by Dr. Hilmar Alquiros, The Philippines  Impressum   Datenschutzerklrung

 老子  道 德


Lǎozĭ  Dodjīng


Translation + Commentary




01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09

10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27

28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36

37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45

46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54

55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63

64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72

73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81

The Tao of Do Der Weg des Do




Part 1: Do 137



Bronze Zhou Dynasty (1122-221 BCE):

Picture Picture Picture

Seal Qin-Han Dynasties (221 BCE-200 CE):
Picture Picture Picture

 Adrian Chan-Wyles, PhD, (ShiDaDao) 2014.  Qianfeng Daoism (UK) - Introduction  Etymology of the Ideogram Dao

 etymology =  "The head in motion; the motion of thoughts which are diverse; traveling through life with one's attention on the duality of unity with nature" [Nina Correa, p. 267].

The parts Do and have been interchanged in the Mǎwngduī scripts: chs. 1-37 follow chs. 38-81; furthermore, ch. 24 precedes chs. 22 and 23, chs. 40 and 41 have been interchanged, and chs. 80 and 81 are placed after ch. 66.


01 - The Mystical Way


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



do do ,fēi chng do 。


mng kě mng ,fēi chng mng 。


w mng tiān d zhī shǐ 。


yǒu mng wn w zhī mǔ 。


g chng w y yǐ guān q mio 。


chng yǒu y yǐ guān q jiǎo 。


cǐ liǎng zhě tng chū r y mng ﹐tng wi zhī xun 。


xun zhī yu xun ,zhng mio zhī mn 。

"The intellect ...

"does not want god inasmuch as he is God.

Why? Because, as such, he still carries a name.

And even if there were a thousand gods,

it would still break beyond:

it wants him where he has no name.

It wants something more noble, something better

than God as having a name."

Meister Eckhart's Mystical Philosophy.

Translation and commentary by Reiner Schrmann.

Lindisfarne Books, Great Barrington MA, 2001. 


 Lǎozĭ used the two meanings of Do as a play on words, to introduce his "agnosticism" - here as the earliest overcoming of mythology in favor of a pure philosophy! - which, so early on, is only comparable to the Rigveda and to Protagoras!



 A Do you can explain

 is not the timeless Do.


 Concepts you can conceive

 are not the timeless concepts.


 World's beginning is inconceivable, 

 conceivable only as everything's origin.

 Since "Do" is a mere (auxiliary) designation for the unfathomable, that timeless transcendent primordial basis of all being and non-being, it cannot be explained in principle.

 Accordingly, comprehensible concepts cannot be timeless for that unfathomable original beginning, because this ultimate original beginning of being from non-being and non-being from transcendent nothingness is unintelligible.

 The Question of Being ("Why is something and not nothing?" - Leibniz et al.) remains timelessly metaphysical: the unfathomable can only be set as the origin of all forms of being (abstractions, things, events, living beings).


01-02 To explain means to situate in time and space, which is thus feasible with phenomena within our limited spacetime. Outside space and time, beyond the realm of reality, any claim to situate something ends up in the imaginary, inconceivably timeless abyss of absolute nothingness.

 03-04 Correspondingly, within the subjective world of consciousness, the principle of naming as designation is suspended. Concepts of the inconceivable transcendence are vain un-words for imaginary timelessness; designations are only of use since the point at which nothingness emerged into any sort of beingness within spacetime.

 05-06 Time started simultaneously as a projection of spacetime, hence time 'zero' is not understandable intellectually, but imaginable only as the primordial mother of every-thing.



 Therefore: Without permanent desire,

 contemplate its deep secret;

 with permanent desire,

 contemplate its limitations.

 07-10 As long as our awareness is driven by desires, we perceive the surface and limitations of the phenomena of this mortal world; but when our consciousness is freed from desires, we behold and consciously perceive the subtleties and the mystery in the depths.

 To adhere to the outline of the outer world lets us reveal the wonders of being; to be in harmony with the inner world of contemplation lets us illuminate the mystery of nothingness.



 These both emerge from one,

 but differ in names:

 together call them dark.


 Darkness' even deeper darkness

 all mysteries' gate.

 11-12 'Both of these' have been interpreted and referred to differently throughout the centuries, as:

[ Being & Nothingness (Buddhism),

[ beginning & mother [Wng B]

[ with desire & without desire [],

[ nameless & named [v. Strau],

[ mystery & limitations [h.a.]:

 all those opposites bear different names, but emerge from out of the same origin: the great unity of opposites

 13-15 Therefore, this unity may be called dark and obscure, profound and hidden, mysterious and mystical.

 Dark as obscure and silent, made the beginning and that 'mother' arise: not 'defined' by Lǎozĭ, but merely 'designated' as the dark:

 "The 'Dark' ... can not be designated as 'being thus' [and nothing else]. Should one designate it as 'being thus' [and nothing else], it would definitely [sic!] not be allowed to define it as one [specific] Dark.

 Defining it as a [specific] dark, and nothing else, would be a definition, and that would be far off the mark. That is why Lǎozĭ says 'Dark and Dark-Again'." [Wng B / Wagner 2003 p. 122-123].

 The darkest of all darkness this color of infinity; the last possible gate to 'Absolute Nothingness'... to the creative potential of transcendent Do.



02 - The Unity of Opposites


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



tiān xi jiē zhī měi zhī wi měi ,sī yǐ ;


jiē zhī shn zhī wi shn ,sī b shn yǐ 。


g yǒu w xing shēng ,nn y xing chng ,


zhǎng duǎn xing xng ,gāo xi xing qīng ,


yīn shēng xing h ,qin hu xing su 。


sh yǐ shng rn ch w wi zhī sh ,hng b yn zhī jiāo 。


wn w zu yān r b c 。shēng r b yǒu ,


wi r b sh ,gōng chng r f jū 。


fū wi f jū ,sh yǐ b q 。


 Do as the unity of all opposites is ultimately symbolized in the ancient Yin and Yang symbol 太極圖 Ti j t: flowing into each other in a complementary and dynamic fashion [.



 If everybody worldwide is aware of

 beauty's acting as beauty,

 then of ugliness, as well.

 If everybody is aware of

 goodness's acting as goodness,

 then of the not good, as well.

 01-02 This most basic natural law also shows its validity in the philosophical categories of esthetics and ethics: every human being becomes aware of how beauty and goodness, in their intuitive differences, simultaneously and inevitably create their own opposites: ugliness and evil.



 Therefore: Being and nothingness

 mutually generate,

 difficulty and easiness

 complete each other;

 length and shortness

 mutually mould;

 height and depth

 lean towards each other;

 sound and voice

 mutually harmonize;

 before and after

 follow each other!

 03-08 The same primordial principle, Heraclitus's enantiodromia  everything flows, changes and reversibly turns into its opposite  dominates the universe of reality, on the one hand, and the world of reality perception, on the other.

 "Enjoying yourself and getting angry come out [thus] of the same door; therefore it is not possible to take up [only one of them] unilaterally. These six [pairs following the initial statement], they all bring out clear evidence that nothing in 'That-which-is-of-itself-what-it-is' 自然 can be taken up unilaterally" [* Wng B / Wagner].

 Rooted in the duality of being and nothingness ab initio, it must be just as true in the applied ontological levels of space and time, as well as for intellectual and emotional consciousness.



 Hence: Wise men stay

 non-interfering in their affairs,

 and practice teaching

 without words.


 Myriad creatures thus arise,

 yet not declining;

  they emerge,

 yet not possessing;

 they act,

 yet not claiming.


 They accomplish their tasks

 without dwelling on it:


 for just not dwelling on it,


 so they do not vanish.

 09-10 The fundamental Doist concept of 無為 w wi as effortless action is based on the principle of 自然 z rn "of itself so", thus "naturally; spontaneously": in individual life as well as in governing a state.

 Consequently, practicing Do means interfering as little as possible in the harmony of Nature and her intrinsic, immanent power of self-regulation.

 No intentional interference at all becomes damage prevention: effortless, doubtless, elegant  just as it is able to provide wordless teaching as an indiscernible model.

 11-13 Accordingly, the disinterested impartiality and non-intervention of the sage allows the diversity of beings unceasingly to unfold.

 Wordless teachers come forth to promote, not to own; their action without acting will never take any credit.

 14-16 "It is exactly because that they do not install themselves [in these particular achievements] that they do not disappear." [*]: if they were only dependent on the Sage, they could not continue to exist.

 Because of their selfless attitude, they fulfill their tasks, but they never dwell on it.

 And just because they do not rest on their laurels, they will not fall into oblivion!




03 - Simplicity


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn


不尚賢, 使民不爭。

b shng xin , shǐ mn b zhēng 。


b gu nn d zhī hu ,shǐ mn b wi do 。


b jin kě y ,shǐ mn xīn b lun 。


sh yǐ shng rn zhī zh ,xū q xīn ,


sh q f ,ru q zh ,qing q gǔ ;


chng shǐ mn w zhī 、w y ,


shǐ fū zh zhě b gǎn wi yě 。


wi w wi ,z w b zh 。

[ The basic Doist principles are universal: they hold true for inanimate and animate systems, simple and complex forms of life, soulless beings and beings endowed with souls, and for individual and society.

[ In order to prepare the transfer of Doist insights onto the level of sagacious rulers, Lǎozĭ reveals the essential traps for the human heart: desire and covetousness.



 Not glorifying proficient ones

 prevents people from competition.


 Not overvaluing goods hard to obtain

 let them not commit robbery.


 Not to display desirable things

 lets their hearts unconfused.

 01-02 In reference to other people, this leads  as envy and jealousy or disguised as admiring and glorifying  to competition and the loss of the third of the Three Treasures in ch. 67.

 Not exalting and glorifying the capable and honorable avoids the downward spiral of competition.

 03-06 In reference to objects, rarity leads astray into robbery (ch. 53); wise men hide their treasures (ch. 70); wise leaders, their wealth and weaponry.



 Therefore, wise men's governing will ...

 alleviate their desires,

 satisfy their needs,

 dampen their hearts,

 strengthen their core.

 07-11 Therefore, wise rulers, as role models, avoid all extravagance, exaggeration and excess (ch. 29), to dampen the people's desires, and to allay their hearts [ambition], but to strengthen the core of body and mind, and to foster their Inner Power.

 "He empties [that which] has knowledge* [the heart] and fills [that which] has no knowledge [the belly]. Bones are without ambition and therefore strong. Ambitions create incidents and therefore lead to chaos. [In this manner] he permanently prompts the people to be without knowledge and desires." [* Wng B / Wagner].

 * "'Those who have knowledge' refers to those who have knowledge about [how to] act. If [they] engage non-interference, there will be nothing that is not well-ordered. [Ditto for those who have desires]. [*].



 Constantly, they let people

 without cunning and desire,

 let those with knowledge

 not dare to interfere.

 To act without interfering

 leaves nothing undone.

 12-13 Competition gives birth to cunning  wise leaders always prevent such misuse of pure knowledge.

 They do not let superior people dare to abuse the inferior ones  by interfering in the spontaneous self-regulating of social systems.

 14-15 Non-interference means acting without acting: sagacious rulers trust in the fundamental Doist concept of 無為 w wi (ch. 02) as the effortless way to let nothing undone.



04  - Inscrutability


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



do chng r yng zhī hu b yng 。


yuān xī s wn w zhī zōng 。


cu q ru jiě q fēn ,h q guāng ,


tng q chn ,zhn xī s hu cn 。


w b zhī shu zhī zǐ ,xing d zhī xiān 。

[ "Do is described as a paradoxical polarity: It stands for the emptiness of infinite potentiality." [Simon].

[ The transcendental part of Do that goes beyond the border of singularity, Nothingness, means at the same "time" the ultimate potentiality.



 Do: like pouring out, however, in use,

 likely not to fill.


 Abysmally deep, oh,

 seemingly all beings' prime cause.

 01-02 As the vacuum within the existing universe is already a plethora of virtual shortest-term beings, the creative emptiness in the imaginary realm of nothingness is all the more so infinitely overflowing.

 Yet this formless void is never to be "filled" or to exhaust  wisely yearning for time-wise being.

 03-04 The primordial breaking of the symmetry of the grand unity of being and non-being emerged from the purest potentiality.

 Seeming absolutely inconceivable in its profundity, all being's prime cause is designated by all creatures as the most ancient ancestor: "time-wisely" yearning for timeless non-being.



