Home Up Wang Bi Pinyin Strauss Wilhelm Backofen Debon Legge Wing

R.L. Wing,  1986


The Beginning of Power

The Tao that can be expressed
Is not the Tao of the Absolute.
The name that can be named
Is not the name of the Absolute.

The nameless originated Heaven and Earth.
The named is the Mother of All Things.

Thus, without expectation
One will always perceive the subtlety;
And, with expectation
One will always perceive the boundary.

The source of these two is identical,
Yet their names are different.
Together they are called profound,
Profound and mysterious,
The gateway to the Collective Subtlety.



Using Polarity

When all the world knows beauty as beauty,
There is ugliness.
When they know good as good,
Then there is evil.

In this way
Existence and nonexistence produce each other.
Difficult and easy complete each other.
Long and short contrast each other.
Pitch and tone harmonize each other.
Future and past follow each other.

Therefore, Evolved Individuals
Hold their position without effort,
Practice their philosophy without words,
Are a part of All Things and overlook nothing.
They produce but do not possess,
Act without expectation,
Succeed without taking credit.

Since, indeed, they take no credit, it remains with them.



Keeping Peace

Do not exalt the very gifted,
And people will not contend.
Do not treasure goods that are hard to get,
And people will not become thieves.
Do not focus on desires,
And people's minds will not be confused.

Therefore, Evolved Individuals lead others by
Opening their minds,
Reinforcing their centres,
Relaxing their desires,
Strengthening their characters.

Let the people always act without strategy or desire;
Let the clever not venture to act.
Act without action,
And nothing is without order.



The Nature of the Tao

The Tao is empty and yet useful;
Somehow it never fills up.
So profound!
It resembles the source of All Things.

It blunts the sharpness,
Unties the tangles,
And harmonizes the brightness.
It identifies with the ways of the world.

So deep!
It resembles a certain existence.
I do not know whose offspring it is,
This Image in front of the source.



Holding to the Centre

Heaven and Earth are impartial;
They regard All Things as straw dogs.
Evolved Individuals are impartial;
They regard all people as straw dogs.

Between Heaven and Earth,
The space is like a bellows.
The shape changes,
But not the form.
The more it moves,
The more it produces.

Too much talk will exhaust itself.
It is better to remain centred.



Perceiving the Subtle

The mystery of the valley is immortal;
It is known as the Subtle Female.
The gateway of the Subtle Female
Is the source of Heaven and Earth.

Everlasting, endless, it appears to exist.
Its usefulness comes with no effort.



The Power of Selflessness

Heaven is eternal., the Earth everlasting.
They can be eternal and everlasting
Because they do not exist for themselves.
For that reason they can exist eternally.

Therefore, Evolved Individuals
Put themselves last,
And yet they are first.
Put themselves outside,
And yet they remain.

Is it not because they are without self-interest
That their interests succeed?



Noncompetitive Values

The highest value is like water.

The value in water benefits All Things,
And yet it does not contend.
It stays in places that others disdain,
And therefore is close to the Tao.

The value in a dwelling is location.
The value in a mind is depth.
The value in relations is benevolence.
The value in words is sincerity.
The value in leadership is order.
The value in work is competence.
The value in effort is timeliness.

Since, indeed, they do not contend,
There is no resentment.



Transcending Decline

Holding to fullness
Is not as good as stopping in time.

Sharpness that probes
Cannot protect for long.

A house filled with riches
Cannot be defended.

Pride in wealth and position
Is overlooking one's collapse.

Withdrawing when success is achieved
Is the Tao in Nature.



Inner Harmony

In managing your instincts and embracing Oneness,
Can you be undivided?
In focusing your Influence,
Can you yield as a newborn child?
In clearing your insight,
Can you become free of error?
In loving people and leading the organization,
Can you take no action?
In opening and closing the gateway to nature,
Can you not weaken?
In seeing clearly in all directions,
Can you be without knowledge?

Produce things, cultivate things;
Produce but do not possess.
Act without expectation.
Advance without dominating.
These are called the Subtle Powers.



Using What Is Not

Thirty spokes converge at one hub;
What is not there makes the wheel useful.
Clay is shaped to form a vessel;
What is not there makes the vessel useful.
Doors and windows are cut to form a room;
What is not there makes the room useful.

Therefore, take advantage of what is there,
By making use of what is not.



Controlling the Senses

The five colours will blind one's eye.
The five tones will deafen one's ear.
The five flavours will jade one's taste.

Racing and hunting will derange one's mind.
Goods that are hard to get will obstruct one's way.

Therefore, Evolved Individuals
Regard the centre and not the eye.
Hence they discard one and receive the other.



Expanding Identification

There is alarm in both favour and disgrace.
Esteem and fear are identified with the self.

