Chapters 13 – 18


<< Dao De Jing / 道德經 >>

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。

Praise is as treacherous as blame

It is not a well-balanced and grounded position either up or down

Hope is as illusional as fear

They both arise from clinging to the self

When we don’t see the self as a separate entity

What do we have to fear?

Treat the world the way you treasure your body

As if the world is your sole responsibility

See the world as precious as your body

Then everything will work out just fine


Chapter 14

视之不见名曰夷,听之不闻名曰希,搏之不得名曰微。此三者不可致诘,故混而为一。其上不皦,其下不昧。绳绳不可名,复归于无物,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。 

Look and it can’t be seen, which is called the invisible

Listen and it can’t be heard, which is called the inaudible

Reach and it can’t be grasped, which is called the intangible

These three are indefinable, therefore they are joined as the One

From above it is not bright

From below it is not dark

A seamless state beyond description and definition

Simply it returns to nothingness

The form of the formless that includes all forms

The image without an image, subtle and elusive, beyond all conception and imagination

Stand before it and you see no beginning

Follow it and you find no end

Stay with the ancient Dao, be in the present

Realizing where you come from is the essence of wisdom


Chapter 15

古之善为士者,微妙玄通,深不可识。夫唯不可识,故强为之容。豫焉若冬涉川,犹兮若畏四邻,俨兮其若容,涣兮若冰之将释,敦兮其若朴,旷兮其若谷,混兮其若浊。孰能浊以静之徐清?孰能安以久动之徐生?保此道者不欲盈,夫唯不盈,故能蔽不新成。

The ancient Masters were profound and subtle

The depth of their realization is unfathomable

There is no way to describe it; all we can describe is the appearance

Ever so careful, they’re like someone treading on iced-over stream in winter

Ever so alert, like a warrior being aware of danger on all sides

Always courteous, like a guest

Readily yielding, like melting ice

Unadorned, like uncarved wood

Open and receptive, like a valley

Undifferentiated and impartial, like muddy water

Can you wait quietly while your mud settles?

Can you remain still till the moment of action arises by itself?

Masters of the Dao don’t seek fulfillment

Not seeking fulfillment, they are not constantly swayed by desire for change


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,是谓复命。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,没身不殆。

Empty yourself of everything

Let the mind become still

Watch the turmoil and unrest of beings

Contemplating their eventual return

Returning to the source is quiet and peace

If you don’t realize the source

You keep stumbling in confusion and sorrow

Once you realize the source

You naturally become openminded and tolerant

Dispassionate yet compassionate

Being at one with the Dao

You can deal with whatever life brings you

And when death comes, you are ready

For although the body dies, the Dao forever lasts


Chapter 17

太上,下知有之。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。

The best leader is one whose existence is subtly known

The second best is one who is loved and praised

Then comes the one who is feared

Worse than that is the one who is despised

If you don’t trust the people

You yourself is not trustworthy

The best leader doesn’t talk incessantly

When his/her work is done, the people say, “How amazing, we did it!”


Chapter 18

大道废,有仁义;慧智出,有大伪;六亲不和,有孝慈;国家昏乱,有忠臣。

When people deviate from the Dao

The doctrine of ‘righteousness’ and ‘morality’ emerges

When intelligence and cleverness come into being

Great hypocrisy follows on the heels

When family relationships are off balance

There comes the advocacy of filial piety

When the country falls into chaos

Patriotism is born