Tao-te ching > Quotes


The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tao. The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name.

(Conceived of as) having no name, it is the Originator of heaven and earth; (conceived of as) having a name, it is the Mother of all things. (ch. 1)

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Therefore the sage manages affairs without doing anything, and conveys his instructions without the use of speech. (ch. 2)

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Not to value and employ men of superior ability is the way to keep the people from rivalry among themselves; not to prize articles which are difficult to procure is the way to keep them from becoming thieves; not to show them what is likely to excite their desires is the way to keep their minds from disorder.

Therefore the sage, in the exercise of his government, empties their minds, fills their bellies, weakens their wills, and strengthens their bones.(ch. 3)

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The Tao is (like) the emptiness of a vessel; and in our employment of it we must be on our guard against all fulness. (ch. 4)

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Therefore the sage puts his own person last, and yet it is found in the foremost place; he treats his person as if it were foreign to him, and yet that person is preserved. (ch. 7)

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It is better to leave a vessel unfilled, than to attempt tocarry it when it is full. If you keep feeling a point that has been sharpened, the point cannot long preserve its sharpness.(ch. 9)

Therefore the sage seeks to satisfy (the craving of) the belly, and not the (insatiable longing of the) eyes. He puts from him the latter, and prefers to seek the former.(ch. 12)

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The skilful masters (of the Tao) in old times, with a subtle and exquisite penetration, comprehended its mysteries, and were deep (also) so as to elude men's knowledge. As they were thus beyond men's knowledge, I will make an effort to describe of what sort they appeared to be.(ch. 15)

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All quotes are from James Legge's translation.

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