Guide Tao Te Ching

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Charles Johnston's article on the Religion of China, reproduced in this volume, demonstrates the depth of his understanding not only of Ancient China and its religious life, but of its place in the larger context of human religious thought. This wider contextual grasp lends itself to a much more expansive commentary upon the Tao Teh King than we commonly find, as Johnston is able to draw many parallels to other world-teachings, some of which the student may be more intimately familiar. See more books written by: Lao Tzu. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam.

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Lao Tse - Tao Te King (Audiolibro Completo en Español con Música y Texto) "Voz Real Humana"

Or simply the ones you like the most. This book follows a different format to other philosophical texts and is very easy to read. It is split up into 81 very brief chapters some just a few words. It's one of the philosophy books which for me had a lot of impact in very few words. Tao Te Ching is one of the most famous texts that exists for philosophical Taoism along with Zhuangzi which I have also included below. I realized that I was holding onto many things that no longer served me — including relationships, jobs, material possessions, ideas, etc. I had to be okay with change, and more importantly, I had to be okay with letting things go.

Austin Kleon Writer, artist Every one of these poems reads like a subtweet of the president. This is called the subtle understanding of how things are meant to be. The soft and pliable overcomes the hard and inflexible. Just as fish remain hidden in deep waters, it is best to keep weapons out of sight. Go back to the Table of Contents 37 The Tao never acts with force, yet there is nothing that it can not do. If rulers could follow the way of the Tao, then all of creation would willingly follow their example. If selfish desires were to arise after their transformation, I would erase them with the power of the Uncarved Block.

By the power of the Uncarved Block, future generations would lose their selfish desires. By losing their selfish desires, the world would naturally settle into peace. Go back to the Table of Contents 38 The highest good is not to seek to do good, but to allow yourself to become it. The ordinary person seeks to do good things, and finds that they can not do them continually. The Master does not force virtue on others, thus she is able to accomplish her task.

The ordinary person who uses force, will find that they accomplish nothing. The kind person acts from the heart, and accomplishes a multitude of things. The righteous person acts out of pity, yet leaves many things undone. The moral person will act out of duty, and when no one will respond will roll up his sleeves and use force. When the Tao is forgotten, there is righteousness. When righteousness is forgotten, there is morality.

When morality is forgotten, there is the law. The law is the husk of faith, and trust is the beginning of chaos. Our basic understandings are not from the Tao because they come from the depths of our misunderstanding. The master abides in the fruit and not in the husk. She dwells in the Tao, and not with the things that hide it. This is how she increases in wisdom. Go back to the Table of Contents 39 The masters of old attained unity with the Tao. Heaven attained unity and became pure.

The earth attained unity and found peace. The spirits attained unity so they could minister. The valleys attained unity that they might be full. Humanity attained unity that they might flourish. Their leaders attained unity that they might set the example. This is the power of unity. Without unity, the sky becomes filthy. Without unity, the earth becomes unstable. Without unity, the spirits become unresponsive and disappear. Without unity, the valleys become dry as a desert. Without unity, human kind can't reproduce and becomes extinct.

Without unity, our leaders become corrupt and fall. The great view the small as their source, and the high takes the low as their foundation. Their greatest asset becomes their humility. They speak of themselves as orphans and widows, thus they truly seek humility. Do not shine like the precious gem, but be as dull as a common stone.

Go back to the Table of Contents 40 All movement returns to the Tao. Weakness is how the Tao works. All of creation is born from substance. Substance is born of nothing-ness. Go back to the Table of Contents 41 When a superior person hears of the Tao, She diligently puts it into practice. When an average person hears of the Tao, he believes half of it, and doubts the other half. When a foolish person hears of the Tao, he laughs out loud at the very idea.

If he didn't laugh, it wouldn't be the Tao. Thus it is said: The brightness of the Tao seems like darkness, the advancement of the Tao seems like retreat, the level path seems rough, the superior path seem empty, the pure seems to be tarnished, and true virtue doesn't seem to be enough.