What is the meaning of "alarm in both favour and disgrace?"
Favour ascends; disgrace descends.
To attain them brings alarm.
To lose them brings alarm.
That is the meaning of "alarm in both favour and disgrace."

What is the meaning of "esteem and fear are identified with the self?"
The reason for our fear
Is the presence of our self
When we are selfless,
What is there to fear?

Therefore those who esteem the world as self
Will be committed to the world.
Those who love the world as self
Will be entrusted with the world.



The Essence of Tao

Looked at but not seen:
Its name is formless.
Listened to but not heard:
Its name is soundless.
Reached for but not obtained:
Its name is intangible.

These three cannot be analyzed,
So they mingle and act as one.

Its rising is not bright;
Its setting is not dark.
Endlessly, the nameless goes on,
Merging and returning to nothingness.

That is why it is called
The form of the formless,
The image of nothingness.
That is why it is called elusive.
Confronted, its beginning is not seen.
Followed, its end is not seen.

Hold on to the ancient Tao;
Control the current reality.
Be aware of the ancient origins;
This is called the Essence of Tao.



The Power in Subtle Force

Those skilful in the ancient Tao
Are subtly ingenious and profoundly intuitive.
They are so deep they cannot be recognized.
Since, indeed, they cannot be recognized,
Their force can be contained.

So careful!
As if wading a stream in winter.
So hesitant!
As if respecting all sides in the community.
So reserved!
As if acting as a guest.
So yielding!
As if ice about to melt.
So candid!
As if acting with simplicity.
So open!
As if acting as a valley.
So integrated!
As if acting as muddy water.

Who can harmonize with muddy water,
And gradually arrive at clarity?
Who can move with stability,
And gradually bring endurance to life?

Those who maintain the Tao
Do not desire to become full.
Indeed, since they are not full,
They can be used up and also renewed.



Knowing the Absolute

Attain the highest openness;
Maintain the deepest harmony.
Become a part of All Things;
In this way, I perceive the cycles.

Indeed, things are numerous;
But each cycle merges with the source.
Merging with the source is called harmonizing;
This is known as the cycle of destiny.

The cycle of destiny is called the Absolute;
Knowing the Absolute is called insight.
To not know the Absolute
Is to recklessly become a part of misfortune.

To know the Absolute is to be tolerant.
What is tolerant becomes impartial;
What is impartial becomes powerful;
What is powerful becomes natural;
What is natural becomes Tao.

What has Tao becomes everlasting
And free from harm throughout life.



The Way of Subtle Influence

Superior leaders are those whose existence is merely known;
The next best are loved and honoured;
The next are respected;
And the next are ridiculed.

Those who lack belief
Will not in turn be believed.
But when the command comes from afar
And the work is done, the goal achieved,
The people say, "We did it naturally."



Losing the Instincts

When the great Tao is forgotten,
Philanthropy and morality appear.
Intelligent strategies are produced,
And great hypocrisies emerge.

When the Family has no Harmony,
Piety and devotion appear.
The nation is confused by chaos,
And loyal patriots emerge.



Return to Simplicity

Discard the sacred, abandon strategies;
The people will benefit a hundredfold.
Discard philanthropy, abandon morality;
The people will return to natural love.
Discard cleverness, abandon the acquisitive;
The thieves will exist no longer.

However, if these three passages are inadequate,
Adhere to these principles:
Perceive purity;
Embrace simplicity;
Reduce self-interest;
Limit desires.



Developing Independence

Discard the academic; have no anxiety.
How much difference is there between agreement and servility?
How much difference is there between good and evil?
That one should revere what others revere - how absurd and un-centred!

The Collective Mind is expansive and flourishing,
As if receiving a great sacrifice,
As if ascending a living observatory.

I alone remain uncommitted,
Like an infant who has not yet smiled,
Unattached, without a place to merge.
The Collective Mind is all-encompassing.
I alone seem to be overlooked.
I am unknowing to the core and unclear, unclear!

Ordinary people are bright and obvious;
I alone am dark and obscure.
Ordinary people are exacting and sharp;
I alone am subdued and dull.

Indifferent like the sea,
Ceaseless like a penetrating wind,
The Collective Mind is ever present.
And yet, I alone am unruly and remote.
I alone am different from the others
In treasuring nourishment from the Mother.



Knowing the Collective Origin

The natural expression of Power
Proceeds only through the Tao.
The Tao acts through Natural Law;
So formless, so intangible.

Intangible, formless!
At its centre appears the Image.
Formless, intangible!
At its centre appears Natural Law.
Obscure, mysterious!
At its centre appears the Life Force.
The Life Force is very real;
At its centre appears truth.

From ancient times to the present,
Its name ever remains,
Through the experience of the Collective Origin.

