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object:Liber 157 - The Tao Teh King
author class:Aleister Crowley

              A New Translation By
                 KO YUEN
               (ALEISTER CROWLEY)
           THE EQUINOX (Volume III, No. VIII.)
I bound myself to devote my life to Magick at Easter 1898, and received
my first initiation on November 18 of that year.
My friend and climbing companion, Oscar Eckenstein, gave me my first
instructions in learning the control of the mind early in 1901 in
Mexico City. Shri Parananda, Solicitor General of Ceylon and an eminent
writer upon and teacher of Yoga from the orthodox Shaivite standpoint,
and Bhikkhu Ananda Metteya, the great English Adept, who was one of my
earliest instructors in Magick and joined the Sangha in Burma in 1902,
gave me my first groundings in mystical theory and practice. I spent
some months of 1901 in Kandy, Ceylon, with the latter until success
crowned my work.
I also studied all varieties of Asiatic philosophy, especially with
regard to the practical question of spiritual development, the Sufi
doctrines, the Upanishads, the Sankhya, Vedanta, the Bagavad Gita and
Purana, the Dhammapada, and many other classics, together with numerous
writings on the Tantra and Yoga of such men as Patanjali, Vivekananda,
etc. etc. Not a few of these teachings are as yet wholly unknown to
scholars. I made the scope of {1} my studies as comprehensive as
possible, omitting no school of thought however unimportant or
I made a critical examination of all these teachers in the light of my
practical experiences. The physiological and psychological uniformity
of mankind guaranteed that the diversity of expression concealed a
unity of significance. This discovery, furthermore, was confirmed by
reference to Jewish, Greek and Celtic traditions. One quintessential
truth was common to all cults, from the Hebrides to the Yellow Sea, and
even the main branches proved essentially identical. It was only the
foliage that exhibited incompatibility.
When I walked across China in 1905-6, I was fully armed and accoutred
by the above qualifications to attack the till-then-insoluble problem
of the Chinese conception of religious truth. Practical studies of the
psychology of such Mongolians as I had met in my travels, had already
suggested to me that their acentric conception of the universe might
represent the correspondence in consciousness of their actual
psychological characteristics. I was therefore prepared to examine the
doctrines of their religious and {2} philosophical Masters without
prejudice such as had always rendered nugatory the efforts of
missionary sinologists and indeed all oriental scholars with the single
exception of Rhys Davids. Until his time translators had invariably
assumed, with absurd naivite, or more often arrogant bigotry, that a
Chinese writer must either be putting forth a more or less distorted
and degraded variation of some Christian conception, or utterly puerile
absurdities. Even so great a man as Max Muller in his introduction to
the Upanishads seems only half inclined to admit that the apparent
triviality and folly of many passages in these so-called sacred
writings might owe their appearance to our ignorance of the historical
and religious circumstances, a knowledge of which would render them
During my solitary wanderings among the mountainous wastes of Yun Nan,
the spiritual atmosphere of China penetrated my consciousness, thanks
to the absence of any intellectual impertinences from the organ of
knowledge. The TAO TEH KING revealed its simplicity and sublimity to my
soul, little by little, as the conditions of my physical life, no less
than of my spiritual, penetrated the {3} sanctuaries of my spirit. The
philosophy of Lao Tze communicated itself to me, in despite of the
persistent efforts of my mind to compel it to conform with my
preconceived notions of what the text must mean. This process, having
thus taken root in my innermost intuition during those tremendous
months of wandering across Yun Nan, grew continually throughout
succeeding years. Whenever I found myself able once more to withdraw
myself from the dissipations and distractions which contact with
civilisation forces upon one, no matter how vigorously he may struggle
against their insolence, to the sacred solitude of the desert, whether
among the sierras of Spain, or the sands of the Sahara, I found that
the philosophy of Lao Tze resumed its sway upon my soul, subtler and
stronger on each successive occasion.
But neither Europe nor Africa can show such desolation as America. The
proudest, stubbornest, bitterest peasant of deserted Spain; the most
primitive and superstitious Arab of the remotest oases, these are a
little more than kin and never less than kind at their worst; whereas
in the United States one is almost always conscious of an instinctive
lack of sympathy and understanding with even the {4} most charming and
cultured people. It was therefore during my exile in America that the
doctrines of Lao Tze developed most rapidly in my soul, even forcing
their way outwards until I felt it imperious, nay inevitable, to
express them in terms of conscious thought.
No sooner had this resolve taken possession of me than I realized that
the task approximated to impossibility. His very simplest ideas, the
primitive elements of his thought, had no true correspondences in any
European terminology. The very first word "Tao" presented a completely
insoluble problem. It had been translated "Reason," the "Way," "TO ON."
None of these covey the faintest conception of the Tao.
The Tao is "Reason" in this sense, that the substance of things may be
in part apprehended as being that necessary relation between the
elements of thought which determines the laws of reason. In other
words, the only reality is that which compels us to connect the various
forms of illusion as we do. It is thus evidently unknowable, and
expressible neither by speech nor by silence. All that we can know
about it is that there is inherent in it a {5} power (which, however,
is not itself) by virtue whereof all beings appear in forms congruous
with the nature of necessity.
The Tao is also the Way -- in the following sense. Nothing exists
except as a relation with other similarly postulated ideas. Nothing can
be known in itself, but only as one of the participants in a series of
events. Reality is therefore in the motion, not in the things moved. We
cannot apprehend anything except as one postulated element of an
observed impression of change. We may express this in other terms as
follows. Our knowledge of anything is in reality the sum of our
observations of its successive movements, that is to say, of its path
from event to event. In this sense the Tao may be translated as the
Way. It is not a thing in itself in the sense of being an object
susceptible of apprehension by sense or mind. It is not the cause of
any thing, but the category underlying all existence or event, and
therefore true and real as they are illusory, being merely landmarks
invented for convenience in describing our experiences. The Tao
possesses no power to cause anything to exist or to take place. Yet our
experience when analyzed tells {6} us that the only reality of which we
may be sure is this path or Way which resumes the whole of our
As for TO ON, which superficially might seem the best translation of
Tao as described in the text, it is the most misleading of the three.
For TO ON possesses an extensive connotation implying a whole system of
Platonic concepts than which nothing can be more alien to the essential
quality of the Tao. Tao is neither being nor not-being in any sense
which Europe could understand. It is neither existence nor a condition
or form of existence. At the same time, TO MH ON gives no idea of Tao.
Tao is altoge ther alien to all that class of thought. From its
connection with "that principle which necessarily underlies the fact
that events occur" one might suppose that the "Becoming" of Heraclitus
might assist us to describe the Tao. But the Tao is not a principle at
all of that kind. To understand it requires an altoge ther different
state of mind to any with which European thinkers in general are
familiar. It is necessary to pursue unflinchingly the path of spiritual
development on the lines indicated by the Sufis, the Hindus and the
Buddhists; {7} and having reached the Trance called Nerodha-Sammapati,
in which are destroyed all forms soever of consciousness, there appears
in that abyss of annihilation the germ of an entirely new type of idea,
whose principal characteristic is this: that the entire concatenation
of one's previous experiences and conceptions could not have happened
at all, save by virtue of this indescribable necessity.