The virtue of caution seems like cowardice, the pure seems to be polluted, the true square seems to have no corners, the best vessels take the most time to finish, the greatest sounds cannot be heard, and the greatest image has no form. The Tao hides in the unnamed, Yet it alone nourishes and completes all things. The One gave birth to Two. The Two gave birth to Three. The Three gave birth to all of creation. All things carry Yin yet embrace Yang. They blend their life breaths in order to produce harmony.

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People despise being orphaned, widowed and poor. But the noble ones take these as their titles. In losing, much is gained, and in gaining, much is lost. What others teach I too will teach: "The strong and violent will not die a natural death. That which offers no resistance can enter where there is no space. Few in the world can comprehend the teaching without words, or understand the value of non-action.

Go back to the Table of Contents 44 Which is more important, your honor or your life? Which is more valuable, your possessions or your person? Which is more destructive, success or failure? Because of this, great love extracts a great cost and true wealth requires greater loss. Knowing when you have enough avoids dishonor, and knowing when to stop will keep you from danger and bring you a long, happy life. Go back to the Table of Contents 45 The greatest accomplishments seem imperfect, yet their usefulness is not diminished.

The greatest fullness seems empty, yet it will be inexhaustible. The greatest straightness seems crooked. The most valued skill seems like clumsiness. The greatest speech seems full of stammers. Movement overcomes the cold, and stillness overcomes the heat. That which is pure and still is the universal ideal. Go back to the Table of Contents 46 When the world follows the Tao, horses run free to fertilize the fields.

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When the world does not follow the Tao, war horses are bred outside the cities. There is no greater transgression than condoning people's selfish desires, no greater disaster than being discontent, and no greater retribution than for greed. Whoever knows contentment will be at peace forever. Go back to the Table of Contents 47 Without opening your door, you can know the whole world.

Without looking out your window, you can understand the way of the Tao. The more knowledge you seek, the less you will understand. The Master understands without leaving, sees clearly without looking, accomplishes much without doing anything. Go back to the Table of Contents 48 One who seeks knowledge learns something new every day. One who seeks the Tao unlearns something new every day. Less and less remains until you arrive at non-action. When you arrive at non-action, nothing will be left undone.

Mastery of the world is achieved by letting things take their natural course. You can not master the world by changing the natural way. Go back to the Table of Contents 49 The Master has no mind of her own. She understands the mind of the people. Those who are good she treats as good.

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Those who aren't good she also treats as good. This is how she attains true goodness. She trusts people who are trustworthy. She also trusts people who aren't trustworthy. This is how she gains true trust. The Master's mind is shut off from the world. Only for the sake of the people does she muddle her mind. They look to her in anticipation.

Yet she treats them all as her children. Go back to the Table of Contents 50 Those who leave the womb at birth and those who enter their source at death, of these; three out of ten celebrate life, three out of ten celebrate death, and three out of ten simply go from life to death. What is the reason for this?

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Because they are afraid of dying, therefore they can not live. I have heard that those who celebrate life walk safely among the wild animals. When they go into battle, they remain unharmed. The animals find no place to attack them and the weapons are unable to harm them. Because they can find no place for death in them. Go back to the Table of Contents 51 The Tao gives birth to all of creation. The virtue of Tao in nature nurtures them, and their families give them their form.

Their environment then shapes them into completion. That is why every creature honors the Tao and its virtue. No one tells them to honor the Tao and its virtue, it happens all by itself. So the Tao gives them birth, and its virtue cultivates them, cares for them, nurtures them, gives them a place of refuge and peace, helps them to grow and shelters them.

It gives them life without wanting to posses them, and cares for them expecting nothing in return. It is their master, but it does not seek to dominate them. This is called the dark and mysterious virtue. Once we have found the Mother, we begin to know what Her children should be. When we know we are the Mother's child, we begin to guard the qualities of the Mother in us.

