Translations at a glance

J Legge    J H McDonald   Lin Yutang

Tao Te Ching Chapter 27

J Legge

The skilful traveller leaves no traces of his wheels or footsteps; the skilful speaker says nothing that can be found fault with or blamed; the skilful reckoner uses no tallies; the skilful closer needs no bolts or bars, while to open what he has shut will be impossible; the skilful binder uses no strings or knots, while to unloose what he has bound will be impossible. In the same way the sage is always skilful at saving men, and so he does not cast away any man; he is always skilful at saving things, and so he does not cast away anything. This is called ‘Hiding the light of his procedure.’

Therefore the man of skill is a master (to be looked up to) by him who has not the skill; and he who has not the skill is the helper of (the reputation of) him who has the skill. If the one did not honour his master, and the other did not rejoice in his helper, an (observer), though intelligent, might greatly err about them. This is called ‘The utmost degree of mystery.’

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Tao Te Ching Chapter 27

J H McDonald

A good traveler leaves no tracks,
and a skillful speaker is well rehearsed.
A good bookkeeper has an excellent memory,
and a well-made door is easy to open and needs no locks.
A good knot needs no rope and it cannot come undone.
Thus the Master is willing to help everyone,
and doesn’t know the meaning of rejection.
She is there to help all of creation,
and doesn’t abandon even the smallest creature.
This is called embracing the light.

What is a good person but a bad person’s teacher?
What is a bad person but raw materiel for his teacher?
If you fail to honor your teacher or fail to enjoy your student,
you will become deluded no matter how smart you are.
It is the secret of prime importance.

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Tao Te Ching Chapter 27

Lin Yutang

A good runner leaves no track.
A good speech leaves no flaws for attack.
A good reckoner makes use of no counters.
A well-shut door makes use of no bolts,
And yet cannot be opened.
A well-tied knot makes use of no rope,
And yet cannot be untied.

Therefore the Sage is good at helping men;
For that reason there is no rejected (useless) person.
He is good at saving things;
For that reason there is nothing rejected.
– This is called stealing the Light.

Therefore the good man is the Teacher of the bad.
And the bad man is the lesson of the good.

He who neither values his teacher
Nor loves the lesson
Is one gone far astray,
Though he be learned.
– Such is the subtle secret.

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