Excerpts for Tao Te Ching : A New English Version


Tao Te Ching


By Lao Tzu

HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright © 1988 Lao Tzu
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060160012


Chapter One


VERSE 1


A way that can be walked
    is not The Way
A name that can be named
    is not The Name

Tao is both Named and Nameless
As Nameless, it is the origin of all things
As Named, it is the mother of all things
A mind free of thought,
    merged within itself,
    beholds the essence of Tao

A mind filled with thought,
    identified with its own perceptions,
    beholds the mere forms of this world

Tao and this world seem different
    but in truth they are one and the same
The only difference is in what we call them

How deep and mysterious this unity is
    How profound, how great!
It is the truth beyond the truth,
    the hidden within the hidden
It is the path to all wonder,
    the gate to the essence of everything!


VERSE 2


Everyone recognizes beauty
    only because of ugliness
Everyone recognizes virtue
    only because of sin

Life and death are born together
Difficult and easy
Long and short
High and low—
      all these exist together
      arrive together
Sound and silence blend together
Before and after


* * *


The Sage acts without action
    and teaches without talking
All things flourish around him
    and he does not refuse any one of them
He gives but not to receive
He works but not for reward
He completes but not for results
He does nothing for himself in this passing world
    so nothing he does ever passes


VERSE 3


Putting a value on status
    will cause people to compete
Hoarding treasure
    will turn them into thieves
Showing off possessions
    will disturb their daily lives

Thus the Sage rules
    by stilling minds and opening hearts
    by filling bellies and strengthening bones
He shows people how to be simple
    and live without desires
To be content
    and not look for other ways
With the people so pure
Who could trick them?
What clever ideas could lead them astray?

When action is pure and selfless
    everything settles into its own perfect place


VERSE 4


Tao is empty
    yet it fills every vessel with endless supply
Tao is hidden
    yet it shines in every corner of the universe

With it, the sharp edges become smooth
    the twisted knots loosen
    the sun is softened by a cloud
    the dust settles into place

So deep, so pure, so still
    It has been this way forever
You may ask, "Whose child is it?"—
    but I cannot say
This child was here before the Great Ancestor


VERSE 5


    Heaven and Earth have no preference

A man may choose one over another
    but to Heaven and Earth all are the same
The high, the low, the great, the small—
    all are given light
    all get a place to rest

The Sage is like Heaven and Earth
To him none are especially dear
    nor is there anyone he disfavors
He gives and gives without condition
    offering his treasure to everyone


* * *


The universe is like a bellows
    It stays empty yet is never exhausted
    It gives out yet always brings forth more

Man is not like this
When he blows out air like a bellows
    he becomes exhausted
Man was not made to blow out air
He was made to sit quietly and find the truth within


Continues...

Excerpted from Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu Copyright © 1988 by Lao Tzu. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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