Guy Leekley. (2004) Tao Te Ching – A New Version for All Seeker. Woodlands, Texas: Anusara.


Any way that can be explained
Is not the sacred Way.
Any word that can be explained
Is not the sacred Word.

Though words cannot reveal the Source,
They do give meaning to the world we know.

To release into our boundless nature,
We must meditate in stillness.
To be free of delusion in the world we know,
We must examine our thoughts and desires.

These two practices may differ,
Yet each is a profound gateway
To the wonder of the one true Source.


If we think that something has beauty,
We might also think something has none.
If we think that someone is good,
We might also think someone is bad.

The idea of being requires non-being.
The idea of difficult suggests easy,
Long gives meaning to short,
While high requires a low.

When is the end a beginning?

True Seekers are wary
Of all these labels,
Preferring a Way
Of unforced action and stillness.
Then, without strain, all is accomplished.

The True Seeker is productive,
But not possessive;
Aware, but not attached;
Fulfilled, but not complacent.


We need not be concerned
About attention received by others.
Why should their status
Distract us from the sacred Way?

As we overcome greed, vanity,
And willfulness,
Our hearts spread open
And we free ourselves from delusion.

Then we gain inner strength
And act without forcing,
Leaving nothing unattended.


Although the Tao is formless and empty,
It never fails to provide.

The limitless Tao is there
To assist in each moment,
Softening sharp edges, releasing tangles,
Easing the glare, settling the dust.

The Tao remains deeply concealed,
Yet always available.
What could be its Source,
Since it seems to precede
Even the universe itself?


Neither the Spirit nor Nature
Has favorites.
All beings are honored equally.

Thus, the True Seeker
Does not interfere,
Allowing others the freedom
To find their own Way.

See how the space
Between Spirit and Nature
Expands and contracts like a bellows
Without ever collapsing.

Words are mostly wasted energy.
Simply maintain the still point at your center.


The Spirit of the valley
Is Mother to all, eternal,
And profoundly fertile.
Her energy, flowing through
Mysterious portals,
Is the source of all creation.
Sublimely subtle and continuous,
She remains effortlessly available forever.


The universe expands and contracts
Unceasingly, without needing to know
Why or how.

In like manner, True Seekers
Draw within
While remaining aware of their world.

Grounded in their Source,
They free themselves.
Secure in their core,
They flow with the Tao.


Be like water,
Flowing everywhere
Without striving,
Benefiting all
Without contention,
Always aligned with the Tao.

Live in touch with the earth,
Meditate deeply in the heart.

Be generous in relationships,
Truthful in speech,
Consistent in leadership,
Competent in work,
And timely in actions.

The path of peace
Is forever honorable.


Better to know when to stop
Than continue pouring until you spill.
Keep sharpening a knife,
And soon the edge is blunt.
Keep filling your house with treasures,
And soon it is not secure.
Maintain arrogance,
And you fashion your own destruction.

Simply do good work
And then withdraw.
This is the Way of the Tao.


While nourishing both mind and body,
Can you keep them joined in unity?
While drawing within
And following the inner breath,
Can you retain the flexibility of a child?

Turning inward to your deep, still center,
Can you fill it with the purest light?

While showing respect and compassion for others,
Can you resist interfering?
As conditions of life expand and then contract again,
Can you remain grounded in your Source?

Can this clear-eyed openness
To the ebb and flow
Be maintained without strain?

Protecting and nourishing,
Creating without clinging,
Acting without presuming,
Guiding without controlling.
This is true Integrity.


A wheel is created by attaching spokes to a hub.
Its usefulness, however,
Depends on the empty space
At the hub’s center.

A bowl is created by the molding of clay.
Its usefulness, however,
Depends on the emptiness inside.

A room is formed by walls.
Its usefulness, however,
Depends on the space within.

Thus, a thing’s outer form
Relies on what is tangible,
But its usefulness
Depends on emptiness itself.


