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Tao Te Ching  
by Lao-tzu (sixth century B.C.)
Peter Merel's Tao Te Ching 


1. The Way [The Tao] 
The Way that can be experienced is not true;
The world that can be constructed is not real. 
The Way manifests all that happens and may happen; 
The world represents all that exists and may exist. 
To experience without abstraction is to sense the world; 
To experience with abstraction is to know the world. 
These two experiences are indistinguishable; 
Their construction differs but their effect is the same.
Beyond the gate of experience flows the Way,
Which is ever greater and more subtle than the world. 

4. Limitless 
The Way is a limitless vessel; 
Used by the self, it is not filled by the world; 
It cannot be cut, knotted, dimmed or stilled; 
Its depths are hidden, ubiquitous and eternal; 
I don't know where it comes from; 
It comes before nature. 

7. Complete 
Nature is complete because it does not serve itself. 
The sage places himself after and finds himself before, 
ignores his desire and finds himself content. 
He is complete because he does not serve himself. 

10. Harmony 
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.

16. Decay and Renewal
Empty the self completely; 
Embrace perfect peace.  
The world will rise and move;  
Watch it return to rest.  
All the flourishing things will return to their source.  
This return is peaceful;  
It is the flow of nature, 
An eternal decay and renewal. 
Accepting this brings enlightenment, 
Ignoring this brings misery. 
Who accepts nature's flow becomes all-cherishing; 
Being all-cherishing he becomes impartial; 
Being impartial he becomes magnanimous; 
Being magnanimous he becomes natural; 
Being natural he becomes one with the Way; 
Being one with the Way he becomes immortal: 
Though his body will decay, the Way will not.

29. Ambition
Those who wish to change the world
According with their desire
Cannot succeed.
The world is shaped by the Way;
It cannot be shaped by the self.
Trying to change it, you damage it;
Trying to possess it, you lose it.
So some will lead, while others follow.
Some will be warm, others cold
Some will be strong, others weak.
Some will get where they are going
While others fall by the side of the road.
So the sage will be neither extravagant nor violent.

37. Tranquility
The Way takes no action, but leaves nothing undone.
When you accept this
The world will flourish,
In harmony with nature.
Nature does not possess desire;
Without desire, the heart becomes quiet;
In this manner the whole world is made tranquil.

34. Control
The Way flows and ebbs, creating and destroying,
Implementing all the world, attending to the tiniest details,
Claiming nothing in return.
It nurtures all things,
Though it does not control them;
It has no intention,
So it seems inconsequential.
It is the substance of all things;
Though it does not control them;
It has no exception,
So it seems all-important.
The sage would not control the world;
He is in harmony with the world.

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, completes,
Shelters, comforts, and makes a home for them.
Bearing without possessing,
Nurturing without taming,
Shaping without forcing,
This is harmony.


68. Compassion
Compassion is the finest weapon and best defence.
If you would establish harmony,
Compassion must surround you like a fortress.
A good soldier does not inspire fear;
A good fighter does not display aggression;
A good conqueror does not engage in battle;
A good leader does not exercise authority.
This is the value of unimportance;
This is how to win the cooperation of others;
This to how to build the same harmony that is in nature.




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