Thirty spokes share one hub,
It is the spaces between them make the wheel useful.
Clay is used to make utensils,
It is the space inside that makes the utensils useful.
Chisel out doors and windows to make a room,
It is the space within that makes the room useful.
So, it is the emptiness within things that we benefit from using.
The five colors blind the eyes,
The five tones deafen the ears,
The five flavors deadens once taste,
Riding and hunting cause a man’s mind to race frantically,
Wanting material things does harm.
So, remove these things.
Whether being favored or disgraced one is shocked,
Being honored one faces great adversity.
Why does being favored or disgraced shock us?
Favor is prized,
Disgrace is despised,
Attainment is shocking and so is failure.
So, favor and disgrace are called shocking.
Why does being honored create great adversity?
I face great adversity as a person because I’m alive,
How could I have troubles if I weren’t alive?
Honor yourself as you would the people and the people will be sent to you.
Love yourself as you would the people and you will have the people’s trust.
That which is looked for but not seen is foreign,
That which is listened for but not heard is rare,
That which is grasped at but not obtained is microscopic.
These three cannot be unraveled and so are confused as one.
Its upper part is not bright,
Its lower part is not concealed.
Eternally nameless- It returns to nothingness.
It’s eternally empty and without form,
It’s called shapeless.
Though we greet it -We cannot see its head,
Though we follow it -We cannot see it from behind.
Hold to the ancient way, so that you may have passage into the present.
You can understand then that the origins of antiquity began with discipline.
The ancients were very good as studying the way,
They moved without obstruction through minute yet profound subtleties that are deep and hard to understand,
So, they were of strong countenance.
Prepare as if forging a river in winter, as if in fear of four neighbors.
Like a dignified guest,
Melted like thawing ice.
Plain and simple,
Spacious like a valley,
Murky like muddy water,
Who can be muddy and yet become pure?
Who can be still and then slowly come alive?
He who cherishes the way does not desire excesses,
Such a person’s accomplishments are not revealed.
To achieve total emptiness, one must guard serenity and sincerity.
All things coalesce and we watch their return.
Men’s talents and crafts return to their roots.
Returning to the root could be called serenity.
Serenity could be called returning to one’s destiny.
Returning to one’s destiny could be called eternal.
Knowing the eternal is called understanding.
Not knowing the eternal, one is damned by impetuousness.
Know eternal countenance,
Countenance is reflected in the people,
The public reflects a whole,
The whole reflects heaven,
Heaven reflects the Way,
The Way reflects perpetuity,
Without life there’s no mortality.
The best ruler’s presence is unknown.
Next comes the one who is familiar.
Next comes the one whom is feared.
Finally comes the one who is humiliated.
When there isn’t enough trust, the people don’t have faith.
His words are honorable yet spoken pensively.
Upon completing his assignment successfully,
Everyone says that it just happened naturally.
The great way has been abandoned despite kindness and righteousness.
When knowledge and intelligence surface there is always mendacity.
Families are in discord despite filial piety and affection.
The states are falling into anarchy despite our loyal ministers.
when scholars disappear knowledge is abandoned and everyone becomes a little brighter.
When humanity abandons righteousness, the people return to ancestral worship and kindness.
When the clever abandon their advantages, stealing and thievery disappear.
These three can be summarized as one-exhaustible.
So they belong in the same category.
Find the pure and embrace the simple,
Keep few secrets and fewer desires,
When education disappears so do worries.
Between promises and flattery-How much difference is there?
Between good and evil-How far are they apart?
A man already afraid cannot be made to fear though a catastrophe is eminent.
Crowds of people are cheerful as if enjoying a great sacrifice or spring festival.
I, alone, am anchored and with no prophetic sign,
Like an infant son that is not yet a child.
Like a puppet,
I’ve got nothing to return to.
Everyone seems to have more than enough and yet I am alone and forsaken.
I am a foolish man with a foolish mind.
To a common person this will be apparent,
I, alone, feel feint,
To a common person this can be observed,
I, alone, feel depressed.
Calm like the sea,
Endless as a high wind,
Everyone seems to have what he needs,
I, alone, feel obstinate and vulgar,
I, alone, am different from the others,
I value being fed by the mother.