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Tao Quotes

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8
Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16
Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20 Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24
Chapter 25 Chapter 26 Chapter 27 Chapter 28 Chapter 29 Chapter 30 Chapter 31 Chapter 32
Chapter 33 Chapter 34 Chapter 35 Chapter 36 Chapter 37 Chapter 38 Chapter 39 Chapter 40
Chapter 41 Chapter 42 Chapter 43 Chapter 44 Chapter 45 Chapter 46 Chapter 47 Chapter 48
Chapter 49 Chapter 50 Chapter 51 Chapter 52 Chapter 53 Chapter 54 Chapter 55 Chapter 56
Chapter 57 Chapter 58 Chapter 59 Chapter 60 Chapter 61 Chapter 62 Chapter 63 Chapter 64
Chapter 65 Chapter 66 Chapter 67 Chapter 68 Chapter 69 Chapter 70 Chapter 71 Chapter 72
Chapter 73 Chapter 74 Chapter 75 Chapter 76 Chapter 77 Chapter 78 Chapter 79 Chapter 80
Chapter 81              

 

 

Secret Five: Life

Chapter 76

Sentence for Sentence Translation:

人之生也柔弱: When men are alive, they are flexible and soft.
其死也坚强: When they die, they are stiff and hard.
万物草木之生也柔脆: The ten thousand things including grass and trees are flexible and supple when alive.
其死也枯槁: When they die, they are withered and dry.
故坚强者死之徒,柔弱者生之徒: Therefore, the stiff and hard are followers of death and the soft and flexible are followers of life.
是以兵强则不胜: Thus a hard and unyielding army will not win.
木强则兵: A hard and unbending tree will be cut down.
强大处下,柔弱处上: The hard and big belong to underneath. The flexible and soft belong to the top.

Interpretational Translation of Tao Te Ching Chapter 76:

Oh with breath! A living man is soft and flexible.
Oh out of breath! A dead man is hard and stiff.
Oh a newborn baby is as soft as water and a dying old man is as stiff as wood. Yet the breath of the old is just as soft as that of the young. Breath has no age limitations and it originates from Tao!
Oh it’s true for all living things: Grass and trees are tender and flexible when alive; withered and dry when dead.
Therefore, the hard and stiff is the companion of death;
The soft and flexible is the companion of life.
Oh ruler! If you understand that every creature is better alive than dead - grass, trees, squirrels and men, you will rather preserve its life than kill it.
Thus a brutal army never wins;
An unbending tree seldom lasts.
Oh a stiff tree cracks by standing against the wind while the willow and bamboo survive by yielding to it!
Yes, the hard and stiff belong to the underneath;
The soft and weak belong to the above.
Oh look! A dying old tree is blooming in the springtime; it hangs on to life even if for the last time!
Oh live one day at a time! Let every dawn be a new beginning!
Oh live in the present moment! Be a baby, no worries, no expectations, and only life!
Oh love life! Let every breath be a celebration of life!

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Chapter 55

Sentence for Sentence Translation:

含德之厚: He who has achieved so much Te
比于赤子: is comparable to that of a newborn baby.
毒虫不螫: Poisonous insects do not sting,
猛兽不据,攫鸟不搏: Ferocious animals don’t pounce, predatory birds don’t seize.
骨弱筋柔而握固: His bones and muscles are soft and supple but can hold firmly.
未知牝牡之合而䘒作,精之至也: Not yet know the female and male union but the male organ can rise. For his vital energy Jing is at its height.
终日号而不哑,和之至也: Crying the whole day but not getting hoarse; harmonious breath, Ho Chi, is at its fullest.
知和曰常: Knowing harmonious breath is called Chang (the unchanging Tao law; the Absolute).
知常曰明: Knowing Chang is called Ming (enlightenment).
益生曰祥: Whatever benefits life is called good omen.
心使气曰强: To use the mind to regulate the breath Chi is called strong.
物壮则老: Things that reach prime will get old
谓之不道: This is not the long life Tao.
不道早已: Whatever is contrary to long life Tao comes to an early end.

