Translations at a glance

J Legge    J H McDonald   Lin Yutang

Tao Te Ching Chapter 56

J Legge

He who knows (the Tao) does not (care to) speak (about it); he who is (ever ready to) speak about it does not know it.

He (who knows it) will keep his mouth shut and close the portals (of his nostrils). He will blunt his sharp points and unravel the complications of things; he will attemper his brightness, and bring himself into agreement with the obscurity (of others). This is called ‘the Mysterious Agreement.’

(Such an one) cannot be treated familiarly or distantly; he is beyond all consideration of profit or injury; of nobility or meanness:–he is the noblest man under heaven.

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Tao Te Ching Chapter 56

J H McDonald

Those who know do not talk.
Those who talk do not know.

Stop talking,
meditate in silence,
blunt your sharpness,
release your worries,
harmonize your inner light,
and become one with the dust.
Doing this is the called the dark and mysterious identity.

Those who have achieved the mysterious identity
cannot be approached, and they cannot be alienated.
They cannot be benefited nor harmed.
They cannot be made noble nor to suffer disgrace.
This makes them the most noble of all under the heavens.

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Tao Te Ching Chapter 56

Lin Yutang

He who knows does not speak;
He who speaks does not know.
Fill up its apertures,
Close its doors,
Dull its edges,
Untie its tangles,
Soften its light,
Submerge its turmoil,
– This is the Mystic Unity.

Then love and hatred cannot touch him.
Profit and loss cannot reach him.
Honor and disgrace cannot affect him.
Therefore is he always the honored one of the world.

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