Seeing the shadow
Around each color,
We honor our inner eye.

Hearing the silence
Around each sound,
We honor our inner ear.

Feeling the sacred
Around each moment,
We honor our inner heart.

Freed from grasping
In the material world,
True Seekers follow
Their inner light.

Freed from the bonds of delusion,
Their spirits soar.


Facing the possibility of honor or disgrace,
We feel anxious,
Since either can be lost as easily as gained.

Being so concerned for our image,
We suffer greatly, though we could
Simply let go of that concern
And all that suffering.

One who instead
Remains faithful to her True Nature
While involved in the world,
Has the steadiness others rely on.


We have been looking at it,
Without seeing;
We have been hearing it,
Without listening;
We have been touching it,
Without feeling.

And so we still seek the One,
Which is not brighter above
Nor darker below,
But boundless and continuous,
Pulsing through all creation.

Though it may seem elusive,
Without beginning or end,
Release now into this timeless flow
Of the present moment.
Awaken to the eternal Tao.


Since ancient times,
True Seekers
Have been subtle, profound,
And unfathomable.

They are described as:
As though crossing a river in winter;
As though surrounded by danger;
As though they were guests;
Like ice at the melting point;
As a block of wood;
And receptive as a valley;
As swirling water.

Who else can wait while murky water settles?
Who else can act out of deep stillness?

True Seekers
Are not attached to success,
And thus remain beyond failure.


By releasing completely
And cultivating stillness,
We can see how all things
Take on forms
That continuously dissolve
And then emerge again.

We can trace these forms
In all their abundance
As they appear
And then resolve themselves
Back to their Source.

This resolving of forms
Back to their Source
Deepens our stillness
And reveals our boundless nature.
There we finally release
Into illuminating Consciousness.

If veiled from this pure Consciousness,
Our experience becomes delusion,
And we suffer.

Illuminating Consciousness
Opens our hearts to compassion
And thus to the spiritual life
Of the sacred Way

At one with the Tao
We can chine on forever
In the eternal present moment


Our greatest teachers
Are not publicly known;
The next best often
Become famous.

Some with much influence
Become feared and scorned.
If they do not trust,
They are not trusted.

When we trust in the Way,
And respond from our own True Nature,
All can be accomplished naturally.


When our hearts are not open
To the Spirit,
Our minds turn to theories
Of honor and love.

When our actions do not flow
From an open heart,
Our minds turn to theories
Of wisdom and truth.

When relations do not flow
From an open heart,
Our minds turn to theories
Of loyalty and trust.


Let go of such lofty goals
As becoming holy or wise,
And we will all be better off.

Let go of righteousness,
And we will treat each other
With greater compassion.

Let go of ‚’getting my due‘
And watch corruption disappear.

Such ambitions
Are all in vain.
Here, instead, is a teaching
To depend on:

Release all obsessions
And selfish grasping.
Locate the simplicity
Of your own True Nature.


The struggle to conform
Leads to discontent.
Approval and disapproval,
Good and bad,
All the judgments people make,
How much difference is really there?
And all those things they fear,
Why the dread?
Despair seems endless.
Yet they behave with such abandon,
As though they had little concern.

Flowing with the Spirit,
I remain apart and still,
As though I were an infant
Just learning to smile,
As though I were free
With no place to go.

While others revel in their excess,
I seem to possess nothing,
A simpleton indeed,
Out of touch with reality.
While they strut and boast,
I may seem confused, floating and blown about.
While they are busy and full of plans,
I may seem to drift.

The difference is that I am constantly nurtured
By that Great Mother, the spirit of the sacred Way.


Integrity, the fountain of all virtue,
Flows from aligning ourselves
With the Way.

Our understanding of the Way
May be elusive and intangible,
But the spirit of the Way
Is always available
To guide our awareness
Of all creation.


Being able to yield
Keeps us whole;
Being able to bend
Keeps us straight;
Being able to empty
Keeps us full;
Being able to let go
Keeps us new.

