequate.
The people need something that they can depend on.
Cherish simplicity and embrace the uncarved block of wood;
Reduce selfishness and minimize desires.
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 19: back to nature or back to basics?