Lao Tzu Tao Te Ching Chapter 38

Translations at a glance

J Legge    J H McDonald   Lin Yutang

Tao Te Ching Chapter 38

J Legge

(Those who) possessed in highest degree the attributes (of the Tao) did not (seek) to show them, and therefore they possessed them (in fullest measure). (Those who) possessed in a lower degree those attributes (sought how) not to lose them, and therefore they did not possess them (in fullest measure).

(Those who) possessed in the highest degree those attributes did nothing (with a purpose), and had no need to do anything. (Those who) possessed them in a lower degree were (always) doing, and had need to be so doing.

(Those who) possessed the highest benevolence were (always seeking) to carry it out, and had no need to be doing so. (Those who) possessed the highest righteousness were (always seeking) to carry it out, and had need to be so doing.

(Those who) possessed the highest (sense of) propriety were (always seeking) to show it, and when men did not respond to it, they bared the arm and marched up to them.

Thus it was that when the Tao was lost, its attributes appeared; when its attributes were lost, benevolence appeared; when benevolence was lost, righteousness appeared; and when righteousness was lost, the proprieties appeared.

Now propriety is the attenuated form of leal-heartedness and good faith, and is also the commencement of disorder; swift apprehension is (only) a flower of the Tao, and is the beginning of stupidity.

Thus it is that the Great man abides by what is solid, and eschews what is flimsy; dwells with the fruit and not with the flower. It is thus that he puts away the one and makes choice of the other.

Back to Top    Back to Main Index

 

 Tao Te Ching Chapter 38

J H McDonald

The highest good is not to seek to do good,
but to allow yourself to become it.
The ordinary person seeks to do good things,
and finds that they cannot do them continually.

The Master does not force virtue on others,
thus she is able to accomplish her task.
The ordinary person who uses force,
will find that they accomplish nothing.

The kind person acts from the heart,
and accomplishes a multitude of things.
The righteous person acts out of pity,
yet leaves many things undone.
The moral person will act out of duty,
and when no one will respond
will roll up his sleeves and uses force.

When the Tao is forgotten, there is righteousness.
When righteousness is forgotten, there is morality.
When morality is forgotten, there is the law.
The law is the husk of faith,
and trust is the beginning of chaos.

Our basic understandings are not from the Tao
because they come from the depths of our misunderstanding.
The master abides in the fruit and not in the husk.
She dwells in the Tao,
and not with the things that hide it.
This is how she increases in wisdom.

Back to Top  Back to Main Index

 

 Tao Te Ching Chapter 38

Lin Yutang

The man of superior character is not (conscious of his) character.
Hence he has character.
The man of inferior character (is intent on) not losing character.
Hence he is devoid of character.
The man of superior character never acts,
Nor ever (does so) with an ulterior motive.
The man of inferior character acts,
And (does so) with an ulterior motive.
The man of superior kindness acts,
But (does so) without an ulterior motive.
The man of superior justice acts,
And (does so) with an ulterior motive.
(But when) the man of superiorli acts and finds no response,
He rolls up his sleeves to force it on others.

Therefore:
After Tao is lost, then (arises the doctrine of) humanity.
After humanity is lost, then (arises the doctrine of) justice.
After justice is lost, then (arises the doctrine of) li.
Now li is the thinning out of loyalty and honesty of heart.
And the beginning of chaos.
The prophets are the flowering of Tao
And the origin of folly.
Therefore the noble man dwells in the heavy (base),
And not in the thinning (end).
He dwells in the fruit,
And not in the flowering (expression).
Therefore he rejects the one and accepts the other.

Back to Top  Back to Main Index