 It blunts their sharpness,

 dissolves their entanglement,

 softens their glare,  

 becomes one with their dust.

 05-08 Borrowed from ch. 56:

[ The balancing and redeeming essential  characteristic of Do  now in its immanent part  is elucidated by four illustrations.

[ Sharpness, entanglement, shine, and 'non-Oneness' are relieved by the gentleness of Do: little by little, towards the originally unbroken symmetry.

[ At the end of the day of days, all created beings are released into oneness with their earthly dust; all objects, with their star dust.

 This identification of Do even with the dust of created beings was noted as being similar to the Christian idea of the synthesis of creator and created [v. Strau 1870 p. 25].



 Concealed, oh,

 it seems to 'exist' as pure possibility.


 Whose child it be? I do not know:

 evidently the prelude to the 'Lord' of Heaven!

09-10 The potentiality of Nothingness is already dreaming of the possibility of Something.

 11-12 In the Dodjīng dthe 'Lord (of Heaven)', is mentioned only here: even this once highest god is reduced by Do as its precursor.

 The child looks for its ancestry: agnostic honesty worships the nameless, 'time-less', inconceivable Do, the heavenly prelude to all 'created' (conceived) creators.



05 - Creative Emptiness


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



tiān d b rn ,yǐ wn w wi zōu gǒu 。


shng rn b rn ,yǐ bǎi xng wi zōu gǒu 。


tiān d zhī jiān ,q yu tu yo hū ﹖


xū r b qū ,dng r y chū 。


duō yn sh qing ,b r shǒu zhōng 。

 As a rule for social compatibility, Confucius's (孔夫子 Kǒng fū zǐhumaneness (rn) is anthropocentric, hence biased, and not as universal as the Do.

 Mother Nature operates above all human claim of exceptionalism.



 Heaven and Earth are not 'humane' 

 for all creatures are regarded as

 straw dogs to sacrifice.

 Neither are wise rulers 'humane' 

 for all people are similarly regarded as

 straw dogs to sacrifice.

 01-04 At the end of their days... all creatures' temporary existence will be sacrificed like ritual straw dogs (sumptuously decorated, then carelessly thrown away) - for the higher idea of evolution: unbiased, impartial (ch. 79) vis--vis 'every-thing', and, to this extent, not "humane".

 With "... Pity and interference, the entities would not persist in their entirety [because this pity and interference would be partial and prefer some over others]. If the entities would not persist in their entirety, then [Heaven and Earth] would fail to completely take care of [all of the entities]." [Wng B / Wagner]

 The sages live the Das D, before both are lost to humanity (ch. 18, 38), thus embodying the universal integrity of the Do: as a role-model for an all-embracing ruler without any nepotism.



 Heaven and Earth  their interspace

 resembles the bellows:

 empty, and yet not collapsing:

 in motion generating all the more.

 Bellows or 'Drum or Flute': "...drum and flute are empty and hollow. [The flute] has no feelings [of its own to prefer one sound over the other]. [The drum] has no activity [of its own to create this resonance rather than another]."

Both, drum and flute, are inexhaustible, and so the space between Heaven and Earth is inexhaustible; keeping to the middle, they "discard their selves and put themselves at the service of other entities so that there is none that is not well-ordered." [*].

 Being is born from Nothingness (ch. 40), that voluptuous, creative void.

 05-08 [scholion]. There are more things in Heaven and Earth... [Hamlet I, 5], because of the inexhaustible driving force of the empty space between them: creatively fluctuating, but never collapsing  while forging our fate.

 Once in motion, the perpetuum mobile of the Do, symbolized as the bellows of Nature, will nurture and care for all entities continuously.



 Many words frequently exhaust themselves;

 not just as if keeping your center.

 Proverbial wisdom in rhyme:

  qing  zhōng, which recall Wittgenstein's "Where-of one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." ["Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darber man man schweigen.", transl. by Ogden].

 09-10 From the self-limiting of the surface to the depths of contemplation (ch. 1), the network of words must be exchanged for the sound of silence, the perplexity of the periphery for the security of the center.

 Let go and find.



06 - The Mystical Female


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



gǔ shn b sǐ sh wi xun pn 。


xun pn zhī mn sh wi tiān d gēn 。


min min ru cn ,yng zhī b qn 。

[ Mentioned in 列子 Lizǐ (~ 440-360) as pre-Lǎozĭ rhymed (aa bbbb) teaching, going back to the 'Yellow Emperor'.

[ Alternative interpretation: life-prolonging breathing techniques by 河上公 Hshng Gōng  ridiculed by 庄子 Zhuāngzǐ (~ 365-290) in ch. XV.



 The spirit of the valley is immortal:

 called the dark female...

 Mystic female's gate

 called Heaven's and Earth's root:

 intangible, though seemingly existing 

 inexhaustible its use.

 01 "The 'Spirit of the valley' is the non-valley in the middle of the valley" [王弼 Wng B / Wagner, 2000, 210].

 The Spirit (ch. 29) of the valley (ch. 39.04-05) is form- and motionless, passive-low (ch. 66, 32; 28)   as the empty middle surrounded by fullness (ch. 11, 5), calm as the highest entity.

 This Yin perspective of the Do is like a riverbed that flows out endlessly and whose flowing into being will never run dry.

 02 Called (), but not defined () as, mysterious, dark (~Heaven) and female (~Earth): the transcendent, nameless, inexhaustible Do, once it has passed through the birth canal of the Gate, becomes womb and nurturing mother of every-thing.

 03-04 That mystic gate of the feminine (ch. 1) between Beginning and Mother, gives life to Yin and Yang as the basis of all entities, also called the root (source and origin; ch. 16) of Heaven and Earth.

 05-06 Intangible: Do is immaterial and inconceivable, but, nonetheless, just as if existing: ... like a (never-ending) silken string, if one wishes that it is there, it does not show its form, if one wishes that it is not there, all entities indeed come into being by virtue of it.

 Inexhaustible: no entity is not completed by it, but while being used, Do always gives effortlessly.



07 - Everlasting unselfishness


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



tiān zhǎng d jiǔ 。


tiān d suǒ yǐ nng zhǎng qiě jiǔ zhě ,


yǐ q b z shēng ,g nng zhǎng shēng 。


sh yǐ shng rn hu q shēn r shēn xiān ,


wi q shēn r shēn cn 。


fēi yǐ q w sī xi !g nng chng q sī

 Only Do is timeless.

 Humility preserves, frugality fulfills.



 Heaven seems constant,

 Earth seems enduring.

 Therefore Heaven and Earth

 can be constant and stable:

 because they do not persist for themselves,

 hence they can exist constantly.

 01 "Heaven 'excels', Earth persists ... Should they live for their own interests, they would struggle with [other] entities. As they do not live for their own interests, the [other] entities relate back to them." [王弼 Wng B / Wagner].

 Hence, after having passed the Gate to non-nothingness, Do is everywhere between Heaven and Earth unconditionally constant and enduring.

 02 Still following the spirit of Do, all world has the capacity (D) of being constant and enduring.

 Hereby Heaven and Earth obey the laws of Nature, which in turn follow the model of Do, touching its timelessness.

 03-04 Do is not selfish (ch. 2, 13, 19, 22, 26) and it acts without making demands (ch. 2, 34).

 Accordingly, Heaven and Earth do not follow any purposes of their own, they do not "live" for themselves, and therefore they are able to persist and to be called "long-lived".



 Hence: Wise men

 put last their own person,

 and yet are they themselves ahead;

 they renounce their self-concerns,

 and yet is their person preserved.

 Is that not, because

 they have no self-interests?

 Thus, they can fulfill

 their private aims.

 05-08 Wise men emulate Nature's unselfish, impartial, and unbiased Way.

 Accordingly, they put their selves last, they pay no heed to their own interests and relinquish their own persons.

 Yet the "motherly" paradox of Do's acting without acting leads the sages ahead of all others and lets their persons be preserved.

 09-10 Lǎozĭ's rhetorical question aims at aimless self-forgetfulness as the crucial trait of the sages nature.

 In the end, he emphasizes just this quality as being essential to allowing them, paradoxically, to fulfill their own interests and to accomplish their personal aims.

 V. Strau compares that with "So the last will be first, and the first will be last." [Matthew, 20:16] and "And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." [Matthew 23:12], in Nietzsche's version: "...and he that shall humble himself intends to be exalted."



08 - Flexibility without competition


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



shng shn ru shuǐ 。


shuǐ shn l wn w r b zhēng ,


ch zhng rn zhī suǒ ,g jǐ y do 。


jū shn d ,xīn shn yuān yǔ shn rn ,


yn shn xn ,zhng shn zh ,


sh shn nng ,dng shn sh 。


fū wi b zhēng ,g w yu

 Do - The Water Course [A. Watts].



 Supreme goodness is like water:

 its goodness benefits all creatures

 yet without competing.

 It dwells in places which everyone disdains

 hence, close to Do.

 01 Both the highest goodness and wise men (and rulers) who have reached the supreme goodness are symbolized by water: its yielding quality and adaptability, its readiness and unselfishness.

 "The others abhor low [positions]" ... water is "close to", not identical with the Way, because it embodies an entity. [*王弼 Wng B / Wagner].

 'Close to' means here both 'similar' and 'nearby'; maybe the Old Master did this intentionally [v. Strau 1870 p. 39].

 02-03 Just as water is vital for the myriad of life forms, inconspicuous and unobtrusive goodness represents the ethical essence of wise rulers for all subjects.

 For both, water and guidance, the intrinsic core of cooperativeness is inalienable: ever to meet, never to compete.

 04-05 Indispensable too, both for the symbol of water and the supreme goodness of impartial governing, is the unrestricted readiness and availability to flow everywhere: also and especially into the lowest, most unattractive places, which any spirit of competition would disdain.

 This is the Way... to attain nearness to Do.




 In dwelling  low places,

 in heart-mind  depth,

 in giving  humaneness,

 in conversation  sincerity,

 in administration  order,

 in business  competence,

 in acting  timeliness.

 Wise men's goodness follows the course of water.

 The philosophical foundation and general principles of goodness  as unlimited flow and all-governing rule near to Do!  are now to be elucidated by seven practical implementations as follows:

 06-12 Goodness:

[ Good dwelling does not eschew low places; wise leaders live in lowliness and thereby ground their inner authority.

[ To a humble heart, goodness gives depth; to a mindful mind, profundity.

[ Good giving is cooperative, and, to this extent, humane and on an equal footing.

[ Goodness in talking is based on being sincere and truthful.

[ Good administration is done in a silent way: 'regulation without regimentation'.

[ Good business practices are premised on honest competence and select expertise.

[ The quality of acting requires timeliness, spontaneous actuation is based on a good sense of timing.



 For only no competing,

 hence no resentment.

 13-14 The rule of rules, not to enter into competition, is indispensable:

[ cooperation instead of competition,

[ open-mindedness instead of discrimination,

[ common good instead of individual advantage,

 "This means that water corresponds in all these qualities to this Way." [*].

 They constitute the spiritual framework: for a realm without rancor, for a resort without resentment.



09 - Letting Go


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



ch r yng zhī b r q jǐ ;


chuāi r ru zhī b kě zhǎng bǎo ;


jīn y mǎn tng m zhī nng shǒu ;


f gu r jiāo ,z y q ji 。


gōng su shēn tu ,tiān zhī do 。

 In light of the cyclical dance of the Yin Yang duality in all Nature, human attempts to maximize ways and means constitute short-lived episodes, which are doomed to fail.



 Maintaining and also overdoing things

 not as good as letting them end.


 Polishing while sharpening

 cannot protect for long!

 01-02 To hold a vessel with both hands and to fill it to the brim, to preserve something and to overdo it, to use something and to overstretch it at the same time better to let it be.

 "'To maintain' refers to [what in Lǎozĭ 38 is called] 'not to let go of the receipt / capacity.' If [he] already does let go of this capacity, but still adds on to it, [this results in] a situation where there is an unavoidable danger of being toppled." [*王弼 Wng B / Wagner].

 03-04 To polish and to grind a blade, to temper and to over-sharpen a double-edged sword  the path of perfection will not protect for long.

 "If one has already polished the tip [of a sword] so that it becomes pointed, and grinds it in addition so that it becomes sharp, a situation [arises] where it is unavoidable that one will suffer a defeat." [*].



 Nobody can guard palaces

 filled with gold and jade.


