Translations at a glance

J Legge    J H McDonald   Lin Yutang

Tao Te Ching Chapter 52

J Legge

(The Tao) which originated all under the sky is to be considered as the mother of them all.

When the mother is found, we know what her children should be.
When one knows that he is his mother’s child, and proceeds to guard (the qualities of) the mother that belong to him, to the end of his life he will be free from all peril.

Let him keep his mouth closed, and shut up the portals (of his nostrils), and all his life he will be exempt from laborious exertion.
Let him keep his mouth open, and (spend his breath) in the promotion of his affairs, and all his life there will be no safety for him.

The perception of what is small is (the secret of clear-sightedness; the guarding of what is soft and tender is (the secret of) strength.

Who uses well his light,
Reverting to its (source so) bright,
Will from his body ward all blight,
And hides the unchanging from men’s sight.

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 Tao Te Ching Chapter 52

J H McDonald

The world had a beginning
which we call the Great Mother.
Once we have found the Mother,
we begin to know what Her children should be.

When we know we are the Mothers child,
we begin to guard the qualities of the Mother in us.
She will protect us from all danger
even if we lose our life.

Keep your mouth closed
and embrace a simple life,
and you will live care-free until the end of your days.
If you try to talk your way into a better life
there will be no end to your trouble.

To understand the small is called clarity.
Knowing how to yield is called strength.
To use your inner light for understanding
regardless of the danger
is called depending on the Constant.

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Tao Te Ching Chapter 52

Lin Yutang

There was a beginning of the universe
Which may be regarded as the Mother of the Universe.
From the Mother, we may know her sons.
After knowing the sons, keep to the Mother.
Thus one’s whole life may be preserved from harm.

Stop its apertures,
Close its doors,
And one’s whole life is without toil.

Open its apertures,
Be busy about its affairs,
And one’s whole life is beyond redemption.

He who can see the small is clear-sighted;
He who stays by gentility is strong.
use the light,
And return to clear-sightedness –
Thus cause not yourself later distress.
– This is to rest in the Absolute.

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