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I-Ching & The World of Metaphysics

Dao De Ching –Laozhe 2.500 years ago  

                                                                                                          Exclusively brought to you by Kerby Kuek      

Chapter One of Dao De Ching (The Book of Dao by Laozhe)

Dao and The Name

The Tao that can be told of is not the Absolute Tao

The names that can be given are not enduring and unchanging names.

As the origin of heaven and earth, it is nameless

As the mother of all things, it is nameable.

Therefore, when one is without passion, he is bale to see things at inner essence.

Therefore, when one is full if worldly or mundane desire, he can see things at outer aspects.

These two denominations bear the same origin but with different names.

Both of them may be called the Cosmic Mystery.

Reaching from the mystery and then into deeper mystery, one can find the door to the secret of life.

Tao- the way, the path, the indescribable abstruse source of cosmic energy.


Chapter Two

The Theory of Opposites

When the people know beauty as beauty,

Ugliness may arise

When the people know the good deeds as good,

Evil deed may arise


Being and non-being interdependent in growth,

Difficult and easy complement each other,

Long and short exhibit in contrast.

High and low, set measure in position.

Voice and sound are in harmony with each other,

Front and rear follow each other/

Therefore the Sage:

Manages affairs and teach people by following the rules of the nature rather than on the mood of debate.

When all things take their rise in growth, he will render effort,

He gives them life, but does not take possession of them.

He acts but does not take pride.

Having accomplishment, he claims no credit.

Because he does not claim credit, his glory is everlasting.  


Chapter Three

Method of Non-ado and use of law of nature to govern the people

By not glorifying the talented, people will not fight for glory and position

By not valuing rare objects, people will stop from stealing (crime)

By not seeing things with wanton desire people’s minds will not be disturbed

Therefore the Sage governs the people by:

Emptying their minds of evil desires,

Providing them with enough food

Weakening their strong ambitions and

Strengthening their bodies

In this way the people may maintain peace and harmony without mundane knowledge and desires

With such teaching given to the people, even the cunning and ambitious leaders dare not act recklessly

Thus by practicing non-ado and law of nature, may all live in peace.


Chapter 4-Tao’s Power and Usage

Tao (way appears empty and void but its energy so produced for nourishing all things is inexhaustible.

Fathomless! It seems to be the origin of all things

Its sharp edges round off

Its tangles united

Its light existed everywhere in harmony

Its existence found even in dusty places

Tao, being so pure and abstruse, seems to be present everywhere

I do not know whose Son it is

An appearance of what existed before God


Chapter 5-Heaven and the Sage

Nature is unkind:

It treats he creation like sacrificial straw-dogs,

The Sage is not benevolent:

He regards the people like sacrificial straw-dogs*

How the universe is like a bellows!

Empty, but it gives a supply that never ends,

The more it works out, the more it can bring out.

By speaking too much our wit may be exhausted.

It would be better to keep to the core or centre. (The original true self of human being)

*Nature and the sage are not benevolent for they have to act according to the doctrine of naturalism, cause and effect without bias and with justice. If people have done evil deeds, they have to face resulting consequence.


Chapter Six

The Formless True Immortal

The Spirit of the Valley never dies.

It is named the Mystic Female.

The Door of the Mystic Female,

It is the root of Heaven and Earth. It appears to exist continuously.

The use of this cosmic energy is inexhaustible.


Valley: The valley is a symbol of “taoistic’ emptiness from which cosmic energy is generated.


Mystic Female: refers to mother of creation-the Tao.


Chapter Seven

Impartial Mind

The Universe is everlasting.

The reason why the universe is everlasting is that it does not live for self.

Therefore the Sage cares for other first and puts his own affairs last,

Therefore, he finds himself in the foremost place.

He knows his body is not permanent.

Therefore he keeps is original soul and spirit pure. In this way, his true self exists forever.

Is it not because he does not live for self than his true self is realized?


Chapter Eight

Best Deeds like Water

The best of men is like water

Water gives benefit to all things

And does not compete with them

It stays in places hated by all men

Therefore, it comes close to Tao

In his residence, the Sage can adjust the situation and live in harmony.

In his mind, his live is profound,

In his relation with others, he is benevolent,

In his words, he keeps faith and sincerity.

In government, he loves peace and order

In affairs, he loves to choose able persons.

In his actions, he likes to choose the right time to fit in the nature.

He does not strive with others

Therefore, he is free from blame.


Chapter 9

Wisdom and Behaviours of a Person

A for holding anything to fullness or extremity,’ It would be better to stop in time.

Keep on sharpening a sword,’ we see that the edge cannot last long.

When your hall is proud with wealth and honour, you are on the way to get disaster.

Retire in time when you have done your work with great success.

This is the Heaven’s way


Chapter 10

Cultivation of Tao is easy or difficult

In keeping the spirit and the vital soul together,

Are you able to maintain their unity?

In controlling your vital force to achieve gentleness and harmony, can you behave like a baby?

Can you purify your mind without defect?

In loving the people and ruling the country,

Can you govern according to the “Law of Nature”?

In opening and closing the Gate of Heaven.

Are you able to understand the part of the Female?

In comprehending all knowledge,

Are you able to keep your purified mind and get rid of emotion and desire?

TO give birth and to nourish,

TO give birth and without taking possession,

To act without arrogance

To be leader among persons without controlling them,’

This is called the Mystic or best virtue.


Chapter Eleven (The Utility of not Being)

Thirty spokes make one wheel.

The space in between and the spokes are required for the functioning of a wheel.

Clay is moulded to make utensils,

The substance that makes the wall and the space within is both essential for these utensils.

Making doors and windows in the house,

From their non-being (empty space),

Comes the utility of the house.

Therefore, by the existence of things we benefit.

In addition, by the non-existence of things we are served.


Chapter 12

Person seeking for external self or sensuous world 

Colours can blind our eyes,

Sounds can deafens our ears,

Flavours can dull our tastes.

Racing and hunting can madden our mind,

Lust for rare valuable goods tempts persons to do wrong.