 Wealthy and honored, yet haughty 

 self-surrendering one's calamity.

 After some useful equipment in war and peace, now wealth and fame get clarified:

 05-06 Never display your treasures: precious things in palaces cannot be preserved for long... not as good as having nothing.

 07-08 Also never display your merits: like wealth, also fame and honor are often linked to haughty arrogance.

 This will bring calamity and disaster upon you  pride comes before the fall.



 Retreat after your work is done:

 the Way of Nature.

 Do as Mother of every-thing is also method, process, procedure  as the Way of Heaven, as the Way of Nature.

 09-10 When the task is accomplished, the work completed...

[ The Way of Do demonstrates to a wise ruler how hereafter to withdraw oneself: Do goes back to its invisible origin.

[ "The four seasons alternate, when the task [of one of them] is completed, there is a change [to the next one]." [*].

[ Both sages and wise leaders also return to their point of departure  and to the next phase in the everlasting cycle.



10 - Purity and Modesty


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



zǎi yng p bo yī ,nng w l hū ﹖


zhuān q zh ru ,nng r yīng r hū ﹖


d ch xun lǎn ,nng w cī hū ﹖


i gu zh mn ,nng w wi hū ﹖


tiān mn kāi h ,nng wi c hū ﹖


mng bi s d ,nng w zhī hū 。


shēng zhī ,ch zhī ,shēng r b yǒu ;


wi r b sh ;zhǎng r b zǎi ,


sh wi xun d 。

 The statements "!" / questions "?" in 01-12, which demand a "yes", were called Doist Hymn [Waley] or catechism [Schwarz].



 Preserve spirit and soul, keep their unity,

 can you be unsplit, indeed?


 Focus your vital energy, reach suppleness,

 can you be like a newborn child, indeed?


 Wash away your dark visions,

 can you be immaculate, indeed?

 The lines 01-06 are focussed on individual self-improvement:

 01-02 The general Doist principle of "Unity of Opposites" is here applied to the Spiritual soul of Yang (breathing / exercises, consciousness) and the Bodily soul of Yin (blood / circulation, perception) and to how to combine both forces into undivided Oneness, into the Flow of Do that lives in D.

 Hence, Lǎozĭ seems to distinguish  yǐng the spiritual soul and   the "mortal soul", which is attached to the body, in a manner similar to Aristotle's ψυχή and νοῦς [v. Strau 1870 p. 46].

  03-04 Focusing on the  Q (ch. 42), as liaison of both souls, allows the necessary yielding quality and suppleness of a newborn to be achieved (ch. 10, 28, 41); it preserves the abundance of its Inner Power (ch. 55), being reminiscent of the Upanishads ("The Brahmin should quit learning and become like a child."), and, later on,  Yē sū.

 05-06 Spotlessly cleansing the inner mirror of consciousness from dark visions can be accomplished: by being free of desires (ch. 1), by contemplating the blessings of nothingness (ch. 11, 14, 48), by making what is murky clear thanks to the circumspection of silence, and by creating serenity thanks to the circumspection of enduring movement (ch. 15).



 To love the people, to guide the country:

 can you do that  without cunning, indeed?


 Like Heavens Gate opens and closes

 can you act in that female-passive way, indeed?


 To reach an all-around understanding:

 can you do it without cunning, indeed?

 The lines 07-12 aim at supra-individual conclusions, mainly for the ruler of the state:

 07-08 If the abovementioned individual ethical qualities are represented in the spirit and soul of the ruler, he will lead by way of disinterested love  i for the people, by way of non-interfering action without cunning, guidance without ruse.

 09-10 According to a dark myth of creation [Wilhelm, 1910; Trauzettel, 1999]Heaven's Gates transform Do's transcendent state of nothingness into 'every-thing' by constantly opening and closing "as phases of order and chaos, with pervasive effects on all under Heaven". [Wng B 王弼].

 Later on, Religious Doism chose the alternative, concrete meaning of nostrils, to underline their breathing techniques.

 All changes and effects of Heaven's Gates are accomplished in a female way, not leading, but adapting spontaneously: like a hen is responsively caring for all, but not leading or actively interfering. Thus also a ruler, following this female principle, will enjoy subjects that follow him of their own accord.

 11-12 A leader can achieve a deep and comprehensive understanding, without deception and delusion, without ruse or political cunning, because he has no personal interest.

 Cf. ch. 37: "The Eternal of the Way is without interference. ... If dukes and kings were only able to hold on to [the Eternal of the Way], the ten thousand kinds of entities would change [for the better] of their own accord." [*].



 Creating and caring;

 producing, yet not possessing;

 dealing, yet not depending on;

 conducting, yet not commanding

 this is called deep Inner Power.

 13-16 D, the reification of Do as Inner Power, or "subjective objectification"(!), comprises creating and caring for aspects of Do:

 [ of Nature (creating, not possessing),

 [ of Humans (bringing about, not building on),

 [ of the Earth (leading, not commanding).

17 After "Creating and caring" identical with ch. 51, 15-18!



11 - Creative Nothingness


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



sān sh f gng yī gū ,


dāng q w ,yǒu chē zhī yng 。


shān zh yǐ wi q ,


dāng q w ,yǒu q zhī yng 。


zo h yǒu yǐ wi sh ,


dāng q w ,yǒu sh zhī yng 。


g yǒu zhī yǐ wi l ,


w zhī yǐ wi yng 。

 In Western thought Being tends to dominate Non-Being: Being, in naive perception, as ontological bedrock, Non-Being as mere absence  as a placeholder... with echoes of the atom and void of Democritus.

 In Chinese thinking,  w and  yǒu have equal rights, they are complementary "twins", the present of something and of nothing (ch. 02, 04, 05, 14, 40, 43).



 Thirty spokes join on one hub:

 just its non-being

 is the chariot's usability.

 01-02 The first of Lǎozĭ's three wisely chosen parables compares the thirty (= days of a month) spokes, oriented to and sharing the single hub in the center:

 Matter changes into form, form becomes essence and purpose, condenses into nothingness as meaningful and useful void.



 Mould clay, so to form a vessel:

 equally its non-being

 is the vessel's usability.

 03-04 The second example of a useless lump of clay, which is shaped into a useful vessel, is as fundamental as it is striking: only emptiness can be filled and fulfilled!

 In "The Thing"Heidegger used Lǎozĭ's parable, oddly enough without mentioning the source, even though he did not hide his admiration for this ultimate profundity. His jugs thingness is in fact the void inside it: shaping the void means to shape the jug. The empty space, this nothing of the jug, is what the jug is as a holding vessel. [Philosophy of Technology, 2th lecture].



 Chisel out doors and windows,

 accordingly form a living space:

 equally its non-being

 is the room's usability.

 05-06 The third elucidation of doors and windows in a house re-emphasizes the Yin function of 'no-thingness' inside the Yang basis of being.

 No windows  no light, no life. No doors  a prison, a tomb. Nothingness gives and maintains life.



 Therefore: Being effects 

 accordingly advantages, 

 Non-being accordingly effects usability.

 07-08 The Unity of opposites inside the world of things (Chang, Tsung-Tung, 1982) having now been illuminated three times, Lǎozĭ highlights the essential characteristics of the ontological siblings, sister Yin and brother Yang: usability and advantage.

 [ "The three [wheel, vessel, room] are made from wood, clay, and mortar, respectively, but all [depend] on negativity for their usability. This [Laozi statement] means: Entities in order to be beneficial all depend on negativity for their usability." [Wng B 王弼 / Wagner]. 

 [ The 'void element' is "capable, being itself the minimum, to control the many..." [*]. 

 [ The benefits of Being and the functionality of Non-Being flow into each other, building an ontological unity of Quantity and Quality.

"For all must fall into nothingness,

If it wants to persist in Beingness."

("One and All", Goethe).



12 - Unaddicted Harmony


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



wǔ s lng rn m mng ,


wǔ yīn lng rn ěr lng ,


wǔ wi lng rn kǒu shuǎng ,


ch chěng tin li lng rn xīn fā kung ,


nn d zhī hu lng rn hng fng 。


sh yǐ shng rn ,wi f b wi m ,


g q bǐ qǔ cǐ 。

 [ In ch. 1 sensuality and spirituality were juxtaposed in complementary fashion, with regards to the perception of limiting or mysteries, surface or profundity.

 [ Here, Lǎozĭ philosophically counterposes natural needs of human beings and pursuit of pleasure as harmful exaggerations of desire.



 Too many colors

 blind the human eye;

 too many tones

 deafen the human ear;

 too many flavors

 dull the human taste.

 01-03 Too many...

 [ The concrete five colors  in ancient China blue(-green), yellow, red, white, and black  are the optical example of menacing sensory overload, threatening sensory and inner blindness.

 [ The five sounds or notes of the old Chinese scale prime, major second, major third, fifth, and major sixth, lead, as concrete acoustical illustration, in case of exorbitance to deafness and tin ear...

 [ The five tastes or flavors salty, bitter, sour, spicy, and sweet when overused due to greed, make our mouth numb and lead to 'aberrations in taste'.



 Horse racing and battue hunting

 let the human heart go mad,


 goods hard to obtain

 let block the human unfolding.

 After three kinds of senses, Lǎozĭ adds two perils of passion:

 04-05 Racings and raptures make the human heart confused, fever and fervor drive the human mind to madness.

 06-07 "Goods that are hard to get block man's correct path. In that sense they 'block man's actions'." [Wng B 王弼 / Wagner]. 

 Treasuring rare goods (ch. 03), commerce and money (ch. 53), chasing after costly things  all that will inhibit the inner maturation and block the path.



 So wise men:

 care for needs,

 not for desires;

 hence, they reject this

 and choose that.

 08-10 A wise ruler..

 [ firstly cares for the elementary needs of all subjects before sophisticated desires, for the stomach, not the insatiable eye:

 [ "'He who is for the belly' feeds his own person with other things. 'He who is for the eye' puts himself into service [of other things] with his eye. Therefore the Sage is not for the eye." [*].

 [ The sage avoids all greed for profits (ch. 46), he rejects avarice and avidity, and instead he chooses to lose daily, to win the D of Do.



13 - Autonomous Self-Esteem


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



chǒng rǔ ru jīng ,gu d hun ru shēn 。


h wi chǒng rǔ ru jīng ﹖


chǒng wi xi 。


d zhī ru jīng shī zhī ru jīng


sh wi chǒng rǔ ru jīng 。


h wi gu d hun ru shēn ﹖


w suǒ yǐ yǒu d hun zhě ,


wi w yǒu shēn ,j w w shēn ,


w yǒu h hun ?


g gu yǐ shēn wi tiān xi ,ru kě j tiān xi 。


i yǐ shēn wi tiān xi ,ru kě tuō tiān xi 。

 Human beings possess self-consciousness, therefore they act self-referentially; Lǎozĭ reveals this as crucial for people's value system.



 Favor and disfavor

 frighten equally,

 honors are big worries

 similar to our selfness.

 01 Favour and disfavour are unstable and can change into each other.

 02 Being in a high social position is a disaster  for the leader's person and his selfhood.



 What is meant by: 'Favor and disfavor

 frighten equally'?

 Favour works degrading

 it is like frightening to attain it,

 it is equally frightening to lose it

 that is meant by: 'Favor and disfavor

 frighten equally'.

 03-07 Surprising new considerations raise questions here and look for answers to them:

 "Where there is favor there necessarily is disgrace. Favor and disgrace are equal. If those below receive favor and disgrace, [equally] startling, then they will not be in a position to bring chaos to the empire." [*Wng B 王弼 / Wagner].

 A wise ruler, impartial, and acting without interference, will avoid both, favour and disfavour to spare his subjects any humiliating and embarrassment, when they sooner or later will obtain or lose them. That's why!



 What is meant by: "Honors are big worries

 similar to our selfness"?

 I thereby have big worries

 because I am selfish.

 If I reached selflessness, which worries

 would I still have?

 08-11 The second question, following the second statement above, focuses on honor and its own antagonist, the disaster of dishonor:

 "Where there is splendor, there necessarily is disaster. Splendor and disaster amount to the same. If those below receive splendor and disaster as [equally] startling, then they will not be in a position to bring chaos to the empire." [*].

 Worries will be inevitable as long as the leader's person and personality suffer  as painfully as the body can suffer  from selfness, always risking self-referentiality or even selfishness.

