The Way of the Universe

  • The words and text are simple.
  • The daily application is hard.
  • The knowledge is that of nature.

    The Classic Words of TAO & VIRTUE


    Translated by John Louis Albert Trottier Copyright 1994


    TAO (THE LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE) can be talked about,

    but not the Eternal Tao (Laws of the Universe).

    Names can be named,

    but not the Eternal Name.

    (You cannot name the unknown.)

    As the origin of heaven-and-earth,

    it is not describable:

    As "the Mother" of all things,

    it is describable.

    (You cannot describe the unknown origin.)

    As it is always hidden,

    We should look at its Inner Sum and Substance (through philosophy

    and poetry):

    As always visible,

    We should look at its Outer Form (through science and obsevation).

    These two flow from the same source

    (the Laws of the Universe,)

    though differently named;

    And both are called mysteries.

    The Mystery of mysteries is the Gate of all sum and substance.

    (Beyond the gate of experience is the Way.

    It is in all ways greater and more subtle than the world.)


    When all the world recognizes beauty as beauty,

    this in itself is ugliness,

    (for it lacks a seeing of the Truth.)

    (When all of humankind abstracts beauty there is no beauty).

    When all the world recognizes good as good, this in itself is


    (for it lacks a seeing of the Truth.)

    (What is good in one circumstance is bad in another).

    Indeed, the hidden and the visible give birth to each other.

    Hard and easy balance each other.

    Long and short give measure to each other.

    High and low set measure to each other.

    Voice and sound give wholeness each other.

    Back and front follow each other.

    Therefore, the Complete Thinker

    experiences without abstraction

    and accomplishes without visible action;

    Yet spreads their teaching by actions.

    Accepting the ebb and flow of

    the many living things.

    Raises them,

    but makes no claim of them.

    Does his work,

    but does not brag about it.

    Finishing tasks,

    and moves on.

    And yet it is just because

    of moving on.

    That nobody can take

    works away.


    By not making great the worthy

    you will cause the people

    to stop from having enemies and fighting.

    (When everyone is equal, each is rewarded fairly.)

    By not giving value to

    goods hard to get,

    you will cause the people

    to stop from robbing and stealing.

    (When material goods have no value there is no temptation to steal.)

    By not showing

    what people would like to have,

    you will cause the people's hearts

    to remain undisturbed.

    (When people are not tempted to own things they do not desire things.)

    Therefore, the Complete Thinker's way of governing begins by

    Emptying the heart of wants,

    Filling the belly with food,

    Relaxing the ambitions, (not creating a temptation),

    Toughening the bones, (guiding a healthful life).

    In this way will cause

    the people to remain

    without strategy

    and without desire,

    and prevent the knowing ones

    from causing any trouble.

    Practice doing things at the Proper Speed, and everything

    will be in order.


    The Tao (the Law of the Universe) is like

    an empty bowl.

    Which in being used

    can never be filled up

    . So deep it

    cannot be measured,

    it is the

    origin of all things.

    It blurs

    all sharp edges,

    It unties

    all tangles,

    It blends

    all lights,

    It unites the world

    into one whole.


    in the depths,

    Yet it seems to

    exist for ever.

    I do not know

    whose child it is;

    It is the common ancestor

    of all,

    the father of all things.

    (It is the Universal Laws from the beginning of our Universe),

    To live by these Laws is to

    live in harmony with our

    True Nature.


    Heaven-and-Earth is

    not sentimental;

    It treats all things

    like straw dogs


    The Complete Thinker is

    not sentimental;

    Treats all people

    as straw dogs

    ( equally).

    Between Heaven and Earth,

    There seems to be

    a Bellows:

    It is empty,

    yet it can

    not be emptied;

    The more it works,

    the more comes

    out of it.

    The Complete Thinker

    draws upon the universal experience

    thus cannot be exhausted.

    Better look for it

    within you.

    The Tao (the Laws of the Universe) is

    in all that exists.


    The Spirit of

    the Valley dies not.