Content with little,
We have all that we need.
With more than we need,
We lose our way.

By following this path,
True Seekers
Set an example for all of us.
Without display, they shine.
Without righteousness,
They are distinguished.
Without boasting,
They are recognized.
Without self-importance,
They endure.
Without judging,
They avoid conflict.

Thus it remains as the ancients said,
Being able to yield keeps us whole.”
And being truly whole,
We have all that we ever need.


Being mindful in speech
Is only natural.
Since nothing lasts long
Without changing,
How much is there to say?

For a life infused
With the Tao,
You must align with the Tao.
For a life infused With Integrity,
You must align with Integrity.
Otherwise, you will only infuse your life
With discord.

When you choose to align
With the flow of the Tao,
It gladly draws you in.
When you choose to be one With Integrity,
It gladly draws you in.
If, instead, you choose discord,
It, too, will draw you in.

Those who do not trust themselves
Will not be trusted.


Over-reaching and striving,
Flaunting achievements and boasting,
These add nothing of value
But detract from our actions.

Viewed from the Tao,
Such behavior is waste
To be avoided.


Before the formation
Of earth and sky,
The universe had a pulse,
Amorphous, yet complete,
Timeless, limitless, nameless,
The mother of all creation.
Let it be known as the Tao,
Let it be known as transcendent.

In its universal transcendence,
The Tao flows infinitely outward
While simultaneously drawing in.
Its energy permeates all,
Earth and sky and every being.
Thus we participate
In the pulse of the Tao.

As we align ourselves
With the rhythms of the earth,
So the earth aligns with
The rhythms of the universe,
Which in turn follow
The flow of the Tao
As it expresses its own True Nature.


Let stability be the source
Of your lightness;
Let stillness be the source
Of your actions.

Thus, the True Seeker,
Even when traveling,
Stays grounded
And not distracted by the sights.

Remain steadfast and calm.
If we lighten up too much,
We lose our base.
When we get restless,
We lose our center.


A skillful hiker leaves no tracks;
A skillful speaker makes no mistakes;
A skillful bookkeeper needs no calculator;
A skillful locksmith needs no key;
A skillful wrapper needs no twine.

Likewise, the True Seeker remains unattached,
Yet available to all and abandoning none.

Respecting everything,
Dishonoring nothing,
This is called
‚Following the Inner Light.‘

Someone who demonstrates excellence
Serves as example to those who do not.
Without respect for the teacher, however,
Or concern for the student,
Even the brightest will go astray.


One who can balance
Masculine and feminine qualities
Becomes a river valley
For us all.
Being a river valley means
A flow of unwavering Integrity,
A return to childlike purity.

One who can balance
The inner world and the outer world
Is a model for us all,
Expressing unwavering Integrity,
A return to our boundless True Nature.

One who can balance
Excellence and humility
Becomes a river valley
For us all,
A return to the simplicity
Of solid wood.


Straining for control
Is bound to fail.
Our world is a sacred vessel
That cannot be grasped or forced.
Interfering only makes things worse.

So accept that some will run ahead
While others fall behind.
Some moments will blow hot, others cold.
Some get strong as others weaken.
Some dominate as others succumb.

Therefore the True Seeker
Does not attempt to force results
Or to resist change.


While aligned with the Tao
We avoid aggression,
Which always turns on itself.
Thistles and briars grow
Where armies camp.
Years of calamity
Follow a war.

Fulfilling our basic purpose
Is enough.
Never push beyond that.

Fulfill your purpose
Without arrogance.
Fulfill your purpose
Without pride.
Fulfill your purpose
Without coercion.

Forced actions
Lose their way.
Going against the Tao,
They collapse.


Weapons can do no good
And are loathed by all creation.
Anyone following the sacred Way
Has no use for them.

Compassion and creativity
Are on the side of life.
Aggression denies life.