 So, to avoid any worries, the Sage follows Lǎozĭ's advice in ch. 7 "they renounce their self-concerns, and yet is their person preserved."



 Therefore, they who appreciate to act

 with their selfness for all world,

 seemingly to them

 one can give the world;

 who love to act

 with their selfness for all world,

 seemingly them

 one can entrust with the world.

 Logically, the last part is now dedicated to the question of what best selection criteria allow an ideal ruler to be found.

 His personality must not be altered or diminished by favour or disfavour, by honor or dishonor.

 12-13 The first criterion considers for the candidate's intellectual approach to the realm (the world):

 "'There is no other' entity by which his personality could be 'altered' [if makes use of the characteristics of soft water in overcoming the hard as the Laozi 78.1 says], that is why the text says 'being respected'. Once he has come to this point, then indeed he can be entrusted with All Under heaven." [*].

 Those who appreciate caring for all the world with their whole person, they obviously are the right ones to whom the direction of the state should be given.

 14-15 A more emotional aspect ensures the comprehensive suitability for being an unselfish, thoughtful ruler:

 "There is no other entity capable of diminishing his personality, therefore [the text] says 'being cherished'. If he has come to this point then indeed he can be put in charge of All Under Heaven. If his personality can be altered or diminished neither because of favor of disgrace nor because of splendor or disaster, then indeed All Under Heaven can be handed over to him." [*].

 They who love with all their personality to act on behalf of the world, seemingly one can entrust them, to act without acting, to rule the Middle Kingdom without commanding it.



14 - The Incomprehensibility of Do


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



sh zhī b jin mng yuē y 。


tīng zhī b wn mng yuē xī 。


tun zhī b d mng yuē wēi 。


cǐ sān zhě b kě zh ji ,g hn r wi yī 。


q shng b jiǎo ,q xi b mi ,


shng shng b kě mng ,f guī y w w 。


sh wi w zhung zhī zhung ,w w zhī xing ,sh wi hū huǎng 。


yng zhī b jin q shǒu ,su zhī b jin q hu 。


zh gǔ zhī do yǐ y jīn zhī yǒu 。


nng zhī gǔ shǐ ,sh wi do j 。

 [ Because of Do's namelessness and incomprehensibility in principle, without any way of intelligibility towards the transcendence of Do, Lǎozĭ could have concluded "Whereof one cannot speak, thereon one must remain silent" [Wittgenstein].

 [ Nevertheless he tries in several chapters to approach the unapproachable, to describe between the lines the indescribable: by means of a poetic approach, anticipating similar efforts of Negative Theology [e.g. Meister Eckhart].



 Look at it nothing to see:

 its name is plain (invisible);


 listen for it nothing to hear:

 its name is  empty (inaudible);


 reach for it nothing to grasp:

 its name is subtle (intangible).

 01-06 That which cannot be seen / heard / grasped, Wng B calls *fineinaudiblesmooth:

  "For these three [the senses of sight, hearing, and touch] it is impossible to come to a definition [of this], and thus, diffuse it is, [being] the One.

  It is without shape or image, without sound or echo. That is why it is able to leave nothing unpenetrated and nothing unreached. It is not knowable and, even with my ear, eye, and touch I do not know to make a name [for it]." [*Wng B 王弼 / Wagner].

  Starting with this  + interchanged in his commentary like in 馬王堆 Mǎwngduī A+B!), most translators abstracted from the literal meanings of y-xī-wēi to invisibility, inaudibility, and intangibility as unidentifiable by way of three main senses.

  Abel-Rmusat's JHWH = Jahveh hypothesis, mentioned by Hegel and discussed by von Strau [1870 p. 61-75] in an ingenious fashion, was too farfetched in a sense! [h.a.].

  The undefinable Do, being the One, "leaves 'no-thing' unpenetrated and nothing unreached". [*].



 These three cannot be fathomed further

 hence, they merge and form a unity:


 neither bright on top

 nor dark below;


 most boundless, and inconceivable,

 returning home into Non-Being.

 07-08 The single senses are limited: restricted to their specific qualities, they contribute their concrete aspects  as intermediate stages for higher conclusions about reality:

 But when the senses merge to a bundle of little insights, they soar to a next level of abstraction, in order to take part in rational cognition on the long way to spiritual enlightenment.

 09-12 "This One  its upper side is not bright;  its lower side is not dark. Dim is it and impossible to name.

 It returns and relates [the entities] back to the 'no-thing'." [*].

 On the ascent to higher realization, Yang (the sunny side of the hill) is not bright, Yin (its shadowy side) is not dark anymore.

 Inconceivable, boundless, nameless: thus things and entities as temporary substances, follow the path home to 'no-thing' and non-entity, returning to Non-Being.



 This is called the shapeless' shape,

 image of Non-Being;

 called undifferentiated, incomprehensible:

 Facing it, not to see its beginning,

 following it, not to see its end.

 13-15 "This [I] call the shape of the shapeless, the appearance of the 'no-thing'. One wishes to say that it does not exist? [The fact still remains] that the entities are based on it for their completion. One wants to say it exists? [The fact still remains] that it does not show its form. ... This [I] call undifferentiated and vague. That is, impossible to define." [*].

 Approaching the Gate to the transcendent Do again, the pale image of Non-Being radiates its shapeless shape.

 Back to the undifferentiated beginning of the universe, forever unintelligible and incomprehensible, follows its last step of transfiguration into Absolute Nothingness.

 16-17 Before and after, beginning and end, human being's pure form of intuition [Kant] vanish, and the creative Do dreams of the next cycle. 



 Hold on to antiquity's Do,

 thus mastering present's occurrences.


 Can you understand antiquity's origin,

 it is called Dos Golden Thread.

 18-19 "Although antiquity and the present are different, their Way persists eternally. Only he who holds on to it is able to regulate the entities. 'Occurrence' means governmental business occurring." [*].

 Beyond the Beyond, the sage (and the wise ruler) need an anchor in the past, to master the present, being enlightened by the insights of the ancients to cope with the affairs of Being: the burdens of daily life as well as the ruling the realm.

 20-21 To understand the oldest beginning means to recognize the continuity of the Way.

 "The featureless and nameless is the ancestor of the ten thousand kinds of entities. Although the present and antiquity are not the same, although times have changed and customs have changed, there definitely is no one [Sage Ruler] who has not based himself on this [featureless and nameless] by way of completing their regulated order. (...)

 Although high antiquity is far away its Way still persists. That is why, although one is existing today, it is possible 'by means of this [present day reality] to cognize the oldest beginning." [*].

 Consciousness needs remembrance, from high antiquity to the Here and Now, the anchor of Being and Time [Heidegger] is called Dos Golden Thread j means 'thread', then 'fabric', then the historical narrative... the 'fabric of world'. [following v. Strau 1870 p. 78-79].



15 - The Inscrutability of the Wise Men


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



gǔ zhī shn wi sh zhě ,


wēi mio xun tōng ,shēn b kě sh 。


fū wi b kě sh ,g qing wi zhī rng 。


y xī [yān ] ru dōng sh chuān ;


yu xī ru wi s ln ;yǎn xī q ru rng ;


hun xī ru bīng zhī jiāng sh ;dūn xī q ru pǔ ;


kung xī q ru gǔ ;hn xī q ru zhu ;


[dn xī q ru hǎi ;li xī ru w zhǐ 。]


sh nng zhu yǐ [zhǐ ]jng zhī x qīng 。


sh nng ān yǐ dng zhī x shēng 。


bǎo cǐ do zhě b y yng 。


fū wi b yng g nng b r xīn chng 。

 The deeper those ancient masters had penetrated into the mysteries of D and Do, the further had they adopted their qualities: the manifest, obvious features and virtues of D as radiation of their Inner Power as well as the hidden, obscure secrets of Do as 'obnubilation' of their enlightenment.



 Antiquity's excellently practicing masters:

 subtle, mysterious, and penetrating so deeply

 impossible to comprehend.


 Yet just for being inscrutable,

 hence I strive for outlining their appearance.

 01-05 Once again, the author of the Dodjīng tries to name the unnameable: to illuminate the unfathomable abyss of the transcendent Do, as well as its reflection in the inscrutable masters of Antiquity, to outline them by allegories and metaphors with poetic license.



 Careful, oh, as if wading across a river in winter;

 cautious like fearing neighbors on all sides; 

 courteouslike guests;


 relentinglike ice that is going to melt;

 genuine like uncarved wood,


 vast like valleys, and

 murky like muddy waters.

 06-12 The mystical number of seven weak contours, three of them related to water again (!), gradually condense into a vivid inkling of an inexpressible impression.

 [ "Someone crossing a [frozen] river in winter is hesitant about whether he should cross or not, and has an expression that makes it impossible to read his feelings." [* Wng B / Wagner].

 [ "If four neighbors join to attack the lord in the middle, he will be undecided, and one does not know which way he will turn. That in a person of 'highest receipt / capacity' [spoken of in Laozi 38.1] it is impossible to perceive any clues [in] his [expression] and it is impossible to make out [his] intentions is also like this". [*].

 [ Formal like a guest, brittle like melting ice, genuine like an uncarved block, vast like a valley, murky like turbid water:

 "Generally speaking, these 'they are like' all mean that one is incapable of [assigning a specific] shape and name to their countenance." [*].

 The psychological dimension is noticeably hallmarked by an unnoticeable approach: delicately, and circumspect, the ancient sages trod their path.

 A gentle course leads to a safe and secure way.



 Who is able to clear the turbid

 by the wariness of silence,

 or who is able to create calmness

 by the wariness of enduring movement?*

 Preserve such matters,

 not to desire for abundance:

 for only no excess can thus

 shield you from continuous toil.

 Who could be capable to (in spite of its being so difficult):

 13-14 To treat the turbid  in a social situation or in oneself that will need an application of the way of 無為 w wi: to let go with composure and circumspection, to attain transparency, and to reach the disentanglement by the sound of silence.

 To treat the calmness  in myself or in a social situation  that will need an application of the way of 有為 yǒu wito move with composure and circumspection, to attain liveliness, and to reach the disentanglement through the awakening of awareness.

 15-17 Enshrine such methods, not to get overwhelmed by wishes, avoid excesses, exaggerations, and extremes (ch. 29).

 Only not always filling up to the brim prevents from overflowing, thus to preserve entities from being forced continuously to toil.



16 - Returning to Constancy


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



zh xū j shǒu jng dǔ 。


wn w bng zu ,w yǐ guān f 。


fū w yn yn g f guī q gēn 。


guī gēn yuē jng ,sh wi f mng ;


f mng yuē chng ,zhī chng yuē mng 。


b zhī chng ,wng zu xiōng 。


zhī chng rng ,rng nǎi gōng ,


gōng nǎi qun ,qun nǎi tiān ,


tiān nǎi do ,do nǎi jiǔ ,mi shēn b di 。

 Cyclic and eternal is the rhythm of Do, growing and returning are the destiny of creatures: from contemplation to constancy, from reflection to release.



 Achieve emptiness in the ultimate,

 keep calm in your core.

 01-02 Utmost emptiness prepares truest tranquility, the enactment of non-action will dampen desire and achieve innermost calmness.



 All beings grow at once, but

 I contemplate thereby their homecoming;


 for creatures, divers and variedthough:

 they all return home to their origins.

 "The teaching of the eternal returning, from activity to inactivity, is the basic doctrine of Dosm" (Lin Yutang), s. ch. 25, 37, 40.

 03-06 The perpetual cycle starts always and for 'every-thing' with the phase of growing towards the culmination of ripening.

 The 24th hexagram of the Book of Change 易經 y jīng, called  f turning point, shows the Receptive Earth over the Rousing Thunder [51th].

 Lǎozĭ, free of any desires (ch. 1), perceives from the beginning all subtlety and the mystery in the depths  all variety of entities, every single one amidst the myriads, will return: back to the roots, home to the origin, into the pivot of potentiality.



 Returning to the roots means calmness,

 this is called return to destiny;


 coming home to destiny means the Eternal,

 aware of eternity means clear-sightedness.

 For a chain of implications, the Dodjīng applies the Domino technique twice:

 07-10 When the changeable things change over... to the calm anchor of Non-Being, it might be called the destiny of Being [Heidegger].

 Coming home to destiny will forfeit the trappings of timeliness and the insignia of transiency, yet winning the constancy of the undesignated.