    It is called

    the Secret

    which is Filled with

    womanly qualities.

    The Gateway of the

    Secret is

    Filled with womanly qualities

    Is called

    the Womb of Heaven-and-Earth.

    Staying like

    a fog,

    it has only a

    hint that it is there;

    And yet when you

    use it,

    it is always there

    without end.


    Heaven lasts long, and

    Earth lasts.

    What is the secret of

    their lasting?

    Is it not because

    they do not live for themselves

    That they can

    live so long?

    The Complete Thinker wants to

    remain behind,

    But is found at

    the head of others;

    Ignores his desires,

    But is found


    Is it not because

    of selflessness

    That True Self is realized?


    The highest form of

    goodness is like water.

    Water knows how to

    benefit all things

    without contention.

    It flows to places

    others disdain.

    It comes near the Tao (the Laws of the Universe).

    In choosing your dwelling,

    know how to keep the ground.

    In cultivating your mind,

    know how to dive

    in the hidden depths.

    In dealing with others,

    know how to be

    gentle and kind.

    Speak within


    In governing,

    know how to

    maintain order.

    In transacting business,

    know how to

    be efficient.

    In making a move,

    know how to

    choose the right moment.

    If you

    do not contend,

    none contend

    against you.


    Fill a cup

    to its brim,

    it is easy

    to spill.

    Do not

    over do the task,

    close it.

    Temper a sword throughout

    to its hardest,

    and it is easily broken.

    Fill your house

    with gold and


    it can not

    be guarded.

    (Do not tempt

    others for

    someone will

    give in to temptation.)

    Set store

    by your riches and


    you easily fall.

    This is the Tao

    (the Laws of the Universe):

    When your purpose is achieved retire.


    In keeping the spirit

    and the vital soul


    Are you able to

    maintain their perfect blending?

    Breath gently

    and become newborn.

    Clear your inner vision,

    and become clear.

    In loving your people and

    governing your state,

    Are you able to

    be impartial?

    In opening and shutting

    of heaven's gate(your heart),

    you become


    Enlightened and


    far into all directions,

    Can you at the same time

    remain not involved and

    not interfere?

    Raise your people with care!

    Feed your people!

    Raise them without saying

    they are your own!

    Do your work

    without setting

    any value to it!

    Be one to be followed,

    not one who commands!

    This is called Hidden Powers.

    This is true harmony.


    Thirty Spokes

    converge upon a single hub;

    It is on

    the hole in the center

    that the use

    of the cart hinges.

    We make a bowl or cup

    from a lump of clay;

    It is the empty space

    within the vessel

    that makes it useful.

    We make doors

    and windows

    for a room;

    It is the

    empty spaces

    that make the

    room livable.


    Take advantage of

    what is visible,

    By making use of

    What is not visible.


    The five colors

    blind the eye.

    The five tones

    deafen the ear

    . The five flavors

    stick to the palate.

    Racing and hunting

    make crazy the mind.

    Temptations make men do wrong.

    The Complete Thinker

    takes care of

    the hunger,

    not the senses.


    the substance within

    not the illusion.


    "Welcome disgrace

    as a pleasant surprise.

    Prize misfortunes

    as your own body."

    Why should we

    "welcome disgrace

    as a pleasant surprise"?

    Because a lowly state is a boon:

    Getting it is a pleasant surprise,

    And so is losing it!

    That is why we should

    "welcome disgrace

    as a pleasant surprise."

    Why should we

    "prize misfortunes

    as our own body"?

    Because our body

    is the very source

    of our misfortunes

    . If we have no body,

    what misfortunes

    can we have?

    Only he

    who is willing to

    give their body

    for the sake of the world

    is fit to be


    with the world.

    Only they

    who can do it

    with love

    and regard themselves

    as the world

    are worthy of being

    the steward of the world.

    This lesson is known

    by all Complete Thinkers.


    Look at it

    but you cannot see it!

    Its name is Formless.

    Listen to it

    but you cannot hear it!

