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Introduction to the Dao De Jing [Tao Te Ching]

by Lao Zi [Lao Tzu]

Its many riddle-like poems are famously obscure. However, once you can interpret them you'll find that it is actually a very practical philosophy book that dispenses timeless wisdom about leadership qualities and interpersonal relationships ...and maybe the Theory of Everything. Perhaps Steven Hawkins is looking in the wrong place...

The Dao De Jing consists of 81 chapters. It can be read from the first to the last chapter as a typical book but it is ot necessary to do so. In any event, true understanding will require multiple readings. For this reason, in addition to the Next and Previous page buttons we have provided a Random button which will take you to a randomly chapter.

Notes on the Translations

The complete text of the Dao De Jing is presented here side-by-side with three different translations. Translation is an inherently difficult task not just because of the difficulty of translationg words without exact equivalents but also because translators tend to overlay their own religious and social contexts on the translated work. It is hoped that by presented these three translations side-by-side the reader could better determine the true meaning of the original text. The sources of the three translations are:

To aid current bilingual readers, we have replaced the transliterated Chinese names from their original romanization to Pinyin.

  Chinese Title Legge's Title Susuki's Title Goddard's Title
1 Embodying the Dao Reason's Realization What is the Dao?
2 The Nourishment of the Person Self-Culture Self Development
3 Keeping the People at Rest Keeping the People Quiet Quieting People
4 The Fountainless Sourceless Tao, Without Origin
5 The Use of Emptiness The Function of Emptiness Impartiality
6 The Completion of Material Forms The Completion of Form The Infinitude of Creative Effort
7 Sheathing the Light Dimming Radiance Humility
8 The Placid and Contented Nature Easy By Nature The Nature of Goodness
9 Fullness and Complacency Contrary to the Dao Practising Placidity Moderation
10 Possibilities through the Dao What Can Be Done? What is Possible?
11 The Use of What Has No Substantive Existence The Function of the Non-Existent The Value of Non-Existence
12 The Repression of the Desires Abstaining From Desire. Avoiding Desire
13 Loathing Shame Loathing Shame Loathing Shame
14 The Manifestation of the Mystery Praising the Mysterious In Praise of the Profound
15 The Exhibition of the Qualities of the Dao The Revealers of Virtue That Which Reveals Virtue
16 Returning to the Root Returning to the Root Returning to the Source
17 The Unadulterated Influence Simplicity In Habits Simplicity of Habit
18 The Decay of Manners The Palliation of Vulgarity The Palliation of the Inferior
19 Returning to the Unadulterated Influence Returning to Simplicity Return to Simplicity
20 Being Different from Ordinary Men Different from the Vulgar The Opposite of the Commonplace
21 The Empty Heart, or the Dao in Its Operation Emptying the Heart The Heart of Emptiness
22 The Increase Granted to Humility Humility's Increase Increase by Humility
23 Absolute Vacancy Emptiness and Non-Existence Emptiness and Not-Doing (Wu Wei)
24 Painful Graciousness Trouble From Indulgence Troubles and Merit
25 Representations of the Mystery Imaging the Mysterious Describing the Mysterious
26 The Quality of Gravity The Virtue of Gravity The Virtue of Dignity
27 Dexterity in Using the Dao The Function of Skill The Function of Skill
28 Returning to Simplicity Returning to Simplicity Returning to Simplicity
29 Taking No Action Non-Assertion Not Forcing Things (Wu Wei)
30 A Caveat Against War Be Chary of War Be Stingy of War
31 Stilling War Quelling War Avoiding War
32 The Dao With No Name The Virtue of Holiness The Virtue of Holiness
33 Discriminating Between Attributes The Virtue of Discrimination The Virtue of Discrimination
34 The Task of Achievement Trust in its Perfection The Perfection of Trust
35 The Attribute of Benevolence The Virtue of Benevolence The Virtue of Benevolence
36 Minimizing the Light The Secret's Explanation Explanation of a Paradox
37 The Exercise of Government Administration of Government Administering the Government
38 About the Attributes of the Dao Discourse on Virtue A Discussion About Virtue
39 The Origin of the Law The Root of Order The Root of Authority
40 Dispensing with the Use (of Means) Avoiding Activity Avoiding Activity
41 Sameness and Difference Sameness in Difference The Unreality of Appearance
42 The Transformations of the Dao Reason's Modifications The Transformation of Dao
43 The Universal Use (of the Action in Weakness of the Dao) Its Universal Application The Function of the Universal
44 Cautions Setting Up Precepts Precepts
45 Great or Overflowing Virtue Greatest Virtue The Virtue (Teh) of Greatness
46 The Moderating of Desire or Ambition Moderation of Desire Limitation of Desire
47 Surveying What is Far-off Viewing the Distant Seeing the Distant
48 Forgetting Knowledge Forgetting Knowledge To Forget Knowledge
49 The Quality of Indulgence Trust in Virtue The Virtue of Trust
50 The Value Set on Life The Estimation of Life Esteem Life
51 The Operation (of the Dao) in Nourishing Things Nursing Virtue Virtue As A Nurse
52 Returning to the Source Returning to the Origin Return to Origin
53 Increase of Evidence Gaining Insight Gain By Insight
54 The Cultivation (of the Dao), and the Observation (of its Effects) The Cultivation of Inituition To Cultivate Intuition
55 The Mysterious Charm The Signet of the Mysterious To Verify the Mysterious
56 The Mysterious Excellence The Virtue of the Mysterious The Virtueof the Mysterious
57 The Genuine Influence Simplicity in Habits The Habit of Simplicity
58 Transformation According to Circumstances Adaptation to Change Adaptation to Change
59 Guarding the Dao Hold Fast to Reason To Keep Tao
60 Occupying the Throne How to Maintain One's Place To Maintain Position
61 The Attribute of Humility The Virtue of Humility The Virtue of Humility
62 Practicing the Dao Practise Reason The Practice of Tao
63 Thinking in the Beginning Consider Beginnings A Consideration of Beginnings
64 Guarding the Minute Mind the Insignificant Consider the Insignificant
65 Pure, Unmixed Excellence The Virtue of Simplicity The Virtue of Simplicity
66 Putting One's Self Last Putting Oneself Behind To Subordinate Self
67 Three Precious Things The Three Treasures Three Treasures
68 Matching Heaven Complying With Heaven Compliance With Heaven
69 The Use of the Mysterious (Dao) The Function of the Mysterious The Function of the Mysterious
70 The Difficulty of Being (Rightly) Known Difficult to Understand The Difficulty of Understanding
71 The Disease of Knowing The Disease of Knowledge The Disease of Knowledge
72 Loving One's Self Holding Oneself Dear To Cherish One's Self
73 Allowing Men to Take Their Course Daring to Act Action is Dangerous
74 Restraining Delusion Overcome Delusion Overcoming Delusions
75 How Greediness Injures Harmed Through Greed Loss By Greediness
76 A Warning Against (Trusting in) Strength Beware of Strength Beware of Strength
77 The Way of Heaven Heaven's Reason Tao Of Heaven
78 Things to be Believed Trust in Faith Trust and Faith
79 Adherence to Bond or Covenant Keep Your Obligations Enforcing Contracts
80 Standing Alone Remaining in Isolation Contentment
81 The Manifestation of Simplicity Propounding the Essential The Nature of the Essential
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