The Translation of Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu

Tao Te Ching

By Lao Tzu

Translated by Lin Yu Tang

《道德经》汉英对照(林语堂 译本)

道德经

老子 著

林语堂 英译

一章 Chapter 1

道,可道,非恒道。名,可名,非恒名。无名,天地之始;有名,万物之母。故常无欲,以观其妙;常有欲,以观其徼。此两者同出而异名,

同谓之玄。玄之又玄,众妙之门。

The Tao that can be told ofIs not the Absolute Tao;The Names that can be givenAre not Absolute Names.

The Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth;The Named is the Mother of All Things.

Therefore:Oftentimes, one strips oneself of passionIn order to see the Secret of Life;Oftentimes, one regards life with passion,In order to see its manifest forms.

These two (the Secret and its manifestations)Are (in their nature) the same;They are given different namesWhen they become manifest.

They may both be called the Cosmic Mystery:Reaching from the Mystery into the Deeper MysteryIs the Gate to the Secret of All Life.

二章 Chapter 2

天下皆知美之为美,斯恶已;皆知善之为善,斯不善矣。有无相生,难易相成,长短相形,高下相盈,音声相和,前后相随,恒也。是以圣人

处无为之事,行不言之教,万物作而弗始,生而弗有,为而弗恃,功成而弗居。夫唯弗居,是以不去。

When the people of the Earth all know beauty as beauty,There arises (the recognition of) ugliness.When the people of the Earth all know the good as good,There arises (the recognition of) evil.

Therefore:Being and non-being interdepend in growth;Difficult and easy interdepend in completion;Long and short interdepend in contrast;High and low interdepend in position;Tones and voice interdepend in harmony;Front and behind interdepend in company.

Therefore the Sage:Manages affairs without action;Preaches the doctrine without words;All things take their rise, but he does not turn away from them;He gives them life, but does not take possession of them;He acts, but does not appropriate;Accomplishes, but claims no credit.It is because he lays claim to no creditThat the credit cannot be taken away from him.

三章 Chapter 3

不尚贤,使民不争;不贵难得之货,使民不为盗;不见可欲,使民心不乱。是以圣人之治,虚其心,实其腹;弱其志,强其骨。常使民无知无

欲。使夫知不敢弗为而已,则无不治。

Exalt not the wise,So that the people shall not scheme and contend;Prize not rare objects,So that the people shall not steal;Shut out from site the things of desire,So that the people’s hearts shall not be disturbed.

Therefore in the government of the Sage:He keeps empty their heartsMakes full their bellies,Discourages their ambitions,Strengthens their frames;So that the people may be innocent of knowledge and desires.And the cunning ones shall not presume to interfere.By action without deedsMay all live in peace.

四章 Chapter 4

道冲,而用之或不盈。渊兮,似万物之宗。挫其锐,解其纷,和其光,同其尘。湛兮,似或存。吾不知谁之子,象帝之先。

Tao is a hollow vessel,And its use is inexhaustible!Fathomless!Like the fountain head of all things,Its sharp edges rounded off,Its tangles untied,Its light tempered,Its turmoil submerged,Yet dark like deep water it seems to remain.I do not know whose Son it it,An image of what existed before God.

五章 Chapter 5

天地不仁,以万物为刍狗;圣人不仁,以百姓为刍狗。天地之间,其犹橐龠乎?虚而不屈,动而愈出。多闻数穷,不如守中。

Nature is unkind:It treats the creation like sacrificial straw-dogs.The Sage is unkind:He treats the people like sacrificial straw-dogs.

How the universe is like a bellows!Empty, yet it gives a supply that never fails;The more it is worked, the more it brings forth.

By many words is wit exhausted.Rather, therefore, hold to the core.

六章 Chapter 6

谷神不死,是谓玄牝。玄牝之门,是谓天地根。绵绵若存,用之不勤。

The Spirit of the Valley never dies.It is called the Mystic Female.The Door of the Mystic FemaleIs the root of Heaven and Earth.

