Chapters 31 – 36


<< Dao De Jing / 道德經 >>

Chapter 31

夫兵者,不祥之器,物或恶之,故有道者不处。君子居则贵左,用兵则贵右。兵者不祥之器,非君子之器,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,以悲哀莅之,战胜以丧礼处之。

Weapons are the tools of violence
All decent men detest them
Followers of Tao refrain from using them
Except in the direst necessity
And only with utmost restraint
Peace is their highest value
They know the enemies are just humans like themselves
They don’t wish personal harm to the enemies
Nor do they rejoice in victory
For how could they delight in the slaughter of men?

Therefore, they enter a battle gravely
With sorrow and with compassion
As if attending a funeral


Chapter 32

道常无名,朴。虽小,天下莫能臣。候王若能守之,万物将自宾。天地相合,以降甘露,民莫之令而自均。始制有名,名亦既有,夫亦将知止,知止可以不殆。譬道之在天下,犹川谷之于江海。

The Tao is undefined, smaller than an electron
Yet it contains all the galaxies
If kings and lords could harness it
All things would come together in harmony
All people would need no instruction but live in peace

When the whole is divided, you have names for the parts
You must know they are provisional
And you must know when to stop
When you have institutions
You must know where their functions should end
Thus you can avert trouble and danger

All things end in the Tao
As rivers flowing home to the sea


Chapter 33

知人者智,自知者明。胜人者有力,自胜者强。知足者富,强行者有志,不失其所者久,死而不亡者寿。

Knowing others is intelligence
Knowing oneself is wisdom
Mastering others is strength
Mastering oneself is power

If you are content
You are truly rich
If you are determined
You are invincible
If you focus on your center
You can endure anything
If you embrace death as new birth
You live forever


Chapter 34

大道汜兮,其可左右。万物恃之以生而不辞,功成而不有。衣养万物而不为主,常无欲,可名于小;万物归焉而不为主,可名为大。以其终不自为大,故能成其大。

The Great Tao flows everywhere, both to the left and to the right
Infinite things depend on it; it does not deny them
It works silently, making no claim
It nourishes everything, yet possessing nothing
Having no purpose or passion, it may be considered small
Yet all things return to it
Calling it home, it may be considered great
To the end it does not claim greatness
Thus it is truly great


Chapter 35

执大象,天下往。往而不害,安平太。乐与饵,过客止,道之出口,淡乎其无味,视之不足见,听之不足闻,用之不足既。

She who is centered in the Tao
Can go wherever she wishes safely
For she has found peace and joy in her heart

Music and good food
May make passersby stop and enjoy
While words that point to the Tao
Seem mild and flavorless
It can’t be seen, it can’t be heard
Yet when you apply it
Its supply is inexhaustible


Chapter 36

将欲歙之,必固张之;将欲弱之,必固强之;将欲废之,必固兴之;将欲取之,必固与之。是谓微明,柔弱胜刚强。鱼不可脱于渊,国之利器不可以示人。

If you want to shrink something
   You must first allow it to expand
If you want to weaken something
   You must first allow it to be strong
If you want to root out something
   You must first let it shoot up
If you want to take something
   You must first give something
   – This is the Subtle Light, the way things are

Gentleness overcomes strength:
   Fish should be left in the deep pool,
   And sharp weapons of the state should be left
      Where none can see them.

The soft overcomes the hard, the slow outruns the fast
Fish should be left in deep pool; weapons should be stored where nobody knows
Let your workings remain a mystery
Just show people the results