I am only too painfully aware that the above exposition is faulty in
every respect. In particular it presupposes in the reader considerable
familiarity with the substance, thus practically begging the question.
It must also prove almost wholly unintelligible to the average reader,
him in fact whom I especially aim to interest. For his sake I will try
to elucidate the matter by an analogy. Consider electricity. It would
be absurd to say that electricity is any of the phenomena by which we
know it. We take refuge in the petitio principii of saying that
electricity is that form of energy which is the principle cause of such
and such phenomena. Suppose now that we eliminate this idea as
evidently illogical. What remains? We must not hastily answer, "Nothing
{8} remains." There is some thing inherent in the nature of
consciousness, reason, perception, sensation, and of the universe of
which they inform us, which is responsible for the fact that we observe
these phenomena and not others; that we reflect upon them as we do, and
not otherwise. But even deeper than this, part of the reality of the
inscrutable energy which determines the form of our experience,
consists in determining that experience should take place at all. It
should be clear that this has nothing to do with any of the Platonic
conceptions of the nature of things.
The least abject asset in the intellectual bankruptcy of European
thought is the Hebrew Qabalah. Properly understood it is a system of
symbolism infinitely elastic, assuming no axioms, postulating no
principles, asserting no theorems, and therefore adaptable, if managed
adroitly, to describe any conceivable doctrine. It has been my
continual study since 1898, and I have found it of infinite value in
the study of the Tao Teh King. By its aid I was able to attri bute the
ideas of Lao Tze to an order with which I was exceedingly familiar, and
whose practical worth I had repeatedly proved by using {9} it as the
basis of the analysis and classification of all Aryan and Semitic
religions and philosophies. Despite the essential difficulty of
correlating the ideas of Lao Tze with any others, the persistent
application of the Qabalistic keys eventually unlocked his
treasure-house. I was able to explain to myself his teachings in terms
of familiar systems.
This achievement broke the back of my Sphinx. Having once reduce Lao
Tze to Qabalistic form, it was easy to translate the result into the
language of philosophy. I had already done much to create a new
language based on English with the assistance of a few technical terms
borrowed from Asia, and above all by the use of a novel conception of
the idea of Number and algebraic and arithmetical proceedings, to
convey the results of spiritual experience to intelligent students.
It is therefore not altoge ther without confidence that I present this
translation of the Tao Teh King to the public. I hope and believe that
careful study of the text, as elucidated by my commentary, will enable
serious aspirants to the hidden wisdom to understand with fair accuracy
what Lao Tze taught. It must however be laid to {10} heart that the
essence of his system will inevitably elude intellectual apprehension
unless it be illuminated from above by actual living experience of the
truth. Such experience is only to be attained by unswerving application
to the practices which he advocates. Nor must the aspirant content
himself with the mere attainment of spiritual enlightenment, however
sublime. All such achievements are barren unless they be regarded as
the means rather than the end of spiritual progress, and allowed to
infiltrate every detail of the life, not only of the spirit, but of the
senses. The Tao can never be known until it interpret the most trivial
actions of everyday routine. It is a fatal mistake to discriminate
between the spiritual importance of meditation and playing golf. To do
so is to create an internal conflict. "Let there be no difference made
among you between any one thing & any other thing; for thereby there
cometh hurt." He who knows the Tao knows it to be the source of all
things soever; the most exalted spiritual ecstasy and the most trivial
internal impression are from our point of view equally illusions,
worthless masks, which hide, with grotesque painted pasteboard false
and lifeless, {11} the living face of truth. Yet, from another point of
view, they are equally expressions of the ecstatic genius of truth --
natural images of the reaction between the essence of onesself and
one's particular environment at the moment of their occurrence. They
are equally tokens of the Tao, by whom, in whom, and of whom, they are.
To value them for themselves is deny the Tao and to be lost in
delusion. To despise them is to deny the omnipresence of the Tao, and
to suffer the illusion of sorrow. To discriminate between them is to
set up the accursd dyad, to permit the insanity of intellect, to
overwhelm the intuition of truth, and to create civil war in the
From 1908 to 1918, the Tao Teh King was my continual study. I
constantly recommended it to my friends as the supreme masterpiece of
initiated wisdom, and I was as constantly disappointed when they
declared that it did not impress them, especially as my preliminary
descriptions of the book had aroused their keenest interest. I thus
came to see that the fault lay with Legge's translation, and I felt
myself impelled to undertake the {12} task of presenting Lao Tze in
language informed by the sympathetic understanding which initiation and
spiritual experience had conferred on me. During my Great Magical
Retirement on Aesopus Island in the Hudson River during the summer of
1918, I set myself to this work, but I discovered immediately that I
was totally incompetent. I therefore appealed to an Adept named
Amalantrah, with whom I was at that time in almost daily communion. He
came readily to my aid and exhibited to me a codex of the original,
which conveyed to me with absolute certitude the exact significance of
the text. I was able to divine without hesitation or doubt the precise
manner in which Legge had been deceived. He had translated the Chinese
with singular fidelity, yet in almost every verse the interpretation
was altoge ther misleading. There was no need to refer to the text from
the point of view of scholarship. I had merely to paraphrase his
translation in the light of actual knowledge of the true significance
of the terms employed. Anyone who cares to take the trouble to compare
the two versions will be astounded to see how slight a remodeling of a
paragraph is sufficient to disperse the obstinate {13} obscurity of
prejudice, and let loose a fountain and a flood of living light, to
kindle the gnarled prose of stolid scholarship into the burgeoning
blossom of lyrical flame.
I completed my translation within three days, but during the last five
years I have constantly reconsidered every sentence. The manuscript has
been lent to a number of friends, scholars who have commended my work,
and aspirants who have appreciated its adequacy to present the spirit
of the Master's teaching. Those who had been disappointed with Legge's
version were enthusiastic about mine. This circumstance is in itself
sufficient to assure me that Love's labour has not been lost, and to
fill me with enthusiastic confidence that the present publication will
abundantly contri bute to the fulfillment of my True Will for which I
came to earth, and wring labour and sorrow to the utmost of which
humanity is capable, the Will to open the portals of spiritual
attainment to my fellow men, and bring them to the enjoyment of that
realisation of Truth, beneath all veils of temporal falsehood, which
has enlightened mine eyes and filled my mouth with song.
                 CHAPTER I
             THE NATURE OF THE TAO.
1. The Tao-Path is not the All-Tao. The Name is not the Thing named.
2. Unmanifested, it is the Secret Father of
     __________       ____ ____
  Heaven __________ and Earth ____ ____
     __________       ____ ____;
manifested, it is their Mother
3. To understand this Mystery, one must be fulfilling one's will, and
if one is not thus free, one will but gain a smattering of it.
4. The Tao is one, and the Teh but a phase thereof. The abyss of this
Mystery is the Portal of Serpent-Wonder.
[WEH NOTE: Footnote #2 above, extended here. In the original each of
the eleven places is enclosed in a circle for one of the ten Sephiroth
and Da'at. This chart presents problems. Crowley did not properly draw
the trigrams, but mostly with unbroken lines. He also appears to have
written in the wrong names for some of the Trigrams. These difficulties
have been corrected by reference to the diagram Crowley made on the
blank page preceding the table of content in his copy of the Legge Yi
King. See OTO NEWSLETTER, V. I, No. 3, p. 15.]
           The Tao
     The Teh,         The Tao,
  source of the Mother     source of the
    ____ ____        __________

      Water           Fire
     ____ ____ {had     ____ ____
  {water____ ____ Li, this   _________Tui
  usually_________ is Chen}   __________
  is K'an}

           __________ {had Chen,
           ____ ____ this is Li}
     __________       __________
   Air __________       ____ ____ Earth
     ____ ____       ____ ____ Ken

           ____ ____
           __________ K'an
           ____ ____

           ____ ____
           ____ ____ K'un
           ____ ____
                 CHAPTER II
1. All men know that beauty and ugliness are correlatives, as are skill
and clumsiness; one implies and suggests the other.
2. So also existence and non-existence pose the one the other; so also
is it with ease and difficulty, length and shortness; height and
lowness. Also Musick exists through harmony of opposites; time and
space depend upon contraposition.
3. By the use of this method, the sage can fulfil his will without
action, and utter his word without speech.
4. All things arise without diffidence; they grow, and none interferes;
they change according to their natural order, without lust of result.
The work is accomplished; yet continueth in its orbit, without goal.
This work is done unconsciously; this is {2} why its energy is
                 CHAPTER III
               QUIETING FOLK.
1. To reward merit is to stir up emulation; to prize rarities is to
encourage robbery; to display desirable things is to excite the
disorder of covetousness.
2. Therefore, the sage governeth men by keeping their minds and their
bodies at rest, contenting the one by emptiness, the other by fullness.
He satisfieth their desires, thus fulfilling their wills, and making
them frictionless; and he maketh them strong in body, to a similar end.
3. He delivereth them from the restlessness of knowledge and the
cravings of discontent. As to those who have knowledge already, he
teacheth them the way of non-action. This being assured, there is no
disorder in the world. {4}
                 CHAPTER IV
1. The Tao resembleth the emptiness of Space; to employ it, we must
avoid creating ganglia. Oh Tao, how vast art Thou, the Abyss of
Abysses, thou Holy and Secret Father of all Fatherhoods of Things!
2. Let us make our sharpness blunt; let us loosen our complexes; let us
tone down our brightness to the general obscurity. Oh Tao, how still
art thou, how pure, continuous One beyond Heaven!
3. This Tao hath no Father; it is beyond all other conceptions, higher
than the highest. {5}
                 CHAPTER V
1. Heaven and earth proceed without motive, but casually in their order
of nature, dealing with all things carelessly, like used talismans. So
also the sages deal with their people, not exercising benevolence, but
allowing the nature of all to move without friction.
2. The Space between heaven and earth is their breathing apparatus:
Exhalation is not exhaustion, but the complement of Inhalation, and
this equally of that. Speech exhausteth; guard thyself, therefore,
maintaining the perfect freedom of thy nature. {6}
                 CHAPTER VI
1. The Teh is the immortal enemy of the Tao, its feminine aspect.
Heaven and Earth issued from her Gate; this Gate is the Root of their
World-Sycamore. Its operation is of pure Joy and Love, and faileth
never. {7}
                 CHAPTER VII
1. Heaven and Earth are mighty in continuance, because their work is
delivered from the lust of result.
2. Thus also the sage, seeking not any goal, attaineth all things; he
doth not interfere in the affairs of his body, and so that body acteth
without friction. It is because he meddleth not with personal aims that
these come to pass with simplicity. {8}
                CHAPTER VIII
              THE NATURE OF PEACE.
1. Admire thou the High Way of Water! Is not Water the soul of the life
of things, whereby they change? Yet it seeketh its level, and abideth
content in obscurity. So also it resembleth the Tao, in this Way
2. The virtue of a house is to be well-placed; of the mind, to be at
ease in silence as of Space; of societies, to be well-disposed; of
governments, to maintain quietude; of work, to be skillfully performed;
and of all motion, to be made at the right time.
3. Also it is the virtue of a man to abide in his place without
discontent; thus offendeth he no man. {9}
                 CHAPTER IX
              THE WAY OF RETICENCE.
1. Fill not a vessel, lest it spill in carrying. Meddle not with a
sharpened point by feeling it constantly, or it will soon become
2. Gold and jade endanger the house of their possessor. Wealth and
honors lead to arrogance and envy, and bring ruin. Is thy way famous
and thy name becoming distinguished? Withdraw, thy work once done, into
obscurity; this is the way of Heaven. {10}
                 CHAPTER X
               THINGS ATTAINABLE.
1. When soul and body are in the bond of love, they can be kept
together. By concentration on the breath it is brought to perfect
elasticity, and one becomes as a babe. By purifying oneself from
Samadhi one becomes whole.
2. In his dealing with individuals and with society, let him move
without lust of result. In the management of his breath, let him be
like the mother-bird. Let his intelligence comprehend every quarter;
but let his knowledge cease.
3. Here is the Mystery of Virtue. It createth all and nourisheth all;
yet it doth not adhere to them; it operateth all, but knoweth not of
it, nor proclaimeth it; it directeth all, but without conscious
control. {11}
                 CHAPTER XI
1. The thirty spokes join in their nave, that is one; yet the wheel
dependeth for use upon the hollow place for the axle. Clay is shapen to
make vessels; but the contained space is what is useful. Matter is
therefore of use only to mark the limits of the space which is the
thing of real value. {12}
                 CHAPTER XII
1. The five colors film over Sight; The five sounds make Hearing dull;
The five flavours conceal Taste; occupation with motion and action
bedevil Mind; even so the esteem of rare things begetteth covetousness
and disorder.
2. The wise man seeketh therefore to content the actual needs of the
people; not to excite them by the sight of luxuries. He banneth these,
and concentrateth on those. {13}
                CHAPTER XIII
1. Favor and disgrace are equally to be shunned; honour and calamity to
be alike regarded as adhering to the personality.
2. What is this which is written concerning favour and disgrace?
Disgrace is the fall from favour. He then that hath favour hath fear,
and its loss begetteth fear yet greater of a further fall. What is this
which is written concerning honour and calamity? It is this attachment
to the body which maketh calamity possible; for were one bodiless, what
evil could befall him?
3. Therefore let him that regardeth himself rightly administer also a
kingdom; and let him govern it who loveth it as another man loveth
himself. {14}
                 CHAPTER XIV
1. We look at it, and see it not; though it is Omnipresent; and we name
it the Root-Balance.
We listen for it, and hear it not, though it is Omniscient; and we name
it the Silence.
We feel for it, and touch it not, though it is Omnipotent; and we name
it the Concealed.
These three Virtues hath it, yet we cannot describe it as consisting of
them; but, mingling them aright, we apprehend the One.
2. Above, it shineth not; below, it is not dark. It moveth all
continuously, without Expression, returning into Naught. It is the Form
of That which is beyond Form; it is the Image of the Invisible; it is
Change, and Without Limit.