She will protect us from all danger even if we lose our life. Keep your mouth closed and embrace a simple life, and you will live care-free until the end of your days. If you try to talk your way into a better life there will be no end to your trouble. To understand the small is called clarity. Knowing how to yield is called strength. To use your inner light for understanding regardless of the danger is called depending on the Constant. My only fear would be one of pride. The Tao goes in the level places, but people prefer to take the short cuts.

If too much time is spent cleaning the house the land will become neglected and full of weeds, and the granaries will soon become empty because there is no one out working the fields. To wear fancy clothes and ornaments, to have your fill of food and drink and to waste all of your money buying possessions is called the crime of excess. Oh, how these things go against the way of the Tao! Go back to the Table of Contents 54 That which is well built will never be torn down. That which is well latched can not slip away. Those who do things well will be honored from generation to generation.

If this idea is cultivated in the individual, then his virtue will become genuine. If this idea is cultivated in your family, then virtue in your family will be great. If this idea is cultivated in your community, then virtue will go a long way. If this idea is cultivated in your country, then virtue will be in many places.

If this idea is cultivated in the world, then virtue will be with everyone. Then observe the person for what the person does, and observe the family for what it does, and observe the community for what it does, and observe the country for what it does, and observe the world for what it does. How do I know this saying is true? I observe these things and see. Go back to the Table of Contents 55 One who is filled with the Tao is like a newborn child. The infant is protected from the stinging insects, wild beasts, and birds of prey. Its bones are soft, its muscles are weak, but its grip is firm and strong.

It doesn't know about the union of male and female, yet his penis can stand erect, because of the power of life within him. It can cry all day and never become hoarse. This is perfect harmony. To understand harmony is to understand the Constant. To know the Constant is to be called 'enlightened'. To unnaturally try to extend life is not appropriate. To try and alter the life-breath is unnatural. The master understands that when something reaches its prime it will soon begin to decline. Changing the natural is against the way of the Tao. Those who do it will come to an early end. Go back to the Table of Contents 56 Those who know do not talk.

Those who talk do not know. Stop talking, meditate in silence, blunt your sharpness, release your worries, harmonize your inner light, and become one with the dust. Doing this is the called the dark and mysterious identity. Those who have achieved the mysterious identity can not be approached, and they can not be alienated. They can not be benefited nor harmed.

They can not be made noble nor to suffer disgrace. This makes them the most noble of all under the heavens. Go back to the Table of Contents 57 Govern your country with integrity, Weapons of war can be used with great cunning, but loyalty is only won by not-doing. How do I know the way things are? By these: The more prohibitions you make, the poorer people will be.

The more weapons you possess, the greater the chaos in your country. The more knowledge that is acquired, the stranger the world will become. The more laws that you make, the greater the number of criminals. Therefore the Master says: I do nothing, and people become good by themselves. I seek peace, and people take care of their own problems. I do not meddle in their personal lives, and the people become prosperous. I let go of all my desires, and the people return to the Uncarved Block. Go back to the Table of Contents 58 If a government is unobtrusive, the people become whole.

If a government is repressive, the people become treacherous. Good fortune has its roots in disaster, and disaster lurks with good fortune. Who knows why these things happen, or when this cycle will end? Good things seem to change into bad, and bad things often turn out for good. These things have always been hard to comprehend. Thus the Master makes things change without interfering. She is probing yet causes no harm. Straightforward, yet does not impose her will.

Radiant, and easy on the eye. Go back to the Table of Contents 59 There is nothing better than moderation for teaching people or serving Heaven. Those who use moderation are already on the path to the Tao. Those who follow the Tao early will have an abundance of virtue. When there is an abundance of virtue, there is nothing that can not be done. Where there is limitless ability, then the kingdom is withing your grasp. When you know the Mother of the kingdom, then you will be long enduring. This is spoken of as the deep root and the firm trunk, the Way to a long life and great spiritual vision.

Go back to the Table of Contents 60 Governing a large country is like frying small fish. Too much poking spoils the meat. When the Tao is used to govern the world then evil will lose its power to harm the people. Not that evil will no longer exist, but only because it has lost its power. Just as evil can lose its ability to harm, the Master shuns the use of violence. If you give evil nothing to oppose, then virtue will return by itself. Go back to the Table of Contents 61 A large country should take the low place like a great watershed, which from its low position assumes the female role.

The female overcomes the male by the power of her position. Her tranquility gives rise to her humility. If a large country takes the low position, it will be able to influence smaller countries. If smaller countries take the lower position, then they can allow themselves to be influenced. So both seek to take the lower position in order to influence the other, or be influenced. Large countries should desire to protect and help the people, and small countries should desire to serve others.

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Both large and small countries benefit greatly from humility. Go back to the Table of Contents 62 The Tao is the tabernacle of creation, it is a treasure for those who are good, and a place of refuge for those who are not. How can those who are not good be abandoned? Words that are beautiful are worth much, but good behavior can only be learned by example.

When a new leader takes office, don't give him gifts and offerings. These things are not as valuable as teaching him about the Tao. Why was the Tao esteemed by the ancient Masters? Is it not said: "With it we find without looking. With it we find forgiveness for our transgressions. Go back to the Table of Contents 63 Act by not acting; do by not doing. Enjoy the plain and simple.

Find that greatness in the small. Take care of difficult problems while they are still easy; Do easy things before they become too hard. Difficult problems are best solved while they are easy. Great projects are best started while they are small. The Master never takes on more than she can handle, which means that she leaves nothing undone.

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When an affirmation is given too lightly, keep your eyes open for trouble ahead. When something seems too easy, difficulty is hiding in the details. The master expects great difficulty, so the task is always easier than planned. Go back to the Table of Contents 64 Things are easier to control while things are quiet. Things are easier to plan far in advance.

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Things break easier while they are still brittle. Things are easier hid while they are still small. Prevent problems before they arise. Take action before things get out of hand. The tallest tree begins as a tiny sprout. The tallest building starts with one shovel of dirt. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single footstep. If you rush into action, you will fail.

If you hold on too tight, you will lose your grip. Therefore the Master lets things take their course and thus never fails. She doesn't hold on to things and never loses them. By pursing your goals too relentlessly, you let them slip away. If you are as concerned about the outcome as you are about the beginning, then it is hard to do things wrong. The master seeks no possessions. She learns by unlearning, thus she is able to understand all things.

This gives her the ability to help all of creation. Go back to the Table of Contents 65 The ancient Masters who understood the way of the Tao, did not educate people, but made them forget. Smart people are difficult to guide, because they think they are too clever. To use cleverness to rule a country, is to lead the country to ruin. To avoid cleverness in ruling a country, is to lead the country to prosperity. Knowing the two alternatives is a pattern. Remaining aware of the pattern is a virtue. This dark and mysterious virtue is profound.

It is opposite our natural inclination, but leads to harmony with the heavens. Go back to the Table of Contents 66 Rivers and seas are rulers of the streams of hundreds of valleys because of the power of their low position. If you want to be the ruler of people, you must speak to them like you are their servant. If you want to lead other people, you must put their interest ahead of your own.

The people will not feel burdened, if a wise person is in a position of power. The people will not feel like they are being manipulated, if a wise person is in front as their leader. The whole world will ask for her guidance, and will never get tired of her. Because she does not like to compete, no one can compete with the things she accomplishes. Go back to the Table of Contents 67 The world talks about honoring the Tao, but you can't tell it from their actions. Because it is thought of as great, the world makes light of it. It seems too easy for anyone to use.