While seeking serenity,
Remember that complacency
Blocks fulfillment.


The sacred Way
Is unexplainable,
Simple yet sublime,
Beyond worldly powers.

When we abide in it, however,
This follows naturally:

The Spirit descends
Into the body
Like the fall
Of gentle rain.
Life takes its course
Without rules or regulations.

Those who enforce morality,
Or try to define the Way,
Waste their efforts.

And the Tao flows on through the universe
As a river in the valley
Flows to the sea.


Understanding others
Requires wisdom.
Understanding ourselves
Requires an Inner Light.

Overcoming others
Requires outward force.
Overcoming our delusions
Requires inner strength.

True wealth is knowing
We already have enough.
True self-control is knowing
The purpose of our actions.
True patience is knowing
Just where our heart belongs.

Though we die,
We live on forever
Through the quality of our actions.


Any way we turn,
The Tao ebbs and flows
Through all, supporting all,
Without struggle, and without end.

Simply there, effortless,
The Tao may seem insignificant.
Yet everything that turns to it
Gains freedom.
So we consider it great –
Greatness with no attempt to be great.


Those expressing their True Nature
Draw others toward the security
And peace of the Tao,
Drawn as if to music or to food.
Yet any talk of the Tao seems bland
And without substance.

They may look for it,
Yet not find much to see;
They may listen for it,
Yet not find much to hear.
Stepping into its flow, however,
They find it to be supreme.


Try to limit the Way,
And it will expand;
Try to weaken it,
And it will gain strength;
Try to deny it,
And you promote its existence;
Try to take it away,
And it always returns.

Shining some light on this mystery:
Suppleness and yielding
Always overcome the forceful and rigid.

Fish have no place out of water,
And violence has no place in our lives.


The heart of the Tao
Is unforced action,
And nothing is left undone.

If this were understood,
People would be transformed.
In response to daily distractions,
They would turn to their still center.
Maintaining awareness there,
They could avoid diversions,
Find tranquility,
And all would be at peace.


A person of true Integrity
Does not strive for virtue
And thus can act with Integrity.
Someone trying to grasp what is virtuous
Will not act with Integrity.

A person of true Integrity
Avoids forceful action
Without even considering it.

A virtuous person
Also avoids forceful action,
But does so intentionally.

A benevolent person
Deliberately does take action,
But without personal motives.

A righteous person
Takes action
Based on personal motives or principles.

An authoritarian person
Gets others to take action for him,
For his own personal motives.

When out of touch with the Tao,
One may seek virtue;
When out of touch with virtue,
One may seek benevolence;
When out of touch with benevolence,
One may seek righteousness;
And when righteousness is unavailable,
One may fall back on ceremony–
The outer husk of loyalty and trust.
Beyond this lies disorder and chaos.

Those with partial awareness of the Tao
May think they know
How events will unfold in the future,
But this false sense of understanding
Only leads to folly.

Instead, true wisdom is found
Deep in the meditative core
And not on the fringe of the Tao.
So center your attention,
And remain grounded
In the sacred Way.


When we first begin to view the sky
As one whole entity,
Suddenly it seems clear and pure;
When we can view the earth as a unity,
It becomes firm and stable.
In the same way, the various spirits merge
Into the one eternal Spirit;
The river valley becomes a unity,
And is seen as full and rich.

When we can view all people as one,
We see our humanity shine.

If we were to lose
This sense of unity,
The sky could dissolve,
The earth might split and valleys dry up;
Humanity might fail,
And our Spirit disperse.

Maintain a base of humility,
And a foundation of modesty.
By straining for attention and praise,
We lose our sense of unity.


The nature of the Tao
Is to eternally return,
The manner of the Tao
Is yielding.

The life of all creatures
Flows from Existence,
But Existence itself
Is grounded in stillness.