Interpretational Translation of Tao Te Ching Chapter 55:

Oh master! You have achieved so much virtuous Te that you resemble a newborn baby.
Oh no desires! A newborn baby just wants to live! He has no fear. He is soft and weak and poses no threat to any creature.
Therefore, poisonous insects don’t sting him;
Ferocious animals don’t attack him;
Predatory birds don’t seize him.
Oh whole! His bones are weak and his muscles are soft but his grip is strong; for his mind is not distracted by his five senses.
Oh vitality! He is oblivious to the union of male and female but his sexual organs are firm; for his vital energy Jing is at its height.
Oh harmony! He cries all day without becoming hoarse; for his harmonious Chi is at its height.
Oh life energy Chi! The softness of the breath does not change when one gets old. This is called the unchanging nature of Chi.
Understanding the unchanging nature of Chi is called Enlightenment.
Oh life! Breathing harmoniously can enhance life and it is the secret to long life.
If you can consciously breathe like a baby, you will be healthy and strong.
Oh death! Breathing forcefully can inhibit life and your body will reach the state of rigidity soon. The sooner your body reaches the state of rigidity, the sooner you get old. This is not the way of long life Tao.
Oh enlightenment is just one breath away!
Therefore breathe softly and consciously here and now!

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Chapter 8

Sentence for Sentence Translation:

上善若水: Man of the highest good is like water.
水善利万物而不争: Water is good at benefitting all things and it does not compete against them.
处众人之所恶: It stays at places where men hate to be.
故几于道: Therefore, water is almost equal to Tao.
居善地: To dwell in good places;
心善渊: To think with clarity;
与善人(仁Wang Pi: benevolence): To give to the needy;
言善信: To speak with sincerity;
正善治: To govern with fairness;
事善能: To work with flexibility;
动善时: To act at the right time.
夫唯不争: Only water does not compete,
故无尤: Therefore, it has no blame.

Interpretational Translation of Tao Te Ching Chapter 8:

The supreme good is like water.
Oh life giving! Water benefits all things and does not compete. It cleanses those places men loathe to go. Therefore, water is almost equal to Tao.
Oh be water! The supreme man resembles water.
Oh humble! He stays at a humble position, like water settles at the low point.
Oh quiet! His mind is calm and clear, like water in a deep natural pond.
Oh balance! He gives to the poor not to the rich, like water flows from the full to the empty.
Oh true! He speaks truthfully, like the smooth water reflects all things.
Oh fair! He governs with equality, like water surface that has the same level everywhere.
Oh flexible! He adapts quickly, like water that becomes a square while in a square and a circle while in a circle.
Oh timely! He acts according to the natural flow of events, like water freezes in the cold and evaporates in the heat.
Oh cooperation! He wins by cooperation not by competition, like water exists by serving all living things without competing against them. Therefore, the supreme man, like water, is a humble winner with no enemies.
So be humble! Be water! Be a winner by helping others to win!

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Chapter 36

Sentence for Sentence Translation:

将欲翕之,必固张之:If you want to contract something, you must expand it first.
将欲弱之,必固强之:If you want to weaken something, you must strengthen it first.
将欲废之,必固兴之:If you want to destroy something, you must let it flourish first.
将欲夺之,必固与之:If you want to take it away, you must give it out first.
是谓微明: This is called Subtle Enlightenment.
柔弱胜刚强: The soft and weak defeat the stiff and strong.
鱼不可脱于渊:Fish cannot be taken away from deep water.
国之利器不可以示人:The nation’s sharp weapons cannot be displayed to the people.

Interpretational Translation of Tao Te Ching Chapter 36:

Oh he who knows invisible action wuwei does not need to use brutal force to defeat the enemies.
How does he do it? Oh, here is how:
To weaken the enemies, let them feel strong first.
Oh feeling strong, they become arrogant.
Being arrogant and strong, they will act recklessly and they will fall because they act against the natural law.
To eliminate the wealth of the enemies, let them flourish first.
Oh let them build a bubble first; one day the bubble will rupture under its own weight!
To take away the booty from the greedy, give them something for free first.
Oh if you want to catch a sparrow, give it some grain; if you want to catch a tiger, give it some meat; if you want to catch the greedy official, give him some money. They all fall into the same trap of greediness.
Oh this subtle way of dealing with the enemies is called Subtle Enlightenment of wuwei.
Yes it’s true! The power of the soft and weak can defeat the hard and strong.
Oh water is soft and weak but fish can’t live without it.
Oh wuwei action is invisible but Tao ruler can’t rule without it.
Therefore, fish should not be taken out of deep waters, and a country’s sharp weapons should not be displayed.
Oh be soft! Be strong but without force! Be natural long life Tao!

