YellowBridge Chinese Language & Culture
Chinese Language Center

Dao De Jing [Tao Te Ching]

YellowTipsm
Move mouse pointer over any Chinese character to see its meaning and pronunciation.

Chapter 36

Minimizing the Light

The Secret's Explanation / Explanation of a Paradox

  Original Legge's Translation Susuki's Translation Goddard's Translation
1 When one is about to take an inspiration, he is sure to make a (previous) expiration; when he is going to weaken another, he will
first strengthen him; when he is going to overthrow another, he will first have raised him up; when he is going to despoil another, he will
first have made gifts to him:--this is called 'Hiding the light (of his procedure).'
That which is about to contract has surely been expanded. That which is about to weaken has surely been strengthened. That which is about to fall has surely been raised. That which is about to be despoiled has surely been endowed. That which has a tendency to contract must first have been extended; that which has a tendency to weaken itself must first have been strong; that which shows a tendency to destroy itself must first have been raised up; that which shows a tendency to scatter must first have been gathered.
2 The soft overcomes the hard; and the weak the strong.

This is an explanation of the secret that the tender and the weak conquer the hard and the strong.

This is the explanation of a seeming contradiction: the tender and yielding conquer the rigid and strong (i.e., spirit is stronger than matter, persuasion than force).
3

Fishes should not be taken from the deep; instruments for the profit of a state should not be shown to the people.

As the fish should not escape from the deep, so with the country's sharp tools the people should not become acquainted. The fish would be foolish to seek escape from its natural environment. There is no gain to a nation to compel by a show of force.
Index Previous  Next Random