    Its name is Soundless

    . Try to hold it

    but you cannot get it!

    Its name is Incorporeal.

    These three attributes

    are to deep to measure;

    They mix together

    into one.

    Its upper side is not bright:

    Its under side is not dim.

    Always the Not Namable

    moves on,

    Until it returns

    beyond the world of things.

    We call it

    the formless Form,

    the imageless Image.

    We call it

    the not describable

    and unimaginable.

    Confront it and

    you do not see its face!

    Follow it and

    you do not see its back!

    Yet equipped with this

    timeless Tao (the Laws of the Universe),

    You can control

    present realities and deal with the past.

    To know the ancient origins

    ( the beginning of the Universe ) is

    to know the true Tao (the Laws of the Universe)


    In times past

    the Complete Thinkers of the Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

    were not obvious

    about what they did and

    could change to

    meet the circumstance,

    Their minds,

    strong and


    were too deep to be measured.

    Because their minds

    are unmeasurable,

    One can only describe them

    unclearly by their appearance.

    Slow to start

    like one crossing thin ice;

    Shy as if surrounded by danger

    on all sides;

    Careful and polite like a guest;

    Unbouded like ice on the point of melting;

    Genuine like an

    uncarved block;

    Hollow like

    a cave;

    Disordered like

    a muddy pool;

    And yet who else could

    quietly and gradually

    change from the muddy to the clear?

    Who else could

    slowly but steadily

    move from the lifeless to the living?

    The who keep the Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

    does not want to be full.

    But precisely because they are never full,

    They can always

    remain open in thought,

    They do not become rigid in thought.


    Achieve the utmost Emptiness.

    Cling single-heartedly to

    interior peace.

    Become a part

    of all things,

    In this way

    see the pattern.

    Flourish they do,

    Each of them will

    return to its root.

    To return to

    the root is

    to find peace.

    To find peace is

    to fulfill one's destiny.

    To fulfill one's destiny is

    to be unchanging.

    To know the Unchanging is

    called Insight.

    If one does not

    know the Unchanging,

    One runs blindly

    into disasters.

    If one knows

    the Unchanging,

    One can understand and

    embrace all.

    If one understands and

    embraces all,

    One is capable of

    doing justice.

    To be just is

    to be a leader;

    To be a leader is

    to be one with nature;

    To be one with nature is

    to be one with the Tao (the Laws of the Universe);

    To be one with

    the Tao (the Laws of the Universe) is to become immortal.

    Such a one will be safe and whole,

    Even after the death of body.

    The Tao does not decay.


    The best type of leader

    is one of whose existence

    the people are barely aware.

    Next comes one

    whom they love and praise.

    Next comes one

    whom they fear.

    Next comes one

    whom they despise and defy.

    When you are

    lacking in faith,

    Others will be

    unfaithful to you.

    The Complete Thinker is

    quiet and uses few words.

    When tasks have been

    accomplished and

    things have been completed,

    All the people say,

    "We ourselves have achieved it!"


    When the Great Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

    was abandoned,

    There appeared

    duty and justice.

    When intelligence

    and jokes arose,

    There appeared people

    who said they were one way but lived the opposite.

    When the family

    lost their compatibility,

    There appeared respectful devotion

    and fatherly kindness.

    When darkness and disorder

    began to control a country,

    There appeared

    the loyal and trustworthy patriots.


    Drop wisdom,

    abandon cleverness,

    And the people will be

    benefited a hundred fold.

    Drop humanity,

    abandon morality,

    And the people will

    return to their natural affections.

    Drop cleverness,

    abandon greed,

    And robbers and thieves

    will cease to be.

    These three are a

    pattern of Tao (the Laws of the Universe),

    And are not sufficient in themselves

    they are only symptoms.

    They should be subordinated

    to a Higher principle;

    People need

    personal remedies.

    See the simple True Self

    and embrace

    your original nature.

    Forget you habits and desires,

    simplify you life.


    Have done with rote learning,

    And you will have no more frustration.

