from The Dao De Jing

by Laozi / translation by Thomas Meyer

道可道非常道
名可名非常名

無名萬物之始
有名萬物之母

故常無欲以觀其妙
常有欲以觀其徼

此兩者同出而
異名同謂之玄

玄之又玄
眾妙門之


道常無為
而無不為

侯王若能守之
萬物將自化

化而欲作
吾將鎮之以無名之朴

鎮之以無名
之朴夫將不欲

不欲以靜
天下將自正


上德不德是以有德
下德不失德是以無德

上德無為而無以為
下德無為而有以為

上仁為之而無以為
上義為之而有以為

上禮為之而莫之應
則攘臂而扔之

故失道而後德失德而後仁
失仁而後義失義而後禮

夫禮者忠信之薄而亂之首
前識者道之華而愚之始

是以大丈夫處其厚不居其薄
處其實不居其華故去彼取此


信言不美
美言不信

善者不辯
辯者不善

知者不博
博者不知

聖人不積既
以為人己愈有

既以與人己愈多
天之道利而不害

聖人之道
為而不爭

the dao that is talked about is not steadfast
whatever you call it is not its regular name

the father of heaven and earth has no name
mother is the name of everything we can count

so not wanting things their true shape is seen
but holding onto them they trick the eyes

these join each other and are the same
only different and what about them

was hard to see is even more unseen
yet they open up inside everything

the dao does nothing so consistently
that nothing goes undone

when those in charge see this
the whole world comes into its own

and if change leads to want
I can press that down with something simple and unnamed

this unnamed and simple thing lets desire go
when that happens quiet happens

then everything in and of itself
comes to rest

the highest de is powerless and so maintains a rightness
the lesser de remains righteous and loses all its power as a result

the highest de does nothing and hasnít any reason to
the greatest good makes no effort because it doesnít need it

the common good has things to do and must do them
the status quo wants to be kept and when it isnít bends your arm

when the dao is lost we are left with the de
and if that power fails we are left with our sense of decency

but losing that leaves us with technical expertise
which hardly skims the now troubled surface of what is open and honest

the way things turn out is how the dao dazzles and dumbs us down
so it makes sense to hold onto substance and to get rid of style

stick to what is sound and solid and stay away from all thatís flashy
which is how you decided to ignore this and pay attention to that

the confidently said is never flashy
the flashy remark lacks all confidence

the person who knows what heís talking about
never argues while the person who doesnít know

what heís talking about always argues
a person who understands something doesnít dabble

yet the dabbler never understands anything
avoid the accumulation and expansion of things

put what you have to other peopleís use
do that and you will experience true accumulation

the overreaching dao is pointed but doesnít injure
the specific dao is to do what you do without arguing