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Dao De Jing [Tao Te Ching]

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Chapter 45

Great or Overflowing Virtue

Greatest Virtue / The Virtue (de [teh]) of Greatness

  Original Legge's Translation Susuki's Translation Goddard's Translation
1 Who thinks his great achievements poor Shall find his vigour long endure. Of greatest fulness, deemed a void, Exhaustion ne'er shall stem the tide. "Greatest perfection imperfect will be, But its work ne'er waneth. Greatest fullness is vacuity, Its work unexhausted remaineth." Extreme perfection seems imperfect, its function is not exhausted. Extreme fullness appears empty, its function is not exercised.
2 Do thou what's straight still crooked deem; Thy greatest art still stupid seem, And eloquence a stammering scream.

"Straightest lines resemble curves; Greatest skill like a tyro serves; Greatest eloquence stammers and swerves."

Extreme straightness appears crooked; great skill, clumsy; great eloquence, stammering.
3 Constant action overcomes cold; being still overcomes heat. Purity
and stillness give the correct law to all under heaven.
Motion conquers cold. Quietude conquers heat. Purity and clearness are the world's standard. Motion conquers cold, quietude conquers heat. Not greatness but purity and clearness are the world's standard.
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