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Chapter 78

Sentence for Sentence Translation:

天下柔弱莫过于水: Nothing in the world is softer and weaker than water;
而攻坚强者莫之能胜: Yet when overcoming the hard and strong, nothing is more effective than water.
以其无以易之: The usefulness of water cannot be replaced.
柔之胜刚: The soft overcomes the hard;
弱之胜强: The weak overcomes the strong;
天下莫不知: Nobody in the world doesn’t know it,
莫能行: Yet no one can practice.
故圣人云: Therefore, Shengren says:
受国之垢,是谓社稷主: He who can manage a country’s dirt is fit to be the leader of the country;
受国之不祥,是谓天下王: He who can manage a country’s misfortunes is fit to be the king of the world.
正言若反: True words seem to be the opposite.

Interpretational Translation of Tao Te Ching Chapter 78:

Oh powerful water! Nothing in the world is more soft and weak than water.
Yet for attacking the hard and strong, nothing is better. Water has no equal.
Oh drop by drop, water can make a hole in the hardest stone!
Oh cloud by cloud, water can paint the most beautiful rainbow in the stormy sky!
Oh soft power! The soft can overcome the hard;
The weak can overcome the strong.
Everyone in the world knows it,
Yet very few can master it.
Therefore the sage says:
He who can clean the dirty matters of a country becomes the master of the land.
Oh master! Like water, he can clean all dirty matters by being willing to go where no man dares to go.
He who can solve the disasters of a country becomes the king of the world.
Oh king! Like water, he can benefit all living creatures without creating manmade disasters.
Oh, these are true words but appear paradoxical.
Oh man! Be soft! Be water! Be what you can be!

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Chapter 66

Sentence for Sentence Translation:

江海所以能为百谷王者: River-Sea is able to become the king of the hundred valleys,
以其善下之,故能为百谷王: Because it is good at staying low. Therefore, it is able to become the king of the hundred valleys.
是以圣人欲上民: Therefore, when Shengren wants to stay above the people
必以其言下之: He must speak humbly to the people below.
欲先民: Wants to stay ahead of the people,
必以其身后之: He must stay behind them.
是以圣人处上而民不重: Therefore, Shengren stays above yet the people are not burdened.
处前而民不害: Stays ahead yet the people are not harmed.
是以天下乐推而不厌: Therefore, the world is happy to support him without getting tired of him.
以其不争,故天下莫能与之争: Because he does not compete, therefore the world cannot compete with him.

Interpretational Translation of Tao Te Ching Chapter 66:

Why does the Sea become the king of the hundred valley streams?
Because it lies below them. Therefore it is the king of the hundred valley streams.
Oh mighty sea! The power of one drop of water is soft and weak; but the power of billions upon billions drops of water can move oceans.
Oh mighty ruler! The power of one man is soft and weak; but the power of thousands upon thousands of men can move mountains.
Oh humble! Therefore if you wish to rule over the people, you must speak humbly.
If you wish to lead the people, you must stay behind them.
Hence the sage stays above yet the people are not burdened; stays ahead yet the people are not harmed.
All the people are happy to support him and they never get tired of him.
Oh natural! The sea king lies low and becomes the converging point for all valley streams.
Oh act wuwei! The sage remains humble and becomes the rallying point for all the people.
Therefore without competing, the sea becomes the king of water and the sage becomes the king of men.