How do I know the way of the Collective Origin?
Through this.



Following the Pattern

What is curved becomes whole;
What is crooked becomes straight.
What is deep becomes filled;
What is exhausted becomes refreshed.
What is small becomes attainable;
What is excessive becomes confused.

Thus Evolved Individuals hold to the One
And regard the world as their Pattern.

They do not display themselves;
Therefore they are illuminated.
They do not define themselves;
Therefore they are distinguished.
They do not make claims;
Therefore they are credited.
They do not boast;
Therefore they advance.

Since, indeed, they do not compete,
The world cannot compete with them.

That ancient saying: "What is curved becomes whole" -
Are these empty words?
To become whole,
Turn within.



The Steady Force of Attitude

Nature rarely speaks.
Hence the whirlwind does not last a whole morning,
Nor the sudden rainstorm last a whole day.
What causes these?
Heaven and Earth.
If Heaven and Earth cannot make them long lasting,
How much less so can humans?

Thus, those who cultivate the Tao
Identify with the Tao.
Those who cultivate Power
Identify with Power.
Those who cultivate failure
Identify with failure.

Those who identify with the Tao
Are likewise welcomed by the Tao.
Those who identify with Power
Are likewise welcomed by Power.
Those who identify with failure
Are likewise welcomed by failure.

Those who lack belief
Will not in turn be believed.



Nature rarely speaks.

Those who are on tiptoe cannot stand firm.
Those who straddle cannot walk.
Those who display themselves cannot illuminate.
Those who define themselves cannot be distinguished.
Those who make claims can have no credit.
Those who boast cannot advance.

To those who stay with the Tao,
These are like excess food and redundant actions
And are contrary to Natural Law.
Thus those who possess the Tao turn away.



The Tao of Greatness

There was something in a state of fusion
Before Heaven and Earth were born.

Silent, vast,
Independent, and unchanging;
Working everywhere, tirelessly;
It can be regarded as Mother of the world.
I do not know its name;
The word I say is Tao.
Forced to give it a name,
I say Great.

Great means continuing.
Continuing means going far.
Going far means returning.

Therefore the Tao is Great.
Heaven and Earth are Great.
A leader is likewise Great.
In the universe there are four Greatness,
And leadership is one of them.

Humans are modelled on the earth.
The earth is modelled on heaven.
Heaven is modelled on the Tao.
The Tao is modelled on nature.



The Gravity of Power

Gravity is the foundation of levity.
Stillness is the master of agitation.

Thus Evolved Individuals can travel the whole day
Without leaving behind their baggage.
However arresting the views,
They remain calm and unattached.
How can leaders with ten thousand chariots
Have a light-hearted position in the world?

If they are light-hearted, they lose their foundation.
If they are agitated, they lose their mastery.



The skilful Exchange of Information

A good path has no ruts.
A good speech has no flaws.
A good analysis uses no schemes.

A good lock has no bar or bolt,
And yet it cannot be opened.
A good knot does not restrain,
And yet it cannot be unfastened.

Thus Evolved Individuals are always good at saving others;
Hence no one is wasted.
They are always good at saving things;
Hence nothing is Wasted.

This is called Doubling the Light.

Therefore a good person is the teacher of an inferior person;
And an inferior person is the resource of a good person.
One who does not treasure a teacher, or does not cherish a resource,
Although intelligent, is greatly deluded.

This is called Significant Subtlety.



Uniting the Forces

Know the male,
Hold the female;
Become the world's stream.
By being the world's stream,
The Power will never leave.
This is returning to Infancy.

Know the white,
Hold to the black;
Become the world's pattern.
By becoming the world's pattern,
The Power will never falter.
This is returning to Limitlessness.

Know the glory,
Hold to the obscurity;
Become the world's valley.
By being the world's valley,
The Power will be sufficient.
This is returning to Simplicity.

When Simplicity is broken up,
It is made into instruments.
Evolved Individuals who employ them,
Are made into leaders.
In this way the Great System is united.



The Way of Non-interference

Those who would take hold of the world and act on it,
Never, I notice, succeed.

The world is a mysterious instrument,
Not made to be handled.
Those who act on it, spoil it.
Those who seize it, lose it.

So, in Natural Law
Some lead, some follow;
Some agitate, some remain silent;
Some are firm, some are weak;
Some carry on, some lose heart.

Thus, Evolved Individuals
Avoid extremes,
Avoid extravagance,
Avoid excess.



Leading the Leader

Those who use the Tao to guide leaders
Do not use forceful strategies in the world.
Such matters tend to recoil.

Where armies are positioned,
Thorny brambles are produced.
A great military always brings years of hunger.

Those who are skilful
Succeed and then stop.
They dare not hold on with force.

