Tao Te King translation – Iteration II – Read in original language aided by machines and adjust –

All this is coming up after I’ve finished translating all 81 chapters and then rested and recooperated a bit so there is like 25 or so to go.

Picture of a stone statue of Laozi in Shanghai Museum
Gotta get to Shanghai to see this statue.. Also to meet my Shanghainese irc friend in person. Maybe one day.

Here be some awesome tools for learning the good ol Chongwen

Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 57. Right government

Chapter 57. Right government

A picture of a vase with a Taijitu (Yin-Yang) on it.
Careful with that power Mr. politician. CC-BY-SA 3.0 by The Walters Art Museum holding the vase. Uploaded by File Upload Bot (Kaldari).

May the just lead the kingdom. May the cunning lead the army.

But may he who efficiently acts by non-action be king.¹

How do I know this to be so?

I know via this:

When peoples actions are guided by restricting laws the country grows even poorer.

When people are allowed freely to wield weapons, the government is in danger.

The quicker and more skillful the people become, the more are artificial objects put to use.

And when cunning moves have gained general appreciation thieves prosper.

This is why the wise one says: “I do not rule anything and the people will form themselves. I want to stay in peace and the people will find their rest. I do not want to shine in the spotlight  and the people will be successful. I want to put away all ambition, and the people will return to their natural simplicity.”


  1. Mr. Ervast: “A steady-minded will be in the same relation to his people as the innermost self is to his visible personality: simultaneously a conscience, wise intellect, excitable ideal, but not a forcer or an enforcer. The following verses and chapters furthermore complement and shed light on this thought.”

Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 56. Wondrous virtue

Chapter 56. Wondrous virtue

He who knows the Tao does not argue about it, and those who telltale of it do not know it.¹

To hold lips closed, to shut the doors of vision and hearing, to smoothen sharp corners, lessen the glare of bright light and to be on the same level as the dirt of the land – this is the wondrous virtue.

Picture of  a painting of a Chinese feller meditating. Hard.
Picture of a painting of a Chinese feller meditating. Hard. PD-ancient uploaded by Shizhao.

He who notices this, he looks with the same eyes at open mindedness and sullen mindedness, benevolence and insult, honor and shaming.

This is why all people greatly respect him.²


  1. Mr. Ervast: “First advice for those seeking God is that he should refrain from arguing about spiritual matters. To get to know God is only possible by endogenously seeking and silent practice.”
  2. Mr. Ervast: “This whole chapter is probably about practicer of mediation.”

Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

Translation: Tao Te King -Chapter 55. Marvelous harmony

Chapter 55. Marvelous harmony

Picture of a painting portraying children playing and enjoying themselves
“Children Playing in an Autumn Courtyard” (秋庭婴戏图), close-up detail of a larger vertical-scroll painting on silk by Chinese artist Su Hanchen (苏汉臣, active 1130-1160s AD) of the Song Dynasty period. PD-ancient / PD life-plus-hundred uploaded by PericlesofAthens

The man, who is filled by the Tao, is like a small child.¹

Poisonous animals will not sting him; wild beasts will not attack him and birds of pray do not strike their claws into him.²

His young bones are not hard and his tendons not strong, but his grip is firm and sure.

He is full of manliness, even if unaware of his gender.

Even if he were to yell all day, his voice will never go hoarse.

From this we can see his harmony with nature.

The knowledge of this harmony is the eternal Tao.

This eternal Tao is the enlightenment of the spirit.

Unreasonable manners blossom in a human, and when mind yields to passions, they grow day by day.

But after reaching their summit they will cast the human to his destruction.

This is against the nature of Tao. What is against Tao, its end is near.


  1. Matthew 18:3 “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (KJV)
  2. Mark 16:17-18 “17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
    18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (KJV)

Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 54. The root and the branches

Chapter 54. The root and the branches

Picture of date palm seedlings
CC0 by Srianix

He who plants right, never unearths his plantings.

He who grips correctly will, not yield.

His offspring respect him endlessly.

Who develops the Tao in himself, he is rooted to virtue.

Who develops the Tao in his family, he makes his virtue spread.

Who develops the Tao in his village, he grows happiness.

Who develops the Tao in his kingdom, he makes happiness triumph.

Who develops the Tao in the world, he makes virtue omnious.

I check myself and will learn to know others.

I observe my family and all others become as familiar as my family members.

I observe my kingdom and learn to know the others too.

I observe this world and other worlds become known to me.

