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Tao Te Ching
By Lao Tsu


Chapters 11 - 20

11.
Thirty spokes join together in the hub.
It is because of what is not there that the cart is useful.
Clay is formed into a vessel.
It is because of its emptiness that the vessel is useful.
Cut doors and windows to make a room.
It is because of its emptiness that the room is useful.
Therefore, what is present is used for profit.

But it is in absence that there is usefulness.


12.
The five colors blind our eyes.
The five tones deafen our ears.
The five flavors confuse our taste.
Racing and hunting madden our minds.
Possessing rare treasures brings about harmful behavior.
Therefore the sage regards his center, and not his eyes.

He lets go of that and chooses this.


13.
Accept humiliation as a surprise.
Value great misfortune as your own self.

What do I mean by "Accept humiliation as a surprise"?
When you are humble
Attainment is a surprise
And so is loss.
That's why I say, "Accept humiliation as a surprise."

What do I mean by "Value great misfortune as your own self"?

If I have no self, how could I experience misfortune?

Therefore, if you dedicate your life for the benefit of the world,
You can rely on the world.
If you love dedicating yourself in this way,
You can be entrusted with the world.


14.
Look for it, it cannot be seen.
It is called the distant.
Listen for it, it cannot be heard.
It is called the rare.
Reach for it, it cannot be gotten.
It is called the subtle.
These three ultimately cannot be fathomed.
Therefore they join to become one.

Its top is not bright;
Its bottom is not dark;
Existing continuously, it cannot be named and it returns to no-thingness.

Thus, it is called the formless form,
The image of no-thing.
This is called the most obscure.

Go to meet it, you cannot see its face.
Follow it, you cannot see its back.

By holding to the ancient Tao
You can manage present existence
And know the primordial beginning.

This is called the very beginning thread of the Tao.


15.
The ancient masters of the Tao
Had subtle marvelous mystic penetration
A depth that cannot be known.
It is exactly because that they are unknowable
That we are forced to pay attention to their appearance.
Hesitant, like one crossing an ice-covered river.
Ready, like one afraid of his neighbors on all sides.
Dignified, like a guest.
Loose, like ice about to melt.
Straightforward, like an uncarved block of wood.
Open, like a valley.
Obscure, like muddy water.

Who can be muddled, and use clarity to gradually become lucid?
Who can be calm, and use constant application for eventual success?

The one who holds to this path does not crave fulfillment.
Precisely because he does not crave fulfillment
He can be shattered
And do without quick restitution.


16.
Effect emptiness to the extreme.
Keep stillness whole.
Myriad things act in concert.
I therefore watch their return.
All things flourish and each returns to its root.

Returning to the root is called quietude.
Quietude is called returning to life.
Return to life is called constant.
Knowing this constant is called illumination.
Acting arbitrarily without knowing the constant is harmful.
Knowing the constant is receptivity, which is impartial.

Impartiality is kingship.
Kingship is Heaven.
Heaven is Tao
Tao is eternal.

Though you lose the body, you do not die.


17.
From great antiquity forth they have known and possessed it.
Those of the next level loved and praised it.
The next were in awe of it.
And the next despised it.

If you lack sincerity no one will believe you.

How careful she is with her precious words!
When her work is complete and her job is finished,
Everybody says: "We did it!"


18.
When the great Tao perishes
There is jen and justice.
When intelligence is manifest
There is great deception.
When the six relationships are not in harmony
There is filial piety and compassion.
When the country is in chaos
Loyal ministers appear.


19.
Get rid of "holiness" and abandon "wisdom" and the people will benefit a hundredfold.

Get rid of "altruism" and abandon "Justice" and the people will return to filial piety and compassion.

Get rid of cleverness and abandon profit, and thieves and gangsters will not exist.

Since the above three are merely words, they are not sufficient.
Therefore there must be something to include them all.

See the origin and keep the non-differentiated state.
Lessen selfishness and decrease desire.


20.
Get rid of "learning" and there will be no anxiety.
How much difference is there between "yes" and "no"?
How far removed from each other are "good" and "evil"?
Yet what the people are in awe of cannot be disregarded.

I am scattered, never having been in a comfortable center.
All the people enjoy themselves, as if they are at the festival of the great sacrifice,
Or climbing the Spring Platform.
I alone remain, not yet having shown myself.
Like an infant who has not yet laughed.
Weary, like one despairing of no home to return to.

All the people enjoy extra
While I have left everything behind.
I am ignorant of the minds of others.
So dull!
While average people are clear and bright, I alone am obscure.
Average people know everything.
To me alone all seems covered.
So flat!
Like the ocean.
Blowing around!
It seems there is no place to rest.
Everybody has a goal in mind.
I alone am as ignorant as a bumpkin.
I alone differ from people.

I enjoy being nourished by the mother.