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Tao Te Ching
By Lao Tsu


Chapters 21 - 30

21.
The form of great virtue is something that only the Tao can follow.
The Tao as a "thing" is only vague and obscure.
How obscure! How vague! In it there is form.
How vague! How obscure! In it are things.
How deep! How dark! In it there is an essence.

The essence is so real--therein is belief.

From the present to antiquity, its name has never left it, so we can examine all origins.
How do I know the form of all origins?

By this.


22.
The imperfect is completed.
The crooked is straightened.
The empty is filled.
The old is renewed.
With few there is attainment.
With much there is confusion.
Therefore the sage grasps the one and becomes the model for all.

She does not show herself, and therefore is apparent.
She does not affirm herself, and therefore is acknowledged.
She does not boast and therefore has merit.
She does not strive and is therefore successful.
It is exactly because she does not contend, that nobody can contend with her.

How could the ancient saying, "The imperfect is completed" be regarded as empty talk?

Believe in the complete and return to it.


23.
To speak little is natural.
Therefore a gale does not blow a whole morning
Nor does a downpour last a whole day.
Who does these things? Heaven and Earth.
If even Heaven and Earth cannot force perfect continuity
How can people expect to?

Therefore there is such a thing as aligning one's actions with the Tao.
If you accord with the Tao you become one with it.
If you accord with virtue you become one with it.
If you accord with loss you become one with it.

The Tao accepts this accordance gladly.
Virtue accepts this accordance gladly.
Loss also accepts accordance gladly.

If you are untrustworthy, people will not trust you.


24.
Standing on tiptoe, you are unsteady.
Straddle-legged, you cannot go.
If you show yourself, you will not be seen.
If you affirm yourself, you will not shine.
If you boast, you will have no merit.
If you promote yourself, you will have no success.

Those who abide in the Tao call these

Leftover food and wasted action
And all things dislike them.

Therefore the person of the Tao does not act like this.


25.
There is something that is perfect in its disorder
Which is born before Heaven and Earth.

So silent and desolate! It establishes itself without renewal.
Functions universally without lapse.
We can regard it as the Mother of Everything.

I don't know its name.

Hence, when forced to name it, I call it "Tao."
When forced to categorize it, I call it "great."

Greatness entails transcendence.
Transcendence entails going-far.
Going-far entails return.

Hence, Tao is great, Heaven is great, the Earth is great 
And the human is also great.

Within our realm there are four greatnesses and the human being is one of them.

Human beings follow the Earth.
Earth follows Heaven
Heaven follows the Tao
The Tao follows the way things are.


26.
Heaviness is the root of lightness.
Composure is the ruler of instability.
Therefore the sage travels all day
Without putting down his heavy load.
Though there may be spectacles to see
He easily passes them by.

This being so
How could the ruler of a large state
Be so concerned with himself as to ignore the people?

If you take them lightly you will lose your roots.
If you are unstable, you will lose your rulership.


27.
A good traveler leaves no tracks.
Good speech lacks faultfinding.
A good counter needs no calculator.
A well-shut door will stay closed without a latch.
Skillful fastening will stay tied without knots.

It is in this manner that the sage is always skillful in elevating people.
Therefore she does not discard anybody.

She is always skillful in helping things
Therefore she does not discard anything.
This is called "the actualization of her luminosity."

Hence, the good are the teachers of the not-so-good.
And the not-so-good are the charges of the good.

Not valuing your teacher or not loving your students:
Even if you are smart, you are gravely in error.

This is called Essential Subtlety. 


28.
Know the Masculine, cleave to the Feminine
Be the valley for everyone.
Being the valley for everyone
You are always in virtue without lapse
And you return to infancy.

Know the White, cleave to the Black
Be a model for everyone.
Being the model for everyone
You are always in virtue and free from error
You return to limitlessness.
Know Glory but cleave to Humiliation
Be the valley for everyone.
When your constancy in virtue is complete
You return to the state of the "uncarved block."

The block is cut into implements.
The sage uses them to fulfill roles.

Therefore the great tailor does not cut.


29.
If you want to grab the world and run it
I can see that you will not succeed.
The world is a spiritual vessel, which can't be controlled.

Manipulators mess things up.
Grabbers lose it. Therefore:

Sometimes you lead
Sometimes you follow
Sometimes you are stifled
Sometimes you breathe easy
Sometimes you are strong
Sometimes you are weak
Sometimes you destroy
And sometimes you are destroyed.

Hence, the sage shuns excess
Shuns grandiosity
Shuns arrogance.


30.
If you used the Tao as a principle for ruling
You would not dominate the people by military force.

What goes around comes around.

Where the general has camped
Thorns and brambles grow.
In the wake of a great army
Come years of famine.
If you know what you are doing
You will do what is necessary and stop there.

Accomplish but don't boast
Accomplish without show
Accomplish without arrogance
Accomplish without grabbing
Accomplish without forcing.

When things flourish they decline.

This is called non-Tao
The non-Tao is short-lived.