 Having mirror-like [淮南子 Hui nn zi] knowledge of the eternal essence is called being enlightened, awareness of timelessness means clear-sightedness and embracing the encompassing [Jaspers].



 Not knowing eternity

 rashly brings misery.

 knowing eternitybeing all-encompassing!


 Being all-encompassing leads to impartiality,

 impartiality leads to kingliness,

 kingliness leads to Heavenliness,

 Heavenliness leads to Do.

 11-12 The loss of knowledge of the eternal essence means: "evil penetrates into the allotted role" [Wng B 王弼], in a chain reaction towards chaos and catastrophe.

 13-17 After this brief warning, Laozi has a second positive Domino dialectics [Kalinke]: beginning with the consciousness of constancy, the sage or, respectively, the wise ruler will develop the psychological dimensions of ("leading to") ultimate tolerance, as well as impartialitykingliness, and Heavenliness (kingly and heavenly statures)  leading at the end of all days to Do.



 Do leads to longevity:

 the loss of the body is no threat!

 18 Exceptionally,

 [ Do does not constitute here the "last word" in the chain of conclusions: Do itself also leads to something...

 [ They who fully penetrate to the ultimate emptiness and "negativity"  and attain the Eternal of entities (of the Waych. 52), they will ultimately not be exhaustible.

 [ Hence, the Do, since it ultimately cannot be exhausted, brings about longevity.

 19 Avoiding several Christianized or poetically romanticized interpretations, 沒身不殆 m shēn b di simply means: the end of our Self as person is no danger or threat  in light of returning: home to the root of nothingness, feeling secure in Do.

 More poetical: "Those who endure in Do, will dive into the depth without danger." [Schwarz 1980 p. 66].

 Cf. Lǎozĭ's variation in ch. 33死而不亡者壽 sǐ r b wng zhě shu = dying, yet no doom longevity!



17 - Considerate Leadership


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



ti shng ,xi zhī yǒu zhī 。


q c qīn r y zhī 。 

其次畏之。 其次侮之。

q c wi zhī 。 q c wǔ zhī 。


xn b z yān ,yǒu b xn yān 。


yōu xī q gu yn ,gōng chng sh su ,


bǎi xng jiē wi wǒ z rn 。

 Four kinds of rulers, the "highest on top", are ranked by their subjects' reactions:



 Highest on top: down here

 they only know:  they exist!

 Their next highest are close and praised;

 their next are feared;

 their next are despised.

 01-04 Rulers:

 [ The greatest ruler let the subjects only know that he exists; because of his mature style of ruling lightly and unobtrusively in the background  leadership without interference 無為 w wi behind the scenes, and teaching without words  people feel free and self-confident in the absence of coercion: matters are brought about without being initiated by him [*Wng B 王弼].

 [ The second best to this ideal ruler is not able to rule without interference and with unspoken teaching, but he uses kindliness (like in ch. 38) and humaneness (ch. 17), combined with moral education; hence, he will already be perceived more: as close-by and praised.

 [ The next ruler, ranked as third, lost the capacity of kindliness and humaneness, so he feels forced to use coercive measures, like the Legalists' deterrent: relying on "might and power" [Wagner], similar to  and  lǐ (ch. 38).

 [ The fourth and lowest rank will fall into disgrace and not be taken seriously anymore by his subjects: he rules by use of cunning and ruse; people try to circumvent him and not to follow his orders [*]; they learn, as well, guile, in order to evade the ruler and his regulations.



 Little trust to give,

 little trust to get!

 05  Where there is no trust, there is suspicion:

 Not trusting enough means not experiencing trust, right?

 When the full trust of ancient leaders in their subjects got lost, the subjects' doubts increased.

 Trust, as a reciprocal, precious and subtle feeling of connection, can easily be destroyed, changing into the absence of all credibility, similar to  Ln yǔ Analects*



 Oh, circumspect noble words of the highest:

 Tasks accomplished, affairs settled,

 all other people say:

 "We did it ourselves... spontaneously!"

 06-08 Wise rulers' words, well-considered and true, precious and parsimonious, were not altered but followed, even if their intention could not be make out[*].

After tasks were achieved and works completed by unobtrusive non-interference, then people interpreted everything as natural and spontaneous, as if done by themselves!



18 - The Omen of Decay


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



d do fi yǒu rn y ;


hu zh chū yǒu d wěi ;


li qīn b h yǒu xio c ;


gu jiā hūn lun yǒu zhōng chn 。

 The break in symmetry of the primordial Do had started the evolution of things in the physical universe, as well as, later on, the differentiation of values in the social world.



 Great Do abandoned:

 humaneness and righteousness emerge.

 Shrewdness and sophistry arise:

 there is great hypocrisy.

 01  This loss of original harmony, this paradise of "nobody wants anything" [河上公 Hshng Gōng], leads firstly to "positive" attempts to compensate: idealized systems of values and formal regimentations of social behavior aConfucian  rn humaneness or benevolence and  lǐ ritual or ceremony.

 The circular Do reprobates to rectilinear rectitude or righteousness [Abbot], concerning civilization and culture. Beauty and ugliness originate from the same source (ch. 2) ...

 02 More and more forced compliance leads, secondly, to competitive usage of intelligence: in close relations as cunning and ruse.

 Compulsory participation will give rise to counter-movements and evasive strategies within society, the usage of wisdom will degenerate into sophistry and hypocrisy. 



 Close relatives not harmonizing,

 filial piety and paternal benevolence come up.

 Are land and folk in confusion and chaos,

 loyal patriots appear.

 03 Already inside the social core unit of the family, corresponding patters determine the role behaviour of the basic relationships (father and son, older and younger brother, husband and wife).

 This will be euphemistically expressed as piety and benevolence, embedded in rites and constraints.

 04 At the summit of the state, the renunciation of the Do will all the more so result in the loss the art of leadership without interference and in the moral confusion of the ruler.

 Hence, to avoid chaos, he will adopt desperate measures to force law and order; thereby, the ruler's surveillance apparatus and the subsequent evasive behaviour of the subjects [Wagner] form a never-ending spiral.

 Artificial conceptions of devotion arise, followed by a veritable army of officials and sycophants, who finally end up spying out each other with mutual distrust.



19 - Freedom through Modesty


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



ju shng q zh ,mn l bǎi bi ;


ju rn q y ,mn f xio c ;


ju qiǎo q l ,do zi w yǒu ;


cǐ sān zhě ,yǐ wi wn b z 。


g lng yǒu suǒ shǔ ,


jin s bo pǔ shǎo sī guǎ y 。

 The, at first glance, surprisingly uncompromising demands in ch. 19 are easier to understand as:

 [ continuation of and unity with ch. 18 (and 20.1.);

 [ ironic and consistent criticism of Confucian values, unmasking their renunciation of the Do of Nature;

 [ direct recommendations primarily to the ruler on how to bring people back to naturalness, simplicity, and genuineness (as continued in ch. 20, 22, 23, 28, 37, 38, 39, 80).



 Renounce sanctuaries,

 discard bookishness:

 people benefit hundredfold.

 Abandon benevolence,

 reject righteousness:

 people return to true filial piety

 and parental love. 

 Renounce craftiness,

 reject profit:

 no robbers and thieves will exist anymore.

 01-02 The pseudo-wisdom of a selfish ruler and a dominant class: their sanctimoniousness, cunning, and erudition must be abolished for the true wisdom of "Holy Simplicity".

 Let the people rediscover the manifold of benefits of living their D: the Inner Power of innocent simplicity  pǔ instead of competitiveness  zhēng  Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).

 03-04 In social life, accordingly, the way from pseudo-culture back to Nature and naturalness [RousseauThoreau] has to repudiate the social surrogate values:  

 Humaneness  rn in favor of unselfish love  i, and moral rectitude  in favor of true, genuine, and spontaneous piety and love  without the detour of rites and ceremonies.

 05-06 In daily practical and economic life, consequently, the sovereign has to discard cunning and ruse  qiǎo and fierce competition and pure lust for profit  l, to lead all subjects to cooperativeness and ethical consumerism again.

 Taking advantage of one's fellow human beings by way of "legal" business will disappear, lost in meaninglessness, as will direct forms of theft, robbery and fraud.



 These three examples are insufficient

 to consider a full depiction,

 hence, let them have this addition:

 Appear plain,

 hold nativeness,

 reduce selfishness,

 diminish desires!

 Abandon scholarship:

 no worries anymore.

 "With these three abolishments you may think that culture will be insufficient" [Karlgren].

 07-08 In light of the significance of these threefold basics as crucial for living the spirit of Do, Lǎozĭ adds some further illustrations:


Appear without pretensions  s: manifest simplicity, 

maintain nativeness  : value the unadorned.


Reduce selfishness : minimize interests, 

curb desires  y: diminish greed.


Abandon punditry  xu: stop bookish erudition, 

no worries  yōu: without fear.



20 - Profane Men and Wise Man


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



ju xu w yōu ,wi zhī yǔ ā ,xing q jǐ h ﹖


shn zhī yǔ ,xing q ru h ﹖


rn zhī suǒ wi ,b kě b wi 。


huāng xī q wi yāng zāi !

眾人熙熙如享太牢 如春登臺。

zhng rn xī xī r xiǎng ti lo  r chūn dēng ti 。


wǒ d b xī q wi zho ,r yīng r zhī wi hi ;


lěi lěi xī ru w suǒ guī 。


zhng rn jiē yǒu y ,r wǒ d ru y 。


wǒ y rn zhī xīn yě zāi !


dn dn xī s rn zhāo zhāo 。


wǒ d hūn hūn ;s rn ch ch ,wǒ d mn mn 。


dn xī q ru hǎi ,li xī ru w zhǐ zhng rn jiē yǒu yǐ ,


r wǒ d wn qiě bǐ 。


wǒ d y y rn ,r gu sh mǔ 。

 [ With 28 lines the longest of all chapters  and the most personal one with 7  wǒ (!):

 [ 09-28 was called "The first Emotional Prose of Chinese literature" [Shen], whether it be a self-portrait [Ellen Chen] or not [WaleyDuyvendak].

 Prose, full of ancient poesy!



 Abandon scholarship: no worries!

 Approval and its difference to flattery:

 how far mutually apart, eh?


 Good and its difference to evil:

 similarly mutually apart, what?

 01 Abandon punditry  xu, stop bookish erudition: carefree  yōu, without fear. [= 19.11.].

 "If I were hitting the mark without knowledge, why should [I] strive for an enhancement [of my knowledge]?" [* Wng B 王弼 / Wagner].

 02-03 True agreement or hypocritic flattery, or yes & yes, Sir! or by son & by daughter [v. Strau]: similar, and yet possibly very different!

 Mǎwngduī 馬王堆: to shout angrily or to scold while laughing ; not in Guōdin 郭店but in 北大 Běi D  how? or why?

 04-05 Are Good  & Evil as clear opposites, more distant or similar to  & ?! asks Lǎozĭ in Sokratic style.

 Considering that opposites come from the same source (ch. 2) and Heraclitus's enantiodromia is valid as a principle for all yīn & yng  from a Doist point of view, opposites are no implacable enemies, but rather complementary siblings in the womb of the One.

 Even more depending on context and also intention,  &  can be similarly separated from each other  "yea and aye"!



 People, fearing something,

 cannot elude fear:

 loneliness, not yet ending, indeed!

 06-08 Human fellows share the same, inevitable patterns of fear; of being praised & of suffering [*], first and foremost of self-renunciation [v. Strau].

 Deserted and alone, one still feels endlessly distant to the ordinary ones:

 "'Deserted [I am], endlessly!' He is sighing about the distance separating him from the vulgar." 



 Most people are merry and jolly,

 as if revelling great sacrificial feasts

 and ascending view terraces in springtime.

 09-11 Sacrifices of a big ox were reserved for the upper ranks only.

 Ordinary people enjoy their superficial hedonism, as if, on a big festival or on a delightful panoramic terrace, their view was from a great height  yet their insight was not deep.

 Waley also quotes special "Springtime Terrace Plays" (promoting the fertility of the crops).

 Wng B: "Tailao sacrifice": "'The vulgar scholars are excited as if performing the Tailao sacrifice, as if going up a terrace in spring.' The vulgar scholars are beguiled by beauty and promotion, bedazzled by glory and profits. Their desires press ahead, their hearts are in competition."

[* p. 184]. Cf. 莊子 Zhuāng zǐ, ch. 19 "The Full Understanding of Life" [James Legge]! [h.a.].



