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The Dao De Jing of Lao Zi



With particular reference to the Mawangdui silk-copy versions of the Dao De Jing and other old versions, including those of Wang Bi and Heshang Gong, this revised edition is largely based on the recent philological studies done by such leading Lao Zi scholars as Gu Di, Zhou Ying, Chen Guying, Ren Jiyu, Gao Heng, Ma Shulun, Yan Lingfeng, Sha Shaohai and Ai Qi. It has benefited considerably from two works in Chinese, namely, Lao Zi Tong (Gu Di & Zhou Ying) and Lao Zi Zhu Yi Ji Ping Jie (Chen Guying), which are virtual encyclopedias of Lao Zi studies at the present stage. In addition, the English rendering of the book owes a great deal to the existing translations by Chan Wing-tsit, Robert G. Henricks, He Guanghu, Gao Shining, Song Lidao and Xu Junyao. I would like take this opportunity to acknowledge my gratitude to all these scholars.

Chapter 1

The Dao that can be told is not the constant Dao.
The Name that can be named is not the constant Name.
The Being-without-form is the origin of Heaven and Earth;
The Being-within-form is the mother of the myriad things.
Therefore it is always from the Being-without-form
That the subtlety- of the Lao can be contemplated;
Similarly it is always from the Being-within-form
That the manifestation of the Dao can be perceived.
These two have the same source but different names,
They both may be called deep and profound.
The Deepest and most profound Is the doorway to all subtleties.

Chapter 2
When the people of the world know the beautiful as beauty,
There arises the recognition of the ugly.
When they know the good as good,
There arises the recognition of the evil.

This is the reason why
Have-substance and have-no-substance produce each other;
Difficult and easy complete each other;
Long and short contrast with each other;
High and low are distinguished from each other;
Sound and voice harmonize with each other;
Front and back follow each other.

Thus, the sage conducts affairs through take-no-action;
He spreads his doctrines through wordless teaching;
He lets all things grow without his initiation;
He nurtures all things but takes possession of nothing;
He promotes all things but lays no claim to his ability;
He accomplishes his work but takes no credit for his contribution.
It is because he takes no credit
That his accomplishment stays with him for ever.

Chapter 3
Try not to exalt the worthy,
So that the people shall not compete.
Try not to value rare treasures,
So that the people shall not steal.
Try not to display the desirable,
So that the people's hearts shall not be disturbed.
Therefore the sage governs the people by
Purifying their minds,
Filling their bellies,
Weakening their ambitions,
And strengthening their bones.
He always keeps them innocent of knowledge and desires,
And makes the crafty afraid to run risks.
He conducts affairs on the principle of take-no-action,
And everything will surely fall into order.

Chapter 4
The Dao is empty (like a bowl),
Its usefulness can never be exhausted.
The Dao is bottomless (like a valley),
Perhaps the ancestor of all things.
Invisible or formless, it appears non-existing
But actually it exists.
I don't know whose child it is at all.
It seems to have even preceded the Lord.


Chapter 1-4 | Chapter 5-12 | Chapter 13-18 | Chapter 19-23 | Chapter 24-28 | Chapter 29-35
Chapter 36-40 | Chapter 41-49 | Chapter 50-54 | Chapter 55-60 | Chapter 61-66
| Chapter 67-73 | Chapter 74-81 |




 

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