    How great is the difference between agreement and being the servant?

    What is the difference between "construction" and "destruction"?

    Must I fear what others fear?

    What difficult stupidity this is

    ! All are joyous and beaming,

    As though feasting upon a sacrificial ox, As though mounting the Spring Garden;

    I alone am peaceful and give no sign, Like a babe which has not yet smiled.

    I alone am forgotten as one who has no home to return to.

    All have enough and more:

    I alone appear to possess nothing.

    What a not knowing person I am!

    What a confused mind I have!

    All are bright,


    I alone am dim,


    All are sharp,


    I alone am silent, silent!

    Tasteless like the ocean,

    Aimless like the drifting wind.

    All settle in their paths:

    I alone am stubborn and remain outside.

    I am most different from others

    In knowing

    to take support from

    my Eternal Mother!


    It lies in the nature of


    To follow the Tao (the Laws of the Universe) and

    the Tao (the Laws of the Universe) alone.

    Now what is the Tao (the Laws of the Universe)?

    It is Something slippery and shifty. Shifty and slippery!

    And yet It contains within Itself a Form. Shifty and slippery!

    And yet It contains within Itself a Substance.

    Shadowy and dim!

    And yet It contains within Itself a Core of Energy ( the Force of Life ).

    The Core of Energy ( Force of Life ) is very real,

    It contains within Itself an unfailing Honesty.

    Throughout the ages

    Its Name has been preserved

    In order to recall the

    Beginning of all things.

    (We can see and hear the background radiation that was the Big Bang the beginning of

    our Universe.)

    How do I know the ways of all things at the Beginning?

    By what is within me.

    (For are we not made of recycled Star Stuff.)


    Accept and you will be whole.

    Bend and you will straighten.

    Empty and you will fill.

    Grow old and you will be renewed.

    Have little and you will gain.

    Have much and you will be confused.

    The Complete Thinker

    embraces the One,

    Becomes a Pattern to

    all under Heaven.

    Does not make a show,

    Then shines;

    Does not justify self,

    Then becomes known;

    Does not brag of ability,

    Then gets credit;

    Does not show success,

    Then lasts;

    Does not compete with anyone,

    Then no one can compete with the Complete Thinker.

    Indeed, the ancient saying:

    "Accept and you will remain whole"

    is no idle word.

    Once whole,

    Turn within and concentrate your Power.

    The world is as your home.


    Only simple and

    quiet words will

    ripen of themselves.

    For a whirlwind

    does not last a

    whole morning.

    A sudden rain

    does not last

    a whole day.

    Who is their creator?


    Even Heaven-and-Earth

    cannot make such

    violent things

    last long;

    The same is true of the

    reckless efforts of humans.

    Who helps the Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

    is one with the Tao (the Laws of the Universe);

    Who thinks with Power

    is one with Power;

    And who seeks the hand of loss

    is one with Loss.

    To be one with

    the Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

    is to be a welcome addition to

    the Tao (the Laws of the Universe);

    To be one with Power

    is to be a welcome addition

    to Power;

    To be one with Loss

    is to be a welcome addition

    to Loss.

    Failure of faith

    on your part

    Creates faithlessness

    on the part of others.


    One on tip-toe

    cannot stand solid.

    Sitting on a horse

    you cannot walk.

    Who shows off

    does not shine

    . Who brags

    has no glory.

    Who boasts of ability

    has no merit.

    Who parades success

    will not last.

    In Tao (the Laws of the Universe) these things are called

    "unwanted food and

    extra growths,"

    Are rejected

    by all things

    . A person of the Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

    does not want them.

    They turn away from them.


    There was Something undefined and complete in itself,

    Born before Heaven-and-Earth.

    Silent and


    Standing alone

    without change,

    Being within all,

    It may be thought of as

    the Mother of the world.

    I do not know its name;

    I write it

    "Tao (the Laws of the Universe)";

    Without a better word,

    call it

    "The Great."