Therefore, the Sage cares for the inner true self and not for the outer look of appearances.


Chapter 13

Favour and disgrace 

Favour and disgrace make one feel dismay and surprise.

Only the sage knowing the true is free from favour and disgrace.

What does this mean?

“Favour and disgrace cause dismay and surprise’?

The people are dismayed and not at ease, whenever they posses or lose of favour.

What does this mean?

“What we vale and what we worry are within ourselves”?

We have worries because we have selfish selves or bodies.

However, when we are enlightened to know our spirit and soul as our true selves,

What else we have to worry?

Therefore, if one values the people on earth as his self, he can be trusted to manage the world.

In addition, if one loves world as his self, he can be entrusted with the world.


Chapter 14- Tao is Soundless, Formless and without Appearance

Look at Tao (way) but you cannot see it

Its name is ‘without appearance’

Listen to it but you cannot hear it!

Its name is Soundless

Grasp it but you cannot get it!

Its name if Formless

These 3 attributes are essences inscrutable Tao

Therefore Tao blends together and become one

Its upper side is not dim

Moving on continuously, it cannot be defined

And again return to the realm of nothingness, despite its effect having the force of creation

We call it the formless Form, and the imageless Image

We call it the indefinable and unimaginable

Meeting it, you do not see its face

Following it, you do not see its back

Holding fast to the ancient Tao, you can manage all your present affairs correctly

Knowing the ‘Original Beginning’ of TAO, you are able to know the system and discipline of Tao


Chapter 15- The Wise Taoist of Old

The ancient best Taoist masters were Subtle, mysterious and acute

Their deepness could not be known

Since they were not easily understood

It would be better to tell roughly how they looked

Like one crossing an icy river in winter

How cautious he should be

As it all around there were danger

How vigilant he should be

As if they were guests on every occasion

How dignified

Like ice just beginning to melt


Like a piece of wood being uncared

How simple and genuine

Like a valley awaiting a guest

How receptive

And mixing freely, like murky water

Who can find quiet and peaceful rest in turmoil?

Only the Sage has a pure mind

Who can keep his calm for long?

Only by positive activity, it comes back to life

Those holding fast to TAO will keep away from insatiable desire

Therefore they will have constant renewal of life and achieve their goal.


Chapter 16-How to obtain best wisdom

Best wisdom is obtained by utmost keeping your mind empty, pure, void and peaceful

And also holding firm your mind to the state of Quietude

I can observe myriad things taking their cycle of evolution and transmigration.

Myriad things have their growth but at last they have to return to their original roots (soil)

To return quietly to the root is repose

This is called going back to find one’s true self of life

Going back to find one’s true self of life is to find the Law of Nature

To know the Law of Nature is enlightenment

And not knowing the Law of Nature regarding everlasting spirit and soul will get close to disaster

Knowing the Law of Nature, he is tolerant

Being tolerant, he is impartial

Being impartial, he is kingly

Being kingly, he is in accord with nature

Being in accord with Nature, he is in accord with Tao

Being in accord with Tao, he is everlasting

After death, he would be free from reincarnation



Chapter 17

Politics by Ruler 

The highest and best ruler is one whose meritorious effect is over the entire nation, yet it appears not to stem from him.

Next comes to one whom they love and raise.

Next comes to whom they fear because of punishment and reward.

Next comes to one they despise and defy because of his trick and rule without sincerity.

When ones do not command people with faith.

Some will lose faith in him.

So, a ruler must honour his promise.

On a success of work done people would say this was done naturally without knowing the effort of the ruler.


Chapter 18

Humanity and Filial Devotion 

When the great TAO was abandoned,

Teaching of benevolence and righteousness* would arise.

With the appearance of knowledge and cleverness, great hypocrites would exist.

When the family relationship lost their harmony, there was praise of merciful parents and filial sons.

When chaos and bad rulers were rampant in a country, there was praise of loyal ministers.


*With TAO all persons are acting naturally. There is no need to have a code of ethics.


Chapter 19

Returning to pure simplicity

Disclaim being a Sage and abandoning wit,

And the people will be benefited a hundredfold.

Disclaim humanity** and justice,

And the people shall recover their innate qualities of filial devotion and kindness.

Banish cunning and profiteering,

There shall be no robbers and thieves.

The above 3 statements may not suffice to teach the people.

Therefore, I give the following enlightenment:

Cherishing simple and plain honesty,

Embracing one’s original nature and discarding selfishness and wanton desires.

Disclaim: A true sage disclaims himself to be a sage. He teaches people with priority to return to Nature by finding their true selves. To abandon wit being plotted to satisfy one’s wanton desire.


** Humanity: It should be one’s innate quality and not to be utilized to win praise and justice hypocrisy.


Chapter 20 (to see things as a whole (body)

TO cease learning tricks is to free your mind from worries.

What is the difference between your speeches when in saying affirmative or negative mood?

How much differences are between ‘good’ and ‘evil’?

That which persons fear.

Is indeed to be feared.

It is a pity that people do not cultivate their minds free from lust, just like the waste garden or field full of wild grass.

The multitudes of people are busy and joyous as if they are celebrating a festival or going up a terrace in spring.

But for me, my mind remains quiet and peaceful, just like in innocent new born baby.

Unattached to worldly desires, I wander about without a home.

People apply full effort in the pursuit of honour and profit.

But I am like that of a fool

Being so childish and muddled

The vulgar appears so smart

I alone seem dull

The vulgar appears bright and clever\I alone seem depressed

My mind remains calm and peaceful like deep and vast sea

Drifting with ease like wind without fixed residence

Relying in their abilities, all people have their aims

I alone appear stubborn and simple

I alone differ from other people,

Because I know the value to obtain endless sustenance from the Mother of Nature* (Unity with Tao) an image of a sucking baby-referring to getting force of energy from the nature of Tao.


Chapter Twenty One-(Manifestation of Tao)

If you want to know the nature of great virtue

Study and follow alone with the Tao

So, what is the body of Tao?