 I alone... am quiet, alas,

 so still without any omen,

 like an nursling, not yet smiling;

 worn and weary, alas,

 like without any place to return to.

 12-14 First "I" of seven here, and three statements about missing something:

 [ alone and abandoned, as if otiose, and still without a sign, as if without destiny of being [Heidegger];

 [ like a newborn, as if what to smile about has not yet predetermined;

 [ helpless and aimless, as if without return to the soil, ubiquitary like the Do: "everywhere and no-where" [Ellen Chen].



 Most people, they all have in abundance,

 yet only I seem left behind.


 I am also simpleton's heart, indeed  

 murky and confused, alas.

 We follow now his subjective view:

 15-16 Quite a few of those ordinary people seem to live in opulence, enjoying their plethora of superfluous things, "filling their chests and hearts to overflowing" [*]  yet I alone seem lagging behind, without their concerns and desires, as though I had lost them.

 17-18 As the indifferent dimwit that I am, lackadaisical and undecided, my heart is turbid and confused, I have no ambition (to prefabricated fulfillment).



 Common people are bright and clear,

 I alone am dim and darkened;


 common peoplestrict and discerning,

 I alone am dull and distracted.


 am surging, alas, such like the sea,

 drifting, alas, like without any destination.

 19-20 The ordinary folk are slight and luminous, and they let their light shine forth (as opposed to the sage, who is enlightened but does not investigate; ch. 58).

 21-22 Normal people are so alert and discriminating: they investigate and differentiate (but also separate)  I seem to be dark and dull, opaque and obscure.

 23-24 Undulating and turbulent like the sea, are my "feelings impossible to make out" [*].

 I seem to be drifting without stability, without commitment: "like the high winds I never stop" [Chen].



 Most people, they all have clear motives,

 but alone am headstrong

 like a backwoodsman.

 I alone am different from other people

 but I cherish... the Nurturing Mother!

 25-26 Everyone has a clear motive, normal people handle their affairs in a well-considered fashion, yet I seem to be obtuse and solitary, stolid and stupid, backwards and behind the times.

 27-28 And now, after a long poetical preparation, Lǎozĭ drops a bombshell of ultimate irony: a unique rhetorical masterpiece  to disclosure the depth under the surface, the wisdom behind the philosophical curtain:

 [ I alone desire to be different to the ordinary people... in that I honor the Nourishing Mother!

 [ So, to express his estimation of the Do, Lǎozĭ ("the Old Child", "the honorable old Master") uses here the metaphor of a nursing infant, who gives preference to his "wet nurse", while scorning the pleasures of all the others.

 [ Those people esteem phantasmagoria, "the dazzle of worldly accoutrements" [*]  but wise men honor the nursing, nurturing, nourishing mother, the root of all life: Do.



21 - Unfathomable Do


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



kǒng d zhī rng wi do sh cng 。


do zhī wi w wi huǎng wi hū 。


hū xī huǎng xī q zhōng yǒu xing 。


huǎng xī hū xī q zhōng yǒu w 。


yǎo xī mng xī q zhōng yǒu jīng 。


q jīng shn zhēn 。q zhōng yǒu xn 。


z gǔ j jīn ,q mng b q yǐ yu zhng fǔ 。


w h yǐ zhī zhng fǔ zhī zhung zāi !yǐ cǐ 。

 [ In this chapter, Lǎozĭ tries once more to describe the undescribable, using the poetical power of the vacuum between the lines, as well as  methodologically  the insight of intuition.

 [ The Dodjīng offers in this chapter not less than a creative theory of creation from Nothingness to Being!



 The attitude of purest Inner Power

 follows only Do.

 01-02  Here, the Dodjīng prepares a logical step-ladder, for approaching the "time before time", and tracing  D back to the pure potentiality of  Do.

 Inner Power's disposition (attitude) toward the true emptiness is crucial for one's capacity to act only in accordance with the Way of .

 "The grandest forms of active force

 From Tao come, their only source" [Legge].

 ("Als Quelle nur des Dos Norm,

  Bringt Innere Kraft zu hchster Form"; h.a.).



 In its acting as entity Do

 remains only indistinct and elusive;


 Elusive and indistinct, alas,

 are there images inside it;


 indistinct and elusive, alas,

 there are already beings indicated inside it;


 secluded and unfathomably, alas:

 in its inside, there are essences:


 these are utmost genuine:

 in its inside there is truthfulness.

 The content of the following poetical paraphrases reminded many translators and commentators (though only partially!) of Plato's doctrine of forms.

 03-04 Do's acting (not on, but) as an entity [Wagner p. 443]: figurative, symbolic, metaphorical expressions, "vague" = shapeless, "diffuse" = unfettered, free [we follow now mainly 王弼 Wng B].

 05-08 Diffuse and vague, elusive and indistinct, alas, are there images that exist therein;

 [ vague and diffuse, indistinct and elusive, are there beings that exist therein.

 [ The beings are initiated by Do's shapelessness, completed by its unlimitedness.

 [ But the ten thousand entities are not aware why they are initiated and brought to completion.

 [ The process from originally vague and shapeless images inside (the Do) toward things and beings outside in the universe that is a sort of creative imagination of creation (!): from absolute emptiness to potential (ideas of) images to being in space-time.

 09-10 Secluded and distant, deep and unfathomable, alas, inside there are essences.

 "Secluded" and "distant", 王弼 Wng B calls sighs: on account of their depth and abstruseness: not directly to perceive, albeit the ten thousand kinds of beings are based on these essences.

 But there is hope: by determining their true nature (the Do!), it becomes possible to perceive the entities indirectly, and thus, the Way becomes indirectly discernible through them  at least in some aspects of their "seed", which is present in the ten thousand kinds of entities! [Wagner, p. 443].

 11-12 Because these essences are in fact truthful, there is credibility (credible evidence) inside.

 When the entities have related back to the phase of "secluded" and "distant", their utmost true essence is understood, and the nature of the myriads of kinds is determined; trustworthiness becomes trust.



 From ancient times until today,

 its name has been unforgotten,

 for one discerns

 all being's primordial beginning.

 How do I know this all being's beginning?


 13-15 Because the ultimate absolute truth cannot be understood by a name, therefore is its (unforgotten) name called... namelessname!

 In this name one discerns the primordial beginning of all entities; from ancient times to the present, everything occurred on the basis of this namelessness.

 16-17 Finally, Lǎozĭ seems to be asked, how he can know anything about the features of the myriads of beings in the beginning, when obviously there is no direct experience about "Absolute Negativity" [Hegel] and the early periods of pure potentiality?

 "From this", "for this reason": All the abovesaid has been obtained  merely from the insights of intuition.



22 - The Wisdom of Yieldingness


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn


曲則全,  枉則直,

qǔ z qun ,  wǎng z zh ,


wā z yng ,b z xīn shǎo z d ,


duō z hu 。sh yǐ shng rn bo yī ,wi tiān xi sh 。


b z jin g mng ;b z sh g zhāng ;


b z f g yǒu gōng ;b z jīn g zhǎng ;


fū wi b zhēng ,g tiān xi m nng yǔ zhī zhēng 。


gǔ zhī suǒ wi :「qǔ z qun zhě 」qǐ xū yn zāi !


chng qun r guī zhī 。

 "True words sound paradoxical..." (ch. 78): using the might and power of paradoxes provides us insight into the dynamics of development, as well as into the unity of opposites.



 Partial, then complete,

 crooked, then straight;


 empty, then filled,

 worn out, then new.


 Having little, then obtaining much 

 yet too much, then confused!

 Quotes of ancient aphoristic sayings, with their "balancing wisdom" [LaFargue] prepare the way for the application by a wise ruler.

 Wng B 王弼 correlates 01-04 to 09-16(!), as follows:

 01-04 Maxims:

 [ First maxim of the sages: fragments build a whole, even when they at first hide the results in the completed form: without showing themselves, they become complete (in their enlightenment).

 [ Second maxim of the sages: thus bending results toward correctness, and doing so without self-righteousness, their being right shines forth.

 [ Third maxim of the sages: a depression (in a riverbed) will be filled, without bragging their achievements will therefore be uncontested.

 [ Fourth maxim of the sages: that which is worn out leads to something new, thus, without praising themselves, their capacity grows.


 05-06 From four points of view on quality, the quantitative power of paradoxes are disclosed in the most incisive fashion: "Reduction results in attaining, increase results in delusion"!

 For clarification, Wng B 王弼 makes use of the metaphor of a tree: the higher the top of a tree, the further away it is from its root, the lower it is, however, the better it preserves the root...

 Reducing allows the root to be preserved; increasing means: further away from one's true nature, hence in confused delusion.



 Hence: wise men keep to the Oneness,

 and set an example for all world:


 Not self-attentive,

 therefore enlightened;


 not self-righteous,

 therefore prominent;


 not self-faming,

 therefore meritorious;


 not self-admiring,

 therefore enduring.


 Just for not competing,

 nobody worldwide can

 compete with them.

 07-08 These elucidations in all its qualitative and quantitative facets are now to be transferred to the ruling of an ideal leader: when they are able to embrace the One and cherish the unity of opposites, then they can be regarded as examples, then they can act als wise rulers, making the empire exemplary.

 09-16 Wng B's 王弼 abovementioned four maxims of not being

 [ self-involved,

 [ self-righteous,

 [ self-praising, and

 [ self-admiring

 lead wise rulers to enlightenment, prominence, and merit, as well as to endurance and constancy.

 17-18 Acting by non-acting, the humility of non-interference, the high art of non-competing (ch. 73) allow leaders to lead by not leading: unobtrusive and almost unnoticed, their subjects enjoy self-regulation and peace.

 Only because sages never compete, nobody can enter in competition with them (pacifism)!

 "Negative Morality", defined by what is not to do, can have positive goals and objectives, being reminiscent of the Sermon of the Mount [Wing-tsit Chan].



 The ancient's saying:

 'Partial, then complete':

 How could that be idle talk, indeed?

 Truly, whole... 

 they return to Do.

 19-21 The quotes of ancient times are confirmed again: Lǎozĭ asks rhetorically, if From the Part to the Whole and the other examples could be mere empty words?

 Because of their true, genuine wholeness, all entities (leaders and subjects) will return home, back to their roots, embracing the Oneness, home into the womb of Do.

 The Do as a tool: like a compass, the Great One "observes the destiny under Heaven" [Ren, 1993].



23 - The Sustainability of Do


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



xī yn z rn 。


g piāo fēng b zhōng cho ,zhu yǔ b zhōng r 。


sh wi cǐ zhě ﹖tiān d 。


tiān d shng b nng jiǔ ,r kung y rn hū ﹖


g cng sh y do zhě ,tng y do 。


d zhě tng y d 。


shī zhě tng y shī 。


tng y do zhě do y l d zhī ;


tng y d zhě d y l d zhī ;


tng y shī zhě shī y l d zhī 。


xn b z yān yǒu b xn yān

 Both nature's way of self-regulation and the naturally way of following one's inner truth display similar wordless sustainability.

 With Do, with D?!

 Attaining or losing them?!



 To make few words  Nature's way.

 So, neither whirlwinds last all morning,

 nor downpours last all day.


 Who makes these things?

 Heaven and Earth!


 Even Heaven and Earth

 not able to duration,

 so the less do humans, eh?

 01 Words about the Way are stale and bland (ch. 35), hence, Nature's ultimate clues are inaudible (ch. 14).

 "Many words frequently exhaust themselves" (ch. 5): talking on and on about something inhibits, death will inhibit things, spontaneity releases.

 02-03 Like all extremes, cyclones and cloudbursts are not enduring:

 "Sunrise doesn't last all morning,

 A cloudburst doesn't last all day..."


 "Nothing is as constant as change" [Heraclitus], the constancy of the universe is called evolution!

 04-07 If even the initiators of those violent outbreaks, Heaven and Earth, are subject to this Law of Change, how could then human beings be capable of maintaining "an interfering government for long" [*Wng B 王弼 / Wagner].



 Therefore pursue affairs by Do:

 those who follow Do,

 become one with Do;

 those who follow Inner Power,

 become one with Inner Power;

 those who follow Losing both,

 become one with Loss.

 08-09 Hence, wise men (and rulers) manage their affairs in accordance with the Do  because all beings are completed by the Do's shapeless and non-interfering guidance (ch. 02) and its wordless, "unspoken" teaching.