When the advanced seeker
Is aligned with the Tao,
She devotes herself to it;
Someone less diligent
May sense the Tao only occasionally;
Someone not in touch with the Tao
Laughs at reference to it.
Laughter, however, is our first step
Toward knowing the Tao.

As to the sacred Way:
Its Inner Light may seem dim,
Approaching it may seem like going back,
And its clear path may seem rough.

As to Integrity:
True Integrity may seem empty,
Great purity may seem tarnished,
And simple truths may seem to change.

The perfect space lacks boundaries,
The perfect solution is a mystery,
The perfect note awaits in silence,
The perfect image has no shape.


The Tao is the origin of Unity,
Which leads to Duality, then Trinity,
Then to the multitude.
These all retain the Tao’s
Expansive energy of yang
And its contractive energy of yin.
When properly balanced,
These vital energies produce harmony.

Nobody desires to be isolated,
Or desperate, or needy.
Yet this is how our leaders
Often see themselves.
Thus one may lose by striving for gain,
While others benefit from loss.

True Seekers know that forceful action
Leads to no good end.
This is the essence of their teaching.


The hardest things give way
To the softest things.

Even where there is no space,
The lightness of being gets in.
From this True Seekers learn
The value of unforced action.

Teachings not expressed in words,
And the grace of unforced action,
These are rare indeed.


Who I am, or how I am seen:
Which matters more?
Who I am, or what I possess:
Which matters more?
Acquiring or letting go:
Which leads to more pain?

Strong attachment leads to suffering,
Accumulating what is not needed
Results in loss.

Contentment with what one has
Never leads to shame.

Those at ease within their limits
Avoid these problems and live in peace.


A great achievement is not diminished
By being seen as deficient;
Great fulfillment is not limited
By being seen as empty.

True straightness may seem bent;
True skill may appear easy;
And true eloquence inarticulate.

While activity can counter the cold,
Stillness can counter the heat.

Serenity allows us to view everything properly.


When the Tao prevails,
War horses are used only
To plow the fields.
When the Tao is ignored,
An army will govern.

Nothing is worse
Than not knowing
We already have enough.
No fault is worse than greed.
True contentment comes
From accepting what we have.


Without going out the door,
One can know the flow of the Tao;
Without peering out the window,
One can sense the Spirit of the Way.

The further you go
From your still center,
The less you understand.

Thus the True Seeker
Knows without traveling,
Sees without effort,
And achieves without strain.


Learning involves acquiring
More each day;
Following the Way involves
Releasing more each day.
Releasing and releasing,
Until we reach unforced action,
Where all is accomplished
Without striving.

Our influence on others
Should be without interference.


The True Seeker does not cling
To fixed ideas and opinions;
This allows compassion
To naturally arise.
She is kind to those who are kind,
And kind as well to those who are unkind.

To act with Integrity
Is to show loving kindness.

She trusts those who are trustworthy,
As well as those who are not.
To act with Integrity
Is to have faith in our humanity.

The True Seeker avoids diversions
And acts with compassion.
As others are drawn to her for guidance,
She remains childlike.


Emerging through birth
And passing through death,
Some of us embrace life
While others embrace the void.
The rest drift about,
Distracted and confused.

Those who dedicate their lives
With devotion
Can go about without fear.
Such a person leaves
No unattended opening
Available for harm.


Our True Nature flows from the Source,
While Integrity sustains us.

Indeed, the Source gives life
And Integrity nurtures it
With shelter, comfort and guidance.

Thus, all existence honors the Source
And reveres Integrity,
Not by compulsion, but naturally.

Protecting and nourishing,
Creating without clinging,
Acting without presuming,
Guiding without controlling.
This is true Integrity.


Everything in existence
Has a primal Source:
Think of it as a mother.
The qualities of this Source
Are expressed through all creation.
Connected to this Source,
We live our lives in freedom.

Simplify our needs and desires,
And life is continually enriched.
Intensify our distractions,
Strive for material rewards,
And our light may never shine.