It is something elusive, evasive and formless

Evasive and elusive

But within it are forms and appearance

Evasive and Elusive

But within it is creation of all things

Shadowy and dim

Yet within it is the source of life force and essence

The life force being full of vitality

Within it is faithful and evident

Its name has been in existence from the past up to present

This ‘mother of creation’ (Power and force of TAO) is well worth studying to get the truth.

But how do I obtain such Truth

It is through the enlightenment of Tao.


Chapter Twenty Two-Futility of contention

To yield with patience is for the preservation of the whole

To be bent is to become straight

To be humble is to possess full bright spirit

To be torn is to be renewed

To be little in desires is to gain peace of mind

To have plenty of desires is to gain delusive mind

Therefore the sage embraces the oneness of Tao (cosmic energy)

He becomes the model of the people pf the world

He is free from self-display

And is therefore clear-sighted

He is fee from self-assertion

And therefore is distinguished

He does not feel a sense of pride

And therefore he earned merit

He does not boast of himself

And has therefore earned long respect

It is because he is free from striving that no one in the world can strive with him

The saying of the ancients ‘to yield is to preserve the whole’ was not vainly spoken

If he is sincere and able to keep the Law of Nature, all people will follow him


Chapter 23

TO be in Accord with the Nature of Tao

 Less argument is more in accord with the Nature of Tao

A violent wind does not last for a whole morning

A sudden rain does not last for the whole day

Who can make such phenomena?

It is Heaven and Earth

Even Heaven and Earth do not last long in its acting

How much less can man do?

Therefore, those who are cultivating TAO are in accord with the Tao and they can study and discuss together

Those who follow Character (TAK) are identified with Character

To face one suffering from loss, we must have compassionate minds to comfort him

He who is in accord with Tao

Tao is also happy to welcome him

He who is identified with Character

Character is also glad to welcome him

To comfort one suffering from loss

The sufferer is happy with you

Tao being so abstruse, someone is lacking faith in its existence

Therefore there is no need for you to argue about this subject with these people


Chapter 24

Not to be greedy and eating too much

He who stands on tiptoe will not stand firm

He who walks with long step will not walk well

He who shows off is not far-sighted

He who justifies himself is not distinguished

He who brags himself is not given credit

He who prides himself is not the leader for long

These in the eyes of Tao, are called ‘having surplus burden’

When one has large surplus of food and holding too much high positions

He invites jealously, disgust and trouble

A man of Tao will be free from such precautions situation.


Chapter 25

The Truth of Tao

There was something undefined

Formless and inaudible

Coming into existence before Heaven and Earth

Silent and boundless

Standing also without change

Keeping on revolving ceaselessly

It is worthy to be the Mother of the world

I do not know its name

But I called it ‘Tao’

Making an effort further I gave it another name called ‘The Great’

TO be great is to go on

TO go on is to be remote

TO be remote us to return


Tao is great

The Heaven is great

The Earth is great

The King (sage) is also great

In the world there are four that are great and the King (sage) is one of them

Man models himself after the Earth

The Earth models itself after the Heaven

The heaven models itself after TAO

Tao models itself according to the Law of Nature  


Chapter 26

Heaviness and Lightness

Gravity is the root of lightness

Stillness is the master of movement

Therefore the Sage travels all day long

He does not leave behind his provision –cart

In spite of his glory and dignity

He has a peaceful mind and remains unmoved to such honourable condition

How can the ruler of a country

Make light if his body for pleasure and act rashly?

One acting lightly is easy to lose his root

The ruler acting rashly is easy to lose his honourable status.


Chapter 27

Perfect Person

Perfect man (sage) doing good deeds for others leaves no trace for he is doing them according to nature

Good speech out of one’s purified mind leaves no flaws to censure

A skilful mathematician uses no tallies

A good door is well shut without bolts and cannot be opened

A good knot is tied without rope and cannot be loosened

Therefore the sage is always good at helping others. Hence he does not cast away anyone

He is good at savings things

So, he does not cast away anything

We call him a sage because he had inherited perfect virtue from the ancient people

Therefore, the good man is the teacher of the bad

The bad one’s evil deeds could be utilized as lessons to teach the good

The perfect man does not value his teaching qualification

Henceforth, he does not wish to find bad one’s lessons to educate the good

Despite his best wisdom he still looks like a fool

Hence, he is the one knowing the important tenet of the TAO


Chapter 28-strong and feeble

He who knows his manhood’s strength

Keeps feebleness like a female

Becoming the ravine of the world

Being the ravine of the world

He has kept his constant virtue

And return again to be pure as an innocent baby

He who knows what is pure or white

Keeps his humility

Becomes the model of the world

He has constant virtue to do nothing wrong

And return again to the original emptiness

He who is acquainted with honour and glory

Is advisable to keep his obscure position

Becomes the valley of the world

Being the valley of the world He has enough constant virtue

And returns to simplicity of life

Cutting the uncared wood, it is used as tool or furniture

BY means of such simplicity and original nature the sage could become ministers

Therefore, the sage will not cut up


Ravine: being empty and receptive is a place where water from various sources flows in. This symbolizes a leader attracting people to follow him


Original Emptiness: refers to surrounding where force of energy is produced for creation of the universe


Cut up: meaning the sage keeps his simple, pure and true self, just like natural uncared wood.