Continuously, continuously,It seems to remain.Draw upon itAnd it serves you with ease.

七章 Chapter 7

天长地久。天地所以能长且久者,以其不自生,故能长生。是以圣人后其身而身先,外其身而身存。不以其无私邪?故能成其私。

The universe is everlasting.The reason the universe is everlastingIs that it does not life for Self.Therefore it can long endure.

Therefore the Sage puts himself last,And finds himself in the foremost place;Regards his body as accidental,And his body is thereby preserved.Is it not because he does not live for SelfThat his Self is realized?

八章 Chapter 8

上善若水。水善利万物而不争,居众人之所恶,故几于道。居善地,心善渊,与善仁,言善信,政善治,事善能,动善时。夫唯不争,故无尤

The best of men is like water;Water benefits all thingsAnd does not compete with them.It dwells in (the lowly) places that all disdain -Wherein it comes near to the Tao.

In his dwelling, (the Sage) loves the (lowly) earth;In his heart, he loves what is profound;In his relations with others, he loves kindness;In his words, he loves sincerity;In government, he loves peace;In business affairs, he loves ability;In hi actions, he loves choosing the right time.It is because he does not contendThat he is without reproach.

九章 Chapter 9

持而盈之,不如其已。揣而锐之,不可长保。金玉满堂,莫之能守。富贵而骄,自遗其咎。功遂身退,天下之道。

Stretch (a bow) to the very full,And you will wish you had stopped in time.Temper a (sword-edge) to its very sharpest,And the edge will not last long.When gold and jade fill your hall,You will not be able to keep them safe.To be proud with wealth and honorIs to sow seeds of one’s own downfall.Retire when your work is done,Such is Heaven’s way.

十章 Chapter 10

载营魄抱一,能无离乎?专气致柔,能如婴儿乎?修除玄览,能无疵乎?爱民治国,能无智乎?天门开阖,能为雌乎?明白四达,能无知乎?

生之、畜之,生而不有,长而不宰。是为玄德。

In embracing the One with your soul,Can you never forsake the Tao?In controlling your vital force to achieve gentleness,Can you become like the new-born child?In cleansing and purifying your Mystic vision,Can you strive after perfection?In loving the people and governing the kingdom,Can you rule without interference?In opening and shutting the Gate of Heaven,Can you play the part of the Female?In comprehending all knowledge,Can you renounce the mind?

十一章 Chapter 11

三十辐共一毂,当其无,有车之用。埏埴以为器,当其无,有器之用。凿户牖以为室,当其无,有室之用。故有之以为利,无之以为用。

Thirty spokes unite around the nave;From their not-being (loss of their individuality)Arises the utility of the wheel.Mold clay into a vessel;From its not-being (in the vessel’s hollow)Arises the utility of the vessel.Cut out doors and windows in the house (-wall),From their not-being (empty space) arises the utilityof the house.Therefore by the existence of things we profit.And by the non-existence of things we are served.

十二章 Chapter 12

五色令人目盲;五音令人耳聋;五味令人口爽;驰骋畋猎,令人心发狂;难得之货,令人行妨。是以圣人为腹不为目,故去彼取此。

The five colors blind the eyes of man;The five musical notes deafen the ears of man;The five flavors dull the taste of man;Horse-racing, hunting and chasing madden the minds of man;Rare, valuable goods keep their owners awake at night.

Therefore the Sage:Provides for the belly and not the eye.Hence, he rejects the one and accepts the other.

十三章 Chapter 13

宠辱若惊,贵大患若身。何谓宠辱若惊?宠为下,得之若惊,失之若惊,是谓宠辱若惊。何谓贵大患若身?吾所以有大患者,为吾有身,及吾

无身,吾有何患?故贵以身为天下,若可寄天下;爱以身为天下,若可托天下。

“Favor and disgrace cause one dismay;What we value and what we fear are within our Self.”

What does this mean:”Favor and disgrace cause one dismay?”Those who receive a favor from aboveAre dismayed when they receive it,And dismayed when they lose it.

