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Tao Te Ching Chapter 28 | Lao-Tzu | Comparative Translations

The Way of Virtue





Who knows his manhood's strength,

Yet still his female feebleness maintains;

As to one channel flow the many drains,

All come to him, yea, all beneath the sky.

Thus he the constant excellence retains;

The simple child again, free from all stains.


Who knows how white attracts,

Yet always keeps himself within black's shade,

The pattern of humility displayed,

Displayed in view of all beneath the sky;

He in the unchanging excellence arrayed,

Endless return to man's first state has made.


Who knows how glory shines,

Yet loves disgrace, nor e'er for it is pale;

Behold his presence in a spacious vale,

To which men come from all beneath the sky.

The unchanging excellence completes its tale;

The simple infant man in him we hail.


The unwrought material, when divided and distributed, forms vessels. The sage, when employed, becomes the Head of all the Officers (of government); and in his greatest regulations he employs no violent measures.

Know the male,

yet keep to the female:

receive the world in your arms.

If you receive the world,

the Tao will never leave you

and you will be like a little child.


Know the white,

yet keep to the black:

be a pattern for the world.

If you are a pattern for the world,

the Tao will be strong inside you

and there will be nothing you can't do.


Know the personal,

yet keep to the impersonal:

accept the world as it is.

If you accept the world,

the Tao will be luminous inside you

and you will return to your primal self.


The world is formed from the void,

like utensils from a block of wood.

The Master knows the utensils,

yet keeps to the the block:

thus she can use all things.




Translated by J. Legge





Translated by Stephen Mitchell















 

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