Chapter 29-Do not act against God’s will 

Those who wish to take the world as their own

Are impossible in my view

Because the world is God’s sacred vessel

No one can keep it as his own

He who takes it suffers defeat

He who holds it losses it

Therefore: Something is going ahead

Something is following behind

Some blowing hot

Some blowing cold

Some being strong

Some being weak

Some may take things up

Some may take them down

So, the sage avoids excess, extravagance and arrogance


Chapter 30-Do not Proud of strong military force 

Those who apply the doctrine of Tao to help the ruler will oppose all conquest by military force

War being so destructive will as law of cause and effect bring harm to the maker

With the station of soldiers thorny bushes might grow thus affecting livelihood of farmers

After a great war, bad years will surely follow

Therefore a good general only applies force for the protection of peace for the people

A good general will not use force carry out invasion

After the war he does not think it an act of glory

Despite the effect he does not take pride in it

Because he considers the force so used is only a regrettable necessity

After the war he does not love violence

Things to be over-matured are to quicken decay and become old

Violence by use of force is against the nature of Tao

Being not in accord with Tao he must stop such bad ambition


Chapter 31-The way of using weapons 

Sharp weapons are instruments of evil omen

They are hated by all creatures

Those who have Tao do not like to use them

The Superior man likes the left in civilian life

But on military application likes the right

Weapons are instruments of evil men

They are not weapons of the superior omen

On occasion of compulsory necessity, it should be used with calm restraint

Even in victory, he does not consider it a glory

And he who calls it glorious

Is the one who delights in killing?

He who delights killing

Will not be successful in his desire to rule the government

Things of good omen favour the left

Things of bad omen favour the right

IN the army the commander stands on the left

While the commander in chief stands on the right

It was said he was in charge if the rite of mourning

The killing of multitude should be mourned with tears and sorrow

A victory in battle should be looked upon as funereal rite


(The ancient Chinese believed the arrangement orientation –left being symbol of good omen while right being the symbol of bad omen)

(Tao dislikes war to settle problems as disputes are settled according to law of nature)


Chapter 32-The Best way to stop in time 

Tao is absolute and nameless

Small as it is in its primordial simplicity (like a piece of uncared wood)

It is inferior to nothing in the world

If a ruler could keep to it

All people would spontaneously submit themselves to him and live peacefully

The Heaven and Earth being in accord

The sweet dew would fall down

According to nature without the command of men

With the arising of civilization all names and systems are given by men

Therefore men must know to stop in time and begin to learn the practice of Tao in order to avoid danger

Tao is ever present and surrounding the whole universe, just like streams and rivers all running into seas and ocean.


Chapter 33

Real Everlasting Life

He who knows others is clever

He who knows himself has reflection or insight

He who conquer others has force

He who conquers himself and keeps his benevolent and purified mind is truly powerful and strong

He who knows what enough is rich

He who is determined has strength of will

He who cultivates TAO may die

But his spirit lives forever-this is longevity


Chapter 34

The magnitude of Heaven and Earth

The great Tao is pervading everywhere

It goes left or right naturally

All things depend on it for their production

And it does not deny them

When its work is accomplished it does not claim possession

It loves and feeds all things without claiming lordship

It is regarded as without desires or passion-therefore it may be called small

Being the home of all things, it does not claim to be the master thereof

So, it may be called ‘The Great’

Because the sage does not claim to be great

His greatness is fully shown


Chapter 35

Tao is being abstruse and mysterious

Holding the great formless Tao

All people will follow

Following without meeting harm

All live in peace, security and happiness

Music and delicious food can only attract passing guests to stop for a while

But the words of Tao being mild to the taste posses lasting effect

Looking at, it cannot be seen

Listening to, it cannot be heard

Using it, its supply is inexhaustible


Chapter 36

The doctrine of reversion

He who knows withdrawal or retreat

Will get expansion later

He who is to be weakened

Must first be made wrong

He who is to be dismissed or put in the inferior position

May first be put in high position

He who is to be taken away from

Must first be given

This is called ‘hiding the light’ being so evident but going on unnoticed

The soft and weak overcomes the hard and strong

Fishes must not be taken away from deep water

Sharp weapons of the country

Should not be shown to others


Chapter 37

People’s Natural Transformation

Tao being non-active

Yet through it everything is done

If the ruler can keep the TAO

All things will grow and transform naturally

Should such growth and transformation become an object of passion?

I would restrain it by nameless original simplicity

This can curb the desires of men

When the desires or passions are curbed, there will peace and quietude

And the world will be peaceful and in order


Chapter 38

Tao and virtue being the best: benevolence and righteousness being the second

A man if highest virtue, after doing a lot of good things, will not display them and claim credit

His virtue is real

A main of lower virtue, after doing something good, will show off and claim merit

His virtue is considered not perfect

The man of highest virtue acts in accord with “doctrine of Nature’ Tao

Without any ulterior motive

The man of lower virtue acts with ulterior motive

The most benevolent person acts, without ant motive for he has a purified mind

The righteous person sometimes acts without real understanding the nature of Tao

Therefore his performance is considered on occasion having motive

Those having highest sense of propriety ac and show its performance but find no response from others

Then they would try to do it with force of arm


After Tao is lost them comes to the doctrine of virtue

After virtue is lost, then comes to the doctrine of benevolence

After benevolence is lost, then comes to the doctrine of righteousness

After righteousness is lost, then comes to the doctrine of propriety

Now propriety is only husk of loyalty and faith

It is the beginning leading to disorder

Keeping on argument with mundane knowledge without knowing the true self or the Nature is just flowering of TAO

This is the origin of stupidity and blind followers of Taoism

Therefore the great noble man manages affairs in accord with Tao in top priority

Then comes next to handle affairs with benevolence and righteousness

Then he considers what is fundamental

And disregards what is superficial and flowery

Therefore he prefers to what is inner (purity of mind) to what is outer


Chapter 39

The Root of Tao

In ancient time there were those acquiring the Oneness (Tao)

With oneness, the Heaven is clear

With oneness, the Earth is Stable

With oneness, the deities having spiritual power

With oneness, the valleys were made full

With oneness, all creatures and things could live and grow

With oneness, the rulers can rule the world with justice and peace

All creatures and things having close relationship with oneness (Tao)

Without clarity, the heaven will break

Without stability, the Earth will have disasters like earthquakes and flood

Without spiritual power, the deities may lose their mythical abilities

Without being filled, the valleys would dry up

Without this ceaseless power and energy all things might no longer live

Without justice and humanity to rule, the ruler may face downfall

Truly speaking, humility is the root which nobility or greatness grow

And the nobility or greatness must be built from the foundation of the lower

That is why the rulers call themselves; the worthless and lonely ones’

Is it a proof to show that they are in need of the support from ordinary people?

