YellowBridge Chinese Language & Culture
Chinese Language Center

Dao De Jing [Tao Te Ching]

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

Chapter 55

The Mysterious Charm

The Signet of the Mysterious / To Verify the Mysterious

  Original Legge's Translation Susuki's Translation Goddard's Translation
1 He who has in himself abundantly the attributes (of the Dao) is like an infant. Poisonous insects will not sting him; fierce beasts will not seize him; birds of prey will not strike him.
He who possesses virtue in all its solidity is like unto a little child.

The essence of de [teh] is comparable to the state of a young boy.


(The infant's) bones are weak and its sinews soft, but yet its grasp is firm. It knows not yet the union of male and female, and yet its virile member may be excited;--showing the perfection of its physical essence. All day long it will cry without its throat becoming hoarse;--showing the harmony (in its constitution).

Venomous reptiles do not sting him, fierce beasts do not seize him. Birds of prey do not strike him. His bones are weak, his sinews tender, but his grasp is firm. He does not yet know the relation between male and female, but his virility is strong. Thus his metal grows to perfection. A whole day he might cry and sob without growing hoarse. This shows the perfection of his harmony.

Poisonous insects will not sting him, wild beasts will not seize him, birds of prey will not attack him. The bones are weak, the muscles are tender, it is true, but his grasp is firm. He does not yet know the relation of the sexes, but he has perfect organs, nevertheless. His spirit is virile, indeed! He can sob and cry all day without becoming hoarse, his harmony (as a child) is perfect indeed!


To him by whom this harmony is known, (The secret of) the unchanging (Tao) is shown,
And in the knowledge wisdom finds its throne. All life-increasing arts to evil turn; Where the mind makes the vital breath to burn, (False) is the strength, (and o'er it we should mourn.)

To know the harmonious is called the eternal. To know the eternal is called enlightenment.

To recognize this harmony (for growth) is to know the eternal'. To recognize the eternal is to know enlightenment.


When things have become strong, they (then) become old, which may
be said to be contrary to the Dao.

To increase life is called a blessing, and heart-directed vitality is called strength, but things vigorous are about to grow old and I call this un-Reason.

To increase life (to cause things to grow) is to know blessedness. To be conscious of an inner fecundity is strength. Things fully grown are about to decay, they are the opposite of Dao.

5 Whatever is contrary to the Dao
soon ends.
Un-Reason soon ceases! The opposite of Dao soon ceases.
Index Previous  Next Random