1

The Tao that can be discussed is not really the Tao. Things in the world are only temporary reflections of Tao. The flow of Tao is all that really exists. Our language and beliefs and categories Are only fabrications which help us make sense of its flow. In order to …

2

Once beauty is identified as precious, Ugliness is seen everywhere. Once the good is held up as an ideal, The commonplace is considered bad. Difficult and easy, Long and short, High and Low, Sound and Silence, Before and After— Each of them are complementary parts of a bigger unity, But …

3

Exalting our superiors invites competition. Treasuring things that are difficult to obtain encourages theft. Flaunting objects of desire gives rise to jealousy. So the sage rules by: Relaxing the people’s hearts, Satisfying their needs, Lessening their wants, And strengthening their character. Once he has shown people how to live without …

4

Tao is an empty vessel Yet everything comes from it. Though utterly fathomless, It gives rise to everything we perceive It smooths sharp edges, It unties the knots, It softens the glare, And settles the dirt of daily life. Profoundly patient, It seems to have been around forever. No one …

5

Nature is unsentimental— It treats the living no different than it treats debris. Sages are the same: They evaluate everyone impartially. Nature is like a bellows— It is empty and yet everything springs from it. The more pressure put on it, the more it creates. Man is not like this— …

6

The fountain of life which never ceases to flow Can be thought of as a mysterious sort of womb. The entrance to this profound mother is the origin of the world. Her presence stretches in all directions, across all time and space. She seems to give birth without exerting the …

7

Why is Nature eternal and enduring? Because it does not have any ends. Because it lacks any goals, Nature can never fail to succeed. Understanding this, The sage also refuses to contend or compete. By placing himself in the back, He soon finds himself out in front. Because he doesn’t …

8

It is best to be like water Water benefits all things, Yet it does not contend, nor struggle to do so. Water naturally goes places shunned by most people, Therefore water is very similar to Tao. Because it dwells even in low places, it is of benefit to all— Even …

9

Man is oriented toward excess, But greed puts a strain on systems, Destroying them. An oversharpened blade will be broken An overflowing vault will be vanquished An overvalued ego will be brought down. Do what is necessary, take what you need, And then get out of the way. This is …

10

Can you embrace both the abstract and the concrete, And see them as two sides of the same oneness? This will help you maintain integrity And avoid internal contradiction. Meditating upon, and subtilizing your inner energy Allows you to become as pure and receptive as a newborn. Examining your perceptions …