They succeed and do not boast.
They succeed and do not make claims.
They succeed and are not proud.
They succeed and do not acquire in excess.
They succeed and do not force.

Things overgrown will always decline.
This is not the Tao.
What is not the Tao will soon end.



The Use of Force

The finest weapons can be the instruments of misfortune,
And thus contrary to Natural Law.
Those who possess the Tao turn away from them.
Evolved leaders occupy and honour the left;
Those who use weapons honour the right.

Weapons are instruments of misfortune
That are used by the un-evolved.
When their use is unavoidable,
The superior act with calm restraint.

Even when victorious, let there be no joy,
For such joy leads to contentment with slaughter.
Those who are content with slaughter
Cannot find fulfilment in the world.



The Limits of Specialization

The Tao of the Absolute has no name.
Although infinitesimal in its Simplicity,
The world cannot master it.

If leaders would hold on to it,
All Things would naturally follow.
Heaven and Earth would unite to rain Sweet Dew,
And people would naturally cooperate without commands.

Names emerge when institutions begin.
When names emerge, know likewise to stop.
To know when to stop is to be free of danger.

The presence of the Tao in the world
Is like the valley stream joining the rivers and seas.




Those who know others are intelligent;
Those who know themselves have insight.
Those who master others have force;
Those who master themselves have strength.

Those who know what is enough are wealthy.
Those who persevere have direction.
Those who maintain their position endure.
And those who die and yet do not perish, live on.



The Evolving Tao

The Great Tao extends everywhere.
It is on the left and the right.

All Things depend on it for growth,
And it does not deny them.
It achieves its purpose,
And it does not have a name.
It clothes and cultivates All Things,
And it does not act as master.

Always without desire,
It can be named Small.
All Things merge with it,
And it does not act as master.
It can be named Great.

In the end it does not seek greatness,
And in that way the Great is achieved.



Sensing the Insensible

Hold fast to the Great Image,
And all the world will come.
Yet its coming brings no harm,
Only peace and order.

When there is music together with food,
The audience will linger.
But when the Tao is expressed,
It seems without substance or flavour.

We observe and there is nothing to see.
We listen and there is nothing to hear.
We use it and it is without end.



Concealing the Advantage

In order to deplete it,
It must be thoroughly extended.
In order to weaken it,
It must be thoroughly strengthened.
In order to reject it,
It must be thoroughly promoted.
In order to take away from it,
It must be thoroughly endowed.

This is called a Subtle Insight.
The yielding can triumph over the inflexible;
The weak can triumph over the strong.
Fish should not be taken from deep waters;
Nor should organizations make obvious their advantages.



The Power in Desirelessness

The Tao never acts,
And yet is never inactive.

If leaders can hold on to it,
All Things will be naturally influenced.
Influenced and yet desiring to act,
I would calm them with Nameless Simplicity.
Nameless Simplicity is likewise without desire;
And without desire there is harmony.

The world will then be naturally stabilized.



Power Without Motive

Superior Power is never Powerful, thus it has Power.
Inferior Power is always Powerful, thus it has no Power.
Superior Power takes no action and acts without motive.
Inferior Power takes action and acts with motive.

Superior philanthropy takes action and acts without motive.
Superior morality takes action and acts with motive.
Superior propriety takes action and there is no response;
So it raises its arm to project itself.

Therefore, lose the Tao and Power follows.
Lose the Power and philanthropy follows.
Lose philanthropy and morality follows.
Lose morality and propriety follows.

One who has propriety has the veneer of truth
And yet is the leader of confusion.
One who knows the future has the lustre of the Tao
And yet is ignorant of its origins.

Therefore those with the greatest endurance
Can enter the substantial,
Not occupy its veneer;
Can enter reality,
Not occupy its lustre.
Hence they discard one and receive the other.



Oneness in Leadership

From old, these may have harmony with the One:

Heaven in harmony with the One becomes clear.
Earth in harmony with the One becomes stable.
Mind in harmony with the One becomes inspired.
Valleys in harmony with the One become full.
All Things in harmony with the One becomes creative.
Leaders in harmony with the One becomes incorruptible in the world.

These were attained through Oneness.

Heaven without clarity would probably crack.
Earth without stability would probably quake.
Mind without inspiration would probably sleep.
Valleys without fullness would probably dry up.
All Things without creativity would probably die off.
Leaders without incorruptible ways would probably stumble and fall.

Indeed, the high-placed stem from the humble;
The elevated are based upon the lowly.
This is why leaders call themselves
Alone, lonely, and un-favoured.
Is this not because they stem form the humble and common?
Is it not?

Therefore, attain honour without being honoured.
Do not desire to shine like jade; wear ornaments as if they were stone.



The Way

Polarity is the movement of the Tao.
Receptivity is the way it is used.
The world and All Things were produced from its existence.
Its existence was produced from non-existence.



