"Reach the pole of emptiness (hsü-chi),
Abide in genuine quietude (ching).
Ten thousand beings flourish together,
I am to contemplate (kuan) their return (fu).
Now things grow profusely,
Each again returns (kuei) to its root.
To return to the root is to attain quietude (ching),
It is called to recover life (ming).
To recover life is to attain the Everlasting (ch'ang),
To know the Everlasting (ch'ang) is to be illumined (ming).
Not knowing (chih) the Everlasting (ch'ang),
One commits evils wantonly.
Knowing the Everlasting one becomes all containing (yung).
To be all containing is to be public (kung).
To be public is to be kingly (wang).
To be kingly is to be like heaven.
To be like heaven is to be like Tao.
To be like Tao is to last long.
This is to lose the body without becoming exhausted (pu tai)."
- Translated by Ellen M. Chen, 1989, Chapter 16
Commentary by Ellen M. Chen on Chapter 16:
Tao Te Ching: A New Translation and Commentary. By Ellen M. Chen. Paragon House, 1989. Detailed glossary, index, bibliography, notes, 274 pages. ISBN: 978-1557780836. One of my favorites. VSCL. "Ellen M. Chen received her Ph.D. in philosophy from Fordham University. She taught philosophy at St. John's University, retiring in 1996."
In Praise of Nothing: An Exploration of Daoist Fundamental Ontology. By Ellen M. Chen. Xlibris, Corp., 2010. 250 pages. ISBN: 978-1456826093. VSCL. "Ellen M. Chen received her Ph.D. in philosophy from Fordham University. She taught philosophy at St. John's University, retiring in 1996. This volume, In Praise of Nothing, will be followed by a volume on Daoist Cosmology: On the Harmony of Opposites."
Other translations, interpolations, and interpretations of Chapter 16:
"Attain to the goal of absolute vacuity;
Keep to the state of perfect peace.
All things come into existence,
And thence we see them return.
Look at the things that have been flourishing;
Each goes back to its origin.
Going back to the origin is called peace;
It means reversion to destiny.
Reversion to destiny is called eternity.
He who knows eternity is called enlightened.
He who does not know eternity is rushing blindly into miseries.
Knowing eternity he is all-embracing.
Being all-embracing he can attain magnanimity.
Being magnanimous he can attain omnipresence.
Being omnipresent he can attain supremacy.
Being supreme he can attain Tao.
He who attains Tao is everlasting.
Though his body may decay he never perishes."
- Translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao, 1904, Chapter 16
"Be utterly humble
And you shall hold to the foundation of peace.
Be at one with all these living things which, having arisen and flourished,
Return to the quiet whence they came,
Like a healthy growth of vegetation
Falling back upon the root.
Acceptance of this return to the root has been called 'quietism,'
Acceptance of quietism has been condemned as 'fatalism.'
But fatalism is acceptance of destiny
And to accept destiny is to face life with open eyes,
Whereas not to accept destiny is to face death blindfold.
He who is open-eyed is open-minded-
He who is open-minded is open-hearted,
He who is open-hearted is kingly,
He who is kingly is godly,
He who is godly is useful,
He who is useful is infinite,
He who is infinite is immune,
He who is immune is immortal."
- Translated by Witter Bynner, 1944, Chapter 16
"Attaining perfect emptiness
Remain patient and sincere
The myriad beings arise as one
Through this we observe the return
Of beings in numberless multitudes
Each coming home to its root
Return to the root means serenity
It may be called a return to a higher order
Return to higher order speaks of the enduring
To comprehend the enduring speaks of clarity
To not comprehend the enduring
Is to recklessly create suffering
To comprehend the enduring (is) tolerance
Tolerance becomes justice
Justice becomes sovereignty
Sovereignty becomes celestial
The celestial becomes the path
The path is then continuous
The death of self is nothing to fear"
- Translated by Bradford Hatcher, 2005, Chapter 16
"Bring about emptiness to the extreme.
Guard true stillness.
The ten-thousand things rise together.
I therefore observe their return:
Those ten-thousand plants—each plant—returns
Going back to its root.
Going back to the root is said to be stillness.
This is called returning to life.
Returning to life is called the Constant.
Understanding the Constant is called clarity.
Not understanding the Constant:
Understanding the Constant, forgive.
Forgive, then be unbiased.
Be unbiased, then be whole.
Be whole, then be Heaven.
Be Heaven, then be Tao.