3. We confront it, and see not its Face; {15} we pursue it, and its
Back is hidden from us. Ah! but apply the Tao as in old Time to the
work of the present; know it as it was known in the Beginning; follow
fervently the Thread of the Tao. {16}
                 CHAPTER XV
1. The adepts of past ages were subtle and keen to apprehend this
Mystery, and their profundity was obscurity unto men. Since then they
were not known, let me declare their nature.
2. To all seeming, they were fearful as men that cross a torrent in
winter flood; they were hesitating like a man in apprehension of them
that are about him; they were full of awe like a guest in a great
house; they were ready to disappear like ice in thaw; they were
unassuming like unworked wood; they were empty as a valley; and dull as
the waters of a marsh.
3. Who can clear muddy water? Stillness will accomplish this. Who can
obtain rest? Let motion continue equably, and it will itself be peace.
4. The adepts of the Tao, conserving its way, seek not to be actively
self-conscious. By their emptiness of Self {17} they have no need to
show their youth and perfection; to appear old and imperfect is their
privilege. {18}
                 CHAPTER XVI
1. Emptiness must be perfect, and Silence made absolute with tireless
strength. All things pass through the period of action; then they
return to repose. They grow, bud, blossom and fruit; then they return
to the root. This return to the root is this state which we name
Silence; and this Silence is Witness of their Fulfilment.
2. This cycle is the universal law. To know it is the part of
intelligence; to ignore it bringeth folly of action, whereof the end is
madness. To know it bringeth understanding and peace; and these lead to
the identification of the Self with the Not-Self. This identification
maketh man a king; and this kingliness groweth unto godhood. That
godhood beareth fruit in the mastery of the Tao. Then the man, the Tao
permeating him, endureth; and his bodily principles are in harmony,
{19} proof against decay, until the hour of his Change. {20}
                CHAPTER XVII
1. In the Age of Gold, the people were not conscious of their rulers;
in the Age of Silver, they loved them, with songs; in the Age of Brass,
they feared them; in the Age of Iron, they despised them. As the rulers
lost confidence, so also did the people lose confidence in them.
2. How hesitating did they seem, the Lords of the Age of Gold, speaking
with deliberation, aware of the weight of their word! Thus they
accomplished all things with success; and the people deemed their
well-being to be the natural course of events. {21}
                CHAPTER XVIII
              THE DECAY OF MANNERS.
1. When men abandoned the Way of the Tao, benevolence and justice
became necessary. Then also was need of wisdom and cunning, and all
fell into illusion. When harmony ceased to prevail in the six spheres
it was needful to govern them by manifesting Sons.
When the kingdoms and races became confused, loyal ministers had to
appear. {22}
                 CHAPTER XIX
1. If we forgot our statesmanship and our wisdom, it would be an
hundred times better for the people. If we forgot our benevolence and
our justice, they would become again like sons, folk of good will. If
we forget our machines and our business, there would be no knavery.
2. These new methods despised the olden Way, inventing fine names to
disguise their baneness. But simplicity in the doing of the will of
every man would put an end to vain ambitions and desires. {23}
                 CHAPTER XX
1. To forget learning is to end trouble. The smallest difference in
words, such as "yes" and "yea", can make endless controversy for the
scholar. Fearful indeed is death, since all men fear it; but the abyss
of questionings, shoreless and bottomless, is worse!
2. Consider the profane man, how he preeneth, as if at feast, or gazing
upon Spring from a tower! But as for me, I am as one who yawneth,
without any trace of desire. I am like a babe before its first smile. I
appear sad and forlorn, like a man homeless. The profane man hath his
need filled, ay, and more also. For me, I seem to have lost all I had.
My mind is as it were stupefied; it hath no definite shape. The profane
man looketh lively and keen-witted; I alone appear blank in my mind.
They seem eagerly critical; I appear careless and without perception. I
seem to be as one adrift upon the sea, with {24} no thought of an
harbor. The profane have each one his definite course of action; I
alone appear useless and uncomprehending, like a man from the border.
Yea, thus I differ from all other men: but my jewel is the All-Mother
                 CHAPTER XXI
               THE INFINITE WOMB.
1. The sole source of energy is the Tao. Who may declare its nature? It
is beyond Sense, yet all form is hidden within it. It is beyond Sense,
yet all Perceptibles are hidden within it. It is beyond Sense, yet all
Perceptibles are hidden within it. It is beyond Sense, yet all Being is
hidden within it. This Being excites Perception, and the Word thereof.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, its Name
operateth continuously, causing all to flow in the cycle of Change,
which is Love and Beauty. How do I know this? By my comprehension of
the Tao. {26}
                CHAPTER XXII
1. The part becometh the whole. The curve becometh straight; the void
becometh full; the old becometh new. He who desireth little
accomplisheth his Will with ease; who desireth many things becometh
2. Therefore, the sage concentrateth upon one Will, and it is as a
light to the whole world. Hiding himself, he shineth; withdrawing
himself, he attracteth notice; humbling himself, he is exalted;
dissatisfied with himself, he gaineth force to achieve his Will.
Because he striveth not, no man may contend against him.
3. That is no idle saw of the men of old; "The part becometh the
whole"; it is the Canon of Perfection. {27}
                CHAPTER XXIII
               THE VOID OF NAUGHT.
1. To keep silence is the mark of one who is acting in full accordance
with his Will. A fierce wind soon falleth; a storm-shower doth not last
all day. Yet Heaven and Earth cause these; and if they fail to make
violence continue, how much less can man abide in spasm of passion!
2. With him that devoteth him to Tao, the devotees of Tao are in
accord; so also are the devotees of Teh, yea, even they who fail in
seeking those are in accord.
3. So then his brothers in the Tao are joyful, attaining it; and his
brothers in the Teh are joyful, attaining it; and they who fail in
seeking these are joyful, partaking of it. But if he himself realize
not the Tao with calm of confidence, then they also appear lacking in
confidence. {28}
                CHAPTER XXIV
                EVIL MANNERS.
1. He who standeth a-tiptoe standeth not firm; he who maketh rigid his
legs walketh ill. He who preeneth himself shineth not; he who talketh
positively is vulgar; he who boastheth is refused acceptance; he who is
wise in his own conceit is thought inferior. Such attitudes, to him
that hath the view given by understanding the Tao, seem like garbage or
like cancer, abhorrent to all. They then who follow the Way do not
admit them. {29}
                 CHAPTER XXV
1. Without Limit and Perfect, there is a Becoming, beyond Heaven and
Earth. It hath nor motion nor Form; it is alone, it changeth not; it
extendeth all ways; it hath no Adversary. It is like the All-Mother
2. I know not its Name, but I call it the Tao. Moreover, I exert
myself, and call it Vastness.
3. Vastness, the Becoming! Becoming, it flieth afar. Afar, it draweth
near. Vast is this Tao; Heaven also is Vast; Earth is vast; and the
Holy King is vast also. In the Universe are Four Vastnesses, and of
these is the Holy King.
4. Man followeth the formula of Earth; Earth followeth that of Heaven,
and Heaven that of the Tao. The formula of the Tao is its own Nature.
                CHAPTER XXVI
               THE NATURE OF MASS.