Mastering the Paradox

When superior leaders hear of the Tao,
They diligently try to practice it.
When average leaders hear of the Tao,
They appear both aware and unaware of it.
When inferior leaders hear of the Tao,
They roar with laughter.

Without sufficient laughter, it could not be the Tao;
Hence the long-established sayings:

The Tao illuminated appears to be obscure;
The Tao advancing appears to be retreating;
The Tao levelled appears to be uneven.

Superior Power appears to be low;
Great clarity appears to be spotted;
Extensive Power appears to be insufficient;
Established Power appears to be stolen;
Substantial Power appears to be spurious.

The greatest space has no corners;
The greatest talents are slowly mastered;
The greatest music has the rarest sound;
The Great Image has no form.

The Tao is hidden and nameless,
Yet it is the Tao that skilfully supports and completes.



Knowing Polarity

The Tao produced the One.
The One produced the Two.
The Two produced the Three.
The Three produced All Things.

All Things carry Yin and hold to Yang;
Their blended Influence brings Harmony.

People hate to be alone, lonely, and un-favoured;
And yet leaders take these names.

Thus in Natural Law
Some lose and in this way profit.
Some profit and in this way lose.

What others have taught, I also teach:
Those who are violent do not die naturally.
I will make this my chief teaching.



Subtle Powers

The most yielding parts of the world
Overtake the most rigid parts of the world.
The insubstantial can penetrate continually.

Therefore I know that without action there is advantage.

This philosophy without words,
This advantage without action -
It is rare, in the world, to attain them.



The Power in Needing Less

Which is dearer,
Name or life?
Which means more,
Life or wealth?
Which is worse,
Gain or loss?

The stronger the attachments,
The greater the cost.
The more that is hoarded,
The deeper the loss.

Know what is enough;
Be without disgrace.
Know when to stop;
Be without danger.

In this way one lasts for a very long time.



Using Emptiness

If the greatest achievement is incomplete,
Then its usefulness is unimpaired.
If the greatest fullness is empty,
Then its usefulness is inexhaustible.

The greatest directness is flexible.
The greatest skilfulness is awkward.
The greatest eloquence is hesitant.

Agitation triumphs over the cold.
Stillness triumphs over the heated.
Clarity and stillness bring order to the world.



Knowing Enough

When the world possesses the Tao,
Even fast horses are used for their dung.
When the world is without the Tao,
War-horses are raised in the suburbs.

There is no greater misfortune
Than not knowing what is enough.
There is no greater fault
Than desiring to acquire.

Therefore know that enough is enough.
There will always be enough.



Cultivating Inner-Knowledge

Without going out of doors,
Know the world.
Without looking through the window,
See the Tao in Nature.
One may travel very far,
And know very little.

Therefore, Evolved Individuals
Know without going about,
Recognize without looking,
Achieve without acting.



The Art of Non-action

To pursue the academic, add to it daily.
To pursue the Tao, subtract from it daily.
Subtract and subtract again,
To arrive at non-action.
Through non-action nothing is left undone.

The world is always held without effort.
The moment there is effort,
The world is beyond holding.



Opening the Mind

Evolved Individuals have no fixed mind;
They make the mind of the People their mind.

To those who are good, I am good;
To those who are not good, I am also good.
Goodness is Power.

Of those who trust, I am trusting;
Of those who do not trust, I am also trusting.
Trust is Power.

The Evolved Individuals in the world
Attract the world and merge with its mind.
The People all focus their eyes and ears;
Evolved Individuals all act as infants.



The Art of Survival

As life goes out, death comes in.

Life has thirteen paths;
Death has thirteen paths.
Human life arrives at the realm of death
Also in thirteen moves.

Why is this so?
Because life is lived lavishly.

Now, as it is well known,
Those skilled in attracting life
Can travel across the land
And not meet a rhinoceros or tiger.
When the military comes in,
Their defence cannot be attacked.

The rhinoceros is without a place to thrust its horn.
The tiger is without a place to affix its claw.
The military is without a place to admit its blade.

Why is this so?
Because they are without the realm of death.



The Power of Impartial Support

The Tao produces;
Its Power supports;
Its Natural Law forms;
Its influence completes.

Thus All Things without exception
Respect the Tao and value its Power.
To respect the Tao and value its Power -
No one demands this, and it comes naturally.

Therefore the Tao produces and its Power supports;
It advances, cultivates, comforts, matures, nourishes, and protects.

Produce but do not possess.
Act without expectation.
Advance without dominating.
These are called the Subtle Powers.



Returning to Insight

The beginning of the world
May be regarded as the Mother of the world.
To apprehend the Mother,
Know the offspring.
To know the offspring
Is to remain close to the Mother,
And free from harm throughout life.

