Lao Tzu Tao Te Ching Chapter 64

Translations at a glance

J Legge    J H McDonald   Lin Yutang

Tao Te Ching Chapter 64

J Legge

That which is at rest is easily kept hold of; before a thing has given indications of its presence, it is easy to take measures against it; that which is brittle is easily broken; that which is very small is easily dispersed. Action should be taken before a thing has made its appearance; order should be secured before disorder has begun.

The tree which fills the arms grew from the tiniest sprout; the tower of nine storeys rose from a (small) heap of earth; the journey of a thousand li commenced with a single step.

He who acts (with an ulterior purpose) does harm; he who takes hold of a thing (in the same way) loses his hold. The sage does not act (so), and therefore does no harm; he does not lay hold (so), and therefore does not lose his bold. (But) people in their conduct of affairs are constantly ruining them when they are on the eve of success. If they were careful at the end, as (they should be) at the beginning, they would not so ruin them.

Therefore the sage desires what (other men) do not desire, and does not prize things difficult to get; he learns what (other men) do not learn, and turns back to what the multitude of men have passed by.

Thus he helps the natural development of all things, and does not dare to act (with an ulterior purpose of his own).

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Tao Te Ching Chapter 64

J H McDonald

Things are easier to control while things are quiet.
Things are easier to plan far in advance.
Things break easier while they are still brittle.
Things are easier hid while they are still small.
Prevent problems before they arise.
Take action before things get out of hand.
The tallest tree
begins as a tiny sprout.
The tallest building
starts with one shovel of dirt.
A journey of a thousand miles
starts with a single foot step.

If you rush into action, you will fail.
If you hold on too tight, you will loose your grip.
Therefore the Master lets things take their course
and thus never fails.
She doesn’t hold on to things
and never looses them.
By pursing your goals too relentlessly,
you let them slip away.
If you are as concerned about the outcome
as you are about the beginning,
then it is hard to do things wrong.
The master seeks no possessions.
She learns by unlearning,
thus she is able to understand all things.
This gives her the ability to help all of creation.

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Tao Te Ching Chapter 64

Lin Yutang

That which lies still is easy to hold;
That which is not yet manifest is easy to forestall;
That which is brittle (like ice) easily melts;
That which is minute easily scatters.
Deal with a thing before it is there;
Check disorder before it is rife.
A tree with a full span’s girth begins from a tiny sprout;
A nine-storied terrace begins with a clod of earth.
A journey of a thousand li beings at one’s feet.

He who acts, spoils;
He who grasps, lets slip.
Because the Sage does not act, he does not spoil,
Because he does not grasp, he does not let slip.
The affairs of men are often spoiled within an ace of completion.
By being careful at the end as at the beginning
Failure is averted.

Therefore the Sage desires to have no desire,
And values not objects difficult to obtain.
Learns that which is unlearned,
And restores what the multitude have lost.
That he may assist in the course of Nature
And not presume to interfere.

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