By Lao Tzu
"Of old, those who were leaders in good actions examined mysteries with deep penetration; searching deeply, they did not understand; even Masters did not understand; therefore their actions were void of strength.
They were timid, as those who cross a torrent in winter; irresolute, as those who fear their neighbours; grave, as strangers before their host; they effaced themselves as ice that melts; they were rough as undressed wood, empty as a valley, confused as troubled water.
Who is able by quietness to make pure the troubled heart?
Who is able by repose to become conscious of Inner Life?
He who safely maintains his consciousness of Life will find it to be inexhaustible.
Therefore he will be able, though not faultless, to renew perfectness."
- Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 15
"In primitive times, intelligent men had an intuitively penetrating grasp of reality which could not be stated in words. Since their instinctive beliefs have not been recorded for us, we can only infer them from old sayings which have come down to us. Regarding caution when crossing a stream in winter: the more nervous you are, the more likely you are to slip and fall. Regarding suspicion of enemies; the more you fear others, the more the will be afraid of you. Regarding courtesy as a guest: the longer you stay, the more you become indebted to your host. Regarding melting ice: the more you do to prevent it from melting, the quicker it melts. Regarding making furniture: the more you carve the wood, the weaker it gets. Regarding digging ditches: the steeper you slope their sides, the sooner they will wash down. Regarding muddy water: The more you try to stir the dirt out of it, the murkier it gets. What, then, should we do in order to clear the muddy water? Leave it alone and the dirt will settle out by itself. What, then, must we do in order to achieve contentment? Let each thing act according to its own nature, and it will eventually come to rest in its own way. Those who fully comprehend the true nature of existence do not try to push things to excess. And because they do not try to push things to excess, they are able to satisfy their needs repeatedly without exhausting themselves." - Translated by Archie J. Bahm, 1958, Chapter 15
"In olden times the ones who were considered worthy to be called masters were subtle, spiritual, profound, wise. Their thoughts could not be easily understood.
Since they were hard to understand I will try to make them clear.
They were cautious like men wading a river in winter.
They were reluctant like men who feared their neighbors.
They were reserved like guests in the presence of their host.
They were elusive like ice at the point of melting.
They were like unseasoned wood.
They were like a valley between high mountains.
They were obscure like troubled waters.
They were cautious because they were conscious of the deeper meanings of life and its possibilities.
We can clarify troubled waters by slowly quieting them.
We can bring the unconscious to life by slowly moving them.
But he who has the secret of the Tao does not desire for more.
Being content, he is able to mature without desire to be newly fashioned."
- Translated by Dwight Goddard and Henri Borel, 1919, Chapter 15
"The Tao of those eminent for wisdom in the olden times was subtle, mysterious, recondite, and penetrating.
Its depths were unrecognizable by others.
The non-adepts, being unable to learn it, strove by main force, therefore, to act it out in practice.
They endured the hardships of their search as those who ford streams in the winter.
Cautious were they, as those who dread the ridicule of their neighbors.
Reverent were they, as those who entertain a visitor.
Expansive were they, as ice on the point of melting.
Simple and unpolished were they, as unhewn wood.
Vacant were they, as a ravine.
Undiscerning were they, as turbid water.
Who is able to make turbid water grow gradually clear by reducing it to quiescence?
Who is able to impart unending life to that which is at rest by setting it in perpetual motion?
Those who preserve this Tao desire no fullness; wherefore, having no fullness,
they are able to guard it in their hearts for ever and it never requires to be renewed."
- Translated by Frederic Henry Balfour, 1884, Chapter 15
"The skillful masters of the olden time,
With penetration subtle and profound,
Pursued the mysteries of the abyss
To depths which modern knowledge cannot sound;
And as their labors were beyond our ken
I will try to picture something of these men.
Cautious they were, like one who comes to ford a wintry stream,
Irresolute, like one who enters some strange neighborhood,
Reserved, as one, a guest of some quite unknown host, would seem,
Changing, like the melting ice before a summer s flood,
Simple and unpretending as unseasoned blocks of wood,
Vacant, like a valley, and like turbid water dim.
But who can make the turbid water clear?
Leave it to rest, the mud will disappear;
But Who can make the turbid water rest?
Leave it to move, and rest will soon be here.
They who preserve the method of the Tao
Wish not to fill themselves with their own self,
And, empty of themselves, when growing old,
Are never laid, old-fashioned, on the shelf."
- Translated by Isaac Winter Heysinger, 1903, Chapter 15
- Translated by Isaac Winter Heysinger, 1903, Chapter 15
"The ancient wise men were skilful in their mysterious acquaintance with profundities. They were fathomless in their depths; so profound, that I cannot bring them forth to my mind. They were cautious, like one who crosses a swollen river. They were reserved, like one who doubts his fellows. They were watchful, like one who travels abroad. They were retiring, like snow beneath the sun. They were simple, like newly felled timber. They were lowly, like the valley. They were obscure, like muddy water. May not a man take muddy water and make it clear by keeping still? May not a man take a dead thing and make it alive by continuous motion? Those who follow this Tao have no need of replenishing, and being devoid of all properties, they grow old without need of being filled." - Translated by Walter Gorn Old, 1904, Chapter 15
Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching