Man’s weapons are not auspicious instruments,
These things may cause evils,
Hence, one who lives by the way does deal with them.
A gentleman takes the honored position on the left,
An officer takes his honored position on the right.
Weapons are not auspicious instruments,
If there is no other choice than to use them,
It is best to remain peaceful and indifferent,
There is no beauty in victory.
There is no happiness in killing.
A person who takes joy in killing can never express the will of the people.
The auspicious place is on the left,
The ominous place is on the right,
The general of the army is on the left,
His subordinate officer is on the right,
Words are prepared for a funeral.
When there’s been a slaughter of many,
It is a time for grief, sorrow and crying,
When the battle is victorious funeral rites are soon arranged.
The eternal way is a nameless block of wood.
The world gets ministers, marquises, and kings to protect it.
Guests prepare themselves to honor it.
Heaven and Earth are in harmony and join together to pour down sweet dew.
There are none who command and can treat all equally.
When the block is cut,
Names are present,
Once names are present,
It’s time to stop.
Knowing when to stop you will be free of danger.
Like a creek in the valley that flows into the rivers and into the sea.
Knowing people is wisdom,
Knowing yourself shows understanding.
Victory over others requires strength,
Victory over oneself requires power.
Knowing what is sufficient is wealth.
A person who uses power may get his way,
But only what is not lost can endure long.
What dies but does not perish lives on.
The great way overflows to left and to the right.
All things rely on it in order to live yet it never abandons them.
Great achievements happen and yet it doesn’t take recognition.
We are clothed and taken care of and yet it does not lord over us.
Always without desire,
We can call it insignificant,
All things return to it and yet it does not lord over us.
We can call it great.
It doesn’t consider itself great,
Hence, it can accomplish great things.
The great image was grasped by the world of the past,
Yet is did no harm and provided tremendous peace.
Celebration and cakes caused guests to stop by.
The way pours forth,
Insipid? It is not without flavor,
Look at it and it seems lacking in appearance.
Listen to it and it seems inaudible.
Use it and it seems already insufficient.
If you want something to shrink, you must stretch it.
If you want to make something weak, you must first make it strong.
If you want to abolish something, you must first make it popular.
If you wish to receive, then you must first give.
This is called “a little understanding.”
The soft and weak are victorious over the hard and strong.
The eternal way is without “doing,” and yet it leaves nothing undone.
Marquises and kings can guard it,
All things are transformed by it.
Transformed yet longing to do things,
I will restrain myself by not naming it “simple.”
Without a name and being plain no one longs for it.
Without desire there’s calm,
Everything is put in its own natural order.
By not upholding virtue as a virtue,
Virtue can thereby be obtained.
When virtue is devalued one does not lose his own virtue,
Though it seems there isn’t virtue.
Higher virtues are without action and are not based on action.
Lesser virtues are also without action but are based on action.
Great humanity requires doing something even though nothing may get done.
Great justice requires action and that action be taken.
Great etiquette could exist without feedback from anyone.
So, when the way has been lost, people return to being virtuous,
By losing their virtue they return to being humane,
By losing their humanity they return to being just,
By losing justice they return to proper etiquette.
A man of decorum is loyal and trustworthy and despises disorder.
Earlier knowledge about the way was splendid yet it was stupid and elementary.
When dealing with the thick he does not dwell on the thin.
When dealing with reality he does not get hung up on the ornamental.
So he chooses one and not the other.
Long ago there was wholeness.
From heaven we obtained wholeness from its essence,
From earth we obtained wholeness from its peace,
From god we obtained wholeness from its spirit,
From the great valley we obtained wholeness from its abundance,
All things obtain wholeness from life.
Marquis and kings obtain wholeness from the sacrifices made by their people.
From such devotion it has been said that if heaven were without essence the people would split apart in fear.
Earth without peace would cause the people to be crippled by fear.
God without spirit would cause the people to afraid to sleep.
The great valley without abundance would cause the people to fear famine.
Without new life things would fear being extinguished.
Marquis and kings without the sacrifices made by their people would fear being trampled.
The cheap is the standard of which the expensive is measured,
The lowly is the foundation for the esteemed,
With that said, marquis and kings consider themselves as orphans and widows without grain.
This is not what I mean by humility and this is the basis of wickedness, right?
The highest reputation is without reputation,
Not desiring nephrite and jadeite as precious jade,
Necklaces then are just stones.
Going through life,
The Way seems to turn everything upside down.
A feeble person knows the Way.
Everybody everywhere is full of life.
Having life though is nothingness.