 It thereby leaves all other beings their true nature [*]. [*Wng B 王弼].

 Those who follow the sage's example, practicing the Do, will become substantially identical with it.

 10-11 Those who attain the Do [their root, 'true nature'; ch. 22 by following their Inner Power!  i.e. by reducing they attain their root (ch. 22), will become substantially identical with attaining (and with their Inner Power!).

 Correspondingly, those who lose the Do (and their root by increasing), will become substantially identical with the loss.



 Those one with Do:

 Do also gladly attains them;


 those one with Inner Power:

 Inner Power also gladly attains them;


 those one with Losing Do:

 Loss also gladly attains them.

 12-13 Those followers who are now identical with Do will, so to speak, be 'gladly' incorporated and adopted by it, ..

 Do will "move towards them, promote and complete their striving, and it will be glad to preserve them" [von Strau].

 14-15 Those now identical with the personification of attaining Do (by Inner Power), will be 'gladly' incorporated and adopted by attaining (Inner Power).

 16-17 Those now identical with the personification of the loss of Do (by no Inner Power), will be gladly incorporated and adopted by the loss (of Do and D!).

 Wng B's commentary "This means: He adapts to their practice. That is why he makes [them] identical with [the Way, attainment, or loss] by way of corresponding to them." 'unsatisfactory' in Wagner's view:

 "He adapts to their practice..." is not the typical way of "a more explicit language in which most of the original textual ingredients are still visible." etc. [Wagner 2003 p. 445-446].



 Little trust to give,

 little trust to get!

 18  'Where there is no trust, there is suspicion.'

 Like already in ch. 5, there referring more to the relationship between ruler and subject, here more in general:

 Not trusting enough means not experiencing trust, right?

 When full trust of ancient leaders in their subjects got lost, subjects' doubts increased.

 Trust, as a reciprocal, precious and sensitive feeling of connection, can easily be destroyed, changing to the absence of all credibility.

 Cf.  Ln yǔ Analects*



24 - Avoidance of Sophistication


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



qǐ zhě b l ;ku zhě b hng 。


z jin zhě b mng ;z sh zhě b zhāng 。


z f zhě w gōng ;z jīn zhě b zhǎng 。


q zi do yě yuē :y sh zhu xng 。


w hu zhī ,g yǒu do zhě b ch 。

 Partially drawing on ch. 22, the Dodjīng is here exposing unnatural traits and turgid behavior in the light of the Do.



 On tiptoes you do not stand,

 with stilted steps you do not walk.


 Self-attentive ones do not become enlightened,

 self-righteous ones do not shine forth.


 Self-boasting ones are without merits,

 self-praising ones do not outlast.

 01-02 Two new examples of supposed self-aggrandizement are introduced before the examples already known from ch. 22:

 Factitious attempts to snatch a higher rank or a more advanced position are doomed to failure:

 A ruler "who takes a high stand will not stand [firmly]. The other entities [his subjects] will [, as a consequence of his example,] think such of [their own] advancement and consequently make [him] lose [his] security." [*Wng B 王弼 / Wagner].

 A ruler "who makes great strides will not make headway", [A ruler] who shows himself does not become enlightened. [A ruler] who is self-righteous will not have [his being right] shine forth. [A ruler] who brags will not have [his] achievements [uncontestedly]. [A ruler] who praises himself will not have [his capacity] grow. With regard to the Way I call these [attitudes] 'left-over food' and 'super-fluous actions.'" [*].

 03-06 These lines 24.03.-24.06. are formally almost perfect inversions of the content in the (pairs of) lines 22.09.-22.16., with respectively  zhě in lieu of   plus 24.05.  w for 22.14.  yǒu, of course!

 Mǎwngduī 馬王堆 A+B logically put ch. 24 between 21 and 23.

 In ch. 22 Lǎozĭ shows, how not having negative traits like self-satisfied, self-righteous, self-praising, self-admiring leads to the positive consequences: enlightened, prominent, meritorious, enduring.

 Here the 'Old Master' demonstrates inversely how having those negative traits leads to not having the same positive traits!



 This, with regard to Do, too, means:

 excessive food, turgid behavior 


 creatures might detest that, 

 therefore Do followers do not linger there.

 07-10 The more abstract recommendations in ch. 29, to avoid excesses, exaggerations, and extremes, are here elucidated as conclusions of the above-mentioned correlations  in light of Do:

 Vain, presumptuous, pushy, turgid behavior is revolting... like leftover food: basically good, but in the meanwhile rotten.

 All creatures disdain superfluous, overdone conduct as excessive excrescences.



25 - The Greatness of Do


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



yǒu w hn chng xiān tiān d shēng 。


j xī lio xī d l b gǎi ,


zhōu hng r b di ,kě yǐ wi tiān xi mǔ 。


w b zhī q mng ,qing z zhī yuē do 。


qing wi zhī mng yuē d 。


d yuē sh ,sh yuē yuǎn ,yuǎn yuē fǎn 。


g do d 、tiān d 、d d 、rn y d 。


y zhōng yǒu s d ,r rn jū q yī yān 。


rn fǎ d ,d fǎ tiān ,tiān fǎ do ,do fǎ z rn

 Once more one of those chapters... where Lǎozĭ tries to explore the unexplorable, to designate the unnamable, to reveal the ephemeral.

 [ In ch. 14, he uses negative considerations, to approach the Pure Intuition.

 [ In ch. 21, we find his visionary providence poetically between the lines.

 [ In ch. 25, the way to the Substantiality of the Absolute is paved with the power of poesy and aesthetic contemplation.



 There was an entity,

 nebulous and perfect,

 born before

 Heaven and Earth.

 Silent and void, alas,

 unique and unalterable,

 universally circulating,

 yet inexhaustible:

 so it might be regarded as

 world's Primal Mother.

 01-02 In the "Axial Age" [Jaspers, 1949, following Anquetil-Duperron, 1771, v. Strau, 1859(!) & v. Lasoulx, 1870], philosophy emerged in several advanced civilizations independently from each other,  "thus spoke": ZarathustraConfuciusLǎozĭBuddhathe Prophets, and the Pre-Socrates.

 In the "mythological-evolutionary" cosmogony of the Dodjīng, on the shoulders of creation myths, the ultimate beginning vanishing into the fog of that period before becoming the Primal Mother of Heaven and Earth, via the perfect symmetry of the grand unification, back to the original chaos of formless form, the unavoidable void of Non-Beingness and into the transcendence of the Absolute Nothingness.

 03-05 *Wng B 王弼 elucidates Lǎozĭ's adjectives:

 [ Vacant: and still is Do, "without form and substance";

 [ alone: "no other beings' companion";

 [ unchanging: "never losing its eternal essence"; 

 [ traveling: all around to every place, "but evades all danger".

 Hence: Do is "the mother of Heaven and Earth", able to keep intact its "grand shape" [*Wagner, p. 201+448].



 I do not know its name;

 to designate it, I call it Do;

 forced to give it a name,

 I call it great.

 06-08 There can be no timeless name for Do (ch. 01):

 [ To define its shape, because any transcendent inconceivable something "comes to completion out of the diffuse" and is "without form" (ch. 41)

 [ A temporary name of practical purposes and as a stop-gap measure, a mere designation... shall be Way (Do), because "there is no being which is not based on it".

 [ To indicate a first impression of its nature, essence, and substance, a (forced) second designation... shall be Great. ("Passing through": no place to which it does not have access).



 Great means traveling,

 traveling means far-reaching,

 far-reaching means returning.

 09-11 Meanings:

 [ Great means "passing through" (traveling): not fixed to one substance only, there is no place to which is does not get [*]:

 [ Passing through means to get far: "reaching the distant end", not biased or restricted to one-sided directions.

 [ Far-reaching means to return to the roots, to one's timeless nature.



 Therefore are: Do great, Heaven great,

 Earth great, also wise Kings great.

 The Middle Kingdom has four Great ones,

 also the King, resides of them as one, indeed!

 12-13 The Great ones are regarded at first as descending, from abstract to concrete, from high to low, taking their power into consideration.

 Below the Do are Heaven, then Earth, and also  yet not sounding Doist prima facie  the King (the 'Son of Heaven'), as highest representative of Man.

 The ruler deserves to be called great not just by position, i.e. his office, but if matching the others, as a great mediator between the three Great ones.



 Men follow Earth,

 Earth follows Heaven,

 Heaven follows Do,

 Do follows its own nature.

 14-17 Now, the Great ones are regarded as ascending: from the King, as the representative of human beings, who follows the Earth as his example, norm, and guide, towards the Earth which follows Heaven's guide, towards Heaven, which follows the leadership of that which cannot be designated, called "Beyond"  Do [*].

 Do, as Being-as-such, already perfected in Chaos, follows finally its own Way: because of its ultimate degree of freedom, by itself, spontaneously, ... entirely naturally.



26 - Serenity


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



zhng wi qīng gēn ,jng wi zo jūn 。


sh yǐ jūn zǐ zhōng r hng b l zī zhng 。


suī yǒu rng guān yn ch chāo rn 。


ni h wn chng zhī zhǔ r yǐ shēn qīng tiān xi 。


qīng z shī gēn ,zo z shī jūn 。

 [ The example of the sage might mould the ideal ruler, to cultivate serenity (ch. 16) and Inner Power (ch. 54), purity and tranquility (ch. 45) [Hn Fēizǐ  韓非子, ch. 21].

 [ The wise men show the way how to avoid the sources of selfishness and the traps of temptations (ch. 44, 46) and to solve difficulties even before they arise (ch. 63, 64).

 [ They show them the way towards a well-balanced harmony of seriousness and serenity.



 Heavy serves as root of the light,

 calm as mastery of the restless.

 We follow here some illustrations by the unsurpassable Victor v. Strau (1870!): 

 01  The heavy mountain bears the forest, whose wood bears the light leaves and blossoms, the gentle haze of clouds rises from the heavy waters  these paradigms show: the heavy is the bedrock of the weightless.

 02 The immovable riverbed dictates the course of the moving water, the restless wind breaks against solid walls    these paradigms show: calmness masters the commotion.



 So wise men walk all day,

 not leaving their baggage's heaviness.


 Although they have brilliant prospects,

 they stay composed, thus transcending them.

 03-04 The wise will walk the whole day long, without leaving their heaviness: only the bare necessities as baggage, the burden of their life, their cheerful seriousness.

 True rulers do not depart from the rules of responsibility.

 05-06 Wise men and rulers are not distracted by magnificent mansions and prosperous prospects, nor by tempting towers and towering temptations: they remain calm and aloof [Wng B 王弼], unhurried and indifferent [Chan], quiet and undisturbed [Duyvendak], serene like a swallow's flight [v. Strau].



 How could rulers

 of myriads chariots,

 due to pure selfishness,

 take lightly all world?

 Lightness lets lose roots,

 restless lets lose sovereignty.

 07-08 Ten thousand chariots are the power of an emperor: selfish rulers are breezy and frivolous, impetuous and thoughtless, with regard to their own person.

 09-10 "The light [and impetuous] cannot press down [sic!; 'suppress'] the heavy [and calm]. 'He will lose the basis' means he will harm his own person. 'He will lose his princely [position]' means he will lose his position as the [sic!] prince."

 Hence, they will lose their basic roots, as well as their sovereign position, and thereby their integrity  without heavy waters and the immovable riverbed...



27 - True Mastership


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



shn hng w zh j 。shn yn w xi zh 。


shn sh b yng chu c 。shn b w guān jin r b kě kāi 。


shn ji w shng yuē r b kě jiě 。


sh yǐ shng rn chng shn ji rn ,g w q rn 。


chng shn ji w ,g w q w 。sh wi x mng 。


g shn rn zhě b shn rn zhī shī 。b shn rn zhě shn rn zhī zī 。


b gu q shī 、b i q zī ,


suī zh d m ,sh wi yo mio 。

 This chapter shows the Doist way to understand goodness and efficacy in practical tasks, in treating human beings and other creatures, as well in in teaching and education.



 Good travelers

 leave neither track nor trace;

 good speakers

 make neither faults nor flaws;

 good reckoners

 use neither tallies nor tablets;

 good locksmiths

 need neither bar nor bolt 

 yet not to open;

 good binders

 take neither rope nor knots 

 yet not to loosen.

