Lao Tzu Tao Te Ching Chapter 22

Translations at a glance

J Legge    J H McDonald   Lin Yutang

Tao Te Ching Chapter 22

J Legge

The partial becomes complete; the crooked, straight; the empty, full; the worn out, new. He whose (desires) are few gets them; he whose (desires) are many goes astray.

Therefore the sage holds in his embrace the one thing (of humility), and manifests it to all the world. He is free from self-display, and therefore he shines; from self-assertion, and therefore he is distinguished; from self-boasting, and therefore his merit is acknowledged; from self-complacency, and therefore he acquires superiority. It is because he is thus free from striving that therefore no one in the world is able to strive with him.

That saying of the ancients that ‘the partial becomes complete’ was not vainly spoken:–all real completion is comprehended under it.

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Tao Te Ching Chapter 22

J H McDonald

If you want to become whole,
first let yourself become broken.
If you want to become straight,
first let yourself become twisted.
If you want to become full,
first let yourself become empty.
If you want to become new,
first let yourself become old.
Those whose desires are few gets them,
those whose desires are great go astray.

For this reason the Master embraces the Tao,
as an example for the world to follow.
Because she isn’t self centered,
people can see the light in her.
Because she does not boast of herself,
she becomes a shining example.
Because she does not glorify herself,
she becomes a person of merit.
Because she wants nothing from the world,
the world cannot overcome her.

When the ancient Masters said,
“If you want to become whole,
then first let yourself be broken,”
they weren’t using empty words.
All who do this will be made complete.

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Tao Te Ching Chapter 22

Lin Yutang

To yield is to be preserved whole.
To be bent is to become straight.
To be hollow is to be filled.
To be tattered is to be renewed.
To be in want is to possess.
To have plenty is to be confused.

Therefore the Sage embraces the One,
And becomes the model of the world.
He does not reveal himself,
And is therefore luminous.
He does not justify himself,
And is therefore far-famed.
He does not boast of himself,
And therefore people give him credit.
He does not pride himself,
And is therefore the chief among men.

Is it not indeed true, as the ancients say,
“To yield is to be preserved whole?”
Thus he is preserved and the world does him homage.

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