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Seeds of Light Foundation

Tao Te Cheng

Verses 40 to 59.

40. Motion and Use


The motion of the Way is to return;

The use of the Way is to accept;

All things come from the Way,

And the Way comes from nothing.



41. Following


When the great man learns the Way,

He follows it with diligence;

When the common man learns the Way,

He follows it on occasion;


When the mean man learns the Way,

He laughs out loud;

Those who do not laugh, do not learn at all.


Therefore it is said:

Who understands the Way seems foolish;

Who progresses on the Way seems to fail;

Who follows the Way seems to wander.


For the finest harmony appears plain;

The brightest truth appears coloured;

The richest character appears incomplete;

The bravest heart appears meek;

The simplest nature appears inconstant.

The square, perfected, has no corner;


Music, perfected, has no melody;

Love, perfected, has no climax;

Art, perfected, has no meaning.


The Way can be neither sensed nor known:

It transmits sensation and transcends knowledge.



42. Mind


The Way bears sensation,

Sensation bears memory,

Sensation and memory bear abstraction,

And abstraction bears all the world;

Each thing in the world bears feeling and doing,

And, imbued with mind, harmony with the Way.

As others have taught, so do I teach,


"Who loses harmony opposes nature";

This is the root of my teaching.



43. Overcoming


Water overcomes the stone;

Without substance it requires no opening;

This is the benefit of taking no action.

Yet benefit without action,

And experience without abstraction,

Are practiced by very few.



44. Contentment


Health or reputation: which is held dearer?

Health or possessions: which has more worth?

Profit or loss: which is more troublesome?

Great love incurs great expense,

And great riches incur great fear,

But contentment comes at no cost;

Who knows when to stop

Does not continue into danger,

And so may long endure.



45. Quiet


Great perfection seems incomplete,

But does not decay;

Great abundance seems empty,

But does not fail.


Great truth seems contradictory;

Great cleverness seems stupid;

Great eloquence seems awkward.


As spring overcomes the cold,

And autumn overcomes the heat,

So calm and quiet overcome the world.



46. Horses


When a nation follows the Way,

Horses bear manure through its fields;

When a nation ignores the Way,

Horses bear soldiers through its streets.


There is no greater mistake than following desire;

There is no greater disaster than forgetting contentment;

There is no greater sickness than seeking attainment;


But one who is content to satisfy his needs

Finds that contentment endures.



47. Knowing


Without taking a step outdoors

You know the whole world;

Without taking a peep out the window

You know the colour of the sky.


The more you experience,

The less you know.

The sage wanders without knowing,

Sees without looking,

Accomplishes without acting.



48. Inaction


The follower of knowledge learns as much as he can every day;

The follower of the Way forgets as much as he can every day.

By attrition he reaches a state of inaction

Wherein he does nothing, but nothing remains undone.

To conquer the world, accomplish nothing;

If you must accomplish something,

The world remains beyond conquest.



49. People


The sage does not distinguish between himself and the world;

The needs of other people are as his own.

He is good to those who are good;

He is also good to those who are not good,

Thereby he is good.

He trusts those who are trustworthy;

He also trusts those who are not trustworthy,

Thereby he is trustworthy.


The sage lives in harmony with the world,

And his mind is the world's mind.

So he nurtures the worlds of others

As a mother does her children.



50. Death


Men flow into life, and ebb into death.

Some are filled with life;

Some are empty with death;

Some hold fast to life, and thereby perish,


For life is an abstraction.


Those who are filled with life

Need not fear tigers and rhinos in the wilds,

Nor wear armour and shields in battle;

The rhinoceros finds no place in them for its horn,

The tiger no place for its claw,

The soldier no place for a weapon,

For death finds no place in them.



51. Nurture


The Way bears all things;

Harmony nurtures them;

Nature shapes them;

Use completes them.

Each follows the Way and honours harmony,

Not by law,

But by being.


The Way bears, nurtures, shapes,


Shelters, comforts,

and makes a home for them.

Bearing without possessing,

Nurturing without taming,

Shaping without forcing,


This is harmony.



52. Clarity


The origin of the world is its mother;

Understand the mother,

And you understand the child;

Embrace the child, and you embrace the mother,

Who will not perish when you die.

Reserve your judgments and words

And you maintain your influence;


Speak your mind and take positions

And nothing can save you.

As observing detail is clarity,

So maintaining flexibility is strength;

Use the light but shed no light,

So that you do yourself no harm,

But embrace clarity.



53. Difficult Paths


With but a small understanding

One may follow the Way like a main road,

Fearing only to leave it;

Following a main road is easy,

Yet people delight in difficult paths.


When palaces are kept up

Fields are left to weeds

And granaries empty;

Wearing fine clothes,

Bearing sharp swords,

Glutting with food and drink,

Hoarding wealth and possessions


These are the ways of theft,

And far from the Way.



54. Cultivate Harmony


Cultivate harmony within yourself, and harmony becomes real;

Cultivate harmony within your family, and harmony becomes fertile;

Cultivate harmony within your community, and harmony becomes abundant;

Cultivate harmony within your culture, and harmony becomes enduring;

Cultivate harmony within the world, and harmony becomes ubiquitous.


Live with a person to understand that person;

Live with a family to understand that family;

Live with a community to understand that community;

Live with a culture to understand that culture;

Live with the world to understand the world.


How can I live with the world?

By accepting.



55. Soft Bones


Who is filled with harmony is like a newborn.

Wasps and snakes will not bite him;

Hawks and tigers will not claw him.

His bones are soft yet his grasp is sure,

For his flesh is supple;

His mind is innocent yet his body is virile,

For his vigour is plentiful;

His song is long-lasting yet his voice is sweet,

For his grace is perfect.

But knowing harmony creates abstraction,

And following abstraction creates ritual.

Exceeding nature creates calamity,

And controlling nature creates violence.



56. Impartiality


Who understands does not preach;

Who preaches does not understand.

Reserve your judgments and words;

Smooth differences and forgive disagreements;

Dull your wit and simplify your purpose;


Accept the world.



Friendship and enmity,

Profit and loss,

Honour and disgrace,

Will not affect you;

The world will accept you.



57. Conquer with Inaction


Do not control the people with laws,

Nor violence nor espionage,

But conquer them with inaction.



The more morals and taboos there are,

The more cruelty afflicts people;

The more guns and knives there are,

The more factions divide people;

The more arts and skills there are,

The more change obsoletes people;

The more laws and taxes there are,

The more theft corrupts people.


Yet take no action, and the people nurture eachother;

Make no laws, and the people deal fairly with eachother;

Own no interest, and the people cooperate with eachother;

Express no desire, and the people harmonize with eachother.



58. No End


When government is lazy and informal

The people are kind and honest;

When government is efficient and severe

The people are discontented and deceitful.


Good fortune follows upon disaster;

Disaster lurks within good fortune;

Who can say how things will end?

Perhaps there is no end.


Honesty is ever deceived;

Kindness is ever seduced;

Men have been like this for a long time.


So the sage is firm but not cutting,

Pointed but not piercing,

Straight but not rigid,

Bright but not blinding.



59. Restraint


Manage a great nation as you would cook a delicate fish.

To govern men in accord with nature

It is best to be restrained;

Restraint makes agreement easy to attain,

And easy agreement builds harmonious relationships;

With sufficient harmony no resistance will arise;

When no resistance arises, then you possess the heart of the nation,

And when you possess the nation's heart,

your influence will long endure:

Deeply rooted and firmly established.


This is the method of far sight and long life.





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