Hence, taking down various connected parts of a chariot, there would be no chariot

I do not wish to be looked upon as valuable as jade and to look down on others as worthless stones


Chapter 40

Principle of Reversion and Evolution

Cycle of reversion is the evolution or action of Tao

Weakness or gentleness is the operation of Tao

Myriad things and creatures of the world come from being

And being comes from non-being (Tao)


Chapter 41

Nobility of Tao

When the scholars of the highest class hear the Tao (truth)

They put in into practice earnestly

When scholars of the middle class hear of the Tao

They waver between belief and disbelief

When the scholars of the lowest class hear about the Tao

They will give out loud laughter

If it were not laughed at, it would not be fit to be called the Tao

Therefore there are the following mottoes:

Who understands Tao appears to look like a fool

Who is progressing in Tao seems to walk backward

Who is in accord with Tao speaks simple and straightforward words

Persons with highest virtue appear like a receptive valley

A man with purified mind does not care much about honour and disgrace

A person of distinct nature and character seems to be incapable and keeps humble

A virtuous person seems to look like simple and ordinary despite his meritorious deeds for the people

His firm virtue appears simple and he acts in accord with the Nature

Great space (heaven) has no corners

Great talent takes time to become mature

Great sound generated during the rotation of heavenly planets is inaudible to men on earth

Great Tao is formless

And Tao is hidden and nameless

However, it is this Tao that is best to give out power and energy for the successful creation of creatures and things


Chapter 42

Creation Made by Tao

The Tao produces one

One produces two

Two produces three

Three produces all creatures and things

The created world carries the Yin at its back and the Yang in front

Through the union of the vital force of Yin and Yang, harmonious nature has been so produced

TO be virtue less, the lonely and the worthless is what people dislike is

Yet the rulers humbly call themselves these names

For sometimes things are benefited by being diminished and suffer harm by being increased

Others have been enlightened by this motto

Which I shall also teach

‘The violent and strong persons do not die naturally’

The above motto will be used by me as the basis of my teaching


Chapter 43-The Soft overcomes the hard and strong

The softest thing in the world passes through and overcomes the hardest.

That which is the formless vital power of energy can penetrate into any space without hindrance.

Hereby I know the benefit of taking non-action*.


Only a few in the world could reach the standard of teaching by setting good example instead of words

The advantage of non-action (TAO0 is beyond comparison in the world.


*Influence of TAO reaches everywhere. Mankind relies on it for existence.


Chapter 44-True Self and the Fame

As for fame and one’s true self, (soul and spirit), which is the dearer?

As for one’s true self and wealth, which is more worthy?

As for gain of honour and loss of one’s true self, which is more valuable?

Therefore excessive passion and desires will cost you to pay a high price in the end.

He who hoards much loses much

The contented person will suffer no disgrace.

Who knows when to stop is free from peril?

Hence, he will live long


TO hoard much will invite jealousy and hatred, thus leading to disaster.


Chapter 45-Purity and the Nature

The highest perfect appears like imperfection, Virtue of humility.

And its application is never exhausted.

Great achievements seem empty in the mind of the sage

And yet its use is endless

What is most straight appears crooked

The greatest skill appears clumsy

The greatest eloquence seems like stammering

Instant heat overcomes cold for a while

Calm overcomes heat

Purity, quietude and calmness indicate the law of Nature to be observed for peace and order o the world


Chapter 46-Tao and No Tao in the World

When the world is in accord with TAO

Horses are sent back to do farming work

When the world is not in the accord with TAO

War horses breed themselves in the wilderness

There is no greater misfortune than the lack of contentment

There is no greater guilt than the passion for selfish possession

There he who knows what enough is will have contentment


Chapter 47-The Principle of the Nature

Without going outside one’s door.

One can understand what is happening in the world.

Without looking out from one’s window,

One can see the TAO of Heaven

The farther one goes,

The less one knows

Therefore sages get their knowledge without travelling far away

Understand all things and names of Nature without seeing them,

Accomplish their aims without purpose of achieving them

(One who has purified mind free from delusion, attachment and worldly desires can truly understand what happens in the world.


Chapter 48-Te Mysterious Non –Action

In the pursuit of learning

One knows more day by day

In the practice of TAO (way) one aims at losing human desires day by day

Keep on losing and losing

Until you reach the state of non-action

By the doctrine of non-action everything can be done

One can win the world by doing things according to Law of Nature

If one have private ends and selfish desires

He will not win the world


Non-action means making use of natural force of energy to achieve one’s object.


Chapter 49-The Mind of The Sage

The sage has no constant mind

He treats the minds of the people as his mind

He is kind to the kind

He is also kind to the unkind

This is kindness of virtue

He is faithful to the faithful

He is also faithful to the unfaithful

This is the faith of virtue

The sage is mindful of the people who have gone astray

And wishes to guide them to follow the truth of Tao

Therefore the people will follow his enlightenment attentively

And the sage regards as his own children


Chapter 50-Life and Death

Men come forth and live

Then they enter again and die

Of every ten, three can take care of their life

Three are ministers of death

There are also three in every ten, whose purpose is to live but whose movement of desires lead them to death

How is it so?

Because of their intense passions and greedy desires causing them early death

It has been said that one who is a best preserver of life is truly aware of his true self.

He meets no tigers or wild buffaloes on land

He will not be harmed by weapons in battle-field

The horns of buffalo are useless to attack him

The claws of tigers are powerless t to hurt him

Even the soldier cannot use weapons to carry out attack against him

How is it so?

Because he is beyond death and his true self (spirit and soul) is everlasting!