1. Mass is the fulcrum of mobility; stillness is the father of motion.
2. Therefore the sage King, though he travel afar, remaineth near his
supplies. Though opportunity tempt him, he remaineth quietly in proper
disposition, indifferent. Should the master of an host of chariots bear
himself frivolously? If he attack without support, he loseth his base;
if he become a raider, he forfeiteth his throne. {31}
                CHAPTER XXVII
              SKILL IN THE METHOD.
1. The experienced traveler concealeth his tracks; the clever speaker
giveth no chance to the critic; the skilled mathematician useth no
abacus; the ingenious safesmith baffleth the burglar without the use of
bolts, and the cunning binder without ropes and knots. So also the
sage, skilled in man-emancipation-craft, useth all men; understanding
the value of everything, he rejecteth nothing. This is called the
Occult Regimen.
2. The adept is then master to the zelator, and the zelator assisteth
and honoreth the adept. Yet unless these relations were manifest, even
the most intelligent observer might be perplexed as to which was which.
This is called the Crown of Mystery. {32}
               CHAPTER XXVIII
1. Balance thy male strength with thy female weakness and thou shalt
attract all things, as the ocean absorbeth all rivers; for thou shalt
formulate the excellence of the Child eternal, simple, and perfect.
Knowing the light, remain in the Dark. Manifest not thy Glory, but
thine obscurity. Clothed in this Child-excellence eternal, thou hast
attained the Return of the First State. Knowing splendour of Fame,
cling to Obloquy and Infamy; then shalt thou remain as in the Valley to
which flow all waters, the lodestone to fascinate all men. Yea, they
shall hail in thee this Excellence, eternal, simple and perfect, of the
2. The raw material, wrought into form, produceth vessels. So the sage
King formulateth his Wholeness in divers Offices; and his Law is
without violence or constraint. {33}
                CHAPTER XXIX
1. He that, desiring a kingdom, exerteth himself to obtain it, will
fail. A Kingdom is of the nature of spirit, and yieldeth not to
activity. He who graspeth it, destroyeth it; he who gaineth it, loseth
2. The wheel of nature revolveth constantly; the last becometh first,
and the first last; hot things grow cold, and cold things hot; weakness
overcometh strength; things gained are lost anon. Hence the wise man
avoideth effort, desire and sloth. {34}
                 CHAPTER XXX
1. If a king summon to his aid a Master of the Tao, let Him not advise
recourse to arms. Such action certainly bringeth the corresponding
2. Where armies are, are weeds. Bad harvests follow great hosts.
3. The good general striketh decisively, once and for all. He does not
risk by overboldness. He striketh, but doth not vaunt his victory. He
striketh according to strict law of necessity, not from desire of
4. Things become strong and ripe, then age. This is discord with the
Tao; and what is not at one with the Tao soon cometh to an end. {35}
                CHAPTER XXXI
               COMPOSING QUARREL.
1. Arms, though they be beautiful, are of ill omen, abominable to all
created beings. They who have the Tao love not their use.
2. The place of honour is on the right in wartime; so thinketh the man
of distinction. Sharp weapons are ill-omened, unworthy of such a man;
he useth them only in necessity. He valueth peace and ease, desireth
not violence of victory. To desire victory is to desire the death of
men; and to desire that is to fail to propitiate the people.
3. At feasts, the left hand is the high seat; at funerals, the right.
The second in comm and of the army leadeth the left wing, the
commander-in-chief, the right wing; it is as if the battle were a rite
of mourning! He that hath slain most men should weep for them most
bitterly; so then the place of the victor is assigned to him with
philosophical propriety. {36}
                CHAPTER XXXII
               THE WISDOM OF TEH.
1. The All-Tao hath no name.
2. It is That Minute Point yet the whole world dare not contend against
him that hath it. Did a lord or king gain it and guard it, all men
would obey him of their own accord.
3. Heaven and Earth combining under its spell, shed forth dew,
extending throughout all things of its own accord, without man's
4. Tao, in its phase of action, hath a name. Then men can comprehend
it; when they do this, there is no more risk of wrong or ill-success.
5. As the great rivers and the oceans are to the valley streams, so is
the Tao to the whole universe. {37}
               CHAPTER XXXIII
1. He who understandeth others understandeth Two; but he who
understandeth himself understandeth One. He who conquereth others is
strong; but he who conquereth himself is stronger yet.
Contentment is riches; and continuous action is Will.
2. He that adapteth himself perfectly to his environment, continueth
for long; he who dieth without dying, liveth for ever. {38}
                CHAPTER XXXIV
1. The Tao is immanent; it extendeth to the right hand as to the left.
2. All things derive from it their being; it createth them, and all
comply with it. Its work is done, and it proclaimeth it not. It is the
ornament of all things, yet it claimeth not fief of them; there is
nothing so small that it inhabiteth not, and informeth it.
All things return without knowledge of the Cause thereof; there is
nothing so great that it inhabiteth not, and informeth it.
3. In this manner also may the Sage perform his Works. It is by not
thrusting himself forward that he winneth to his success. {39}
                CHAPTER XXXV
             THE GOOD WILL OF THE TEH.
1. The whole world is drawn to him that hath the likeness of the Tao.
Men flock unto him, and suffer no ill, but gain repose, find peace,
enjoy all ease.
2. Sweet sounds and cates lure the traveler from his way. But the Word
of the Tao; though it appear harsh and insipid, unworthy to hearken or
to behold; hath his use all inexhaustible. {40}
                CHAPTER XXXVI
1. In order to draw breath, first empty the lungs; to weaken another,
first streng then him; to overthrow another, first exalt him; to despoil
another, first load him with gifts; this is called the Occult Regimen.
2. The soft conquereth the hard; the weak pulleth down the strong.
3. The fish that leaveth ocean is lost; the method of government must
be concealed from the people. {41}
               CHAPTER XXXVII
1. The Tao proceedeth by its own nature, doing nothing; therefore there
is no doing which it comprehendeth not.
2. If kings and princes were to govern in this manner, all things would
operate aright by their own motion.
3. If this transmutation were my object, I should call it Simplicity.
Simplicity hath no name nor purpose; silently and at ease all things go
well. {42}
                 PART II
               CHAPTER XXXVIII
               CONCERNING THE TEH.
1. Those who possessed perfectly the powers did not manifest them, and
so they preserved them. Those who possessed them imperfectly feared to
lose them, and so lost them.
2. The former did nothing, nor had need to do. The latter did, and had
need to do.
3. Those who possessed benevolence exercised it, and had need it; so
also was it with them who possessed justice.
4. Those who possessed the conventions displayed them; and when men
would not agree, they made ready to fight them.
5. Thus, when the Tao was lost, the Magick Powers appeared; then, by
successive degradations, came Benevolence, Justice, Convention. {43}
6. Now convention is the shadow of loyalty and good will, and so the
herald of disorder. Yea, even Understanding is but a Blossom of the
Tao, and foreshadoweth Stupidity.