What does this mean:”What we value and what we fear are within our Self?”We have fears because we have a self.When we do not regard that self as self,What have we to fear?

Therefore he who values the world as his selfMay then be entrusted with the government of the world;And he who loves the world as his self -The world may then be entrusted to his care.

十四章 Chapter 14

视之不见,名曰微;听之不闻,名曰希;搏之不得,名曰夷。此三者,不可致诘,故混而为一。其上不皎,其下不昧,绳绳兮不可名,复归于

物。是谓无状之状,无物之象,是谓惚恍。迎之不见其首,随之不见其后。执古之道,以御今之有。能知古始,是谓道纪。

Looked at, but cannot be seen -That is called the Invisible (yi).Listened to, but cannot be heard -That is called the Inaudible (hsi).Grasped at, but cannot be touched -That is called the Intangible (wei).These three elude our inquiriesAnd hence blend and become One.

Not by its rising, is there light,Nor by its sinking, is there darkness.Unceasing, continuous,It cannot be defined,And reverts again to the realm of nothingness.

That is why it is called the Form of the Formless,The Image of Nothingness.That is why it is called the Elusive:Meet it and you do not see its face;Follow it and you do not see its back.

十五章 Chapter 15

古之善为道者,微妙玄通,深不可识。夫唯不可识,故强为之容:豫兮,若冬涉川;犹兮,若畏四邻;俨兮,其若客;涣兮,其若凌释;敦兮

,其若朴;旷兮,其若谷;混兮,其若浊。孰能浊以止?静之徐清。孰能安以久?动之徐生。保此道者,不欲盈。夫唯不盈,故能蔽而新成。

The wise ones of old had subtle wisdom and depth ofunderstanding,So profound that they could not be understood.And because they could not be understood,Perforce must they be so described:Cautious, like crossing a wintry stream,Irresolute, like one fearing danger all around,Grave, like one acting as guest,Self-effacing, like ice beginning to melt,Genuine, like a piece of undressed wood,Open-minded, like a valley,And mixing freely, like murky water.

Who can find repose in a muddy world?By lying still, it becomes clear.Who can maintain his calm for long?By activity, it comes back to life.

He who embraces this TaoGuards against being over-full.Because he guards against being over-full,He is beyond wearing out and renewal.

十六章 Chapter 16

致虚极,守静笃。万物并作,吾以观复。夫物芸芸,各复归其根。归根曰静,静曰复命。复命曰常,知常曰明。不知常,妄作,凶。知常容,

容乃公,公乃王,王乃天,天乃道,道乃久,殁身不殆。

Attain the utmost in Passivity,Hold firm to the basis of Quietude.

The myriad things take shape and rise to activity,But I watch them fall back to their repose.Like vegetation that luxuriantly growsBut returns to the root (soil) from which it springs.

To return to the root is Repose;It is called going back to one’s Destiny.Going back to one’s Destiny is to find the Eternal Law.To know the Eternal Law is Enlightenment.And not to know the Eternal LawIs to court disaster.

He who knows the Eternal Law is tolerant;Being tolerant, he is impartial;Being impartial, he is kingly;Being kingly, he is in accord with Nature;Being in accord with Nature, he is in accord with Tao;Being in accord with Tao, he is eternal,And his whole life is preserved from harm.

十七章 Chapter 17

太上,不知有之;其次,亲而誉之;其次,畏之;其次,侮之。信不足焉,有不信焉。悠兮,其贵言。功成事遂,百姓皆谓:「我自然」。

Of the best rulersThe people (only) know that they exist;The next best the love and praise;The next they fear;And the next they revile.

When they do not command the people’s faith,Some will lose faith in them,And then they resort to oaths!But (of the best) when their task is accomplished,their work done,The people all remark, “We have done it ourselves.”