    To be great is

    to go on,

    To go on is

    to go far,

    To go far is

    to return.


    "Tao (the Laws of the Universe) is great,

    Heaven is great,

    Earth is great,

    The Leader is great"

    Thus the Leader is

    one of the great four in the Universe.

    Humans follows

    the ways of the Earth.

    Earth follows

    the ways of Heaven,

    Heaven follows

    the ways of Tao (the Laws of the Universe),

    Tao (the Laws of the Universe) follows

    its own ways.


    Heaviness is

    the root of lightness.

    Peace of mind is

    the master of restlessness.

    The Complete Thinker,

    traveling all day,

    Does not leave

    the baggage-wagon;

    There may be

    gorgeous sights to see,

    But stays

    peacefully at home.

    How can a leader

    Have a light hearted position in the world?

    To be light hearted

    is to be separated from one's root;

    To be restless

    is to lose one's self-mastery.


    Good walking leaves

    no track behind it,

    but the walking was true;

    Good speech leaves

    no mark to be picked at,

    but the speech was true;

    Good calculation makes

    no use of counting-slips,

    yet the counting is true;

    Good shutting makes

    no use of bolt and bar,

    And yet nobody can undo it;

    Good tying makes

    no use of rope and knot,

    And yet nobody can untie it.

    The Complete Thinker is

    always good at saving humans,

    And nobody is abandoned;

    Always good at savings things,

    And nothing is wasted.

    This is called

    "following the guidance of the Insight."

    Good humans are the

    teachers of destructive humans,

    Destructive humans

    depend on constructive humans.

    Not to honor one's teacher,

    Not to value one's dependent,

    Is to be on the wrong road,

    however intelligent one may be.

    This is call the Important Not Obvious .


    Know the masculine,

    Keep to the feminine,

    And be the

    Brook of the World.

    To be the Brook of the World is

    To move unchanging

    in the path of Power

    Without swerving from it,

    And to return again to infancy.

    Know the white,

    Keep to the black,

    And be the Pattern of the World.

    To be the Pattern of the World is

    To move unchanging in the path of Power

    Without making a single wrong step, And to return again to the Infinite.

    Know the glorious,

    Keep to the lowly,

    And be the Fountain of

    the World.

    To be the Fountain of

    the World is

    To live the

    life of Virute (Power) ,

    And to return again to

    the First Simplicity.

    When the First Simplicity

    splits apart,

    It becomes useful tools,

    Then in the hands

    of a Complete Thinker,

    make them leaders.

    "a great tailor does little cutting."


    Does anyone want to take the world

    and do what he wants with it?

    I do not see how they can succeed.

    The world

    is a sacred vessel,

    which must not be

    tampered with

    or grabbed after.

    To tamper with it

    is to spoil it,

    and to grasp

    is to lose it.

    For all things

    there is a time for going ahead,

    and a time for following behind;

    A time for slow-breathing

    and a time for fast-breathing;

    A time to grow in strength

    and a time to decay;

    time to be up

    and a time to be down.

    The Complete Thinker

    avoids all extremes,


    and luxuries.


    the middle path.


    Who knows how to guide a leader in the path of Tao (the Laws of the Universe),

    Does not try to conquer the world

    with military force.

    It is in the nature of a military force to turn against its user.

    (Economic Force stregthens the Society)

    Wherever armies are stationed,

    thorny bushes grow.

    After a great war,

    bad years always follow.

    (Over spending for military might only overtaxes the people)

    Protect efficiently your own state,

    But not to aim at selfishness.

    After you have attained your purpose,

    You must not show off your success,

    You must not brag of your ability,

    You must not feel proud,

    You must rather regret that you had not been able to prevent the war.

    You must never think of taking control of others by force.

    To be over-developed is to quicken decay,

    And this is against Tao (the Laws of the Universe),

    And what is against Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

    will soon end.


    Soldiers of war predict destruction.

    And are for use against Life.

    A person of Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

    does not set his heart upon them.( A person of Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

    does not build armies to fight and take control of others land.)