Chapter 51-The Mystic Virtue of Tao

Tao gives birth to all things and creatures

Tao Virtue nourishes them

They receive their forms according to nature

And they are completed in accord with circumstances

Therefore all things in the universe honour TAO and highly value Tao

Without the command from anyone but only follow the Law of Nature

Therefore Tao produces them

Tao nourishes them, let them grow nurses them

Completes them, matures them

Feeds them and shelters them

It produces them but does not claim possession of them

It acts without claiming merit and ability

It is superior but exercises no control over them

This is called “the mystic virtue”


Chapter 5 2-The Origin of Tao

There was origin of the universe

This may be considered as the Mother of Creation (TAO)

From the Mother, we may know her sons

After knowing her sons, we must follow the way of Mother of Creation, Thus our life is free from any peril

To maintain vitality, energy and spirit one who cultivates TAO must keep closed the six doors of sensation.

In so doing he will have great success in the practice of TAO without rendering much effort

Relying on ability to handle affairs without closing the ‘Six Doors of Sensation’ one’s whole life is beyond redemption

He who keeps softness is strong

Using the light of enlightenment, one can return to clear-sightedness

Thus he is free from disaster

In such a way he is in accord with TAO


Six doors are eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind; with purification of mind these 6 doors will be shut: therefore, one will be free from delusion, passion and attachment. This is important for practice of TAO


Chapter 53- Action of Tao

If I possess some wisdom to walk on the main oath (Tao)

I shall be careful and avoid the devious by-paths

The main path being smooth and straight is easy to walk on

But people love the small by-paths

The following are few examples:

The official courts are corruptible and lacking justice and humanity.

The farming fields are weedy and not well attended to

People’s granaries are empty

Yet these corruptible officers still wearing beautiful and elegant clothes to show off their nobility

And carrying sharp swords

Furthermore, they are in hot pursuit of delicious food and wine

They possess super –abundance of property and wealth

Such rulers and officers may be called robbers

Surely, this is contrary to the Tao

By-paths-meaning people walking the devious side way leading to greedy desires


Chapter 54-The importance of Virtue

What is well planted is not uprooted

What is firmly embraced is not easy to let go

From generation to generation his offspring can carry out ancestral sacrifices continuously

Cultivate the way (TAO) yourself; your virtue will be genuine

Cultivate the way in the family; your virtue is so sincere and abundant that your family members will be prosperous because of enlightened by your virtuous deeds

Cultivate the way in the state; people having virtue would enjoy prosperity

Cultivate the way in the world; people would become virtuous throughout the universe

Therefore, after understanding the truth of TAO, I can use it to judge and observe myself, other families, other villages, other states and the future development of the world

How do I know about the world?

It is though the study of TAO


Chapter 55- A Person with Highest Virtue

One who has highest virtue?

Is like a child

Poisonous insects will not sting him

Wild beats will not attack him

And birds of prey would not maul him

His bones are soft, his tendon tender but his grip of the first is tight and strong

He does not know the sexual union of male and female, but his organ has vital force

This is because he is full of vitality and unspoiled vigour

Crying the whole day, he could maintain his voice not being hoarse

This shows that he has obtained perfect harmony of the nature

To know such harmony is in accord with the everlasting TAO

And to know the everlasting TAO is the one who has obtained enlightenment and understands what the true self is.

Making use of harmony to improve one’s life is a good omen

To act rashly without harmonious mind appears strong but in effect it is wrong

Things to be over-matured are to quicken decay and become old

Violence by use of force is against the Nature of TAO

And he who is against perishes young


Chapter 56-Understanding of Tao

He who knows does not speak

He who speaks does not know

A man of TAO will keep his mouth shut to avoid useless debate

Shut all sensual doors

TO blunt one’s sharp points

To untie all tangles

To have harmony with brightness and lights

To mix up with people in the mundane world but keeping his true self and simplicity

This is called mystic unity

Therefore intimacy and hatred cannot touch him

Gain and loss cannot move him

Honour and disgrace cannot affect him

Therefore he is the noblest man in the world


The formless TAO cannot be truly expressed by words and knowledge. Only by purification of mind and keeping away from passion one can enter the State of TAO

Every person has six sensual doors (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind) generating seven emotions of happiness rage, sadness, joyousness, love, hatred and lust. Six desires and seven emotions, if not properly controlled, are far away from TAO.



Chapter 57-How the State Be Ruled

A state must be ruled by justice and righteousness

To win the battle by means of surprising tactics

To win the world by freedom of action and purpose

How do I know such truth?

From the following, I am enlightened:

The more prohibitive enactments issued by the Government, the poorer, the people will become

The more sharp weapons possessed by the people

The greater the chaos in the state

The more skills of technique

The more strange evil things would appear

The greater the number of laws

The greater the number of thieves and robbers

Therefore the sage says:

I do according to the nature; the people are reformed of themselves

I am fond of quietude and the people would be influenced to become correct and righteous

I apply the principle of non-intervention: the people would become rich

I have no passion and the people are simple and pure by themselves.

Chapter 58-Ways to Govern the State

When the government is liberal and broad-minded

The people will be simple and honest

When the Government is too attentive and strict and its officers are full of selfish desires

The people will be cunning and have too much worry

What one considers disaster may often give rise to felicity

What one considers felicity may often end with disaster

Who would be able to know its final result and the cycle reversion?

Nowadays most people are abnormal

What is normal and correct truth is regarded as strange and worthless

What is good teaching is regarded as sinister?

It is a pity that mankind has been under delusion and gone astray for long

Therefore the sage maintains his principle of teaching without the intention of harming others

The Sage has integrity and does not hurt others

He is straightforward and keeps away from extremity

He is bright but not dazzling


Chapter 59-To manage Human affairs and serve the heaven

In managing human affairs and serving the Heaven there is no better way than keeping one’s vitality and spirit.