Awakened to these basic truths,
We do shine.
Connected to the primal Source,
We do radiate.
Guided by our Inner Light,
We find our own True Nature.


We only require enough wisdom
To follow the sacred Way.
Our only concern needs to be
That we never stray.
The sacred Way is clear,
Though many choose the risks
Of more treacherous paths.

When our leaders are wasteful,
The fields are overgrown
And the granaries are empty.
Their clothing is luxurious,
Their equipment excessive.
They indulge in food and drink,
And acquire great wealth.
They could be called arrogant thieves.
This has nothing to do
With following the sacred Way.


Whatever is well-grounded
Cannot be uprooted;
Whatever is firmly embodied,
Cannot be taken away.
So be a good example
To the next generation.

Practicing this in our own lives
Develops true Integrity;
Extending it to the family
Develops family virtues;
Extending it to the community
Develops community values;
Extend it to the nation,
And the nation’s virtues abound;
Extend it to all things,
And Integrity becomes universal.

View a person from that person’s
Point of view;
View a family from that family’s
Point of view;
The community as a community;
The nation as a nation.

And to understand the universe,
Align with the pulse of the Tao.


One who acts with deep Integrity
Is like a child in these ways:
His presence will not provoke
That which is fierce or dangerous.
His bones are pliant,
His muscles are supple,
His grip is firm.
Honoring his body,
He enjoys great vitality.
Because of inner harmony,
He knows boundless energy.

By creating such harmony in our lives,
We can experience
The One Unchanging Consciousness.
This is also known as enlightenment.

Turning to aggression, however,
Produces ominous results.
If we allow ambition
To rule our vital energy,
We exert too much force.
Then we suffer
And lose our sacred Way.


Someone who knows
Does not need to proclaim;
Someone who proclaims,
Generally does not know.

Can you center your attention,
Remain quiet and still,
Simplify, dim your brilliance,
And identify with the dust itself?
Then you know the Profound Unity.

This cannot be known
If you strive for intimacy or detachment,
Or for benefit or advantage.
This cannot be known if you strive for honors,
Or even if you strive for humility.

Cease striving,
And release into your own True Nature.


If you rule a country,
You must be concerned with justice.
If you command armies,
You must emphasize surprise.
But in the management of your own affairs,
You should practice non-interference.
How do I know? By observing this:

The more people are restricted,
The worse off they are;
The more they are armed with weapons,
The greater the violence;
The more cleverness and deceit,
The more dangerous the outcome;
The more laws that are passed,
The more people become criminals.

Therefore, True Seekers
Avoid forceful action,
Allowing others to transform themselves;
They protect their quietude,
Allowing others to learn tolerance;
They resist interfering,
Allowing others to find their own Way;
And they free themselves from attachments,
Allowing others to find their own True Nature.


When authority seems just,
People are more content;
When authority seems unfair,
People become deceitful.

The roots of good fortune
Are present in disaster;
The seeds of misery
Are present in good fortune.
So who could know what is best?
And who could know what is fair?

What once appeared to be just
Becomes perverse;
What once appeared to be right
Becomes deviant.
Confusion about this is everywhere.

Therefore, the True Seeker
Remains sharp, without cutting;
Pointed, without stabbing;
Direct, but not arrogant;
Bright, but not blinding.


Both public and spiritual affairs
Are best served with simplicity.

Practicing simplicity,
We can be aware and prepared.
Remaining alert,
We can act with Integrity.

Consistent Integrity always prevails.
Then we sustain our boundless world,
Deeply and firmly, as a mother would.

This is the Way of enduring vision
And fulfillment.


The way we care for our world
Should be as mindful as
The way we cook a small fish.

Approach each situation
In the full Spirit of the Tao.

The True Seeker does no harm,
So destructive forces are not provoked.
Integrity disarms them all.


When a great power is receptive,
All is drawn to it,
Like the low-lying delta of a river.
This feminine quality,
With its peaceful stillness,
Ultimately prevails over aggression.

