If people are not afraid of death

How can you threaten them with death?


If people always

Lived in fear of death

And those that acted

Perverse and unnatural

Could be seized and executed

Who would presume to be reckless?


There is always a master executioner

To kill such people

Truly, if someone were to try and kill

In place of the master executioner

It would be like trying to take the place

Of a master wood-worker


In trying to take the place of a master carpenter

There are few that would not

Cut off their own hands!


bird branch

The Way is the mysterious sanctuary

Of the ten thousand things

A treasury for those who are good

And a refuge for those who are not

Pleasant words make sales

Honourable deeds place one above others

If a person has no goodness

Why should we reject them?


At the enthronement of the Son of Heaven

And the appointment of the Three Ministers

Though presented with precious jade

Or proceeded by four-horse carriages

None of this is as good

As sitting still

And making progress in The Way

This is the reason

The ancients exalted The Way

Above all else

Did they not say:

Through it seekers receive?

Through it the guilty are forgiven?


Therefore it is the treasure

Of All Below Heaven


Tao Te Ching: 17


The great and good amongst the people

Know of its existence

The next love and praise it

The next fear and respect

The next defy and hate it

If you do not stand by your words

Who will stand by you?

Speaking with reluctance

Is a prize to be treasured

Accomplishing their duty

Completing their tasks

The hundred families altogether say:

“We ourselves

Are just so!”

Tao Te Ching: 14


Perceiving what cannot be seen

We call it invisible

Hearing what cannot be heard

We call it silent

Grasping what cannot be grasped

We call it formless

These three qualities

Cannot be further scrutinized

Therefore they merge

And become one

Above it is not clear

Below it is not obscure

Infinite and boundless

It’s indescribable

Returned and reverted to its original state

It becomes the substance of nothingness

This is called formlessness’s own form

The image of non-existence

It is called the unimaginable obscurity

Encountering it

You do not discover its face

Following it

You do not discover its end

Hold fast to the Way of the Ancients

To master your present existence

Able to comprehend the primordial origin

This is called the Heritage of the Way

Tao Te Ching: 13


Praise and blame

Bring about fear

Great prestige is an affliction

The same as the self

Why say praise and blame

Bring about fear?

Praise lowers us

Afraid when we get it

Afraid when we lose it

Meaning praise and blame

Are the same as fear

Why say great prestige

Afflicts us like the self?

Our suffering is great

When we claim to have a self

Having no self

What trouble can we have?


Treasure your duty to the world

And the world will be entrusted to you

Love your duty to the world

And you’ll be a guardian

To all below Heaven

Tao Te Ching: 12


Too much colour blinds the eyes

Too much noise deafens the ears

Too many flavours spoil one’s taste

Hunting and racing in the field

Derange heart and mind to extreme

Rare goods that are hard to come by

Impair good conduct and action

Therefore, the Sage

Follows his spirit

Not his senses

Rejecting one

Abiding in the other

Tao Te Ching: 11


Thirty spokes converge

In a single hub

A wheel’s use

Comes from its emptiness

A vessel is made from moulded clay

A vessel’s use

Comes from it emptiness

Cut out doors and windows

To make a room

A room’s use

Comes from its emptiness

A thing’s existence

Makes it valuable

But a thing’s emptiness

Makes it useful

Tao Te Ching: 10


Cultivating vitality and spirit

Embrace this unity

Without disintegration

Control your chi

Becoming gentleness itself

Able to be a child newborn

Purify the fathomless depths of consciousness

So it is stainless and without distortion

Love and lead

The country and its people

Without artifice or guile

Opening all of Heaven’s gates

Become like a female bird

Incubating her eggs

Shine forth

Your pure enlightenment everywhere

Without doing a thing

Engendering and nurturing

Creating life without owning it

Acting without attachment

Leading without dominating:

This describes the secret virtue

Of Tao’s mysterious actions

Tao Te Ching: 7

Heavenly temple

Heaven is eternal

Earth is ancient

The reason Heaven and Earth

Endure everlastingly

Is because they do not exist for themselves

Thus they are able

To live forever

Therefore, The Sage

Puts himself last, and so is first

Is detached from his self

And his self is preserved

Is this not because he is selfless?

Thereby his self is perfected

Tao Te Ching: 5


Heaven and Earth

Are without partiality

Regarding the Ten Thousand Things

As if they were straw dogs

The sage is without bias

Regarding the mass of men

As if they were straw dogs

The space between

Heaven and Earth

Is like a bellows

Empty yet inexhaustible

Each motion pouring out

More and more

Too much talking

Brings about ruin

Better to abide by

The Middle way