Block the passages,
Close the doors;
In the end, life is idle.

Open the passages,
Increase undertakings;
In the end, life is hopeless.

To perceive the small is called insight.
To remain yielding is called strength.
If, in using one's brightness,
One returns to insight,
Life will be free of misfortune.

This is called learning the Absolute.



The Undivided Path

Using only a little knowledge,
I would travel the Great Way
And fear only of letting go.
The Great Way is very even;
Yet people love the byways.

When an organization is divided,
Fields are overgrown,
Stores are empty,
Clothes are extravagant,
Sharp swords are worn,
Food and drink are excessive,
Wealth and treasure are hoarded.

This is called stealing and exaggeration
And certainly not the Way!



Establishing a Universal View

What is skilfully established will not be uprooted;
What is skilfully grasped will not slip away.
Thus it is honoured for generations.

Cultivate the inner self;
Its Power becomes real.
Cultivate the home;
Its Power becomes abundant.
Cultivate the community;
Its Power becomes greater.
Cultivate the organization;
Its Power becomes prolific.
Cultivate the world;
Its Power becomes universal.

Therefore through the inner self,
The inner self is conceived.
Through the home,
The home is conceived.
Through the community,
The community is conceived.
Through the organization,
The organization is conceived.
Through the world,
The world is conceived.

How do I know the world?
Through this.



The Power in Not Contending

To possess Power that runs deep
Is to be like a newborn child.

Poisonous insects do not sting it,
Fierce beasts do not seize it,
Birds of prey do not strike it.

Its bones are yielding,
Its muscles are relaxed,
Its grip is strong.

It does not yet know the union of male and female,
Yet its virility is active.
Its Life Force is at its greatest.

It can scream all day,
Yet it does not become hoarse.
Its Harmony is at its greatest.

To know Harmony is called the Absolute.
To know the Absolute is called insight.
To enhance life is called propitious.
To be conscious of Influence is called strength.

Things overgrown must decline.
This is not the Tao.
What is not the Tao will soon end.



Gaining Oneness

Those who know do not speak.
Those who speak do not know.

Block the passages.
Close the door.
Blunt the sharpness.
Untie the tangles.
Harmonize the brightness.
Identify with the ways of the world.

This is called Profound Identification.

It cannot be gained through attachment.
It cannot be gained through detachment.
It cannot be gained through advantage.
It cannot be gained through disadvantage.
It cannot be gained through esteem.
It cannot be gained through humility.

Hence it is the treasure of the world.



The Power in Effortlessness

Lead the organization with correctness.
Direct the military with surprise tactics.
Take hold of the world with effortlessness.

How do I know it is so?
Through this:

Too many prohibitions in the world,
And people become insufficient.
Too many sharp weapons among people,
And the nation grows confused.
Too much cunning strategy among people,
And strange things start to happen.
Too obvious a growth in laws and regulations,
And too many criminals emerge.

Thus Evolved Individuals say:

Look to non-action,
And people will be naturally influenced.
Look to refined tranquillity,
And people will be naturally correct.
Look to effortlessness,
And people will be naturally affluent.
Look to non-desire,
And people will be naturally simple.



Cultivating the Centre

If the administration is subdued,
The people are sincere.
If the administration is exacting,
The people are deficient.

Misfortune! Good fortune supports it.
Good Fortune! Misfortune hides within.
Who knows where it ends?
Is there no order?

Order can revert to the unusual;
Good can revert to the abnormal;
And people indeed are bewildered
For a long, long time.

Thus Evolved Individuals are
Square without dividing;
Honest without offending;
Straightforward without straining;
Bright without dazzling.



The Way of Moderation

In leading people and serving Nature,
There is nothing better than moderation.
Since, indeed, moderation means yielding early;
Yielding early means accumulating Power.

When Power is accumulated,
Nothing is impossible.
When nothing is impossible,
One knows no limits.
One who knows no limits
Can possess the organization.

An organization that possesses the Mother
Can endure and advance.
This means deep roots and firm foundation:
Durability and longevity through observation of the Tao.



Holding the Position

Leading a large organization is like cooking a small fish.

If the Tao is present in the world,
The cunning are not mysterious.
Not only are the cunning not mysterious,
Their mystery does not harm others.

Not only does their mystery not harm others,
The Evolved also do not harm others.
Since together they do no harm,
The Power returns and accumulates.



The Power in Modesty

A large organization should flow downward
To intersect with the world.
It is the female of the world.
The female always overcomes the male by stillness;
Through stillness, she makes herself low.

Thus if a large organization
Is lower than a small organization,
It can receive the small organization.
And if the small organization
Stays lower than a large organization,
It can receive the large organization.