Thus, a great power that acts with humility
Will absorb lesser powers.
And with humility, those lesser powers
Will allow themselves to be absorbed.
For each the objective
Is achieved by yielding.

When the purpose of a great power
Is to nurture others,
Lesser powers seek to belong.
Thus all can benefit
When the powerful are receptive
And promote peace.


The sacred Way is a shelter for all,
A home for the blessed
And a refuge for the needy.

While fine words gain esteem,
And good deeds increase our status,
Following the Way can set us free.

Even in moments of great honor,
When fine rewards are offered,
Better to stay with the Way.

Why did the ancients so value the sacred Way?
They said, ‚’There what you seek, you will find;
There you can be redeemed.’
Thus it was seen as the greatest of treasures.


Act without striving,
Work without straining,
Find flavor in the tasteless.
Respect the small
And value the few.

Respond to resentment with Integrity.
Start with the simple in complex tasks.
Everything that seems difficult
Begins with the easy,
And great projects are composed of small steps.

The True Seeker never bothers
To attempt great achievements,
And thus achieves greatness.

Weak commitment inspires little trust.
What at first seems easy,
In time becomes more difficult.
Thus, the True Seeker accepts uncertainty
And remains undisturbed.


That which is centered
Can be sustained.
That which is anticipated
Can be avoided.
Anything brittle easily cracks.
Anything cracked easily shatters.

Therefore, act before problems arise,
Make arrangements to avoid disorder.
A tree that fills the arms’embrace
Grew from a tiny shoot;
A terrace nine stories high
Began as a scoop of dirt;
A journey of a thousand miles
Began with a first step.

Interfering is self-defeating,
Willful grasping results in loss.
Therefore, the True Seeker
Does not act forcefully
And thus avoids defeat;
Does not grasp,
And thus avoids loss.

Often people fail as they near success.
Therefore, see endings as beginnings.
Embracing freedom from delusion,
The True Seeker practices a Way
That is usually ignored:
Being available
Without interfering,
As others learn to express
Their own True Nature.


True Seekers do not attempt
To enlighten all people,
But encourage their natural state.

When not in their natural state,
People try to be clever;
In positions of authority
They become thieves.

Those in power who can be natural
Are a blessing for all.

Being aware of these alternatives,
We can choose our own path.

Being mindful of our practices
Draws all that we are
Back into harmony.


By remaining at a lower level,
The great rivers and seas
Receive their tributaries.
Thus, one who would be a guide to others
Should be humble before them;
One who wishes to lead
Should take a place in the rear.

The True Seeker may be profound,
But never arrogant;
May be powerful,
But never harmful;
May be honorable,
But never feared.
Since she does not contend with others,
No one contends with her.


Anyone can recognize
The transcendence of the sacred Way.
It is totally unique.
How could it be like anything else?

We guard and cherish these three treasures:
The first is compassion,
The second is simplicity,
And the third is not presuming
That we come ahead of others.

From compassion comes courage,
From simplicity comes generosity,
From humility comes wisdom.

Those who forsake compassion
While trying to act brave,
Or forsake simplicity
While trying to act generous,
Or forsake humility
While trying to lead,
Suffer from delusions.

When compassion resolves conflict,
We express our own True Nature.


A great warrior never feels
Violent or angry.
A true winner never treats others as losers.
A true leader never puts himself above others.

This is the profound practice
Of managing affairs with Integrity.


The wise leader says,
I will not risk playing host
If I can choose to be a guest;
I can retreat a foot
When I dare not advance an inch.

This might be called progress without struggle,
Pushing up a sleeve without exposing an arm,
Advancing without invoking an enemy,
Being armed without weapons.

When we underestimate adversity,
We jeopardize our three treasures:
Compassion, simplicity, and humility.


Although the teachings of True Seekers
Are easy to understand and practice,
They are generally misunderstood.