 Do's way to solve problems is not sophisticated, but simple, avoiding artificial means, preferring natural, plain, humble solutions, often using the hidden power of paradox.

 We follow here Wng B 王弼 "himself"(!): the sage let people act by their natural spontaneity, without interfering by initiating.

 01 Hence, travelers on foot or travelers with a baggage cart "attain their goals, but there are no tracks": guiding tracks of the sage.

 02 "Blameless" will be the one whose speech "adapts to the nature of other beings... without analyzing them".

 03 Good calculators do not need any 'counting rods' or other artificial means like a tally [stick], but 'it tallies'... [the calculations add up].

 04-05 "Mastery reveals itself in simplicity": a masterly closer (locksmith) is able to lock very simply and reliably without using bar and bolt [lock and catch].

 06-07 To tie strings without any knots, and "still the tie cannot be undone": the sage "neither gets other beings ready nor makes them do something".

 Like in all five examples, people are not controlled, thus they can follow their own nature.



 Therefore, wise men are...

 always good at protecting people,

 hence without ever abandoning men;


 always good at saving creatures,

 for never abandoning creatures.


 This is called: following enlightenment.

 Doist "humanism" is based not on regulating human behavior through punishment, but on learning from example and on compassion, never abandoning Human Dignity [Simon] (ch. 49).*

 08-09 After goodness in individual abilities (01-07Lǎozĭ turns to social goodness: wise men are human beings who help other human beings or even save them. This goodness is constant, this helping is a way of saving them.

 10 No restrictions, no conditions, no segregations: Doist helping means saving all human beingsnever abandoning any human being.

 11-12 Doist helping also means saving all creaturesnever abandoning any creature.

 13 This saving people and creatures  saving Human Dignity and the dignity of all life  happens

 [ in accordance with,

 [ harmonizing with,

 [ and based on

 enlightenment and spiritual clarity.



 Hence: good men are

 not good men's teacher,

 not good men are good mens challenge.

 Not honoring their teacher,

 not loving their challenge:

 although knowledge, great delusion;

 this means an Essential mystery.

 Teaching is not mere knowledge transfer, but learning from the example, in 'modern' motivational style.

 True education is devotion from both sides, teacher and student, with mutually illumination.

 14-15 Good and bad people, teachers and students, being each other's task, share a challenging 'win-win-situation'; hence, in a Doist perspective, they are each the other's treasure.

 16-17 Honoring the good as the example that teaches, and loving the not so good as a challenging treasure: this constellation is crucial; without such honoring and loving: pure indoctrination, mere bedazzlement. [Hn Fēizǐ  韓非子, ch. 21].

 18 This passage (14-18) is full of deep wisdom:

 要妙 Essential Mystery [W, H, F],

 妙要 Mystery of the Essential [M, m, B].


*"Human dignity shall be inviolable." German Basic Law, 1; Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.



28 - Visionary Power


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



zhī q xing ,shǒu q c ,wi tiān xi jī 。


wi tiān xi jī ,chng d b l ,f guī y yīng r 。


zhī q bi ,shǒu q hēi ,wi tiān xi sh 。


wi tiān xi sh ,chng d b tuī ,f guī y w j 。


zhī q rng ,shǒu q rǔ ,wi tiān xi gǔ 。


wi tiān xi gǔ ,chng d nǎi z ,f guī y pǔ 。


pǔ sn z wi q ,shng rn yng zhī z wi guān zhǎng 。


g d zh b gē 。

 [ Do lets the Inner Power of D work from below, and the harmony of Yin and Yang work from within, to lead creatures home to limitlessness and primordiality.

 [ As rulers, wise men, in the unadorned spirit of Do, masterfully lead all entities, out of lowest riverbed (ch. 61), in lenient devotion.

 [ Perfectly parallel, the first three paragraphs follow the poetic pattern:

 Know - preserve - form - constant - return... from the contrastive pairs 'manhood / woman-hood', 'lightness / darkness', and 'favour / disfavour' home to childlikeness, limitlessness,  and primordiality!



 Know your manhood,  

 keep your womanhood:

 become world's riverbed.


 Becoming world's riverbed,

 constant Inner Power will not leave you:

 return, home to childlikeness.

 The soul is androgynous, with Yin and Yang in harmonious development.

 Literally, cock (in the foreground) and hen (in the background) symbolise manhood (Yang: the sunny side of the hill) and womanhood (Yin: the shady side of the hill).

 01-03 Aware of its male traits, but preserving the female traits, Yang is wisely mellowed by Yin, and proves to be the bottom of the valley, the world's riverbed: confluence of all rivers and of all spirits (ch. 61, 66).

 04-06 As world's riverbed, Inner Power will continuously and sustainably serve the other entities to return to the irreproachableness of a newborn child (ch. 55), and at the same time, serve large empires to flow downwards below the small states to win them (ch. 61).



 Know your lightness,

 keep your darkness: 

 to become world's model.


 Becoming world's model,

 constant Inner Power will not deviate:

 to return, home to limitlessness.

 07-09 To be aware of Yang's brightness, clarity, and lucidity, but preserving Yin's obscurity, vagueness, and diffuseness: thus wise men become a model for the world.

 10-12 As the world's model, Inner Power will not diverge from the Great One: hidden and inconspicuous, the power of integrity and virtue will, without ulterior motive and impartially, help the other beings to return to the Ultimate Nothingness. [Infinity Mair 1990, p.93]



 Know your favor,

 keep your disfavor:

 become world's valley floor.


 Becoming world's valley floor,

 then constant Inner Power is ample:

 to return, home to nativeness.

 13-15 Aware of Yang's favour, fame, and grandeur, but preserving Yin's disfavour, anonymity, and humility:

 thus wise men become the bottom of the valley of the world.

 16-18 As the bottom of the valley of the world, they will have enough and sufficient Inner Power, to return to the original simplicity of  pǔ, that 'raw wood' of unadorned primordiality (ch. 32, 37, 57).



 Nativeness, once dispersed,

 becomes then a mere tool.

 When wise rulers use it,

 then they develop it to officials and elders:

 For 'Great carvings arise without shavings'.

 The Unadorned is the truth of simplicity in naturalness.

 19-21 Once dispersed, this no-frills 'raw wood' of the unadorned becomes a mere tool, an instrument with an intention, like officials as tools of the state; hence, the genuine simplicity will be destroyed.

 But wise men develop into high dignitaries*, as a wise ruler into a true Sovereign for a long time.

 22 Hence, the sage does not lead through sheer knowledge and political gamesmanship, but by way of ingenious plainness, ruling with leniency and in an undemanding fashion, in devoted humility:

 "A master craftsman is able to restrict himself!"


* "eldest officials"



29 - Non-Intervention


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



jiāng y qǔ tiān xi r wi zhī ,w jin q b d yǐ 。


tiān xi shn q ,b kě wi yě ,


wi zhě bi zhī ,zh zhě shī zhī 。


fū w hu hng hu su 、hu xū hu chuī 、


hu qing hu yng 、hu cu hu huī 。


sh yǐ shng rn q shn 、


q shē 、q ti 。

 [ Non-Intervention is crucial for the unfolding of creatures as well as communities: because of the spiritual essence of "All under Heaven".

 [ Appreciating variety and changeability of all things and beings, the Sage keeps to the Middle Path and to human dignity.



 Should you intend to take hold

 of all world and interfere with it?

 I see: that will not succeed, finally.

 01-02 "All world" (everything under Heaven) also means in relatively isolated Old China... the Chinese empire!

 To take hold of the state, to take over the empire: he, whoever tries this, will not succeed by any interfering (being overactive), nor by way of violent military-political annexation, but only by "acting without acting"! 無為 w wi (ch. 48).

 Weapons are ill-omened tools, and you cannot reach your goal by (delight in) killing (ch. 30, 31).



 The world as a spiritual vessel

  cannot be interfered, as well:


 interfering ones destroy it,

 grasping ones lose it.

 03-04 The realm is not just a thing  it is a vessel filled with spirit! 

 Spiritual means "without form" (ch. 41), a vessel is a combination of something formless and a form, the shapeless mind fills the shape of matter: like human beings, the world is a vessel, full of spirit.

 One can only act upon a form, but not upon something that is formless; hence, it is hopeless to interfere in an empire... and still hold on to it.

 05-06 Because the nature of the myriad of entities' is spontaneous self-regulation 自然 z rn, one can be receptive to them and permeate them, but not to act upon them or get them to do something [Wng B  王弼].

 Interfering will unavoidably destroy the essence of their shapeless, timeless nature, therefore capturing a state (as a multitude of beings) must unavoidably lose it.



 So some creatures advance, some follow,

 some sniffle, others blow,


 some vigorous, some weak,

 some destroy, others get destroyed.

 07-10 Individual and supra-individual processes demonstrate the changeability of 'every-thing'.

 When there is no impulse or interference from outside [Wng B  王弼], they follow the options of their Way, at first growing stronger, later on aging and departing from this life (ch. 30).

 Four antithetic and parallel juxtapositions indicate the variety and destiny of all creatures; thus, a wise ruler will promote his subjects' own nature, as well as the self-development of the state... neither deceiving nor confusing either of them.



 Therefore, wise men avoid




 11-13 It follows from the above-mentioned insights that the sage  and the wise ruler  value the nature of all creatures; consequently, it is logical that they avoid all kinds of coercion, all action beyond natural adapting, all "loss of the center":

 [ they avoid committing excesses, they do not strive for great heights,

 [ they avoid the propensity to exaggerate, they are not presumptuous,

 [ they evade any use of extremes, they keep to the center.

 Thus, preserving the Golden Mean, they prevent the people's doom, debasement, and indignity.



30 - The Power of Ahimsa अहिंसा


Wng B 王弼 (226249):

hnyǔ pīnyīn



yǐ do zuǒ rn zhǔ zhě ,b yǐ bīng qing tiān xi 。


q sh hǎo hi 。shī zhī suǒ ch jīng j shēng yān 。


jun1 zhī hu b yǒu xiōng nin 。shn yǒu guǒ r yǐ ,


b gǎn yǐ qǔ qing 。guǒ r w jīn 。


guǒ r w f 。guǒ r w jiāo 。


guǒ r b d yǐ 。guǒ r w qing 。


w zhung z lǎo ,sh wi b do ,b do zǎo yǐ 。

 [ This chapter is about the Power of अहिंसा, ahiṃsā, f., Sanskrit, "do not harm" = non-violence.

 [ In Greek antiquity, even for the frequently compared Heraclituswar was "The Father of all things".

 [ During the Warring States Period, war was for Lǎozĭ a despicable means for achieving political aims.



 In the spirit of Do, a people's leader

 does not use weapons to attack all world:

 In his affairs he prefers the retreat.

 01-03 In contrast to ancient Greek Thought, war and weapons were considered by early Doists as destructive and myopic, the craft of war as calamitous (ch. 31).

 Even if one had no choice, using weapons for defense are regarded as ultima ratio.

 Attacks tend to provoke counter-attacks! In managing their affairs, wise leaders will rather strive for Returning: back to the non-violent beginning, to the roots of Oneness (ch. 34).



 Troops' encampments

 let there grow thorns and thistles;

 after great wars,

 famine years will certainly follow.

 Good ones achieve results,

 yet stop then,

 not daring,

 thus to seize everything violently.

 04-05 The epilogue to war is initially suppressed and ignored, but afterwards heinous and shameful troops bring about horrific evils: thorns and thistles [Genesis 3:18; Matthew 7:16], ruined agriculture and devastated fields, famines and diseases leave the people hungry and hopeless.

 06-07 Good leaders, in the spirit of Do, "will just get (things) done and that is all" [Wng B 王弼].

 Forced to bring a stop to terror and chaos, they will neither conquer nor annex, they only result at which they aim is peace and order.



 They achieve results,

 yet do it not bragging,

 they achieve results.

 yet do it not boasting,

 they achieve results.

 yet do it not haughtily,

 they achieve results.

 yet have no choice.

 They achieve results

 yet do it not violently.

 08-12 Thus, having got things done, good leaders do not need to show off, they do not feel any vain sense of triumph, but rather grief and sorrow like at funeral rites (ch. 31).

 Wise rulers achieve peace and order BY only using weapons, when; due to circumstances, they have no alterntive: il "ne combat que par necessit" (they fight only if necessary) [Stan. Julien1842!].

 Non-violence is the legitimate daughter of non-action 無為 w wi; pacifism and (reluctant) self-defense