Therefore one receives by becoming low;
Another receives by being low.

Yet what a large organization desires
Is to unite and support others.
And what a small organization desires
Is to join and serve others.

So for both to gain the position they desire,
The larger should place itself low.



The Tao in Leaders

The Tao is a refuge for All Things,
The treasure of the good,
The protector of the not good.

Honour can be bought with fine words;
Others can be joined with fine conduct.
So if some are not good,
Why waste them?

In this way the Emperor is established;
The three officials are installed.
And although the large jade disc
Is preceded by a team of horses,
This is not as good as sitting,
Advancing in the Tao.

Why did those of old treasure the Tao?
Did they not say:
Seek it and it is attained;
Posses faults and they are released?
Thus it is the treasure of the world.



The Path of Least Resistance

Act without action; work without effort.
Taste without savouring.
Magnify the small; increase the few.
Repay ill-will with kindness.

Plan the difficult when it is easy;
Handle the big where it is small.
The world's hardest work begins when it is easy;
The world's largest effort begins where it is small.
Evolved Individuals, finally, take no great action,
And in that way the great is achieved.

Those who commit easily, inspire little trust,
How easy to inspire hardness!
Therefore Evolved Individuals view all as difficult.
Finally they have no difficulty!



The Power at the Beginning

What is at rest is easy to hold;
What is not yet begun is easy to plan.
What is thin is easy to melt;
What is minute is easy to disperse.
Deal with things before they emerge;
Put them in order before there is disorder.

A tree of many arm spans is produced from a tiny sprout.
A tower of nine stories is raised from a pile of earth.
A journey of a thousand miles begin with a footstep.

Those who act on things, spoil them;
Those who seize things, lose them.
Thus Evolved Individuals do nothing;
Hence they spoil nothing.
They seize nothing;
Hence they lose nothing.

People often spoil their work at the point of its completion.
With care at the end as well as the beginning,
No work will be spoiled.

Thus Evolved Individuals desire to be desireless
And do not treasure goods that are hard to get.
They learn without learning,
By returning to the place where the Collective Mind passes.
In this way they assist All Things naturally
Without venturing to act.



The Danger in Cleverness

Those skilful in the ancient Tao
Are not obvious to the people.
They appear to be simple-minded.

People are difficult to lead
Because they are too clever.
Hence, to lead the organization with cleverness
Will harm the organization.
To lead the organization without cleverness
Will benefit the organization.

Those who know these two things
Have investigated the patterns of the Absolute.
To know and investigate the patterns
Is called the Subtle Power.

The Subtle Power is profound and far-reaching.
Together with the Natural Law of polarity,
It leads to the Great Harmony.



The Power in Staying Low

The rivers and seas lead the hundred streams
Because they are skilful at staying low.
Thus they are able to lead the hundred streams.

Therefore, to rise above people,
One must, in speaking, stay below them.
To remain in front of people,
One must put oneself behind them.

Therefore Evolved Individuals remain above,
And yet the people are not weighted down.
They remain in front,
And the people are not held back.

Therefore the world willingly elects them,
And yet it does not reject them.
Because they do not compete,
The world cannot compete with them.



The Power in Compassion

All the world thinks that my Tao is great;
And yet it seems inconceivable.
Only its greatness makes it seem inconceivable.
If it could be conceived of,
It would have become insignificant long ago.

I have Three Treasures that support and protect;
The first is compassion.
The second is moderation.
The third is daring not to be first in the world.

With compassion one becomes courageous;
With moderation one becomes expansive.
In daring not to be first in the world,
One becomes the instrument of leadership.

Now if one is courageous without compassion,
Or expansive without moderation,
Or first without holding back,
One is doomed!

Compassion always triumphs when attacked;
It brings security when maintained.
Nature aids its leaders
By arming them with compassion.



Non-aggressive Strength

A skilful leader does not use force.
A skilful fighter does not feel anger.
A skilful master does not engage the opponent.
A skilful employer remains low.

This is called the power in not contending.
This is called the strength to employ others.
This is called the highest emulation of Nature.



Neutralizing Escalation

The strategists have a saying:
"I dare not act as a host,
Yet I act as a guest,
I dare not advance an inch,
Yet I retreat a foot."

This is called
Travelling without moving,
Rising up without arms,
Projecting without resistance,
Capturing without strategies.

No misfortune is greater than underestimating resistance;
Underestimating resistance will destroy my Treasures.
Thus when mutually opposing strategies escalate,
The one who feels sorrow will triumph.



Knowing the Tao

My words are very easy to know,
Very easy to follow.
Yet the world is unable to know them,
Unable to follow them.

My words have a source,
My efforts have mastery.
Indeed, since none know this,
They do not know me.
The rare ones who know me
Must treasure me.