Be Tao, then be eternal.
Not having a body, there is no danger."
- Translated by Aalar Fex, 2006, Chapter 16
"Empty the self completely; Embrace perfect peace.
Realize that all beings alike go through their processes of activity and life,
and then they return to the original source.
Returning to the source brings peacefulness and stillness.
This stillness is the flow of nature, and signifies that the beings have lived their allotted span of life.
Accepting this brings enlightenment and tranquility,
ignoring this brings confusion and sorrow
If one can accept this flow of nature; one can cherish all things.
Being all-cherishing you become impartial;
Being impartial you become magnanimous;
Being magnanimous you become natural;
Being natural you become one with The Way;
Being one with The Way you become immortal:
Though the body will decay, the Way will not."
- Translated by John Discus, 2002, Chapter 16
沒身不殆.- Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 16
zhi xu ji. shou jing du. wan wu bing zuo. wu yi guan fu. fu wu yun yun, ge fu gui qi gen. gui gen yue jing. shi yue fu ming. fu ming yue chang. zhi chang yue ming. bu zhi chang, wang zuo xiong zhi chang rong. rong nai gong. gong nai quan. quan nai tian. tian nai dao. dao nai jiu. mo shen bu dai. - Pinyin translation, Daodejing, Chapter 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." - Translated by Charles Muller, 1891, Chapter 16
"Vacía tu Ego completamente;Abraza la paz perfecta.
El Mundo se mueve y gira;
Observale regresar a la quietud.
Todas las cosas que florecen
Regresarán a su origen.
Este regreso es pacífico;
Es el camino de la Naturaleza,
Eternamente decayendo y renovandose.
Comprender ésto trae la iluminación,
Ignorar esto lleva a la miseria.
Aquel que comprende el camino de la Naturaleza llega a apreciarlo todo;
Apreciandolo todo, se convierte en imparcial;
Siendo imparcial, se convierte en magnánimo;
Siendo magnánimo, se convierte en parte de la Naturaleza;
Siendo parte de la Naturaleza, se hace uno con el Tao;
Siendo uno con el Tao, se alcanza la inmortalidad:
Piensa que el cuerpo perecerá, el Tao no."
- Translated by Antonio Rivas Gonzálvez, 1998, Tao Te Ching, Capítulo 16
"To arrive at ultimate quietness
Steadfastly maintain repose.
All creatures together have form;
I see them return again to their root.
The Master creatures come to perfect form,
Continuously they return to their root.
Continuous return to the root is called repose,
Repose is called the law of return,
The law of return is called eternity.
To know eternity is called illumination.
To ignore eternity is to draw misfortune on oneself,
To know eternity is to be great of Soul,
To be great of soul is to be a ruler,
To be a ruler is to be greater than all,
To be greater than all is to be conscious of Life,
To be conscious of Life is to endure.
The body shall disappear but not decay."
- Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 16
Audio Recordings (Podcasts) in English by Mike Garofalo
Here is an audio recording of selected translations from Chapter 16 of the Tao Te Ching. This reading includes translations by Isabella Mears 1916, Charles Muller 1891, John Discus 2002, Bradford Hatcher 2005, Stephen Addis 1993. Reading and recording by Michael P. Garofalo at the Valley Spirit Center in Red Bluff, California. Recorded on December 5, 2016. MP3 format. 12.7 MB.
A typical webpage created by Mike Garofalo for each one of the 81 Chapters (Verses, Sections) of the Tao Te Ching (Daodejing) by Lao Tzu (Laozi) includes 25 different English language translations or interpolations for that Chapter, 5 Spanish language translations for that Chapter, the Chinese characters for that Chapter, the Wade-Giles and Hanyu Pinyin transliterations (Romanization) of the Mandarin Chinese words for that Chapter, and 2 German and 1 French translation of that Chapter. Each webpage for each one of the 81 Chapters of the Tao Te Ching includes extensive indexing by key words, phrases, and terms for that Chapter in English, Spanish, and the Wade-Giles Romanization. Each webpage on a Chapter of the Daodejing includes recommended reading in books and websites, a detailed bibliography, some commentary, research leads, translation sources, a Google Translate drop down menu, and other resources for that Chapter.
Chapter 16, Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter and Thematic Index (Concordance) to the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
English Language Daodejing Translators' Source Index
Spanish Language Daodejing Translators' Source Index
Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices
Taoism: A Selected Reading List