 

十八章 Chapter 18

大道废,有仁义;智慧出,有大伪;六亲不和,有孝慈;国家昏乱,有忠臣。

On the decline of the great Tao,The doctrine of “humanity” and “justice” arose.When knowledge and cleverness appeared,Great hypocrisy followed in its wake.

When the six relationships no longer lived at peace,There was (praise of) “kind parents” and “filial sons.”

When a country fell into chaos and misrule,There was (praise of) “loyal ministers.”

十九章 Chapter 19

绝圣弃智,民利百倍;绝仁弃义,民复孝慈;绝巧弃利,盗贼无有。此三者以为文,不足。故令有所属:见素抱朴,少思寡欲,绝学无忧。

Banish wisdom, discard knowledge,And the people shall profit a hundredfold;Banish “humanity,” discard “justice,”And the people shall recover love of their kin;Banish cunning, discard “utility,”And the thieves and brigands shall disappear.As these three touch the externals and are inadequate,The people have need of what they can depend upon:

Reveal thy simple self,Embrace thy original nature,Check thy selfishness,Curtail thy desires.

二十章 Chapter 20

唯之与阿,相去几何?美之与恶,相去若何?人之所畏,不可不畏。荒兮,其未央哉!众人熙熙,如享太牢,如春登台。我独泊兮,其未兆;

沌沌兮,如婴儿之未孩;儡儡兮,若无所归。众人皆有馀,而我独若遗。我愚人之心也哉,沌沌兮!俗人昭昭,我独昏昏。俗人察察,我独闷

闷。淡兮,其若海,望兮,若无止。众人皆有以,而我独顽似鄙。我独异于人,而贵食母。

Banish learning, and vexations end.Between “Ah!” and “Ough!”How much difference is there?Between “good” and “evil”How much difference is there?”That which men fearIs indeed to be feared;But, alas, distant yet is the dawn (of awakening)!

The people of the world are merry-making,As if partaking of the sacrificial feasts,As if mounting the terrace in spring;I alone am mild, like one unemployed,Like a new-born babe that cannot yet smile,Unattached, like one without a home.

The people of the world have enough and to spare,But I am like one left out,My heart must be that of a fool,Being muddled, nebulous!

The vulgar are knowing, luminous;I alone am dull, confused.The vulgar are clever, self-assured;I alone, depressed.Patient as the sea,Adrift, seemingly aimless.

The people of the world all have a purpose;I alone appear stubborn and uncouth.I alone differ from the other people,And value drawing sustenance from the Mother.

二十一章 Chapter 21

孔德之容,惟道是从。道之为物,惟恍惟惚。惚兮恍兮,其中有象;恍兮惚兮,其中有物;窈兮冥兮,其中有精;其精甚真,其中有信。自今

及古,其名不去,以阅众甫。吾何以知众甫之状哉?以此。

The marks of great CharacterFollow alone from the Tao.

The thing that is called TaoIs elusive, evasive.Evasive, elusive,Yet latent in it are forms.Elusive, evasive,Yet latent in it are objects.Dark and dim,Yet latent in it is the life-force.The life-force being very true,Latent in it are evidences.

From the days of old till nowIts Named (manifested forms) have never ceased,By which we may view the Father of All Things.How do I know the shape of the Father of All Things?Through these (manifested forms)!

二十二章 Chapter 22

「曲则全,枉则直,洼则盈,敝则新,少则得,多则惑。」是以圣人抱一为天下式。不自见,故明;不自是,故彰;不自伐,故有功;不自矜

,故长。夫唯不争,故天下莫能与之争。古之所谓「曲则全」者,岂虚言哉!诚全而归之。

To yield is to be preserved whole.To be bent is to become straight.To be hollow is to be filled.To be tattered is to be renewed.To be in want is to possess.To have plenty is to be confused.

Therefore the Sage embraces the One,And becomes the model of the world.He does not reveal himself,And is therefore luminous.He does not justify himself,And is therefore far-famed.He does not boast of himself,And therefore people give him credit.He does not pride himself,And is therefore the chief among men.

Is it not indeed true, as the ancients say,”To yield is to be preserved whole?”Thus he is preserved and the world does him homage.

二十三章 Chapter 23

希言自然。故飘风不终朝,骤雨不终日。孰为此者?天地。天地尚不能久,而况于人乎?故从事于道者,同于道;德者,同于德;失者,同于

失。同于道者,道亦乐得之;同于德者,德亦乐得之;同于失者,失亦乐得之。信不足焉,有不信焉。

Nature says few words:Hence it is that a squall lasts not a whole morning.A rainstorm continues not a whole day.Where do they come from?From Nature.Even Nature does not last long (in its utterances),How much less should human beings?

Therefore it is that:He who follows the Tao is identified with the Tao.He who follows Character (Teh) is identified withCharacter.He who abandons (Tao) is identified with abandonment (ofTao).He who is identified with Tao -Tao is also glad to welcome him.He who is identified with character -Character is also glad to welcome him.He who is identified with abandonment -Abandonment is also glad t welcome him.He who has not enough faithWill not be able to command faith from others.

二十四章 Chapter 24

企者不立;跨者不行;自见者不明;自是者不彰;自伐者无功;自矜者不长。其在道也,曰馀食赘形,物或恶之,故有道者不居。

He who stands on tiptoe does not stand (firm);He who strains his strides does not walk (well);He who reveals himself is not luminous;He who justifies himself is not far-famed;He who boasts of himself is not given credit;He who prides himself is not chief among men.These in the eyes of TaoAre called “the dregs and tumors of Virtue,”Which are things of disgust.Therefore the man of Tao spurns them.

二十五章 Chapter 25

有物混成,先天地生。寂兮寥兮,独立而不改,周行而不殆,可以为天地母。吾不知其名,字之曰道,强为之名曰大。大曰逝,逝曰远,远曰

反。故道大,天大,地大,人亦大。域中有四大,而人居其一焉。人法地,地法天,天法道,道法自然。

Before the Heaven and Earth existedThere was something nebulous:Silent, isolated,Standing alone, changing not,Eternally revolving without fail,Worthy to be the Mother of All Things.I do not know its nameAnd address it as Tao.If forced to give it a name, I shall call it “Great.”Being great implies reaching out in space,Reaching out in space implies far-reaching,Far-reaching implies reversion to the original point.

Therefore:Tao is Great,The Heaven is great,The Earth is great,The King is also great.There are the Great Four in the universe,And the King is one of them.

Man models himself after the Earth;The Earth models itself after Heaven;The Heaven models itself after Tao;Tao models itself after nature.

二十六章 Chapter 26

重为轻根,静为躁君。是以君子终日行不离辎重。虽有荣观,燕处超然。奈何万乘之主,而以身轻天下?轻则失根,躁则失君。

The Solid is the root of the light;The Quiescent is the master of the Hasty.

Therefore the Sage travels all dayYet never leaves his provision-cart.In the midst of honor and glory,He lives leisurely, undisturbed.

How can the ruler of a great countryMake light of his body in the empire (by rushing about)?In light frivolity, the Center is lost;In hasty action, self-mastery is lost.

二十七章 Chapter 27

善行,无辙迹;善言,无瑕谪;善数,不用筹策;善闭,无关楗而不可开;善结,无绳约而不可解。是以圣人常善救人,故无弃人;常善救物

,故无弃物。是谓神明。故善人者,不善人之师;不善人者,善人之资。不贵其师,不爱其资,虽智大迷。是谓要妙。

A good runner leaves no track.A good speech leaves no flaws for attack.A good reckoner makes use of no counters.A well-shut door makes use of no bolts,And yet cannot be opened.A well-tied knot makes use of no rope,And yet cannot be untied.

Therefore the Sage is good at helping men;For that reason there is no rejected (useless) person.He is good at saving things;For that reason there is nothing rejected.- This is called stealing the Light.

Therefore the good man is the Teacher of the bad.And the bad man is the lesson of the good.