How else could I come to learn the laws that rule all, but by observing them in me?¹


  1. Mr. Ervast: “Law of analogy. Microcosm and Macrocosm.”

Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 53. Growing of clarity

Chapter 53. Growing of clarity

Inverted Taijutu (Yin-Yang)
Inverted Taijutu (Yin-Yang) uploaded by Nyo. PD unicode U+262F ☯

Oh if I were wise enough to follow the great Tao!

The great Tao is extremely easy, but people prefer to walk complicated ways.

Governance is hard work.

Even if a house is outstandingly equipped, the fields can be full of weeds and the granaries empty.

Dressing up beautifully, carrying sharp swords, opulent eating and drinking and amassing great riches – I call this fancy theft.

That it is not of Tao is certain.

 


Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 52. Returning to origin cause

Chapter 52. Returning to origin cause

Picture of a monochrome painting depicting Laozi riding a bull with the merchandise in his right hand.
Lao-c by Tomáš Páv 1920. PD life-plus-seventy uploaded by Tomáš Páv.

That, of which the universe emerged from, can be considered its mother.

By knowing the mother you will figure out the child.¹

And if knowing the child you consider the mother higher you will suffer no evil, even if your body perishes.

Keep your mouth locked and close the doors of vision and hearing and you will have no troubles all through your life.

But open your mouth and be questionful and you will get troubles all your life.²


  1. Mr. Ervast: ‘All philosophers and mystics of the ancient concur that there are two knowledges: lower and higher. Lower knowledge encompasses the sciences: it is knowledge of the manifest world, visible and invisible. Higher knowledge is spiritual knowledge, that does not come through the senses, but via when human in his spirit joins with the divine conciousness. Then he knows the “mother” and may from above know all which concerns the manifest world (“the child”).’
  2. Mr. Ervast: ‘Refers to that the path of wisdom, of the higher knowledge is also temporally more peaceful than the scientific road of curiosity.’

Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter. 51 Recommending virtue

Chapter 51. Recommending virtue

Painting
Titanium dioxide salesmen made good on this. Painting “Mother and child” by Emil Österman uploaded by AlphaZeta. {{PD-art}} life + 70

Tao gives birth and Teh¹ (virtue) provides.

All beings wear their many form and the power of Teh takes them towards perfection.

That is why all creation unite to praise the Tao and to champion Teh.

But this respect for the Tao and the Teh is not by order.

It is not forced and therefore it lasts forever.²

For Tao gives birth to all creation and Teh provides, increases, grows, complements, ripens, protects and watches over them.

To give birth without owning, to work without expecting pay, growing without stealing power – This is the high virtue.


  1. Translator: “Using Wade-Giles here, pinyin was not invent. Teh == De in modern romanization, pinyin”
  2. Mr. Ervast: “We could say that the reciprocal echo in a humans own chest forces him to respect Good.”

Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 50. Life’s value

Chapter 50. Life’s value

People step into life and return back to death.

Life’s gates are thirteen in number and same amount there is the gates of death.

The same amount of roads life quickly goes towards death. And why?

Because people pursue only sensory-life.

It has been said, that human, who knows the secret of life, can dwell the earth without preparing against a rhino nor a tiger.

He can go into the clash of battle without fearing a sword.

The rhino does not find a place where it could insert its horn.

The tiger does not find a place where to strike its claws.

The sword does not find a place to penetrate.

And why not?

Because he has beaten death.¹


  1. Mr. Ervast: ‘Human has beaten death when he has become self-aware in the spirit world. As long as he pursues the “triworld” (bodily, emotional and intellect) he is a slave of death. The thirteen gates of life and death are: the five senses² and seven nervous centers (lotus flowers, chakras) and intellect, which in its entirety is a sense.’
  2. Translator’s note: “Sixth sense (magnetism) has been proven empirically with rat experiment recently.”

Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 49. The virtue of concession

Chapter 49. The virtue of concession

A wise one does not have fastened opinions, which he would call his own.¹

He adjusts to other peoples thoughts.

I want to pay good with good. I also want to pay evil with good.

Virtue is virtue.

Chinese Bronze script for de ==
Chinese Bronze script for de 德 “virtue”. PD-ancient uploaded from chineseetymology.org by Keahapana.

To trust I respond with trust; likewise with trust I respond to suspicion.

Virtue is trusting.

Wise one lives in the world meekly self-controlling and his heart is full of compassion for all.

People confide in him and he considers all of them his children.


  1. Mr. Ervast: “i.e. on the level of thought (lower understanding). His whole life is executing one great ideal.”

Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.