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Chapter 20

Sentence for Sentence Translation:

绝学无忧: Stop learning and put an end to worries.
唯之与阿,相去几何: Between yes and no, how much difference is there?
善之与恶,相去若何: Between good and evil, how much difference is there?
人之所畏,不可不畏: What men fear, we must fear.
荒兮其未央哉: Oh confused! It seems like it has no end.
众人熙熙,如享太牢,如春登台: The people are busy in merry making, as if feasting on great animals, as if mounting the tower in spring.
我独泊兮其未兆: But I am alone unmoved, showing no sentiment.
如婴儿之未孩: Like an infant who is not yet able to smile,
乘乘兮若无所归: Oh drifting like a wanderer without a place to return
众人皆有余: All the people have surplus
而我独若遗: Yet as if I am alone left out.
我愚人之心也哉,沌沌兮: My mind is that of a fool, so muddled and confused!
俗人昭昭,我独若昏: Ordinary people are bright, I alone seem confused;
俗人察察,我独闷闷: Ordinary people are sharp, I alone seem dull.
忽兮其若海: Oh so profound! Like that of the sea.
飘兮若无所止: Oh fly high! It seems like having no end.
众人皆有以,而我独顽似鄙: All the people have a purpose, yet I alone appear stubborn and unsophisticated.
我独异于人,而贵食母: I am alone different from other people because I value the nourishment from the Mother.

Interpretational Translation of Tao Te Ching Chapter 20:

Oh be natural! Stop learning to discriminate others! Put an end to your worries!
Is there a real difference between yes and no if the word ‘yes’ can mean no and the word ‘no’ can mean yes?
Is there an unbiased definition of good and evil if the word ‘good’ can mean evil and the word ‘evil’ can mean good from different viewpoints?
Oh egoistic ruler! People are afraid of your prejudice, for you can kill in the name of justice.
Oh world, this kind of discrimination seems to have no end!
People are busy making merry by feasting on animals, climbing high places during the springtime.
But I am alone drifting, showing no sentiment,
Like a newborn baby before he learns to smile,
Like a wanderer without a place to go.
But I am not alone;
For I am at home wherever I go.
Everyone tries to accumulate wealth,
Only I seem to give away what I have.
Oh foolish, so they say.
But how do they know that my foolishness is not my wisdom in disguise?
Others are bright while I seem stupid;
Others are sharp while I am dull.
But how do I let them know that,
My heart has a love capacity as wide as the ocean;
My spirit flies so high that it fills up the endless sky?
People are striving for progress while I,
Like a foolish old farmer,
Stubbornly hang on to nature.
Yet only I know that I am different from others;
For I am one with mother Tao!
Oh love life! Like that of a newborn baby!
Oh love others! With the heart of the foolish old man!
Oh love nature! With the stubbornness of the old farmer!
Oh love natural long life Tao!

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Chapter 65

Sentence for Sentence Translation:

古之善为道者: Since ancient times, those rulers who know Tao,
非以明民: Don’t let their wisdom blind the people;
将以愚之: Instead, they disguise their wisdom in foolishness.
民之难治,以其智多: Why are people so hard to rule?
Because they are too clever.
故以智治国,国之贼: Hence he who rules with cleverness is a thief to the country.
不以智治国,国之福: He who rules without cleverness, is a blessing to the country.
知此两者亦楷式: Knowing these two are the alternatives of Oneness is a model for the world.
常知楷式,是谓玄德: Always knowing this model is called Mysterious Te.
玄德深矣,远矣: Mysterious Te is deep and far.
与物反矣: It leads all things back to Oneness,
乃至大顺: Thus they reach the great harmony of Oneness.

Interpretational Translation of Tao Te Ching Chapter 65:

Since ancient times, Tao rulers don’t let their wisdom blind the people; instead, they disguise their wisdom as foolishness.
Why is it so difficult to rule?
Because people are too clever! Everyone has his own mind. They work for their own interest instead of working towards the benefit of the whole.
Hence he who rules with cleverness is a thief to the country.
Oh he steals the innocence from the people!
He who rules with foolishness is a blessing to the country.
Oh being foolish is being simple.
Oh being simple is to rule without ruling.
Oh one mind! The power of all the people of different minds is weak while the power of one mind of all the people is strong.
Oh invisible action wuwei! He who rules with humility can rally people together like the sea gathers water.
Therefore, as a ruler, you have a choice - whether to rule with cleverness or to rule without cleverness.
If you choose to rule without cleverness, you will be the model for the world.
Being the model for the world, you produce without possessing, serve without expecting, and govern without governing. You have reached the state called Mysterious Te of Oneness!
Oh Mysterious Te of Oneness is the highest virtue. He who rules with this virtue reaches deep and far. He leads all things back to simplicity. He brings peace and harmony to the world.
Oh be simple! Be humble! Be Oneness of Tao!

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