    In ordinary life, a gentle person regards

    the left side (omen of the future) as the place of honor:

    In war, the right side (omen of the past) is the place of honor.

    As soldiers are tools of destruction, They are not properly

    a gentle person's tools;

    On necessity will they will use them,

    (having them and knowing their use).

    With calm control.

    Even winning is

    no cause for rejoicing.

    To rejoice over a war won is

    to rejoice over the slaughter of humans!

    So a person who rejoices

    over the slaughter of humans

    cannot expect to do well

    in the world of humans.

    On happy occasions the left side (omen of the future) is preferred:

    On sad occasions the right side (omen of the past) .

    In the army, the Lieutenant Commander stands on the left,

    While the Commander-in-Chief stands on the right.

    This means that war is treated as equal to a funeral service (rememberance of the past).

    Because many people have been killed,

    it is only correct that living should be sad at the loss of them.

    Hence, even in a victory is a funeral.


    Tao (the Laws of the Universe) is always nameless.

    Small as it is in its First Simplicity,

    It is less than nothing in the world.

    If only a leader could stick to it, Everything will give respect

    to them.

    Heaven and Earth

    will be harmonized

    And send down sweet dew.

    Peace and order

    will reign among the people

    Without any command from above.

    When once

    the Primal Simplicity broke up,

    (at the Time of the Big Bang,)

    Different names appeared.

    Are there not enough names now?

    Is this not the time to stop?

    To know where to stop is to preserve ourselves from danger.

    The Tao (the Laws of the Universe) is to the world

    what a great river or an ocean is to the streams and brooks.

    The Tao is manifest into a shape, but then the shape is lost.

    Do not be rigid about shapes, but only about ability to change.


    Who knows people is clever;

    Who knows self has enlightenment.

    Who conquers a people has force;

    Who conquers self is truly strong.

    Who knows when they have enough are rich,

    And who follows carefully

    the path of Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

    is a person of steady purpose.

    Who stays

    where they have found their true home

    lasts long,

    And who dies but is not forgotten enjoys real longevity.


    The Great Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

    is universal like a flood.

    How can it be turned

    to the right

    or to the left?

    All creatures depend on it,

    and it denies nothing to anyone.

    It does its work,

    But it makes no claims for itself.

    It clothes and feeds all,

    But it does not rule them

    : Thus, it may be called

    "the Little."

    All things return to it

    as to their home,

    But it does not rule them:

    It may be called

    "the Great."

    It is just because it

    does not wish to be great

    That its greatness

    is fully realized.

    The Complete Thinker

    would not control the world;

    They are in harmony

    with the world.


    Who holds to the Great Pattern

    will attract all things to them.

    They go to them and

    receive no harm,

    in them they find


    security and


    Music and

    snacks can only

    make a passing guest pause.

    The words of Tao (the Laws of the Universe)

    have lasting effects,

    They are mild and


    We look and see nothing.

    We listen and hear nothing.

    But if we use it,

    It is without end.


    What is in the end

    to be shrunken,

    Begins by being first

    stretched out.

    What is in the end

    to be weakened,

    Begins by being first

    made strong.

    What is in the end

    to be thrown down,

    Begins by being first

    set on high.

    What is in the end

    to be raped,

    Begins by being first

    given riches.

    Herein is the hidden

    wisdom of life:

    The soft and


    overcomes the

    hard and strong.

    Just as the fish

    must not leave

    the deeps,

    The words of agression

    should not be used.


    Tao (the Laws of the Universe) never makes

    any showiness,

    And yet it

    does everything.

    If a ruler can

    stick to it,

    All things will

    grow of themselves.

    When they have

    grown and

    tend to make an excitement,

    It is time to keep them

    in their place

    by the aid of

    the nameless First Simplicity.

    Which alone can

    control the desires

    of people.

    When the desires

    of people

    are limited,

    there will be peace,

    And the world

    will settle down

    of its own agreement.

  • This is the end of part one the WAY.
  • Part two: the Power or application