In keeping vitality and spirit his purity of mind and virtue is complete

With accumulated virtuous deeds he is ever-victorious

To be ever-victorious is to have infinite source of power and energy

He who has infinite source of power and energy is fit to carry out the burden of dulling the country

He could be ‘mother of the country ‘Hence the country can long secure

This is deeply rooted with strength

Therefore this is the way to immortality and correct vision of TAO


Chapter 60- The Simple, pure and Harmonious World

To rule a large country is like frying a small fish

Who rules the world in accord with TAO would discover that the evil ghosts lose their spiritual power to do people harm

Even the powerful spirits are not harmful

Not only are the spirits not harmful

The Sage is also not harmful

When both do not do any harmful things, one’s original true self is restored. Thus harmony and peace prevail


The art of frying a small fish is not to stir it but cook it with care as to keep it away breaking up into pieces. This is a metaphor indicating that to rule the people with care to prevent chaos


Chapter 61-Big and Small Countries

A great nation is like the big sea in the lowland towards which all streams and rivers flow in. It is the concourse of the world

The females always overcome the males by their stillness

Stillness may be regarded as abasement

Therefore a great nation by condescending o small countries can win over them

If a small country can lower itself in front of a big nation it will gain the support of the big nation

The one wins by humility

The other by keeping in low position

The ultimate aim of the big nation is to protect all the people and lead then live a peaceful and simple life

And what a small country wants is to be treated equally

In such a way both may get what the want

Therefore a big nation, as a mode, should learn to place itself in the low position 


Chapter 62- The Mysterious Essence of The Tao

Tao is the mysterious essence of the world

It is the treasure of the good men

And also the bad men always use it for protection

Beautiful sayings with ‘truth’ can win admiration from others

A noble person with cultivation of TAO is fit to be chosen as a teacher

If one has done something wrong and intends to repent his crime

Why reject him?

Therefore it is better to cultivate TAO than to be an emperor or powerful noble ministers. It is even better than possession of precious jade and riding best horses

Why did the ancients highly value this TAO?

The reason was that if they were contrary to TAO they would commit sins

Once committing sins, how could they avoid punishment resulting from cause and effect?

Therefore, TAO is the treasure of the World


Chapter 63-Managing Affairs by The Sage

The Sage manages affairs in accord with the NATURE

Attend to affairs with purity of mind

The sage tastes the flavorless not caring for taste of desires

No matter it is big or small, many or few

He requites hatred with virtue

He handles difficult matters while they are easy

Handling big matters while they are small

Difficult problems in the universe must be handled while they are easy

Great problems in the universe must be handles while they are small

The Sage will not deal with great problems in a hurry but rather handle them step by step

One, who lightly makes a promise, will often find hard to keep it

One who takes light of problems will meet with difficulties

Therefore even the Sage takes into consideration things as difficult

And for this reason he never encounters difficulties

Chapter 64-Method of Cultivation and Management

What is at rest is easy to hold

What has not yet happened is easy to plan ahead

What is fragile is easily broken

What is small is easily dispersed

Action is taken before a thing has made its appearance

To establish order and peace before disorder has begun

A tree as big as tow men’s embrace grew up from tiny sprout

The tower of nine storey was first built with a small heal of earth

A journey of one thousand miles begins with the first step

He who acts without heeding to the above points will suffer defeat

He who takes hold of a thing in the same manner also loses his hold

Therefore, the Sage who acts in accord with the nature does not suffer defeat

Because the Sage is free from attachment and keeps his true self, he will not be affected by any sense of suffering loss

In managing affairs people often ruin them just at the point of success

By being careful at the end as at the beginning

Failure could be avoided

Therefore the sage desires what other people do not desire

And do not pray for precious goods

The Sage learns what other men do not learn

The sage keeps on reminding people to find theory own essence of mind and not to do any sinful deeds

Thus he may help the development of myriads of things according to Nature

And does not dare to act with any selfish ulterior motive


The Sage learns philosophy of life while other men mostly learn how to get wealth and fame


Chapter 65- Return to purity and simplicity

The ancients who understand TAO well knew how to govern a state

They aimed not at enlightening people with wits and cunning tactics

But to keep them in the state of simplicity and honestly

Why are the people hard to govern?

It is because they have too much wits and cunning tactics

IF a rule uses wits and cunning tactics to govern the state

It would lead to chaotic condition

The ruler who does not seek to rule the state with wits and cunning tactics is the state’s blessing

Those who know these two principles possess the excellent standard of ruling

And to know always such excellent standard is called the ‘mystic virtue’

Such ‘Mystic Virtue’ is far-reaching, so deep in its rationale. It may seem contrary to materialistic consideration

But then it is the way leading to purity, simplicity and Grand harmony 


Chapter 66- Lowness and Humility

How did the seas and rivers become the master of all streams?

By being good to keeping low position

Hence they are the masters of all streams

Therefore, in order to be a leader among people

One must be humble in his speech

TO lead the people, one must respect and walk behind them

In spite if taking high position the Sage keeps and acts with humility

The people do not feel his weight and pressure

He walks in front, the people will not do him harm

Hence the people pf the world are happy to elect hum as leader without hesitation

Because he does not strive

No one in the world is able to strive with him.


Chapter 67-Caompassionate Mind

People in the world say that my TAO is great but it does not appear to be

TAO is great because it is like nothing in the world 

If it were like anything in the world how small it would be from the very beginning

I have ‘three treasures’

Possess them and keep them constantly

The first is compassion

The second is frugality

The third is never to be first in the world (humility)

Because of compassion, there is courage

Because of frugality he has obtained the essence of TAO to help others in all respect

Because of humility one can develop one’s talent leading to mature success

Nowadays people prefer courage first and yet abandon compassion

Prefer extravagance and extremity and yet abandon frugality

They are on the way to death!

For Comparison is victorious in fighting against the evil

And strong in defense

Heaven is on the side of a person with compassionate mind


Chapter 68 –The Best Fighter

The skillful soldier is not violent

An able fighter always keeps his temper and does not express anger easily

The great conqueror will not declare war rashly

His fighting tactics are only for protection of order and peace after the war

The good users of manpower place themselves below others

This is the virtue of non-contention

And the ability to employ persons

Such is called the virtuous compliance with the ancient heavenly way (TAO)


Chapter 69-The real Victory

The military strategies have a saying ‘If I cannot take the offensive, then I could refer to take the defensive. If I cannot advance an inch, then I would retreat a foot. If is called movement of soldiers without being easily detected

To carry out attack without gesture of committing brutalities

To fight only for justice and peace by holding up weapons

There is no greater disaster than to underestimate the strength of your enemy

TO do so may lose your life and the treasures of compassion, frugality and humility

Thus in war, the army with TAO in mind will win at last


Chapter 70-The Truth of my Words

My teachings are very easy to understand and easy to put them into practice

But the world cannot understand them nor practice them

My words have principles

In managing affairs I have given out implied direction

The people have no knowledge of these

Therefore they have no knowledge of me

Since there are only a few who know me

Therefore the TAO that I teach is highly precious

Hence the Sage is like an ordinary person wearing coarse clothing inside which here is a piece of priceless jade.