Therefore, Evolved Individuals
Wear a coarse cloth covering
With precious jade at the centre.



Knowing the Disease

To know that you do not know is best.
To not know of knowing is a disease.

Indeed, to be sick of the disease,
Is the way to be free of the disease.

Evolved Individuals are free of the disease,
Because they are sick of the disease.

This is the way to be free of disease.



The Appropriate Perspective

If the people do not fear authority,
Then authority will expand.
Do not disrespect their position;
Do not reject their lives.
Since indeed they are not rejected,
They do not reject.

Therefore, enlightened people know themselves,
But do not display themselves.
They love themselves,
But do not treasure themselves.

Hence they discard one and receive the other.



Nature's Way

Those bold in daring will die;
Those bold in not daring will survive.
Of these two, either may benefit or harm.

Nature decides which is evil,
But who can know why?
Even Evolved Individuals regard this as difficult.

The Tao in Nature
Does not contend,
Yet skilfully triumphs.
Does not speak,
Yet skilfully responds.
Does not summon,
And yet attracts.
Does not hasten,
Yet skilfully designs.

Nature's network is vast, so vast,
Its mesh is coarse, yet nothing slips through.



Unnatural Authority

When people do not fear death,
How can they be threatened with death?
Suppose people fear death and still do not conform,
Who would dare seize them and put them to death?

There is always the Master Executioner who kills.
To substitute for the Master Executioner in killing
Is like substituting for the Master Carpenter who carves.
Whoever substitutes for the Master Carpenter in carving,
Rarely escapes injury to his hands.



Self-Destructive Leadership

People are hungry.
Because those above consume too much in taxes,
People are hungry.

People are difficult to lead.
Because those above interfere with them,
People are difficult to lead.

People make light of death.
Because those above deeply seek survival,
People make light of death.

Indeed, it is those who do not interfere with life
Who are capable of respecting life.



The Power in Flexibility

A man living is yielding and receptive.
Dying, he is rigid and inflexible.
All Things, the grass and trees:
Living, they are yielding and fragile;
Dying, they are dry and withered.

Thus those who are firm and inflexible
Are in harmony with dying.
Those who are yielding and receptive
Are in harmony with living.

Therefore an inflexible strategy will not triumph;
An inflexible tree will be attacked.
The position of the highly inflexible will descend;
The position of the yielding and receptive will ascend.



Directing the Power

The Tao in Nature
Is like a bow that is stretched.
The top is pulled down,
The bottom is raised up.
What is excessive is reduced,
What is insufficient is supplemented.

The Tao in Nature
Reduces the excessive
And supplements the insufficient.
The Tao in Man is not so;
He reduces the insufficient,
Because he serves the excessive.

Who then can use excess to serve the world?
Those who possess the Tao.

Therefore Evolved Individuals
Act without expectation,
Succeed without taking credit,
And have no desire to display their excellence.



Accepting the Blame

Nothing in the world,
Is as yielding and receptive as water;
Yet in attacking the firm and inflexible,
Nothing triumphs so well.
Because of what it is not,
This becomes easy.

The receptive triumphs over the inflexible;
The yielding triumphs over the rigid.
None in the world do not know this.
None have the ability to practice it.

Therefore Evolved Individuals say:
One who accepts the disgrace of the organization
Can be called the leader of the grain shrine.
One who accepts the misfortunes of the organization
Can be called the leader of the world.

Right words appear to reverse themselves.



The Power In Not Taking Advantage

Even when a great resentment is reconciled,
Some resentment must linger,
How can this be made good?

That is why Evolved Individuals
Hold the left side of the contract
And do not censure others.
Those with Power are in charge of the contract;
Those without Power are in charge of resolving it.

The Tao in Nature has no favourites.
It always works through the good person.



Fulfilling Independence

In a small organization with a few people;

Let there be ten or a hundred times
More tools than they can use.
Let the people value their lives
And yet not move far away.
Even though there are boats and carriages,
There is no occasion to use them.
Even though there are armours and weapons,
There is no occasion to display them.

Let the people again knot cords and use them.
Their food will be pleasing.
Their clothes will be fine.
Their homes will be secure.
Their customs will be joyful.

Nearby organizations may watch each other;
Their crowing and barking may be heard.
Yet the people may grow old and die
Without coming or going between them.



The Evolved Way

Sincere words are not embellished;
Embellished words are not sincere.
Those who are good are not defensive;
Those who are defensive are not good.
Those who know are not erudite;
Those who are erudite do not know.

Evolved Individuals do not accumulate.
The more they do for others, the more they gain;
The more they give to others, the more they possess.

The Tao of Nature
Is to serve without spoiling.
The Tao of Evolved Individuals
Is to act without contending.

(c) DDr. Michael Reinprecht