Translations at a glance

J Legge    J H McDonald   Lin Yutang

Tao Te Ching Chapter 4

J Legge

The Tao is (like) the emptiness of a vessel; and in our employment of it we must be on our guard against all fulness. How deep and unfathomable it is, as if it were the Honoured Ancestor of all things!

We should blunt our sharp points, and unravel the complications of things; we should attemper our brightness, and bring ourselves into agreement with the obscurity of others. How pure and still the Tao is, as if it would ever so continue!

I do not know whose son it is. It might appear to have been before God.

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 Tao Te Ching Chapter 4

J H McDonald

The Tao is like an empty container:
it can never be emptied and can never be filled.
Infinitely deep, it is the source of all things.
It dulls the sharp, unties the knotted,
shades the lighted, and unites all of creation with dust.

It is hidden but always present.
I don’t know who gave birth to it .
It is older than the concept of God.

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 Tao Te Ching Chapter 4

Lin Yutang

Tao is a hollow vessel,
And its use is inexhaustible!
Like the fountain head of all things,
Its sharp edges rounded off,
Its tangles untied,
Its light tempered,
Its turmoil submerged,
Yet dark like deep water it seems to remain.
I do not know whose Son it it,
An image of what existed before God.

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