People have no real knowledge of TAO because their minds are polluted by mundane greedy desire 


Chapter 71

Knowing and Not Knowing

A person understands TAO but does not claim such real understanding

He is a person of high class in the knowledge of TAO

A person who is ignorant of Tao claims such understanding

He is suffering from the illness of exaggeration

The awakened and enlightened person realizes such illness

Therefore he will not get such illness

The Sage is free from such illness because he knows the painful effect


Chapter 72

Love and my own self

When people have done evil deeds and have no fear of force

Great disaster may come

We must widen our mind so that everywhere is our residence

We must find our true self, which is eternal

Because he values his true self, nothing in the world could reject him

The Sage knows himself but does not show off himself

The sage cares his true self and disregards fame and wealth

Therefore he cares for his true self rather than his physical body


Chapter 73 Cause and Effect

When one is over daring and loves violence he may be killed

When one is daring but careful he can protect his life

Both of these are courageous

One is useful while the outer is harmful

Heaven dislikes violent and brutal persons

Who can know the reason?

Even the Sage regards it as a difficult question

It is Heaven’s Way to conquer without striving

Through Heaven does not speak, yet it can give out good response

Showing its appearance without arrangement of invitation

Acting in justice according to the mechanism of cause and effect

The meshes of the net of Heaven are large but letting nothing escape


Chapter 74

Under Tyrannical Rule

Under tyrannical rule, the people are not afraid of death

Why threaten them with death?

If the people are afraid of death

I could lawfully arrest the wrong doer and sentence him to death

Who else would dare to do wrong?

There is appointed executioner whose duty is to kill

To do the killing in behalf of the executioner is like cutting wood for the master carpenter

In so doing it seldom avoids hurting his own hands


Chapter 75

Under Tyrannical Rule

Why the people are hungry?

It is because they are heavily taxed

Why are the people difficult to govern?

It is because of excessive interference from their rulers who have selfish desires and aims

Why are the people not afraid of death and begin to revolt?

It is because their rulers are indulgent and enjoying luxurious lives

One who loves simplicity and purity of life truly values his own life


Chapter 76

Hard and Soft

When man is born he is supple and soft

At death he is firm and stiff

So it is with all things, Plants and trees are soft and brittle in their early growth

At their death they become fry and withered

From the above points one who keeps hard and strong forever is on the way to death

On the contrary one who keeps soft and supple is on way to everlasting life

A country relying on the strength of military forces does not conquer

When a tree is hard and strong it will be cut down

The humble and weak will be placed above


Chapter 77

Tao is mysterious and abstruse

The Tao of Heaven may be likened to bending of a bow

The supper part comes down while the lower part goes up

Of the bowstring is too long it is cut short

If it is too short, it is added to

It is the way of Heaven to diminish where there is great abundance and to supplement where deficiency is

This is not so with men’s way

He takes away from those who have not enough to serve the powerful and the rich

Who could use one’s superabundance to help the poor in the world?

Only the man in possession of TAO

Therefore the sage acts but does not take possession

He accomplishes without claiming credit

He does not want his meritorious deeds to be seen


Chapter 78

The benefit of softness and weakness

In the world there is nothing softer and weaker than water

But nothing is superior to it in overcoming the hard

Nothing can take its place

The weak overcomes the strong and the soft overcomes the hard

This fact is known by all bits no one can put it into practice

Therefore the Sage says:

He who could accept calumny and humiliation for the sake of the nation is fit to be called master of the nation

He who could suffer and bear himself sins and disasters of the world is qualified to be king of the world

My words that are really true seem to be paradoxical

Chapter 79

The Virtue of Heaven

When reconciliation is arranged after a great hatred

It is sure to leave some hatred behind

How could it be regarded as good and satisfactory?

Therefore the sage could be regarded as keeping the left-tally*

Contract and would not press for speedy fulfillment of the contractual obligation by the other party

The virtue less is not only pressing for return in respect of money or things given to others.

But the way of heaven is impartial

It is always on the side of the good man


“Left-tally contract-ancient contract was made by lines cut on bamboo tally slips which were split into twp, the lender kept the left-hand portion, while the borrower kept the right portion.


Chapter 80

The simple and pure small country dream of utopia 

Let there be a small country with a small population

Though there were tenfold or hundredfold very able persons

Yet their abilities should not be fully used

Let the people value their lives and stop migrating to distant places

Though they had boats and carriages they should have no occasion to ride in them

Though they had weapons and armor

They had no occasion to display them

The people were taught to tie ropes for reckoning

Then people would enjoy their food

Despite coarse clothing they felt it beautiful

They found comfort in their homes

They were happy in their customs

The neighboring country was within sight

And the people could hear the barking of dogs and crowing of cocks from their neighborhood

And the people till the end of their life

Would never think of migration because they enjoyed simple and pure living


Chapter 81

The Mission of the Sage

Sincere words are not fine

Fine words are not sincere

A good man does not argue

Who argues is not a good man

Wise man may not be very ‘learned’

Learned man mat not be wise

The Sage does not accumulate wealth and property but only keeps his essence of pure mind

He works for other people

And become richer himself

He gives to other people

And has greater abundance

The Way of Heaven

Is to benefit and bless people and does no harm

The way of the Sage is to carry out the mission of the Tao and does not strive with anyone


E-mail address of Mr. Kerby Kuek : Kerbykuek@gmail.com 


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