7. So then the Tao-Man holdeth to Mass, and avoideth Motion; he is
attached to the Root, not to the flower. He leaveth the one, and
cleaveth to the other. {44}
                CHAPTER XXXIX
1. These things have possessed the Tao from the beginning: Heaven,
clear and shining; Earth, steady and easy; Spirits, mighty in Magick;
Vehicles, overflowing with Joy; all that hath life; and the rulers of
men. All these derive their essence from the Tao.
2. Without the Tao, Heaven would dissolve Earth disrupt, Spirits become
impotent; Vehicles empty; living things would perish and rulers lose
their power.
3. The root of grandeur is humility, and the strength of exaltation in
its base. Thus rulers speak of themselves as "Fatherless,"
"Virtueless,' "Unworthy," proclaiming by this that their Glory is in
their shame. So also the virtue of a Chariot is not any of the parts of
a Chariot, if they be numbered. They do not seek to appear fine like
jade, but inconspicuous like common stone. {45}
                 CHAPTER XL
               OMITTING UTILITY.
1. The Tao proceeds by correlative curves, and its might is in
2. All things arose from the Teh, and the Teh budded from the Tao. {46}
                 CHAPTER XLI
1. The best students, learning of the Tao, set to work earnestly to
practice the Way. Mediocre students now cherish it, now let it go.
The worst students mock at it. Were it not thus mocked, it were
unworthy to be Tao.
2. Thus spake the makers of Saws: the Tao at its brightest is obscure.
Who advanceth in that Way, retireth. Its smooth Way is rough. Its
summit is a valley. Its beauty is ugliness. Its wealth is poverty. Its
virtue, vice. Its stability is change. Its form is without form. Its
fullness is vacancy. Its utterance is silence. Its reality is illusion.
3. Nameless and imperceptible is the Tao; but it informeth and
perfecteth all things. {47}
                CHAPTER XLII
              THE VEILS OF THE TAO.
1. The Tao formulated the One.
The One exhaled the Two.
The Two were parents of the Three.
The Three were parents of all things.
All things pass from Obscurity to Manifestation, inspired harmoniously
by the Breath of the Void.
2. Men do not like to be fatherless, virtueless, unworthy: yet rulers
describe themselves by these names. Thus increase bringeth decrease to
some, and decrease bringeth increase to others.
3. Others have taught thus; I consent to it. Violent men and strong die
not by natural death. This fact is the foundation of my law. {48}
                CHAPTER XLIII
               THE COSMIC METHOD.
1. The softest substance hunteth down the hardest; the unsubstantial
penetrateth where there is no opening. Here is the Virtue of Inertia.
2. Few are they who attain: whose speech is Silence, whose Work is
Inertia. {49}
                CHAPTER XLIV
1. What shall it profit a man if he gain fame or wealth, and lose his
2. If a man cling to fame or wealth, he risketh what is worth more.
3. Be content, not fearing disgrace. Act not, and risk not criticism.
Thus live thou long, without alarm. {50}
                 CHAPTER XLV
1. Despise thy masterpieces; thus renew the vigor of thy creation.
Deem thy fullness emptiness; thus shall thy fullness never be empty.
Let the straight appear crooked to thee, thy Craft clumsiness; thy
Musick discord.
2. Exercise moderateth cold; stillness heat. To be pure and to keep
silence, is the True Law of all that are beneath Heaven. {51}
                CHAPTER XLVI
1. When the Tao beareth away on Earth, men put swift horses to
night-carts. When it is neglected, they breed chargers in the border
2. There is no evil worse than ambition; no misery worse than
discontent; no crime greater than greed. Content of mind is peace and
satisfaction eternal. {52}
                CHAPTER XLVII
1. One need not pass his threshold to comprehend all that is under
Heaven, nor to look out from his lattice to behold the Tao Celestial.
Nay! but the farther a man goeth, the less he knoweth.
2. The sages acquired their knowledge without travel; they named all
things aright without beholding them; and, acting without aim,
fulfilled their Wills. {53}
               CHAPTER XLVIII
1. The scholar seeketh daily increase of knowing; the sage of Tao daily
decrease of doing.
2. He decreaseth it, again and again, until he doth no act with the
lust of result. Having attained this Inertia all accomplisheth itself.
3. He who attracteth to himself all that is under Heaven doth so
without effort. He who maketh effort is not able to attract it. {54}
                CHAPTER XLIX
1. The wise man hath no fixed principle; he adapteth his mind to his
2. To the good I am good, and to the evil I am good also; thus all
become good. To the true I am true, and to the false I am true; thus
all become true.
3. The sage appeareth hesitating to the world, because his mind is
detached. Therefore the people look and listen to him, as his children;
and thus doth he shepherd them. {53}
                 CHAPTER L
1. Man cometh into life, and returneth again into death.
2. Three men in ten conserve life; three men in ten pursue death.
3. Three men also in ten desire to live, but their acts hasten their
journey to the house of death. Why is this? Because of their efforts to
preserve life.
4. But this I have heard. He that is wise in the economy of his life,
whereof he is warden for a season, journeyeth with no need to avoid the
tiger or the rhinoceros, and goeth uncorsleted among the warriors with
no fear of sword or lance. The rhinoceros findeth in him no place
vulnerable to its horn, the tiger to its claws, the weapon to its
point. Why is this? Because there is no house of death in his whole
body. {56}
                 CHAPTER LI
              THE TEH AS THE NURSE.
1. All things proceed from the Tao, and are sustained by its
forth-flowing virtue. Every one taketh form according to his nature,
and is perfect, each in his particular Way. Therefore, each and every
one of them glorify the Tao, and worship its forth-flowing Virtue.
2. This glorifying of the Tao, this worship of the Teh, is constantly
spontaneous, and not by appointment of Law.
3. Thus the Tao buddeth them out, nurtureth them, developeth them,
sustaineth them, perfecteth them, ripeneth them, upholdeth them, and
reabsorbeth them.
4. It buddeth them forth, and claimeth not lordship over them; it is
overseer of their changes, and boasteth not of his puissance;
perfecteth them, and interfereth not with their Ways; this is called
the Mystery of its Virtue. {57}
                 CHAPTER LII
1. The Tao buddeth forth all things under Heaven; it is the Mother of
2. Knowing the Mother we may know her offspring. He that knoweth his
Mother and abideth in Her nature, remaineth in surety all his days.
3. With the mouth closed, and the Gates of Breath controlled, he
remaineth at ease all his days. With the mouth open, and the Breath
directed to outward affairs, he hath no surety all his days.
4. To perceive that Minute Point is True Vision; to maintain the Soft
and Gentle is True Strength.
5. Employing harmoniously the Light Within so that it returneth to its
Origin, one guardeth even one's body from evil, and keepeth Silence
before all men. {58}
                CHAPTER LIII
              THE WITNESS OF GREED.
1. Were I discovered by men, and charged with government, my first
would be lest I should become proud.
2. The true Path is level and smooth; but men love by-paths.
3. They adorn their courts, but they neglect their fields, and leave
their storehouses empty. They wear elaborate and embroidered robes;
they gird themselves with sharp swords; they eat and drink with luxury;
they heap up goods; they are thievish and vainglorious. All this is
opposite to the Way of Tao. {59}
                 CHAPTER LIV
1. If a man plant according to the Tao it will never be uprooted; if he
thus gather, it will never be lost. His sons and his son's sons, one
following another, shall honour the shrine of their ancestor.