Their teachings flow
From a master source, the Way.
Those who cannot see this
Remain confused.

For those who do understand,
These teachings become a precious practice;
And though the True Seeker
May dress simply
This jewel shines in her heart


Awareness of the limits
Of our understanding
Is essential to our growth.
And to remain unaware
Of what we already know
Hinders our development.

When limitations are acknowledged,
Progress has no end.

For the True Seeker,
Growth continues,
Because limitations are recognized as limitations.


If you live unprepared for change,
You are courting disaster.
You will find no security
In your natural limits,
Nor comfort with your path.

If you feel as though you need more,
You will never be satisfied.

This is why the True Seeker lives simply,
Respecting herself but seeking no honors,
Grounded in her still center.


Impetuous bravery is life-threatening,
Calm bravery is life-preserving.
Benefit or harm, however,
May come from either.
The True Seeker does not bother
With questions as to why this is so.

The Spirit of the sacred Way
Achieves without contending,
Responds without complaining,
Serves without reservation,
And accomplishes without forcing.

The reach of this Spirit is vast and open,
Embracing all.


Those who dread uncertainty
And impermanence
Are vulnerable to threats.
Those prepared for change, however,
Remain impervious.

Threatening forces
Will always try to exert control.
But their disturbance of the Tao’s flow
Is like a novice using the tools

Of a master craftsman ~
Those who do so risk great harm.


When taxation is exorbitant,
People go hungry.
When government is intrusive,
People get angry.

When surrounded by diversions,
People forget they will die.
Those not so distracted, however,
Create in their lives
The deepest value.


While alive, one can be flexible and supple;
After death, the body becomes stiff and hard.
Living plants are tender and pliant;
Dead ones are dry and brittle.

Thus, the rigid and inflexible
Are on the side of loss,
While the gentle, supple, and yielding
Are on the side of life.

An inflexible force never wins,
A brittle tree will snap.
The unyielding and mighty succumb,
While the gentle and supple prevail.


The nature of the Tao
Is seen in the bending of a bow:
The top of the bow is pulled downward
As the bottom is drawn upward.
These opposing actions respond
To changing tension on the string.

Thus the Tao constantly adjusts,
contracting and expanding
According to need.

The usual way of mankind, however,
Is to take from those who lack
And provide more for those who have.

Those living in the Spirit of the sacred
Way Divide their excess among those in need.

The True Seeker follows the Way
Without concern for results,
Without taking credit,
And without display.


Nothing is softer or more pliable than water,
Yet it excels at transforming solid stone.

Releasing instead of forcing,
Flexibility instead of rigidity.
This path is available to us
In every moment.

For the True Seeker,
To be scorned by others
Is no dishonor.
Seeing the world’s delusions,
He shines his light.


Even when a dispute seems resolved,
Resentments may linger.

This is why the True Seeker
Attends to her own obligations
And not to enforcing those of others.

A person of Integrity performs her own duty;
Those lacking Integrity concern themselves
With the duties of others.

The Spirit is always present
To one whose heart is open.


Let there be small communities
With no need for weapons;
Let these people take death seriously,
Giving scant thought for traveling afar.
Let them keep some carts and boats,
But have little use for them.

These should be places with no show of force,
Communities of simplicity and civility,
Where food is healthy, the clothes lovely,
The customs pleasant, and the homes secure.

Although they may gaze across
At neighboring communities,
Hearing their dogs and chickens,
They leave each other in peace
And grow old gracefully.


Sincere language may not be sweet;
Sweet language may not be sincere.
True Seekers do not quarrel;
Those who quarrel are not True Seekers.
The adept might not be learned;
Those who are learned might not be adept.

The True Seeker does not grasp:
The more she gives to others,
The more she has for herself.
The more she provides for others,
The more she gains in abundance.

The Spirit sustains us
And does no harm.
The True Seeker lives harmoniously,
Abiding each moment in the sacred Way.