Thursday, May 09, 2013

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 23

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 23

"Nature does not have to insist,
Can blow for only half a morning,
Rain for only half a day,
And what are these winds and these rains but natural?
If nature does not have to insist,
Why should man?
It is natural too
That whoever follows the way of life feels alive,
That whoever uses it properly feels well used,
Whereas he who loses the way of life feels lost,
That whoever keeps to the way of life
Feels at home,
Whoever uses it properly
Feels welcome,
Whereas he who uses it improperly
Feels improperly used:
'Fail to honor people,
They fail to honor you."
-  Translated by Witter Bynner, 1944, Chapter 23

"Things which act naturally do not need to be told how to act.
The wind and rain begin without being ordered, and quit without being commanded.
This is the way with all natural beginnings and endings.
If Nature does not have to instruct the wind and the rain, how much less should man try to direct them?
Whoever acts naturally is Nature itself acting.
And whoever acts intelligently is intelligence in action.
By acting naturally, one reaps Nature's rewards.
So by acting intelligently, one achieves intelligent goals.
Whereas by acting intelligently, one comes to an unintelligent end.
Those who do not trust Nature as a model cannot be trusted as guides."
-   Translated by Archie J. Bahm, 1958, Chapter 23  

"Only simple and quiet words will ripen of themselves.
For a whirlwind does not last a whole morning.
A sudden rain does not last a whole day.
Who is their creator?
Even Heaven-and-Earth cannot make such violent things last long;
The same is true of the reckless efforts of humans.
Who helps the Tao (the Laws of the Universe) is one with the Tao (the Laws of the Universe);
Who thinks with Power is one with Power;
And who seeks the hand of loss is one with Loss.
To be one with the Tao (the Laws of the Universe) is to be a welcome addition to
the Tao (the Laws of the Universe);
To be one with Power is to be a welcome addition to Power;
To be one with Loss is to be a welcome addition to Loss.
Failure of faith on your part Creates faithlessness on the part of others."
-  Translated by John Trottier, 1994, Chapter 23 

"Sparing indeed is the Nature of its Talk ...
Sparing indeed is nature of its talk:
The whirlwind will not last the morning out;
The cloudburst ends before the day is done.
What is it that behaves itself like this?
The earth and sky! And if it be that these
Cut short their speech, how much more yet should man!
If you work by the Way,
You will be of the Way;
If you work through its virtue
you will be given the virtue;
Abandon either one
And both abandon you.
Gladly then the Way receives
Those who choose to walk in it;
Gladly too its power upholds
Those who choose to use it well;
Gladly will abandon greet
Those who to abandon drift.
Little faith is put in them
Whose faith is small."
-  Translated by Raymond Blackney, 1955, Chapter 23

Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching


  1. So much beauty in the variety of translations... one of my favorites is Victor Mair's (1990).

  2. I also use Victor Mair's book on the Tao Te Ching.
    I find the subject of translations fascinating. Obviously, I am a bit obsessed with reading and collecting various translations of the Dao De Jing. I try to use mostly translations that are now in the public domain on my Dao De Jing webpages, but include a few translations from the Tao Te Ching translations after 1970.