Tao Te Ching
Book One & Two
If you would have a thing shrink,
You must first stretch it;
If you would have a thing weakened,
You must first strengthen it;
If you would have a thing laid aside,
You must first set it up;
If you would take from a thing,
You must first give to it.
This is called subtle discernment:
The submissive and weak will overcome the hard and strong.
The fish must not be allowed to leave the deep;
The instruments of power in a state must not be revealed to anyone.
The way never acts yet nothing is left undone.
Should lords and princes be able to hold fast to it,
The myriad creatures will be transformed of their own accord.
After they are transformed, should desire raise its head,
I shall press it down with the weight of the nameless uncarved block.
The nameless uncarved block
Is but freedom from desire,
And if I cease to desire and remain still,
The empire will be at peace of its own accord.
A man of the highest virtue does not keep to virtue and that is why he has virtue. A man of the lowest virtue never strays from virtue and that is why he is without virtue. The former never acts yet leaves nothing undone. The latter acts but there are things left undone. A man of the highest benevolence acts, but from no ulterior motive. A man of the highest rectitude acts, but from ulterior motive. A man most conversant in the rites acts, but when no one responds rolls up his sleeves and resorts to persuasion by force.
Hence when the way was lost there was virtue; when virtue was lost there was benevolence; when benevolence was lost there was rectitude; when rectitude was lost there were the rites.
The rites are the wearing thin of loyalty and good faith
And the beginning of disorder;
Foreknowledge is the flowery embellishment of the way
And the beginning of folly.
Hence the man of large mind abides in the thick not in the thin, in the fruit not in the flower.
Therefore he discards the one and takes the other.
Of old, these came to be in possession of the One:
Heaven in virtue of the One is limpid;
Earth in virtue of the One is settled;
Gods in virtue of the One have their potencies;
The valley in virtue of the One is full;
The myriad creatures in virtue of the One are alive;
Lords and princes in virtue of the One become leaders in the empire.
It is the One that makes these what they are.
Without what makes it limpid heaven might split;
Without what makes it settled earth might sink;
Without what gives them their potencies gods might spend themselves;
Without what makes it full the valley might run dry;
Without what keeps them alive the myriad creatures might perish;
Without what makes them leaders lords and princes might fall.
Hence the superior must have the inferior as root; the high must have the low as base.
Thus lords and princes refer to themselves as 'solitary', 'desolate', and 'hapless'. This is taking the inferior as root, is it not?
Hence the highest renown is without renown,
Not wishing to be one among many like jade
Nor to be aloof like stone.
Turning back is how the way moves;
Weakness is the means the way employs.
The myriad creatures in the world are born from Something, and Something from Nothing.
...Excerpt from the Tao Te Ching
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Daily Words of Wisdom
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