He who neither values his teacherNor loves the lessonIs one gone far astray,Though he be learned.- Such is the subtle secret.

二十八章 Chapter 28

知其雄,守其雌,为天下溪。为天下溪,常德不离。常德不离,复归于婴儿。知其荣,守其辱,为天下谷。为天下谷,常德乃足。常德乃足,

复归于朴。知其白,守其黑,为天下式。为天下式,常德不忒。常德不忒,复归于无极。朴散则为器,圣人用之,则为官长。故大制无割。

He who is aware of the MaleBut keeps to the FemaleBecomes the ravine of the world.Being the ravine of the world,He has the original character (teh) which is notcut up.And returns again to the (innocence of the) babe.

He who is conscious of the white (bright)But keeps to the black (dark)Becomes the model for the world.Being the model for the world,He has the eternal power which never errs,And returns again to the Primordial Nothingness.

He who is familiar with honor and gloryBut keeps to obscurityBecomes the valley of the world.Being the valley of the world,He has an eternal power which always suffices,And returns again to the natural integrity of uncarvedwood.

Break up this uncarved woodAnd it is shaped into vesselIn the hands of the SageThey become the officials and magistrates.Therefore the great ruler does not cut up.

二十九章 Chapter 29

将欲取天下而为之,吾见其不得已。天下神器,不可为也。为者败之,执者失之。物,或行或随,或嘘或吹,或强或羸,或挫或隳。是以圣人

去甚,去奢,去泰。

There are those who will conquer the worldAnd make of it (what they conceive or desire).I see that they will not succeed.(For) the world is God’s own VesselIt cannot be made (by human interference).He who makes it spoils it.He who holds it loses it.For: Some things go forward,Some things follow behind;some blow hot,And some blow cold;Some are strong,And some are weak;Some may break,And some may fall.Hence the Sage eschews excess, eschews extravagance,Eschews pride.

三十章 Chapter 30

以道佐人主者,不以兵强天下,其事好还:师之所居,荆棘生焉。大军之后,必有凶年。善有果而已,不以取强。果而勿矜,果而勿伐,果而

勿骄,果而不得已,果而勿强。物壮则老,是谓不道,不道早已。

He who by Tao purposes to help the ruler of menWill oppose all conquest by force of arms.For such things are wont to rebound.Where armies are, thorns and brambles grow.The raising of a great hostIs followed by a year of dearth.

Therefore a good general effects his purpose and stops.He dares not rely upon the strength of arms;Effects his purpose and does not glory in it;Effects his purpose and does not boast of it;Effects his purpose and does not take pride in it;Effects his purpose as a regrettable necessity;Effects his purpose but does not love violence.(For) things age after reaching their prime.That (violence) would be against the Tao.And he who is against the Tao perishes young.

三十一章 Chapter 31

夫兵者,不祥之器。物或恶之,故有道者不居。君子居则贵左,用兵则贵右,故兵者非君子之器。不祥之器,不得已而用之,恬淡为上。胜而

不美,而美之者,是乐杀人。夫乐杀人者,则不可得志于天下矣。吉事尚左,凶事尚右。偏将军居左,上将军居右,言以丧礼处之。杀人之众

,以悲哀泣之,战胜以丧礼处之。

Of all things, soldiers are instruments of evil,Hated by men.Therefore the religious man (possessed of Tao) avoids them.The gentleman favors the left in civilian life,But on military occasions favors the right.

Soldiers are weapons of evil.They are not the weapons of the gentleman.When the use of soldiers cannot be helped,The best policy is calm restraint.

Even in victory, there is no beauty,And who calls it beautifulIs one who delights in slaughter.He who delights in slaughterWill not succeed in his ambition to rule the world.

[The things of good omen favor the left.The things of ill omen favor the right.The lieutenant-general stands on the left,The general stands on the right.That is to say, it is celebrated as a Funeral Rite.]

The slaying of multitudes should be mourned with sorrow.A victory should be celebrated with the Funeral Rite.

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