2. The Tao, applied to oneself, streng theneth the Body, to the family,
bringeth wealth; to the district, prosperity; to the state, great
fortune. Let it be the Law of the Kingdom, and all men will increase in
3. Thus we observe its effect in every case, as to the person, the
family, the district, the state, and the kingdom.
4. How do I know that this is thus universal under Heaven?
By experience. {60}
                 CHAPTER LV
1. He that hath the Magick powers of the Tao is like a young child.
Insects will not sting him or beasts or birds of prey attack him.
2. The young child's bones are tender and its sinews are elastic, but
its grasp is firm. It knoweth nothing of the Union of Man and Woman,
yet its Organ may be excited. This is because of its natural
perfection. It will cry all day long without becoming hoarse, because
of the harmony of its being.
3. He who understandeth this harmony knoweth the mystery of the Tao,
and becometh a True Sage. All devices for inflaming life, and
increasing the vital Breath, by mental effort are evil and factitious.
4. Things become strong, then age. This is in discord with the Tao, and
what is not at one with the Tao soon cometh to an end. {61}
                 CHAPTER LVI
1. Who knoweth the Tao keepeth Silence; he who babbleth knoweth it not.
2. Who knoweth it closeth his mouth and controlleth the Gates of his
Breath. He will make his sharpness blunt; he will loosen his complexes;
he will tone down his brightness to the general obscurity. This is
called the Secret of Harmony.
3. He cannot be insulted either by familiarity or aversion; he is
immune to ideas of gain or loss, of honour or disgrace; he is the true
man, unequalled under Heaven. {62}
                CHAPTER LVII
               THE TRUE INFLUENCE.
1. One may govern a state by restriction; weapons may be used with
skill and cunning; but one acquireth true comm and only by freedom,
given and taken.
2. How am I aware of this? By experience that to multiply restrictive
laws in the kingdom impoverisheth the people; the use of machines
causeth disorder in state and race alike. The more men use skill and
cunning, the more machines there are; and the more laws there are, the
more felons there are.
3. A wise man has said this: I will refrain from doing, and the people
will act rightly of their own accord; I will love Silence, and the
people will instinctively turn to perfection; I will take no measures,
and the people will enjoy true wealth; I will restrain ambition, and
the people will attain simplicity. {63}
                CHAPTER LVIII
1. The government that exerciseth the least care serveth the people
best; that which meddleth with everybody's business worketh all manner
of harm. Sorrow and joy are bedfellows; who can divine the final result
of either?
2. Shall we avoid restriction? Yea; restriction distorteth nature, so
that even what seemeth good in it is evil. For how long have men
suffered from misunderstanding of this.
3. The wise man is foursquare, and avoideth aggression; his corners do
not injure others. He moveth in a straight line and turneth not aside
therefrom; he is brilliant but doth not blind with his brightness. {64}
                 CHAPTER LIX
               WARDING THE TAO.
1. To balance our earthly nature and cultivate our heavenly nature,
tread the Middle Path.
2. This Middle Path alone leadeth to the Timely Return to the True
Nature. This Timely Return resulteth from the constant gathering of
Magick Powers. With that Gathering cometh Control. This Control we know
to be without Limit and he who knoweth the Limitless may rule the
3. He who possesseth the Tao continueth long. He is like a plant with
well-set roots and strong stems. Thus it secureth long continuance of
its life. {65}
                 CHAPTER LX
1. The government of a kingdom is like the cooking of fish.
2. If the kingdom be ruled according to the Tao, the spirits of our
ancestors will not manifest their Teh. These spirits have this Teh, but
will not turn it against men. It is able to hurt men; so also is the
Wise King; but he doth not.
3. When these powers are in accord, their Good Will produceth the Teh,
endowing the people therewith. {66}
                 CHAPTER LXI
             THE MODESTY OF THE TEH.
1. A state becometh powerful when it resembleth a great river,
deep-seated; to it tend all the small streams under Heaven.
2. It is as with the female, that conquereth the male by her Silence.
Silence is a form of Gravity.
3. Thus a great state attracteth small states by meeting their views,
and small states attract the great state by revering its eminence. In
the first case this Silence gaineth supporters; in the second, favour.
4. The great state uniteth men and nurtureth them; the small state
wisheth the good will of the great, and offereth service; thus each
gaineth its advantage. But the great state must keep Silence. {67}
                CHAPTER LXII
1. The Tao is the most exalted of all things. It is the ornament of the
good, and the protection and purification of the evil.
2. Its words are the fountain of honour, and its deeds the engine of
achievement. It is present even in evil.
3. Though the Son of Heaven were enthroned with his three Dukes
appointed to serve him, and he were offered a round symbol- of-rank as
great as might fill the hands, with a team of horses to follow, this
gift were not to be matched against the Tao, which might be offered by
the humblest of men.
4. Why did they of old time set such store by the Tao? Because he that
sought it might find it, and because it was the Purification from all
evil. Therefore did all men under Heaven esteem it the most exalted of
all things. {68}
                CHAPTER LXIII
1. Act without lust of result; work without anxiety; taste without
attachment to flavour; esteem small things great and few things many;
repel violence with gentleness.
2. Do great things while they are yet small, hard things while they are
yet easy; for all things, how great or hard soever, have a beginning
when they are little and easy. So thus the wise man accomplisheth the
greatest tasks without undertaking anything important.
3. Who undertaketh thoughtlessly is certain to fail in attainment; who
estimateth things easy findeth them hard. The wise man considereth even
easy things hard, so that even hard things are easy to him. {69}
                CHAPTER LXIV
1. It is easy to grasp what is not yet in motion, to withstand what is
not yet manifest, to break what is not yet compact, to disperse what is
not yet coherent. Act against things before they become visible; attend
to order before disorder ariseth.
2. The tree which filleth the embrace grew from a small shoot; the
tower nine-storied rose from a low foundation; the ten-day journey
began with a single step.
3. He who acteth worketh harm; he who graspeth findeth it a slip. The
wise man acteth not, so worketh no harm; he doth not grasp, and so doth
not let go. Men often ruin their affairs on the eve of success, because
they are not as prudent at the end as in the beginning.
4. The wise man willeth what others do not will, and valueth not things
rare. He learneth what others learn not, and gathered up what they
despise. Thus he is in accord with the natural course of events, and is
not overbold in action. {70}
                 CHAPTER LXV
             THE PURITY OF THE TEH.
1. They of old time that were skilled in the Tao sought not to
enlighten the people, but to keep them simple.
2. The difficulty of government is the vain knowledge of the people. To
use cleverness in government is to scourge the kingdom; to use
simplicity is to anoint it.
3. Know these things, and make them thy law and thine example. To
possess this Law is the Secret Perfection of rule. Profound and
Extended is this Perfection; he that possesseth it is indeed contrary
to the rest, but he attracteth them to full accordance. {71}
                CHAPTER LXVI
1. The oceans and the rivers attract the streams by their skill in
being lower than they; thus are they masters thereof. So the Wise Man,
to be above men, speaketh lowly; and to precede them acteth with
2. Thus, though he be above them, they feel no burden; nor, though he
precede them, do they feel insulted.
