"When the best shih hears Tao, he puts out great effort to practice it.
When the average shih hears Tao, he will keep it sometimes, and sometimes forget about it.
When the poorest shih hears Tao, he just has a big laugh."
If he does not laugh, it must not quite be Tao.
Yes, the 'Well-Founded Sayings' has it: The bright Tao seems dark the Tao going forward seems to be going backward the smooth Tao seems rough.
The loftiest Te seems like a valley great purity seems sullied abundant Te seems insufficient
Well-founded Te seems flimsy what is pure and natural seems faded the best square has no corners
A great bronze takes long to finish great music has a delicate sound the Great Image has no shape.
Tao is something concealed, nameless.
It is just Tao, good at sustaining a person and completing him."
- Translated by Michael Lafargue, 1992, Chapter 41
"When superior people hear of the Way, they carry it out with diligence.
When middling people hear of the way, it sometimes seems to be there, sometimes not.
When lesser people hear of the Way, they ridicule it greatly.
If they didn't laugh at it, it wouldn't be the Way.
So there are constructive sayings on this: The Way of illumination seems dark, the Way of advancement seems retiring, the Way of equality seems to categorize; higher virtue seems empty, greater purity seems ignominious, broad virtue seems insufficient,
constructive virtue seems careless.
Simple honesty seems changeable, great range has no boundaries, great vessels are finished late; the great sound has a rarefied tone, the great image has no form, the Way hides in namelessness.
Only the Way can enhance and perfect."
- Translated by Thomas Cleary, 1991, Chapter 41
"Scholars of the highest class, when they hear about the Tao, earnestly carry it into practice.
Scholars of the middle class, when they have heard about it, seem now to keep it and now to lose it.
Scholars of the lowest class, when they have heard about it, laugh greatly at it.
If it were not (thus) laughed at, it would not be fit to be the Tao.
Therefore the sentence-makers have thus expressed themselves:--
'The Tao, when brightest seen, seems light to lack;
Who progress in it makes, seems drawing back;
Its even way is like a rugged track.
Its highest virtue from the vale doth rise;
Its greatest beauty seems to offend the eyes;
And he has most whose lot the least supplies.
Its firmest virtue seems but poor and low;
Its solid truth seems change to undergo;
Its largest square doth yet no corner show
A vessel great, it is the slowest made;
Loud is its sound, but never word it said;
A semblance great, the shadow of a shade.'
The Tao is hidden, and has no name; but it is the Tao which is skilful at imparting (to all things what they need) and making them complete."
- Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 41
"When seers see their nothingness
They never let it out of sight
But others see it now and then
And miss out on its true delight
Still others only laugh it off
And look at it with ridicule
It wouldn't be the real truth
If it weren't laughed at by the fool
The brightest way seems darkness
Just going on seems like retreat
The simple way seems difficult
Capacity seems like defeat
Clarity can seem obscure
And love seem not to care
Totality seems not enough
And truth can seem to err
Awareness doesn't have a name
To all appearances is null
Yet it produces everything
And so this empty place is full."
- Translated by Jim Clatfelter, 2000, Chapter 41