There are three jewels that I cherish: compassion, moderation, and humility. With compassion, you will be able to be brave, With moderation, you will be able to give to others, With humility, you will be able to become a great leader. To abandon compassion while seeking to be brave, or abandoning moderation while being benevolent, or abandoning humility while seeking to lead will only lead to greater trouble.

The compassionate warrior will be the winner, and if compassion is your defense you will be secure. Compassion is the protector of Heaven's salvation. Go back to the Table of Contents 68 The best warriors do not use violence. The best generals do not destroy indiscriminately. The best tacticians try to avoid confrontation. The best leaders become servants of their people. This is called the virtue of non-competition. This is called the power to manage others. This is called attaining harmony with the heavens. Go back to the Table of Contents 69 There is an old saying: "It is better to become the passive in order to see what will happen.

It is better to retreat a foot than to advance only an inch. There is no greater disaster than underestimating your enemy. Underestimating your enemy means loosing your greatest assets. When equal forces meet in battle, victory will go to the one that enters with the greatest sorrow. Go back to the Table of Contents 70 My words are easy to understand and easier to put into practice.

Yet no one in the world seems to understand them, or be able to apply what I teach. My teachings come from the ancients, the things I do are done for a reason. Because you do not know me, you are not able to understand my teachings. Because those who know me are few, my teachings become even more precious. Go back to the Table of Contents 71 Knowing you don't know is wholeness. Thinking you know is a disease. Only by recognizing that you have an illness can you move to seek a cure.

The Master is whole because she sees her illnesses and treats them, and thus is able to remain whole. Go back to the Table of Contents 72 When people become overly bold, then disaster will soon arrive. Do not meddle with people's livelihoods; if you respect them, they will in turn respect you. Therefore, the Master knows herself but is not arrogant.

She loves herself but also loves others. This is how she is able to make appropriate choices. Go back to the Table of Contents 73 Being over bold and confident is deadly. The wise use of caution will keep you alive. One is the way to death, and the other is the way to preserve your life.

Who can understand the workings of Heaven? The Tao of the universe does not compete, yet wins; does not speak, yet responds; does not command, yet is obeyed; and does act, but is good at directing. The nets of Heaven are wide, but nothing escapes its grasp. Go back to the Table of Contents 74 If you do not fear death, then how can it intimidate you? If you aren't afraid of dying, there is nothing you can not do.

Those who harm others are like inexperienced boys trying to take the place of a great lumberjack. Trying to fill his shoes will only get them seriously hurt. When people become rebellious, the government has become too intrusive. When people begin to view death lightly, wealthy people have too much which causes others to starve. Only those who do not cling to their life can save it. Go back to the Table of Contents 76 The living are soft and yielding; the dead are rigid and stiff.

Living plants are flexible and tender; the dead are brittle and dry. Those who are stiff and rigid are the disciple of death. Those who are soft and yielding are the disciples of life. The rigid and stiff will be broken. The soft and yielding will overcome. The top is bent downward; the bottom is bent up. The excess is taken from, and the deficient is given to.

The Tao works to use the excess, and gives to that which is depleted. The way of people is to take from the depleted, and give to those who already have an excess. Who is able to give to the needy from their excess? Only someone who is following the way of the Tao. This is why the Master gives expecting nothing in return. She does not dwell on her past accomplishments, and does not glory in any praise.

Go back to the Table of Contents 78 Water is the softest and most yielding substance. Yet nothing is better than water, for overcoming the hard and rigid, because nothing can compete with it. Everyone knows that the soft and yielding overcomes the rigid and hard, but few can put this knowledge into practice. Therefore the Master says: "Only he who is the lowest servant of the kingdom, is worthy to become its ruler. He who is willing to tackle the most unpleasant tasks, is the best ruler in the world. Go back to the Table of Contents 79 Difficulties remain, even after solving a problem.

How then can we consider that as good? Therefore the Master does what she knows is right, and makes no demands of others. A virtuous person will do the right thing, and persons with no virtue will take advantage of others.