3. So then do all men delight to honour him, and grow not weary of him.
He contendeth not against any man; therefore no man is able to contend
against him. {72}
                CHAPTER LXVII
               THE THREE JEWELS.
1. They say that while this Tao of mine is great, yet it is inferior.
This is the proof of its greatness. If it were like anything else, its
smallness would have long been known.
2. I have three jewels of price whereto I cleave; gentleness, economy,
and humility.
3. That gentleness maketh me courageous, that economy generous, that
humility honoured. Men of today abandon gentleness for violence,
economy for extravagance, humility for pride: this is death.
4. Gentleness bringeth victory in fight; and holdeth its ground with
assurance. Heaven wardeth the gentle man by that same virtue. {73}
               CHAPTER LXVIII
1. He that is skilled in war maketh no fierce gestures; the most
efficient fighter bewareth of anger. He who conquereth refraineth from
engaging in battle; he whom men most willingly obey continueth silently
with his Work. So it is said: "He is mighty who fighteth not; he ruleth
who uniteth with his subjects; he shineth whose will is that of
Heaven." {74}
                CHAPTER LXIX
1. A great strategist saith: "I dare not take the offensive. I prefer
the defensive. I dare not advance an inch; I prefer to retreat a foot."
Place therefore the army where there is no army; prepare for action
where there is no engagement; strike where there is no conflict;
advance against the enemy where the enemy is not.
2. There is no error so great as to engage in battle without sufficient
force. To do so is to risk losing the gentleness which is beyond price.
Thus when the lines actually engage, he who regretteth the necessity is
the victor. {75}
                 CHAPTER LXX
1. My words are easy to understand and to perform; but is there anyone
in the world who can understand them and perform them?
2. My words derive from a creative and universal Principle, in accord
with the One Law. Men, not knowing these, understand me not.
3. Few are they that understand me; therefore am I the more to be
valued. The Wise Man weareth sack-cloth, but guardeth his jewel in his
bosom. {76}
                CHAPTER LXXI
1. To know, yet to know nothing, is the highest; not to know, yet to
pretend to knowledge, is a distemper.
2. Painful is this distemper; therefore we shun it. The wise man hath
it not. Knowing it to be bound up with Sorrow, he putteth it away from
him. {77}
                CHAPTER LXXII
1. When men fear not that which is to be feared, that which they fear
cometh upon them.
2. Let them not live, without thought, the superficial life. Let them
not weary of the Spring of Life!
3. By avoiding the superficial life, this weariness cometh not upon
4. These things the wise man knoweth, not showeth: he loveth himself,
without isolating his value. He accepteth the former and rejecteth the
latter. {78}
               CHAPTER LXXIII
1. One man, daring, is executed; another, not daring, liveth. It would
seem as if the one course were profitable and the other detrimental.
Yet when Heaven smiteth a man, who shall assign the cause thereof?
Therefore the sage is diffident.
2. The Tao of Heaven contendeth not, yet it overcometh; it is silent,
yet its need is answered; it summoneth none, but all men come to it of
their free will. Its method is quietness, yet its will is efficient.
Large are the meshes of Heaven's Net; wide open, yet letting none
escape. {79}
                CHAPTER LXXIV
1. The people have no fear of death; why then seek to awe them by the
threat of death? If the people feared death and I could put to death
evil-doers, who would dare to offend?
2. There is one appointed to inflict death. He who would usurp that
position resembleth a hewer of wood doing the work of a carpenter. Such
an one, presumptuous, will be sure to cut his own hands. {80}
                CHAPTER LXXV
              THE INJURY OF GREED.
1. The people suffer hunger because of the weight of taxation imposed
by their rulers. This is the cause of famine.
2. The people are difficult to govern because their rulers meddle with
them. This is the cause of bad government.
3. The people welcome death because the toil of living is intolerable.
This is why they esteem death lightly. In such a state of insecurity it
is better to ignore the question of living than to set store by it.
                CHAPTER LXXVI
1. At the birth of man, he is elastic and weak; at his death, rigid and
unyielding. This is the common law; trees also, in their youth, are
tender and supple; in their decay, hard and dry.
2. So then rigidity and hardness are the stigmata of death; elasticity
and adaptability, of life.
3. He then who putteth forth strength is not victorious; even as a
strong tree filleth the embrace.
4. Thus the hard and rigid have the inferior place, the soft and
elastic the superior. {82}
               CHAPTER LXXVII
               THE WAY OF HEAVEN.
1. The Tao of Heaven is likened to the bending of a bow, whereby the
high part is brought down, and the low part raised up. The extreme is
diminished, and the middle increased.
2. This is the Way of Heaven, to remove excess, and to supplement
insufficiency. Not so is the way of man, who taketh away from him that
hath not to give to him that hath already excess.
3. Who can employ his own excess to the weal of all under Heaven? Only
he that possesseth the Tao.
4. So the Wise Man acteth without lust of result; achieveth and
boasteth not; he willeth not to proclaim his greatness. {83}
               CHAPTER LXXVIII
                 A CREED.
1. Nothing in the world is more elastic and yielding than water; yet it
is preeminent to dissolve things rigid and resistant; there is nothing
which can match it.
2. All men know that the soft overcometh the hard, and the weak
conquereth the strong; but none are able to use this law in action.
3. A Wise Man hath said: "He that taketh on the burden of the state is
a demigod worthy of sacrificial worship; and the true King of a people
is he that undertaketh the weight of their sorrows."
4. Truth appeareth paradox. {84}
                CHAPTER LXXIX
               TRUTH IN COVENANT.
1. When enemies are reconciled, there is always an aftermath of
illwill. How can this be useful?
2. Therefore, the Wise Man, while he keepeth his part of the record of
a transaction, doth not insist on its prompt execution. He who hath the
Teh considereth the situation from all sides, while he who hath it not
seeketh only to benefit himself.
3. In the Tao of Heaven, there is no distinction of persons in its
love; but it is for the True Man to claim it. {85}
                CHAPTER LXXX
1. In a little kingdom of few people it should be the order that though
there were men able to do the work of ten men or five score, they
should not be employed. Though the people regarded death as sorrowful,
yet they should not wish to go elsewhere.
2. They should have boats and wagons, yet no necessity to travel;
corslets and weapons, yet no occasion to fight.
3. For communication they should use knotted cords.
4. They should deem their food sweet, their clothes beautiful, their
houses homes, their customs delightful.
5. There should be another state within view, so that its fowls and
dogs should be heard; yet to old age, even to death, the people should
hold no traffic with it. {86}
                CHAPTER LXXXI
1. True speech is not elegant; elaborate speech is not truth. Those who
know do not argue; the argumentative are without knowledge. Those who
have assimilated are not learned; those who are gross with learning
have not assimilated.
2. The Wise Man doth not hoard. The more he giveth, the more he hath;
the more he watereth, the more is he watered himself.
3. The Tao of Heaven is like an Arrow, yet it woundeth not; and the
Wise Man, in all his Works, maketh no contention. {87}

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