Excerpt A is a 1939 translation by Dwight Goddard. Excerpt B is a 1995 translation by Peter Merel. Excerpt C is from a translation by Charles Muller, revised in 2009. Excerpt D is a translated by James Legge, 1815–1897; used with permission. Excerpt E is from Tao Te Ching: Annotated and Explained (c) 2006. Translation, annotation, and introductory material by Derek Lin. Permission granted by SkyLight Paths Publishing, Woodstock, Vermont.
During the daytime, our senses are kept busy in activities, but if we keep our minds concentrated, we will better preserve their potentialities. If, in our practice of concentration, we preserve humility and tenderness and retain our natural breathing, we will become like a little child. If, in our practice of concentration, our minds retain their purity, we will be kept free from faults.
If the perfect Sage truly loves his people and wishes to bring his state into peace and order, he must practice wu-wei. If in our practice of concentration our heavenly eye is suddenly opened and we gain enlightenment, thenceforth we shall be free from lust and greed. If we attain transcendental intelligence, our minds penetrating into every corner and into everything, then our minds will lose their self-consciousness.
A father begets children and sustains them while they are growing, nevertheless his children are not to be considered as his personal property, nor is his care of them to be done for any hope of reward, nor should his parental authority continue after they have reached manhood. This is the profoundest virtue of TAO.
Embracing the Way, you become embraced;
Breathing gently, you become newborn;
Clearing your mind, you become clear;
Nurturing your children, you become impartial;
Opening your heart, you become accepted;
Accepting the world, you embrace the Way.
Bearing and nurturing,
Creating but not owning,
Giving without demanding,
This is harmony.
"Pacifying the agitated material soul..."
Pacifying the agitated material soul and holding to oneness:
Are you able to avoid separation?
Focusing your energy on the release of tension:
Can you be like an infant?
In purifying your insight:
Can you un-obstruct it?
Loving the people and ruling the state:
Can you avoid over-manipulation?
In opening and closing the gate of Heaven:
Can you be the female?
In illuminating the whole universe:
Can you be free of rationality?
Give birth to it and nourish it.
Produce it but don't possess it.
Act without expectation.
Excel, but don't take charge.
This is called Mysterious Virtue.
When the intelligent and animal souls are held together in one
embrace, they can be kept from separating. When one gives undivided
attention to the (vital) breath, and brings it to the utmost degree of
pliancy, he can become as a (tender) babe. When he has cleansed away
the most mysterious sights (of his imagination), he can become without
In loving the people and ruling the state, cannot he proceed
without any (purpose of) action? In the opening and shutting of his
gates of heaven, cannot he do so as a female bird? While his
intelligence reaches in every direction, cannot he (appear to) be
(The Tao) produces (all things) and nourishes them; it produces
them and does not claim them as its own; it does all, and yet does not
boast of it; it presides over all, and yet does not control them.
This is what is called "The mysterious Quality" (of the Tao).
In holding the soul and embracing oneness
Can one be steadfast, without straying?
In concentrating the energy and reaching relaxation
Can one be like an infant?
In cleaning away the worldly view
Can one be without imperfections?
In loving the people and ruling the nation
Can one be without manipulation?
In the heavenly gate's opening and closing
Can one hold to the feminine principle?
In understanding clearly all directions
Can one be without intellectuality?
Bearing it, rearing it
Bearing without possession
Achieving without arrogance
Raising without domination
This is called the Mystic Virtue.